Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Reality in Fiction

Writers struggle to make their characters live and breath, to make them "real" to the readers. The goal for me is to make the reader feel like my characters could be someone they meet in real life.

On the other hand, I can't inject too much reality in my stories. The main goal of my fiction is to provide escapism for my readers. It's what I look for in my own reading. Too much realism reminds the reader of the very things they are trying to escape from.

Apparently, there's another problem I didn't realize until I released the first three books of the 888-555-HERO series last spring. People have their own definition of reality, and if the story doesn't mesh with their reality, the reader gets a little irate. (Or in one case, VERY irate. LOL)

While Canyon Pointe is a fictional city, it's based on parts of New Orleans, Denver, Phoenix, and Houston.

For example, everyone is aware of Houston's thriving Hispanic community, but it's not all Mexican-Americans. Houston has Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Guatamalans, Hondurans, etc. Little Vietnam has the greatest collection of restaurants outside of the home country. DH's primary care doctor was from Pakistan; mine was from Taiwan. So there's more than one or two ethnic groups in any major U.S. city. I wanted Canyon Pointe to reflect other U.S. cities.

A lot of Harri and Aisha's quirks are based on several female attorneys I know in real life. All of them a tough and passionate about their jobs.

There's also the age difference in relationships in my stories. Again, many women I know bucked the trend in America and married guys younger than them, including my own paternal grandmother, who was part of the Greatest Generation. So I'm having a little fun with Rey, a Gen Z, pursuing Aisha, a Gen X.

It's funny how the older Gen Xers and younger Boomers find my stories appalling. Appalling, they say! Especially, the "liberal agenda"!

Ummm, what?

Apparently, having a multi-ethnic, multi-age cast blows some people's minds. Except that's the world we live in now.

We live in an apartment (our immediate house-buying plan was blown up by my cancer last year) squarely in the very red Midwest. We're a town surrounded by farms and fields. Yet, ours neighbors in the complex have run the gamut of ages, from white Gen Z kids rooming together, to Millennial Pakistani grad students, to older Gen X empty nesters in the proverbial rainbow of colors.

Our reality is that things are changing. Things are ALWAYS changing. All the righteous anger in the world isn't going to change that.

So, in the meantime, I will continue to write characters that reflect people I know in real life. Now, get off my lawn!

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Monday That Got Away

Usually, I drag my butt out of bed in the morning (or what's morning for me), take my first handful of drugs for the day, then stumbled to the kitchen for the first round of caffeine. The first productive thing I do next is check my e-mail.

Most times, there's a note from one of my West Coast writing buds and a bunch of ads. But not today. No, siree!

There were a bunch of work related e-mails, including some from readers (which are always nice to get). And not just e-mails, but texts and voice-mails on my phone as well as messages through other social media. There was switching over/changing some of Genius Kid's accounts so his dad and I could deal with his financials while he is at basic training. Plus, one of my dentists (yes, I have more than one, LOL) called. His receptionist squeezed me in this afternoon to go over some test results.

Let me put it to you this way--I didn't get a chance to eat breakfast until three in the afternoon.

So it's nine in the evening, and I'm just now pulling up my wip.

I'm looking forward to August. GK heads off to begin his adult life. Darling Husband will be spending several hours a week at the soccer stadium as the high school's official time keeper. And maybe, just maybe, I'll get a little ahead in my writing production.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Music I've Been Listening to

At least Joan Jett and the Blackhearts get appropriate credit here as the fictional band, the Barbusters.

Friday, July 26, 2019

When Did I Become the Old Writer?

I don't mean my chronological age.

While talking with some other writers, I realized I've been writing for twenty-six years. Been actively pursuing publication for twenty-six years.

Now granted, I've been published in non-fiction for twelve years now, fiction for eight years. But actually putting pen to paper/typing on my typewriter/typing on my laptop? Yeah, twenty-six years. That's roughly half my life so far.

(P.S. I found the first thing I ever submitted. It sucked. Really, really sucked.)

Then I hear these other folks who've been publishing two or three years whining about how hard things are now.

It's all I can do to keep my Pepsi from spraying from my mouth. Now, I get why the old-timers (writers with a couple more decades of experience than me) get a peeved with newbies.

On the other hand, folks with more experience than me are also complaining about how hard it is. Everything changed overnight for them, and they don't know what to do.

