Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween at Pegasus Books!

We're giving away free comics (FCBD) for Halloween, so bring in your kids if you're downtown.

This downtown Halloween thing is relatively new.  First time it happened was a couple of years ago, I think, but it seems to be becoming a thing.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

My political choices...bleech.

I usually don't talk about politics.  But I thought I'd talk about some of my votes in the most non-ideological way I can.  There is no certainty in these things.

I'm not interested in arguing about them.

I consider myself a progressive liberal, but I can see how some of my my choices may seem conservative.  They are conservative in the old-fashioned sense, that is, I'm not interested in change for change sake.


For the GMO measure, I tend to come down on the side of the majority of science.  In this case, I believe the GMO's (probably) aren't harmful. 

In my opinion, you can't be a partaker of science when it is convenient to you, and a denier when it isn't.  The height of hypocrisy.  So for instance, it behooves me, if I believe the science of climate change, to believe that vaccines are helpful.  Hell, I drive a car, write on the internet, live in a cocoon of public health measures, all brought about by science.  So, I've often thought that if you don't want to vaccinate your kids, then you have to give up any modern medicine.  If you don't believe in climate change, you have to give up something else science has given you, you know, just to be consistent.

The idea that GMO's may have unintended consequences, Bill Nye, the science guy's argument, is almost persuasive, except that all human actions in nature have consequences, both positive and negative.

But even more to the point to me, and this is the conservative argument, would be: does labeling do any good?  Does it change either the behavior of the manufacturers or the consumer?

It appears to me like this is just a penalty, basically, a negative reinforcement, and a stalking horse.  I don't like people not coming out and saying what they really think. You want to outlaw GMO's and all that means, then say so.


I fully intended to vote for the legalization of marijuana.  But the closer I come to actually voting, the more I doubt.  I think pot had a negative effect on me as a teenager.  I'm convinced that it was partially responsible for the clinical depression I suffered as a young man.  It's been 45 years, and for most of that time, I've been anti-drug in a big way.

But I've come around to believing that the "war" on drugs has been counter productive.

I'm for decriminalizing pot -- but maybe not for legalizing it.  Which seems pretty contradictory.  So my brain says, vote yes.  But my heart says, vote no.

Again, a fundamentally conservative reaction.


For the city council, it was interesting to read The Sources recommendations.  Their argument basically was that the current council hasn't be proactive, and we need a new slate.

But from my perspective, not being proactive is a good thing.  The city council has done some dumb things over the years, and the wounds were self-inflicted.  If Juniper Ridge isn't good enough for the university (and it probably isn't) then it was a dumb idea.

The proactive stance I'm looking at now is the redesign of 3rd St.  I have a conservative reaction to this.  I think you would be likely to destroy or at least hurt most of the existing businesses in this part of town.

Yes, I have a business on the corner of 3rd and Greenwood, but I doubt any of these changes will happen soon enough to affect us.  But it does make me aware of the costs of these urban renewal projects.  I really do prefer that commercial interests change the nature of things, not government.  If you want to change something, then use incentives for businesses to get involved.

So, yeah, I'd like the city council to stick to the basics and stop promoting pie-in-the-sky boondoggles.

Still not sure how I'm going to vote on city council.  I will be voting for Barb Campbell because she is a fellow downtown business owner, and thus should have an awareness of what is needed down here.


For the rest of the slate, I'm voting Democratic.  The Source really did give me pause when they quoted Wilhelm as being inflexible, and Buehler as being non-ideological.

Except I don't believe it.  I think The Source is being naive about this.  I believe Buehler will be a full fledged member of the Republican caucus, and his 'independence' will go away until the next election.

I'll be voting for Jodie Barram for county commissioner because she seems so engaged in our local community.

And I'm not certain about any of it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pot drenched comic books.

No, that isn't us.


DC Comics has released a Harley Quinn Annual with a marijuana smell.

Being a dork, I ordered a bunch of them, on the theory that it was such a weird thing to do that it would make it on the CBS Evening news and in every news outlet.  So far, I think there was a story in the USA Today a couple of days ago, and that's it.

