Monday, December 30, 2013

My Year In Review Post

I've been a bit absent on the ol' blog . . . again. Big shocker, I know. My apologies. It's not you. It's me. I live what you could say is an anticlimactic life. Anyway, I've been a bit busy these past couple of months, but I thought I better get one last post in 2013.

As I wander through my self-publishing adventure like a blind man in a smoke-filled rave party, I've inevitably stumbled along the way. One of my major mistakes was wasting a bunch of time trying to promote old works instead of welding my rump to the chair and super-gluing my fingers to the keyboard. I've heard it said many times the best way for an indie writer to succeed (or at least increase sales) is to have multiple works out. Despite knowing that, I still had trouble pulling away from the promotion side of the business.

Mid way through the year though I turned over a new leaf. I started writing feverishly on a new project. I had in my mind that I would write a series. Around mid-September I completed book one and now I'm three quarters of the way through book two. In the traditional realm I know that it's not advisable to write book two until you're sure book one will sell, but indies play by different rules. Besides, it's turning out to be more of a continuing story--like Lord of the Rings or The Dark Tower Series--that I'm breaking up into separate books.

I haven't yet churned out the second draft of book one mostly due to the day job and writing book two. I'm hoping to put in some writerly overtime and get book one out soon. I haven't released the name of the series because . . . well, I'm a bit paranoid that the name will be taken before I can get the book published. Stupid, I know, but it's my own little piece of neuroses.

I received some bad news a few weeks ago that my job will be going away. I'm searching for a new job, but as any of you in the same situation know, the pickin' sure are slim. So, I'm rushing to finish book two because I just don't know where I might end up in the next month or so. There's a good chance I may get stuck on 3rd shift and if I do I'm sure my writing time will suffer.

If things go well, I'm hoping in 2014 to publish the two books I've written and write another three. Wish me luck.

I would like to thank all of you that bought, read and reviewed my stories this past year. I hope you had a great 2013 and may 2014 be ten times better.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Almost Half of My Life

Let me tell you a little story.

There once was a troll that happened across a beautiful maiden. The maiden was kind to the troll, treating him as she would any friend. The troll feared that the maiden would soon see him for what he truly was, so in his desperation he acquired a magic ring that would forever bind the maiden to him.

Years passed and the troll felt bad for deceiving the maiden. He confessed that he had tricked her into staying with him. To his surprise the maiden had a confession of her own. The ring he had given her held no magic at all. She had stayed with him all those years because she wanted to.

In all seriousness, today is my 15th wedding anniversary. It's sometimes hard for me to grasp that a decade and a half have passed since I tricked that beautiful maiden into marrying me. Though at the time we thought we were so grown up, I look back and realize we were only kids. I mean, just look at those two baby-faces. I was 21 and she was only 18. And before you ask, no we didn't have to get married. No little buns were in the oven (that didn't come for another nine years). Not knocking that, but when we announced that we were getting married, that was the first question on almost everyone's lips. We got married because we couldn't imagine it any other way.

I realize now the reservations our families had. Marriage is a full time job, and many people just aren't up to the task. If either of my children come to me at the age of 18 and say they are tying the knot, I'm sure I'll get the same look on my face that my father-in-law had.

But thus far we've made it work, and I hope we continue to be blessed in that fashion.

Brandy is the best women I've ever known. She's gentle and strong. Smart and kind. She has never once told me to shelf this writing thing and has total faith that I will one day make it big. And any writer worth their ink knows how much support like that really means. She makes this old troll a better person.

If you take into account the two years that we dated before we were married then I've been with this wonderful woman almost half of my life. Time really does fly when you're having a good time.

Anyway, I'm not much for sap (I'm a sappy person deep down, but the troll in me hides that fact like a bar of gold) but she deserves a bit of sap from time to time. I know when we first started out we had "our song". To my shame I can no longer remember what "our song" was.

Don't judge me! I'm sure she doesn't remember, either (he says with a pensive wince).

Anyway, back in the late 90s I listened to a little more country music than I do now. Kind of burnt myself out on it. But there was one song that always brought that lump up in my throat and it rings more true today than it ever did back then. I wish I had the talent, or at least the courage, to sing it to her myself, but the troll won't let that happen. So I'm afraid this will have to do.

Thank you Brandy Michelle for sticking with this grumpy old troll and filling half of my life with such joy.

Happy Anniversary. I love you.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Cause I'm Feeling A Bit Melancholy

I was perusing my blog roll here on the blog, just thinking about doing some house cleaning. Then I came across the one at the bottom. Three years outdated. And I just can't delete it.

I can't believe it's been three years. Jamie Eyberg was a good guy, always eager to help me out or give me a kind word. I dare say he and I were friends, even if it was a cyber friendship.

This is the last post Jamie wrote on his blog. I encourage you to go through and read the others as well. He was a talented writer and a great guy.

I just wanted to write it here one more time lest I forget.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Sammy Terry

When I was a young boy growing up in the 80s there were few things I loved more than staying up late on a Friday night to watch Sammy Terry.

