It’s been awhile since I last updated things. A few things are afoot and a few things are keeping me occupied. Work on Apotheosis goes slow, mostly because I’m still wrapping up some plotlines in my head. I’m not certain how much story is needed.
Shockingly, I’m not certain who lives and who dies.
The Review Hart is reviewing Assassins on February 17th. I’m a bit nervous, but also really stoked. This is the first time one of my novels has been reviewed without my submitting it for consideration/rejection. That’s just neat. Watch for it when it goes live and check out the other reviews!
Although the site is still in development, I was interviewed by Women Readers. The site doesn’t officially launch until April, but this was also the first time I was contacted out of the blue to speak about my writing Stormcaller. It gave me a good chance to not only talk about my work, but also reflect about how far I’ve come since I decided to pursue writing. It humbled me that someone felt Isaura is a cool character, worth sharing.
To celebrate the Assassins review, I’m putting Stormcaller on a Kindle Countdown Sale starting Monday, February 17th. With a bit of luck, new readers will discover Seattle’s little tempest-in-a-hoodie.
There’s probably a bit more news in a few weeks, but I’ll wait until everything is finalized.
Shanna Germain tweeted something that struck a chord with me (Minor 7th).
I had a similar (albeit brief) conversation with Laura Gallier this week and it got me thinking about what makes a book good or bad. Laura’s criteria included technical defects in the book (formatting errors, typos, etc.), whereas I tend to dismiss such details and focus more on storytelling and grammar.
Disliking something doesn’t make it bad, per se. I do not like dry wines–at all–but that doesn’t make them bad. It’s a subjective view. As we consume content and review it, I think its important to note the distinction between disliking something and it being a bad product.
The first ebook I ever bought was a how-to guide for drawing. I opened it up and saw poorly formatted pages, with artwork that probably came from a skilled canine or unskilled artist (like me!), and had so many problems that I returned it. That was a bad book and my review reflected it, and listed those faults.
When I bought Three Stations, the seventh Arkady Renko novel, I didn’t particularly like it. The story dragged and it didn’t feel immersive or innovative. My review noted that, as well as goofs a copyeditor or editor should have caught, but it wasn’t a bad book. I simply didn’t enjoy it.
I shy away from reviews these days unless I’m wildly impressed (for good or ill) or the writer is someone I respect. The politics of reviews are very strange and too murky for my tastes. Writers need to remember that reviews will include criticisms (I have never read a perfect book), but reviewers need to consider what they’re dinging people on. Coming across a book with two cover images, or a funky character (a typographical problem, not story actors), or a missing period is not the end of the world. If the problem is pervasive, that’s one thing, but a few isolated instances I think are worth a pass.
It’s okay to not like a story. It’s okay to include those thoughts in a review. I think it’s important to note the distinction, however, between your perception (I didn’t like the plot) and quality (every other page was broken code). Stormcaller got several negative reviews, but I appreciated the fact that the reviewers added caveats such as “I really liked this book until X.” Even with the negative review, the honest remarks took the sting out of them.
Reviews are an integral part of a book’s level of success. Don’t do others a disservice you wouldn’t want done to your creations.
It’s been a helluva year. January saw the release of Stormcaller‘s ebook, yet another shift in my employment, the end of my life aboard White Raven, moving to Japan, starting a new job, research for Stormcaller #3, and publishing Assassins.
So much took place. Most of it turned out to be good, but some parts sucked rotten eggs. I’ve had the chance to eat a LOT of (real) Kobe beef this year, so I’ll probably put this one in the Win column. Oh, sure–I published another book, but I have terminal writeritis. Writing was bound to happen anyway.
I’m currently on holiday. We have about a week to go before school starts up again. I wrote a lot less than I expected, but I’ve done a ton of work on the new book. Writing is more than just banging keys to put letters and punctuation marks down in an acceptable, if not coherent, order. A lot of writers get hung up on word counts. “I wrote 96 gillion words today.” That sounds awesome (though if all of those survive your revision passes, you’re not being a ruthless enough editor), but what about the days you write 300 words? Or none?
I do a lot of creative work whilst walking. I take an hour or two each day and walk across town and back, and most of that time is spent going through scenes, questioning plot details, testing dialogue (You should speak what your characters would say–just to be sure it doesn’t sound stupid), and generally trying to understand how the story will happen.
That’s all part of writing. I didn’t waste that day, even if I didn’t type a single word.
