Category Archives: Fiction

Publish & Move On

My launch date (December 23) has no particular rhyme or reason. My marketing “campaign” will no doubt be sporadic, conducted according whim and wild hair. I won’t be tracking sales, will evince only mild interest in reviews.

So. I’ve either gone completely loony tunes, or I’ve found an approach–okay, a non-approach–that works for me. Or both.

Probably both.

I won’t sing “The Marketing Blues” again in this space. But I hope you’ll allow me to sing a few verses of “The Hallelujah, I’m Writing Again Chorus.”

I found the joy again. All I had to do was forget about earning any kind of a living, exorcise the numbers demon, and remember why I started writing in the first place: Because I love it. Because it’s what I do.

So, on December 23, I’ll publish Hunter’s Shadow, book 2 in my Golden State Hearts Trilogy. And then I’ll move on. Move on to the sequel to Amanda’s Eyes. Move on to book 3 in the trilogy, Not Far Enough. Hunter’s poor shadow will have to navigate that cold, cruel self-publishing world without much help or attention from me. (Unless I get hit on the head and forget how much I hate marketing and how joyless it leaves me as an author.)

Any living to be earned will spring from Social Security, such as it is, and my pension, such as it is. (Not to mention the occasional freelance gig on motorcycle tool kits, National Prime Rib Day, or drug testing in Idaho.)

“Why publish at all if you don’t want to make money?”

Well, I wouldn’t mind making money, of course. And in the (so far) unlikely event money happens, just let me say, the party’s on me.

I publish, because that’s what you do with a book. I publish, because not publishing strikes me as a cop out. I publish, because if even one person reads my books, my characters have come alive for someone besides me. I publish, because you just never know.

So, bon voyage, Hunter’s Shadow.

I’m moving on.

P.S. That link thing, up there? Where I linked to my books? That’s what you call on-a-whim, why-not, wild-hair marketing. In case you were wondering.

Growing Up Indie, Part VIII: As Time Goes By

The fundamental things apply
As time goes by

I don’t know about you, but as time goes by I forget.  Between writing (or fretting because I’m not) and marketing (what little I do) and keeping an eye on sales (it only takes one eye at this point) and the occasional obsession with reviews, I lose sight of fundamentals every author should remember.  Maybe I need to print them out and post them on the giant bulletin board above my monitor, alongside the next novel’s murder map and my train ticket to Bordeaux and the yellow button that says, “I may be over the hill, but I can still get back on top when I want to.”

Today, I thought I would post them here, because maybe you’ve forgotten, too.  That way, I can remind both of us.  So here, for our collective edification, are 5 fundamentals every writer should keep in mind.

  1. Write for Yourself First.  Don’t start out thinking about sales or gold stars or even the reader.  Stay true to your story; it’s a world only you can offer. Writing at its best is like giving birth. Your imagination is pregnant with a cast of characters and everything that happens to them.  You don’t want to deliver a clone, simply because the kid might be more marketable and people will like you better.
  2. Improve Your Art.  Call me a cockeyed idealist, but I consider writing an art, and frankly, I don’t care whether we’re talking literary coming-of-age novels, romances, or zombie apocalypses.  You’re a wordsmith, and practice should make perfect—or as nearly perfect as we can get in this crazy world.  Get feedback from fellow authors and editors and proofreaders.  Pay attention to what you like about your favorite authors.  Go back and (oh, God!) look at your earlier work and pinpoint what you could have done differently (read:  better).  Always, always be on the lookout for ways to grow as a writer.  Which brings us to our next point ….
  3. Keep It Simple, Silly.  In the past few months, I’ve come close to banging my head against the wall any number of times.  Why?  Because authors who should know better—talking best-sellers here—have suddenly decided more words trump fewer, and the more highfaluting the adjective, the better.  WRONG doesn’t quite cover this phenomenon.  Imagine your next sentence is your hand.  You want your words to deliver a slap or a punch?  Keep your writing compact.  This advice goes hand in hand with fundamental #4.
  4. Write Like You Talk.  Tattoo this Robertson Davies quote on your forehead (backwards, so you can read it in the mirror): “I think of an author as somebody who goes into the marketplace and puts down his rug and says, ‘I will tell you a story’ ….” When you write, tell the story the way you would tell it to a group of friends sitting around a campfire (S’mores optional).  This is what we call your “voice.”  This voice is as unique as your DNA,  flowing directly from who you are and setting you apart from every other author who ever has or ever will write a word.  (This is a good thing.)
  5. Leave Some Gaps.  Want to draw your reader in?  Leave room for his/her imagination.  By that I mean, give just enough detail.  No need to describe every wart, whisker, or button on the armchair.  Let your audience fill in the lesser blanks and get on with the action.  Instead of getting bored, your reader will unconsciously invest a bit of him- or herself in your story.  Plus, you let the reader do some of the work!  What’s not to like about that?

