State of the Union in Indieville (for those who care)

I’ve fallen off of all social media bandwagons and online interactive platform thingies. I haven’t missed it at all. I am happy like hell not to be posting status updates on FB, sharing photos of my eyeball or tweeting buy links for a .99 specials. Oh, yes, I am. 

I do like writing a blog, sometimes, so you’ll see me flapping my gums on this soap box. 

I decided to close the door and concentrate on getting my work done. I also decided it was time to read some instructional books on writing. And I am so glad I did. It used to be that reading books on writing would just fuck with my head. I would get all screwed up and not be able to write anything. I’m a big boy now and I can trash the stuff that isn’t true for me and run with the stuff that is. That’s important to do as a writer. It’s huge because if you don’t, the road to learning craft is blocked and that’s a recipe for stale bread.

I started by re-reading Self Editing for Fiction Writers. That was a much needed re-visitation. I had forgotten so much of the timeless advice in that book. I feel awakened to bad writing habits. I also read How to Write the Break Out Novel and am in the middle of Indie Publishing No Luck Guide. The Break Out Novel was great, such a good take on writing fiction that appeals to everyone. Not what to write, just how to write it. Happy with that book. And the No Luck Guide to Indie Authorship, indispensable. These guys are my new heroes.

Oh, here’s the real title: Write. Publish. Repeat. I love these guys. Really. They are making me feel so empowered and able to succeed at this. No joke. This book is very needed.

I should give a little recap on what has transpired since the last installment of Indie Author Digest on this blog. As you may know, but probably don’t, last summer I decided to “go Indie” with my novel Prizm: Dominatrix of Sulan. I had gotten a killer cover for it and then was planning on doing a little clean up on the manuscript. That turned into a major surgical overhaul, that, thank God I wasn’t working for two months, I cranked out in a sweaty little room in Los Angeles. 

I finally got it posted on Amazon sometime around March, I think, of 2014. No, February. I posted it for 2.99, then frantically changed the price to .99. At the time, I was doing free giveaways on KDP with all of my short stories and so with all of the hubub, I sold a few copies. Not anything more than soda money, but hey, better than nothing!

Anyway, painfully and forlornly I watched the Prizm sales peak at like 5 a week, then slowly drop. I frantically changed the prices all over the place and then, when it was obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to prevent a crash, I just let it go. Now, Prizm still sells, a handful of copies a month. Last month I sold two in England and one in Germany. No new reviews, so not sure if its being read or enjoyed or what. I did send it to a couple of reviewers who gave it 4 and 5 stars. 

The thing is, it sells a few copies a month without me doing anything and it’s not at the garbage price. It’s up for 4.50 and well, it should be at least that. I even sold a hard copy book. It’s all pretty lame in terms of book sales and numbers, but it’s a start and I cheer every time I sell a measly copy. All my other books have flat lined though and that makes me feel dejected. Or frustrated. But what can you do? Perhaps they will sell once something else takes off. 

Since then, I have completed Thomas Hunter, a paranormal occult mystery staring a cross between Corwin of Amber and Philip Marlowe. I have also gotten Poppycock: A Midsummer Night’s Mare into shape and will be ordering the hard copy book print this week. I am excited about this book. The whole series actually. I have the sequel about half done on the first draft. I am envisioning a ten book series, each book being about 60,000 words. So, a fast read urban fantasy horror series with serial killing fairies, occult shit and tons of pretty girls and blood. The second is called Rutlinger: A Mid Summer Night’s Hunt and I am really digging it right now.

They will all be “Something: A Midsummer Nights Blah.” Or a Midwinter Night’s Blah. You know, like Poppycock: A Midsummer Night’s War. It’s a take on, of course, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, duh, and it’s about the war between humans and faeries and what it might be like if all that crazy faerie shit was real. 

So, Poppycock should be up this month, June. 

It all just takes so much longer than I expect, but once you get into the manuscript, you kind of have no choice but to burn out the underbrush. On Poppycock, after re-reading Self Editing for Fiction Writers, I found all manner of screaming banshees flying out at me and me going, “really, I did that?” or “Shit, I was really lazy.” For instance, I went through and did a word search on the word “Seemed.”

Oh God. Everything “seemed” to be and nothing was or was not, black or white, true or false. It’s really interesting to see what kinds of crutches you use. Another one: “stood.” All my characters had these horrible moments when they were just standing around staring at the walls. Some were doing a combination action of “stopping and standing.” I was like, what a dope, he just stops and stands there. There were others and I am glad I had the sense to search and destroy all that stuff.

You live and you learn.

