Galaxy’s Edge, Geek Gab, and Nick Cole

You know how sometimes you can hear (or be told) something many times, but it isn’t until after about the 20th or 50th or 100th that you finally say, “Oh, now I get it!” ???

Big thanks to Deuce Richardson for enlightening me to Geek Gab episode 128, and a big thanks to them for having on Nick Cole, one of the two authors of the huge mega space marine hit Galaxy’s Edge series, and an even bigger thanks to him for what he had to say on there!

Haven’t heard of any of these people? I hadn’t either.

But I had heard, from many folks, that if you want to make it big as an indie writer you have to write in series, and get that series out in short order, and play Amazon’s algorithm, and a bunch of other stuff. And while I acknowledged it and saw the wisdom in it all each time I heard it, it didn’t really sink in or make me think about changing my plans or getting more serious. Partly because the writing aspect in my life is always second-fiddle to about 3 or 4 other more important things in my life.

But suddenly, having listened to this podcast this morning, it actually sunk in and kicked me in the shin and said, “Hey, I’m talking to you asshole, are you listening?!”

It also makes me want to read (at least the first book of) Galaxy’s Edge. Add that to my ever-growing to-read list.

So, finally having “come to Jesus” about what I need to do to actually make some headway in writing, I come to the same most difficult question: What to write? (Among other serious questions, like, What time am I going to start getting up every morning to do some writing before work?)

So if you tuned in he other day for when I laid out my almost ever month publishing schedule for this year, it might be up for some changes. If I continue to scatter shit all over the place like chicken feed (to continue that analogy from that post), I’ll continue to be unknown and ignored.

So what series to I decide to dedicate myself to first? The superheroes universe I’ve already started and have multiple (chickenfeed) series started in already? Is superheroes a big enough genre to actually get any traction?

The coming of age fantasy series I started FIVE YEARS AGO–actually, I wrote Tarnish more like EIGHT years ago and it took three years to get it out after that.

One of, like 2 or 3 other fantasy series I have in mind but haven’t started?

The space pirate series I started with short stories published in Cirsova Magazine?

Or one of a zillion others.

Whichever I pick, it will mean essentially abandoning the others for a year or two (or three) while I finish out that whole series. Which I really can’t see doing. But if I bounce back and forth across 2 or 3 different series, one book at a time, I’ll just continue what I’ve been doing, which is not working.

Think Netflix. Everyone watches a whole series/season at a time, right? And get pissed when they have to wait for the next episode. They don’t want one episode now, one next year, etc. They do the whole thing in a weekend.

That’s what I have to do. But which one…?

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I’m going to finish what I have going right now. Deus Ex Machina is 70% done and I am going to do that first. But after that…? I’m guessing I’ll sell a dozen copies and then… nothing. So plow ahead on that or… something else?

I have several books in several series figured out. I could do any of them. But I need to write like 3 or more books and THEN start publishing them. What can I crank out quickly, in sequence? And if I get locked into that genre for a while, will I be happy with that? If I suddenly have a best-selling sci-fi series going, how easy will it be to switch back to finish my superheroes or fantasy series? Or vice versa?

Decisions, decisions.

Fortunately I have some time to figure it out while I finish up some things…

 

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The End, The Beginning, and The Continuation

HGsad

Well, we didn’t make it.

Not by a long shot.

But a couple of good things come out of this anyway.

One, everyone who did officially contribute to the failed Kickstarter (all SIX of you) will still get the finished novel! I’ll email you your preferred ebook file type when the time comes. At this point, I’m hoping to have it finished and ready sometime between August and October. (Life still has me in a pretty brutal chokehold at the moment, but I hope to get back to writing at a decent pace by the end of May.)

For you folks, I’ll try to email you via Kickstarter when the time comes. In case that doesn’t work out for some reason, you can tap me on the shoulder at jdbrink@brinkschaostheory.com with your email address and I’ll get back to you with the book when the time comes.