Sammy Terry was, and still is, a well known local TV personality here in Indiana famous for his horror show. The movies he showcased were mostly b-rated horror films or classics from the 30s through the 50s. Sammy Terry's show is one of my most fond memories growing up. It sparked my long lasting love of horror and sci-fi.

On June 30th, Sammy Terry whose real name was Robert Carter passed away. Last year Sammy Terry performed a special show at a haunted house close to where I live. I had planned to go see him, but I missed the opportunity. I wish I hadn't.

There is no doubt that Sammy Terry was a major influence on the writer I have become today. I only wish I had taken the chance to tell him so.

Rest in Peace Mr. Carter. Thanks for all the scares.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Down To The Wire . . . Again

Well, surprise surprise.  I'm about 15 minutes away from almost missing a May blog post.  Shocking I know.

May has been an especially crazy month for me.  First, my lovely wife graduated from nursing school.  It's been a long hard road for our family, but she's a tough gal.  I'm very proud that she not only went back to school (which isn't easy once you're married with children) but that she has chosen to be a nurse.  It's a noble calling to help those in need.  She's the most caring person I know so I'm confident that she'll be a great nurse.

Second, I had a birthday.  I won't disclose my age, but let's just say I'm now closer to 40 than 30.

Third, I'm working on a new novel.  It took me a while to get started on it because I was trying to get my mind around the scope of the story.  I was originally going to go dystopian, but in the end I scrapped that idea.  It the first in a series and will feature ghosts, vampires, zombies and an assortment of other macabre characters.

I've been battling with Day Job issues, mostly in the dropping of my weekly hours from 40 to 29.  So, a new job search is in my future.  That means my writing time will most likely go down.  One of these days I hope to put this rat race behind me.  Some day I hope that my "job" will be creating worlds one word at a time.

So, on to June we go.  Who knows what is waiting for us.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Oh, Mr. Patterson. What Will You Do Next?

I'm sure by now you've all heard about James Patterson and the ad he paid for in the NYT.  About how he feels literature is swirling around the proverbial toilet bowl and how we are all destined to return to illiterate Serfs.  Though he admits he doesn't have the answer to the death of story telling he does suggest a "government bailout" may be the ticket.

There is a lot and more I could say, but I was always taught if you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all.

Many others have chimed in on the subject.  Two of my favorites are by Joe Konrath and J.E. Fishman.  I'll leave it to them, seeing as I'm still a little ticked since finding out that Mr. Patterson no longer writes his own books.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Deal Too Good to Pass Up

Who doesn't love a deal, am I right?  There is nothing quite like happening upon something you want for a price way under what you expected to pay.

Now, I know you usually get what you pay for, and anything worth having should cost you something, but don't get all philosophical on me.  Just hear me out.

I'm not talking about those cut-corner, buying generic, sacrificing quality kind of deals.  I'm talking about a Copy of the Constitution Found in a $4 Painting kind of deal.

Okay, I'm being dramatic again.  But I still have a really good deal to tell you about.  And before you click away thinking this is a self promotion thing, let me assure you it is NOT.

If you are just a reader of books this post may not excite you (sorry, but thanks for stopping by).  This one is for all my writerly friends out there, more specifically self-pubbers.

One of the pitfalls of self publishing is the upfront costs you have to pay to get your book into the public.  Cover art, editing, and formatting are things you should not be skimping out on.  If you can't do it yourself, you should hire a professional.

But say you're like me, strapped for cash and trying to decide whether you should spend your hard earned cash on the cover, the editing or the formatting.  Well, I can help you out with one of those.

When I decided to separate the stories in my collection Contemplations of Dinner into single shorts I knew I couldn't afford to pay for ten expensive covers.  I can justify paying $200 -$500 on a cover for a novel, but it's harder for me to shell that out for just a 6,000 word short.

So I went on over to the site Fiverr.  For those that don't know, Fiverr is a website where people offer all kinds of services, some legit, some comical, for five dollars each.  I sifted through the many graphic designers and came across an artist going by the handle Freestyle25.

Freestyle 25 is actually a wonderful young lady by the name of Emily Lam.  I liked the samples Emily had displayed on her Fiverr page, but I was a bit worried.  That whole "getting what you paid for" thing.  But Emily quickly put my fears to rest.

Long story short (too late, I know) I hired Emily to create covers for eight short stories and new covers for both Contemplations of Dinner and Guarding the Healer.  She is professional, courteous, patient and extremely talented.

I have seen covers of Emily's caliber go for $200+ easily.  I feel a bit guilty about only paying her $5 a piece.  Even though it would be shooting myself in the foot, I've tried to suggest to Emily that she ought to start her own cover design business, but unfortunately Fiverr has strict policies about directly emailing each other.  I'm hoping she will read this blog post and consider it.  But until then I suggest you take advantage of her generous nature and grab a cheap cover.

It's one of the best deals I've come across in a long time.

