Monday, March 31, 2014

Rule of Vampire, pre-release.

Rule of Vampire announcement, the 2nd book of the Vampire Evolution Trilogy.

Apparently, the publisher is rolling these out, one per day.

I think I especially like the cover to this book.

They are all going to be released on May 1, 2014, including the paperback versions of all three books! 

If you buy all three in advance, they are only .99 cents each, instead of the 3.99 they will be on release.  (Plus they all count as sales on May 1.)  I have the ability to give you a free ebook copy of Led to the Slaughter if you buy all three books.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pre-release sale for the Vampire Evolution Trilogy.

Here's the scoop on my Vampire Trilogy.

All three books are going to be released on May 1, costing 3.99 each.


You can buy them in advance for only .99 each. Plus, with proof of purchase, you can get a free ebook of Led to the Slaughter.

The thing about pre-release sales is that the stats are all entered on the same day, so it can have a real big impact on best-seller lists.

Plus they only cost .99 cent each in advance!

Plus you can get an ebook copy of Led to the Slaughter for free, if you can show that you bought the three .99 books Vampire Trilogy books. I think this is great because everyone who bought the first two books of the trilogy when I did them myself, can now buy all three for a price that is less than they'd have to buy the third one for.

So this can be a real launching pad, folks. To a career at writing, if we can just get some momentum on these books.

As the notice says -- you can buy them on Barnes and Noble, on Smashwords, on Apple, and on Kobo. This sale isn't on Amazon.

I'm thinking the most effective place would be to buy from Barnes and Noble. But anyplace would be good.

I was reliably informed by Jared that what I'm doing isn't promotion, it's "begging." So I'm not going to do that. This time, I'm not begging for reviews (though those would be great when the books come out) but to click the links below and order the three books so that on May 1 they might actually be high on the lists.  And only have to spend 2.97 in total.

Being high on the lists, makes you higher on the lists.

Whatever happens, this is kind of fun and exciting.


Linda is visiting Todd for 3 days, so I decided I would do a heavy writing session.  I'm 75% through the first draft of the Dead Spend No Gold, and I'm hoping to push on through to the conclusion by the end of the week.  I've had a clear focus on the plot almost from the beginning.  This book is probably the closest to the original conception as anything I've ever done.

What this means is -- sitting in my room for six days straight.  Never turning on the television.  Never turning on the music.  Getting stir-crazy.  The one thing I allow myself to do is play solitaire on my old desktop computer (which pretty much solely exists for that purpose.)  I do this because my sub-conscious seems to be able to generate ideas while I'm doing it, but reading, or watching, or listening, not so much.

Out of 12 to 16  hour days, I may spend only 10 or 20% of it on actual writing.  The rest of the time I'm letting things percolate.  It does get boring, frankly.  But I have to stick with it, I have to be available for when I tease out that little bit of creativity, and then hope that I get on a roll.

So if I was following a compass, I'm wandering off the path about 90% of the time, but when I get back on the path I make progress.

But if anyone wants to know how I write so fast, the answer really is that I don't.  I just give all my time over to it.  I have to be willing to stay cloistered for days on end.  I'm so thankful that the store is doing well enough to let me do it.

I can never quite get over this sense that I'm wasting time.  Yet...there are all these words I've written by the end of the day.  Certainly, no one could accuse me of not producing.  This first draft, this raw material, has to be created so that it can turn into a book.  And this is the fun part.

It's work.

It's just that the 'working' entails so much time not working.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Craft versus Art.

Trying to learn to be a writer is a long journey that only ends where it ends.

While I'm rather later in my life to be a beginner, that is nevertheless how I feel.  I am a slow learner, so it takes me twice as long to learn how to do something as everyone else.  Then again, if it's something I want to do, I keep trying long after everyone else would have probably given up.

Anyway, I do feel like I've learned something about how to become a writer.  At least, how I've learned to become my kind of writer.

FIrst of all, I think everyone starts out with the "story."

I remember when my 7th grade an art teacher asked the class to go home and write a story about a picture that she had clipped out of a magazine.  This picture happened to be a rock column, a natural bridge, in one of the national parks.

I was up all night imagining this incredibly elaborate emotional story.

I woke up the next morning realizing I had no idea how to get that story down on paper and wrote something quick that got a passing grade, and moved on.

But I never forgot the emotional experience.

So later on, I had  a similar experience with my first book, Star Axe.  Again, I had all the emotions and story, but had no idea how to do it.

I think everyone starts with the idea of "art."  So they try to tell it as "art."  Most of the time, it comes out as hopelessly stilted and formal.

You know --- "ART!"

If they actually just tried to tell the story in a straightforward way, it would be better.

But then again, that isn't good enough either.

Essentially, to tell a good story you have to learn tricks to make it feel real.  To give the illusion that it is real.

This is what I call the "craft" of writing, and it is a never-ending process.  As I say, I'm a slow learner and it take me forever to learn what some people learn how to do early.

So then the learning process becomes learning the "craft" to tell the "story" effectively.  As I say, a never ending process.  That's where I'm at now.

