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.

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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)

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The Resurrection Sequence: Hitting the Return Key

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Amidst the swirl of life-changing chaos that is the maelstrom of my life right now (we’re leaving Japan in 2 months with no solid job, house, or fool-proof plan at this point!), I also at work on the next phase of my writing career.

Kind of the next phase.  It’s also partly the old phase.

“Okay, hold the phone. You don’t have a job, but you’re screwing around with writing?!”

“Well, we have a semi-plan and some good prospects, but we’ve managed to save enough that we can float for now and not drown. We’ll be fine in the short term and once we’re back in the States, we’ll be in a better position to figure out the long term.  But thanks for your concern!”

Anyway, after having attended and learned so much and been inspired by the Oregon Coast Masters Class, I have some proto-plans forming.  One aspect of those is what I call “sequencing” or “burst publishing.”  (It’s not that I invented the idea, it’s just that I don’t know what other people call it.)

The gist is this: instead of publishing stuff here and there as they come ready, and then having months in between releases, you save up related books/stories and release them in sequence, one a month, in a nice, neat string.

This has two advantages:

  1. It gives readers a nice steady feed, so if they buy and read book 1, book 2 is coming right along behind, followed right away (a month later) by book 3.  (I, for one, am so far terrible about releasing–or writing–series in any fashion that allows for steady following. Hopefully once I’m out of the Navy I’ll be in a better position to avoid that problem.)
  2. On the Amazon side of the house (which is just one side, by the way–they might be king shit in America, but they certainly aren’t king shit of the world), having a steady release, like once a month, activates something in their mechanism that says, “This person is a regular publisher, let’s push his books more.”  The algorithm likes that.

So my first sequence in this new vision unto the future is “The Resurrection Sequence.”  It has a few aspects to it, as well:

  1. The main “resurrection” thing is bringing back a couple of books I’d previously published but retired for different reasons. Namely, A Long Walk Down a Dark Alley (terrible title, but a nice, genre-specific cover) and the Thunderstrike Edition of Tarnish, which is basically a four-book omnibus. A Long Walk became Eating in the Underworld (perhaps not a severely improved title, either).  The collection has now reverted back to Walk and Eating is it’s own standalone story from that collection. Tarn-TS is still in the works. I also made a new, much cooler cover for my story Puppet Theatre and relaunched that.
  2. Republishing several (and eventually all–probably) of my titles in a new format using Vellum and with improved front and back matter.  (If you don’t know what the hell any of that is, don’t worry about it.  That’s more writer-speak than reader concern. The stories are still the same.)
  3. Launching my first single-author bundle on Bundle Rabbit, which will basically be all my titles Fugitive Fiction published in 2017, gift-wrapped as kind of a readers’ introduction to my work.  Buyers will be able to get $30+ worth of ebooks for less than 10 bucks.

Detective walking at night city lights.

But to get there, and in reformatting to Vellum, I am hitting an issue.  I am being haunted by the Return Button.

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

You may have noticed that I sometimes tend to write in big blocky paragraphs.  (Or have tended to write–past tense, as I’m trying to be more conscious of it.) As I’m re-upping older work, especially the 125,000 words of Tarnish, I’m finding that the asshole perfectionist in me wants to spend lots of time combing through and breaking up those huge half-page long blocks of text.

I think doing so will make for a smoother, easier read, but holy shit does it take time!  Time I could be writing new stories, of which I have hundreds to go!

Dean Wesley Smith would probably say, “Those old books are snapshots of how you wrote then. Stuff you write now show you’re improvement. Don’t waste your time on the past. Move forward.”

And I would agree.  Or at least I’m trying to.

But it’s hard for me, in good conscious, to republish those big ugly blocks when I could improve on them.

On the other hand, some of that stuff is 5 years old. And I am definitely feeling the withdrawal symptoms of not writing new, fun stuff. This old shit is getting to be like an anchor around my neck! I have to move on!

