Vorpal Blade Publishing Now Open

Oh my God, its been such a wonderfully strange week. Things are starting to move in the right direction. Really and truly. I have to take this moment to plug this book. If you’re an indie writer and you haven’t read Write. Publish. Repeat. You just need to literally drop everything and read it.

41laGV4JtoL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

 

I’m just going to say it right now. Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant, I love you guys, man.

This book is what you need. The subtitle of this thing is “The No Luck Guide to Self Publishing.” Get it, the NO LUCK guide. And that was exactly the frame of mind I was in, I had no luck.

But that was the biggest problem, I was relying on luck and not the right actions to sell books.

Yes, I know how dumb that sounds, but I wonder how many other writers are feeling like that. For years and years and years I sent manuscripts to New York and got the rejection slips. I remember advice from people saying, every time they get a rejection slip they cheer because it means they’re that much closer to an acceptance.

Well, that just sucks.

A while ago I began my own little program of reinforcing the positive. Instead of telling myself things like “I don’t know what I’m going to do” and “Oh God, when will it ever work” I decided on this mantra: “I get what I need to succeed.”

So every time one of those nasty little imps showed up, I just told it, “Hey Mother Fucker, I get what I need to succeed” and shortly after that I got Write. Publish. Repeat. and Donald Maas’s book “How to Write the Breakout Novel.”

Well, the first thing I got over was this fear of reading books on writing. I am still very selective, but I am also very open to them  now. This helps.

For the first time, I have a business head for this activity. Not so easily done, but I have always had a good business head in general. Only with my writing I felt like I was swimming in the deep part of the pool with no floaties.

I’ve started networking my writing business just like my other business and what do you know, I started meeting people who want to help me sell my books to other people who like to read the things I am writing. In fact, I have been invited as the guest author at a Gothic Halloween party.

I am more than thrilled.

Here’s the moral of this story: I’d had the breaks on! I was in, Rejection Slip Mode where everything sucks and where the day is always gray and where people sneer if they emote at all, but more likely they don’t even see you because you’re such a nobody.

Ah, the demons we must vanquish!

So, check this out (and this really does deserve a drum roll), I present to you, the official grand opening with a real business license and everything, of Vorpal Blade Publishing!

Yes, I need to get a logo made up and I will, but VBP is now officially open and officially my publisher. How do you like them apples?

Do I send myself rejection slips? Of course I do!

In celebration–sometimes when I go out and do Day Jobbing I run across folks who don’t want to use old green backs for the transaction. Used book stores often don’t, so we go the old fashioned route and barter. I have tons of second hand books that were acquired in just this way, but last week, I happened upon one of these pre-monetary-system fellows and we made a little deal. And what did VBP acquire? I present to you, the official VBP Machine, ta-da!

photo (30)

Ain’t she a beauty. And you can see underneath some of my many books from second hand bookstores just sort of slopping all over the floor.

Anyway, she’s a Remington Standard Typewriter Number 10. From 1920 or something like that.

So, all of VPB manuscripts will now be typed on it.

Just kidding. I use too much correction tape on typewriters and got a “D” in typing class because I refused to stop looking at the key board. Yes, I got a “D” in typing. Hey but I got the credit and graduated!

Well, that brings this little event to a close. There are refreshments in the back and, as they say, don’t drink the Kool-aid. At least not the purple shit.

In closing, there are more things coming. Like a fancy Poppycock book trailer which is going to smoke like an Indian peace pipe. And the second Poppycock book is nearing completion. And Thomas Hunter and Godsign and, and, and…

For now, I bid thee adieu.

How to Handle an Infested Manuscript

I am always in search of techniques to make self editing easier and more effective. Because, let’s face it, if you write more than a book or two, paying a couple grand a pop breaks the piggy bank. 

So, between myself, wife and my English guru friend, we tackle the subject armed with Chicago Manuals of Style and an assortment of dictionaries and self editing compendiums. And we flank our maneuvers with full tanks of caffeine.

We also go over the manuscript many times, about six or seven before we put that baby to bed. Needless to say, this takes time and since lack of time is the biggest enemy of today’s indie author, I am always looking for ways to speed things up and increase quality. Because you don’t want to speed things and decrease quality, do you?

So in the interest of community and assistance to my fellow authors, I would be remiss if I did not mention here what I have found. If you already know all about this, it wouldn’t be the first time I am late on the chain, but as they say, better late than never got out of bed.

This method I am about to expose, is based on a the principle that writers have crutches they don’t know about. Subconscious word smiths who are so dull they make Eeyore look like Bozo the Clown. Yet these sluggards have one very strong trait. They never drop a ball.

They go to work day in and day out, tirelessly pounding in the nails. These boys have no life. 

They construct pet phrases and little words that, when trouble sets in, at least get the job done and take the story where it wants to go regardless of weather conditions. These workman verbs don’t give a rat’s fanny pack how it gets done, just build that road.

I call it the Wyrm Method. “Wrym” is a cool way of saying “worm.”

These repetitive words and phrases can infect a manuscript like a tapeworm, sucking out the life while making you think you’re just hungry.

A couple of these ageless parasites are: Seems, stood, nodded, sighed. When the terrain becomes slightly more rocky, the Eeyore homunculus in his yellow plastic construction hat opens his thermos and really pours on a double dose of dull. Stopped and stared, looked and smiled, thought and realized.

