Friday, February 28, 2014

Handing out postcards.

Spent a full day handing out postcards at the store.  I just decided to approach everyone, in a very soft way, just hand them the card -- which looks nifty by the way.  It has the cover of the book, which everyone seems to like, and then the information on the back.  Looks very professional.

Anyway, about halfway through the day, it occurred to me that I could take the edge off the request -- make it less pushy -- if I mentioned that there was a "free sample" at Amazon that they could read, and if they liked it, then they could buy the book.

I've printed up enough of the postcards that I'm going to instruct Matt and Cameron to give them to everyone who comes in the door -- but they are to do it very softly.  No hard sell.  Mention the "free sample."

It probably is about as effective as "cold calls" -- maybe more, because it is a personal approach -- but I'm not concerned.  If one in 50 check out the book, so be it.

I'm taking the attitude that every little bit helps.

Letting a hobby become greed.

So Mt. Gox evolved (devolved?) from a Magic the Gathering tradesite?

First of all, this kind of thing is almost a sure indicator of a bubble.  I don't know anything about bitcoins, just saying.

See, I still have nightmares of my sports card days -- it showed me how fast people can veer into questionable territory.  So I just opted out of MTG trading and such.  I sell them, buy them wholesale, sell them retail: that's it.  All on the up and up.  I refuse to do collector pricing on most anything.

But once you go into that "trading" thing, the "collecting" thing, it turns into speculation, and the seamy and the dishonest prey on the naive and the weak.  Yuck.

Such is life, you might say, but that doesn't mean I can't try my best to avoid these traps as much as possible.

It usually comes down to short term greed.  People will throw away their ethics over small advantages.  I've had people lie to me to save fifty cents.  Like that's all their reputation is worth.

When the money really starts to flow, then all sense of proportion is lost.  And the dishonest drag you down, because you're in their game, even if you are playing the game differently.

You have to forgo short term profits sometimes, you have to remember that whatever you gain at this moment could all be lost in the future, and even if it isn't, you acted badly.

I tried to maneuver my way through the ethical minefields of collecting during bubbles, but no matter how honest and forthright I tried to be, I still got smeared by the slimy behavior of the psycho's.

In the end, the only thing you can do -- if you want to keep your self-respect -- is to opt out, no matter how much money you might miss.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Going to press.

I was told by my publisher that Led to the Slaughter is going to the printer today.

So not long now.  I'll be able to hold the book in my hands --which to me will be exciting.

Went out to the Badlands with my new writing dedicated laptop and wrote the first 1000 words of the sequel.  With Virginia Reed as the protagonist.

It was freezing outside, but I just had to get out of the house.  With my new laptop, I intend to write in places other than my little room.  What happens is that a short walk will bring a scene to mind, and I'll mull it over while I walk back to the car.  I'll write it down, and keep going until I run out of ideas.  Then I get out of the car and go for a walk and do it again.

So any tracker who found my footsteps would be very confused.  I keep tramping the same 100 yards and back.   Getting the car muddy. 

Doesn't matter.  Whatever works.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Read yet another article about a writer who got a big advance and thought they were set, only to find that when the book didn't sell well they were dropped by their publisher.

It's a little hard to feel sympathy for people who get six figure advances and blow it.

But anyway, a little research should have warned them.  And maybe a little more humility.  And caution.

Ignorance is bliss.  If you know what you're up against, you may not even start.  But high expectations are dangerous.

When anyone talks "Hollywood" I just roll my eyes.  I'd be better served going and buying 10.00 worth of lottery tickets. 

I want my books to do well, of course.  But there are a ton of books out there.  Tons and tons.

As a bookstore owner, maybe I know this more than most people.  Just checking the book liquidations lists every week is enough to give you a chill.  These are good books, folks.  Some of them I've even read.  But they are being dumped.

My own expectations are -- to get published and to be paid something for the effort.  More as a marker that someone thinks the effort is worthy enough to gamble their own money on -- than any expectations of monetary rewards.  My second expectation is to have a print book in my hands.  A physical object.

I've already attained those two goals -- anything beyond this is pure gravy.

I'm being unbelievably promotional minded right now, very chatty.  I'm proud of the book -- I'd like people to read it.  So I'm willing to go out of my comfort zone for awhile in order to tell other people about it.

I understand that no one is going to know or care unless I make this effort.

But I know it won't last.  It can't last.  I couldn't live with myself nor could others live with me.  Besides, it takes away from the actual writing.

Writing and promotion are two completely different things.  The more you do of one, the less you do of the other.

At least for me.

Of course, like any writer, I can see a hazy alternate universe where my book is hugely successful and I never have time to write.  Because that would be enormously distracting, you know?

But I'd be willing to risk it...

What is needed.

Took my rewritten first chapter of Deeptower to writer's group last night.   (Deeptower is a sequel to a book I wrote 30 years ago which I still think has possibilities...)

The group quite rightly tore it apart.

The motivations of the main character weren't clear, in fact I didn't give the reader much reason to care about him.

But even as they were critiquing, I was getting a sense of how to fix it.

More and more I'm realizing what is needed in a book.  Especially the beginning.  I just have to keep doing it until it works.

Meanwhile, despite every intention of waiting until Friday before I started my sequel to Led to the Slaughter.  (Working title, Gold Fever -- which isn't unique enough, but need something...)  out squeezed the first couple of paragraphs.  Kind of weird.  Couldn't help it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Amazon and me -- I love it, I hate it, I love it, I hate it.

Jack has a bit of a call-out on his blog, saying this:

"I was about to write to Duncan McGeary and ask him whether he's read the article about Amazon in the New Yorker, but I see that he already read it."

 I have a tawdry relationship with Amazon.  Like an abused spouse. 

My publisher believes that 'mid-list' print books don't do well in bookstores -- and I think he's right.  So he sells only on Amazon.  (He sells the e-books on all digital platforms).

He sells the print book at conventions, and he sells on Amazon, and he gets more of the slice.  As the author, I get a discount, but not as big a one as I would get from a wholesaler.  Just enough to make it worthwhile for me.  (Like I wouldn't carry my own book!)

