Multi-passionate writer, author and solo-preneur

Month: June 2011

Dominion Progress and Process

I’m closing in on 40,000 words on Dominion. I’ve upped my daily word goal to 1,000 on weekdays, and my weekly goal to 10,000, which means a lot of extra writing on the weekends. If only my lawn would mow itself, this would be a cinch. But I think it’s doable. My goal is to finish it by mid-August.

I finished the second section this week, and made headway into the third. I’ve also got several scenes written for the fourth, since I keep jumping ahead. Whenever a future scene is easier to envision than the one I’m working on, I go ahead and write it. This keeps the writing fun. Of course, it’s tempting to write the whole climax, denouement and everything directly leading up to it, since I can see everything that happens so clearly; but if I write all of the “candybar” scenes (TM Holly Lisle) now, I won’t have anything left to look forward to as I push through the middle.

Even at (almost) 40,000 words, it’s early enough in the story that I’m still setting things up, moving characters into place, getting them together and such. This part’s fun, too, but the part I love best is the interactions and exploring relationships that are already established. I get impatient with my characters when they don’t know each other yet, because in my head they’re already an old married couple. That’s not a spoiler, it’s just a fer-instance.

Of course, first meetings can be fun to write, too.

What about you, dear reader? What’s your favorite part to write, or to read if you’re not a writer (or both)?

Starve Better

I spent most of last weekend devouring Starve Better (see what I did there?) by nihilistic_kid, aka Nick Mamatas, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to make money writing. This book is along the same lines as John Scalzi’s …Coffee Shop, in that it’s made up of essays from Mamatas’s Livejournal and various other articles and essays he’s written over the years, but unlike Scalzi’s book, Starve Better is more focused on practical advice on how to sell your work.

It’s divided into two sections – The Book of Lies and The Book of Life – the first of which discusses writing and selling short stories. This section has inspired me to try selling my short stories before self-pubbing them, once I get around to having time to write some short stories after the novel is done, that is. The second section focuses on non-fiction writing and gives a good, unintimidating view of the query process, as well as good advice on which markets to target, coming up with article ideas to pitch, and other useful facts.

I have to say, my favorite part of the whole book was a chapter about Demand Studios. Well, content mills in general, but DS is held up as a prime example. If you know me, then you know I have a love-hate relationship with Demand Studios. I love that they’re a reliable paycheck when I need one, but I hate writing for them, and this chapter outlines a lot of the reasons why. It also confirmed my suspicions that I need to take some of the time and energy that I’ve been giving to DS and instead spend it trying to write for better paying markets who have more respect for their writers.

At any rate, if you’re in pursuit of a writing career, Starve Better is a must-read. So go read it.

Restless Spirits Now Available on Barnes & Noble

If you’ve been holding out for the Nook edition of Restless Spirits, here it is.

Lessons In Book Promotion

I don’t really have a plan for promoting Restless Spirits beyond simply telling everybody in my social circle about it. After all, it’s the vanguard, sent out to raise awareness of my name and writing and hopefully generate some good feeling toward both in time for Dominion of the Damned to take Amazon by storm, and if it made a little extra money in the process, that’s just butter on the toast (and so far it’s earned enough to buy us a large pizza. Ka-ching!). Since DotD is the book I’m currently pinning the majority of my hopes and dreams on, I was going to save all of my marketing energy for its release.

But that’s still a few months away, and it will be kind of hard for RS to win me any new readers if, y’know, nobody actually reads it.

So I’ve been trying to do at least one thing a day to get the word out about it. So far, this has mostly involved telling people I kinda-sorta know: here on LJ, on Twitter, on Facebook, on my other blog, etc. So far, this effort has managed to convince about one person a day to buy the book. That might sound like a pitifully small amount to you, but I’m just thrilled that it’s selling, period. It’s making me want to put in the work to get the word out to more people. And wouldn’t it be helpful to experiment with promotion techniques to see what works best and develop a solid plan for Dominion?

The problem is, I’m out of ideas. As I tweeted the other day, even though I don’t generally consider other writers that I follow on Twitter to be d-bags for constantly promoting their books on there, that doesn’t stop me from feeling like one if I mention mine more than a couple of times. Not just a couple times a day — a couple of times, period. Clearly, I need to get over this. I don’t have the time to set up a blog tour — essentially, soliciting book & writing blogs to either interview me or let me write guest posts promoting my book. I also don’t have time to participate regularly in forums, and I’m back to feeling like a total d-bag if I just pop into a forum I rarely-to-never post in just to drop a link to my book.

Pretty much, this “one promotion thing a day” model is all I can fit in with my various freelance jobs, attending my health issues and assuring my husband that I haven’t forgotten he’s alive. Oh, and the actual writing.