But in the process of writing The Dead Spend No Gold, I'm learning something new.   I'm learning that craft is not enough either.  That -- in the end -- you have to bring the "art" back into it.  When I wrote Led to the Slaughter, the story was intrinsically so powerful that I could tell it in a fairly straightforward manner and it would be effective.  The story was so good that all I needed to do was "craft" the story and it would work.

Nothing wrong with that.  It's a very good way to learn.

But with The Dead Spend No Gold, the entire story is completely imaginative -- besides the basic background.  Simply crafting the story isn't supplying the emotional payoff that I want.

So I need to add the poetic atmospherics.  I need to do some "art" to really make it work.

Which is fine.

When I say "art", I'm talking about the impulse.  I'm not saying I am necessarily succeeding.  But the adding the poetic way of saying things, of trying to find a phrase that goes directly to the point, the trying to raise subtle emotional responses in the way you describe things -- these are all things I'm attempting to accomplish.

I'm 2/3rds of the way through, and this is the crucial part of the book.  I have to evoke an atmosphere of dread and horror to make the book succeed in supplying an emotional catharsis.   And the only way to do this is through words -- through art.

So I'm letting myself go crazy on the poetic side.  Trusting that I'll be able to pick which parts to use to be effective.

And learning again, that this is a never-ending learning process. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

I'm not dabbling.

I don't know what other writers do, and this will probably sound weird, but sometimes I psyche myself up for a writing session.  Especially if I have a general idea of what I want, but have reached a kind of plateau.  That is, where I stopped was a good place, and I know what I want to accomplish next, but there is like a 10 foot span between one roof and the other and I have to wind myself up in order to jump across it.

So I get everything prepared, ready, sharpen the pencils (bring up the program) and then walk around talking to myself, basically, or whatever it takes to really get a good strong headstart so I can leap across that gap.

Meanwhile, to go back to that first sentence -- what other writers do.

You know, I have to believe that every writer is completely different.  I know that I've arrived at my process by trial and error.  Some things work for me that I'm positive would work for no one else, and some things that I've read work for everyone else, don't work for me.

One rule I do have.  Finish the story.  Don't get sidetracked.  Finish it.

Then, if it isn't good enough, do something else and come back to it later.

I was talking to someone who asked how I managed to find the time and energy to finish so many drafts.  I told him it was because I've been very "diligent."  I've set myself goals and I've stuck to them.  I've spend a lot of time doing this.  I'm not dabbling.  I suspect, too, that I had a lot of pent up creative energy from my long break.

I want to finish these stories, which are starting to pile up, and that is another motivation to keep on working.  It would be a shame not to get these into readable shape.

Meanwhile, I just enjoy writing the original stories.  That part is fun.

So the first part, the creation of the story, gets done because I find it fun.

The second part, getting it into readable shape gets done because I don't want to waste the effort. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Name in Lights.

There's a certain style in Horror covers.  You begin to recognize it after you've looked at enough lists.

My publisher has that style nailed down.  I mean, I can't explain it.  It's just the style.  The thing I noticed right away with Books of the Dead is that they are very much on top of what is happening in both the Horror genre, and with the intersection between ebooks and traditional publishing.  A hybrid, if you will, with a tilt toward the ebook side.

Which is probably exactly where they should be, and where I'm happy to find myself.  I just can't imagine doing it the old-fashioned way anymore -- writing a book a year, waiting a year for it to come out.  And that only after spending months if not years negotiating the obstacle course -- and with a pretty high chance that nothing ever happens at all.

Anyway I like the covers.  I probably wouldn't have come up with them myself.  I probably wouldn't have put my name in Stephen King sized letters above the title.  ("You're a star!" says Bruce).  It's out of my hands, in any case.  The publisher is in charge of how the book looks, when it is released, and how it is marketed.

Which again, is all right by me. 

Looks like all three books of the Vampire Trilogy are going to be on "pre-release" sale at Apple and Barnes and Noble and Kobo in the next few days.  There is going to be a way to get them all cheaper, with a bonus book added in. 

Details as soon as I get them.

I don't know if it is unusual to offer an entire trilogy straight away.  But again, I figure my publisher knows what he's doing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Covers to my Vampire Evolution Trilogy!

Plot parallels.

I took the first two chapters of The Dead Spend No Gold to writers group and it seemed to pass muster.

I added a prologue that I think starts the book off in a much more intriguing way.  It was written pretty choppy, so I worked on it yesterday and smoothed it out.

It is very parallel to the first chapter of Led to the Slaughter, which is interesting.

Also parallel to the first book, I've gotten to a point in the book where I'm struggling for a method to show a series of events.  Basically, I'm in the "Lost Patrol" segment of the book where I always intended to be, but now that I'm here, it seems like it is going to be tough to keep it interesting.

Just like in Led to the Slaughter, once I got them to the mountains and they started to freeze and starve, this book has them being picked off one by one.  It is more of a horizontal plot, rather than a vertical plot, and I'm not sure how to pull it off.

With the first book, I resorted to a series of journal entries, and that worked very well.

I'm thinking about doing the same thing here -- but it is 2/3rds of the way through a 3rd person book with multiple viewpoints, so I'm not sure how suddenly transitioning to 1st person journals would work. 