I am hoping to speed this process up. My goal is to get 3 trilogies up and get into a book a month velocity. It’s going to take a while. Prizm, I figure, since it’s selling a trickle without me doing anything, is worthy of a sequel. Poppycock of course, the sequel is underway and Thomas Hunter is also sequel primed. Those are the three I am putting all my bets on. But, I have other manuscripts to get up, too. A New Weird fantasy sea voyage called Godsign that must go up this year, well, this summer. Must! And it also deserves a sequel.

I have another manuscript that I got a cover made for, but I cannot bring myself to do anything with it. I know I am going to have to just trash it and start over. Or maybe not. The ambivalence is killing me. Is it good enough? Does it suck? Couldn’t it be so much better? I don’t know the answer to any of those questions, I can’t bring myself to even look at it.

I am also working on ways to work my day job less and write more. I have got to get a million words on Amazon and elsewhere. I have got to crank this thing up and hit critical mass where the books are selling themselves and my promo action is to release the next book. I am not going to rent booths at flee markets. I would like to do readings, but not to empty rooms, please God, no. I still see the last guy who stumbled in on my reading and glared at me for making noise in his favorite coffee table. Honestly, I don’t have the time if I want to keep writing.

It’s a trade off. If you go and sell at fairs and conferences and push the one book like Sisyphus and the boulder, you won’t write new material. Well, maybe you will if you don’t have to work a day job, but probably not.

It’s a long haul. The funny thing is I don’t mind the long haul anymore. I really don’t. I think it’s because I know where I stand, I know what I am doing. I am getting better and better and learning and reading and writing and so, I know, it’s just a matter of time. I know it depends on me just doing the work, getting the manuscripts up to publishing standard, always striving to write a better tale and simply doing it.

I used to slowly go crazy, sink into apathy, think I needed other people. Not anymore. Well, readers, I need them, but that’s different.  

Well, I don’t plan to go back to Facebook for more than the occasional Like. And I feel liberated. I always felt it was a government surveillance strategy anyway. 

Until next time. 

 

 

Real Books Are Still Better

Now, I know ebooks are the wave of the future and all that, but there is something to be said for the actual book. It simply makes it real. And you can put it on your bookshelf. I would say it’s a pretty handsome looking specimen at that. This baby will retail for around $16.00, which ain’t bad.

But indie authors beware, the Createspace salesman wanted to sign me up for their handy dandy in house service that does this for you, for a cool $300.00!

Well, no sir.

This cost me a cool $10.00. The templates for page setting couldn’t be easier on Creatspace’s website. I mean, you would have to be trying to mess it up.

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Imprint of My Soul

It might come as a foreign idea to some that your work can be as intimate as your soul. Artists generally know that, but sometimes I think those are the only people who do. It takes a special person to come along and not only appreciate such a statement, but to also add their own expression to that original vision, that soul-print if you will.

When I began writing Prizm: Dominatrix of Sulan back in 2006, I had no idea that this work would become so special to me. I had no idea that it would, in effect, capture a piece of me. I had been given various advice along the way, such as distancing oneself from the completed project in order to dispassionately market it, and so on.

I tried that and failed.

I had already received multiple rejections on the novel from traditional publishers, but unlike other manuscripts something in me wouldn’t let this one go. I can’t really explain it. I don’t really get it. This novel, this story became so much more than a book I wrote. It became so much more than a flight of fantasy, it became a mission.

But still, I had to move on. I gave over the rights in the main to stop myself from obsessing over it. You know, clear the air, get some space. I felt relief for a time, but when I saw that my vision, that imprint of my soul was, well, handled without the utmost of care, I couldn’t help but take offense. It hurt because the mission was so much more important than that. It hurt because it wasn’t my vision anymore.

I think any artist has to try and live up to the original concept that inspired him to touch paint brush to canvas, pen to paper or digital object to screen. Any artist has to try and make the vision real, do it justice, keep the integrity true while trying to stay commercial. Not an easy task, any of it.

So, my vision wasn’t being seen. Prizm was about to get swept under a rug. But then, this is Prizm: Dominatrix of Sulan we are talking about here, let’s not fool ourselves, with a title like that this work has no intention of lying under rugs. I made a decision. A pivotal one. I decided that the only way to make my vision real, to make the intention stick was to do it myself, and by God, I am the only one who can. 

You see, crazy as it sounds, split personality as it is, I do believe and on some level just plain know that the characters of this book sought me out because they knew I would carry their message. They thought it that important. And so I wrote this thing, letting it pour out of me like some wild proclamation from another world, letting the characters take control and tell the thing the way they wanted to, the way they were meant to. 

And when it was done, I still didn’t know exactly what I had. Still don’t. Still trying to wrap my wits around what exactly it is. But I have this much today, I have a piece of the puzzle in sharp focus now for all the world to see at a glance. Taking matters into my own hands has brought me together with a very gifted artist, Amalia Chitulescu and do you know, she got the visual.

I mean, she saw the world and gave it expression. She brought out the aesthetic as only she could. 

