These random ramblings and author musings are designed to entertain, though they might drag you kicking and screaming through my daft indie publishing journey. If you are somehow inadvertently informed, or if you have discovered something useful within, well then . . . count that as a jolly coincidence. Thanks for reading! (header background - Sky_18 Free Texture #133 by Brenda Starr)

20121226

Author's Note - I may be a day late, but at least I'm several hours early! Must count for something, no?

Word of the week: staunch /stônCH/ (hear it!) - adjective: a : watertight, sound; b : strongly built : substantial : steadfast in loyalty or principle - (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Blabbing Into the Ether

A good friend of mine (whose word I trust and whose judgment I admire) suggested that I start a blog. You know, a place through which to draw in a potential readership, and allow others to get to know “the real me,” rather than hide away like a hermit holed up in a backwoods shack, computer at the ready and story ideas poised to spill . . . although how a yummy spiced cookie made from molasses, raisins, and nuts could ever become a writer, one can only speculate.

Cute, distracting puppy
Now, to be honest, I was reluctant—at first. I mean, everyone and his brother, and his brother's neighbor, and his brother's neighbor's dog were writing blogs (dog blogs?) about everything and all, and everything else, and every other thing, and some other stuff besides. Cyberworld was/is/has been/will always be crammed with blogs of all different colors, shapes, sizes, tastes, and smells. Well, all right. Not smells. Yet.




Point is: Blogs are everywhere! And they're all tumble-stumbling over one another in a desperate bid for attention like a gazillion puppies in one enormous cardboard box set out at some charity auction event.

Blah, blah, blah. . .
Of course I got to wondering . . . if I started a blog, would I end up blabbing into the ether like those staunch congressmen who deliver speeches to an empty room? Would I be wasting valuable time writing posts, hoping against vain hope that someone—anyone, dammit!—will read and comment on something—anything, dammit!—or at the very least throw his hands up—or throw something, anything, dammit!—while scoffing in utter disgust?

Who cared what I had to say, anyway?!

Well, before long (right afterwards, actually) my half-baked wondering hardened into semi-structured thought, like a purple marshmallow Peep after a bout of microwaving: Writing a blog could be like sending a finished novel out into the big, wide, and awesomely scary world—kind of.

What I mean is: the motivation for writing needs to be somewhat intrinsic—i.e. what level of satisfaction can an author gain by writing a good story, or even a somewhat entertaining blog post? Nice comments and good reviews are all, well . . . nice and good (respectively). But this type of feedback shouldn't be what drives a writer to write.

For those of you who aren't writers, please understand: A writer writes, regardless. It's an addiction; a creative one, a healthy one. One nearly impossible to escape from once hooked. And with the alluring power to manipulate one's native language in any way one chooses, who'd want to break free anyway? Writers create fantastic worlds and shape characters, mold scenes and direct events. Sometimes we even emotionally move readers. Oh, this addiction is strong, all right. And it's heady, and it's never a waste of time.

True writers love writing—every aspect, the good and the not-so-great—just as we love our friends and our families (and our pets!)—every aspect, the good and the not-so-great—even if we nary hear a peep (unless it explodes in the microwave), blabbing into the ether, be damned.

We write, because it's what we do. And we appreciate every unseen reader who happens to come our way.
* * *
Photo credit for cute, distracting puppy - normanack - Flickr Photo Sharing - Creative Commons License

Photo credit for mask - Wonderlane - Flickr Photo Sharing - Creative Commons License

20121214

Indie shout out: Ever pondered what the multiverse might be like? Are you looking for a relatively quick read? Then check out The Followers, a twisty e-novella with an intriguing twist-of-an-ending, by indie author Evan Bollinger. (Yes, prepare to abandon all preconceived notions about the tangible world in order to fully embrace this story's surreality. You'll be glad you did!)

Author's note: My "every eleven days on the eleventh hour" pattern will be altered for post #5 (scheduled for December 25th). I'm pretty sure people would like to spend the holidays with their families, not reading some random ramblings by a self-proclaimed mad writ— . . . um . . . er . . . yes. *ahem*


Word of the week: copious \ˈkō-pē-əs\ (hear it!) - adjective: yielding something abundantly; plentiful in number - (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Infuriating Lines of Four


Time. I hate it.