Some other construction site parasites might include: cocked his head, spun on his heel, smelled the fear and that Mack Daddy of them all: between forefinger and thumb. Its just not a good book unless someone can hold something with his forefinger and his thumb at the same time, as if he would do it any other way!

Oh, its nothing to be ashamed of. We all need to walk on a sidewalk and when you can’t cross the river, you better build at least a rope bridge. The problem with these utilitarian words and cliches is not even so much that they are as tasteless as stale baklava, but that they are used time and again, like that Chicago pothole that just won’t stay filled after the next rain no matter how many times they come and pour in loose asphalt.

There is another problem. These boredom inducing bits posses a camouflage component that is more effective than a Trojan rocking horse. Around these manuscript murderers I daresay you will find whole nests of pathetic prose, passive voice and in general sleep inducers better than Ambient, but far less addictive. Find the wyrm and you find his brood of dullards in overalls and hard hats. Have no mercy. Exterminate.

So, if you think your manuscript might have wyrms, use my extermination technique. Pick a colorless modifier, load it into you search and find matrix and root those suckers out. And I daresay once you begin, you’ll find more and more and more, until they wither up and die and your manuscript will be that much closer to health. 

Happy hunting.

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. 

 

 

Goat Bones

I had been trying to meet Neil Gaiman for a long time. I admired this  genius of a man for many reasons. One being his work, of course. I found such wonderful things in a Neil Gaiman story, but truth be told, more for his career. Oh, what a career. Yes, the Rock Star of the Literary World, but more than that was the fact that he had made his own brand into a kind of genre all by itself. 

Nothing quite like a Neil Gaiman book. 

So, being a fan I wanted to meet him and being a writer I hoped for some of the magic to rub off. A “Look, Andy, I believe in your story telling so much, that I’m going to endorse you.” Or, “I’ve decided that you and I should write a book together!” 

When I lived in Chicago I went to “A Night with Neil” to celebrate the release of the Graveyard Book. There he read chapter three from the stage and delighted one and all. Ever the showman, his thick mop of black hair, his deep English accent and of course, the wondrous prose. 

Well, there the cost of admittance was one book and the book came autographed. No line up for autographs because when Neil does a signing too many people line up and he is there until 5 o’clock n the morning. Damn! 

Anyhow, after the reading, he did a Q and A with questions from the crowd, he pulled the questions out of a hat that were written before the show started, because if he were to take them directly from the crowd, we would have been there until 5 o’clock in the morning!

Someone (not me, I didn’t put a question in the hat, because I almost never do what everyone else is doing, since birth I am like this) asked him what the secret is. You know “the secret” to being, well, like Neil. He said “Goat bones! Goat bones! Propitiate the gods with goat bones.” And we all had a wondrous laugh and then he, of course, said, “to write and keep on writing and to start with short stories because you can complete them and when you complete things, you see how they are to be done and then after awhile, you can complete bigger things and see how they are to be done, too.”

At the end of the night, I walked away feeling like I had just had a very nice time with a great writer and great speaker. And I had. 

But, I had already written short stories AND novels, and so, not being like anyone else, I endeavored to meet Neil for real. Not just a member of the crowd, but really. 

Some time passed when I saw that Neil was going to be in Montreal for World Con. Holy Moses, I packed my things traveled three thousand plus miles and went. 

Aside from Montreal being a fantastic city and me being thrilled just to walk its streets, I plotted and schemed on how to meet Neil face to face, up close and personal whereby he was sure to say something like, “You know, Andy, I’ve read your manuscript, and I have to tell you, its bloody good and what’s more, you’re bloody good and you’re going to be my new co-conspirator and write American Gods, The Sequel with me!”

Yes, yes, yes!!!

The problem was one didn’t just walk up and talk to Neil. Hell, no. There was protocol,

One morning I was walking, getting my coffee and scheming, when I happened upon a huge line for a Neil Gaiman book signing. Shit! Quick. What to do? Go and buy that Neil Gaiman book right there and jump in line and meet this demigod mug to mug. And that’s exactly what I did. With Unread Neil Gaiman Book tucked under my arm, I got in line. Waiting and waiting.  And then the guy in front of me turns around and says “what number do you have?”

“Number? Number? Ah, what number?”

“Well,” he says, “you gots to have a number, you see like this. And I don’t know if me number is small enough to get into the signing before Neil has to be at that panel discussion.” 

“Uh…”

“Don’t you have a number?”

Nope. The Big Dork didn’t have shit. And no raffle number = no signing by Neil. 

Crappola. 

That’s fine. I got schemes and I got plans and I got backbone. 

When Neil entered the panel room, standing room only, but I was lucky enough to get a seat, everyone clapped. I remember watching him walk up, shaking his mop of bushy black hair and I thought–no, actually said to my friend who I had dragged along, “Maybe that’s what I have to do, get a big head of bushy black hair.”

Anyway, the panel was very Neil of course and all very charming. 

But, time was running out and I had yet to get my personal meeting with Neil. Oh, you could have coffee with him! But no, you had to win that too. 

No, no. That wouldn’t do. I need a sure fire thing, I needed an inside track. 

The night when the Hugo was given Neil won, of course, for The Graveyard Book and gave a speech wherein he said, “Funny that I won this, because I don’t even write Science Fiction” and of course, no one cared! Anyway, with that night came all the after event parties. So many parties and so many opportunities to meet Neil. 