The second thing to come out of this, strangely, was a big sense of relief. While I certainly would rather have had the funding and popularity of a successful Kickstarter campaign, the dismal failure of it kind of took some weight off my shoulders.

It was like some unseen giant placed a hand on my shoulder and said in a big, deep voice, “Look, dude, you just ain’t that big a deal. You ain’t even a small deal. Relax. No one knows you’re there and no one is waiting for your next book.”

Okay, it sounds more depressing than reassuring if you put it that way, but there’s a positive in there too, I swear. The positive is that any stress or demand I place on myself is just that—only placed by myself. Which means I can chill out and stop being mad at myself for not making more progress faster.

I mean, I WANT to make more progress faster, but life just doesn’t have room for that right now. We are four damn months into the Total Life Transition and it’s still pretty chaotic. We’ve been staying in our new house for less than a week now and still don’t have any of our possessions there. They have finally arrived in Ohio, but we won’t get them for another week and half! No TV or internet there yet either—I’m sitting in a park on a beautiful spring day right now, sucking on some unsecured, invisible ether signal from a nearby business. My new job is busy and my schedule there is still in flux as they struggle to make up for staffing holes. My son is finishing this year at one school and starting next year in a new one (since we’ve moved), we still need to find family physicians to get started on other issues, my wife is going out of the country for a bit, I finally check into and start my Navy Reserves stuff next weekend, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

It’s a fucking merry-go-round that’s spinning out of control and on fire, the wooden horses are trying to buck us off every day with some new unexpected problem that comes up before we can solve yesterday’s new problem, and the evil clown running the thing just keeps laughing and laughing and laughing…!!!

*sigh*

Sorry, didn’t mean to slip into that mess.

Back to the positive thing: Downsizing.

Now I can once again downsize my writing and publishing operation. Focus on what’s important, stop wasting my time on what isn’t working, and get more out of it. Trimming the fat on the 80/20 principle.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Stop being so ambitious in certain directions and focus more on the writing. Basically that means cutting my puny marketing attempts even further, cutting my almost non-existent social media attempts (including blogging), cutting a lot of stuff that really doesn’t matter until you have a body of work that generates a modest fan base. I sell a few books here and there, and people sometimes come back for more, but it’s piecemeal, it’s like chickens scratching and pecking for random corn. There isn’t much point in any of it until I have a big ass mound of corn built up for those chickens to feast on, and to tell their chicken friends about.

I know that “conventional cyber wisdom” (meaning the murmurs of the faceless mob in the last 5 years or so) is that you need to build a platform to get popularity and be noticed. That means being on Goodreads and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all these other places, just being there and socializing and getting your “face” out there.

Well shit, fellas, that sounds like a fulltime job to me! When I am supposed to do any writing?

So I’m bucking that cyber-crap and going to living my new life and writing more books. My plan is to make advances through series and give folks a solid line of entertainment to follow. The trouble is deciding which of my many series I have in mind to follow up on first. But cutting out the blathering into the ether (kinda like this post, which most of you have stopped reading by now anyway), I can send that time and those typed words into something more constructive.

And what might that be, you ask?

Okay, diving into Part Two of this very long type-fest:

The Up-Coming Reading Schedule.

I still have an ambitious publishing schedule planned for the rest of 2018. And I’m considering trying to fill a couple more holes so that something new will come out every month for the rest of the year. (Not bad for having no writing time for five months now, eh?)

This is the tentative plan. We’ll see what I can add and what falls off as reality comes to pass. Most are short stories, novelettes, and novellas at this point. The only novel this year will be Deus Ex Machina and Green-Eyed Monster will be a long collection with most of these stories at the end of the year.

April – Kiss of the Maiden. Out now and free of charge!

May – Platypus – up for pre-order now

May – Tarnish as a featured book in a Storybundle bundle, curated by Kevin J. Anderson (big-time SF writer, if you didn’t know)

June – Moondance

July – Hunted

(These lat two might switch places—we’ll see what happens)

Summer issue of Cirsova Magazine – “Littermates” Part 1

August – Deus Ex Machina

(August if I’m lucky. If not, could be SEPT or OCT.)