Always feels like I'm rushed, with never enough time to do everything in. “Pushing” the kids out the door to catch the school bus, hurrying to get dinner on the table, or get the shopping done, or get to work. Shuttling the kids to activities, putting them to bed at a reasonable hour come day's end. Editing, editing, editing—furiously—to reach my self-imposed writing deadlines of nine allotted days per chapter.

Everything takes such copious amounts of time, and the older one gets, the faster time seems to go. Likely a matter of perception, though. So when time ever decided to punch me in the face with some infuriating lines-of-four . . .

11.11

Now, normally I'm one to keep good track of time, so not to be late for anything; I do watch the clock—a lot. But to see:

11.11

. . . every day? That's just silly.

First it appeared on the digital oven clock, and then on the microwave clock, then on my alarm clock, and on the cars' digital clocks, and on my iPhone. From the end of Spring, though Summer, and into Autumn, 11.11 on clocks—everywhere! Believe me, I was neither looking for it, nor expecting it. Ever.

And it didn't stop there!

When time discovered I was ignoring (with some difficulty) this idiotic tap on the nose with ordinary clocks, these vexing lines-of-four began to infiltrate through other means: In forum time stamps and forum post counts; in countdown timers; in Kindle “locations” (to mark where one is in an e-book); once, in some odd percentage I'd glimpsed on an off-hand chance; and even in a Hymnal during my daughter's baptism.

11.11

. . . everywhere!

After four months, I was half-expecting to see it somewhere at least once a day, though I tried not to look for it. Sure enough, it would pop up in some form or another, and my creative mind naturally started to concoct questions: “Damn! Is that the day the world is going to end?” and “Ach! Is that the day of my own demise?”

These, of course, were stupid thoughts.

Seeing 11.11 all over the place was a coincidence; once it happened a handful of times, my mind was keenly attuned to those lines-of-four, and thus saw them wherever I went. Now I look for them, relish them, even giggle at them. And I harnessed them, took them for my very own. (Does the "every eleven days at the eleventh hour" blogging pattern make sense now?)

11.11

. . . the release date for my full-length dark fantasy novel, The Perfect Player.

11.11

. . . of next year, 2013, of course.

11.11.13

Well, it's not quite as cool as 11.11.11 is, but it'll have to do. Unless my son finally manages to build that time machine he's always talking about. . . .


* * *
Speaking of my wonderful firstborn offspring (once voted “class author”) . . . before I end this post, I would like to share something he had written.

As a school project, students in his class were asked to write a free-verse fall poem involving all of the senses. Here's what he had come up with (copyright, my son; reprinted with permission). Pretty darned good for someone who (at the time of this writing) sports one set of those infuriating lines of four!

When I think of fall I see…
Colorful leaves enveloping every bit of grass.
Wild, sour grapes growing plump and juicy on the uncultivated vines near our chicken coop.
Crystalline frost blanketing the ground like the inside of a quartz geode.
The presidential debates airing on T.V.
A thick autumn mist like a descended cloud bank, blanketing the lawn in pearly whiteness.

When I think of fall I hear…
Crunching dead leaves beneath my feet.
Gaggles of Canada geese flying south.
The last songbirds migrating south in search of warmer climates to avoid winter’s chill.
Cold rainstorms pattering to the leaf-blanketed ground, forming endless puddles and overflowing the swamp, creating an impassable biking obstacle.

When I think of fall I taste…
Cranberry sauce on a delicious slice of turkey.
Mashed potatoes enveloped in gravy, a protein packed, palatable root vegetable delicacy.
Scrumptious candy on Halloween night.
Deliciously baked pumpkin and apple pies a la mode.
Well cooked stuffing inside of a tender, delicious turkey at Thanksgiving Dinner, commanding the table like the captain of an aircraft carrier where the provisions left without the crew.

When I think of fall I touch...
The cool, crisp fall air.
The soft body of a caterpillar as I pick it up to show Cathryn.
The cold handle of a fork at Thanksgiving Dinner.
A book cover as I read it outside on the porch swing on a cool fall morning.

When I think of fall I smell…
Crisp apples at a farmer’s market.
The delicious aroma of butternut squash wafting across the table.
The scent of colorful, decaying leaves.
Deliciously scented Yankee candles burning bright on the grand piano as we prepare for Thanksgiving Dinner.

