Greetings and Salutations!

Welcome to the longest-running* yet least-read** blog on the internet! Here you'll find me writing about all the things that I write about, which strikes me, just now, as somewhat recursive. In any case, enjoy :)

* not true
** probably true

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review: Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Sandman Slim (Sandman Slim, #1)Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I gotta be honest. Sometimes this book gave me the feeling that the paint was still wet and the glue wasn't set. Why the five stars, then? Because I actually gave a crap about what happened next, what twisted bit of ultraviolence was about to be smacked down, and what wisecrack was going to be snapped out and by who.

You don't read Sandman Slim to be entered into the Mysteries of Plot. You read Sandman Slim to find out what kind of damage is going to be unleashed by a guy who, after eleven years, crawls out of the bowels of hell and into the arguably worse pit that is L.A. It doesn't have to make sense all the time. It just has to go fast fast fast and leave an exploded, bloody corpse.



View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The next thing

You ever see the movie 'Better Off Dead'? No? Go watch it right now. I'll wait.


Ok, the part where Monique tells Cusak, more or less, "Once you get a small taste of success, I think you will find it suits you" describes how I feel right about now. When I put out 'Thief Who Spat' I had no expectations. None. Zero. As much as I want to believe in the promise of self-publishing, I'm a realist. Success, if it happens at all, isn't going to be quick.

So being in the top ten of any list counts as a success. Being #1 in four countries, even in a sub-sub genre, even in the despised 'free' category, counts as a small taste of success.

It's pushed me to continue work on my other Amra and Holgren novel, The Blade That Whispers Hate. And I've managed to break down the plot blockage that stopped forward progress on it.

Today I'm a happy writer, though I have no idea what tomorrow holds.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

'The Thief Who Spat in Luck's Good Eye' is kinda popular


iTunes Epic Fantasy Chart (free):

#1 in the US (52 reviews, average 4 stars)
#2 in Canada (11 reviews, average 4.5 stars)
#2 in the UK (11 reviews, average 3.5 stars)
#3 in Australia (15 reviews, average 4 stars)
#7 in Germany (no reviews, no stars)
#8 in Spain (no reviews, no stars)
#9 in Italy (no reviews, no stars)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

RIP Darrel K. Sweet

Before I ever started reading 'genre', I was pushed down the path to read 'The Hobbit' as literature. (Tolkien not literature? The boy from the South Side of San Antonio was reading an Oxford don; close enough.)

Anyway, that's where I first encountered Darrel K Sweet's art - from Tolkien.

The next place I ran into Sweet's artwork - consciously, at least - was Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame series.

Rosenberg and Sweet are both moved on now.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Writing Updates

  • The Trigger Reflex is now available as a trade paperback as well as in ebook form.
  • My flash fiction story 'Shift200' has been shortlisted at Daily Science Fiction. I'll hear back in 2-4 weeks about the final disposition.
  • If we continue to have daily thunderstorms, my dog is likely to die of dehydration due to fear-drooling.
  • Melanie Nilles, author of Legend of the White Dragon thinks she can come along and knock 'The Thief Who Spat In Luck's Good Eye'  out of the top spot in Epic Fantasy on iTunes. She thinks that mainly because she, you know, did it and stuff.
And now, your moment of zen:


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I got a little lucky/Joe Konrath's How to Succeed

I do wish iTunes/iBooks wasn't a walled garden, so I could share links, but right now 'The Thief Who Spat in Luck's Good Eye' is:

  • #1 in Top Epic (Fantasy) Free Books
  • #9 in Top Fantasy Free Books
  • #18 in Top Sci Fi & Fantasy Free Books


Thagoth comes in at #190 in Top Epic Paid. It doesn't make the more general categories' Top 200, but that's fine. I'm more than happy with what I have. Hell, I'm freaking ecstatic.

Why did 'Thief Who Spat' take off on iBooks? I honestly don't know. I think that the cover helped; compared to many of the indie free books it's 'competing' against, it has a clean, professional look (at least to my biased eye). But honestly, I'm reminded of something Joe Konrath wrote, whichI will now post here in its entirety:



Q: What's the secret to selling a lot of ebooks?

Joe: There is no secret. Write good books, with good descriptions, good formatting, and good cover art, sell them cheap, and keep at it until you get lucky.

Q: I have an ebook, but it isn't selling well. What should I do to market it?