So, as a writer I'm completely dependent on Amazon.

As a bookstore owner, the opposite.  

But I have always said, the big box stores are way more damaging to my business.  Because going online takes what I call "The extra click."  Online customers are already lost to me, so I'm competing for the customers who buy from stores, and that's where the big boxes hurt.

Either way, I have to make my peace with it.

The print version of Led to the Slaughter is gorgeous.

I saw the design -- the mockup --  of the print version and it looks gorgeous.

Reading it the way it will appear on the page -- makes it seem like all that much more of a book.  Like this is the story the way it was meant to be.  Like the bindings and the design and flow legitimize it somehow.

I can see the appeal of ebooks.  The price of the digital version is 3.99, the price of print version will probably be between 12.99 and 14.99.

But the digital still seems somehow hypothetical, somehow.   I mean, I know it exists -- I know it's the content that counts, but still.  Having the book exist in material form -- that means it is real to me.

It reads really well.

Like -- I wrote that?  Wow.  I wrote that...

I wanted to prove I could do it, and so I have. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

A few more days of talking about my book, then back to writing.

I'm watching the social media sites for another couple of days -- I want to be responsive to anyone who mentions me or contacts me.  I'll probably remind everyone who bought Led to the Slaughter to post a review in a few days.

Then I'm moving on.  I need to start writing again.

I scrolled through the list of best-selling horror books yesterday.  The first 4000 or so.  There are some big names and big titles all the way through that list.  Books of the Dead has an impressive showing.  A good number of books at the at the higher end of the list.  This publisher is the real deal.  Which I knew, but still a pretty good result.

So I'm hoping he has some mojo to boost my book.  I've tried to do my part, getting reviews.  But I could have every friend I know buy the book and it wouldn't be a big enough number to push the needle much.  Not that I don't utterly appreciate it.  If that's all that happens, I'll still be happy.

My biggest goals were to find a paying publisher, and to have physical copies in my store, and it looks like both of those goals are fulfilled.

Still...I wouldn't mind more than that...

You do get the sense that every effort to get people to notice your book only pushes the needle slightly. 

That there are bigger forces at play.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

It's been all of three days.

I was pretty aggressive yesterday.  Contacting people and asking them point-blank to buy my book.  Not a comfortable thing to do -- and I'm not sure how I would respond if it happened to me.

I tried to make it clear that I had no expectations.  And apologized if I was out of bounds.

One person did tell me I was "out of bounds."  I told her, "Thank you for telling me."  I actually am glad she told me, on the basis of the old rule of thumb that if one person complains outloud a bunch of other people are thinking. 

I was hoping I had a little goodwill to expend...

I think, actually, most people are nicer than me.  Most people took in the spirit in which it was offered.  But yeah, not my usual style.

I've been mulling over the book.  It feels "real" to me.  A complete book.  Done.

Which I don't always feel.

Meanwhile, I had sent my friend Paul the third book of the Vampire trilogy since he had liked the first two books.   He got back to me and told me that Blood of Gold was the "best yet."  And that I was a "GOOD" writer.  He said that twice, capitalized.  "GOOD."

That felt good, too.

So I swore I wasn't going to hover, and I've done nothing BUT hover.  I have to remind myself that it's been all of 3 days.   Patience.  Understanding.  Peace.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Reviews are the biggest factor.

I"m being told by my publisher that the biggest single factor for sales on Amazon is a review.  So I'm asking everyone to please buy Led to the Slaughter and give it a positive review.


I'm hoping to get a push behind this.  Hey, wouldn't you like to know a best-selling author?

If you have to order from Smashwords, I need reviews there too.

I think this is the moment when I get some momentum...or I don't.  So I'm asking.  It would be a huge favor.

So this is the big push, people.  This is when it counts.  Over the next ten days I could really make an impact, if I can just get some reviews in there.  Some sales.  Just get the momentum going, and who knows where it will lead?

So if you have been reading this blog for years, I humbly ask that you do me the favor of buying my book and posting a good review.  Does that sound fair?

There aren't publisher-s; only Publisher.

A problem in a nutshell.

Remember -- these were once all separate publishers.  Publishers with their own editorial crew, that many more chances to try to catch on.

Now -- under the rubric of Penguin Random House.  Some big names.  One company.

Alfred A. Knopf
Random House
Berkley Books
Del Rey
Gotham Books
Grossett & Dunlap
Hudson Street
New American Library
Price Stern Sloan
Three Rivers

Anti-trust would appear to be dead.

Frontline on social media.

I'm an amateur.  Hell, I'm not even an amateur, I haven't even begun to learn the rules of the game.

If social media is where it's at, I'm not at there...wherever 'at' is.

Thing is, it all makes intuitive sense.  I can see the outlines of it.

I have a person I thought was a friend, and I've been putting up with his torrent of video and pictures on Facebook, and I was talking to him the other day and it became clear to me that while I was getting his vomit-ous output, he wasn't getting anything from me.

"Is it text?" he asks.  "Cause I don't do text."

Well, I went home and deleted him, feeling kind of hurt.

But that documentary made it clear that's what it's all about with that age group.

But you know, someone has to create the original content for them to all text and like and such.


Friday, February 21, 2014

The continuing adventures of Virginia Reed.

I'm getting ready to start writing again.

Somewhat to my surprise, I think it will be a sequel to Led to the Slaughter, instead of continuing Ghostlander like I originally intended.

The ideas started flowing yesterday, and I liked them quite a bit.

Something that I've realized that I need to do before I start the book is have a general idea of the theme and what I hope to accomplish.  But even more important, making sure I have all the ingredients for a book.

So, for instance, I knew that I wanted to continue Virginia Reed's story.  I knew I was going to throw in a werewolf or two.  I knew that I was going to go toward a Bigfoot type character and that the 49's gold rush would be the background..

Yesterday, I realized I wanted to bring in the California Native American genocide, which was one of the worse in the country.

That should be enough ingredients to mix together for a satisfying tale.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Led to the Slaughter is for sale!

