Monday, September 30, 2019

The Doggie Trick or Treat

That look says it all. "Mom, why are you doing this to me?"

I wanted to get a shirt for Bella before cold weather really sets in. This little fashion arrived Sunday morning, and she wore it while the temps were still in the 60's.

NO, I'm not one of THOSE dog owners. Since both Yorkies and Maltese have one layer of hair, instead of a double-layer of fur like most canines, they have trouble regulating their body temperature. They need protection from cold weather just like we humans do.

Once it warmed later yesterday afternoon, we took the shirt off our baby. It's supposed to in the 90's for the next three days, so she's not going to need it.

For now, the A/C's running, Bella's cuddled in my lap, and  it's time to write.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Catch-up Fridays

I've been busting my butt to get Resurrected finished. The writing is going pretty smoothly since it's been done in my head for years now. I just have to leave the house because I'd much rather play with the new dog (who's butt is once again on my arm as I type).

Today was bill day, so I've got a stack of mail to get dropped and a pile of paper that needs to be filed.

These little tasks means I have the TV on. I've been watching Supernatural from the beginning since the last season starts in two weeks.

To top off the week, someone I used to respect has been very clickbaity this year. I've stopped reading this person's blog. I know things are changing in indie publishing, but the things people are doing to rake in the dough is turning my stomach.

Something else I'm questioning is whether to release my newsletters more often. I've been keeping up my publication schedule this year. However, a part of me is a little superstitious. I fear if I send newsletters more often, another life bomb will explode in my face, and I'll be back down to one or two releases per year.

So many questions--no real answers.

However, one thing I can control is my word count. So, back to my wip I go!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Writing Backward

When I get stuck in the middle of the story I'm currently working, I usually go clean the bathroom. It's the chore I hate the worst. Therefore, my mind quickly formulates a solution to the problem.

But sometimes, not even a grody toilet can shake loose an answer.

That's when I start writing backward.

Not literally. I write the last chapter so I know my destination. If that doesn't produce an idea for the middle of the book, I write the next-to-last chapter. And so on and so forth. By knowing where I need to go, I can layer in the elements back at the beginning and middle in order to get to the end.

Will this work for everyone? Hell if I know. It's worked for me a couple of times.

Here's the thing. You have got to figure out what works for you. There isn't a one-size fits all method for writing.

But if you need to do something to jar you out of the quicksand you're in, my bathroom could use a good scrubbing.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Puppy Butts on My Arm

My desk is currently covered with piles of receipts, dog paraphernalia, and cancer-related crap, so I've been mainly working while sitting in my recliner. Bella loves curling up with me. For whatever reason though, her butt has to be touching me.

This picture is from this morning. What you can't see is her new pink Kong. It's tucked under her hip and ear. In the last forty-eight hours, the Kong has not left her side.

In the meantime, I'll keep typing one-handed.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Why Would You Take a Trad Deal?

The lovely Phoenix Sullivan posted an interesting Twitter thread yesterday. She talks about her efforts to secure a trad deal to expand her revenue streams and the lack of enthusiastic response to her frank talk about money.

I wish I could say I was surprised by the responses she's received from agents and editors. Five years ago, I talked about a post written by agent Donald Maass. His opinions of the worthlessness of both midlisters and indie writers was derogatory at best. This attitude has infected nearly every corner of trad publishing now. There's a few areas that remain open-minded, but those generally involve pet anthology projects from what I've been seeing.

The problem from the trad publishers' perspective is that we indies are competing with them for the same dollars. It doesn't matter what kind of hard-earned savvy we bring to the table. To trad publishers, why pay a competitor when there are plenty of shills willing to accept $0 advance just from the privilege of having someone choose them?

And that's what it comes down to--what is the real reward you the writer wants for signing a deal?

Indies are often mocked for only caring about the money. In some cases, that's true. However, a lot of us love the freedom being indie affords us. I can write what I want, when I want, instead of being ordered to write in a genre I detest.

And having a book with a trad publisher isn't really broadening your income stream. They go through the same retailers and distributors indies do. To broaden our income streams we need to look at licensing our stories, characters, and worlds. (For more on this, check out Kris Rusch's blog series on licensing starting here.)