I'm going to try it,  because it does seem like the perfect solution.  Just hope the reader goes along with it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lost Blue Bucket Mine.

I was looking for the next Virginia Reed adventure.  What was cool about the California Gold Rush was that it took place only one year after the Donner Party, so I could go from Virginia being 14 to her being 15.

With the whole expanse of time and space of the West ahead of her.

I was thinking the Lost Blue Bucket Mine would be cool.  It would bring her up to our neck of the woods here in Central Oregon.

But, the incident took place in 1845, four years before the 49's!

Still...I suppose I could have her somehow involved in a search for the mine.  That would make some sense.

Just one year after Grendel's Cave. 

I kind of like the idea.  I think that's where I'm going.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Why horror?

No one was more surprised than me when I wrote a Vampire trilogy.  I was aware that vampires as a trend were probably dying off.  (But then again, they never die, do they?) 

My first efforts when coming back to writing were also horror -- Cthuhlu versus Faery.  Followed up by Werewolves versus Faery. 

And of course, Led to the Slaughter, my historical western horror (to which I'm writing a sequel.)

I never thought of myself as a horror writer, and yet most of what I've written lately would be categorized as horror.  How did that happen?

I think the main thing is that horror is a very open field, unconstrained by convention.  Horror can be anywhere, anytime, anyhow.  It seems to me to be a relatively fresh field of creativity.

It's so old-fashioned, it's new again.  (And westerns, it seems to me, are fresh to most readers.  I just don't think most readers know how much they miss it..)

Fantasy, no matter how fresh you might try to make it, is constrained.  Unless you change it so much it isn't really fantasy.  Unless you make it "dark" or "urban" or...well...might as well say it, "horror."

I love science fiction, but never feel like my science is accurate enough.  I used to love fantasy, and still do when someone manages to write something fresh.  I love detective novels, but know nothing about procedures or guns or any other number of practical things.

But horror.  We all live our lives with a tinge of horror around the edges, even if it is only in our dreams. 

Maybe I should say I write Dark Fantasy, but to me that is just another name for horror. 

Horror, in other words, can escape the tropes.  Horror can be anything that deals with the dark, the battle between good and evil, and human frailties.

Horror can be just about anything you want it to be. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

2 beers and the teetotalers.

Linda and I are visiting friends and have gone out to dinner twice in two nights.  Unusual for me, to say the least.  I don't like crowds.  But I'm doing really well these days, almost normal.  I just put my back to the rest of the room and concentrate on the people I'm with.

First place we went was packed, the decibel level was so high that we were nearly having to shout to have a conversation.  Every table was drinking, so I went ahead and ordered a beer.  Then had a second.

Since my wife and my friends are teetotalers, it was interesting to me the contrast.  As in, there wasn't much.  The beer probably just loosened me up enough to be normal.  Self-medication, you know. 

But since I almost never drink anymore, I was astounded by how much I felt two beers.  I mean, I think back when I drank routinely, even four or five beers wouldn't have had that much effect on me.

It was good, it was social, and I didn't overdo it. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

#1 for 10 minutes.

I may only be #1 for ten minutes.  And yes, I've parsed it to Horror, Paperbacks, Last 30 Days, and Average Review. 

But there it is.

Led to the Slaughter, #1.

Meanwhile, my ebook has dropped out of the last 30 days and into much tougher competition.

By the time you read this, it may already be gone....!1000%2Cn%3A17%2Cn%3A10134%2Cn%3A49%2Cp_n_feature_browse-bin%3A2656022011%2Cp_n_publication_date%3A1250226011&sort=review-rank

Friday, March 21, 2014

A good solid first half to the book.

I feel like I've got a good solid first half of a book.  I have a line-up of characters who are all coming together.

Now I intend to really put them through hell.

I decided early on that I would have a "Lost Patrol" scenario.  The motley group gets picked off one by one.  Until the hero finally decides to take matters into her own hands and fights the danger.

So now my main task is to think up fiendish ways for them to die, and to create stronger bonds among the survivors.

I also decided early on that it would be a Grendel story, so eventually, Virginia Reed, the hero of my story, will take on Grendel.

And later, track Grendel's mother to her cave.

So it's all there in my head, I just need to get it down.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Don't mess with Sasquatch.

Kevin tells me not to screw up Sasquatch.

Sorry, buddy.  Probably going to happen.

Thing about these archetypes, they are made to be messed up with.  Everyone comes to an archetype with their own ideas.  In fact, I don't do any research on werewolves, or ghosts, or Bigfoots. (I don't actually use the word Bigfoot, except in the sub-title, or Sasquatch.  I use some of the Indian names for a similar archetype.)

I know what they are in my heart.  They are a monster I understand -- my monster.  I'll do what I want with it.

Oh, I'll do research on say, gold mining, finding out for instance that they used black gunpowder for explosions, incredibly dangerous.

I'll do research on firearms or the map of California or the local tribes.

But werewolves -- they are in my mind.  What frightens me about them is what counts, not what some other writer says they are.  Or what Bigfoot it.  Or vampires.

Archetypes are fair game.