Joe: Write another ebook, and another, and keep at it until you get lucky.

Q: I've changed my cover art 56 times, but sales are still flat.

Joe: You need to keep writing until you get lucky.

Q: Joe, I've followed your blog, and you're the reason I decided to self-publish. How did you get so many sales?

Joe: I kept at it until I got lucky.

Q: Joe, you're a pioneer. A hero. A guru. You deserve all the success you've gotten. To what do you attribute your success?

Joe: I simply got lucky.

Q: You talk about luck a lot. How do I improve my chances at getting lucky?

Joe: Keep writing good books, with good descriptions, good formatting, and good cover art, and sell them cheap.

Q: Aren't talent and hard work more important than luck?

Joe: They can help you get lucky.

Q: I've done everything you say, but I'm still not selling. What's the problem?

Joe: You haven't gotten lucky yet.

Q: Isn't the self-pubbing road paved with riches?

Joe: No one deserves to make money writing. The world doesn't owe you a living, and you aren't entitled to huge sales. You simply need to work at it, until you get lucky.

Q: How long does it take to get lucky?

Joe: It took me twenty years and over two million written words.

Q: What if I never get lucky?

Joe: Then you didn't try hard enough, or long enough. Or maybe your writing simply isn't good enough.

Not everyone can be a Major League Baseball player. It takes a combination of traits, including luck.

But everyone seems to think they can be an author, simply because they can string some words together.

Some poorly written ebooks will sell well, just like some poorly written legacy books sell well. But if you write shit, you're harming your chances at getting lucky.

I believe cream will rise to the top, and shit will sink. Ebooks are the perfect opportunity to test this theory, because there are no longer any barriers to entry. Prior to ebooks, legacy gatekeepers decided what got published, and even then many good books failed to find an audience because they never had the proper chance to.

Ebooks have an infinite shelf life, and ebook stores have infinite shelf space. If your book is good, it has forever to be discovered.

Forever is a long time to find an audience.

Q: Can it really take forever to be successful?

Joe: I wrote the book ORIGIN in 1999. It's the book that landed me an agent. She tried mightily to sell it on three separate occasions, in 1999, 2005, and 2008, garnering more than fifty rejections by every major house in NY.

Right now, ORIGIN is ranked #274 in the Kindle store, and has received over one hundred 5 star reviews. I've sold tens of thousands of copies.

It took more than ten years for ORIGIN to find its audience. I'm going to write a sequel to it, because I get so much fan mail about that book.

You can quit if you want to. Or you can stick with it until you get lucky.

The are no easy answers. No quickie fixes. No direct paths to success.

No one is forcing you to do this. You have to love it, and to believe in yourself. Even when you fail.

Especially when you fail.

If you aren't failing, you aren't trying hard enough.

And if you aren't trying hard, it's going to take a lot longer to get lucky.

For posterity

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

#1 in iTunes

The Thief Who Spat in Luck's Good Eye is the #1 free Epic Fantasy on iTunes.

That is all.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Trigger Reflex is now available

The monster hunting anthology The Trigger Reflex is now available at Amazon for the low, low price of $3.99 (US). My vampire hunter story 'Night & Day' pulls rearguard on this one, being the last in the anthology.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Yes, it's the 'I Quit' post you knew was coming. You don't have to read it, but I DO have to write it.

As you may have surmised, I'm in the process of quitting smoking around here. At the risk of being boring I've got some thoughts I'd like to share about smoking and about quitting.

  • I consciously started smoking when I was 17, but in reality I have been addicted to nicotine literally all my life. My mom smoked during her pregnancy with me, and there was always someone smoking in the house growing up. I'd do my homework in the bar my mom managed, back in the day when beers cost a buck and everybody smoked in the bar, rather than huddled outside. My nurse grandmother smoked. Both my siblings smoked. Freaking everyone in my life smoked. Upon reflection, it's amazing it took me seventeen years to become an active smoker rather than just a passive one.
  • I've tried to quit many times in my life, using every method available except for hypnosis and acupuncture.
  • I've only had three periods in my life where I was smoke free long enough for the nicotine to leave my system: * At 19, during Army basic training (cold turkey, didn't even miss them, but stupidly picked up a pack the day of graduation 'because I could').  * At 24, due to a bet (who can go the longest without smoking a  cigarette? $50 says it's me) Also cold turkey, lasted a month, gave in/talked myself into listening to my psychological 'need'. Of course I still needed it. The bet was cigarettes, and I was finding every other form of nicotine when the cravings got too bad. I was keeping myself in a state of sporadic withdrawal. I just didn't understand it, then. I did learn that having a group of people to keep it positive made a huge difference. * At 37/38 (can't remember exactly at the moment), using Champix/Chantrix. Used it twice, actually. Details are a bit fuzzy. First time I suspect it caused depression, second time I know it caused some severe pain. Side effects just weren't worth it.
Lesson learned? Cold turkey works, if you do it right and don't get stupid. Other methods don't work/keep you hooked/have serious drawbacks.