Don’t get hung up on writing metrics. I’ve read a lot of books that should have been edited down much more than they ended up being. I don’t want to name names, but books 5, 6, and 7 of a series about a hirsute gardener had all the words, but lost a lot of the magic that practically dripped from previous books. It’s okay to not write, especially if it will make for a better tale. Writing crap just to make a word count goal only means you wrote crap.
Give yourself permission to let your imagination churn.
“Don’t confused activity with achievement.” -Dirty War, 2004
There you are, just a few days until Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, and you just don’t know what presents to get people…
Or, money is tight and you don’t know what to get people…
OR, you have so many people to get presents for that you couldn’t possibly satisfy your gift quota without mortaging your kidney and selling your significant other into indentured servitude.
Life is HARD. I’m here to help.
For four days, Assassins will be FREE on Amazon, starting Friday (12/20) and going through Monday (12/23). If you don’t have Assassins, this is your chance to grab it gratis. If you’re a secret Santa, this is your chance!
The Stormcaller giveaway was a huge success, and I need your help to make this one work, too. Boost the signal, “buy” copies and gift them to people, and otherwise make it known that a great book is up for grabs. My goal is to see Assassins hit #1 on Amazon like Stormcaller did.
Now, let me apologize in advance. I do not usually use social media to sell books. I use it to engage with writers, readers, and that weird guy who eats nothing but saltines and mayonnaise. For the next few days, I will be a bit chattery about this giveaway (and I hope you’ll help me spread the word). I promise to return to my normal “Books? Twitter isn’t for books” mode as soon as the promotion ends.
Bear with me.
So that’s it. FREE stuff! Such a deal. Go nuts and let’s spread some ebooks!
UPDATE: Amazon doesn’t understand how date lines work, which means the promotion which was supposed to start fifteen minutes ago hasn’t (and won’t). Rather than going Friday-Monday as I’d hoped, it looks like it will be Saturday-Tuesday US-time. #frustrated I’m so sorry for the delay! I’ve got an email into them, but I don’t expect they’ll actually flip the switch.
It’s been a few weeks since Assassins hit the market. I’m still tickled every time I see new sales, more so when I see them for Stormcaller. I want readers to enjoy the series, and I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you don’t want to comment, shoot me an email at email@example.com. Let’s chat!
In the meantime, I’ve started work on Stormcaller #3, tentatively titled Apotheosis. I keep vacillating between that and Seraph. I’m going back to Kobe this weekend to revisit some locations, update my notes, and record thoughts and impressions at various sites that will appear in the story.
It is in this book that I need to pay things off. I’ve hinted at several things throughout the first two books, some of which I was only vaguely aware of how they might play out. Now, I’m in the position of resurrecting those and developing them. Assassins played merry hell on our favorite witch, and I hope I’m up to the task of crafting a conclusion to the story.
I really hope I’m up to the task of crafting a great conclusion.
One of the things I’ve had with me throughout this creative journey is the story bible. It has notes for all sorts of details, some of which never entered the tales, some of which merely influenced it. It’s got pictures of the characters, locations, charts, diagrams, tables, and all sorts of stuff.
Stuff is totally a writery word.
I hope to have the first draft or two written by spring. I definitely want beta feedback before revisions, and I’m already writing down those questions. I learn more with each book I write–something I hope the readers see–but I hope the tales improve. There’s a lot of veiled groups and individuals in the eldritch world. It’s time to tear down those shrouds and change the nature of the world itself.
That was always the goal of the Stormcaller books. To have the world in which the stories take place fundamentally changed. I hope the result reads as cool as it sounds in my head.
P.S. Expect a little announcement towards the end of the week. Something cool is coming!
I totally lost NaNoWriMo and it feels so good.
One of the criticisms leveled at NaNoWriMo is the “winning” and “losing” aspect of it. If you crank out 50,000 words in 30 days, you “win.” If you don’t, you’re a loser, baby (Someone should totally write a song with that in the lyrics). For the record, I wrote ZERO words in 30 days.
This year has been a busy one for me. I did some contract work at the beginning of the year, but not much. I moved to Japan to teach and do research for Stormcaller #3. I knew early on that I wouldn’t have as much time to write as I’d like, and that’s proven to be the case. I miss my ferry commute to Seattle. Two hours a day of uninterrupted time, without Internet access or other hassles, and with beer (Overpriced, but still!)? I could easily manage 50,000 words.