My friend and I wandered the parties, one hotel room to the next, looking for the one with Neil in it. After a good hour, we finally got the punch line, Neil isn’t at these parties, dude. 

Then came the big question: where’s the real party? You know, the Neil party?

It was fated, a fortuitous stroke of amazing luck, that shortly after that, we got onto the elevator and told the guy operating it that we wanted to go to the “real party where Neil was” and he took us. 

The bottom floor. Ding, the door opened and here was the gala. 

Ah. Yes, where all the New York editors were, yes, oh, hello, that’s a luminary in the literary universe, oops there’s another one. I tried talking to a girl who was happy to talk with me the night before at a common party and who very purposely and visibly stuck her nose in the air when she saw me at this party. 

Yes, my dear, I see how its done now. 

Well, needless to say. It was now or never. My friend had left shortly after stepping out of the elevator, because, he said, he didn’t want to be somewhere he wasn’t wanted. No bother, the road to Neil must be walked alone. Begone, traveling companion, you have served me well, but we are at journey’s end.

The golden chalice was near at hand and I carried with me the favor of the gods. 

After some more milling about, some eating of the food, I was feeling pretty good that no one was bum-rushing me, no bouncer kicking me out. Yes, well, like I said, the gods favored me this night. 

And then, as if a spot light shone down, I saw Neil. 

Amidst a flock of his Clarion students (missed that one) he posed for a photo. Yes, it was Neil alright. I waited just out of sight, lurking for the right moment. Plan? Pure bravado. Just walk up and stick out my hand and…

And…

And…

And what? Say, “I’m your biggest fan”, “Hi, I loved Neverwhere”, “Hey, sir, um, can we write a novel together?” 

No.

I’m not going to crash this party anymore. I’m not going to be “that guy.” No. What is he going to do for me, that I cannot do for myself?

Make me famous? Hahahahahahahhahaha. 

“Goat bones, Andy, goat bones.”

Enough. 

I backed away. I turned and walked out. I left the hotel. I left the con. I walked to my hostel, yes, hoStel, where the beds were cheap and the beer cheaper and I smoked a cigarette thinking, I didn’t meet Neil Gaiman. tonight, or today, or this week. No, but I met someone else. He doesn’t have bushy hair or an English accent, but he is someone who really can help me in my career and who really will write the next book with me.

I traveled all this way to meet myself. 

I’m still a Neil fan, but I’m a Anne Rice, Stephen King, China Mieville, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker fan, too. A so-many-others fan. And more importantly I am an Andy Schwarz fan. 

 

So You Got a Bad Review…

Yeah, we all get them. No matter how good you are, no matter how brilliant a story you have written, someone is going to give it a bad review. And though we try not to care, try not to think about it, try not to let it bring us down, we do and it does.

But why?

We have other reviews, perhaps lots of other reviews raving about what a wonderful book, and yet this one lousy one, just makes us think all the good ones were fake or those people writing the good ones were somehow embellishing their enjoyment and being somehow false in their praise.

Oh, woe and strife shall be thy lot.

Well, I will give my take on this horrible subject. It goes like this: reviews are nothing if they are not biased. I don’t really believe a single review means anything. Every author, the greatest authors of our time get bad reviews, one and two star ratings saying “Drivel!” “Crap!” “Hack!”

You say, yeah, that doesn’t help, I still feel miserable about my crappy review. Bear with me for a moment, this is a slow dig.

Someone might say to you this unhelpful statement: “Not everyone is going to like your book.” Yes, we already knew that, thank you. Or this fruitless advice: “Suck it up.” Sure thing, coach.

The reason those kind of statements or commands don’t help our Bad-review-osis, is because they don’t really get at the meat of the problem. As an artist creating something (a book) that book is a baby and that baby, no matter how ugly, is beautiful to its creator-mother-father. So, anyone calling your kid and ugly bastard is apt to get you down.

More to the point: if Mr. Bad Reviewer would just do this one little favor, just this: be specific, maybe, just maybe we could understand and let it go. Apparently this is too much to ask for, however. But if it could be done the review would read something like this: “I thought the characterization of the step-mother was too stock, falling into the old and tired cliche of the evil step-mother who is trying to ruin the family and I would have preferred a fresher more modern approach.” Well, at least you would be able to understand where this reader was coming from.

Instead you tend to get things like: “The step-mother was just a throw-away character” which leaves you with two hang-ups: 1) what is a throw-away character and 2) who says?

In other words you have two problems: a vague comment that is meaningless because it is vague and an opinion masquerading as a fact.

Now, maybe this all some Utopian view of reviews and is totally unreal to expect a reviewer to take the time to explain himself, and to you I say, you’re right. My point here is how to take these uncomplimentary reviews and figure out why they’re torturing you so you can get over them and back to writing.

Okay, so you have a big problem in reviews in that almost nothing in a review is an actual fact. Take this wonderful statement: “The book was uneven.”

Huh? If you could just get a specific, a “In chapter 3 the move from first person to third person jarred me out of the story” or “I felt the authors voice kept going in and out, from Old Time Story Teller to Radio Announcer style.” Something, anything to let you at least understand what the problem was, at which point you could a) decide if you care enough to change it b) change it or not.

It’s as equally bad to say: “this book was good.” I have actually gotten “good” reviews that I felt disappointed with because they didn’t really say why the book had merit.