Sept-Oct – could be DXM, might get another work or two done that have been brewing just so I can hit every month.

Fall issue of Cirsova Magazine – “Littermates” part 2

November – The Proposal – published in Weirdbook magazine, as well as coming out as a single short story from Fugitive Fiction (me).

December – Green-Eyed Monster

Pretty darn good for a big failure who isn’t writing, right? Not too shabby. See, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂

And almost all of this is already written! So I hope to have whatever is coming out in 2019 well underway by the time January comes around.

But for now, it’s Downsizing, Evil Klown Merry-Go-Round, and keeping to the above publishing schedule.

And, finally, that’s the end of this update and blog post! Thank you for your attention!!!

 

My New Year Starts… NOW!

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Or, now-ish, anyway.

I’m now officially done working the floor at the hospital. Nothing left to do here but checkout.

And sell our car, turn off our Japanese cell phones, pack out everything we own and ship it overseas, figure out where we’re going to live in the States, get David into school there without missing too many days, buy a house, start my new job, get into the Navy Reserves, and a hundred other things.

Whew!

No wonder I’ve had an eye tick for last couple weeks.

No, really. I have. I’ve also averaged 4 hours of sleep the last three days. That doesn’t help either.

It’s when you have massive life upheaval like this that you realize, unless you actually make a living as a writer, that you’re writing really isn’t that big of a priority. It still is, in my mind and heart, it’s still the thing I think most about, but it sure as hell isn’t paying any bills right now, getting us across the Pacific Ocean, or feeding my family, so… Not a big deal.

And when I start my Master’s Degree this spring or summer, it will unfortunately take a further back seat. Which sucks. I love my writing. And I have more stories in my mind right now than I will probably get done in my lifetime. At the rate I’m going, anyway.

Although once I’m out of the Navy and settled into my next life, I expect to have more writing time. Eventually. And in seven more years, when I can retire from the Reserves, I hope to have even more time. Maybe by then I’ll actually have enough books out there that they’ll be paying some of the bills.

Dare to dream.

Most writers, in case you didn’t know, do not sustain their lives on writing alone. Even many of those published by the Big Five companies. Most writers are not millionaires. And the forecast is that fewer and fewer will be. The hay day of the millionaire writer is over.  I never asked for a million dollars anyway. A tenth of that per year, a twentieth, would suit me just fine. At that point I would consider myself to be a “professional writer.”

And I don’t know that I would ever stop working, anyway. I’m leaving the Navy as a nurse and moving on to teaching nursing school, something I greatly enjoy doing. Even if I were making a sustainable wage as a writer, I’d probably still teach at least part-time. It’s a worthwhile cause and I’m not sure I would feel satisfied with a life where I spend every day just holed away typing on a keyboard in the basement. I’ve always felt a need to do more for more people. I don’t know that just entertaining folks with wild stories would be enough.

And so begins 2018. Bye-bye 2017. We barely knew you. And we won’t really miss you.

Starting last new year (has it been a year already?!), I had stopped tracking my daily writing word counts. That seemed to be more accounting than was worthwhile to me, and sometimes only reminded me that I was not writing as much as I wanted to be. Instead, I tracked only words published, which I continue to think is way more valuable. A lot of people patter around on their keyboards writing words that no one ever sees. Published words are out there in the world.

So I simplified my tracking system from a day by day account to a monthly task account, further divided into quarters. This was codenamed “Stormcloud.” (I love to make up codenames. All my pricing matrices have codenames, my file for book blurbs is called “Witchdoctor,” etc.) So whatever task I completed or book I worked on would have a colorful entry in my spreadsheet simply noting what it was. For example, in January of 2017, I have some orange blocks that say, “SIDs finished” (SIDs is shorthand for Secret Identities) and “Kronos pubbed” (The Scythe of Kornos). If I did some marketing, sent out a newsletter, or some other writing-related task, I noted that there too. For example, in October I took a vocational vacation to the Oregon Coast and spent a week in a writer’s workshop learning a crap-ton about the business end of writing and publishing. That’s definitely in the Stormcloud matrix.