Anyway, it never occurred to me that the majority of people would walk into the store and smell that smell and think, "Ummm."

Thing is, we'll never have a chance to explain that it isn't us in the back room.

The comics are wrapped in plastic, and I suppose I thought that would be enough to mask the smell.

Here's the thing.  Three times in Pegasus Books history, I've burned incense in the store. In every case, almost instantly, someone would sniff, give me a strange look, and say, "What have you been smoking?'

I'm pretty much anti-drug, at least for myself.  I don't think the stuff is good for me.  It's taken years and years to come around to a less anti-drug posture.  (Mostly, because it doesn't appear to me that "laws" are doing any good.)

So, I'm just explaining for those who come in the store and see my red-eyes and bumbling manner that that is just me, not the smell.

Even my subconscious can't nag me.

Took another section of Tuskers to writer's group.  Since it had been edited by Lara, there were few mistakes.  A couple of things they suggested, but mostly they liked it.

Thank goodness for writer's group, which kind of keeps me going when nothing else is happening.

I've been kinda blocked on the second half of Tuskers III.  I'm not pushing it.  Linda and I are having to do some fill work at the stores since one of her employees quit.

In some ways, I've gotten so far ahead of myself, that I'm feeling disincentived to keep writing.  If I was just putting them up online myself, I could probably get all this material done and out of the way, but because I've so far been going through publishers, the schedule of release is probably twice, maybe three, maybe four times slower than I actually write.

I shouldn't worry about it.  I should just write, regardless.

But, well, even my subconscious can't nag me too much about how much or how little I'd doing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Inventory, inventory, inventory.

There's an old saying that the 3 most important things in business are: Location, location, location.

I'd have to say, the 4th thru 6th most important things are: Inventory, inventory, inventory.

There's an ongoing saga on a website I check out about a woman opening a bookstore.  So far, all the news has been about everything but...well, what she is going to sell.  Fixtures, insurance, location, all those kinds of things.

Now she's bemoaning that she may not have enough inventory to start.

I think she would have been better off starting off with the inventory, and then all that other stuff.  But no one does it that way.  They are more interested in the "looks" than the "content."

If you have great books, you can sell them on concrete floors off of milk crates with a cigar box for a cash register.  If you have great books, people will be looking at your books, not the age of the carpet, or the dings in the fixtures.  Let the books themselves be your atmosphere, your looks.

The other problem with this complaint of "not enough inventory" is that there are solutions.  Buy one of each book you want (you can replace any book in a day or two).  Start off with a used book selection in part of your store.  Used books are easy to get.  Just ask a used book dealer if he has any "extras" and I can almost guarantee he'll have a bunch he can sell pennies on the dollar.

There are also all kinds of "Remainder" houses.  There are huge amounts of mid-list books that you can buy at a high discount.  Even better, there are some really blue chip books that become available.

So there is no reason to open your store without a selection of books.  If you buy at full price, say, 25% of your books to start with, and make sure they are front and center, no one will notice that the books behind them are mid-list books.  They'll see your "good" books and assume that the other books are "good" for someone else.

She's right though about the danger of opening with too skimpy a selection.  People will judge you fast, and may not come back for a long time.

So start with as much inventory as you can afford, and use most of your budget on lower cost books to start with, and then build the more blue-chip selection.

We have some excellent bookstores here in Central Oregon.  Paulina Springs, and Sunriver books both do an excellent job of inventorying their stores.  The Open Book has a great selection of books, and so does my wife's store, The Bookmark.

And my store has as many books as I can pack in.  Because a basic rule of thumb I've discovered is -- the more inventory you have, the more you'll sell.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Plot: People doing stupid things.

We've been watching The 100, which is a better than most Y.A. science-fictiony show on CW.  Pretty (and) young people.  It's a tolerable premise, and the plot mostly makes sense.

But it does depend a little too much on people doing stupid things to advance the plot.  Not as bad as most of these shows, but as the season progresses there have been more "Why the hell did he/she do that?" moments.

