Indie Writer Code Words: Sun Tzu

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Yes, this series continues despite set-backs!

Most of those set-backs  relate to “real life” where the struggle is real! (Hence the INDIE WRITER bit, right? It’s part of the definition of terms.) Lately the biggest factor there has been the Navy Reserves, which they sell as a very part-time gig. It’s not, folks. It’s still the Navy, which I thought I had gotten out of…

Anyway, on to the code word: SUN TZU.

To describe this code word, which I came up with just very recently, here is an excerpt from an email I sent to Henry Ponciano, one of my go-to cover artists.  (You can check out his Deviant Art page here.)

*
Henry,
I have other books already in this same superhero universe, in other series. One is INVASION which you already made a cover for a few years ago! And there are others in the SECRET ORIGINS series, which I am working on the 3rd book right now to release the same time as DXM, which is the cover you just made for me.
So I have been thinking that “sometime” I should really redo all the covers so they look the same. So even though they aren’t the same series, they are the same universe that share heroes and histories and you can tell just by looking at it that they are all related. best way to sell them, right? how would a casual reader know those books are also the same vein if they look totally different?
so i have been thinking, “yeah, that is the smartest way to go. but i’m not going to do that. not now anyway.”
WHAT??? Why the hell not? what am i waiting for??!!
so even though i personally like the covers i have, and i already have an idea for the next one, it would really make sense to go forward with the thing that’s best. that i know is best. why not do that??
it’s Sun Tzu right? why go into battle knowing i’m not doing the best thing, knowing i’ll lose?
So let’s Sun Tzu this bitch, Henry! what’s your availability?
*

Okay, that may or may not help much to illustrate the meaning behind the code word. But it was written within minutes of the lightning strike that established that term in my writer’s mind.

Sun Tzu is the ancient Chinese master who wrote “The Art of War.”

The main idea is this: Win the battle before it starts.

How do you do that? By scouting, planning, setting up, and making the right decisions.  You figure out the absolute best path you can take, and you take it.

Do our leaders these days so this? Hell no! Almost none of us do. Even when we know it’s a bad decision, we do it. Every day.

For me, as an indie writer, it means following the best practices, rather than knowing and NOT following them.

Case in point: I’ve been creating different series within the same universe and, even though a series might have uniform covers that indicate it’s a series, one series to the next in the same universe have nothing to do with each other.

To see what I mean, go here, where all my current Identity Crisis Universe superhero books are.

You’ll see the pair of Secret Origins–Masks and Secret Identities–books look similar, but nothing like Hungry Gods, which is in the Identity Crisis series.

I am currently working on Identity Crisis Book 2 and Secret Origins Book 3. I have a cover for IDC 2 that looks like IDC 1. And have had the plan for SO 3 for years, which looks like SO 1 and SO 2.

But if you see the books from these two related series, featuring some of the same characters, all next to each other, you’d never guess they are related. They just don’t look the same. And cover appearance is 80% of why a reader picks up a book. (Right?!)

I realized that NOW is a great time to consolidate the appearance of all these books so that I don’t have 2 IDC books and 3 SO books, but 5 IDCU books! Wouldn’t that be better? Then everyone will know there are 5 books here, not 2 or 3. (Actually, there’s six including Invasion, and more planned for the future.)

Another case in point: The fact that I have all these different series started, in different genres, and have been working on them for years. Had I focused (as I knew I should) years ago, I’d have one or two complete series right now and be a hell of a lot more successful as a genre writer than I am now. My total word count is over half a million! But it’s spread out so much that you’d never know it.

…Okay, I kinda feel like I’m talking to the wall. (I’m actually talking to a screen, so pretty close.) It’s not you, it’s me. I worry that I may not be expressing the point I want to make. Visually, you’d get it. Or rather, you WILL get it when the task it done.

And the more I blather here about it, the less I’m actually making it happen elsewhere!

In summary: SUN TZU means, if you know the right, best course of action, take it! Don’t do what I have done (and most of us do), which is say, “Yeah, Path A really would be best, but even knowing that, I’m going to take Path B instead. It’s easier and faster, which is all I care about right now.”

You say your books aren’t going as quickly and wide-spread as you’d like? Have you done what you know to be best, like spend a few more bucks on the covers and editing? Or are you knowingly taking the wrong path?

How can you expect better results when you already decided to take the wrong course on purpose?!

SUN TZU my friends. Don’t go to war knowing you’re going to lose. What’s the point of that?

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Last Kickstarter Days for Pulp Fiction Mag Cirsova

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I’ve been meaning to get back to a few different blog posts that have been swimming in my brain, but just haven’t found the time. TIME, as I always say, is THE most precious resource. It disappears second by second, constantly, never stops leaving and never comes back. SUCKS, don’t it?

But you know what doesn’t suck?

CIRSOVA Magainze! It’s one of the big pulp rev titles that are bringing back sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery that is written to be FUN. All the big literary SFF mags want stories that are  politically correct and have the big thrust as something that your English teacher would like.

But most of us aren’t English teachers. We what about the rest of us?!

Cirsova is for the rest of us.

And to ensure there’s a Volume Two to this magazine, we need a few more people to care. And, frankly, to show they care by contributing a couple bucks. And/or telling some other folks they know who aren’t English teachers (or are—they like this stuff too, they just can’t admit to it!) about it too.

GO HERE to Kickstarter and see what you can buy for your couple bucks. And help keep this indie mag going and keep giving indie authors somewhere to publish!

