Thursday, April 28

Thirsty Thursday #6

Thirsty Thursday is my own recurring meme whereupon I lift a glass (metaphorically speaking) to celebrate the triumphs I have experienced in the last seven days. They can be big, they can be small, but there has to be something because I believe life is all about looking at the positive. It's simply too short and too unpredictable to focus on the negative. So with that in mind, here is why I'm raising a glass today:

1. Ahh, vacations. Or, more specifically, staycations. I took a week off of work, which equaled two weeks between my working days thanks to a quirk in how my schedule plays out, and it felt great! Haven't had one of these in a while, so if you were wondering where I went after my post on Tuesday, the 12th, then wonder no further. The vacation was buoyed by the fact that my Mother-in-law was out of state at a wedding for most of it, so it was just me and the wife (and the kids of course) for the majority of it. I love my MIL something fierce, but it's been a while since we've had some time like that, and it was needed. 

2. One of the accomplishments for the vacation belongs not to me, but to my daughter. She took a huge step toward becoming a little girl by not wearing pull-ups during the day. It's now only a nighttime thing, and we're hoping she'll transition out of them completely by the end of summer. Those parents who read my blog will understand how huge this is. She'll come running up to me and say, "The wet is coming!" and we'll trot off to the bathroom and she'll do her business. So proud of her!

3. My wife and I took the time during my vacation to start getting our house in order. Both of us work and watching the kids is a full-time job in and of itself, so beyond the normal, everyday stuff, we always felt like everything else was sort of overwhelming. Not any more. My wife found a nice app for our iPod called Motivated Moms that is essentially a daily list of things that need to get done, plus one to five additional things that come around every once in a while. We're a scatterbrained sort of people, so lists are necessary for certain things, and this has been one of those that has helped us immensely. It's now a lot easier to keep up with the day-to-day stuff, and do extra, than it was before. And the important part is that it doesn't seem overwhelming. So things are getting done. It's amazing what a simple list will do for that.

4. I'm rejuvenated for writing! Seriously. The plan was to keep writing during the vacation so that I could hit my end-of-month deadline. But I sort of fizzled and didn't get a whole lot done. Which, while seemingly anti-TT, is actually a good thing. For one, it gave my mind a break. Writing is work of a sort, and the idea of the vacation was to take a break from working. So that's what ended up happening. For another, my mind didn't take a complete break, because I now have a very clear idea of where The Eternal War is going after this book, including what I can do for at least two of the between-book shorts, how Book Three is going to play out, what I want to look at doing with Book Four, and coming up with a major event for Book Six which would then lead to a "History" book about a major character before Book Seven comes along. 

5. Halfway through this term and so far I'm doing very well in both my classes. The Small Business Management one is important to me, since as I highlighted in another post, my writing is a Small Business, however I'm also doing very well in my Java course. For the SBM class I have to write up a mini business plan, and the hope is that I will be able to take that and wrangle some investments into it. 

That's it for now. I'm sure I'm glossing over some stuff, in fact I know I am, but these five were the big ones to me and I thought I would share them. I'll see you guys soon!

Sunday, April 24

Sample Sunday #13

Today's Sample Sunday is brought to you by the Easter Bunny. He has loaded up my kids with chocolate and sugar. Pray for me.

So I'm back after a nearly two week hiatus, which was necessary in order to recharge my batteries. Things have been great around here, which I will highlight some of that in the next Thirsty Thursday post. Sufficed to say, going forward I think things are looking up, despite how down my sales have been. That's because I have a clear idea of where I want to go for the next few years in terms of my writing. It's always nice to have something to look forward to, and my next four projects are going to be both challenging and fun at the same time. I'm looking forward to bringing it all to you.

One more note before I get the sample. Because of my hiatus, which did include a halt in my every day writing, I will not hit my internal date for finishing the First Draft. I'm okay with this, though it does mean the ultimate date I had in mind for a release of Bitter Nights is pushed out. I'm still shooting for a late Q3 release but the actual date won't be hammered down until mid-summer at best. There's also a couple of things that I plan to do between now and then which might impact the release date as well, so until I can solidify a few things, I'm going to be keeping my targets a bit close to the vest.

A few weeks ago I detailed Alison Crawford, intrepid reporter, who was pestering Cheryl about getting an interview done concerning some of the events in Spiral X. Today I bring to you a scene which gives her what she wants, and more, thanks to some help from Cheryl's corporate nemesis, Joseph Redmond. Disclaimer: First Draft, yadda yadda, don't crucify me too bad for any mistakes. Hit the break to read.

Tuesday, April 12

On Business and Writing

One of the benefits of being an indie author is that I have the luxury of being transparent and completely honest in how my business is going. And make no mistake about it, it doesn't matter if you're published by the big six or you're hoofing it alone, the moment you have a book in play is the moment you are a business unto yourself. Joe Konrath recently said in the second half of his talk with Barry Eisler... well, here's the quote:
But I know a lot of writers, and the ability to run a small business is an entirely different skill set than it takes to be a writer (and once you self-publish, you are the president of a small business.) They simply aren't cut out for it.
And it really is true. The Professor for my Small Business Management course spent a lot of years running a music store and as a result he came into contact with a lot of musicians. He said to me, in a discussion during the first week, that the successful musicians aren't necessarily the ones who are the most talented. He knew a lot of talented musicians who struggled to put food on the table. No, the successful ones he knew were those who could blend the talent they have with an eye for how to run a business. I imagine the same is true with writers.