I generally call these "moron" shows.  I can watch about five minutes of any show and figure out if the show runners give a shit.  That covers probably 70% of dramas on T.V.  Another 20% are mediocre; you can see they are trying, but are either held back or can't quite get there.

Thankfully there is the 10% that meets Sturgeon's Law.

For instance, The Good Wife is absolutely brilliant.  Linda and I were laughing hard at the romance between the quirky lawyer and the federal prosecutor last night.  Just great.  I wonder how a show can be so well written and be surrounded by so much dreck.

I figure that most of these "People doing stupid Things" are done because there is a formula.  X-amount of romance, X-amount of conflict, X-amount of action.  So they come up with stupid reasons for these things to happen.

You just don't see that in books as much.  I think because there is more time to develop the story, you don't have to use so many short-cuts.  But mostly, I think it's just lazy storytelling.

Millions of dollars spend on movies, and they couldn't take the time to iron out the kinks in the plot?  We went to see Dracula Untold the other day.  Why would you have such great special effects attached to such a lame story?  I kept thinking, "Why did he do that?"  "Why didn't he do that?"

What's sad is that most of those questions could have been answered in a few short sentences, or a small scene here or there, just an acknowledgment that the viewer may wonder why.

I wonder why people like these idiotic shows where the characters "quirks" are supposed to character development.  (NCIS? Bones? CSI? Supernatural?)  I wonder if people prefer these lazy shows for some reason. I wonder if the creators dumb them down on purpose, or are forced by studio bigwigs to dumb them down.

I mean, somebody is hiring Micheal Bay.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Art versus Craft?

Drank some wine last night, which I rarely do anymore, to try to get some perspective on what I'm doing, to orient myself.

One thing I decided was to try to write single book next, instead of one of a series.  Also, maybe to try to be a little more ambitious, that is, letting myself really go for it, with the understanding that it probably will be unreadable to anyone else.

That has been my experience.  When I'm writing self-indulgently, I enjoy the writing but it isn't as good a read as when I'm conscious of the reader.

The one time I did this was with Sometimes A Dragon.  But it was a failed experiment, I can see that.  I loved some of the imagery, but it was imagery at the expense of clarity.  

So why do it?

Because I believe that any true art will be uncompromising.  That instead of craftsmanship, I'm reaching for a less accessible realm.

Or maybe it's all bullshit.  I don't know.  Maybe it's just stretching, experimenting, learning.

Just one book where I don't think, I just write whatever comes to me.  No explanation, no logical plotting.  Just words on a page.

I don't know.  Maybe this is just an ideal.  Pure art, versus craft.  Maybe there isn't such a thing.

High craftsmanship IS art, I truly believe that.

Sometimes, when I write poetry, I let myself not make sense.  But that is a shorter form. 

See?  I'm already not making sense...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pigs, pigs, everywhere, pigs!

Ever since I started writing Tuskers, I've been seeing pigs.  Cute pigs, ugly pigs, small pigs, big pigs, cartoon pigs, cgi pigs, T.V. pigs and movie pigs.  Everywhere pigs.

Selective perception at work. 

Just never knew that pigs were so prevalent.

Ironically, my blog picture above has my two porch pigs which I picked up on a trip to Astoria years ago.

Linda just bought me a garden pig for my birthday that will soon join them.

I was showing a guy my Tuskers cover, and he whipped out a picture of a vicious looking pig he'd hunted in South Africa.  (I don't approve, but it was an awesome pig.)

Meanwhile, when I tell people I'm writing a "Wild Pig Apocalypse" they immediately get what I'm saying.  I mean, that's a pretty vague and unusual description, but it's like everyone instantly understands the possibilities.

Well, I'm getting ready to write the last half of the third book, bringing Zombie pigs into the mix. 

Hopefully, make it exciting.

Friday, October 24, 2014

An awesome ending.

I'm trying to think of an awesome ending to the Tuskers trilogy.  I'm willing to wait for it.

I kept thinking all along that I was going to get bigger, more apocalyptic in scope, but the story has remained local.  Which is actually consistent with the tone of the first book, and then the second book, and now the first half of the third book.