Here's the lin to the Books of the Dead Press site, for the announcement and places to buy.

It looks terrific!

Back Cover synopsis.

I've got a couple of versions here, based on my original draft.  See which one you think is better.

One is done by my publisher, Roy.

Trapped in the Sierra Nevada without food, The Donner Party are led to the slaughter. After being manipulated and coerced into a string of bad decision, the travelers, frozen and abandoned, find themselves unable to go forward or back, and are preyed upon by werewolves in their midst––the very people they thought were friends.
A tale of resilience, horror, and betrayal, the survivors of the expedition are hunted.
But the human spirit endures.
As the creatures grow hungry and desperate, a showdown is born between the people struggling to retain their humanity, and the creatures seeking a massacre.
Told from the diaries of young Virginia Reed and others in the party, the truth is finally revealed. 

 One done by Lara, my editor.

The Donner Party has been led to the slaughter, manipulated and coerced into bad decision after bad decision. Trapped in the Sierra Nevada by a merciless winter, they are starving, freezing and, even worse, being preyed upon by monsters in their midst … for some of their fellow pioneers, people they thought were their friends, aren’t people at all. They’re werewolves.
As human and werewolf alike grow ever hungrier and more desperate, the party’s fight for survival becomes a showdown between men and women clinging to their humanity and inhuman creatures determined to leave no witnesses to their existence.
From the diaries and firsthand accounts of the ill-fated travelers themselves, the true story of the Donner Party has finally emerged.

My version, combining the two:

 The Donner Party has been led to the slaughter, manipulated and coerced into bad decision after bad decision. Trapped in the Sierra Nevada by a merciless winter, they are starving, freezing and, even worse, being preyed upon by monsters in their midst … for some of their fellow pioneers, people they thought were their friends, aren’t people at all. They’re werewolves.
A tale of resilience, horror, and betrayal, the survivors of the expedition are hunted.
But the human spirit endures. 
As human and werewolf alike grow ever hungrier and more desperate, a showdown is born between the people struggling to retain their humanity, and the creatures seeking a massacre.
Told from the diaries of young Virginia Reed and others in the party, the truth is finally revealed.  




Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cool Blurbs for my book.

I humbly asked some professionals I know if they would blurb Led to the Slaughter.  I didn't really expect an answer.

Got a couple of cool blurbs.

One from Mike Richardson, and another from Steve Perry. I'm pretty overwhelmed by their generosity:

The first from Mike:

"Duncan McGeary is an accomplished writer who knows how to tell a great story. Led to the Slaughter is a riveting tale sure to please the most discerning reader."

Mike Richardson: Founder, Dark Horse Comics, creator of The Mask, Executive Producer, Aliens versus Predator.

And a nice one from Steve:

"If you like your history with a sprinkling of killer lycanthropes, have I got a book for you …

Duncan McGeary's new novel, Led to the Slaughter: The Donner Party Werewolves, offers, among other things, an alternate explanation for the cannibalism in the Donner Party, when it became trapped in the snowy Sierre Nevada Mountains in the winter of 1846.

There is plenty of gore and gruesomeness as werewolves do what werewolves do.

McGeary's latest horror novel is a welcome addition to the ranks of alternative histories."

Steve Perry
New York Times Bestselling Author

Awesome!  (I don't think I THAT gory...)

I'm not going to hover.

I've done my duty by the four sold books.  Blood of Gold is with Lara to be copy-edited.  When it comes back, I'll immediately send it on its way.  Then all four books will be done on my part.

I'm not going to hover.  Whatever the publisher decides to do is OK with me.  I have no idea what his schedule is, and I don't feel like bugging him about it.  I have no idea if he's going to do e-books first, or second, or at the same time, which ones, how much, how often -- that kind of thing.

So the best thing to do is just switch gears.  Forget about it until something happens.

So, as soon as it has fully sunk in, I want to continue writing Ghostlander.  Get back in the creative frame of mind. 

I'm just hoping I can do that.  Ever since I turned my attention from away from writing -- and instead to rewriting and to marketing -- I've been distracted.

I kind of miss that pure creative zone I was in for a year.  I want to get back to it.  If I can put together another really creative year, I think my writing will probably progress.  Learning by doing.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Led to the Slaughter is ready to go out.

Or it will be by the end of today.  I'll be sending it to the publisher this evening.

Lara did a great job on the last edit.  This is the book I set out to write.  I wanted a cross between Cormac McCarthy and True Grit (not that I would claim to be as great as either of those writers.)

With werewolves as a 'reasonable' explanation for some of the events.  To me, werewolves aren't a supernatural creature, they are a cross between man and wolf.  So I could explore their nature -- that of man and beast.

I tried to make it as realistic as possible.  I stuck to the fact whenever possible.  I changed events or times slightly, but not so much that it changes the basic story.  (It's amazing how many incidents that really happened could be easily adapted to werewolf explanations.)  Everyone (even little kids) seem to know about the Donner Party -- it is a fascinating survival story all by itself.

This is the most confidently written book I've done -- it is what I set out to do.  I think it's a good book -- and I'm not always so sure about my own writing.  It almost feels real to me.  I'm now sure this is the way it really happened.

I stuck the the bare facts of the Donner  Party and used my imagination to flesh it out.  I did do research on wagon trains and pioneer women and such -- so that hopefully the journey has an aura of verisimilitude. 

I spent the time and effort to get the writing as professional as I know how, and it reads that way to me.  I called in every favor from friends, and had my copy-editor go over it more than once.  I think it really reads well -- and even --dare I say it -- attains some depth at the end.

I'm really proud of it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Writing backward.

While waiting for Led to the Slaughter to be edited, I've been giving Blood of Gold, the third book of the Vampire Evolution Trilogy, a final polish.  The first two books are with the publisher, and I'm happy with them, but I thought the third book could probably more...rewrite...

This time, I started from the last chapter and worked my way backward.  I think this may be my strategy from now on for rewrites.  The first half of a book tends to get more attention, because I'm figuring out the plot.  The second half is usually just a matter of writing it, because usually I have the story all worked out by then.  So the second half doesn't tend to get as many rewrites.

