Sunday, June 17, 2018

Having read through the "Small Business Survivalist Handbook," I couldn't help but compare the bookstore to my writing.

The idea of staying smaller to stay satisfied, to avoid burnout, to avoid doing the things you don't want to do merely for the money, and most of all the idea of not spending all your time, space, energy, and money on ineffective and counterproductive promotion all hold true.

The idea of filling the store with inventory is much like being a productive writer.

I'd say the one big difference is finding a viable selling platform. With the store I'm on a "High Street" where a casual consumer can find me. Or rather, enough consumers can find me.

I haven't been able to find an equivalent platform to the High Street with publishing.

This is where the natural tendency is to assume that I haven't promoted my books effectively, that I need to do more.

But that doesn't usually work with the store and I don't think it will work with writing either.

And since everything else seems pretty analogous, I'm going to go with my instinct and just keep trying to write the best books I can and put them out on the available platforms.

Without content, the platform doesn't matter. I have a feeling the platform will arrive one of these days, one way or another.

Saturday, June 16, 2018



Of all things, I just published my first non-fiction book. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DRQHVWG

Here's the synopsis:
 
"When I started out I was given all kinds of advice about owning a small business. Most of it was wrong even when it was meant to inspire me—especially when it was meant to inspire me. 
But reality has a way of imposing itself. 
What I’m offering in this book is what I’ve learned from thirty-five years of mistakes, trial and error, and of listening to bullshit. 
Business is hard but it doesn’t have to be impossible.
There are a lot of myths in small business and much of the common wisdom is flat wrong. The myths are perpetuated by the promotional/inspiration/advertising industry whose job really is to sell you on the idea of owning the business, not on the actual nuts and bolts of running a small business. 
Most of all, this book is meant to steer you toward listening to your own experience and instincts. 
To think for yourself. 
To be skeptical of easy answers. 
To look for the reality beneath all the mythology.
If I can save you from even one of my mistakes, then this book will be worth it."



So...what inspired me to do this after sitting on the manuscript for a couple of years?

A guy recently purchased a store and I went in to talk to him. I gave him a little advice and he seemed receptive, so I gave him a condensed version of my Contrarian's Advice.

I thought maybe he actually heard me.

Two months later, I go in and he proudly announces all the things he's doing, as if I'll approve.

I don't say anything even though just about everything he's doing is diametrically opposed to what I'd recommended. He has been totally captured by the trade organization's version of what his store should be like, and by what I've come to call, The Promotional/Inspirational/Advertising Industrial Complex.

Anyway, it spurred me to read what I'd written, and I felt not only was it written pretty well, but that the advice still holds up.

If you've read this blog for long, you've heard many of the same issues aired, though maybe not as organized and concise. 

So what the hay. I'm putting it out there. A contrarian is rarely listened to, though in some ways they can give the most valuable advice. But there it is. My thirty-eight years experience in running a small business.

I can hope that it might save a few small businesses unnecessary heartache.


Finished "Fateplay."

I finished the first draft of "Fateplay" yesterday.

A future where just about everyone does Larping and cosplay all the time, at work, at play, at home, with the aid of VR and holograms.

Still missing most of the chapter headings. I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks fixing it up, and send it off to my editor, Lara, on July 1.

It's 96K words as of now, so it will be over 100K before I'm finished. There are lots of implications to the premise that I have yet to explore. Plot first, research second.

In between writing sessions, I read through the "Small Business Survivalist Handbook: a Contrarian's Guide for Mom and Pops."

I wrote this a couple years ago, because I felt so much of the advice given to small business was not only wrong, but harmful. But then I backed off, thinking I didn't want to be a know it all.

But I recently gave some advice to a new store owner only to realize two months later he was doing everything I'd advised him not to do and was proud of it, because it was what everyone else had told him to do.

Doh!

The advice still reads pretty well, so I decided to publish it. Then realized that the title on the cover and title on the manuscript were slightly different, which is pretty maddening. Especially since I announced it on social media.

Idiot!

I really need to check this stuff more than once.

Also, I hated my synopsis, so I want to take another try at that.

So I removed the book temporarily until I can fix it.

This is going to be Re-Write Summer!  Get the four Lander books done once and for all. Finish up the four Tales of the Thirteen Principalities novellas. Do a little work on a couple of my thrillers.

Then try to figure out a reasonable roll-out schedule.

Trying to take care of business. Trying not to start a new book.

 Of course, the caveat has always been, don't turn down the creative urge so it's more than possible I'll start something new. But this time with the idea of also catching up a little.

To be honest, I only see how productive I've been when I look back. When I'm in the middle, it seems like nothing is happening. Heh.




Friday, June 15, 2018

Crossroad has come up with an updated cover to Blood of the Succubus, with Mike Corey's original art but with new lettering that is probably less elegant but much more noticeable. Plus, "The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders" subtitle is no longer on the cover.