20121203

Indie shout out: Author Lucy Pireel (cyber-puppy winner from my last post) has just released her first indie short story collection, Red Gone Bad, available now for download at Smashwords and Amazon. Congratulations, Lucy! 

Word of the week: replete \ri-ˈplēt\ (hear it!) - adjective: fully or abundantly provided or filled - (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Lists, Lists, and More Lists

Ach!

I have this terrible habit of starting a bunch of things, and then putting them on the back burner “just for a moment.” Yeesh. I tell you, if my projects were food, my family would all be eating burnt popcicles and charcoaled grits. (Hey, some fairs actually sell fried sticks of butter to their patrons. Weirder things have been eaten—so there.)

Anyway, in order to stave off this accidental “burning,” I make lists. Shopping lists, household lists, chore lists, birthday lists, Christmas lists, writing lists, reading lists . . . and the lists go on. Heck, I even have lists of my lists. (Nah, I'm just kidding.) You see, much as old brains are fragile, they're likewise replete with holes, much like a colander. Or a sieve. A sifter. Strainer. Cheesecloth. Moth-worn blanket—ha! I dare you to strain cooked spaghetti with a blanket.

Now, when one makes a list, crossing off said items from said list when said task is said complete is said to give one a said sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, no?* Well, after turning that rubber band ball of indie publishing around in my hands a few thousand times, I had decided to make a list of what I thought I needed to do:
  • Construct 1 year, 3 year, 5 year, and 10 year goals
  • Take down old website, construct a new one
  • Inquire about business license
  • Gather content editor, line editor, and proofreader
  • Set up Kindle publishing account
  • Learn formatting, typesetting, and layout
  • Register press name
  • Write and edit content
  • Design covers
  • Write blurbs
  • Author photo
  • Author bio
  • Research into registering writing pseudonym
  • Copyright books/collections
  • ISBNs
  • Research marketing tactics
  • Keep business expense records
  • Book trailer
  • Podcast and audiobooks
  • Figure out target audience and market to them
  • Read “How to Prepare Book to Upload to Kindle”

One brainstorming. One sitting. One month after I received my final rejection slip. Yes, it's one long list, with hidden sub-items under the main ones. Of these twenty-one tasks, I've thrown out four, completed eight, and have nine sitting on the back burner, “just for a moment.” (Gosh, what is that burning smell . . . ?) This, from a list compiled a little over year ago.

Have I received my sense of fulfillment and satisfaction? Somewhat. More, as I continue to cross off competed tasks.

Oh, yeah . . . and my cynical mind can hear it all now: “Pfft! You don't even need half that stuff. Publish your work under your author name, and be done with it,” from the indie-experienced, to: “More! There has to be more that you're missing. Come on, think!” Plaintive cries from other indie-newbies like myself, filled with doubts and worries and semi-imagined frets. And I truly hope my cynical mind is wrong.

But you know, no matter what type shouts the loudest, the longest, or the hardest to be heard, we all need to follow our own paths and learn at our own pace, otherwise we'll all be torn in too many different directions and end up in a frustrating stalemate. Then what? Nothing would get ever done.

Bottom line: Learn what you can. Apply what you learn. Throw out what doesn't work. Make lists, and cross off tasks.

A fundamental part of indie publishing is maintaining control over one's work. Maintaining control over oneself throughout the indie publishing process, I highly suspect, is integral to possible future success. “Hasty” and “pigheaded” and “going in blind” should never factor in.

* Hey, according to writing experts, the verb “said” is allegedly invisible. Did ya see it? Huh? Huh? Did ya? Did ya?

20121122


A hearty "Congratulations!" to Lucy Pireel (indie author of soon-to-be released collection of twisted fairy tales, Red Gone Bad), who's already figured out my blogging pattern! "Every eleven days at exactly 11 hours,she said, which is absolutely correct.

Kudos to her, and as promised, she receives the mock cyber-puppy!

Golden Retriever 
Bailey-boo, the mock cyber-puppy!


Word of the week: plethora \ˈple-thə-rə\ (hear it!) - noun: excess, superfluity, profusion, abundance - Merriam-Webster Dictionary


Indie Publishing: Big, Bad, and Ugly?

Once upon a time, there was a darkness.

And within this darkness lurked something so thick, and so foul, and so feral, it frightened everyone with roars of failure, threats of strife, and spam on rye. And it reeked—oh, how it reeked! Shady dealings, broken promises, stigmas that could never be washed off in a lukewarm bath with soap and water.