In 2018, I’m thinking of going even simpler. No more big, colorful monthly graph where I continue to track my every move just to justify to myself that yes, I did do something toward my writing career this month. The new system is codenamed “Scarecrow” and it’s just a schedule. Just a plan of what I want to get done in 2018. And it doesn’t take up much space.

Two major books: Green-Eyed Monster, which is a collection of 7 novellas and stories (some of which will also appear as solo stories once a month over several months), and Deus Ex Machina, which is the quirky superhero novel following Hungry Gods. And that’s it. And pretty much all of those things are already written or very nearly written.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00017]

Much like in the world of Big Publishing. The stuff that comes out this year will have been written last year or, more often, years before. In the case of most of these things I’m bringing out in 2018, most of these words are two, three, or more years old and are just now, finally, seeing the light of day. Or were published in magazines previously, so I had to wait for the rights to come back to me. The shorter stuff was also waiting for me to have more stuff to package them up with, in the case of the Green-Eyed collection.

So how did everything total up? Was 2017 a good year?

Sure it was! Even though I feel, as every writer does, that I didn’t write nearly enough words and didn’t get nearly enough out for readers to grab onto, it was a good year.

In 2017, I published 81,500 new words. New, as in they’d never been published before 2017. Pretty darn nice for one busy-as-hell guy doing all this on his own. (With some hired help from editors, artists, and the wife.)

But when you add in repeated words—such as stories that were published by a magazine or anthology and then later by me too, or the books I revived from previous years that I had removed from publication for dumb reasons, that total is way more impressive: 274,000 words! Over a quarter million! Wowzers! Almost half of that is the revival of my Tarnish: Thunderstrike Edition all by itself, which combines everything so far in that universe into one volume.

Those totals beat out 2016, when I published 77,500 new words and a total of 99,500 with reprints and all. Which is still pretty darn good itself!

And according to Scarecrow’s estimates (like it’s secret artificial intelligence or something), I expect to publish about 100,000 new words in 2018, between the Green-Eyed stories and DXM. Plus (I nearly forgot!), I have another Leonidas Hawksblood space pirate installment coming out this summer in Cirsova Magazine. Two installments, actually, as it’s a story in two parts. That’s another 11,500 words.

Words already written in 2016, along with at least 70,000 that are done as of right now.

Which makes it easier. Especially with the HUGE life changes we’re about to go through. Having the hardest part already done gives me a full year to get them finished up, polished up, and out the door. All the while, going through massive real-life stuff, starting new jobs and graduate school, ensuring the family makes the transition without too much psychological trauma, and everything else.

So my 2018 is already shaping up to be a hell of a year.

How’s about yours? Leave a comment and let me know!

*

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By the way, you can still grab everything published in 2017, plus a couple bonus stories, via the Swords, Superheroes, and Space Opera Bundle. Hundreds and hundreds of pages worth of fiction for only SIX BUCKS. Get it while it lasts, folks, because once I get settled into my new life and 2018, this incredibly cheap bundle of books is going to go away. (Click here to find it on Bundle Rabbit, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.)

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

(2018 image from freepik.com, btw)

Why Do Writers Always Go to Coffeeshops?

coffeshop

I often go to a coffee shop or similar venue to do my writing.

Clichéd, right?  Are you one of those people who always wonder, Why the hell do they come here to write?  Just to show off?  To be a hipster?  What’s the deal?!

Well, I don’t know about everyone else, I just know about me.  And me?  I do it because I need a certain atmosphere to make my magic work.

Okay, I don’t NEED that atmosphere. In fact, I’m trying to train myself NOT to think that I need it. But I do know this: I can’t get jack shit done at home. If my family isn’t interrupting me, I will interrupt myself. There’s always plenty of juicy distractions at home. If I want to get serious and do my damn work, I need to get out of the house.