Still, does any of that make me a winner? Does not doing it this year make me a loser?
Nope. It means I did (or did not) write 50,000 words in a month. That’s it. I’m not like some writers who can crank out a book every couple of months. For one thing, by the time I’ve gotten a book out the door, I’m really sick of it. I need time to recharge my creative batteries. Many writers don’t have word faucets in their brain. It’s hard for them to manage writing 500 words a day, much less 1,600+. Too often, writers equate activity with achievement. “I wrote 5,000 words today. I am a superior writer. Quiver before me, worm!”
I can write 5,000 words in a day. I’ve done it a few times. When I reviewed that work a few weeks later, I was considerably less impressed. I cut whole pages of crap. Doesn’t make me a bad writer. Doesn’t make me a good writer. Just means I beat the crap out of my keyboard one day.
Writing is not a race. Publishing is not a race. It’s a long game. Elation surged through me when I published Antigone’s Fall. I had visions of Scrooge McDuck-sized mounds of money to dive into, acclaim from my friends, and a really fat deal for the movie rights. When I look back, I realize that it’s very much a first book. I like it. Parts are great (the last quarter rocks, IMHO), but it didn’t go anywhere as a novel. I enjoyed nice sales for a few weeks. Then it was just a cool picture on my blog.
Stormcaller proved different. It enjoyed great sales, and continues to sell. It will be a significant factor in my dealings with the IRS this year. It will not buy me a yacht, but it did pay for my plane ticket as well as a month’s expenses when I moved to Japan and had to wait out my first paycheck. The money that has continued to come in made for nice supplements to my meager salary. With the publication of Assassins, Stormcaller has seen a surge in sales. I’m curious to see how that plays out over the next year, but my point is this: writers build their success over time. Years, not months.
Let NaNoWriMo inspire you to knuckle down and crank out a book (Or at least part of one–most fiction clocks in at 80,000+ words). Writing, like life, is a race against yourself. No one else can bestow failure or success upon you. If you made an attempt at writing for NaNoWriMo, good for you. If you knocked out 50,000+ words, well done. That’s no mean feat. If you knocked out 1,000 words, well done. You made it to the second page, which is more than most people can say.
Keep going. You are a writer.
“You know what I did after I wrote my first novel? I shut up and wrote twenty-three more.” – Michael Connelly
Bridget McKenna, of Zone 1 Design, wrote an illuminating post about the construction of ebooks, Assassins in particular.
In many ways, indie publishing is about control. Bridget gets that, but it doesn’t have to mean missed steps. I can make an ebook. Anyone can. What I can’t do is make it as simply and beautifully as a pro like Bridget does. So, run over, take a look.
So head over the Zone 1 Design and read about the process. When you’re ready to publish, drop Bridget a note. She’ll make things look awesome and easy.
Well, it’s official. Assassins is live on Amazon.com! I’m so freaking glad. Writing a novel is tough, but revising, revising, revising, and REVISING, then publishing one is even harder. I still have work to do–line up some advertising support, plead with people to post a few reviews, and update links on my blogs–but the book is out in the wild. It looks fantastic! Bridget McKenna from Zone 1 Design did an amazing job with the formatting for the book. Marti McKenna (bless her) slogged through my words and helped correct my many failings. I’m thrilled with the results and jazzed about Assassins.
It’s a good feeling.
It wasn’t all that long ago that I published Antigone’s Fall and Stormcaller just came out in January. The next book probably won’t come out for another year, but it struck me today that I’ve published three novels. I wrote my first novel in college (Sorry about that, Lutes) and wrote what amounted to three terrible novels in Iraq.
I hope I’m getting better at this. I’m certainly trying to improve.
It’s November 28th in Japan. Just another Thursday. For me, however, I’ll give thanks for the many people–beta readers, family members, research sources, supportive writers, and more–who helped me with this. I’m so very fortunate for this chance to do what I love.
Since I don’t have Internet access at home yet (and won’t for another MONTH! /rage), I’ll keep this brief.
Assassins is DONE. It is off to a fresh set of eyes for the ebook formatting at Zone 1 Design.
With a tad bit of luck, it’ll be on Amazon by the end of the month. In the meantime, I’m going to retreat from the world for the rest of the weekend and play Fallout: New Vegas.
I’ve never seen Arcade Gannon’s storyline…
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