Those who dared to venture near the darkness were lured into a labyrinthine lair, bewildered, then chewed upon, sucked dry of their lifelong funds, and spit out as a carcass forever branded poor and naïve, while the creature within laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

Oh, how everyone trembled! “No!” they'd cry in unison to those who dared to venture near the vile darkness. “Never, never go near that! It will devour you—alive!”

Thus, they all shied like skittish horses, for fear of losing all they had gained and all they had yet to accomplish sat too precious within their hearts . . . until a different creature crawled out from this darkness, one that no longer fed on the impatience of the naïve, and it glowed with the light of more feasible possibilities. . . .

* * *
Ah . . . indie publishing.

All right, so maybe it wasn't always a horrid creature skulking around in the dark. But if memory serves, used to be very few writers wanted to touch self-publishing with a fifty-foot pole; it was considered a last-ditch effort of the desperate writer willing to pay a subsidy to publish his book. (Yippee!) And it was expensive. (Damn!) Thousands of dollars (Ouch!) to create hundreds of hard copies (Only hundreds?!) that may or may not have been sold anywhere—ever. Oh sure, a few to friends and family, and friends of the family, and families of the friends, etc. and so on . . . but to bookstores and other distribution outlets? Pfft. Who had that kind of chump change to throw away? “Oh, gee, here's a random two thousand dollars. Let's be all crazy-like and take a chance down this dead end street. Whoopee!”

But the landscape of self-publishing has changed over the years—a lot.

Now, I'm not going to spout off all there is know about indie publishing . . . because I can't. An indie newbie shouldn't. (Ooo, taboo.) Besides: 1) it's been discussed to death, all over the place and everywhere; b) there's a plethora of more-in-depth information than I could ever “spout off,” all over the place and everywhere; and iii) writing this blog post has proven just as bewildering as when I turned a “keen eye” to indie publishing for the first time (1); my thoughts were all over the place and everywhere, as in:

Ach! Where the heck do I start?!”

Writing. Editing. Proofreading. Formatting. Cover art. Cover design. Uploading. Downloading. Backloading. Sideloading. Promoting. Pricing. Writing. Editing. Proofreading. Connecting with authors. Connecting with readers. Connecting the dots. Blogging. Creating a publishing website. Writing. Editing. Proofreading. Goodreads. Smashwords. Amazon Kindle. Nook. Front matter. Back matter. Dark matter. Anti-matter. Arrgh! Did it all even really matter?! . . . Writing. Editing. Proofreading. *whew*

But as I squinted deeper and deeper into my cracked and clouded crystal sphere of success versus failure, I could see . . . yes, it does matter. All of it, and it's all tied together.

Like one enormous rubber band ball. *grumble*

So that left me with: “Where the heck do I start?” (← note the lack of colloquial double punctuation there; calmer, yes, calmer. . . .) And the answer is (all together now!): “At the beginning!”

*stares, dumbfounded, at the rubber band ball of indie publishing*

Um . . . yeah . . . right. . . .

For those of you familiar with circles or spheres or any other round things, you know these objects don't have distinct beginnings or endings, so my starting at the beginning of indie publishing was as futile as my trying to morph into a fish.

But! I did learn two very important things. One: true indie publishing is distinct from subsidy publishing.
  • Indie publishing: the author retains control over his project, rights and all, and chooses who to pay and who to use as editors, proofreaders, cover artists and designers, etc; i.e. he is the publisher.
  • Subsidy publishing: the author not only pays a company to publish his project with no say in who handles what, but the company also claims various rights to the work; i.e. they are the publisher.
. . . and as one who thrives on maintaining control over everything that involves my projects, full-length or short, the prospect of indie publishing was far too tempting to resist. Thus, I started there, at . . . um . . . well, somewhere in the middle of the rubber band ball—snap-twang!and I'll merely fumble my way through it by trial and error, then report it all here, so you can laugh, and laugh, and laugh, whilst I suffer dreadful misery and woe from within those infuriating tangles of stretchiness. *sigh and sob*

Oh, the second thing I learned? Long blog posts put people to sleep. Good night.

(1) A deliberate semi-misnumbering, yes. Good of you to notice.