It is also very easy to run out of energy by the end -- not in the original draft, but in the rewrites.  Rewriting is work.  So I feel like I should do the hard part first.

Here's the thing -- the beginning of a book is critical when you're trying to sell your book.  It is critical in getting the reader to accept your book.

But what the final reader actually thinks of the book when he or she if finished, probably comes more from the ending.

So while it is important to get the beginning right, what a reader remembers of the ending may be even more important.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bend snaps.

Security cameras downtown.  This seems to be a pet project of some downtowners.  I have to wonder about the need.  We've had no problems that I know of in our little corner of downtown.  Seems like an over-reaction.


Housing prices going up in Bend?  Inventory going down?

Hey, it's been 7 years.  That is exactly the number of years that some of us Bubble Bloggers were saying it would take.  So...there you are.


Barnes and Noble has fired most or all of their Hardware team.  I think that means they are giving up on the Nook.

So now they have to sell books.  Can they still do that?


I think the publishing industry created their own problems.  They gave too much power to the chainstores and Amazon, and now they are reaping the whirlwind.

Short term thinking at its finest.  Classic.


So many of the changes in Bend that are going to impact on downtown Bend are in the future.  The four year college -- by the time that's truly in place, I probably won't still be doing what I'm doing.  And so on.


I'm still amazed that there isn't a full independent bookstore in Bend.


People are always saying -- "Yes, there are bookstores.  Yours and the Open Book and Dudleys and  the Bookmark."

The definition of an independent bookstore is that they sell "new" books.  Otherwise, you're a used bookstore.  Different animal.


Snow melts.  Don't give yourself a heart attack.


Comment in the paper about all the beer breweries.  Paraphrased:  "Hey, it can't be a bubble because they're still expanding."

Uh -- that's the very definition of a bubble.  It expands -- until it pops.

Miracle Year for writing.

I wonder if I'll look back on 2013 as a miracle year for writing.  It started a few months earlier, in September, 2012, with The Reluctant Wizard.  That's when I broke through.  I'd been struggling with Almost Human (now entitled Faerylander) for a year and a quarter by that time.  I liked the book, but it wasn't coming out right.

So in a way, I rediscovered my path with The Reluctant Wizard, quickly followed by a book I wrote for fun, Freedy Filkins.  Then, it all sort of came together with Death of an Immortal.  (I woke up with a vampire story in my head, all the while screaming, "No!  Vampires are played out!")

After that, I seem to have busted loose.  I wrote continually for the next year, and on into January, 2014.  In total, about a year a half.  But the meat of it was contained in 2013.

I knew it was unusual.  I just went with it.  I figured I'd slow down eventually.  I wear out, or run out of ideas, or something would come along to distract me.

Funnily enough, the thing that finally kind of brought me out of my creative "fugue" was the need to rewrite some of what I'd written.  I didn't want to get so far ahead of myself that nothing was actually completed.  I figured 4 or 5 "complete" books would be better than 10 or 12 first drafts.

And that's what happened. 

I don't think my creative spurt is over.  I'm excited by Ghostlander, the third Lander book that I have written the first two chapters of, and I think I'm finally getting Faerylander into shape.  So in the not too distant future, I should have at least three of these Lander books done.  I intend to continue that series.

Unless -- Led to the Slaughter is a huge success.  Because my main character is only 13 years old at the end of the book, in 1847.   There are many more adventure tales I could set in the period with Virginia Reed as the protagonist.  I really like the character, and wouldn't mind writing more of her adventures.

And then there is my first love -- the fantasy books.  I've got a bunch of them in various stages of completion.  I'll tell you -- no one is more surprised than me that I started writing Horror.  I think the fantasy books need more work.  There are rough outlines of a couple of trilogies.  I'd love to have them all be in the same universe, but that may not be possible.

I also have my kind of s.f./fantasy books, Deviltree and Deeptower.  Deviltree I wrote 30 years ago, and -- to my great surprise -- I wrote a sequel in 2013.  I'd like to go back and make them a little more hardcore, with horror elements.  The kind of soft fantasy I was writing so long ago no longer interests me.  The Deeptower worlds have great potential, and I think there is another trilogy there -- just written with a stronger edge.

Counting the 2 Lander books I've already written, which are about Cthuhlu and Werewolves, I've now completed 7 Horror genre books.

But you know what?  I think this genre has a whole lot to offer.  I don't think it has been quite as overwhelmed as fantasy, for instance, or mysteries.  I like my fantasies with a bit of darkness these days, I guess.

I'm still shaping up the 2 books I haven't yet sent the publisher.  Led to the Slaughter will be done in a few days, Blood of Gold a couple of weeks after that.

Then I'll see if my creative spurt continues.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Success as a de-motivator.

Sheesh.  Listen to me.  It's been all of two weeks.

I was driven by the idea of getting published.  If what I was writing needed to be better, then I would re-write it.  Or I would write something new.  And keep doing it, until something happened.

So the minute I sold my finished books, the air went out of me.  You'd think it would be the opposite.  You'd think I'd be so excited and pumped that I'd be inspired to write.

But my goal all along has been to prove to myself I could do it again, that someone would pay me and do all the things necessary to get the book published.  It didn't really matter how much I was paid, or how the books eventually sold, or how they were received.  Which I realize is probably kind of weird.

Of course that matters.  Now I've surmounted the one step, I see how important the next steps are.  I'm actually proud of myself of taking the time to polish the books before I handed them over to the publisher.  I'm pretty sure that 30 years ago, I probably would have handed them over as is.  After all, they had sold.

This publisher doesn't sell out of bookstores -- or go through book distributors.  He has his reasons, which seem like good ones.  I think he knows what he is doing.  (Basically, being published by one of the Big Five and/or being sold in the brick and mortar bookstores, is no guarantee of success -- and indeed, returns are probably a killer.  Better to concentrate on the online world, and the sub-culture of horror books through conventions and show.)  I get that, but I can't help but be a little disappointed.

Still, I think he'll do a good job.  He looks like he really wants to put out a nice package.  He has the established platform to get my books out in the world more than I ever could.

But I've been kind of laid back about writing over the last couple of weeks.  Like I said --- Sheesh.  Two weeks.  Like that is a long time.

So I'm sure it's just a little bit of relaxation before I start off again.  I have a clear path ahead of me -- getting the Lander books written.  Possibly a sequel to Led to the Slaughter.  And my fantasy books are there to be completed and rewritten.  

I'm part of the way there.  Now I just need to keep trying to write that "great" book.

It really doesn't de-motivate me when you get right down to it.  It's the sort of encouragement I really needed to keep trying.

But I'm way too relaxed in the short run...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Books are no longer "culture" but a "sub-culture."

Worked yesterday, and was completely exhausted at the end of the day.  How was it that I used to work seven days a week for years?  Did I walk around in a besieged fog?

Probably.  I know that it was wearing and stressful.

Had Paul come in and give me some praise for the two vampire books he's read.  He read Faerylander for me, and while he still liked the vampire books better, he said it was mostly good -- "except for some slow spots just before the final battle."

Anyway, I think the book is getting closer and closer to what I want it to be -- and it seemed to me for a long time as if I would never get there.

I took the week off from writing.  Gave my eyes a rest, and they have mostly recovered, which tells me that it was eyestrain that was causing the problems.  I read a year's worth of N.Y.T. Book Reviews.  My takeaway -- that the literary world is as insular as any other sub-culture.  Because that's what it is in today's world, for good or ill -- not the "culture" but a "sub-culture."  They still think they are of primary importance, but I think it's a bit of a delusion.

The publisher seems to be moving forward on Death of an Immortal and Rule of Vampire.  He wanted the name of my copy-editor and I asked him not to "steal" her.  He 'lol'ed and said, no, he just wanted to give her credit.  He also is talking to Andy about designing -- which is pretty cool.  He wanted my bio, and I gave him a bunch of stuff that he transformed into a reasonable sounding description.

Lara is just a couple days from finishing the copy-editing on Led to the Slaughter.   She says that all the changes and additions were an "improvement," which is reassuring.  As soon as it gets back, I will spend a couple of days accepting or rejecting her changes -- (mostly accepting) -- and then send it off to the publisher.

Then I'm going to spend the next few days giving Blood of Gold one last brush-up.  Both Death of an Immortal and Rule of Vampire came out pretty much fully developed.  Blood of Gold was a bit more unwieldy (wrapping up three books worth of storylines) but pretty much there.  Just maybe an extra polish is needed.  It's no mistake that I chose these vampire books as the first books I was willing to show the world.

The pressure is off.  I can take my time getting my Lander books the way I want them.  I want to write a whole series about Cobb and company, and it was always the problems with the first book that concerned me.  Now I can move forward.

Faerylander is an example of a problem book that by working on it over and over again, and taking lots of times between drafts, is finally shaping up.  3 years.  Which for me is forever.

Whether I'm a better writer or the same writer or a worse writer than 30 years ago, I can say this -- I've handled the process in a much more mature and professional manner.  It's the difference of an immature 30 year old versus a seasoned 60 year old businessman.  Heh.

So I'm hoping I'll have everything squared away with the publisher by the end of the month or so, and I can get back to creating new material.  Which is the funnist part.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Amazon is a disaster waiting to happen.

Reporter George Packer, whose previous experience was with military bureaucracy, found that Amazon was even more secretive.  He wrote a recent article in in the New Yorker about Amazon.

He's followed that up with comments about how he believes that a secretive organization will eventually be blindsided by outside events, that it will become a group-think organization. 

Which goes along with my contention that Amazon is a disaster waiting to happen. 

Their basic strategy seems to be to grow, grow, grow -- without making profits in the meantime, with the ultimate goal of being able to recoup their money at the end. 

To me, that's a dangerous game.

I'm no Amazon.  I'm just little guy -- but I had about five years in Central Oregon to be the only sport card dealer.  My sales grew exponentially.  I wasn't making any profits, but boy was I raking in the dough -- which went right back out again.

Then the chainstores got ahold of the product, and started selling it for cost, and the wild ride was over.

I had made no money during the ever increasing sales, and then I started losing money.

It made no sense -- the card companies were committing suicide.  Why would they do that?

But that's what I learned.  Corporations think in the short term, and they commit suicide on a regular basis.  They aren't smarter than we are, just bigger.  I was nimble enough to change course and recover.  Most card shops and distributors and manufacturers weren't.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Magic realism isn't fantasy.

I've often bemoaned that fantasy isn't taken seriously -- unless it is, and then they call it "magic realism."

That isn't really true, though.  One Hundred Years of Solitude isn't fantasy, even if it has scenes of magic.

There's a movie adaptation of Winter's Tale being released this weekend. The reviews are saying it's "ponderous" and "plodding."  The reviews also imply that the book was somehow different.

No -- the book was "ponderous" and "plodding" as well.  It's one of those rare mammoth books that I read halfway through and gave up on.  It reminded me of Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell, which also bored the daylights out of me.  (I finished it, barely.)

I've talked to other people in my store that liked that book -- in fact, I seem to be the only one who doesn't.  But I want a payoff when I read a book.  I don't want something written so subtly that they bury all the pleasures of the genre.

I'm not opposed to magic realism, per se.  I absolutely loved One Hundred Years of Solitude.  But it never occurred to me at the time to think of it as fantasy.  I think the idea of magic in the time of Napoleon was such a cool idea, and the book was marketed as fantasy, so I bought Jonathan Strange... on that basis.  Same thing with Winter's Tale, which had -- if I remember rightly -- a Pegasus on the cover.

I will say that almost every time a book is marketed as a "literary" fantasy, I've not much cared for it.  I don't much care for Connie Willis for the same reasons -- a bunch of others. 

To me, they almost always have the weaknesses of bad "literary" but none of the strengths of good "fantasy."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A dedicated writing laptop.