***

For the non-smokers 

Here's something you should really sort out with yourself: Do you want to see a smoker quit, or do you want to have someone to look down on? You know what I mean, don't try and pretend otherwise.

Real disgust: Smoker gets into a lift, reeking of the half-cigarette he's tucked into his pocket to save for later.
Fake disgust: You see a smoker 15 meters away, immediately cover your nose and begin to 'cough'.

So which is it? Loving kindness, or somebody to loathe?

Another thing: You don't have to tell an adult smoker what he/she is doing is stupid. They know. They know all the facts, and beating them over the head with them isn't going to make them stop smoking. It's going to make them feel doomed and miserable and fatalistic, because they are addicted

No, not like you are addicted to Thin Mints or beef jerky. Addicted like the guy with a needle in his arm in a flophouse with feces smeared on the walls. 

He doesn't give a shit about your 'Oh, that's sooo disgusting. What a filthy habit.' It doesn't even register.

Nicotine affects the same area of the brain as heroin, for pete's sake. So you can take your statistics and shove- er, go make origami with them. The time for scare tactics is before they have their first puff. After the addiction has set its hooks in,  the only external factor that has a reasonable chance of success is loving kindness, steady positive pressure, and perhaps real heart-to-heart talks about 'why' they smoke (triggers), what it's like when they can't (withdrawal), and specific ways in which life would be better without the addiction ('you won't die so soon' just doesn't cut it).

Ok, that's my rant for day 6 of quitting. Think I'll go have a smoke now.

Kidding.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Another new story

I wanted to do one of those satirical little posts that riff off the Mastercard ads where the punchline is 'blah blah blah... priceless' but then I realized a) that was done to death and  b) meh. So instead I'll just say that I've completed another new short story, proving to myself that the last one was not a fluke and that real progress is being made, creatively, around here.

Also, this:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The long war

Creatively speaking, I've been at war with myself for nearly a decade. My most prolific writing year was 2003, by just about every measure. That was the year I finished my novel. That was the year I wrote half a dozen short stories that I would consider professional or semi-professional level.

That was also the year I stopped writing.

I say I stopped, but what I really mean is, I stopped finishing anything. I've started two dozen other things in the years since then (more, actually), and I've polished and edited and done lots of writerly things, including getting published.  But what I have not done, save one little micro-flash story that was terrible, was write something completely new from beginning to end (blog posts don't count*). I've tried, and tried, and beat my head bloody.

This week I finally broke through.

The story might be brilliant or terrible, I'm no judge at this point (though experience tells me it's likely neither), but that doesn't matter. I get to declare victory. I get to laugh and catcall at writer's block's retreating hairy backside.

I win.

*Why don't blog posts count? I don't know. Ask my subconscious. He made the rules.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why I no longer play online social games

"...The game is a Chinese finger trap of the mind: soon you realize that inspiration is free, which, in economics terms, means that the inflated value of single-energy-point actions when “inspired” is not a “bonus” or a “maximum” value — it’s the baseline; it’s the “minimum”. Once you grasp that your character can be made inspired with a little flick of the game’s mechanics, you’ll never want to do money-earning actions without being inspired — and if you do (and this is the important part!) you’ll feel lazy.

Lazy! Lazy! Stupid! Lazy! (Fat!) Lazy! Stupid! Lazy!

