Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

Anybody else think that was a wicked fast year? Holy crap, it shot by like a bullet.

At least I feel like I made progress this year, so I can't grouse too much.

Writing accomplishments:
Finally got my novel published! Got it into bookstores, libraries, signings, got to talk about it in person and in interviews. Had the book launch, which was a smash success. Got my first royalty check!

Finished the second novel and sent off for publication. It was supposed to be out by now, but snags at the publisher have delayed it through this season. Not cool, as I've lost quite a few sales because of this.

Kept writing, and published more stories and poems.

Published the first of my short stories and collections as ebooks, a different direction and strategy.

Dipped into audio, recording and publishing my first podcast.

Greatly expanded all social media. Not necessarily a good thing!

Went to the Crime Bake Mystery Conference, and had a great time.

So all in all, pretty darn good. I can look back and say it was worth it.

So you have a safe and happy holiday. Let's see what the New Year has to offer!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Lots of Promo

Been a busy day. I visited a few libraries, telling them how wonderful my book is, and attempting to persuade them to purchase copies for their collections. Hey, local authors should be a draw for libraries, so I try to help out.

I was struck by how good these libraries are, how much information is freely available to all. It's truly wonderful, and may be part of the reason we have better education in this part of the country.

This was spurred by the news yesterday that I'm scheduled to appear on television, being interviewed by Jane Bouvier. We air Jan 12th, with more rebroadcasts after, check station for times.

And I'm listed on a new site for great ebook reads, on Super-E-Reads

And come on down to the UMass Bookstore in downtown Lowell on Jan 21st, from 1-3, for my book launch of A Fall From Grace. Refreshments, prizes, meet the author! Bring your friends that read!

Bad Writing of Best-Sellers

As a writer, I check out the work of other writers. Lets me see how they write, their technique, and shows me what's popular in the field. With "best-selling" mysteries and thrillers, they're all too often disappointing, at best, and downright contemptible and ludicrous at worst. Have just found another example of the latter.

Now this guy sells millions of books, has rabid fans, and his name is spoken with reverent awe. He's the powerhouse of e-publishing and print. But his book is stupid-- insultingly stupid-- a reeking dungheap of ridiculous plot. The writing is good, the characters are developed, but the plot is so laughably bad. At least it would be laughable, if people weren't supporting this clown by buying his work.

"But he's popular, so he must be good," will be the response from the Booboisie. Well, no. Fast food is popular, but it's not good. And this guy makes it worse. He takes a fast food burger, slaps horse poop and ground glass on it, and shovels it up to the masses. And they eat this crap sandwich, and smile and say it's wonderful. Gah!

I'm in the Tyngsboro Writer's Group, and none of us are critics for the New York Review of Books, but we can spot a stinker. Any time writing doesn't pass muster, they let you know. I know, I've tried it before, and it just doesn’t fly. This guy's plot would have been shot down by everyone as too stupid for belief, and would have never made it out. You can let all the hot air out of this Bad Plot Balloon with one phone call, one person acting reasonably, or anyone doing what they'd do in Real Life.

We'd have told this writer not to insult the reader. He MUST like to insult his readers, he's got to have contempt for his audience. There's no other way to explain it. Me, I wouldn't have the money he's making for producing this bilge. If my name was on a piece of crap this bad, I'd take the Hemingway route with a shotgun. And I mean it. This kind of junk is really offensive.

There's absurdity and coincidence piled upon unbelievability and bullshit. The characters are simply marionettes, who do the writer's bidding, but do things that would not be done by anybody outside a Hollywood coke-fantasy film. And they do them at just the right time to creakily move the dumbass plot to the next Big Point. You know a book is bad when you keep rolling your eyes and saying "Oh, Pul-eeze!"

The plot setup is so ridiculous, it's akin to having a switch that will destroy an entire town, and where the authorities know that a guy is going to come in and throw the switch to slaughter everyone. All they need to do is lock the door. But they can’t, because the writer has put up a big sign saying "This door cannot be locked, or I won’t have a crap book to shove out!" Yeah, that simple, that mind-numbingly dumb.