But I think I'm going to try to go big for the last half of the third book.  Jump ahead a couple of years, have everything ramped up to a higher level.

I need to go back into the second book and insert a Tusker villain who can summon the Zombie forces.

We'll see.  I've given into the tonal quality of the book, the kind of disaster movie type plot, so far.  But there has to be an Armageddon in this apocalypse.  A Ragnarok.

A satisfyingly big conclusion. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Waiting in gueue?

Apparently The Dead Spend No Gold is in a queue at Books of the Dead Press.

I check every morning.  So far two other new releases have been announced.  Which, you know, is cool.  That's cool.  Just waiting, you know.  Lean against the post. Whistle.  Stare into the horizon.  Chew gum.

I've been sitting on Tuskers III for a few days, because really want to end the series on a bang.  There is no hurry.  Or is there?

I read recently that a sense of "urgency" is often necessary to get things done.  Certainly, that is how I've been treating my writing.  This slacking off may be a mistake.

Then again, the next book may be a completely different experience.

Spent all of yesterday at Linda's store, sorting and boxing books.  I have just one day a week to do that now, and there was quite a pile.

Working at my own store today.  It has been humming along quite nicely.  Knock wood.  I feel really fortunate to have the guys I have.

I've been trying hard to get Linda back to writing.  She stalled about halfway through her third book.  I'm hoping that she'll finish it soon.

Waiting sucks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pop-culturally young.

I've mentioned before that I feel like my 32-year-old writer-self who just happened to take a 'short' hiatus from writing.  I have all the enthusiasm I had then, plus a whole bunch of saved up creative energy.  I'm not short of ideas.  I feel determined, as if I'm trying to establish a career.

I think working in a "pop-culture" store for the last 35 years has kept me young in the sense of being in touch with pop-culture, probably more so than most 20 or 30-somethings.  I've been pretty much dealing with younger people for most of my career.  I feel in tune with them, to some extent -- at least in what they're interested in.

It's the same things I'm interested in.

At the same time, my age and experience has given me some perspective and discipline I didn't have before.

But I certainly feel in touch with the pop-culture zeitgeist.  As least as much as I was when I was 32 years old...if not more so.  The things I'm weak on now, I was weak on then.  The things I was strong on then, I'm stronger on now.  Plus a whole lot of knowledge I simply didn't have then.  (Like comic art and writing which I think is perhaps the most creatively open of all the media.)

Maybe I'm kidding myself, but I feel like I'm right in there.

With the added benefit that I have some hard-won, weathered maturity.  That is, I can be more patient, more deliberative in my efforts.  Wait until the books are ready.  Wait for them to take their turn in the carousal.  I have a stronger sense of how long things take and what it takes to get them done.

But that feeling of being in another place, in a world of my own making, that hasn't changed at all. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Hipsters? You mean beatniks?"

I forget sometimes that I really do have an unusual job.  Comic book guy.

Everyone I deal with is younger, (mostly by decades), everything I sell is meant for them.

So I was reading Tuskers in writer's group and one of the older members objected to me using this phrase, "He was glad to be away from Bend and all its hipsters."

"Hipsters is kind of old-fashioned, don't you think?  Like beatniks?"

I look at him somewhat in shock.  "Uh, hipsters is a very current term.  It's very, very current."

He looked at me skeptically, but let it pass.

Meanwhile, my editor (who is younger) wanted to know what "noodling" and "pickleball" is, so it goes the other way too.

I'm surrounded by 'pop' terminology so much that I just assume that everyone I talk to is aware of it all.  But in fact, I'm probably talking a foreign language much of the time.  I still can't get over the fact of my own very smart, educated family not knowing what Cthuhlu was.  It is such an everyday reference in my world.

I don't think I speak in jargon, but in fact I probably do. 

I'm dealing with a hard-core fan base for Doctor Who, and Star Trek, and Marvel and DC, and the Indies, and the Horror, Science-fiction, and Fantasy crowd, and many, many others.  Even if I don't watch Adventure Time, or My Little Pony, I have to know what they are referring to.    I have to know what everyone is talking about, and try to anticipate what they're going to want to buy.