So you’ll need four “newspapers” to “unlock” your “newspaper article” writing skill, which allows you to now use energy points to perform actions which earn money (while “inspired”, of course, so as not to feel lazy); perform those actions on a new skill enough times to earn a one-time skill level upgrade, which earns experience points and a money bonus — and so you realize you are literally (figuratively) living in a spider web. The currency which buys the “newspapers” to unlock your new skill-level-upgrade opportunity is, of course, virality: beg your friends.
Your friends all have newspapers. They have ice cubes and coffee beans and blocks of cheese and turnip seeds and guitar strings and sheet music and turtle-doves as well: they have whatever you need. They have it even if they aren’t playing the game. However, unless you ask them for it, they can’t give it to you. Unless you ask them for it, they don’t Actually Have it. If they are at the point where they need “Muse” items to build a Fucking Bookshelf, and you’re at the exact same point, if you ask them for a “Muse”, they can give you one, even if they don’t have it. You can give them one, too, even if you don’t have it. This is what suffices for escapism: that we have the power to create ephemeral things with concrete value, which can then be bartered for a bookshelf which is fully assembled as opposed to on the floor in a box.

In the future, three months will have passed, and you’ll still be checking in, from time to time, just to send items to your friends — all it takes is a single click in your inbox — and then maybe you’ll see that weeds have grown in your garden, and you’ll spend nine energy points to get rid of all of them, and then maybe by then you’ll have gotten a long- and good-enough look at your old homestead to consider coming back, and maybe spending a little money, this time.

In other words: we play, so that our friends are not miserable. We suffer, so that others might not suffer. We pay money so that we might suffer less.

What gruesome psychomathematiconomist devised this heart-labyrinth? Or: now you know what happens to psychiatrists who are decommissioned because they break the doctor-patient confidentiality rule."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Updates

  • The Thief Who Spat in Luck's Good Eye is now available for free on Barnes & Noble's Nook ereader. It has a 'sales' rank of 29,686
  • The Big Book of New Short Horror should be available this week in hard cover, trade paperback, kindle and nook
  • I have this weird rash on three fingers that won't go away
  • You can read the first paragraph of Villette & Vampires below
  • I'll be mostly unavailable til the end of the month as I finish up a non-fiction project for a deadline. Play nice in my absence, huh?
That is all.

***

My godmother lived in a handsome house in the ancient and vampire-free town of Bretton. Her husband's family had been residents there for generations, and bore, indeed, the name of their birthplace--Bretton of Bretton: whether by coincidence, or because some remote ancestor had been a personage of sufficient importance to leave his name to his neighbourhood, I know not for certain. It is true that some in the town speculated that Bretton did not suffer the depredations of the blood-drinking host because of a dark and secret pact forged between the vampires and the original Bretton, but whenever the subject arose in my presence, my godmother called this idle chatter, not fit for tender ears such as mine at the time. Then the speaker would move on to other matters, leaving me somewhat disappointed.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Villette & Vampires

For those of you fortunate enough never to have been forced to read Charlotte Bronte's Villette, it's um, boring. Really, really boring. I say this not because I am spiteful, but because it is true. It's not bad. It's not awful. It's just really, really boring.

Don't worry, though, because I've decided to fix that for you. In the grand (?) tradition of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, Android Karenina and Sense & Sensibility & Seamonsters, I'll be spicing up Charlotte's boring tale of a school mistress in a foreign land searching for love with the judicious application of (non-sparkly) vampires.

That is all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Today I Am Lucky

I like to spend time on other writer's blogs - this should come as no surprise, really. One site I especially like is the Night Shade Books blog, The Night Bazaar, as the blog entries aren't churned out by some underpaid junior editor or unpaid intern, but by Night Shade's authors themselves.

So when Thomas Roche put up a meditative post about zombies, I left a comment. I do that sometimes. I had no idea that Night Shade was also running a promotion where if you comment, you also stand a chance to win a copy of this (which I did):

Now let me just explain that I never win anything. Well, that's not exactly true. I won two tickets, a movie poster and a t-shirt for Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon when I was fourteen. Motown kung fu movie = awesome. Zombies + arsenals + crime lords + San Francisco + a tiger = Awe. Some. So actually my luck is pretty darn good. It's just very, very, very far between.

Thanks, Thomas!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My new, new favorite number: 10,154

According to the numbers available to me, Thagoth's record low ranking on Amazon was #428,352 back on July 15th. Now I know it has been lower than that; the book's been around a good long while, and there were vast stretches of time - months - where not a single copy was sold. But the data made available to me only goes back to June 16th.

Last night I visited Belinda Frisch's blog (an excellent writer of horror; please check her out) and saw that she'd helpfully given a nice detailed how-to on getting your book featured on the Kindle Lover's site. What the hey, I thought, and followed the quick and painless steps she'd indicated.