If you want proof you should head over to my Amazon page and look at the covers.  The only covers that aren't hers are the paperback version of Guarding the Healer, Predatory Animals, the audio version of Contemplations of Dinner and the anthology Cat Tales 2.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fraud or Not, You Decide

As I was perusing the fun and informative blog The Passive Voice I came across an article that stopped my scrolling finger.

James Patterson: the best seller who doesn't write his own books.

As a writer and a reader I found that too intriguing to pass up.  You can read the full article here, but the skinny is Mr. Patterson doesn't really write a line by line book.  He comes up with a 60 - 80 page detailed synopsis then subs the actual writing out to other writers.

I'm honestly not sure how I feel about this.  I'm still processing it.  My wife is not happy and says she will not be buying any more Patterson books, and will probably be getting rid of the ones on our shelf.  I understand where she's coming from.  There is a feeling of betrayal when you are spend your hard earned money on something and get something else in return.  Then again, if you liked the book who care who wrote it?

A few months back everyone was all in a huff about certain writers buying positive reviews for their novels.  I wasn't all that offended, but a lot of people were.  When you compare the two, which do you think is worse?

Is it more of a sin to pay to have people inflate the quality of your work or to let someone else write the book and slap your name on the cover?

I'm inclined to believe the latter is the greater transgression.

Mr. Patterson defends this method by calling it a collaboration and citing other artists and writers such as Gilbert and Sullivan, Woodward and Bernstein, Stephen King and Peter Straub.  My problem with this rationale is that when you buy their work both names appear together.  There is no deception.

Maybe what makes this slap sting all the more is the fact that Mr. Patterson is swimming in the cash.  I'm wondering just how many of the 275 million copies of his books he would have sold had it been known that though the idea came from James Patterson, the actual book was written by author So-n-So.

Maybe I'm wrong about all of this.  I need a few days to let my righteous indignation calm down.

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Couple More Shorts

I've published two more short stories from Contemplations of Dinner as singles.  Here are the covers for A Town Full of Holes and The Barn.

I will be releasing a brand new short titled The Promotion just as soon as the cover comes back.

In other news, I made the jump from hobbyist to professional.  No, my writing has not yielded enough sales to allow me to quit the dreaded day job.  But I did add writing as a profession on my taxes.  The past couple of years has been a loss (hey, what start up company doesn't struggle in the beginning?) but things are looking up.  February has been my best month ever, and I'm convinced that as I add more titles I will eventually be in the black.

I've also started my own publishing house (sort of) called Gemini Gremlin Ink.  I'm not publishing other authors at this time.  It seems strange, I know, but the reason is that it looks more professional to have a publishing company listed instead of just my name.  I have watched other authors do this, and I thought I'd give it a try.  If you want to be professional, then you better act like a professional.

I'm hoping that the upward trend in sales continues into March.  I'm also waiting to hear some news, but I have a couple of weeks until I know if it's good or bad.

And Lord knows I hate waiting.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Four Short Stories

I have published four of the short stories from my collection Contemplations of Dinner as singles.  You can purchase them for $0.99 each or get Contemplations of Dinner for $2.99.  I did this to widen my virtual shelf space and to cater to those who would rather read a short story than a whole novel.  If you're so inclined, to check them out.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Better Late Than Never

This is more than a bit late, but I want to announce that my novel Predatory Animals is free until midnight PST.  You can find it here.  Feel free to grab a copy, "Like" the page, and once you read it leave an honest review.

This is the last of my free days from Amazon KDP Select.  I've enrolled my other books in Select before and I didn't see the huge uptick in sales like others have.  I weighed whether or not to enroll Predatory Animals.  I hadn't sold a single copy on Barnes & Noble, Kobo or Smashwords, so I figured what the heck.  This time around I decided to do it not for the prospect of increased sales, but more for the opportunity to land some reviews and increase the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" section.

Lofty goal, I know.

Funny enough, this time around I have noticed increased sales.  Not the crazy numbers of some other writers, but enough to make me smile a bit.

I've also been in the process of splitting up the stories in my collection Contemplations of Dinner into stand alone shorts, while submitting them to the Kindle Singles Program.  The first two out are The Mask of Deslow Mansion and Romeo's Kiss.  You can get both for $0.99 each or get all ten shorts in Contemplations of Dinner for $2.99.

This along with my normal writing, working three jobs, chasing two kids, doing damage control for two dogs and trying to fit in some sleep has left me a bit frazzled.  And now it's snowing and schools have already been delayed tomorrow.

These are the salad days.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Indie Book of the Day

I am a couple days behind on this (big shock, I know) but I wanted to do a little bit of bragging.

Guarding the Healer has won the IBD Award.

There aren't very many awards for indie authors (or as I prefer to be called *artisanal author) and I appreciate any recognition given.  It's a tough road to choose and it's good to know someone cares.

Thanks Indie Book of the Day.

*Term is no my own. It was shamefully stolen from Guy Kawasaki.