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

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.