One way to evaluate a negative review is on the basis of: is there a specific and is there an actual fact. One review I got, a two-star said they didn’t like this dark story, but if you did like dark stories with dark characters doing dark things, you will probably like this dark book. Yes! This is the truth! So, in a way it was a complimentary “bad” review, because if I were looking for a dark and sinister tale about evil and magick and some church lady told me that The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker was a terrible, terrible book about dark doings, I would run out and buy that book right now.

What does it all come down to anyway?

Once you get past the opinions stated as if they were scientific fact and the ambiguous statements about quality, you are prepared to enter the next tier of enlightenment. Let’s face it. Reviews–all reviews, good and bad–are little more than biased, opinionated statements of one person’s tastes. And that’s not a slam on reviews or reviewers, it’s just that that is all any review can ever hope to be.

There is no “good review” or “bad review” because “good” and “bad” are not factual qualifiers. There are only reviews written by people who liked or did not like your book.

And then you must consider that tastes change with the culture. When I was fifteen, we used to pin the bottoms of our pants with safety pins and somehow, with our big feet being accentuated and our pants pinned to our skinny calves, we looked good. Now, I know that if I did my pants up like that people would think I looked really dumb and bad. So tastes can change.

So, now that we have dispensed with good and bad morality as regards reviews, we can see that we have people who liked the book and people who didn’t. Here’s where reviews start to have meaning, but it is a quantitative, not a qualitative significance. How may people “liked” or loved your book versus the haters. You should run somewhere along a 80% favorable (3 star and above) versus the 20% unfavorable (1 and 2 star) with some variance, but this is really what you should have and honestly, in the opinion of this author, what you want. Why? Let’s take a look:

All five stars? Really, every single review is a five star? Okay, so that’s not even real. Stephen King doesn’t get that ever and I’m pretty sure he’s good at what he does, so…bullshit.

Really, it must mean that the reviews are cooked or, more likely, the book doesn’t have enough reviews from the general public. So, in order to even get a picture of whether a book is (old system) “good” or “bad” you need quantity. Conversely, you can’t get one five star review and throw a party because you have written the best classic of the century. That’s pretty obvious how insane that would be. So, neither can you get a shit review and head for the Golden Gate Bridge. You need quantity and only then will you enter the next stage of literary Nirvana.

What are you looking for with this quantity? Whether the book is “good” or “bad?” God, no. We’ve already established that good and bad are meaningless statements of Puritan hypocrisy and a moralist based logic system. No, we want to see the only thing that matters. Ready for this?

What makes Twilight a wonderful success? The excellent prose? Nope. The amazing characters? No, no. What then? What makes Wool so wow-wow. Is it the author’s ballet videos? Nah ah. The fantastically realistic sci-fi technology? Not even.

One word to bind them: resonance.

If you got it, you have success, whether or not you write “good.”

It sucks, I know. What is it? Some could call it the zeitgeist. Heinlein did, about Stranger in a Strange Land when fans in the 70’s tried to actually practice the religion in the book. Twilight resonates with 17 year old girls everywhere, even if that 17 year girl is in your past or somewhere deep down inside. Twilight hooks you with Bella’s “voice.” Hunger Games, Wool and that new one, Divergent, all play on the fascination we humans have with our world becoming a dystopian concentration camp that we have to overcome and restore hope in.  Zombie stuff…somehow we love the idea of the end of the world coming by making everyone a soulless animal that we then have to blow holes in. Gothic vampires will never go out of style because the dependence on human blood with the eternal damnation makes for wonderful love stories that make us ponder the meaning of life and our role in eternity. Etc, etc.

Many things resonate with many different groups. Some groups love Rocky Horror Picture Show. The trick is to write something that resonates with the majority of people, but the REAL trick is to write things YOU LOVE that resonates with ENOUGH people to sell copies and pay the rent or buy that Aston Martin you’ve been eyeballing.

For me, I don’t like the big blockbuster books. They make me so bored. I read them to see why they’re such hits, but they’re soporific to me. Wool. It took me like 5 hours into the audio book to even get remotely interested, and then I admit, I did start really liking it, but I still haven’t finished it, because every scene in this Dean Koontz book stirs up the wildness in me. In other words, while Wool is a beloved masterpiece of the masses,  it doesn’t resonate with me like a good dark fiction fantasy story, like a 800 page Anne Rice back story, like a Weird as all get out China Mieville story, like a–you get the idea.

So, we now have a yardstick by which to rate the ratings and review the reviews.

1) Any facts in this review?

2) Any specifics in this review that you can actually grasp?

1 & 2) No? Dismiss as taste and preference. Yes? see if you agree or weren’t aware of the issue and whether or not there is something to learn from it.

3) Do I have enough reviews to even see a pattern? Or do I need more exposure before I can see an overall picture?

4) What is the ratio between favorable versus unfavorable reviews? If it’s swinging outside of the 80 “good” and “20 bad” you can:

a) review to see if multiple people are saying the same thing.

i) fix or not fix as you see fit or (better)

ii) don’t make the same mistakes in your next book.

4A) If you’re getting nothing but 5 stars, double to check to see if you really did just write the newest classic of the century, or if you need to send your book to people who don’t know you and don’t give a crap if they make you sad today.