Part of me thinks I need to suck it up and figure something out–maybe at the very least hunt down the rare book review blog that deigns to review self-pubbed e-books and send them a free copy. But part of me thinks that the best “marketing” I can do is just to get more of my writing out there, and that I’m better off keeping my head down and writing as much as I can, as fast as I can.

I think it’s obvious that I have a lot to learn yet about the promotional end of being an indie author. And I’m not going to learn it by sitting around here blogging.

Restless Spirits Now Available on Amazon

Well, that didn’t take as long as long as I expected it to (although expect the corrected acknowledgements to take a couple more days to update): Restless Spirits is now available for purchase on Amazon.

It’s not quite the rush of walking into a bookstore and seeing your book on the shelves, but it still feels pretty good.

And if anybody who’s read it feels inclined to leave a review over there, that would make it even better. 🙂

Publishing Restless Spirits, and Acknowledgements

Restless Spirits is my first guinea pig in this whole self-publishing experiment, so I thought I’d share some of the things I learned about the process.

  • Formatting is easy and relatively painless. Smashwords has an excellent style guide, and after I prepared my manuscript according to their instructions, I only had to make a few very minor tweaks to get it ready for the Kindle.
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  • Publishing is also easy and painless. With Smashwords, you just upload your Word doc and they generate the various formats in under five minutes. They also distribute it to the Apple iStore, Barnes & Noble and other e-book retailers who aren’t Amazon, so that’s handy. For Amazon, which you have to publish to separately, you have to download and install Mobipocket Creator and use it to turn your HTML Word file into an EPUB file, but the software is free and the extra step only takes a few minutes.
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  • Don’t use Google Chrome when uploading your book to Amazon. I don’t know for certain whether this is just a coincidence, but I was using Chrome last night when I kept running into "Unknown error" messages every time I tried to upload my book. Today it occurred to me to try a different browser, so I uploaded it through Firefox and it worked fine. Which brings me to…
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  • Amazon is a little slow to process your book. I uploaded it about twenty minutes ago and was told that it takes a day or three to finish processing and become available for purchase.
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  • None of this cost me a dime. Of course, it helps to have a background in both graphic design and copy editing (as well as sharp-eyed beta readers), so I didn’t need to hire anybody to help me in those areas. I enjoy designing covers, and I enjoy editing when I haven’t looked at a story so many times it makes me go blind. They are time consuming, though, so maybe in the future, if this venture is successful, I’ll outsource those tasks, although it’s more likely that as I get better at it I’ll be trying to get people to outsource those tasks to ME. For now, though, this is a total DIY effort, and it’s comforting to know that if the book doesn’t sell, I won’t have lost any money on it.
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  • Nothing is set in stone. Unlike print books, with e-books, if you see something you’d like to change you can go ahead and change it. Which is good, because I just discovered that I misspelled my niece-in-law’s last name in the acknowledgments. Speaking of which, I’m posting them here so that those who have already read the book and given feedback won’t have to buy a copy to see what I wrote about them. And if you offered feedback to one of the older incarnations of this book and I left you out, first, I’m so sorry, and second, let me know and I’ll be sure to add you. Ditto if I botched your name.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS for Restless Spirits

A book never gets to the finish line on its own. Thank you to Erin Palette, Stevie Puckett, Angela Garniss, Julie Pavey, Jamie J. aka themournfulduck, Helen Gialidakis and anyone else I might have lost track of who has provided invaluable feedback since I first drafted this novella three years ago. Big thanks are also owed my BFF, Tessy Smith, for being my biggest cheerleader and favorite reader. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to David Michael for inspiring me to try my hand at e-publishing in the first place. And of course to Matt, for putting up with my writerly quirks, for endless encouragement, and for showing me the kind of love that transcends this mortal coil: there is not enough gratitude in the world.

Restless Spirits Now Available on Smashwords

Restless SpiritsVeronica Wilson wakes up dead and discovers she’s in for the fight of her life. A paranormal investigator in life, Ron is setting up for a ghost hunt in the spookiest house in town when she finds herself the one being hunted. Now she’s trapped in the house along with a bevy of other ghosts — including an axe-murderess and the family she killed, an old man who just wants to go be with his wife, and a handsome handyman whose past seems more haunted and mysterious than the house they’re imprisoned in — all of them victims of a malevolent, murderous spirit. Refusing to accept this as her afterlife, Ron rallies the other ghosts to gang up on their captor and fight for their freedom. But how does a ghost fight a monster who can devour souls–especially when that monster has red pigtails and freckles and is cute as a button?

Restless Spirits is now available for preview and purchase on Smashwords. If you’re not familiar with Smashwords, it allows you to download the book for just about any device, or you can just read it online. You can also read an excerpt free of charge.