When I went to bed, Thagoth was ranked #223,862. When I woke up, it was at #13,263. At the time of this writing, it's at #10,154. It may continue to climb. I'd be ecstatic if I could break into 4 digit territory (sure, I'd be happy for three digits, but let's not get crazy). The highest ever ranking for Thagoth that I have data for was #34,421 on August 17th.

The lesson learned? Try new things. Listen to the hive mind. Always look for new ways to connect with readers. The fight is not with other authors or books, or with publishers, or anything else but obscurity.

Make some noise.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Big Book of New Short Horror is almost here














I received my galley for BBNSH (seriously, I'm not gonna type 'the Big Book of New Short Horror' more than I have to, ok?), and it really is big: 58 stories. 354 pages.

Luckily I only had to proofread the six pages of my story.

So I have to admit, I'm a little nervous about this anthology. The first story, ('Twilight' by Ron Koppelberger) is a fine flash fiction story- just a smidge over 200 words. It's moody, atmospheric, and barely a speedbump before you get to my story.

This is a little scary.

I don't know about you, Dear Reader, but when I pick up a new anthology or short story collection, if the first two or three stories don't grab me, it's much less likely I'll move on to all the rest. Those pole position stories set the tone for the tome, so to speak.

So I'm feeling some pressure. Self-inflicted, but real.

On the plus side, the first few stories in an anthology also tend to get mentioned when it comes time for reviews. So now, hopefully, I get to put my money where my mouth is regarding feedback and the whole 'a bad review is better than ignominy' stand I've taken previously.

From the publisher:

The book is 354 pages, and will be released in both trade paperback and hardcover.  Trade paperback (cover price $19.99); hardcover w/ dust jacket ($27.99)

Saturday, September 03, 2011

TOC (Table of Contents) for 'The Trigger Reflex':

From editor Miles Boothe:

28 Stories * 13 Returning to the Hunt * 15 New Blood
The Trigger Reflex
1. Night and Day by Michael McClung
2. Hunting Vengence by Steven Gepp
3. Iron Bells by *Joshua Reynolds
4. The Pretty Ones by Angel Propps
5. The Shomer Express by Edward Erdlac
6. Rancho Diablo by *John Whalen
7. Blood Red by *Thom Brannan.
8. 'Til the Sun is in the Sky by *Rob Pegler. 
9. Alpha by *Marc Sorondo
10. The Enemy Within by *Liam Cadey
11. Adaptive Strategies by William Wood
12. Gateway by Daniel Durrant 
13. With My Vortex In Hand, I Boldy Go Forward by Medina Falcon 
14. Our Fields by Paul Salvette 
15. Shock to the Corset by *T.W.Garland 
16. Bats by Derek Muk
17. Emergence by *Christopher Nadeau
18. Drawing First Blood by Kevin Walsh
19. Knocking Then Dead by *John X. Grey
20. Under Construction by Mike Brooks
21. There's Something in the Woods by *Ed Mckeown
22. Intrepid Dawn by *Angela Meadon
23. Good Hit by Mark Sual
24. Damned Pretty Woman by *Matthew Baugh
25. Groundhog Day by Phillip Norris
26. Coward's Run by *H.J. Hill
27. Fallen States by Jason Papke
28. New Fallen Snow by *Miles Boothe



Hunting Season Begins Fall 2011 

Thursday, September 01, 2011

I've no idea what it means

...but 'The Thief Who Spat In Luck's Good Eye' has been downloaded 108 times on Smashwords, and 97 times on Scribd. At least one person whom I have never met read it and liked it (hi Julia!) so I can already call the experiment a success.

Of course I've no real idea if it has bumped sales for Thagoth, as I don't get sales info until Random House sees fit to send me a sales statement (supposedly every six months),  but a rough guestimate (scientifically measured by looking at Amazon sales ranks) is that a couple of copies were sold as a direct result of putting "The Thief Who Spat" out there for free.

An aside- how is it that I can put together a better cover, for less than $14 and two hours work, than one of the Big Six publishers? Easy. I gave a shit and they didn't. I'm actually really happy with the cover. (No, it's not perfect, but it conveys the mood, and that's really Amra there on the cover, the way I see her. That half of her face you can't see in the pic? Yeah, there's a few scars there.)

Now the only other thing I could wish for is a review or two...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Just in case you're interested

I know I said I was out of office, but I decided to do some more writing-related work (not actual writing, mind you, but still).

