Mail Chimp

Monday, February 27, 2012


I keep a five dollar bill on my dresser
For the pack of cigarettes I won't get today
Because in a world
Where you can buy
Your true love
What man would instead
Choose to smoke?
It's the end of a romance
These cowboy killers
Marlboro reds
To Tom Robbins'
Pack of Camels
But a mere subplot
In our epic
So let this written reminder
Be not one of failure
But of dedication
To you
My Johnnie...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Poetry: A Love Story

"Radar Love" Wordle for Johnnie

Just Keep Writing

I confess to breaking all the rules. But that's what self-publishing is about right now, isn't it? Breaking some of the rules, at least. I see some people releasing their first novel, and it is a sight to behold. Beautiful, bold cover art, front and back, blurbs by name authors, website, a marketing campaign. They're doing everything exactly right.

Meanwhile, I formatted, edited and massaged five novels and novellas online at once, with little fanfare. And for the majority of them, the editing continues.

I'm pretty sure this rule is cardinal. "Do not send out a manuscript unless it is 100% complete, etc."

Nonsense. Even when I look at the older versions and cringe. But I continue to edit them because the readers deserve the best experience they can get. If a document can be improved, and we really are talking about documents, here, not just the writing and editing, then it should.

Meanwhile, even though I'm not exactly rolling in cash, I'm getting great, insightful reviews, and I'm already getting lazy. Bah, I have five books out. I'll just work these for a while. Network. Luxuriate in the ego massage of acceptance.

Here's what happens. If you're good, you start acquiring fans. What?

I know. It's crazy. Fans of your reading. People who would sincerely like to read more, if you have anything. That, friends, is a heavy responsibility, suddenly. Even if you're primarily writing for your fiancee, who is quite forgiving of snags and hiccups in the writing process, long term, there are people looking to you for more books.

So, while I'm raising awareness of my current body of work, I have already discovered that there's a market for future novels. That is where the art of speculation lies.

And, ooh, that sentence has a nice double meaning, doesn't it? But when you have copies of your next book presold, it becomes a matter of economics that you write often. But there's some psychology there that goes beyond generating income.

Nothing can make you feel more stale as a writer than to talk to a fan who's read all of your work. You can discuss your current projects, even send partials or excerpts, perhaps engage in some beta reader exchanges, but you are essentially dead in the water as an author to that reader.

When you reach that level, it's a game changer, I assure you. How do you build up anticipation for five novels? The five novels before that.

Ten novels? Really?

Really. That was often the magic number for people who sent out physical manuscripts. In part because of the barbaric practice that was, of course.

But there's really nothing saying that ten novels will earn more income than one novel. A single book has just as much earning potential as ten books, or a hundred books. But they have to be books people want to read, obviously, and they have to become aware of them.

I see potential for indie authors to begin to network on a more personal level, taking their relationships beyond the current blog/interview/review waters we all currently inhabit. Authors themselves can become part of the curators of the slush pile, working with other quality writers to promote each other's work along with their own.

I know this much is certain: uploading your novel is only the first step in a long, wild ride. Just keep writing.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Coming eBook Apocalypse

Ah the forest! I can't see the trees!

While everyone is Sally hemming and Stephen hawing over the ebook market this year and the myriad problems and questions that accompany it, I think a few of us need to look ahead a few years. There are bigger problems on the horizon, folks.

You are looking at a big, ugly copyright fight. And lots of smaller ones, as well.

The reason? Oh, little things like cover art, attributions, fair use. Stuff like that. Lawyer bidness.

Personally, I use "found" images for my covers. That's a bit of a no-no, in the long run. I figure if someone calls me on something (I have no real idea where these pictures came from), I will have achieved enough success to cut them a check to silence them, or hire someone to do new covers. Surely I'm not the only person guilty of this.

I also use some Sugarcubes and Eagles lyrics in my novels. Not enough to get sued over, I think, but it's still possible. I don't exactly list that on my title page as I probably should, but I don't have explicit permission, so why draw attention to that fact? Why blog about it, for that matter?

I also use words from "Still Life With Woodpecker" by Tom Robbins in one of them. They're not even in the original sequence, so I think I'm safe, there. But still, there's no formal attribution. I'm sure he's cool with that, but his publishers might not be.

All it takes is one takedown notice, I'm sure, and Amazon will drop a book in a heartbeat. Wait for it, this will start to happen in the next year. Hopefully it won't happen to me or you.

My point is, we're all mostly flying under the radar, for now. But forewarned is forearmed. The situation will change, and we might see them going after authors like they went after people who shared music, on a smaller scale, as the ebook market changes and revenue streams begin to dry up, for some.

Or am I being too pessimistic? Guilty conscience? ; )

Sunday, February 5, 2012

An Hilarious Grocer's Apostrophe

I usually don't grammar nazi much. I do try and get my books exactly right, even though I do a lot of the editing after I publish. Meh, it's a brave new world.

But I'm seeing too many misuses of the word "an". "An Historical Romance", I just read on an author site.

Writers, you should know better. The general rule, if you need a rule, is that "an" should be used when the H is silent. "An honest opinion". If the H is pronounced, you generally want to use "a" instead of "an".

This is compounded by the fact that some people use it in jest, or because it sounds more pretentious. Stop it. I'm guilty of the same sort of thing, at times. Passive voice just sounds so much more pretentious. I'm in a support group for that.

The apostrophe is important enough that Frank Zappa named an album after it. I'd like to see it taken away from non-writers. That poor piece of punctuation gets misused so often, it's sad. Normal people seem to think if the word ends in S, it gets an apostrophe before it. And this is an almost reflexive aspect of writing. I had to remove one from 'gets' only moments ago.

Now, I read "On Writing", and I'm pretty sure Steve King says to use apostrophe-S if someone's name ends in S. I didn't like the way it looked, but I tried it. Sometimes it's okay, with certain names. Then I read "Insomnia" again and looked for it. He doesn't use it, either...


Interview Round-Up

I have had the pleasure of doing several interviews in the past few weeks, and I thought it would be a good idea to list them all here. You know, for my legions of adoring fans?

Ok, just the one. But really, when you have a fan as sweet as the one I have, one is enough.

Smart Weiter's Blog:

Wendy Siefken:

Aine P. Massie:

MusikDiv India:

Gwen Perkins:

I wanted to say thanks to all the great interviewers, many of which are authors as well, and have taken time out of their schedules to help promote my books.