I bought a small laptop after Christmas.  I bought the Word program for it yesterday.  When I get back to writing again, it's going to be my dedicated laptop for writing and writing only.

My desk computer is now my "solitaire" player.  My old Mac is now my desk computer.  Its battery is completely useless.

This new laptop has at least 4 hours of power, and it weighs all of 2 pounds, so I'll be able to take it with me everywhere in my backpack and write any time and any place I feel like it.  I'm looking forward to that freedom.  The biggest downside to writing is being cooped up -- and I'm a guy who usually likes being cooped up, but even for me, it becomes too isolating.  Isolation breeds isolation.

I can see myself hanging out in a coffee shop somewhere, or at a park, or out in the woods, writing away.

I've not written anything for 6 days.  I was planning to give myself a couple of weeks.  But it's a strange feeling.

One thing this whole experience has taught me is that I like telling stories -- even if I'm just telling stories to myself.  Above and beyond anyone else reading me, I like living in that fictional zone -- which feels real while I'm doing it.  I feel a little empty when I'm not doing it.

Those of you who are compulsive readers will know what I mean.  It's like not reading a book for a long period of time.  It just doesn't feel right.

I've really, really slowed down reading books.  Over the last three days, I've caught up on about a third a of year's worth of New York Times Book Reviews.

Hey -- there is no shortage of books in the world.

Trying to learn patience.  Whether my books are good or bad, I want them to be well edited.  I think I owe the reader that much.  So the reader will know that I've done everything I can to make my book as readable as possible.  If nothing else, I'll stand out in doing that.  It takes work, but that may be the thing that most distinguishes a professional from an amateur in this brave new world.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Simple logic.

I wonder sometimes if some business owners just don't get it.   Like, you know, that the purpose of business is to make money and stay in business.

I have seen this same scenario over and over and over again over on Shelf Awareness (the independent bookstore site).

Here it is -- see if you can see the lack of logic:

A bookstore goes out of business.

They proclaim how successful they were in event planning.

So I'm going to detail the following entry from today's Shelf Awareness, and use the real names because frankly these people should be called on their lack of critical analysis.


There are a couple of bookstores in Minnesota called Reading Frenzy.  They've been around for about 3 or 4 years.

They just closed up shop, saying:   "...sales didn't cover costs..."

The very next line is:  Reading Frenzy had an " extensive schedule of author appearances and creative events, including mystery dinners, a pie contest, turtle races and the Frenzy Games (at which "contestants competed for a hundred-dollar gift certificate in near-death matches of rock, paper and scissors.)""

What conclusion do they draw from this?  The owner is quoted as saying she's..."good at events planning and aims to set up a marketing and events planning business."

You just went out of business!  How is this successful!!!

The only reason I call this bullshit is -- I see the same exact chain of illogical thinking over and over and over again.  It's the common wisdom.  It very much reminds me of the same chain of illogical thinking about downtown events.  I'm one of, if not the oldest existing business by the same owner in the same location in downtown Bend.  I don't do event planning.  I'm a thriving business.

But I've talked to so many business owners over the years that are gone, gone, gone.  And each of them said, "Events are bad for business on the day they happen.  However it is good for business the rest of the time."

I repeat.  They are gone, gone, gone, and I'm still here and I'm just going to say it -- they were wrong, wrong, wrong.

But once a certain mindset sets in:  "We were fabulously successful in our events.  But we made no money."  You just can't seem to get rid of it.

It's simple logic.  If you can't do simple logic, don't open a business.

Just so you can see that I'm not exaggerating or misrepresenting the lack of logic, here is the original article in full:

"Store Closing, Reading Frenzy.

Founded in Zimmerman, Minn., in 2010, Reading Frenzy opened a branch called Reading Frenzy Corner last April in the new Elk River Area Arts Alliance Building. The original Zimmerman store closed six months ago, and the Elk River store closed at the beginning of the month.

Reading Frenzy sold new and used books and had an extensive schedule of author appearances and creative events, including mystery dinners, a pie contest, turtle races and the Frenzy Games (at which "contestants competed for a hundred-dollar gift certificate in near-death matches of rock, paper and scissors").

Sheri Olson, who owned the store with her husband, Mike, said that sales didn't cover costs, so they decided to close "even though we'd had a fantastic time and had all these fun events."

One silver lining: Sheri Olson said she learned that she's good at events planning and aims to set up a marketing and events planning business."

Here's the thing -- I've seen the exact same chain of logic -- or lack thereof -- dozens of times over the last few years, and no one seems to see it.

Fits and hats.

I spent all day shoveling the snow.  It is so easy to over exert, for a 61 year old guy who doesn't exercise.

A few years back I cheerfully shoveled the walk and came back in and nearly keeled over.  You don't even know it's happening.


Spent much of the day reading the New York Times Book Reviews I have piled up.

Came to the conclusion that most writers are self-serious and pompous and most "literary" books are boring and depressing.  Sorry can't read one more book about depressing topics.


Watched the Beatles tribute last night and it was...ok.  I mean, those people are talented.  But ultimately, the song covers are almost never as good as the originals.   The whole show was so over-produced, it was off-putting.  I kept thinking, what if they just had an open mike and people came up all rough and just did their thing?  Would be interesting, less packaged, more unpredictable.

And there's something just...I don't know.....cold, about Paul.  (And Yoko really is weird.)


The last few days have just crushed business.  So my reserves, which I thought were plentiful, are being quickly depleted.

Of course, I'd just overspent by restocking the store over the last few weeks, because January was pretty good. 

Of course, that's the way it always seems to play out.  Good business, spend money, bad business.  Gotcha.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Three days of doing nothing.

Welcome to my blog where I apparently feel I'm so fascinating that I can blog about nothing.

Have slept heavy ever since I finished Led to the Slaughter.  I was really intense there for a couple of weeks, probably the most intense I've ever been about writing.  I wanted to get done and I wanted it to be as good as I can make it.

Been watching documentaries on Netflix, and B-movie stuff.  Last night, watched another documentary about the folk movement in Greenwich village.