I have tried locking myself in a nice quiet little study room at the local library.  But that doesn’t work either. Too quiet, too isolated, and I feel bottled up.  My creative juices get stagnant.

So I seek a balance. Somewhere that I can be alone at my little table, but not so alone that I can hear my own heartbeat and get antsy. A coffee shop or restaurant provide a nice mix of the two. And sometimes I even take inspiration from my surroundings to fill in details about people, places or things in what I’m writing at that moment. Hard to do that if you’re locked in a closet all by yourself.

The downside is the rent. Most places don’t want you sucking up table space unless you pay for it. By buying a cup of joe, for example. So there’s a daily cost to doing that.

By the way…

If you’d like to sponsor one such writing session, I’d be happy to provide an avenue for you to do that. You can buy me a mug or drop me a tip or show a tiny token of your appreciation, if you wish, at http://www.paypal.me/JDBrink and sending electronic coins there. Every drop of coffee/cocoa/whatever helps further my work.

So if you do wish to do that, THANK YOU from the bottom of my mug. And heart.

And if you REALLY feel compelled to help out, you can sponsor one cup of coffee a month on an ongoing basis. Check out my Patreon page for details. As little as $1 a month gets you everything I publish, sent straight to you. Plus little monthly tidbits I share to subscribers on my page.

If you are thinking about doing this, THANK YOU each and every month from the bottom of my heart!

By the way, that nifty image above is stolen from a great article I just found while looking for images on The Creativity Post. Very interesting…

PARALYZED

I’m in flux right now.  Frozen.  Unable to do anything.

Kinda.

Last week my PC laptop was dealt a paralyzing blow by McAfee “internet security” software that was offered to the military for personal use.  And now that their shit has destroyed my computer, they refuse to take responsibility.  So far, at least.  But I’m not done yet.  You’d think a zillion-dollar company could afford to replace one cheap laptop after ruining it.  And you’d think they’d not want headlines to read MCAFEE INFECTS NAVY FAMILIES WITH VIRUS.  You’d think they want to avoid that…

Meanwhile, I’m looking at getting a new Mac laptop (cuz mine is pretty much fucked).  This pause in business as usual has also given me an opportunity to reassess things, redesign, and see where shit’s going.

On top of all that, I also can see the light at the end of the tunnel on this phase of our lives.  I mean, BIG CHANGE A’COMIN’.  Not quite ready to let that cat out of the bag quite yet, but let’s just say I have a lot of stuff to do in the coming months.  LIFE related, not writing related.

So this post is basically nothing but cryptic nonsense, but just in case anyone is paying attention and wondering why I’ve been out of commission this past week, this is why.

Hopefully more constructive shit to say sooner than later.

Kickstarter Broke My Heart

I have hit a snag.  Multiple snags, actually.

HGsad

After putting quite a lot of effort into crafting a Kickstarter project for Deus Ex Machina (that’s the sequel to Hungry Gods) over the last several weeks, sweating about making a damn dumb video and then up till 4am two nights in a row making and editing one, I have now confirmed with more than one email Q&A that I cannot launch my project.  Like many businesses, Kickstarter for some reason does not recognize my American Forces address (meaning, a U.S. base overseas), despite the fact that we have legit U.S. postal addresses here.  Their system simply will not accept my zip code as valid.

I would also have to verify my bank account with said system, which is also tied to this address.  And I can’t just use some other address or put it in someone else’s name.  It has to be mine.  (Otherwise, I’m sure, there’d be some potential fraud thing with doing online business and money transactions using some else’s info.)

Long story short, I’m screwed.  Lots of work, big dependence on this (for exposure more so than even the assist with funding) and…  Ka-Boom, blowing up in my face.  Or more accurately, falling flat onto my face.

Huge disappointment.  Sucks.