Cobbling a chapter.

Yesterday I cobbled together a chapter.

Maybe a better word is -- I 'crafted' together a chapter.  It was a transitional kind of chapter.  I moved some characters from point A to point B.  It's like one of those scenes where they're talking in the car, or in the restaurant.  That kind of thing.

It is easier to write action chapters.  But not every chapter can or should be filled with actions.

So I put in some explication of backstory, some description, but most of all dialogue between the characters.  Character development.  The relationships between them.

Oh, and foreshadowing.  Some of that.

It took all day.  Just a snippet here, a snippet there.  Whenever I think I'm wasting entire days, I just have to remember that it is sometimes necessary.  That these things don't get written otherwise.  I need that hour between 10 minutes of writing.  That two hours of waiting for the next line of dialogue.  I need the morning without anything happening so I can spend the afternoon on writing.

I'm thankful I have the time.  I really need to get over that feeling that I'm wasting it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Monster Porn is a Thing.

I think I'd be higher up the "best-seller" lists if it wasn't for Monster Porn.
It's all over the place.
Or Monster Romance -- which I assume doesn't have as much Porn, but is still a Thing.
Oh, well.
I write a legit book, though it probably doesn't behoove me to put down anyone else.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Grendel's Cave: Bigfoot and the California Goldrush.

New title.  Grendel's Cave: Bigfoot and the California Goldrush.

This more or less matches the style of the title of the first book.  I can envisioned the same kind of design on the cover.

I knew that I was going for a Grendel kind of idea -- very loosely.  But the cave of gold is featured prominently in the story, and it leads the natural exploration of Bigfoot.  So yeah, I like it.

It's early, and the title may change.

I'm about halfway through the first draft, and I've got a very strong sense of the book, which is nice.  That doesn't always happen.  I'm actually getting close to the part of the book that is always the easiest to write.  (Knock wood.)  All the set up is out of the way, and from now on it is pretty much action.

What fun.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Just guideposts, not outlining.

I don't so much outline my books as create bullet points of narrative needs.  That is, as I go along I think of scenes or chapters that need to be done and put them in a loose order.

Usually, after every couple of chapters or so, new developments necessitate that I go and change the bullet points -- either the content or the order.

So the bullet points aren't so much a map as as they are reminders of what I'm trying to do, a general direction I'm headed.

I start off the book with a rough idea of the elements I want to include.  Then, usually about 20% of the way in, I get a more specific sense of where the story is going.  That's when I start posting my reminders.

So for instance, I realized that I wanted Death of an Immortal to be a redemption story.  I wanted the Donner Party Werewolves to be a survival story.

I'm looking at Dead Spend No Gold as a "Lost Patrol" story, where the original party is winnowed down one by one. 

Once you have the basic theme of the story in place, the plot sort of follows those contours.

I like to be flexible, but have a general heading.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Stephen King's Top 20 Rules.

I generally stay away from writing advice these days.  Not because I don't think I need any advice, but because I'm busy writing and I don't want to muddy the waters.

I spent years reading about writing -- went to the library and checked out just about every book they had...

I also think most writing advice is obvious, or wrong, or contradictory.

But I just came across "Stephen King's Top 20 Rules for Writing"  (Writer, 3/15/14) and damn if they don't all make perfect sense.

Now I read his book "On Writing" years ago and maybe I just internalized all these ideas -- but I don't think so.  I think I kind of came to most of these conclusions on my own.

So here's his rules, with my reactions following. 

1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience.

This goes without saying.  But I must admit I'm conscious of an audience as I write -- but the audience is me.

2. Don’t use passive voice. 

I believe -- I hope -- I've trained myself to do this.  This comes from practice, practice, practice.

3. Avoid adverbs. 

I use adverbs, but I try to be judicious about them

4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”

I still do this, but again, I try not to.

5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. 

The occasional grammar mistake in service to the story is relaxing and letting the story take precedence. 

6. The magic is in you. 

Still working at getting over the fear.  The more I write, the more I push the worry back.  The magic is my magic, it doesn't need to be compared to anyone else.

7. Read, read, read. 

Done, done, done.

8. Don’t worry about making other people happy.

The more I write, the more I realize that it is coming from within, not without.

9. Turn off the TV.

I don't do TV in the day, and as little as possible at night, and only after I've done my writing.  The Internet on the other hand....

10. You have three months.

Well, exactly.  And it's nice to hear him say it.  Any more than 3 months on a first draft and I know the book is in trouble.

11. There are two secrets to success. 

I too have stayed healthy and stayed married...

12. Write one word at a time.

Eventually, if you write enough, you start to realize how the words accumulate if you are steady.

13. Eliminate distraction.

I even close the curtains, and sometimes turn off the lights.

14. Stick to your own style. 

I just write.  If figure what I write is my style.

15. Dig. 

I'm glad to see this advice, because this was the insight that finally unlocked my writing.  That the story is there and I just need to dig it out.  It doesn't come from somewhere else.  Look inside.

16. Take a break. 

Leaving the story alone for several weeks or months takes patience, but it really helps give you perspective.  I generally start working on something else.

17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings. 