If this was just one awful example of what's popular, it might not be so bad, But I've seen too many others like it, and I've had it. I strive to create good, believable plots with decent writing, and I screen the work with early readers and tough critique. This book has all the earmarks of a Hollywood pitch session, where everyone was on drugs.

Why does this bother me so much? Because I write with aspirations of craftsmanship, and don’t look down on my audience, but carefully build characters and situations that they can believe in. The good writers do this. The bad ones churn out senseless junk for mass consumption that cheapens all other books. He oughtta be ashamed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Belated Merry Christmas

Howdy folks. It's been a few days while I enjoyed the holidays with my family. So I didn't blog a lot.

But I'm making it up to you. Want some cool FREE ebooks by a couple of guys who got famous selling a lot of self-published books? Sure you do- you're curious as to how good or bad they can be.

For a limited time, Joe Konrath and Blake Crouch are putting up some of their many titles for free- load onto your new Kindle for nothing.

How's that for a belated Christmas gift? Forgive me?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Publishing- Funny and Not

Here's a terrifc, funny post about how writers are crazy Aunt Edna, and the publishing world is the rest of the family.

And another view, by pro writer Kristine Kathryn Rusch, more serious.

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Story Collection out!

5 tales of mystery/crime-- my new story collection, Crooked Paths is up!

Most of these stories have appeared in magazines and online ezines, all are about the crooked paths we take, and the choices that lead us to certain ends. Safecrackers, runrunners, killers, PIs, they're all here.

The Challenge is going well. That's 2 collections done, 10 books to go, and 48 more stories!

Latest Poem Out

Today, my poem, "The Sorceror and the Maid" is out at Silver Blade magazine online.

The advantage of doing a lot of different stuff is getting published in all new venues.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

First Story Collection Published

Inspired by folks like Joe Konrath and Dean Wesley Smith, who have told us we could now do well by writing good works and publishing them ourselves, I took up the challenge.

Here is one amazing result-- my first story collection is now available! Fables and Fantasies is a book of 5 tales of magic, swords, vampires, princesses in peril, and choices to be made. Heroes and villains and something in between. Monsters, both internal and external. Encounters with the unusual to make you think, laugh, and shiver with fright.

Three stories are all new, and two have been previously published, in Aoife's Kiss and Sorcerous Signals. So hard-nosed professional editors have paid tough-to-come-by-money for some of these tales. Four of these stories are available as singles.

It's a great new world for the writers who want to succeed. No more lottery systems-- just get the work up and let the readers decide! Viva La Revolution!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Another Passed-Up Best Seller

In case anyone is wondering why I decided to enter the world of publishing my own work, here's just one reason...

An excerpt-- "A dozen publishers and more than 100 literary agents rejected it. They called it 'difficult to sell...'"

Yeah, except-- it has sold more than 400,000 copies, and landed on the best-seller lists.

But we writers are supposed to keep submitting to these "pros" who "know the business." Except that they don't have any idea what their business is, as evidenced by the example above-- which is one of many, many stories like it.

"Book publishers are losing ground to independent authors and watching their powerful status as literary gatekeepers wither."

Ever wonder why? Because they run a lottery system, and the most common thing they buy is the equivalent of fast food-- cheap, greasy, same-old slush for the mass market. Very often, they don't know a good book, even when it bites them in the ass.

R.I.P. dumbass gatekeepers who are bad at their job-- they will not be missed.

We writers who can adapt will continue to get our work to readers, without the gatekeeper interference. Viva la revolution!

I'm doing my part- I now have 4 of my stories up on Smashwords, as part of my Insane Writing Challenge!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Second Story Up, Continuing, 50 to go!

Got another story up tonight, "Our New Queen." It's now up, with a gorgeous cover- take a look:

Apart from being an unsettling dark fantasy tale, it's a testament to determination. The first time it didn't go through, had some formatting errors, even though I used the Nuclear Option. So I redid it, and just got word it went through fine! You sometimes have to keep trying.

So that's 2 down, 50 to go. Phew.