Overall, it always come down to the readers. As long as I'm entertaining them, they will be willing to pay for my stories. When I stop doing that, they'll move on. This is a truth that applies to both trad published and indie writers whether we like it or not.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Promotion and Advertising Shock

It's been several years since I've actively promoted my books, much less bought advertising. I feel like I'm swimming in a sea of information with waves washing over me in their efforts to drown my tiny little books.

Back when I started publishing in 2011, e-books were the red-headed stepchild of the publishing world. So I didn't have to do a lot. People with e-readers were starving for content because the bigger publishers couldn't deign to put their products out in e-book formats. Print was king!

I sold a shit-ton of books simply by uploading them, then listing them on social media. Maybe a few friends would mention my work on their blogs. Blog tours were big back then. Or someone would put an excerpt in the back of their book. E-book promo sites were in their infancy, and there were a plethora to choose from. You had to have your ear out with those who worked and those who were looking to make a quick buck from writers.

Nearly nine years later, none of the things I did back in 2011 will work today. Plus, the big publishers have woken up. They now like to undercut indies by putting their backlists on sale. (Seriously, I picked up the first nine books of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series for $1.99.) So the competition has stepped up.

What does this all mean? We indies are now competing with the big fish on ad spend. Especially with ads on Facebook, Amazon, and Bookbub.

There's still e-book promo sites, though they are fewer, and the ones that survived have become bigger. Bookbub has become a monster in its own right. No longer is it just a daily e-mail newsletter, but paid ads on both its website and the newsletter. The bigger publishers realize what a difference a BB newsletter makes, and they now run regular promos with their backlists.

I'm tentatively dipping my toes in the new ad/promo pool. It's more expensive than it used to be. But I'm being selective about which companies I use, and I'm keeping a strict accounting of the money I spend. I've heard too many stories of people spending $25K to make $30K. That's way too much overhead for my tastes.

I've got some things lined up for the rest of the year. Hopefully, I'll have some good data of what works and what doesn't in January.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Release Day!

Need something to do besides watching football on a Sunday? Ghouls in the Grocery Store is out! The penultimate chapter of the Bloodlines saga focuses on Tiffany Stephens and her daughter Ellie after the tragic events of Sacrificed.


After the murder of her husband by enemies of her uncle’s coven, Tiffany Stephens wants a normal life for her five-year-old daughter. But little Ellie’s blood hold the key to the vampires’ salvation or their destruction, and there are those who will stop at nothing to obtain the child.

Jake Wong will do anything to protect his best friend’s daughter, but can he convince Max’s widow second chances are the best thing for both of them as well as Ellie?

Amazon US
Amazon, all other countries
Barnes & Noble
Google Play

Friday, September 13, 2019

Enforced Rest for the Wicked Writer

I have a minor procedure this morning, so Bella and I will be crashing on my recliner and watching Supernatural on Netflix while I shake off the effects of the anesthesia.

Have a great weekend, everyone! We'll catch you on the other side.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

No Rest for the Wicked Writer

I've spent the last couple of days working on the last three releases for this year and the first two for 2020. It means setting up what I call the blurb pages, i.e. the document that lists the pertinent information about the book, such as title, series, author, ISBNs, ad blurb, links, prices, etc.

As I'm entering the information on Bowker, I realize I've almost used up the first 100 ISBNs I purchased back in 2011. That's two per book, one for the EPUB and one for the trade paperback. What happens when I start doing audio? Or hardbacks? It all adds up quick.

DH and I discussed the purchase of more ISBNs over lunch this afternoon. I'm leaning toward purchasing the 1000-pack after the first of the year. If I get my act together with Alter Ego's releases, I'm going to need a lot more than 100.

Some folks advocate not using ISBNs, and that's their prerogative. However, I've found that having a company name, logo, and ISBNs specifically assigned to that company means retailers of all stripes take my little publishing business more seriously.

After all, I not just a writer. I'm a mad and fluffy micro-publisher!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Saving the Planet One Dog at a Time

This is Bella. After swearing upon all the gods that are, have been, and ever will be I would not get another dog after my last beagle's death four years ago, this sweet, little thing seduced me into adopting her.

Bella is a Yorkie-Maltese mix. She was at a no-kill, pet rescue down the road from us. The people at the rescue have tried to place Bella twice before I met her. In both instances, the owners returned her a month later. The things they complained about? Well, they are relatively minor issues, and patience and love were not used to correct the behavior they objected to. Let's just say over the last three days, we've had to give her lots of cuddles because she always thinks she's going to be punished.

Since we still don't have a house yet, Bella is the perfect size for an apartment. She loves to curl up next to me while I write and edit though she just moved over to DH's recliner (where she's sitting in this picture) because Mommy's having one hell of a hot flash, and she's too warm even for Bella.

Now, I'm getting on my soapbox. Dogs are not fashion accessories or status symbols. They are pack animals. They want and need contact with other members of their pack. If you bring a dog into your home, you are that dog's pack. Treat them right, and you'll have someone so loyal to you, they will put their life on the line for you. They will love you unconditionally. If you're not willing to return that commitment, please, PLEASE don't get a dog.

Okay, I'm climbing off my soapbox now. It's time for our walk.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

I Love the '80's

Last month, I had too much fun looking up what are now obscure songs from when I was in high school and college, so I'm continuing in September.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Cheaters Never Prosper

I've been avoiding the subject of a bunch of authors slammed by the Amazon ban hammer over the last year. Why? Because I wanted to see how things shake out.

Maybe it's because I used to be an attorney, but I never take anyone at their word anymore. All the parties in a lawsuit are after something. Something they don't necessarily want the judge, jury, mediator, or arbitrator to know. And no one is totally innocent.

But a few recent cases actually made me take Amazon's side.

Their TOS is pretty fucking clear. (Except for where the line between erotica and pornography is. These days, most of us who write in the erotica genre have a clue where the mines are in the field and know better than to cross them.) But here's the thing, Amazon ain't REQUIRED to carry anybody's shit.

Including mine. Which is why I've tried to keep my nose clean since the 2013 Pornocalypse.

But like Faleena Hopkins and others before them, there's a few bad actors who are trying to proclaim their innocence and accuse Amazon of picking on them. Some of their reasoning is rather disingenuous.

Michael Scott Earle lost his arbitration case against Amazon last week. His attorneys' press release on the matter was, at best, laughable. What the press release left out was that MSE tried to sneak his books back on Amazon through another publishing company prior to the arbitration.

Furthermore, MSE went all-Faleena in trying to trademark single words or common terms within pop culture. "Dragon Slayer" was denied by the USPTO. However, "Tamer" managed to get through. There's currently a lawsuit to overturn that approval backed by the Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the Author's Guild.

Then there's Alexa Riley, or actually the two young ladies who use the pseudonym of AR. Back in July, a lot of people were surprised that Amazon would *gasp* ban a top-selling romance author!

However, Amazon did not ban all of AR's books. They only banned AR's self-published books, not the ones published by Harlequin.

The ladies haven't admitted to anything, though there's a lot of speculation and suspicion in the writer communities including accusations of book stuffing, i.e. including multiple stories in a file without labeling it as a bundle or anthology. I do know that they used words in erotica titles that were banned back in 2013, such as "virgin".

Whatever pissed off the Powers That Be at Amazon was exacerbated  when the ladies also tried an end-runaround of the ban by signing a distribution deal with Entangled Publishing. The AR books Entangled put up on Amazon near the end of August disappeared from the retailer within hours.

I'm going to stick with the same thoughts I had when the subjects come up, as they invariable do, on writer-related social media. Would you go into a casino and disobey their rules?

Seriously, what happens if you count cards in blackjack, exchange the dice on craps, or swap out the ball at the roulette table? If you're lucky, you only get banned from the establishment.

Well, it's Amazon's house and Amazon's rules. They can ban anyone they want for just about any reason they want. Just be happy the company isn't run by the Mob.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Happy Labor Day!

I looked up from finishing the first round of edits on Ghouls in the Grocery Store to find out it was September already.

Unlike DH, I don't have today off. That's part of the joy and curse of being self-employed. I need to wrap up this project and do the same for Resurrected so I can take some time off in a few weeks to go to GK's graduation from boot camp and visit with a friend who recently moved to the same state where the base is located. No cook-outs today is a small price to pay.

I hope the rest of you enjoy your day off!