We’ll see how this inner struggle goes. Either way, I’m hoping to get it all out well before the New Year. But if I allow my insecurities and neurosis to drag me back through 400+ pages, I might not make it!

Planes, trains, and Automobiles

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“Those aren’t pillows!”

If that line means nothing to you, you’re either too young or it’s been too long since you’ve seen that movie. But the holidays are coming up, so chances are it’ll be on TV. Just in case, though, here’s that scene from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles on Youtube, via Fandango’s “Movie Clips.”

Why am I referencing that John Candy and Steve Martin holiday classic? Because that was my day coming back from Oregon to Japan. I traveled for about 18 hours straight, crossing the International Date Line and losing a day on the calendar. Two hours by car from Lincoln City to the Portland, about three in the airport, 11 in-flight, another 1.5 on a bus and then the last 30 minutes by train.

I’m not kidding!

But it was worth it. I learned so much at that Writers’ Master Class that I still, days later, am not prepared to process it all. And now I have to go back to work for the Navy (leave’s over), to night shifts, and continue my preparations for getting out of the Navy in just 2.5 short months! Whew! But it’s all downhill from here. Looking forward to the roller coaster ride into the next chapter of our lives!

Meantime, I’ll slowly be implementing changes to the way I do business as a writer, publisher, blogger, and general weirdo. Hopefully for the better, for me, my family, and even you, the reader eager for quality escapism and entertainment. Stand by for those.

The first will be a freebie book available to my Conspiracy Newsletter subscribers. If you’re not onboard yet, enrollment is always open. Join the conspiracy and join the adventure! I’m eager for feedback as I start up new and exciting avenues down the developing indie author pathway. And as soon as I get a chance to explore a new cybernetic delivery system, everyone on the mailing list will get a chance to test it out for me in the form of a free downloadable book.

“Join the Conspiracy!” Sign up by clicking here.

More coming soon…

(Note that this post is slightly out of sequence. I actually traveled before Halloween but the costume pics yesterday—and the offer for a free book—were more time-sensitive to get out there.)

Indie Writers’ Workshop Comes to a Close

I’m tapping this out quickly while waiting to board my flight in Portland. This week I attended the Masters Class from WMG Publishing, namely Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  A fantastic week of learning about the modern and future indie writing world. I have a notebook full of notes, carpel tunnel, and my head is still too overwhelmed to start sorting through it all. But it was a great week with a lot of great, like-minded people.

And as nice as it is to get away, it’s nice to be headed home too. One funny thing… I’ve been eating out for a week, 2 or 3 meals a day, and just had the best meal of the week here in the airport! It was a breakfast bowl at the “Beach Shack” — eggs, potatoes, onions, peppers, spinach, bacon and gravy on top.  Holy shit was that good! Closest thing to home cooking I’ve had all week. (Other than a nice spaghetti dinner that Kip hosted for our group; too much to explain there.)

Anyway, made some great connections with fellow writers, including a few other names you’d likely recognize, and got way too much of a to-do list for the future. As well as a better understanding of this business (and the out-moded old publishing structure that’s sagging into old age now).

For those interested in my work, stand by for some changes in how I do business and some experiments with new digital delivery methods and promotional freebies.

Also learned an slight appreciation for the technology I have thus far shunned… I don’t own a smart phone, which I deeply regretted when I wanted to take pictures of the awesome Oregon scenery and had no means of doing so. Maybe it’s time I get with the times after all…  (Maybe…)

Okay, gotta get my passport and boarding papers ready…

Progress–and Breaking My Wrist

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Last night, in the wee hours, I published the above ebook: Frozen Heart.

This is actually a novelette (about 9,000 words), not a full-blown novel or what most might call a “book.” And it’s not new.  I wrote the first version of it (I think) while I was in nursing school, circa 2007.  It also appears as one of three sci-fi stories in my mini-collection (“book”) The Scythe of Kronos.

So it’s not new.  And it might not be what you’d call a full-blown book in and of itself.