I have been avoiding doing anything on smashwords because of the formatting and uploading process, affectionately (?) called, both by those who created it and those who use it, 'the meatgrinder'. It just sounded like  a lot of bother for someone as short on patience these days as me.

But I finally dipped my toes in it, because many of my friends are unable to purchase from the amazon kindle store, living here in the Asia Pacific region.

What 'it' did I do, you might ask?

This:


Now, this is not a new story. It's basically the first 15,000 words of Thagoth, which is actually a standalone novella. It's a great introduction to the book, and I've made it available on smashwords for free. So if you've ever wondered about my book, you can now have a free appetizer, to see if it's to your taste :)

On another post I'll explain my experience with the smashwords process, as some of my readers might find it useful as a case study. But today I've got a lot of other non-writing stuff to take care of.

Be good or be careful,

mm

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Out of Office

I'll be going offline for a few days (until Wednesday latest), as I try to finish up some writing.

I've been trying to do some promotion for my writing, and have made some concrete steps (Joined Goodreads, set up an author facebook page, got Thagoth featured on the-cheap.net's facebook page, set up a twitter acount). But this is a marathon, not a sprint, and the most important thing is writing. Right now I need to do more of that writing thing, not scurry around the internet like a squirrel on crack.

So think of me fondly while I polish off 'The Sailor's Wife' and get some more work done on Joo Chiat Blues.


Hugs and kisses,

mm

Friday, August 26, 2011

Free Fantasy/Sci Fi Friday

Here are a few free fantasy/sci fi ebooks available from the kindle store. Please note, unless I mention otherwise, I've no  idea if the are stellar or if they stink up the joint :)

(Except I believe it's not all 10, just a sampler)

(Lots of good reviews...)

(Lots of mediocre reviews)

(Few reviews, and those are all over the map)

Let me know how it goes!

Oh, how I wanted to like you

It was free. One shouldn't complain about free, right?

Wrong.

If someone gives you a gift, and you open up the box, and there's a steaming turd inside, you are allowed to complain.

I'm not saying David Dalglish's The Weight of Blood is a steaming turd. It's not. It's just not very good, and it has some serious problems.

Top three reasons I won't finish reading it:

3. When someone in an epic fantasy calls someone else in an epic fantasy 'goofy' it destroys the entire tone of the work for me. And I like using borderline anachronistic dialog.

2. When the worldbuilding states that the world is only 500 years old, and yet there are countless examples of  technologies mastered that take millenia to work out, I start to wonder if this whole thing wasn't ripped from your in-house D&D campaign.

1. When the likeable one of your two main characters is a serial child killer, I stop reading.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

434

So I (finally) received my royalty summary statement for Thagoth. Latest royalty check? US$82.78.

That's not the interesting part.

The interesting part is the title of this post. 434 copies of Thagoth have been sold from day 1 through March, 2011.

434.

Now, there are two ways I could look at this number. In fact, there are two ways I DO look at this number.

The first way, the pessimistic way, is to compare that number to, well, just about any author you've ever heard of, and realize just how pitifully small that number really is, especially after eight years on the market. And there's no way around it; it is a pitifully small number. The useful part of thinking pessimistically, though, is when you start asking 'why?'

I know why.

Thagoth was released only as an ebook, in 2003 (when you said 'ebook' people replied 'ewhat'?) with a craptacular cover and with zero marketing from Random House. My editor was fired while she was working on the book, and nobody at Random House gave it or any of the other OWW 'winners' an iota of attention.

Now despite that, Thagoth managed to garner 93 ratings on Fictionwise back then, the overwhelming majority of them positive:


Maybe I ain't Shakespeare, but I wrote a book, and the people that read it, liked it.

Now for the optimistic view on 434:

  • 434 people bought my book. The vast, vast majority of them I've never met, and never will. How frigging awesome is that? 434 times more awesome than sitting and whining about never having a book published, however brutal my publishing experience was, that's how awesome.
  • In their dismissive treatment of Thagoth, Random House serendipitously managed to get something right: The price point. Thagoth is $2.99, which happens to (arguably) be the sweet spot for ebook pricing. Back in 2003, it was a throwaway price point.
  • When I'm ready, I have the ability to take Thagoth back from Random House. Their rights expired after three years. Once I'm ready, I can (and will) take the book back, give it a sweet, sweet cover, and re-release it.
434. I think it's my new favorite number.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Next in the Double Dose series:

This one I hope to have up by next week.