Assuming I know what the boring parts are -- yeah, that's what I try to do. Again, the more I write, and the more I realize that there is always more where that came from, the more willing I am to jettison material, or move material around, or let nicely written but out of place material go.

18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. 

As I mentioned yesterday, I do the research after I do the first draft.  May be backward, but it makes the story the most important part.  The fleshing out, the making it seem real, that comes second.

19. You become a writer simply by reading and writing. 

Again.  Done.  In a big way.  I write constantly, and I spent decades reading a book every couple days.

20. Writing is about getting happy. 

I've learned that I like writing -- especially the first drafts -- and I'm happy when I've put the work in the make them better.  (Though I still have a hard time enjoying rewrites, I do like the results.)

Anyway -- way to go Stephen King.  (Like he needs my approval.) 

I like all these suggestions.  They're pertinent and not overbearing and straight to the point.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Plotting the plot.

I'm 20 thousand words into The Dead Spend No Gold, the sequel to Led to the Slaughter.

I'm back to my steady, no excuses, 2000 words a day word first draft pace.  It sometimes -- most often -- takes all day to get there, in spurts.  Lots of down time.

Yesterday, I was writing a fairly quiet section, and my mind kept wandering to future plot points and it made me realize I need to write those ideas down.

This story is coming out differently.  The first book more or less followed the actual events of the Donner Party.  It was written in 1st person journal-type accounts.

This book is going to be 3rd person throughout.  It's completely made up, using different true events mashed together.  I wanted to include the Indian genocide, gold mining, frontier towns and women, and of course Bigfoot.

I've got enough of a start and enough of the elements, that it's time for me to start to outlining a little more fully.

Sometimes I have a kind of thematic idea of what the book is going to be.  For instance, Led to the Slaughter was a "survival" story.

Death of an Immortal was a "redemption story."  I knew that I wanted to test the main character by driving him down, down, down -- until he was chased by everyone, had no resources, no friends, no hope.  Then slowly bring him back, because of the moral choices he makes, not in spite of them.

I think moral center of this new book is the treatment of Indians -- and by extension, the creature who is known today as Bigfoot, but in the story is called other names.  It is simply defending its territory, after all.  The Indians had respected that, but the white man is invading.

I also kind of want the end plot to be a "lost patrol" kind of thing.  A group of men, (and two women), venture into the mountains where they are stalked and killed, one by one.  (I also have a bit of Grendel motif going...)

I'm going to do probably more research on this book than I did on Led to the Slaughter.  I wanted to stick to the basics with the first book, but this book probably could use more detail in more places.

The way I do that is to write out the first draft, get that down, THEN do the research and insert the pertinent or interesting details into the story.  A little ass backward, perhaps, but it works for me.  I have enough of a general idea of the history of the place that the plot doesn't do anything inappropriate -- and if it does, I change it.

I can always feel when a book is going to be a book, and I've felt that way from the beginning of this one.

Friday, March 14, 2014

I love that part.

The real fun of writing for me is discovering the story by writing.

From September, 2012 thru August, 2013, I went on a writing binge.  I was totally immersed in the writing books.  When I was done with one, I went on with another.  I didn't question myself, I just let myself write. I wrote a tremendous number of words.  I worked out a process that seemed to work.   I felt as though I was making real progress in learning how to write.

In September, 2013 I made an abrupt turn.  I started to spend more time on shaping up the writing I'd already done, and I started marketing my books.  While I managed to get the Vampire Evolution Trilogy and Led to the Slaughter into publishable shape, and managed to find a publisher, I just haven't felt like I've been as creatively productive over the last six months.

It seems like there have been many more distractions, and the writing I've been able to do has been more surface than I'd like.  Some of that has been the difference between writing that first draft, being lost in the creative flow -- and the taking a step back and trying to craft that writing into something readable.

That's my new terminology for the re-writing process -- crafting.  You take a cold blooded look at the book and see what it's missing and what it needs more of and what there is too much of -- but most importantly, you refine the writing until there isn't anything that might bring a reader up short saying,  "Wait a minute..."

I sort of get it now.  I mean, I get the basic needs.

I would love to recapture that kind of immersive experience I had during that miracle year.  But I'm not sure that will ever be possible.  I think what is going to be happening now is that I'll have to divide the year up in quarters.  Spend a quarter writing first drafts, then spend a quarter crafting what I've written, then spend a quarter writing first drafts, and so on.

Otherwise, I risk having a bunch of half formed novels that never see the light of day.  I'm sitting on half a dozen books right now that need to be 'crafted.'  I'd love to get each of them polished, one by one.

But I'm leery of taking too much time away from writing that first story -- the fun part.  The discovering the characters and the plot and all that. 

I love that part. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Led to the Slaughter in stock at Pegasus Books!

Well, they finally arrived.  I got my three copies from Amazon at the house this morning, too.

They look great.

They're priced at 13.99, and I'll just have a stack of autographed and a stack of unautographed at both Pegasus Books and The Bookmark.  (You can also order the print copies online at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.)

See you there!

Doesn't matter, I'm going to keep on writing.