 

LAST DAY on Smashwords Summer Sale

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Today being July 31st, it’s the LAST DAY to get ebooks supercheap over on Smashwords. You can score some of mine for free and the rest for only a buck and some change!

I have twenty-one individual titles over there just waiting to be picked up.

So far I’ve had quite a few free ones go–like, every one of them in waves, all bought simultaneously–but not too many of the deeply discounted ones. Are readers really so cheap these days they wont pay a dollar for reading material???

C’mon folks, tomorrow they go back up to regular price!

Just click here to my profile and scroll down to see what’s there. The coupon codes are built in so they automatically kick in at check out.

Nothing is more than $1.50 right now!

Why are you still reading this? Go now!

The Witch Haunt Interview

The Witch Haunt has interviewed Jennifer Collins, my trusty freelance editor! I’ve been happy to hire Jenn for years. (I don’t know if anyone else calls her that, but I sometimes do. I’ve always thought that the proper way to shorten the name–with two Ns.) She  catches all my oopsies and makes great suggestions when my rambling just doesn’t make sense to anyone but me.

Though I must admit, she does like commas more than I do. But that’s her job! 🙂

Check out this interview here on the Witch Haunt.

(She was eve nice enough to mention me and my books in there.)

Writing, Job Search, and Podcasting

Some news in no particular order:

  • I’m continuing to work on Golden Age Heroes and hope to finish the first draft before September 1st. From there it’ll be 2nd draft revisions for both GAH and Deus Ex Machina, so I can sequence them together for release late this year or early next year. (Hoping to have them out by Thanksgiving. We’ll see how everything goes.
  • I’m currently unemployed (oh no!!!) but do have some interviews lined up for this week. I thought I’d be like, “Oh that’s okay, more time for writing!” But I’m not. I’m more like, “I’m a grown up with a family, I need a freakin’ job!!!” I always tell other people that in today’s world, only suckers work. It seems every punk with a cell phone camera is a self-made millionaire these days. If only I knew how to do that!
  • Which leads me to this: Anyone know of a video blog or podcast looking for semi-regular guests? I’d like to start in the audio-visual biz, but lack the technical skills. I also don’t know how much I would have to say on my own talking to an unblinking camera. But I’d like to get in with other folks who do know and like to talk about writing, sci-fi/fantasy, gaming, reading, whatever. If you have any leads, do let me know!
  • I’ll also continue to try to get a blog post up once or twice a week. I have more Indie Writer Code Words to discuss, just a lot on my plate with higher priority right now.
  • There’s also the new release of Warhammer 40K Kill Teams, which I’d like to get into (and blog/podcast about). The fun part for me is making the team and painting up them up, so I hope to find time for that soon too.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!

Snake Eyes is Live. Plus More Cheap eBooks

Python snakeskin leather background, snake skin, texture, animal

As of July 20th, my latest standalone short story is live just about everywhere.

How do you kill a man who has Lady Luck wrapped around his finger?

The man known as The Gambler went from loser to ruler almost overnight. Now he sits at the head of all tables. And those he toppled, the mobsters getting his scraps, they want him dead. 

But rumor has it that The Gambler has a cosmic cheat. A piece of science fiction come to life that twists all probability in his favor. 

If you believe in that sort of thing. The hitman they call Snake Eyes, he doesn’t. His dice are loaded. So is his gun. 

Let the final game begin.

A tale of death, noir, and impossible odds from the author of One-Eyed Jacks, Unfeeling, and Moondance. 

You can find it by selecting your favorite retailer–just click here. 

Also, July is still on, and so is Smashwords’s annual Summer/Winter Sale. Everything of mine over there currently has an automatic coupon attached. That’ll get you short stories for free and everything else for between 1 and 2 bucks! Check it out now, cuz July is just about over! 

New Superhero Secret Origins Started!

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Despite the recent chaos and ego beating of my present job searching situation, I managed to start on the next book today!

I was thinking the other day to blog about how hard it is to get started.

“A beginning,” the Princess Irulin told us in the first line of 1984’s Dune movie, “is a very delicate time.”

And despite all your mental preparation, squeezing out the beginnings of a new story or novel is hard. It’s like jumping out of an airplane or off a cliff (I imagine). Even if you’ve done it before, looking over the edge at what awaits below is still there. Throwing yourself from that nice safe bit of solid ground beneath your feet is just not natural.

Okay, it might not be quite that bad, but starting is difficult. It takes a leap of faith. And sometimes a shove out the door from behind.

It’s especially tricky when your confidence is not at its best. Which is my case at present, in the face of trying to support my family with no job at the moment. But I spent the last two days in job searching mode and have set up two promising interviews next week. So I think that may have secured for me the sense of, well, security to enable some new writing today. With that safety harness strapped across my shoulders, I was ready to take the leap!

And so I have. Got the first chapter in the can! I haven’t decided yet if the title of this novella is going to be The Golden Age or Golden Age Heroes — it’s been GAH in my mind, but that feels awkward to me coming off the tongue. (What do you think??? Let me know in the comments!)

Either way, it’ll be Book #3 in the Secret Origins series, right behind Masks and Secret Identities. (Which you can learn more about by clicking those titles now…)

And then, this book will get paired up with the recently completed Deus Ex Machina as the next superhero sequence this fall/winter.  (For more on sequencing, see the last Indie Writer Code Words post here.)

Okay, gotta get moving. Lots more to do with the day. But the most important bit is done!