And that's after we had to return a dead Christmas tree today. After we'd decorated it. Stripped it, tied on the vehicle (in the rain) and drove it back. I figured out why it was dead when I saw the remains of the "fresh cuts" the guy had been doing. He was cutting alright, but about half an inch. Inexperience is going to mean a lot of dead trees this year.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Joining the Revolution, Going Nuts With a Challenge

Today I took the plunge, and put my first story up for sale on Smashwords- Froggy Went A Courting:
At a mere 99 cents!

This is where I've really joined the publishing revolution. Do it yourself? Heavens to Murgatroyd!

And the reason is a group of writers who have been preaching for some time that writers have choice, that all those countless hours we spend toiling away might actually be put to use, by putting up our good work so that readers can find it and even compensate us with a few pennies.

People like Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler, with their conversation in Be the Monkey.

And Dean Wesley Smith, with his trilogy of terror:
New World of Publishing
Think Like A Publisher
Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing

And many others. Okay guys, some of us have been paying attention. And we've changed our strategies...

A year ago, I was still looking for a traditional big publishing house, likely in New York, to publish my first mystery novel, A Memory of Grief. I'd spent years writing good queries, researching which agents to send to, and did everything properly. Had some interest from some pros, had an agent for 2.5 years, but still no sale. Years of wasted time.

Then along came a small outfit, a startup publisher, and they asked me if I wanted to take a chance and publish with them. After weighing the pros and cons, I did, and this last Summer, Briona Glen Publishing released my first book in print (and as an ebook).

I was over the moon, but didn't stop there. I finished the edits to book 2 of the series, A Fall From Grace, and now that's going to be out very soon! Two good books published six months apart.
HA-- try that with a big NY house-- if your name isn't Stephen King!

Hey, pretty good, but why stop there? I'd published over 20 short stories, some really good ones, but once they appear, they dissolve after a short time and don't get seen. But the guys mentioned above have been saying-- get that stuff up, folks! Your backlist is a goldmine!

I hear ya! And so I'll put stories up for sale, as singles and collections. They won't be hiding anymore, they'll be read.

In fact, I've been so inspired, I decided to go absolutely nuts. It's because of these guys, I swear!

Dean Wesley Smith was trying to write 100 stories in a year, while also doing his books. Life got in the way, so he couldn't finish. But he proved the method, that working writers can produce a lot if they get over this notion they HAVE to write slowly, and only put out a book (or two) a year.

So I'm picking up that torch and running. I want to be a full-time fiction writer, so here's what I'm going to attempt for the coming year, while I'm still keeping my day job.

The 2012 Challenge

First, the Book of the Month Challenge- I want to put out books (ebooks first, and we'll see about print) to the tune of one new book for every month of the New Year. I can't write good novels that fast, so a few will be novels, and the rest will be story collections. Still, it's 12 books.

Which leads us to Part II of the Challenge.

Second, I'll have a story put up for every week of the New Year-- 52 stories by the end of next year. I've got just 1 so far. Long way to go.

So there you have it-- 12 books, in addition to my two novels, and 52 stories-- an insane schedule.
Since I have only limited time, it's going to mean full-out crazy.

Too much? Maybe. But I'm fired up with writing religion, and a desire to play in the Big Leagues. You can blame it on those guys who've been egging us on to do stuff like this. By way of thanks, I'll be buying their books to support them, even if I'm cursing their names by the end of next year!

So check back to see how I'm doing.
Smashwords and Amazon allow you to sample the work before you buy, so check out the writing.
And wish me luck-- I'm gonna need it!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Contest Winner, Writing Fast

Congratulations to Michelle Grayce, who won a copy of A Memory of Grief from the contest at Shellyrae's Book'dOut. Hope she enjoys a good mystery novel.

Many sites host contests where you can win free books, so treat yourself for Christmas!

I've always been a believer in the slow writing process, with lengthy, painstaking revisions and editing.

Yet Dean Wesley Smith and others have said that we should write fast, to access the creative side of the brain. Dean says that's the best writing stuff, and that we shouldn't bother with a lot of rewriting-- it takes too much of the good stuff out, as it's the other side of the brain at work then.

Other opinions, like Zoe Winters and others are all for word flow.

I'm rethinking my process. How about you? What's your preferred style? I know a few people who try NaNoWriMo and find some value in it. So is faster better?