I am happy today because I can show a piece of the world now, a real piece. Edits from the re-writes are being done now too and the re-launching pad is being built and it’s being done right, but I’ve got the show piece now and I couldn’t have asked for a better one.

Thank you Amy so much.

And thank you early readers of this work. Ron, Heather, Amber, Piers. Thank you to anyone and everyone who has ever given Prizm a chance because I don’t think it has ever really let any of them go either, at least not for very long. 

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Getting More Done with Monk Magic

I’ve had to take a break from blogging. Many reasons, so many. A move for one, from Los Angeles to Seattle. Sweet! Oh, but the rains haven’t come yet and so I am waiting to melt once they do. Seattleites are like that, they just love to tell you how much rain they endure on an annual basis. They wear it like a black eye, proud and winsome. 

Well, we shall see. I’ve got my rain gear, snorkel, galoshes. Waiting, waiting for the great deluge. 

Another reason, I have done a full-on re-write of my novel Prizm. I had to. I know you’re not supposed to do that, I know you’re supposed to “never look back” but I had to do it. Well, you see it all started over the cover. I don’t like the cover it has right now so I thought I would see about what I could do about that. Then I thought, well, if I’m doing a new cover, might as well fix up some of them typos I knew were in there and then…all up hill from there. Got into it and my Gad, couldn’t resist. Had to re-write. Well, I’m damn glad I did because the product is so much better. I mean, night and day if you ask me. Not the story, the story was all there, always all there. Just the writing, use of English. I just hadn’t had the technical skill to bring it off before but now, I think I got it. I mean, I think I managed to do the work justice. I think now I have at least approximated the vision. 

I am also having a new cover done. Using 99 Designs to do it and so far so very good. I am getting some really great renderings and I am very happy that the new cover will also do the work justice. Very important, covers. I also restored the full title because, it just wasn’t the same. Prizm. You know, what is that? So, I restored it. Prizm: Dominatrix of Sulan, Book One of the Jen Cycle. 

It introduces the second one, which will be called Prizm: Liberator of Sulan, Book Two and so on. Anyway, it will be up in a couple weeks, I think, at the most. New cover and new improved all the way around. 

Let’s see, more reasons for not blogging. Sleeping. Reading (China Mieville you never cease to amaze! Anne Rice, if you ever read this, let it be known I shall sit at the foot of the master to learn what crumbs of knowledge thou mightest cast at me! Yeah, she’s one of favorites. Oh, yeah, Roger Zelazny, Terry Goodkind, Brandon Sanderson. The list grows. 

Oh, another reason, I am going great guns on Thomas Hunter. I am currently describing it thusly: Harry Dresden meets Corwin of Amber at the Vatican to fight Cthulu. Though, I am searching for something less bombastic. Any ideas, let me know. Excited about that one and considering just going straight into the next book. You know, strike while the iron is hot and all. Better maybe to do it while its still so fresh in the brain. 

Let’s see, let’s see. Oh, yes, I did a reading of Demon of Montreal at a coffee shop here in Seattle and while I would chalk the whole experience up to “practice” and “an exercise in NOT promoting to see who comes anyway” I did find that my voice is oddly perfect for the piece and so have decided to do the audio book. Yes, I am really looking forward to that. My friend Paul M. in Minnesota is hooking me with some really great pricing on a real honest to goodness recording studio complete with pro-tools. So, just after Thanksgiving…somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I will have an audio book out. Demon in audio just in time for Santie Clause. 

What else, what else…well, that kind of brings me to the name of this blog post. I have a word. One word. This is how we can a) get more done b) solve crimes c) save lives and d) have our doppelgangers too. One word: bilocation. 

Yes, bilocation. It’s so easy, I have no idea why I never thought of it before. 

Actually, this is monk magic. For some reason and I have no idea why, monks, devout monks of a certain faith have had attributed to them such strange powers, like levitation and bilocation. The famous Padre Pio apparently bilocated on many many occasions, meaning appeared in body in two or more places at the same time. His body mind you, not his spirit that is a very important part of bilocation. Its not spiritual its physical. Padre Pio of course saved people from imminent destruction and guided people through near death experiences and what not.  

Levitation is another one. One priest in particular…hang on let me check my sources…St. Joseph of Copertino Italy in 1600 something, used to have wild, spastic episodes of uncontrolled levitation whereby he would bounce around the chapel, bumping into things and breaking things. Yes, he termed it “my giddiness” of all things. I guess he was so filled with religious ecstasy that he just couldn’t help himself from flying. 

Well,  I don’t know about you, but all that sounds like a pretty good way to a) get more done–doppelgangers in the flesh can do actual work presumably and b) get there faster. 

I’m going to try that with writing. After all, its working great for Patterson. 

 

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