I rarely step out of my insular world that I've created for myself.  I've been my own boss for 30 years, I don't have to cooperate or confer with anyone to make decisions.  I just do what I want and what I think needs to be done.  I can generate my own results without having to ask anyone for help.

So stepping out on this book, trying to gather some attention for it, has been very educational.

I come away with the same lessons I've learned before.

1.)  Promotion is pretty useless.  I don't think it has the effect people think it does.  For once I did absolutely everything I could think to do.  I didn't not leverage every leverage I had.  I was almost pushy in promoting myself on Facebook and Twitter and on this blog.  I did all I set out to do and more.

And I don't think any of it moved the needle one little bit.

2.)  There are a lot of's in the world.  I can't believe half of what I'm reading from self-published authors.  The evidence contradicts most of what they're saying.  I think most of them are being ingenuous, trying to promote themselves, or even trying to sell services. 

A.)  Corollary to that: people will tell you they're going to do something and then not do it.  Lots of people.  I don't understand that -- just say no if you don't intend to do it, right?

Which makes me appreciate the people who actually did come through even more.  But -- I know who they are, and I know who they aren't, and it's pretty disappointing how many people I thought would follow through didn't.

3.)  Anyone who thinks there isn't a difference between having a publisher and being self-published hasn't looked into the eyes of hundreds of people and seen the vastly different responses.

But I'm coming to the conclusion they're wrong.  Self-publishing is probably the future. But instead of having to deal with a 99.9% rejection rate from traditional publisher, these future authors will have to deal with the 99.9% difficulty in being discovered.  Same basic odds, I suspect.  But with the satisfaction of actually getting your books published.

4.)  Luck as always plays a huge role.  The biggest role.

5.)  It doesn't matter.  I love writing.  I'm going to keep on writing.

P.S.  I'm still hoping my print copies will show up soon -- today, I hope...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hoping for Led to the Slaughter to show up today.

I'm pretty sure I'll get the book today or tomorrow, unless something has gone wrong in the shipping.

But you know what?

The print copy is available right now at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble's online.  So if you can't make it into the store, or if you don't want to make it into the store, or you're too far away to make it into the store, you can still get the book.

Meanwhile, Led to the Slaughter will still be in the "Last 30 Days" grace period for the next week or so. This is where I'm only competing with the other books that have been recently completed (instead of every Stephen King and Dean Koontz ect. book every written.)

So any purchase or any review has a major impact on rankings.  The algorithms are a bit of a mystery (apparently to everyone) but it is obvious that good reviews really pull the book upward.

My theory is, the higher the book is on a list, the more likely it is to be seen, the more likely someone will buy it, the higher the book on the list.  A virtuous cycle.

So there's still a chance to affect that, anyone who has been thinking about doing a review, the next week is the absolute best time for it

I can't really tell how my book is doing.

I'm pretty sure it's either doing really good, or really bad, or somewhere in-between....

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Obsessively checking the rankings.

I've fallen into a nasty habit of obsessively checking the rankings on Amazon and Smashwords.

First of all, what does it really matter?

Secondly, what does it mean?

I've decided I should just let myself enjoy this.

I've accomplished what I set out to do.  To get published again.  Have a book sent out into the world again.  Those were my two goals, and I've already done them.

I can't tell what's going on in sales, it's all very contradictory, but it really doesn't matter.  I'm cool with what's already happened.  Not only that, but I've still got my Vampire Evolution Trilogy coming out, one by one.

I'm intensely interested in what the new covers will look like.

And probably most important of all, I've got a pretty good handle on the sequel, which has enough depth that if I do it right, it should be a good read.

So my job is just to do it right.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cosmos and other media blips.

As I mentioned last night, I watched Cosmos.  I felt like it spent too much time trying to wow us with visual effects, and not enough on text.  More fluff than content.  I hate how that is the modern model.

I know everyone is going wild for it -- and I'm glad it exists.  But I was disappointed.

Plus it had the unusual effect on me of making me feel small and unimportant -- which I don't think was the intended message.

I wonder if the old Cosmos is still available?  I loved that show.


I don't know if I'll make it through the day before some teaser headline or another gives away the ending of True Detective.  I don't need much of a hint, because my brain just works that way.

And it seems to be working that way even more since I've been writing.  Both Linda and I are figuring out TV plots way more often and way sooner than before.


Speaking of True Detective.  I noticed that many copies of The King in Yellow are available on ebooks.  (I'm assuming it is legal domain now.)  I remember picking this book up 40 years ago and thinking it was a little too gothic and old-fashioned for my taste at the time.

Weird it should become a best-seller after all these years...


Went to see Frozen.  I have to admit, I kind of squirmed at how "cute" it was.  I mean, I really didn't want to roll my eyes, but couldn't help it.

But I don't think that movie was made for me, what?

It was a very uplifting movie though, and Linda and I came out of it feeling good.  We've been to less movies since we've been writing.


Watched a South African movie called Stander.  Did you know that Thomas Jane can act?  No?  Me neither.  But he can.


Watched Cosmos

Who cares?  I'm a spec of dust in a tiny blip of time. What does it matter.  The universe is too big.  We're all doomed to insignificance.