It isn't hard, because it's the milieu I swim in.  But sometimes I get the indication that other 60-ish something people really aren't much like me...

It sometimes scares me that I might become as out of touch as they are.  And then I realize that in the more important scheme of things, it really doesn't matter. 

I have a friend who is very ascetic.  No T.V., no movies, mostly-non-fiction, philosophical leaning preoccupations.  Not saying his lifestyle is better (though he thinks it is) but it probably isn't any worse...

I just have to remind myself that most of this pop-culture knowledge is peripheral and ephemeral and somewhat trivial.

But oh how I love it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

They think, that I think, that they think, that I think...

To continue on with the post about people asking if Led to the Slaughter: The Donner Party Werewolves is non-fiction, I wonder if that doesn't explain some of the deep dislike of genre fiction that I occasionally run into.

To me, a good story is a good story.  Everything is narrative, most things are metaphorical.

But I do wonder if some people are so literal minded that they believe that anyone who reads about spaceships and aliens or hobbits or werewolves actually believes in them.

I bet you couldn't find a more skeptical crowd than science fiction authors, for instance.  I bet a whole bunch of them, probably most of them, don't believe that aliens have visited us.

But that in no way shape or form keeps us genre writers and readers from entertaining the possibilities.

For me, it was always about the adventure.  It was always metaphorical.

Horror is about our fears.  Zombies might be about people who are thoughtlessly destroying everything around us; werewolves about the predator in the dark; vampires about things that drain us of energy and life.

It isn't literal.

On the other side of that coin, I wonder if people who only read non-fiction understand that any book, even so called 'non-fiction,' has been put into a narrative form for them.  Which by necessity entails a certain amount of imagination and filling in the blanks.

Otherwise, the only non-fiction would be a recitation of facts. 

I guess there are those who value imagination and those who don't.

Never the twain shall meet.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hitting rapids.

Sometimes the words flow cleanly, sometimes they just seem to hit rapids, getting all churned up and tossed around.

It can be hard, sometimes, not to just stop when that happens.  I know that I'll have to come back later and clean it up, remove the rocks under the water.  Especially after I've had a fertile period, the temptation is to wait for it to all clear up.

But I don't believe that I can have one without the other.  It is all part of the same river.  If I close the channels to avoid the rapids, well, the flow is cut off altogether.

I have to just stick it out.  Pick my way through.  Hope I can survive without capsizing.

Because otherwise, I just can't make any further progress.

Thing is, when I come back later and work on it, there is probably very little qualitative difference.  Most people probably can't tell the difference between the passages that come easy and the ones that come hard.  I'm traveling the same distance, after all.

So while I'd love for it all to be smooth and easy, it just doesn't happen that way for long.  It becomes hard work, and I just have to keep trying.

This blog is an example. Sometimes as I'm writing it I feel clunky and awkward and not very clear.  Sometimes I feel free and open and the words just right.

Either way, I go ahead and push "Publish." 

It's the flow that counts, not the perfection.  The more words flow, the easier it gets.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hello. Where the hell did you come from?

There's nothing I like better than when a strong and quirky character comes along and takes over my story.

It always seems to rejuvenate me.  Brings the story to life.  This is a character I like!  This character is interesting!  I wonder where he or she will take me!

In this case, I've got a couple, which by bringing into the story means that I have to go back and rewrite some of the earlier relationships, but I think it will be worth it.

I worry a little that I've got too many viewpoint characters.  I'm not sure what the rule on that is.  (Whatever, George R.R. Martin has millions of characters.  But then, he is George R.R. Martin.)

I've become very open to detours and derailments.  They lead to interesting places.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Either way, being 'discovered' is hard.

I am going to make some sweeping statements that may be admittedly over-reaching, but I'm trying to make a general point here.

There is an illusion, I think, that traditional publishers give you more of a chance of being 'discovered.'  I mean, they'll get your book into bookstores and presumably will do some promotion.

With thousands of books being indie published online everyday, it certainly seems as though 'discover-ability' is the biggest problem indie writers have.  How do you get people to buy your book above other books?

Here's the thing, though.  I own a bookstore, and I often order from 'remainder' lists.

It is always an eye-opening experience.  There are a lot of books that are being sold off for pennies on the dollar. 

I'm going to use Young Adult as an example.

There are hundreds, thousands of these YA novels you've never heard of.  Seems like every other book offered is YA.

Thing is, you can kind of get a sense as to whether these books are any good or not.  The synopsis and the ideas and the covers and the titles all give you a pretty good clue.  If you assume the writing is competent, and I think for most publisher-published books you can assume there is a basic level of competency (sweeping statement #1.)

Most of these books actually look pretty good.  As good, I'll venture, as the books you have heard of. (sweeping statement #2 and so on...)

I'm assuming that publishers are hoping for the 'Franchise.'  The Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter road to riches.

The covers to most of these books certainly give that impression.  They follow the design concepts of the big books, are described in the same terms, and so on.

Funny thing most cases, the 'Franchise' book is the book that broke away from the herd, the one that was different, so it seems kind of self-defeating to relegate you Franchise attempt as a knock-off.


I'm betting that most of these authors weren't actually trying to mimic the existing blockbusters, but have been shoe-horned into that.

I have a little experience at that.  My first book, Star Axe, was meant to be a heroic fantasy.  My publisher was looking for Sword and Sorcery, so that is how the labeled it and marketed it.  That was fine.  It wasn't a huge reach.  But it was slightly off the intended audience.

My biggest sweeping statement is -- it seems to me that most of these books are just thrown out there in hopes that they'll somehow miraculously catch on.

Not that much different, I'd say, that an indie publisher putting his/her book online and hoping to catch on.

In both cases, the discover-ability depends a great deal on the author's own efforts, and...well, admit it...luck.

Downtown Comings and Goings. 10/17/14

Three businesses have left downtown or are going.

Bond Street Grill has apparently closed.  Urban Minx has a "Going Out of Business" sign in their window.  And D'Vine/Chocolate Element appears to have vacated their space.

The timing of these things are always interesting to me.  I can't really find a pattern.

I've been hearing rumors about other changes, but I'll wait for confirmation before I post them.


Cosas, Minnesota Ave, 9/4/14
High Desert Chamber Music, Brooks St., 7/9/14
Via Delia/Just a Little Charm, Oregon Ave., 7/9/14
Angelina Organic, Bond St., 7/9/14
Fire in Bend, Franklin Ave., 7/9/14
Stihl Whiskey Bar, Franklin Ave, 7/9/14
The Red Pinecone, Minnesota Ave., 4/10/14
The Painted Gallery, Bond St., 4/10/14
The Basement, Bond St., 4/10/14
Bend Modern, Wall St., 1/10/14
Legum Design, Bond St., 1/10/14
Dogwood Cocktail, Minnesota Ave., 1/10/14.
Salud Raw Food, Franklin Ave., 10/10/13
Bhuvana, Minnisota Ave., 10/10/13.
Outside In, Wall St., 9/26/13.
Bishop's Barbershop, Oregon Ave., 7/24/13
Oregon Store, Wall/Franklin, 7/24/13
Supervillain Sandwiches, Bond St., 7/24/13
Taste Oregon, Bond St., 7/24/13
Wild Rose, 5/2/13.
Bluebird Coffee Company, Franklin, 3/29/13.
Pure Kitchen, Franklin (Bond), 3/29/13
Jeff Murray Photography, Minnesota Ave., 3/29/13
Luvs Donuts, Minnesota Ave. 3/29/13
Hub Cyclery, Wall St. 3/29/13
Ju-bee-lee, Wall. St.  3/29/13.
Sweet Saigon, Wall St., 1/20/13.
Brickhouse, Oregon Ave., 1/20/13.
The Drake, Wall St. , 1/20/13
541 Threads, Minnesota Ave., 10/13/12.
O Mo Mo!  Bond Street, 10/3/12.
Crow's Feet Commons, Brooks Street, 9/21/12.
The Cozy Lamb, Minnesota Ave., 9/14/12.
Noi, Bond Street, 9/14/12.
Azillian Beads, Greenwood Ave., 9/6/12.
Earth*Fire*Art, Oregon Av., 7/10/12.
Pastrami Deli, Franklin Av., 7/10/12.
Bend Your Imagination, Minnesota Av., 7/10/12.
Paul Scott Gallery), Brooks St., 7/10/12
Natural Edge Furniture, Bond St., 5/10/12
Hola!, Bond St., 3/3/12.
Amanda's, Franklin Ave., 2/24/12
Barrio, Minnesota Ave., 2/12/12.
Rescue Moderne, Harriman, 1/12/12.
Letzer's Deli, Franklin Ave. 2/12/12.
Navidi, Minnesota Ave., 2/9/12.
Mazza, Brooks St. , 2/9/12.
La Magie Bakery, Bond St., 1/6/12
Brother Jon's Ale House, Bond St., 12/10/11.
What Lola Wants, Wall St. , 12/2/11.
Jackalope Grill, 10/12/11.
Gypsy Soul, Wall St. 10/12/11.
Colour N' the City, Tin Pan Alley, 10/12/11.
Lotus Moon, Brooks St., 10/12/11.
The Lobby, Bond St. , 10/12/11.
Ruby, Minnesota Ave., 10, 12/11.
Kariella, Lava Road, 8/24, 11.
Plankers, Wall St., 7/11.
Faveur, Franklin, 7/11.
Dream Pebbles, Minnesota Ave., 6/15/11.
Bend Yogurt Factory, Franklin/Bond, 4/26/11.
High Desert Lotus, Bond St. , 4/4/11.
Tryst, Franklin Ave., 3/11/11. (Formerly Maryjanes, **Moved**).
D'Vine, Wall St. , 2/9/11.
Let it Ride!, Bond St., 1/29/11.
Gatsby's Brasserie Bar, Minnesota Ave., 1/8/11
Tres Jolie, Wall St., 12/20/10.
Caldera Grill, Bond St., 12/7/10
Bond Street Grill, 12/7/10.
Perspective(s), Minnesota Ave., 11/20/10
Toth Art Collective, Bond St. 11/20/10
Boken, Breezeway, 11/20/10
Dalia and Emilia, Wall St., 10/3/10.
Antiquarian Books, Bond St., 10/3/10.
Giddyup, Minnesota Ave., 10/3/10.
The Closet, Minnesota Ave., 8/11/10.
Showcase Hats, Oregon Ave., 8/11/10,
Red Chair Art Gallery, Oregon Ave. 7/13/10.
Earth Sense Herbs, Penny's Galleria, 7/12/10.
Mad Happy Lounge, Brooks St., 6/2910
Common Table, Oregon Ave. , 6/29/10.
Looney Bean Coffee, Brooks St. , 6/29/10.
Bourbon Street, Minnesota Ave., 6/22/10
Feather's Edge, Minnesota Ave., 6/22/10
The BLVD., Wall St. , 6/13/10.
Volt, Minnesota Ave. 6/1/10.
Tart, Minnesota Ave. , 5/13/10
Olivia Hunter, Wall St. 4/5/10.
Tres Chic, 4/5/10 (Moved to Minnesota Av.)
Blue Star Salon, Wall St. 4/1/10.
Lululemon, Bond St. 3/31/10.
Diana's Jewel Box, Minnesota Ave., 3/25/10.
Amalia's, Wall St. (Ciao Mambo space), 3/12/10
River Bend Fine Art, Bond St. (Kebanu space) 2/23/10
Federal Express, Oregon Ave. 2/1/10
***10 Below, Minnesota Ave. 1/10/10
Tew Boots Gallery, Bond St. 1/8/10.
Top Leaf Mate, 12/10/09
Laughing Girls Studio, Minnesota Ave. 12/7/09
Lemon Drop, 5 Minnesota Ave., 11/12/09
The Curiosity Shoppe, 25 N.W. Minnesota Ave, Suite #7. 11/5/09
Wabi Sabi 11/4/09 (**Moved, Wall St.**)
Frugal Boutique 11/4/09
5 Spice 10/22/09
Cowgirls Cash 10/17/09
***Haven Home 10/17/09
Dog Patch 10/17/09
The Good Drop 10/12/09
Lola's 9/23/09
**Volcano Wines 9/15/09
Singing Sparrow Flowers 8/16/09
Northwest Home Interiors 8/5/09
High Desert Frameworks 7/23/09 (*Moved to Oregon Ave. 4/5/10.)
Wall Street Gifts 7/--/09
Ina Louise 7/14/09
Bend Home Hardware (Homestyle Hardware?) 7/1/09
Altera Real Estate 6/9/09
Honey 6/7/09
Azura Studio 6/7/09
Mary Jane's 6/1/09
c.c.McKenzie 6/1/09
Velvet 5/28/09
Bella Moda 3/25/09
High Desert Gallery (Bend) 3/25/09
900 Wall
Great Outdoor Store
Luxe Home Interiors
Powell's Candy
Dudley's Used Books and Coffee
Game Domain
Subway Sandwiches
Bend Burger Company
Showcase Hats
Pita Pit
Happy Nails