*  *  *
Photo credit for gargoyle - Bichuas (E. Carton) – Flickr Photo Sharing – Creative Commons License

20121111

Author's Note: A hearty kudos and a free mock-cyber-puppy* (author's second note: please see disclaimer at the bottom) to the first person who figures out my blogging pattern.

Word of the week: fathom - \ˈfa-thəm\ (hear it!) - noun: a unit of length equal to six feet (1.83 meters) used especially for measuring the depth of water; verb: to penetrate and come to understand - Merriam-Webster Dictionary
 
365 Days and Counting

And so it begins.

indie publishingThree-hundred sixty-five days until I publish my full-length dark fantasy novel, even fewer before I dive headlong into the indie publishing world with my short story collections. Yes. Face-first. Like plunging into ice-cold water.

Brisk!

Truth be told, ten years ago, I would have never envisioned myself sitting and planning (and learning!) all that went with publishing my own work. No, no, no . . . that was for agents, and editors, and publishers to handle; I didn't have to worry about this or that or the other thing or . . . you know, those . . . whatchamacallits, doohickeys, and whoozywhatsits involved in the business side of publishing. I was a writer, dammit! I wrote. Period. (Or full stop.)

Yet here I sit, nearly a decade later, and here I plan. And prepare. And drink coffee. Determined. Sometimes frustrated, occasionally perplexed, and often jittery from too much caffeine. But am I scared? No, not yet. And likely not ever. Too much to do with regard to preparing my short story collections and novels for a potential readership. Besides, what's left to be scared of when one approaches middle age? Barring natural disasters, of course, or personal harm, politics, a bunch of angry circus clowns driving heavy machinery through the woods . . . not much. Or perhaps that's just the way I think.

So, why did I choose to indie publish, when traditional publishing is the “holy grail” for writers?

Oh, various reasons. Sure, I tried to break into publishing through the traditional route (you know, the query letters, the synopses, the sample chapters polished to near-perfection) yet got no closer to that much-coveted end goal of a published book. Before I knew it, a cruel and puzzling mini-cycle of research, revision, and rejection had developed. Cruel, because it made me over-think, and over-edit. Puzzling, because I couldn't fathom how beta readers always wanted more, while those in the publishing industry always told me: “No.”

It made my brain hurt. And old brains are fragile. So I . . . um . . . er . . . *ahem* Yes. Where was I again?

Oh, right. Reasons.

There were many: the constantly slamming doors, the subjective selection, the as-of-yet unestablished author reputation, the hale and hearty “try, try again!” mindset smothered to near-death by a bewildering overabundance of advice on snagging the attentions of the right people in the right business at the right time with the right words and the right hook, the right amount of this sprinkled with the right amount of that, slathered and mixed and ground up and marinated and sautéed with the right dash of—

Crash-tinkle!

Damn. I told you old brains were fragile.

So I swept up my brains, and turned a keen eye to indie publishing when I discovered the bottom line of those in the industry was different from my own. And I believed in my projects.

Yes, of course I'd been told to try harder, wait longer, aim higher; that my author reputation will be tarnished, and no one will want to pick up my projects because they would have been published already. (But if you self-publish a book, it's not considered . . . published? Really haven't figured that one out yet.)

But you know what? I have worked long and hard enough to try to leap through the near-impossibly high hoops of subjective gatekeepers, and I no longer wish to smack my skull against this brick wall. With six novels, one novella, and a collection of shorts all waiting to be read? I ain't getting any younger. I no longer believe in the contract fairy, not when a hopeful sliver of light shines from that cracked-open back door. . . .

So here I sit, and I plan. And prepare. And drink coffee. Bold and determined enough to meet publishing challenges head-on with gritted teeth and a pieced-together brain.

Alas, my hell-spawn demons may never overrun the world. Yet they may one day be enjoyed by my ultimate bottom line and true reason I chose to plunge face-first into the ice-cold, semi-uncharted waters of indie publishing: Dark fantasy readers.

Oh, they're out there, all right. I can sense it. Somewhere. Waiting. Watching. Breathing. Stalking. Eating, or maybe sleeping, or engaging in other recreational goings-on . . . but they're out there, yes. . . .

And now, I just have to snag them.

*  *  *
Photo credit for blue "365" picture: Velo Steve - Flickr Photo Sharing – Creative Commons License

*Actually, I'll just post up a picture of Bailey as a puppy (oh, he was ever so cute!) with an official "congrats" to the winner.