(Linda got sick of me saying this.)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Linda and my writing spaces.

I thought I'd show you Linda and my writing spaces.  Her's comes with a cat.  Mine comes with an emptier mind.  Mine is also missing the ever present coffee mug.

A crash course in publishing.

I've been going through a crash course online on the arguments between "Indies (ebooks) versus Big-Five (traditional) publishing.  Quite the battle raging.

The Big-5 are scrambling and being defensive and kind of being dickheads.  The ebook proselytizers are definitely being rabble-rousing dickheads.

 I can see merits on both sides, and some blindspots on both sides.

The best outcome would be if the pressure from the Indies forces the Big-Five to change terms so that they are more beneficial to authors.

Though that seems unlikely.

Worst outcome is the whole edifice of traditional publishers goes down (including bookstores) and that would be a tragedy. 

And as someone who has been on the receiving end of monopolies, I don't think giving Amazon that kind of power is a good idea.

Like I said, it's a very complex issue.  I'm torn because I am not only a reader, but a writer.  Not only a writer, but a bookstore owner.  And the three roles conflict to some extent.

So if you were listening to the news, you'd think everyone has an e-reader; until you actually have an ebook to sell them.  Then nobody does.  "I'll wait for real book."  So now that I have the real book coming into stock, I expect that survey to reverse...heh.

I'm trying to take advantage of those opportunities that are open to me.  I'm slowly being won over by the idea of ebooks.

But I still love me some paper.

I'm what they call a 'hybrid' author.  I'm not self-publishing, but I'm also not going through the traditional Big-Five bookstore distribution route.  I've got a small specialty publisher, who takes a chunk of the sales, but who also does the publishing.

But Books of the Dead Press is quick -- getting a physical book out in a little over a month.  Accepting and setting into motion more than one book at a time.  Reporting royalties every quarter.  Working with the digital platforms in a savvy way.  Providing professional artwork and formatting.  Paying me money.

They have an established platform, I do not.  They know the game, I do not.

Publishing yourself sounds like a great idea, unless you don't have a following and are inept at marketing.

BOTDP is also doing both ebooks and printed books, which most ebooks are not.  Roughly speaking, it looks to me that print books are made from less than 25% of the ebooks made.

Eventually there is going to be a synthesis of these competing ideas -- an equilibrium will be reached.  And the truth is, much of it is just noise to the average author.  Very few people make real big money at writing.  The 1% can make huge amounts of money, the 5% can make modest money, and pretty much nobody else.  It's a logarithmic scale, folks. 

Thing is, the Gatekeepers -- as the Big Five call themselves -- are so slowSlooooooowwwwww.....

I figured that even if I went the traditional route and even if I was successful that it would probably take about 3 years before I would see a book published.  I write a hell of a lot faster than that.  Taking 3 years won't make it a better book.

And I don't believe necessarily that the Big Five is a meritocracy, either  I'm not sure it's a lottery or a carnival scam as the ebook proselytizers would have it, but pretty close.  I think the keyhole might be a little narrow.  (Though I understand from the pure numbers of submissions that they have to be picky.)

The battle is raging for the midlist authors.  The big authors, the big literary voices, they'll have traditional publishing.  Authors who would never in a million years get published traditionally, they'll have ebooks.

But there is a middle area, authors who a few decades ago would have been good enough to be published, who are finding it harder to break through.

Once I lost my faith in traditional publishing -- in the fairness of it -- it was pretty much impossible for me to go that route.  Hopefully, this isn't sour grapes.  But really, it does seem a really unwieldy edifice.

For the moment I have a publisher, who taking care of things.  I've done my very best to promote my books -- way, way more than I would have expected. 

But now I can concentrate on writing again.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Trees were sacrificed.

Led to the Slaughter is for sale as a physical, corporeal, material object at Amazon.   No longer just bits of information, no longer just imagination from my head to yours.
$13.99 on Amazon:

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but this is exciting.  I'm looking forward to holding it in my hands.

The publisher said he sent the books my way a couple of days ago, so I should have them early next week.

So, soon, I should be able to sell you the book out of my store.  And rub my face all over the ink and get all high on the print fumes.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Ode to my backpack.

You know how people are attached to their old shoes?

Well, I'm attached to my old backpack.  It goes everywhere with me.  I finally unloaded the crap in my wallet to the backpack, and now just carry a bill or two and my driver's license and a credit card in a thin sleeve in my pocket.

I have an old notebook in my old backpack, in which I keep my business information, as well as lots and lots of scribbled notes.  I have my little tranquilizer pills in case I need them.  (Which is almost never anymore, but I still like having them there.)  I carry bottles of lemonade and ham sandwiches wherever I go --  I'm like Howard Hughes, I can drink and eat the same stuff day after day.

I've got pens and pencils and batteries and a slot for my phone.  When needs be, I can carry my new laptop computer.  On hikes, I sit on my backpack if nothing else is around. 

I love my old backpack -- my security blanket.

The poor dear thing is falling apart from my loving.

After going through a couple of cheap backpacks, I finally bought a good one.  A "Coleman" brand, and it's held up really well.  But it's starting to get holes in the corner.