Well, there you (we) have them.  I’m sure you could name other fundamentals, and I’d be obliged if you would share.  Seriously.  Post a comment here, or on my Facebook page or just shoot me an e-mail, and I’ll share.  I’ll be waiting to hear from you ….

Waiting

The Essential Thing

I love this quote from Marc Chagall.  Could just as easily be said about the writer’s art.  Am I right?

The essential thing is art, painting, a painting different from the painting everyone does.

But what sort?  Will God, or somebody else, give me the power to breathe into my canvases my sigh, the sigh of prayer and of sadness, the sigh of salvation, of re-birth?  ~Marc Chagall, My Life

Coming This December to an E-reader Near You!

Cover image, WHY LIVE?

To be, or not to be, the woman you were engineered to be?

Free for the Last Time!

My novel, Amanda’s Eyes, will be free FOR THE LAST TIME, today and tomorrow (9/27 & 9/28).  Why not download a copy and see what the 5-star reviews are all about?

River Dance

I’m in the throes of my two-day Amazon free book promo, even as we speak—check out Amazon’s KDP Select program for the skinny on free promos—and I decided to share a few thoughts on the experience so far.

Amanda’s Eyes got off to a slow start.  How slow?  Well, picture me, driving home from work yesterday, one hand on the wheel, one fist waving in heaven’s face.

“Hey!  How about some help down here?  I can’t even give away my book!”

God only knows what my fellow motorists thought.  Loco seems likely.  Then again, this is Texas.  Everybody’s crazy.

I guess He hears snarky prayers, too, because by early evening, Amanda was hitting her stride.  By mid-morning today, she was running like Secretariat.  As of this writing, the book is in Amazon’s Top 100 in the Kindle Free Store (up from 180,000-something), #15 among Mysteries/Thrillers.  All this with 9 hours to go.

Am I happy?  Does my dog, Molly, have cute lil’ pig ears?  You bet!

I mean … YOWZA!

I’m living in the moment, and the moment is sah-weet.  But I’m also looking ahead.  Trying to be realistic.  No easy task for a novelist, but overblown expectations are wax wings, and I don’t aspire to be the next Icarus.

For once in my life, I’m paying attention.  I get it.  Amazon is as fluid as the river it may or may not be named after.  Tributaries up the wazoo.  Hundreds, maybe thousands, of books flood in every day.  Promoting your own book is like trying to dance on that river—it’s hard to keep your head above water.

In the past 36 hours, thousands of readers downloaded Amanda’s Eyes.  No way that’s a bad thing.  That is, in fact, an amazingly terrific, stupendously awesome, squeal-producing wonderment!

But how do I know the folks who got the book will read actually it?  If they do read it, will they like it?  If they like it, will they take the time to review it?

Aye, there’s the rub.

Because reviews are key.  They’re my life jacket.  Without them, the mighty Amazon will swallow me up and roll on.

So I’m crossing my fingers, saying my prayers, waiting to see if hope really does float.

Meanwhile …. YOWZA!

The Stuck Stops Here

Okay, I admit it.  I’m stuck.

Worse yet, I’m stuck at the beginning.

Stuck after 1,000 words.

And I have to throw out two or three hundred of those.

Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to have an entire novel log-jam in your head?  Of course you do.  Do you ever get stuck and think, “Oh.  My.  God.  It’s all over.  My life is over!  I will never write again!”?  (Or wonder if you got the punctuation right when you typed that out?)

At this rate, Mind Games should hit Amazon somewhere around March 31, 2021.  I’ll be a big celebrity at the home.

Well, I’m not putting up with it.  The stuck stops here.  I’m breaking out all my patented block-busters.

  • Free writing.  We’re talking colored markers, people.  (“Made with Recycled Plastic and Preferred by Teachers!”)  Stream-of-consciousness word doodles scattered randomly across cheap drawing paper.  NO LINES.  Think technicolor word cloud.  Think word association.  Word play.  Word up.  My word!

This is how I turn off the editor.  Tell the perfectionist nag-ette, the critic on my shoulder, to put a sock in it.  Abandon linear thinking all ye who enter here!  IMAGINATION UNCHAINED!

Or, as I like to say, “Laissez les bon mots rouler!”

Other block-busters include:

  • Walks with my dog, Molly
  • Hot baths with good reads
  • A few minutes of yoga (or what passes for yoga around here)
  • A glass (or three) of Llano Sweet Red
  • Writing blog posts

Might take a couple days, but inspiration, here I come!  At least, that’s how it usually works.

Better than beating my head against the wall like I’ve been doing.

So, to quote Daffy Duck, “Yoiks, and away!”

Onward through the fog!

Excelsior!

And thank God for caffeine.