Writing the book is half the battle. I know that now, but when I was set to release Spiral X, I had managed to convince myself that my job was done. That once it was released, I didn't have to do anything else. I was so wrong it's kind of comical when I think about it. Let's face it, when you trying to sell a product, the worst thing you can do is nothing. To not support it. I made a few posts in a couple of spots, but I figured that would be enough. The book would stand on its own. Readers would find it and either like it or not and then pass the word along. Laughing yet?

My wife, bless her heart, pushed me aside and took over the task of getting my book into the hands of book reviewers. She knew I was delusional. I can't thank her enough for what she's done so far, to the tune of over twenty reviews with a lot more waiting for reviewers to get around to it. But getting back to the business aspect of being a writer, she understood something I did not, and that was the need for exposure. It's tough to sell something if no one knows about it.

However, one of the mantras that Konrath preaches is that you can do everything right, you can have a good cover that catches the eye, a blurb that intrigues the mind, an affordable price, and a good book to back those up... and yet you're still at the mercy of Lady Luck. He'll even admit that he has no idea why certain books sell and certain ones don't, even out of his own stable of products. About the only thing you can do is be patient and keep working on taking up virtual shelf space.

That's where I stand at the moment. Sales aren't there, despite my best efforts so far to generate them. I have a bit of a web presence, but not stellar, and I could probably do more to sell myself in that regard. I have a lot of great reviews, and more than a few people in my corner doing their best to sell me to the people they know (or those who read their blogs), but so far it hasn't done much. Lady Luck hasn't looked my way yet.

But you know what? That's okay. Studies show that it can take up to three years for a business to finally take off. By the time I hit the three year mark, I should have around five novels available and several short stories. Each book will likely bring in new readers and if I'm good enough they'll go around to my other offerings. Maybe they'll even recommend me to their friends. The takeaway from this is that I need to keep working. I need to keep working and keep getting better and honing my craft because if I don't, then I will have allowed my business to languish without even really giving it a chance to flourish.

The sales aren't there. But they will be. In time.

Sunday, April 10

Sample Sunday #12

Today's Sample Sunday is brought to you by the minions. Won't you hug a minion today?

For those who pay attention to my random postings on Facebook and Twitter, you would know that I'm over halfway through writing Book Two, which now has the working title of "Bitter Nights". We'll see how well that one holds up through the end. At any rate, I thought I would take the opportunity to present to you a small bit from the very beginning of the novel. 

Disclaimer: This is a work in progress and the final product may or may not match up with what's ahead. It also hasn't gone through editing, so any mistakes are my own and should not be there when everything is all said and done. 

With that out of the way, hit the break to read the first page or so of Chapter One.

Thursday, April 7

Thirsty Thursday #5

Thirsty Thursday is my own recurring meme whereupon I lift a glass (metaphorically speaking) to celebrate the triumphs I have experienced in the last seven days. They can be big, they can be small, but there has to be something because I believe life is all about looking at the positive. It's simply too short and too unpredictable to focus on the negative. So with that in mind, here is why I'm raising a glass today:

1. Crossed the halfway point to Book Two, and since Sunday I've written over ten thousand words, which is something of a personal record for me. I've also just hit a month straight of writing every day. My minimum is five hundred words, which if I can keep up until the end of the year will equate to over 130,000 words between now and then. Can someone say two books in 2011?

2. I had a breakthrough on some of the details of Book Three. Yes, I know Book Two isn't written, but I tend to have a lot of things stewing in my subconscious, and that just happened to be one that bubbled up at an unexpected time.

3. Started work on a collaboration project with a writer friend. We're in the initial idea phase at the moment. This one will take a while because not only do I intentionally want to go slow, but I have to fit this in with everything else going on in my life. As an advisor told me, "Don't ignore your own work just so you can do this." Sound advice. Of course, part of why I'm doing this is to help my writing friend, who has had some issues completing her own work. Maybe having someone like me to help push her along will get her over that hump.

4. On Sunday we replaced our kitchen table with one my parents gave us. They replaced their rectangular table with a round one and gave us the option of taking it. We've always liked their old one, so we told them yes and I picked it up on Sunday. I thought it was funny when my dad looked at my Honda Fit and declared, "It won't fit in there." I simply smiled and five minutes later he was shaking his head, and saying, "I didn't think it would fit." For those interested, a Honda Fit is a lot more spacious than you would think. Mainly because you gain an extra 66% of storage space in the back with the seats down. So anyway, I brought the table home and we set it up later, so now we have a table that'll fit everyone without having to pull it away from the wall.

That's it for this week. A lot of writing related triumphs, which is awesome. 

So what are your reasons to celebrate the last seven days of your life?

Sunday, April 3

Sample Sunday #11

Today's Sample Sunday is brought to you by the Print copy of Spiral X! Buy it HERE today or enter a giveaway contest to win a signed copy at GoodReads HERE.

One of the things I wanted to do with Book Two of The Eternal War series was to expand the world a little bit, both in a lore sense and in the introduction of new characters that have an impact on Cheryl's life. I have done that with three new characters, all of them varying degrees of minor. One I have already highlighted, Joseph Redmond, and you can read the Sample Sunday posts on him HERE and HERE. Today, I bring to you one more.

Hit the break to meet Alison Crawford.