The idea of course is for all of them to be instantly recognizable as a 'series' but differentiated by color scheme. Also, bright colors to catch the reader's eye.

I'm going for a movie poster/old 60's and 70's paperback feel with these covers. It may not be the best choice, but it feels right, and I'm happy with them. :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Writing is a dangerous, lonely business


I don't submit to non-paying markets.


Silly submissions guidelines/What were they thinking?

So I was checking out Ralan's, as I often do (being a writer and all), and noticed a particularly brain-scratching, uh, thing--in the submissions guidelines for an anthology titled "Best NEW Zombie Tales Vol. 5" the editor is ONLY looking for reprinted zombie stories.

Which sort of makes all the stories in the anthology, by definition, not new.

*smacks head, moves on*

Thursday, August 18, 2011

State of Thagoth

Well. After shamelessly begging friends on facebook and brazenly posting a review of My Own Damn Novel™, I also did a couple other things: I gifted the book to two sci fi & fantasy reviewers whose blogs I follow and whose opinions I respect, and I (finally) set up my author page on Amazon's Author Central.

(Niall Alexander, by the way, is a pure gentleman. If you're at all interested in sci fi/fantasy, you should be reading his blog.)

I don't know why I've just suddenly lost it in regards to Thagoth, but I have. I want to stomp up and down and scream at the world at large, "Holy hell, people! Here's a book, good, cheap, professionally edited! Give it a read, for Pete's sake!" I want to make some noise. I want to rattle some cages. I want to do absurd things.

I don't care about sales. I've declared war on obscurity.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I did it

I confess. I did it.

Lord knows I had the means, the motive and the opportunity. The only real surprise here is that it took me so long to give in to the urge. Was it cowardice that kept me from committing the deed? No, not that at least. Was it some tattered vestige of morals? Of pride? Maybe. I can't really say. And the act itself is a blur, now that it's done.

I reviewed my own damn book on Amazon.

Ah, but there are mitigating circumstances--aren't there always?


  • First, in my own defense, I did not use a sock puppet. I boldly proclaimed in my review that I was the author, and detailed sufficiently in my own view at least the reason for a self review. How can a book that is 8 years old not have received a single review? It's maddening!
  • Second, I did not give myself five stars. In my own view, it did not rate that, and I did not pretend it did.
  • Third, did I mention that the book has gone eight years without a review?
Lock me up. Put me in the stocks. Throw rotten tomatoes at me. I don't care, and I'm not sorry.

It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul.
                                     Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars! 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

unfinished business

It has been very heartening to have a couple of stories selected for inclusion in anthologies this year. 'Children of the Mandrake' was the first publishable piece of fiction I ever wrote, way back when I first moved to Austin those many years ago. Bruce Sterling took a look at it and pronounced it 'salable'. More than a decade later, he was proven right: It will appear in The Big Book of New Short Horror in September.

'Night and Day' won the OWW's Editor's Choice award, back when they first started including horror fiction on the workshop. Nice things were said about it by Jeanne Cavelos, which is saying a lot. It will appear in The Trigger Reflex in October.

Still, it took many years and many rejections before they finally found a home. These two stories, along with 'All the World a Grave', which was published in Flesh and Bone: Rise of the Necromancers last year, represented some seriously unfinished business for me. I could go on a diatribe now about the publishing industry, or my writing psyche, but really I don't want to write it and you don't want to read it. It's not important.

What is important is that I feel as though getting those stories out there into the world has freed me up, creatively. I've never had trouble writing, really; it was the finishing of anything that plagued me. My unfinished business was, well, unfinished, and I couldn't move on.

Now that business is finished. It's not logical, but the creative process is what it is. I've found homes for the stories I cared most about and believed in the most, and my subconscious seems to have given the green light to moving on to the backlog of stories that are hanging around waiting for endings. It's early days yet, but so far, so good.

I gave my erudite friend E@L the first 35k words of The Blade that Whispers Hate to look over. He told me what I needed to know, which was a) it doesn't completely suck and b) lose the snake (the giant snake, which was an ill-conceived homage to Robert E. Howard, has now vanished in an electron poof).