This kind of music was the stuff my older brother and sister, Mike and Tina, were playing in their folk group.  6 and 4 years older than me.  Went the Unitarian church camps.  Since I hero worshiped those guys, have a very nostalgic sense of those times.  I really need to see the new Coen brothers movie about this.

I'm going to work today, since Cameron called last night and said he couldn't make it.  That's all right.  I'll just putter around the store, and not expect much.

Just kind of decompressing for awhile.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

All cocoony like.

Slept in again this morning.  Not even going to try to get my newspaper from beneath the snow in the driveway.  Hey, pedestrians, stay home -- my sidewalk won't be snow-shoveled this day!  I may try to get some of the snow off the deck, before it starts to get too heavy.

Meanwhile, I'm assuming the main roads are getting plowed, and presuming my employee Matt will make it to the store.  Though I doubt many customers will.  Still, haven't closed for weather in 30 years and don't want to start now.

This is going to cost us money, for sure.  

So today will be Netflix day.  For some reason, the movies I gravitate to most are the documentaries.  Saw "Good Ol' Freda" yesterday, which is about the Beatle's secretary for 11 years; and then started watching a documentary about Drew Struzen, the artist to all the Indiana Jones and Star Wars and many other movie posters.

The first is really about a average girl who turned out to have great integrity and honesty; the second seems to be about a man with great talent, but who seems humble and grateful.  I don't know -- maybe they are real terrors in real life, but I like the Karmic message in these movies.

Can't seem to concentrate on reading a book, for some reason. 

Just letting myself relax for awhile.  Not try to do any writing.  Letting my eyes get a rest.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Collapsing when the pressure is off.

Sometimes you don't know you're under pressure until the pressure is off.

I slept until 10:30 this morning!

The books are in the hands of the copy-editor, after which they will be in the hands of the publisher, and my work is done.  I almost don't know what to do with myself.  I'm thinking I'm going to try to do some catchup on reading and going to movies.

Linda and I are trying to go on our little 3 and 4 day vacations to places, though that is quickly getting expensive staying in motels.  But it really is good for the soul to visit new places, even if it is just to wander around aimlessly.  Actually, I kind of like wandering around aimlessly.

Last month we went to Eureka, California.  It kind of reminded me of Bend, circa 1995 or so.  I really liked it at first, but the more we were there the more I noticed the homeless people.  They were all over the place.  Income inequality indeed.

Wandering around, we found the zoo and spent a morning there.  That was unexpected fun.

Visited the bookstore in Arcata and some of the outlying areas.  Tried to talk to the owners, most of whom -- as usual, and I know this sounds conceited -- didn't seem to have any real idea what they were doing...

But even on this trip, I got a writing bug and spent much of the time working on the re-write of Led to the Slaughter.  I was making really quality changes and didn't think I could pass up the opportunity.  On Sunday night, while Linda watched True Detective and Sherlock, (which are two of my favorite shows) I barely looked up.  I've watched them since, and realized that I hadn't paid any attention to them, I was so deep into rewriting.

My eyes hurt.  Just really burn.  I think I need a break from staring at a computer screen.

I should give myself a chance to relax -- as a reward for accomplishing what I set out to do.

I'll give myself the luxury of waiting for inspiration for a month or two, before going back to a writing schedule.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tidying up.

I've finished the rewrite of Led to the Slaughter, and sent it to Lara, my copy-editor.  She should be done in about two weeks, and then I'll send it to my publisher.  Meanwhile, Lara finished a clean edit of Rule of Vampire, and I'm going to presume on the publisher's patience and do one of Death of an Immortal and Blood of Gold too.

Then I'll feel that I've done everything I can to make the books as polished as possible.

On this timeline, I'll probably have some time to give Blood of Gold another rewrite. 

Then, with everything turned over to the publisher, I'm going to try to move on. 

Start writing Ghostlander, and finish my rewrite of Faerylander.

I wanted to  post the nice map that Andy Zeigert did for Led to the Slaughter, but for some reason I can't get Blogger to post it.  Anyway, it's a very nice map, very professional.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hey, folks. Sold my four completed books.

I've known for a couple of weeks, but wanted to wait until I had the signed contract before I said anything.

I've sold Led to the Slaughter: The Donner Party Werewolves, as well as the three books of the Vampire Evolution Trilogy: Death of an Immortal; Rule of Vampire; Blood of Gold.  I sold them to a publisher who specializes in the horror genre, Books of the Death Press.

This is the publisher who I sent Death of an Immortal off to a year ago, and who told me he liked my writing but didn't think he could "sell vampires."  Nevertheless I kept him up on the ongoing progress of my writing, and I think Led to the Slaughter, and particularly the cover, got him to pull the trigger.

I don't know what the schedule for publishing will be.  I had already embarked on a rewrite of Led to the Slaughter when I saw how great the cover was.  I've just finished it.  Now it's going to my copy-editor.  The publisher was OK with waiting until I got it right.

In fact, I asked the publisher if it would be all right to give the three vampire books one more "clean edit" and he agreed.

Anyway, hopefully, they'll be out there soon.  I feel a little bad that the people who bought and read Death of an Immortal and Rule of Vampire will have to wait awhile longer for Blood of Gold.

There are supposed to be physical copies made of these books, as well as ebook versions, but I'm not sure how or when that is going to happen.  The publisher is in charge of all that, including formats and covers and print runs -- all that.  He did want the cover to Led to the Slaughter (how could he not?) but will be doing all the rest.  Covers, printing, all that.

So here's the thing -- I'd been planning to embark on being a publisher myself.  I can write the books, edit and copy-edit the books, format them, create the covers.  So I was excited by the possibilities.  But I have to admit to myself, that what I can't do, what I don't have any aptitude or inclination to do, it to promote them.

Books of the Dead Press has an established platform that is far more developed than anything that I could probably ever do.

I did want to get paid.  And I did want physical copies.  As long as the publisher was willing to do that, I was willing to hand them over. 