5) If its something like 80 to 70% “good” then don’t pay attention to the haters. It didn’t resonate with them, because their head is wrapped around and fascinated with the zombie apocalypse, or  Bigfoot erotica, or vampire saints, or quirky girls who can’t stop shopping or solving crimes with their dad or, or, or ad infinitum.

Now, do you feel better? Get back to writing!

 

 

 

 

Indie Author Digest #102

So many developments since I decided to jump out into the abyss I figured I should install an update. I was going to wait for some major achievement, but it’s the little steps that are so important. 

For years I had been doing this thing as regards my art: trying to figure out what’s wrong with it. Man, what a sink hole that is. You get so desperate for feedback and approval, it reduces you to a lump. And that’s how I had approached my art for several years. 

As a lump. 

Once, my wife said to me, “I can count on one hand the number of days your writing has made you happy.” 

My God, what a statement. What a statement. I wondered how something that is supposed to bring me such joy and happiness and fulfillment only brought such heartache. 

Last year when Damnation Books offered a contract to publish DOM, I cried. I cried. Because finally something was good enough.

Recently, I’ve changed on the subject of my writing. And its good. A couple things happened. One, I decided to just do this indie thing. I mean, no more doubts. Off into the water. That alone brought relief. Because the absolute worst thing is doubt. It will stop you more than any cement wall. You just end up holding yourself back. So, I dispensed with the Doubting Thomas routine. 

Second, I decided to blog about the intimate details of it. To hell with trying to keep some public facade going. All sunshine and rainbows. No, I will give the real nitty-gritty. The hope, dreams, loss, hopelessness. All of it. Well, doing that made me real. At least to myself. I’m not a clown trying to make the kiddies laugh at my jokes, anymore. I’m the drunk clown now, getting grease paint all over my cigarette. 

(joke)

Third, I decided to do this: experience my emotions and see what happens. That is strange. I was so used to reacting to the situation and feeling bad about not being some famous icon that I was just drowning. So, I sat back and let them go. This last week I just roller coastered between hope and despair. I considered giving up. For real, just saying “fuck this” and making more money or feeding the homeless or something. Then I thought, Yeah, you’d just go out and write a fucking novel. 

That didn’t let me off the hook.

Then I realized. I am a writer. I just am. Always have been. Always will be. I’ll be a writer even if no one ever reads anything I write. That put some demons to rest. The demon that just loves to tell you how much time you’re wasting. And the other sonovabitch that tells you what a loser you are. I’m not a loser, I’m a writer. 

This is all rather personal melodrama, I know, but I am putting it here because these are MY barriers. These are the reasons I haven’t succeeded the way I want to. 

Then at some point this week, I became enamored with another idea: opportunity does not always appear in the guise you think it should. I had watched something happen with my business. Something magical that I had never dreamed of and it meant taking my day business in a direction that was profitable but not what I had planned. But who cares? It’s still opportunity. 

Well, the internet gives a lot of opportunity to writers. You can publish your stuff. Duh. So, I decided it was okay to accept the opportunity, rather than fight it because it didn’t or hasn’t appeared in the form of me being miraculously discovered and given a $100,000 advance, or a Twilight or Harry Potter phenom. Because maybe I’m not writing that kind of book anyway.

The Buddhist principle of being like water became my new philosophy this week. Flow like the river, not crack like the oak tree.

And then I decided to communicate en mass. To just let it go and not be ashamed of what I had to say or write. To not worry about whether I am being socially acceptable, presenting a “right face” or whatever. But to be genuine, to be myself as a writer and an artist.

These things have been plaguing me for so long, I can’t tell you. I didn’t really even know what they were. I was just…punishing myself, I guess. 

Then I got to work and started playing around with cover design. I never knew MS Word could do so much stuff. I designed two covers for short stories and cut my cover design bill down from $200.00 a pop to $15.00 for stock imagery. I would post them now, but haven’t bought the images so don’t think I’m supposed to yet.

This was huge for me.

I had thought that I HAD TO HAVE an artist. And could not do it without an artist. Well, actually, I had been designing covers and telling the artist what to make already. So…if I could just learn a little bit about MS Word’s design templates, I just might be able to do it.

The first one got a thumbs up from the wife straight away, while the second one got shot down out of hand. Then I redesigned it and got a “Wow.”

This, for me, is freedom.  It takes the limit off what I can post on Amazon. It takes the stress off, financially. You have to realize that I have about 1,000,000 words of material that I have been saving to my hard drive. Some of it is previously published, most not. That’s a fair amount of material and it all needs covers.

I also began formatting my first Smashwords short story. I am using Mark Coker’s book called Formatting for Smashwords, or something similar and he just walks you though it. There again, I found, hey I can do this. I am learning all about Word too and feeling better. 

 

Then I went back to DOM. It just isn’t getting reviewed. And it actually galls me and breaks my heart at the same time. You see, I know it’s a good book. I just know it. But…nothing. Makes me crazy.

So, I decided to apply my new attitude to the problem and went online to see who the hell reads stuff. I found this: I am all about helping you out in any way I can. I would also love to do interviews to go along with your reviews if you are interested. I would love to help promote your book in any way that I can.

I about fell out of my papasan chair. And that is not easy to do. You can break the base, but hard to fall out. Anyway, the penny dropped.

I have been barking up the wrong tree.

Next penny.

I have been engineering my own defeat.

Next penny.

I have been making the whole world responsible for my failure.

I would do this: approach my friends to read my book. Well, they are my friends, right? Wouldn’t they, shouldn’t they read my shit?

Yeah, but they’re not readers. Many even say, I just DON’T read and I feel bad about this?

I feel shunned about this?

You hear all the time, know your market. I never knew what that meant.

I looked up someone who agreed to do a review for me awhile back. A reader. I found 2,000 books on their to-be-read list. What?

I started to understand.

Stephen King calls them the Constant Reader. Well, they read ALL THE TIME. That’s who you want. Not the mother-in-law if she’s not also a reader. Not the Non-fiction reader. Of course, if you bark up the wrong tree all the time, you’re going to be disappointed all the time. And you have to understand that readers have huge lists of books to read. I do too. I buy books I never read. And I only review because I am a writer and would want someone to do the same for me. I wouldn’t normally write a review. 

It made me stop taking it all so damn personally. 

 

And I am not talking about being the obnoxious social media guy who only wants to talk about his book to every would-be reader he can find. I just mean, there are people who want to help and you should approach those people.

That’s it. Makes it pretty simple. No more banging my head against the wall because all my Goodreads friends don’t go out and buy my titles or whatever.

Anyway, it’s the simple things. This week saw a lot of simple, but powerful changes in me as regards my writing, my writing career and what I am doing.

I am taking control back from my demons. And I’m pretty sure that has to be done before anything else can be. 

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps someone else out there who may be feeling…well, frustrated. 

Zeitgeist: Vampires

Image

Ah, the zeitgeist! A fancy German word that means the “spirit of the time” or “spirit of the age” meaning, of course, the popular trend in a culture. We are all affected by such spirits in our age. Some more than others. It’s what resonates inside of as a culture, a people and as individuals.

I have chosen the ultimate zeitgeist creature for this discussion: vampire. Also, vampyre, vampyr, strigoi and other things. Essentially an Eastern European legend that, forgive me, never seems to die.

Years ago, when I first delved into the lore, I remember turning to my friend Keith and saying, “Now, Keith, I want you to answer me totally honestly. If you–if they were real, would you become a v–”

“Yes!”

We all know what vampires are and what they do, and are mostly familiar with the basic mythos surrounding them from Vlad the Impaler to Dracula to Edward Cullen. But the question in this blog is not what they are or what they do, but why they stick with us like they do. I mean, come on! Do we ever tire of vampire tales. No, we don’t. I mean, we just don’t.

So why do they resonate so well? Why do they represent this spirit of the age for all ages?

Big Lance had a theory. It went like this. Vampirism is really a metaphor for sexually transmitted disease. After all, the “infection” is transmitted through the blood, through bites and exchange of bodily fluid and the swoon from drinking the blood compares with the sex act itself.

I believe he had a point.

I never got into vampires before Anne Rice‘s “Interview” and outside of enjoying Bram Stoker’s original, never cared much for other renditions. I did like how China Mieville portrayed them in The Scar, but then, I like how China Mieville portrays everything.

I read Twilight and was disappointed with them in that book, not that that is such a surprise, but I admit, I liked the first Twilight movie. I thought the movie was better than the book. But, that leads me to my theory of why they resonate.

They are the perfect creature for eternal love and by that token, eternal loss.

They are wonderfully romantic, even when–or especially when–they are drinking from a woman.

I think most people would agree with that, but why? How is that even remotely romantic? I dare say, if I were to take a woman out and attempt to drink her blood, most women would shut me down, quick. They wouldn’t even think twice about it and afterwards, after I left and she was safely tucked away in her apartment, she would not remember it with anything but disgust and fear and perhaps, a little pity. And this would be despite her bookshelf that is FILLED with vampire romance novels!

So…that leads me to this: they are the perfect creature to explore our own human nature.

Now, the vampire has the unique ability to defy death and sickness, two things humans cannot overcome. Even if you NEVER get sick, you will die. Eventually.

Or will you?

For certain, the body will die. That much we can say without question. I would, however, venture to say that most people believe in some kind of life after death scenario. Some kind of soul, human spirit, ghost. Medical science is familiar with OOB’s or Out of Body Experiences. More than one person has “been standing there watching” when they lay him out and do the operation. Most people believe in such a thing, not all. But assuming that the human organism possesses a non-material aspect, one could postulate that when you die, some part of you survives.

Then in comes speculative fiction. What if that part of you, was all of you? What if your body survived its own death? What would that look like? And what if in order to maintain that state, you had to drink human blood? To what lengths would you go? How would you feel about that and how long before you tired of living, and yet, lived on anyway?

Anne Rice’s vampires go “into the ground” every seventy or so years. In other words, they simulate death. They need a rest, a release. Some go insane, others jump on a funeral pyre and commit suicide and beg the survivor to spread the ash so they won’t come back. Some slump into apathy and otherwise resign to their fate.

And some, find ways and means to keep it interesting and create reasons to celebrate, to carry on.

I don’t know about you, but that all sounds eerily familiar to me.

In this light we see ourselves without all the societal props. Through the eyes of the vampire, we begin to see beyond the immediate need to work, to make money, to collect possessions. We get a break from the hectic live-live-live pace of raising a family and doing everything we can before it’s too late. Suddenly, we see, its never too late and then we glimpse eternity.

We glimpse just how long eternity can be. And that scares us more than death ever could. Only then do we see what horror really is. An eternity trapped in this earthly existence feeding on the life of our friends and watching all those we love die and die and die again, while yet, forced to live on. Forever.