Honestly, both sides are wrong. Today's Information Age is the best time ever to be an artist of any kind. We have so many options. We can reach billions of people around the world. I've sold books in five different continents. I've lost track of how many different countries. We writers have nothing to complain about. The audiences are there. It's up to us  to find them.

So either quit bitching about how hard writing is today, or get off my lawn!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

In My Tiny Bubble

The world's gotten to the point where I put on my blinders in the morning and focus on my writing. Or Supernatural.


Because I see writers following the politicians and doing the same shit. Do something that's unethical and/or illegal, something they know damn well is unethical and/or illegal, and when they're caught, lie their asses off.

The problem is the bullshit can't last forever. Eventually, everyone gets tired of the bullshit, and writers who are doing the unethical/illegal shit will get slapped down.

What's funny is that these writers saw what happened to their predecessors. And yet, they follow the same crooked path. Then, they're oh so shocked when they get busted as well.

So I'm going to put my blinders back and focus on entertaining my readers. Because like the Hokey Pokey, that's what it's all about.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Summer Sale - A Question of Balance!

A Question of Balance will be $0.99 from now until July 30th. If you've been wanting to try it, now's your chance!

Amazon US
Amazon, Non-U.S. countries
Barnes & Noble
Google Play

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Music I've Been Listening To

Despite the video's label, the real credit goes to John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Relearning an Old Lesson

It's been so long since I've released books on a consistent basis I'd forgotten one of my own rules--the best advertising is putting books out on a consistent basis.

I released the first three books of the 888-555-HERO series March through May, but a personal situation put me behind on the next Justice book, so I pushed the release schedule back. Not a big deal, right?

But Hero De Facto hit what we call the 90-day cliff on Amazon. That's when books disappear from the algorithms because they are considered old. Or they do unless you constantly goose the promos or ads.

But the third method of goosing the system is simply to release another book. Seriously.

I released A Matter of Death on Monday. The same day I had a surge in page reads on 888-555-HERO books through Kindle Unlimited. The last time I had any page reads was July 5th. The last sales on that series was July 2nd. But I've consistently had page reads all this week in addition to the lump of sales for the new book.

Do this mean I'm not doing any paid promos or ads? No, but I don't always do them on same day as a release.

One thing to keep in mind is this is what's working for me. It's not a hardcore blueprint for everyone. You may have to experiment a little on your own titles to figure out what works for you.

In other words, YMMV.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Recommended Story

Fellow fantasy writer Joseph Bradshire is experimenting with reading his stories on YouTube. "Fire Flower" is a sweet story. Hope you like it.

Monday, July 15, 2019

A Matter of Death Is LIVE!

Yep, folks! It's a release day! My fourth this year, which alone makes 2019 so much greater than the last five years.

Even better, I've figured out preorders on all the major retailers, so the latest Justice novel is available to everyone at the same time! Including the paperback! (Though you may have to get your local book store to order it from Ingrams for you.)

Below are the blurb and links. And just to warn you, you may need some hankies at the end of the book.

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 lost all 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.

Barnes & Noble
Google Play

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Friday, July 12, 2019

Ramming the Ramparts!

OMG! Please donate to Ramming the Ramparts because I soooo want to read this anthology.

Ramming the Ramparts is a Kickstarter by publisher Zombies Need Brains LLC. Publisher Joshua Palmatier took a recent speech by a certain official concerning the Continental Army's attacks on British air bases and is running with the idea. Harry Turtledove is on the list of sci-fi authors who will contribute to this anthology.

Since Joshua just put this Kickstarter up, he doesn't have the artwork yet. But I love alt history fiction. If you do, too, think about kicking a few bucks his way!

KICKSTARTER for Ramming the Ramparts!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

First World Problems

It's been a crazy-ass week, and it's only Wednesday. I've been busy lining stuff up for next Monday's release of A Matter of Death and trying to finish writing the next Bloodlines novella, Reality Bites.

Monday, DH made arrangements with a shipping company to transport our Corvette from Texas to Ohio. They didn't have a truck available until next month, so no problem, right? We needed to get through the rest of the boxes still sitting in the second garage.

But on the heels of that phone call, the security consultant doing the background check GK before he ships off to boot camp is on her way to interview DH and talk to our complex manager. She wanted to talk to a neighbor, but all the grad students on our floor moved out in May, and all new people moved in a couple of weeks ago.