I’ve run into technical difficulties trying to upload it to the Kindle store, but it will be available there as well once I get the bugs worked out.

New Hungry Child Cover; Thoughts On Revising

Thanks to a couple of impassioned arguments that my cover for Hungry Child really needed a child, or at least something child-related, and also thanks to finally coming across a photo that seems to fit the bill that I can actually use, I’ve done up a new new cover:

I think that one’s appropriately creepy, don’t you?

In other news, author and self-publishing guru Dean Wesley Smith is currently re-posting his “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing” series. Today’s post on Rewriting is one that every writer should read, regardless of whether you’re self-pubbing or trying to storm the gates of traditional publishing.

I read it, and I’m so glad I did, because I was really psyching myself out about doing some fairly major rewrites on Restless Spirits. I already went through that story with a fine tooth comb back when I posted it online in 2009, and it’s gotten good feedback, but I’d managed to convince myself that it still wasn’t good enough. And I have to tell ya–I’ve reached my limit on how much I can stand to look at that story. I could barely get through another re-read, let alone another re-write. I’m at the point where I can no longer look at it and tell what works and what doesn’t, because my eyes glaze over as soon as I begin to read. I know that doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement of my own work, but I do remember quite enjoying it when I read it back in ’09. I’ve just stared at it too long for it to have any meaning for me anymore.

Before I read that DWS post I was on the verge of canning it and forgetting about publishing it. But now I realize how foolish that would be. I still think the beginning could stand to be tightened up a bit, but by and large, I’m giving myself permission not to worry too much about further revisions on this one.

As for everything else, I’m going to be pondering this article and what it means for my future approach to beta readers and revisions.

Progress Report

I started forgetting to keep track of my daily word count around the end of last week, but I made a lot of progress on Dominion over Memorial Day weekend, and I’ve been consistently beating my 250 Words a Day Challenge goal since then. I’m on the verge of hitting 30,000 words, which I thought would be about a third of the book, but I keep revising the outline and now I think it’s closer to one-fourth done. I’m not even finished with the second section, and there are two more to go. But at least it’s coming along.

I’m currently still reading my way through Restless Spirits and making revision notes. I had hoped to finish the read-through and get started on revising over the weekend, but Husband had a case of cabin fever from our chronic home-bodiness and wanted to get out of the house. We ended up making two trips to Gardner’s Used Books, and replacing most of the books we got rid of during our big spring cleaning and de-cluttering spree. So much for having uncrowded bookshelves. At least now I have plenty of stuff to read, if I ever find the time for any of it.

ANyway, I’m pretty sure I need to rewrite the first couple of chapters of RS, because they’re pretty draggy and provide more backstory than I think is strictly necessary. Otherwise, I think the book’s in pretty good shape, aside from making sure it does a better job of answer a couple of questions raised by my beta readers. I’m hoping to have it ready to go in about two weeks. Which in Jean time probably translates to about another month in Reality time. I’m so bad at underestimating how long it will take me to get something done.

And speaking of Husband, he finally started his beta-read of Hungry Child. So hopefully I’ll hear from him and the other readers soon, and then I can whip that story into its final draft and get it formatted for publishing. I can’t decide whether I prefer to release it before or after Restless, but I’m not sure it really matters, so I’ll probably just publish them in the order that they’re ready. Which hopefully won’t be too much longer, in either case.

This Old Haunt: New Title, New Cover

This weekend I’m planning to buckle down and make some headway on getting This Old Haunt ready for publication. In the meantime, since TOH was never intended to be more than a working title, and since the cover I created for the Scribd version two years ago doesn’t really accurately reflect the book’s romantic-comedic tone (and was also just bad), I redid them both, which resulted in this:

Some notes:

  • I toyed with a few different titles, including borrowing from myself (and Buffy) and calling it Something Other Than Dead; I also considered just Restless (another Buffy nod) and Restless Souls. But I think Restless Spirits fits the story best, and gives it that slightly playful vibe. I worried over it a little because there are a couple of books with that title already in the Kindle store, but their genres are different enough that I think I’m good.
  • For the longest time I was fixated on having a depiction of Sarah’s red ball on the cover, but that was when I was still telling myself that this was a horror story. When I got over myself and admitted that it’s not really that horrific, and that it is, in fact, a romance novel, I was able to broaden my image search parameters. I’m pretty happy with this picture. The model is close enough to the description of my protag, and she’s slightly ethereal and come-hither without being too on-the-nose ghostly.
  • I think I’ve decided that I’ll be going with Jean Marie Bauhaus for romance and stories that appeal primarily to women, and J. M. Bauhaus for my slightly more masculine works.

Thoughts?

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