Who am I to argue? These guys are the pros, I'm just a writer.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Been four days since I last posted.

But not because I haven't written anything. In fact I've written 10 posts to myself, each of them either too private or not interesting enough for anyone else.

Neither is this post, probably, but I probably should post it anyway.

I've decided to stay away from all "clickbait", and that includes most internet news sites, most of Facebook and Twitter, and cable new programs. The Outrage Machine was just getting to be too much. I was really feeling sad about the state of our country and culture.

It's been a struggle, but I've managed so far. But it also means I'm not online as much, and I think that means I haven't been here as often to post.

Except I've been writing, but once I turned inward, the blog posts seemed to turn inward too.

Meanwhile, I'm oh so close to finishing "Time In/Time Out." I've decided not to substantially change the story, as I'd been thinking for half the book. It was good when I wrote it. I've decided not to second guess myself.

I may change my mind again, but the one thing about this turning inward is that I'm giving much more weight to my own feelings about things, instead of trying to figure out what others might like.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Computer wizard and friend, Aaron, was over and I told him my idea for the latest WIP.

He immediately told me of an idea he had while driving home and feeling bored. (See, all you need to be a writer is to daydream yourself out of boredom.)

It was a great idea. Linda had handed me a box this morning for my "Box Book" and I immediately filled out a card with Aaron's idea and plunked it in there.

Before he left, he gave me another idea, which I added to the box.

Which made me wonder if I shouldn't hold off on the rewrite until I've accumulated enough of these ideas to really be useful. Both ideas he gave me would be useful to incorporate in the first rewrite rather than adding them in later.

Also--they seemed much better ideas than the ones I was coming up with. But then--by definition, they were ideas I hadn't thought of, so that's how they would seem, right? You don't know what you don't know.

Still have to finish the book.

Still ambitious, I guess.

It's funny. The book I wanted more than any other to be spontaneous and original and inspired--I'm having to grind out the ending.

I mean, I don't dislike what I've written. I even think I've managed to get some surprises in there. But it's been a struggle.

I have 3 or 4 chapters left. I spent all day yesterday grinding out one chapter. It was slow and arduous and not at all fun, but it got done in the end.

I'm going to do the same thing today. Lock myself in my room and not come out until I've accomplished the goal.

Had a good talking to myself this morning. This is a book of ideas. Speculative ideas, which is somewhat unexpected. I've stayed away from writing SF because I felt it required too much science, but these ideas are ones I feel capable of handling, given some research and thought.

I stayed away from fantasy, SF, and thrillers at first because they all had genre conventions I wasn't comfortable with.

Horror was my go-to genre because it allowed me to straight out write the stories I wanted as long as I added something with a horror tinge, which wasn't that hard to do.

I suppose Faeire Punk is more fantasy than horror, but most of my books have held to the genre, if only loosely. Freedy Filkins is definitely fantasy. But both are "modern" fantasies, not the heroic fantasy that I attempted with Star Axe and Snowcastles/Icetowers.

I've attempted four thrillers. The first I sold as a ghostwritten book (the supposed author is regularly a top ten New York Times bestseller). So I guess I have to see that as a success. Deadfall Ridge fell a little short, Takeover was probably over my head, and Shadows Over Summer House tipped over into the supernatural to make it work.

Time In/Time Out would be my first book that I would consider to actually be SF in full. It started out as a Ready Player One type book. I liked RPO a lot, enjoyed the overall tone, so I went for something like that tone.

The basic premise is a future where everyone cosplays or Larps. In my story, I call it (and creative anachronism and re-enacters) under the umbrella term "hyper-reality." (A bit of Orwellian doublespeak.) People dress up in costumes to go to work, to dinner, to play.

This idea really arose from my reaction to the hologram episodes of ST:TNG. I loved the Moriority and Sherlock Holmes episodes. But it always brought up the question: if you could live in a holodeck, why would you ever leave?

Once you ask that question, a whole host of other questions arise.

So this book dealt with a lot of ideas, mostly offhandedly and in service to the story in this first draft, but I'd like to go back and explore the ideas a little more.

So I'm locking myself in my room for the next few days to finish the book. But I'm looking forward to a rewrite for once because there is some meat there, and I think it will be fun. Second draft will be to reconcile the first half with the second half, as usual. Change the history of the protagonist.

The third draft, and I don't think there is any hurry, will be to explore the ideas more. I will probably go off and do other things, like rewrite Deadfall Ridge and Takeover, and finish the Lander series, and do a couple more Tales of the Thirteen Principality novellas, before I come back and finish Time In/Time Out.

I'm going to set aside a box and throw ideas into it as they occur to me. My first Box Book, so to speak.

Still ambitious, I guess.