As I might have written about before, The Blade that Whispers Hate or BWH is a prequel of sorts to Thagoth. It features the same duo of Amra the thief and Holgren the reluctant mage. Over the years, in fits and starts, I'd banged out 35k words or so on it. Now 35,000 words does not a book make, but it very nearly half a book makes, especially in the Sword & Sorcery genre. I know the characters and the world well. So BWH is the logical candidate to finish up and get out there to the reading public.

Apparently my subconscious agrees. Last night in bed I made the giant snake scene disappear and then went on to rewrite the scene, edit the following scenes to reflect the change, and add a bit more to the actual story. This morning I woke up early, the storyline chugging away in my brain, so I went down to the kopitiam down the street with a note pad and in the space of an hour detangled 85% of the rat's nest I'd made of the plot to that point. I now know what happens, in broad strokes, from the current last written word up until the end, except for a relatively small area in my notes where I was forced to write "some stuff happens". This is a good thing, by the way. If I knew exactly what happened from beginning to end, I would find the writing dull. Getting from point to point is half the fun (and most of the frustration) of writing, and if I don't know exactly what's going to happen until I write it, it's less likely the reader will know as they read it.

How long will it take me to finish? I'm not really sure. I hope it takes no longer than the end of the year. It might be much sooner than that, but then it might well take longer. I hope it doesn't.

In any case, I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I has a badge

Credit to Miles Boothe, editor of the monster hunter anthology Leather, Denim and Silver and the upcoming The Trigger Reflex

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Some good news

Looks like I've got a short story accepted for the monster hunter anthology The Trigger Reflex.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Friday, May 06, 2011

Progress! ...?

So yeah, I've been working on that book I told you about earlier, the one that's at 35,186 words?
Yeah, It's not at 35,186 words anymore. After about eight hours of going over it again and again, trying to figure out what happens next and making a few small corrections and changes here and there, I've managed to somehow lose over a thousand words.

Yes, I've made the opening chapters tighter. Yes, I've gotten rid of a lot of blatheration.  BUT THAT ISN'T WHAT I'M SUPPOSED TO BE DOING RIGHT NOW. I'm supposed to be advancing the plot (and incidentally the word count).

I just. can't. stop myself.

Suggestions, oh ye writerly types?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

WIP Wednesday

Very sleepy. Almost forgot WIP Wednesday (bad blogger!).

This Wednesday's WIP is The Blade That Whispers Hate. It is, as I've mentioned in other places, a prequel of sorts to Thagoth. Prequel in that it happens before the events of the other book, but not prequel in that the only connection the two books have are the two main characters and a bit of setting. The plots are not really connected. Does that make sense or is what I'm saying painfully obvious? Man, I need sleep.

Ok, it's like this: If you've read John D. McDonald's Travis McGee series you'll see the DNA for my Amra and Holgren tales. Different genre, setting, everything, but without Travis McGee, there would be no Amra Thetys. The closest you come in fantasy to what I'm doing with these characters is Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series.

So here's (another) excerpt from BWH, featuring Amra's insouciance:

***


I came in the back way, through the service entrance. Bollund, Locquewood’s muscle, sat whittling in the back room among packing crates and scattered straw. He glanced up when I came in, then fixed his attention back on his carving. I think it was supposed to be a pheckla, but mostly it looked like a turd.

“Bollund! Still twice the woman I am, I see. I need to talk to your boss.”

Bollund glanced up at me, fingered the smashed gristle of what presumably had once been his nose. He’d been a bare-knuckle fighter before becoming ensconced in Locquewood’s back room.

“You don’t see ‘im. ‘E sees you.”

“Well he needs to see me. Now.”

Bollund smirked. He was two heads taller and his bulk could make three of me. He wasn’t impressed and he wasn’t intimidated.

I pulled out the toad from my leather satchel, unwrapped its silk covering. The buttery glow of the gold drew his beady eye.

“He’s got five minutes, then I’m taking this to Daruvner.”

Bollund’s jaw clenched. He shifted his bulk up from the slat-back chair that somehow supported him. 

Locquewood was a fixer, not a fence, but Bollund knew enough not to make decisions for his employer where money was involved. The toad would fit in tolerably with the kinds of things Locquewood stocked his shop with. A little older, a little uglier, a little less precious, by appearances.

“Stay ‘ere. Don’t touch nothing.”

“Yes ma’am.”

He glared at me, then disappeared though an inner doorway.

***

So, um, yeah. Going to bed now.