You see what I did there?  I criticized and tore myself down.  Despite having accomplished something that millions of people talk about doing and only thousands actually ever accomplish.

Why do I do that???

In adding this new standalone publication to my roster of works published, I made a surprising discovery: so far in 2017, I have published about 122,500 words.  

That’s a lot of words.  More than many (maybe even most) indie authors get published in a year.  And it’s only August.  If I manage to get the novel done I’m working on by New Years, that’ll add 70,000 to 80,000 more to the total.

That’s something!

And yet for some reason, it’s hard for me to acknowledge that.  It nearly breaks my wrist to pat myself on the back.

It’s much easier for me to ridicule myself for not getting more done.

Ready for more of that?

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So of that 122,500 words, only about 73,000 are “original words.”  Now, that does NOT mean I stole them from someone else.  It’s just my way of saying that 49,500 of them already appeared somewhere else.  Like Frozen Heart, which is in that other book I published earlier this year.  23,000 of them make up the novella Secret Identities, which was first published in the anthology Hiding Behind the Cowl a couple months before I put it out again as Book 2 of my Secret Origins series.  (So in that 122,500, I’m counting it twice, because it was published by them and me; it exists in the world in two different places.)

The optimist in me says that I should count every individual publication of each work.  The pessimist says that I shouldn’t.  So I do both.

And that’s okay, because both numbers are way better than I expected.  (If only I could convince myself of that!)

So here’s everything that’s come out so far this year (plus Cowl, above).  And the year ain’t done yet…

2017

And now I’ve spent time blogging instead of working on that novel.  Excuse me while I go inflict Reminder Scars on myself with the cat-o-nine-tails in the corner… 

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(Btw, if you click the images, it’ll take you to Amazon.  You don’t have to buy them on Amazon, they’re everywhere, but it was just easier to do that right now.  If you’d like to buy some, that is.)

 

 

Kickstarter Broke My Heart

I have hit a snag.  Multiple snags, actually.

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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.  😉

Superhero Sequel, Kickstarter, & Visual Aids

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A quick buffet of flying updates.

Tonight I (finally!) completed the first 12 chapters of the sequel to Hungry Gods, which will be entitled Deus Ex Machina.  HG was my 2015 “rookie superhero infiltrates zombieville” novel.  It was also a successful Kickstarter project.  DXM is returning hero Spitball on a new James Bond-style mission with lots of spandex-inspired fun.

After 2.5 years, I’m finally almost ready to launch book 2.  I actually started writing it at least a year ago, more like 1.5-2 years ago.  But I lost interest and wanted to work on a bunch of shorter stuff, so that’s what I did.  Now I’ve found renewed fun in it and am pushing forward.  (And fighting the urge to set it aside once again to write far-flung space pirate adventures.  Those might come after this, then…)

So now that I’ve hit this milestone (section one—first 12 chapters—completed, which is probably about 40% of the book), I’ll soon be launching another Kickstarter to help fund the editing and cover art.  (Meanwhile, I’ll be floating the above to represent this book.)

I’ve also been working on my visual aids/organizations for my existing books/series/universes.  Below is the Identity Crisis superhero universe thus far.  (I actually have several more books for the IDCU in mind—as well as a zillion not in this vein—but I’m an active duty military member with a family so…  it’ll take me a while to get them all written up.  But hopefully not another 2-3 years between books!)

So this is meant to show the books in series, as well as show standalone stories that are also inside other books.  For example, Medicine Man and Puppet Theatre exist as standalone stories, but you can get them inside Masks too.  Is that obvious?

Also, Silk Spider is a standalone story and not part of the 2029 series (of which Invasion is currently the only book).  Is that clear or do they seem to be lumped together?

Maybe if I get rid of the series headers (in red/pink) and just let the cover design and title description bit show they are in series?  What do you think?

Feedback is appreciated!

Okay, it’s after 4am here right now so I need to get to bed!  (On night shifts now, so my internal clock is all messed up.  And if the language here sounds goofy, that’s why!)  Good night!

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