I'm tempted to patch them.  Keep my old backpack.  Or just not put anything in there small enough to fall out. 

I don't want to give it up.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

"Never tell me the odds!"

I started doing some research about the best-seller lists on Amazon and Smashwords, which led to other articles about the whole digital change and how it is affecting publishers and authors and so on...

Oh, boy.

I'm not sure I wanted to know all that.  I'm not sure that when it comes to being a writer, ignorance isn't bliss.  I mean, you want to be realistic and all, but I had a pretty good sense of the odds -- I'm just not sure I needed the odds to be explicated.

I don't know if I can get across how different actual writing is -- from everything that comes after.  And yet, without everything that comes after, dare I say "promotion",  whatever you wrote won't see the light of day. 

I decided to work at getting this first book, at least, in a many hands as I beg borrow plead command insinuate and dazzle.

But it isn't writing.

Writing is something I do alone in my room, with little or no outside input.

I really want to get back to that, but things keep popping up.  I'm figuring another month of interruptions, and then -- even if other things are happening, I'm going to let them take a back seat to writing.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Best-selling author?

I might actually be a best-selling author!

I'm #4 on Smashwords best-seller list for Horror books! There are one hell of a lot of books on that list, so I'm pretty excited.  I think that might be a pretty big deal and, well, completely unexpected.  I'm also much higher up some of the other lists than I could ever have hoped for!

 So I have to thank you all for the reviews and all the help. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A 'Western Horror' or a "Horror Western?'

Led to the Slaughter never felt like a Western to me.

But the sequel is shaping up to have many more the elements of a western -- cowboys, boomtowns, gold rushes, miners, Indians and Indian Wars, saloon girls, etc. etc.

But I want to keep the focus on Horror, not on Western.

I like the historical underpinnings, and I figure if I keep trying to be accurate, it won't come off as a Western.  (My model for this would be the great books by Don Berry about Oregon -- which are set in the west and in western times, but yet feels real and authentic.)

I think I can pull that off, but I do need to be cognizant of the possibility. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

"The Mind of a Writer."

This quote from the Oscars last night made me laugh.

I resemble, oh, about 90% of this remark:

 “The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing in soul crushing inadequacy— And that’s on a good day.”
—Robert de Niro

"Read an ebook Week."

The following is a press release from Books of the Dead Press, announcing that they are joining in Read an ebook Week.  I'm not sure if my book is one of them, but if so -- now's the time to buy it!


Smashwords makes the book available in all digital formats, except Kindle (easily corrected by downloading the Kindle app.)

Smashwords are running a "Read an ebook Week" event, and Books of the Dead Press submitted a bunch of titles to it.

This means you can grab many of our titles for nothing, or next to nothing, over the next few days.


Follow this link and scroll down.

Like what you see? Please support Books of the Dead by purchasing one of our books. Thank you

Sunday, March 2, 2014

House of Cards -- Spoilers.

This show got under my skin.  I could barely watch the last 5 episodes.


Every single decent or even half-way decent character in this show is crushed.  At first you think the dynamic sociopathic duo might have a soft spot for the 'little people' but no, in the end they too are used and tossed away without a backward glance.

In this world, the more ethics you have, the more you are crushed.  Obliterated.  The less conscience you have, the higher you rise.  The slightest weakness, the tiniest humanity is used against you.

Apparently the Chinese are watching this show in great fascination, convinced this is the way we really are.

I watched the original British House of Cards, and I remember the main character as being more of a charming rogue, a devious schemer.  I can't remember if he actually kills anyone, but somehow he wasn't quite as repellent.

Every time one of the Underwoods looks as though he or she are weakening, it's a ruse.  Except for one moment at the last.  Claire Underwood starts to weep, and I'm thinking -- oh, no, here it goes.  But no -- she weeps for all of Ten Fricken Seconds.  Then she's back to being cold-blooded murderous bitch Lady MacBeth.  Somehow that measly ten seconds made it even worse.

All through the show the Underwoods express love for each other in the most formal, distant way -- as if they have a pane of glass between them even when they are hugging.  Again, at the last -- all is revealed, though it's hinted at all the way through.

At one point, I turned to Linda and said, "I think Claire is going to seduce the young Secret Service agent."  The very next episode, I said,  "I think Frank is going to seduce the young Secret Service agent."

Well -- I was right.

I almost didn't want to watch the last five episodes.  I hated this show -- all 25 episodes.  Every time we'd finish one, I would turn to Linda and say, "I HATE these people."

Linda, "Yeah, me too."

"Um...ready for another one?"


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Books of the Dead Press's new logo.

Digital versus print.

Based on the number of people who have said to me and Linda, "I'll be interested in that when it comes in," the print version of Led to the Slaughter should sell better than the digital.  At least, among the people we ask.

But of course, the people we ask are only those people who walk into our stores -- maybe 100 to 200 people a day.  Digital is available to the whole world.  Sheer numbers, and percentages. 

And of course many of those people who say they are going to buy the book are just saying it.  Confronted with actually pulling out their wallets, the answer may be different.

I'll need to be careful not to put people on the spot, and yet at the same time try to close the deal.  I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable.