Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Summer's been good.

Worked at Pegasus Books for a few hours yesterday.

We're selling the hell out of books. All these tourists seem to believe we're a bookstore. Literally outselling both comics and graphic novels (but not the two together.) That is truly astonishing, especially since so far I've made little effort to carry current bestsellers. It makes me believe that I could be a full bookstore if I needed to be. But then, why? I like comics and graphic novels. It's all one big compendium of words and pictures, as far as I'm concerned.

Magic sales are down, because of increased competition, I think. It reminds me of sports cards in that there always seem to be so many people selling magic and so many people discounting. space. Not at all sorry to be foregoing that.

Toy sales are up, which I've made a concerted effort to do.

Games are down a little bit, but not bad considering how much competition we have these days.

Comic floppies are down this month, which is the first time we're really seeing what the rest of the industry has been reporting. But graphic novel sales are up, almost compensating.

Overall, we're going to beat last year for the second month in a row, which I think is due to paying more attention to books and toys.

Anyway, this huge increase in book sales more or less confirms what I've been thinking---that filling the store with good books, interesting books, books with a history and books without a history, but just doing the best I can to fill the store with books, results in sales that are not dependent on competition but result from being downtown when there is lots of foot traffic.

That we can do.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse business and a digital sun.

Our sales were actually pretty good. I'm going to say average and since we were having a good month before the eclipse, that's not bad at all. Cameron wondered if we should close on Monday, but I said, no as a matter of routine we stay open, always. I think one of the things Pegasus Books can offer is reliability and steadiness, which means never closing except for Christmas day and Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, Marvel has concocted a plan that forces us to buy 150 to 200% of the numbers we usually sell in order to qualify for the versions of the comics that the customers will want. So we're ordering roughly 35% more Marvel comics normal for Sept/Oct. We'll probably offer the regular covers for regular price, or the special covers for regular price WITH the purchase of a regular cover. Hard to see how we won't lose money otherwise.

This is the kind of gimmick that almost destroyed the comic market in the mid 90's and if we weren't doing well I wouldn't even attempt it. But the 3D covers are cool, and I don't really want to go without them, so I'm taking the chance.

It's very possible there will be an event hangover the next few days. Then again, maybe the locals will come out of their bunkers.

Oh, and the eclipse itself was one of the cooler things I've seen in my life. Linda and I live in Redmond, so we got the totality for about 50 seconds. Awe inspiring. 

But it was so crisp and neat it made me feel like I was living in a computer game, Pac man world. Heh.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Just write the damn thing.

I've been hovering over the next chapter for about 3 days now, trying to find a strong entry point, trying to figure out which character's POV has the strongest voice, and just wanting it to be great.

Wanting something to be great is a the surest way to block yourself. 

I wrote a chapter that happens later in the meantime, just to make some progress.

Went on my walk last evening along the canal (I tend to alternate between day walks where I actually write and twilight walks where I just think) and asked myself, "If I were to write this chapter right now, how would it come out?"

Then proceeded to write the chapter in my head and think, 'Hmm, that's pretty good, actually."

So today I''m going to write it for real.

Rapidly approaching the end of the book. It's funny, but in the old days I couldn't wait to wrap up a storyline: nowadays I always have this final hesitation, an unwillingness to really get to the end. Not sure why. But I'm pretty sure the delay is beneficial, mostly.

Waiting for inspiration at this point is hard. The story has more or less been written in my head. The initial excitement has dissipated. The discovery isn't there, except in the execution.

For the last three days I've been waiting for inspiration. The dilemma is, the longer I wait for inspiration, the farther I am from the last time I wrote and the harder it gets. A kind of Catch-22.

So I'm pushing forward, trusting that the story and the characters are strong enough to finish this book.

Friday, August 18, 2017

"Snaked: Deep Sea Rising" available on pre-order.

It's coming out September 28.

Warning: Word Count. Process post.

This is one of my lovely process posts that I like so much and which must bore the hell out of everyone else.

I got to 66K words yesterday, with the ending still quite a ways away. I'd originally thought the first draft would be about 60K words, or if I was lucky, 65 or 70K. Now it's pretty clear I'm easily going to pass 75K.  Just goes to show that I shouldn't worry about length.

It will happen. Second drafts are usually between 10 and 15% longer, as I add needed development, description, continuity transitions, and telling details. When the whole apoc-eclipse is over, I'm driving over to the Fossil Beds to get some first-hand description in place, do a bit more research to see what I can fit into the story for verisimilitude.

I managed to get a chapter written yesterday, despite a family get-together later in the evening. I wrote a chapter out of sequence, because I wasn't quite ready to write the very important next chapter.

I suspect that I'm going to lose Sunday and Monday completely, as family is coming to our house in Redmond to see the eclipse. Meanwhile, I'm going to try to write Friday and Saturday as usual.

I was getting a little worried at the mild tone in the last few chapters. Many of the radical characters have been removed from the scene, and the newer even more radical characters aren't point of view characters.

Talking it over with Linda I said, "Wouldn't it be great if I could have XXX come in and be all crazy and stuff." And then immediately figured out how I could do that. That's the chapter I wrote on my walk and it was very satisfying.

Meanwhile, I changed the emotional tone of one of the "mild" chapters, so it seemed to carry a bit more punch.

Here's the problem. I've got a cast of characters, each of whom I've given multiple chapters. As I come up on the resolution of their individual story arcs, the temptation is to give each of them their due, but I can't afford to give them each a full chapters. So either I leave their endings implied or unresolved or I give them a partial chapter.

Which means head hopping in each chapter, probably among two or three characters. (Most often, a character gets an entire scene to him or herself.)

Since most of what's left are action scenes, head hopping is a bit more acceptable, I think. If I've done my job, I've established their characters, so now I can just show them in action. Action sequences are more staccato anyway, to be effective, even down to shorter sentences and paragraphs. So head hopping will probably work if I don' overdo it.

I'm still really happy with this book. I think it hangs together believably. The motivations all make sense. The plot is exciting.

At least, I think it's exciting. Had a reader tell me it needed more "edge" which made me feel insecure about the first half of the book. There is no real "action" per se for much of the book, though I hope there is enough tension and suspense. I see no way to write a "realistic" novel, which was my main goal, if I'm having gunfights from the beginning (or anything else radical.) To make this book work, there has to be a build. I do have several murders along the way, about halfway through. But...

Well, if it turns out it doesn't work because I don't have that kind of action, so be it.

My third attempt at a thriller will be a flat out effort to do a Lee Child, John Sandford kind of story. I think. Unless it bores me too much.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sea Monster Trilogy from Cohesion Press

"Snaked" comes on the heels of two other sea monster books by Cohesion Press, so I'm appropriating their success, jumping their bandwagon. Both "Fathomless" and "Primordial" have done very well.

And they all have beautiful blue covers!

"Snaked: Deep Sea Rising" is due out on Sept. 28, and it looks like Cohesion Press is nicely behind it. It's my idea to think of it as a thematic trilogy, I hope they don't mind.

What fun!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Wondering if my book is too politically polarizing. Damn.

"Takeover" will be my best book, without a doubt. The "good" book I've been striving for. As I say, this is my own estimation and may not be matched by others opinions, but it doesn't matter.

I think it's good.

However, I think it's probably a problem book not because of the quality of its story or writing, but because of the content.

There is no way to write about what I'm writing about without polarizing one political side or the other. In fact, I sort of have the dreaded feeling that I'll probably polarize both sides!

But I knew that going in. It was what attracted me to the story in the first place. There is some meat on those bones, some real world meaning. So I went ahead and expended my best efforts on something that may in the end be unpublishable.

As I say, it doesn't matter. I've succeeded in doing what I set out to do.