Eternal love. Eternal damnation. The perfect creature to see ourselves and the universe that has us.

That is how, I believe, vampires form the zeitgeist.

The Indie Author’s Life Digest #101

I had an old friend who after high school went off and became a hobo. A real life hobo with a hanky on a stick. He began train hopping.

It is still legal to shoot train hoppers. With guns and real bullets. It’s one of those Old West laws still on the books. Well, he got shot AT on several occasions, but managed to hop enough trains to see the U.S. One does have to admit a certain romanticism of such adventures. He probably tired of eating cans of cold beans and peeing out of moving side cars, though.

Shortly after I first set foot in San Francisco and became dumbfounded at the homeless population there, I decided I wanted to get to the bottom of this “epidemic.” I found an approachable bum, a young woman with dread locks and nose ring sitting on a colorful quilt down by Powell and Market. I thought, ah, the perfect “bum” for me to interview. She was pretty, after all.

I invited her to lunch. On me, of course. She declined saying that this time of day was her best time and she really couldn’t miss it. Determined to get my interview, I decided to bring it to her. She accepted gratefully. A couple of minutes later, I laid out a McDonald’s picnic for the both of us and sat next to her.

So…how did you come to be in this condition? I asked, innocently. Of course, I expected a terrible story of victimization and loss. She simply said that she and her husband got tired of the rat race and decided to sell off everything they owned and hop trains. And so they did. They hopped trains all over the place and wound up in San Francisco where the gettin’ was good. A younger man gently handed her some cash at that moment.

I have decided to hop on the train. The Indie Author Limited. And what’s more, I have decided to blog about the journey. Wins and losses, what makes me happy, frustrations, dreams. No holds barred. I have my hanky on a stick if I get cold and a cheese sandwich in my back pocket if I get hungry.

It’s not been an easy decision for me. And I hold the opinion that I must be a late bloomer in this arena. It feels a bit like jumping off a cliff. I decided to wade into the waters last year when an incident occurred that sort of pushed me in that direction. I wasn’t planning it. But it occurred to me that fate was playing the card. I’ve stopped kicking and screaming for the most part.

Last year it became apparent that if I wanted to put a certain book out at the highest quality, I would have to do it myself. I had found that no one else (even the publisher) cared as much as I did about the work and so, I began the foray into the unknown. So far, that book has a beautiful cover, a restored title and 75%-complete editing job. It’s nearly the best that it can be right now. This, of course, makes me happy. Tears of joy happy.

Well, it was just a foray then, a bit like a detective with a flashlight. It started with that one book and spread to all my manuscripts and short stories. So, I’ve got five manuscripts under heavy editing (or in the queue) and cover designs that are mostly done, at the moment. Two are close enough where I am shooting to get them up on Smashwords in January. (I have to figure out how to format them, but I am expecting minimal resistance on that front. Keep fingers crossed.)

I have spent $824.00 and owe $350.00 more for cover art. And no, that’s not money that “I don’t miss.” It took several fights with my wife and much pondering to get that money allocated in the family budget. Mainly because at the same time, I have been setting up a new business, my day job, and laid out several thousand for that, so, I am feeling it, as they say. And all that has brought up the stress levels considerably. I am heartened by the fact that the above cash outlay pretty much covers everything that comprises my unpublished “back list.”

Anyway, that was $300.00 for the first cover on 99 Designs, plus 1 stock image at $12.00. Then $200.00 on 3 other covers and another $12.00 stock image. Then I owe $250.00 on another cover and another $100.00 for another one, which will have to be paid sometime in 2014. I am having Amalia Chitulescu doing most of my covers and Alex Donovan do one entitled Poppycock, A Midsummer Night’s Mare.

I had planned to go to Necronomicon in Rhode Island last summer where I was going to set up a vendor booth for Demon of Montreal, newly released then, but cancelled that trip and expense in favor of getting these covers so I could do a roll out the first of the year, of which I am dreadfully behind on.

I have about 1 million words in unpublished manuscripts, about 5 first-in-the-series novels plus short stories. I kept starting new series in hopes that something would bite in a big New York publishing house and as a result ended up with many first novels. So…minimally, I have several series to continue now. Which is kind of good.

I am still groping in the dark, however, and I believe my flashlight needs new batteries, because my other book, Demon of Montreal, published by Damnation Press last June, is suffering from a lack of reviews and exposure. And this is the eternal mystery of my days.

I decided to offer a free giveaway on this blog and see if I could garner any takers that way. I asked for a review in exchange. I got some takers and emailed off about 5 review copies that way. That was in June. One reader expressed much interest, but may not have completed it. Otherwise, its radio silence on that front. Not the end of the world, but mysterious. That is the thing that gets me the most, I think. The mystery of what happened. Of course, as a writer and my own worst critic, I assume they hated it. But that may not be true.

However, I did realize that my blog gets some traffic and that is pretty cool. The idea that I can write a blog and connect with people around the world genuinely makes me happy.

Then I found out about Bookbub and rested on my oars for a good long while secure in the knowledge that I could do this service and get my book in front of hundreds of e-readers who are looking for new books in whatever genre I am selling. I think the reason I waited so long to really look into it is because the hope factor. As long as I believed I had a way to promote the book, I felt more secure. The act of actually going out and seeing if it was a viable path endangered that security. If that makes sense.