I will, of course, continue to write the book.  And still hope to have it done before the end of the year.  But I’ll publish it at relatively higher cost than most of my books.  (And the writer’s coffers are already empty, as I’m spending more than I’m taking in—and I ain’t spent that much.)  And when I do publish it, no one will even know it’s come out.  It’ll be one of a thousand indie books that same month, a drop in the vast sea with no more audience or recognition than any other.

So yeah…  Disappointing.

There is a silver lining though.

The breakdown.

No, not a nervous breakdown.  What I mean is, streamlining.

This has kind of convinced me to cut back.  To (temporarily, at least) give up on the business venture, the marketing, the hopes of making any solid income from writing in the near future.  (Like 95% of writers out there, I won’t be waving bye-bye to a day job anytime soon.)

I know that doesn’t sound like a silver lining, but it’s actually kind of liberating.  If I cut all the extra bullshit, then I stop stressing myself out over these things.  I stop expecting a 12-man work load out of a one-man show (i.e., me).  Cut the extraneous obligations I keep adding to my own plate.  And I heap that shit on pretty heavily.  And then hate myself for not accomplishing it all.

I’m really a slave driver—to myself.  Maybe it’s time to give the lash a rest and relax a bit.  Take a more realistic stance on all this.  Accept that it may be 20 years before anyone notices the stuff I write.  (Maybe 30, or 50.)

Really.  That’s a much more realistic view.  Sucks, but it’s actually a less stressful way to look at things.

To that end, I will also suspend my Patreon page that I started a few months back.  I see folks on there with a hell of a lot more following than I have, and they aren’t exactly rolling in support over there either.  (Unless you’re making videos about video games.  The video game and mind-numbing app industry is knee-capping the literate world, if you ask me.  Apparently I need to start spending more time playing other people’s games and just talking about that shit, rather than trying to make anything original myself.)

Maybe some years from now I can reboot the Patreon endeavor and it’ll work out.  Right now, that’s just one more iron in fire that I feel obligated to keep up with, to force a time slot for, when it’s doing absolutely nothing for me.

You might have noticed that I don’t respond much to Facebook stuff, or Tweets, or any of the social media stuff.  That would require time, and if I spend time on that, I’m not doing more productive things.  And with a 50-hour a week job, a family, and trying to write multiple series of novels, when the hell am I going to find time to “like” a comment on Facebook?  That shit falls way down on my list of priorities.  (Actually, it’s not even on the list…)

This whole post is really more of a venting for myself.  The kind of passive-aggressive pity party that folks have by the millions on Facebook everyday.  Also helps make it real when I “say it out loud,” so to speak.  But no one reads this shit anyway, right?  I’m safely talking to myself here.

This letting go of extraneous tasking doesn’t change my ultimate goal, though.  I will keep writing.  I have more ideas every single day, be they new adventures or just further developments for ones I already have in mind.  (In fact, I developed a new story while swimming with my son at the pool today, just based on observing the people around me.)  So the dream goes on.  I’m just going to pull back on the reigns a bit and forgive myself a bit more.  It’s a good thing.  Honest.

(And the graphic above…  didn’t turn out quite how I envisioned it.  It’s based on the one from the other day.  You know, the one that would have been the banner for my Kickstarter project.)

Speaking of images, I am going to roll now from here to the next ebook cover, coming out  as soon as we nail down a nice cover…

See, I’m not giving up the ship.  😉

Your Cellphone is Killing You

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I’ve been saying this for years!  And no, I’m not one of those crazies!  (Well, I might be… but that doesn’t mean I’m not right!)

I tripped across this AMAZING video today.  Its the product of artist Steve Cutts, found here on Lowlife Magazine.  Kudos to them both.  Click here to check it out.

Then feel horrible about your addiction and do something about it.

For example: Get your face out of that screen and read a book!

In fact, I have a summer reading assignment for everyone: Read (or reread) Fahrenheit 451.  Bradbury predicts all of this.  See if you can find the all-consuming gadget media that preoccupies everyone in that classic book and keeps their minds from functioning as they should.