It's exciting -- but the biggest thing is that once we get these four books all squared away, I can go back to concentrating on writing again.  Since Faerylander was nowhere near finished, it wasn't part of the deal, so I want to finish it and then get Wolflander as good as it can be, and then write Ghostlander, and so on.

It's a great feeling.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Information Junkie that I am and letting go.

As a general rule of thumb, I think information is good, the more information the better.  I'm pretty free with my info.  And I love gathering it.  It's my personality type.

It's also a survival mechanism, and I get a great deal of pleasure out of it.  I hate not knowing the current trends.  Sure, I've given up on certain portions of modern life -- electronic games, modern pop music, reality shows.    But otherwise, I try to hang in there.

BUT...I've decided that I need to focus on the inner, not the outer.  I'm very committed to writing right now.  So much so, that I spend very little time reading fiction.  Taking the time and effort it takes to read a book. (Which is great sacrifice, let me tell you.)

But I'm still grazing on the internet a whole lot.  Can just do it superficially.  But...I'm spending hours on it and I'm not sure it's helping me in any way.

There's always been a few magazines that were focused on the "industry" of writing -- and I always had the same sensation when I read them.  A mixture of jealously, and hopefulness, and wonder at how much there is, and a bit of despair about how hard it is, and so on.

So I stopped reading them before they stopped me.

I'm starting to feel the same way about the internet.  For instance, I had to give up paying much attention to the comic sites that talked about all the great material out there -- and worse, showed me cool pictures.   I would order them too often, and too often nothing happened.

It was too much information, if you will.  I was getting too far ahead of my customer base.

Writing is such an internal thing.  You bear down on your own imagination, do your best with your own resources.  You can do it on a desert island, and not only will it not be worse for it, but it probably will be better.

So I'm thinking I need to create a little more of my own desert island if I'm serious about writing.

This does not mean not getting out of the house.  In fact, I think I need to do more of that.

But the reading of magazines, newspapers and the watching of TV and most importantly the internet -- I need to let go of some of that.

Let go of my need to always be aware of the latest news, the latest trends.  Let myself become one of those people who doesn't know what's going on.

It's hard.  Letting go.  Not being in the loop.

But knowing what's going on isn't helpful for my interior life, takes a huge amount of time, and ultimately isn't all that important.

My life isn't any worse for not knowing who the latest pop star is who is getting in trouble, or the latest politician that is being crushed, or which sports team is on top, or what the coolest show is on TV.

The characters I'm writing about don't care, and have no knowledge of these things.  And it's the characters and stories I'm writing about that concern me now.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Amazon continues to mystify me.

Growing, growing.

No profits.

Grow some more.

No profits.

Grow, grow, grow.

No profits.

uh  Huh?

I just ordered some chocolate for someone online, to be delivered, as a thank you.  NOT AMAZON.  The shipping and handling costs were more than the chocolate.

Now, I may not much like that.  But I understand it.

Puzzle me this.  If Amazon makes no profit for 10 years, doesn't it have to make double profits for 10 years to make average profits?  (Yes, I get that they're growing but still...)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

If you think you're tired of hearing about it...

If you're tired of hearing me talk about re-writing, you can imagine how I feel.

There is a satisfaction in coming up with the better word, or rearranging the sentence.  But it is hard work.  Hard to sustain.  I don't get the creative euphoria that is the payoff from the first draft. 

I think perhaps this the first time I've really sustained the effort all the way through a book.  (It is easy to over-write the first half and underwrite the second half).  So I'm proud of myself.

I'm just three 10 page sessions from finishiing.

I've been saying from the beginning of this second career of writing that the "process" would be just as important as the creativity, if not more so.  Without an effective process, I knew it wouldn't matter how many ideas I had, or how I strung the words together.  I short-circuited my previous career because I had an ineffective process.  (Plus...typewriters.)

So first I worked out the best process to write the first drafts.  When to write, what to write, how much to write, and so on.

Only now, a couple of years later, am I finally figuring out the a really effective process for re-writing.

I have decided to do it in 10 page or one hour chunks, whichever comes soonest.  Then I walk away for at least an hour, maybe even two.  Do something else, anything else. 

Then come back and do another 10 pages or an hour.

Keep doing that until my brain turns to mush.

Anyway, this has turned into a very effective method.  I can handle ten pages at at time.  It doesn't seem overwhelming.  I don't have to feel like I need to hurry.  I can deal with it in distinct chunks.

Meanwhile, it's amazing how often what someone suggests as a change is an actual improvement.  I mean, it isn't a different artistic choice, it's a real improvement.  I don't know whether I have no pride, or I'm just able to see when something has been said better.

Even if it shakes up the style a little bit -- I think that's a good thing.  It isn't good to become too predictable.

The danger I try to avoid in rewriting is getting too slick, too polished.  I used to call it, doing my 'sloppy' draft -- which isn't probably the most flattering way to describe it -- but means not getting too tight, too showy, too boring.

Anyway, I feel like Led to the Slaughter is a real book.  I mean, they're all real books, but I can see this book nestled among the other books like it really belongs.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Theme music while I write.

I've always wanted to write a book while listening to the same music -- theme music, if you will.

When I read Lord of the Rings, as a young teenager, my older brother, Mike, was playing the lead in a community theater production of The Fantasticks.  So that album was on, it seemed, every hour, every day, for weeks.

Now, when I hear that music, the nostalgia for Middle Earth is so strong, I could cut it with a knife.

Obviously, if I want to try to produce that feeling, the album has to be good enough for me to listen to that many times.

I've been listening to the Beatles lately -- I have a big boxed set of all their music.  But those are the theme songs of my youth, essentially.  So doesn't quite work in the specific.

I thought of Born to Run, which I seem to have an endless appetite for.  Or London Calling.

Or maybe I should try something new.  Maybe I should do something classical.  I could probably listen the Beethoven for weeks.  Maybe the 9th.

I don't know.  The idea always falls through, somehow.  I forget, or I get tired of the music.  But I'm sure if I can find the right music, that is will serve as a trigger while I'm writing.