When I finally looked into it, I found that Demon of Montreal (DOM for short) simply isn’t long enough. A 30,000 word novella doesn’t make the cut for Bookbub. So, since that was my ENTIRE marketing strategy for DOM, I had to look for another way.

From this, I discovered that my own barriers and unwillingness to let go of a security blanket (like Linus in the Peanuts) is really holding me back. It seems the idea that big success is right around the corner pacifies me into not really looking for fear of what I might really find. So, have to overcome those insecurities.

It’s really odd, I only have those insecurities with my writing. Nothing else. Not business, relationships, etc. Just my writing.

All is not lost with Bookbub, however, because I’ve got 5 novels that I potentially may get accepted for that service, so, there is some possibility of future traction there. Keep fingers crossed on other hand.

I tried my hand at casually approaching reader’s groups on Goodreads for a free givaway, but am pretty sure I got the sympathy card response where I got any response at all and this has not panned out in terms of reviews. I have also come to learn, or hear, that Goodreads people hate that practice anyway, so probably won’t be doing that again.

I signed up with another subscription service that trolls through Amazon and pulls out the email addresses of the top reviewers in a specified genre. So, I type in Gothic horror and then watch the whirley gigs spin after which I get a dozen or so email addresses of Top Reviewers.

So, I sent out…I want to say, a dozen email requests asking these reviewers if they would be interested in receiving a free copy of DOM and putting up a review on Amazon. The idea behind this is to garner attention from Amazon’s algorithm robots and thereby get your book promoted by Amazon. Sounds promising.  I got no response on that deal. I am not sure if I should do it again and send out to a dozen more or maybe 2 dozen more. I am still debating on the efficacy of this service and not so sure about it.

Someone had mentioned on some internet board that LibraryThing had a place where you could post your book and get reviews. And to be wary because they give scathing rebukes if they don’t like it. After some thought, I jumped at it. Got DOM posted on there and day by day watched the number of readers requesting a copy grow. I put up 100 available e-copies and gave it one month. Every day I checked it and by the end of the month, I had managed to net 70 readers who apparently had all agreed to provide a review in exchange for a book, that’s LibraryThing’s statement to the reader. Not bad at all and I was pretty happy about that response.

LibraryThing sent me a message saying that 69 of those 70 had “won” the book and gave me their complete addresses to mail or email the book to them. I emailed out an epub and MOBI format book to all of them and got a “thank you” type response from about 5 of them.

That all took place on November 17th and I have yet to receive any reviews. Not complaining really, that’s just the facts. LT states that they expect their readers to provide a review within 90 days. So, no one is late yet. Of course, I am worried like a Jewish mother, but then, that’s nothing new.

Grandma Schwarz once said that all Schwarz’s are by nature pessimists. I have tried very hard to undo this early Schwarzian training, but old gene pool habits die hard. So, I worry.

I do have 6 stellar reviews for DOM on Amazon now in the 4 and 5 star categories so I am not a total pauper on that front. All of them I have individually solicited. One could not post on Amazon because he lives in Canada and never orders from Amazon so cannot post the review, which is kind of a bummer because he gave it a 4 star.

I am hoping that LibraryThing does pay off and if so, I will have a stable venue to outflow my other work in the future and hopefully grow a readership. Keep other fingers crossed.

I had a wonderful experience with Nerd in the Brain blog who not only readily accepted my solicitation for a review, but read it in a week and posted to Amazon forthwith and conducted an interview on her blog with me. So, Nerd in the Brain rocks.

I also just mailed a hard copy review copy to Horror Novel Reviews blog, which for all I can tell seems like a literal gold mine for, well, horror novel reviews. I became a fan when I purchased the novel Exoskeleton by Shane Stadler off of HNR’s recommendation. http://www.amazon.co.uk/EXOSKELETON-A-Novel-Shane-Stadler-ebook/dp/B008UYSTRO

But I am on the prowl. Still. For more outlets and options. And running out of fingers to cross.

I am reading David Guaghran’s books on Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible. That man seems like a saint in the Indie Author Universe. And I am taking the advice of Joanna Penn by calling myself an Author Entrepreneur, which has the effect of separating one from the generic indie trend. If David Guaghran is the saint, then Joanna Penn must be the Madonna of the Indie World. Of course, that’s Catholic parlance and you could move it over into any belief system you fancied.

The other side of this coin is all of the life events that seem to distract you from the Nirvana-like goal at the end. This time, the burst fire sprinkler pipe really made a mess of things. I am currently living in the apartment complex’s Model Unit. You know, the furnished unit they show you when you’re thinking about renting there, to show you the possibilities of what can be. Anyway, some of my things are here in the model, while my furniture is under plastic sheets in the other unit. This has made it pretty hard to do things like eat breakfast and go to work on time. Plus the weekend time will be sucked up by moving into another unit.

Living in the model is funny because half of things don’t really work. Like the DVD player. From the couch it looks like a real DVD player with movies underneath. But upon closer inspection you see the player is just made out of cardboard and the movies are fake movie covers. The phone is the same way. Sometimes I’m pretty sure I am living in a simulated reality for dumb humans.

Those are my adventures so far on the train car. Hobo life isn’t so bad, it’s just sort of uncertain. But the worst is done. The leap. Now, let’s see if we can swim.

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. 

Image

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.