In the meantime, I'm running around like a crazy person with first quarter follow-ups with my medical personnel. Oh, and our rent check disappeared somewhere between me putting it in the office door slot back on June 21st and the assistant manager arriving the following morning.

Tuesday morning, the shipping company calls. Hey, we have a truck available! It's at your friend's garage to pick your car NOW! And it'll be in Ohio on Thursday.

Remember those boxes in the garage here? Yeah, last night the three of us were scrambling to deal with them. But it's so frickin' hot and humid, we only managed about a third of the work.

This morning, the truck driver himself called DH. He's making good time and should arrive by 7 p.m.

Since the car is an antique and we have it insured as such, we have to have a garage to put it in. Which means the first garage where DH's car is because it has a leak where the new windshield was put in years ago. So we're crossing our fingers that it doesn't rain for the next couple of days while we finish cleaning out the boxes.

But it's hot, so I'll keep writing until it cools down a bit for the evening...

Monday, July 8, 2019

Monday Movie Mania - Rocket Man

DH and I went to see this a month ago. If it's still in your theaters, I highly recommend catching it before it leaves.

* * *


* * *

1) First of all, the format is not a straight biography like Bohemian Rhapsody. It's more of a psychedelic musical. The framework is Elton John reminiscing during group therapy when he enters rehab.

2) Taron Egerton was positively delightful as Elton. He flashed from genius to vulnerability smoothly, making you understand why Elton some of the mistakes and life choices he did.

3) Taron's actually singing in the movie, and his covers of Elton's songs were fucking incredible!

4) The movie ends with Taron recreating the music video of "I'm Still Standing" as a supposedly sober Elton. It's my favorite Elton John song, but in a twist reminiscent of Bohemian Rhapsody playing with the artists' timeline, Elton did not get sober until 1991.

1) If Taron doesn't get an Oscar nod for this flick, I'm going to be even more disappointed in the Academy than I already am.

2) I wish there was a little more about Elton's relationship with Bernie.

Overall, if you love Elton John and a beautiful musicals, go see this one! Definitely 10 stars out of 10!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Friday, July 5, 2019

Still Proofing

One last check through the paperback copy of A Matter of Death. The rest of you have a marvelous holiday weekend!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Time Crunches and Writer Stupidity

I've had my head down for the last couple of weeks in order to get A Matter of Death finalized and proofed before my formatter is out of the office for the rest of this month. DH and I went to see Rocket Man a month ago, and I haven't even had a chance to write up my review. So I haven't blogged much either.

So I'm doing my meerkat pose to see what's going on in the world.

And overall, it's pretty much a typical July in the publishing world.

Trad pub is slowing down as acquiring editors vacation on Mummy and Daddy's estate in the Hamptons. Smashwords is having their semi-annual sale. And Amazon does shit to their store.

Why Amazon updates right before their super-spectacular Prime Day is beyond me, but July's the month for all software roll-outs, and by gum, they're sticking to that schedule!

The other thing that happens right before Prime Day is scammer clean-up. So a bunch of top-selling authors had the ban hammer dropped on them.

Folks, piece of advice. It's Amazon's store and they can do whatever they want. Their rules are posted and/or easily found. Acting dumb when you're clearly violating the TOC doesn't become you.

And if you're a writer who's worried about your account, here's the rules. Simply stated:

1) Back/extraneous matter must be 10% or less of the total e-book file.

2) Don't have banned subjects in your books, which includes, but is not limited to, incest, rape, necrophilia, dubcon, etc.

3) Don't use trigger words in your title or description, which includes, but is not limited to, virgin, rape, daddy, etc.

4) Don't bookstuff.

5) Don't use click farms to increase your rank.

6) Don't buy thousands of your books to increase your rank, hit a bestseller list, etc. Also, don't giveaway cash or a cash equivalent in order for people to buy your books for you.

7) Don't use your books to promote contests or giveaways. They are illegal or have serious restrictions in many countries where Amazon sells books. Amazon ain't getting fined for your shit.

This isn't a complete list by any means. However, I have my own rule: don't do any of this shit, then whine when your Amazon account is terminated. You ain't getting any sympathy from this corner of the multiverse.