(List begun, Fall, 2008.)


D'Vine/Chocolate Element, Wall St., 10/17/14
Urban Minx, Minnesota Ave., 10/17/14
Bond Street Grill, Bond St., 10/17/14
Alpenglow, Wall St., 9/4/14
Christian Science Reading Room, Minnesota Ave., 7/9/14
Roberts Clothes for Men, Wall St., 7/914
Pure Kitchen, Franklin Ave., 7/9/14
Dream Pebbles, Minnesota Ave., 1/10/14
Pastrami Deli, Franklin Ave., 10/10/13.
Edman Furniture, Wall St., 9/26/13.
At the Beach, Wall ST., 9/18/13.
New York City Sub, Bond St. 3/29/13
Soba Asian Bistro, Bond St., 3/29/13
Volt Lighting, Wall St.  3/29/13.
Topolino, Wall Street, 1/20/13.
Cozy Lamb, Minnesota Ave., 1/20/13
Amalia's, Wall Street, 1/5/13.
El Jimador, Wall Street, 9/1412.
The Closet, Minnesota Ave., 9/1/12
Common Table, Oregon Ave., 8/11/12.
Honey Threads, Minnesota Ave., 8/11/12.
Bella Moda, Wall St., 8/11/12.
Giddy Up, Minnesota Ave., 5/10/12
Pottery Lounge, Oregon Ave., 5/17/12.
Boondocks, Newport Ave., 3/27/12
Game Domain, Oregon Ave., 3/27/12.
Toth Gallery, Bond St., 3/27/12.
Letzer's Deli, Franklin Ave., 3/22/12.
Clutch, Minnesota Ave., 3/22/12.  (Moving to Tres Jolie).
High Desert Gallery, Minnesota Ave., 3/22/12.
Tart, Bond St., 3/3/12.
El Caporal West, Franklin Ave., 2/24/12
Bo Restobar, Franklin Ave., 2/9/12.
The Lobby, Bond St. , 2/9/12.
Arts Central, Brooks St., 2/7/12.
Typhoon!, Bond St., 2/5/12.
Gatsby's, Minnesota Ave., 2/5/12
The Dog Patch, Minnesota Av. 1/9/12.
Bend Mapping, Bond St., 1/9/12.
Lotus Moon, Brooks St. 1/9/12   (Moving to Tres Jolie)
Bond Street Grill, Bond St., 11/20/12.
Mad Happy Lounge, Brooks St., 10/11.
Azu, Wall St., 10/25/11.
Showcase Hats, Oregon Av., 10/11.
Bourbon St., Minnesota Ave. 10/12/11.
Curiosity Shop, Minnesota Ave., 7/11
Luluemon, Bond St., 8/26, 11.
Shear Illusions, Franklin Ave., 7/11.
Crepe Place, Wall St., 7/11.
Pita Pit, Brooks St. , 6/28/11
Smith and Wade Salon, Minnesota, Av. , 6/3/11.
Perspectives, Minnesota Av., 6/1/11
River Bend Art Gallery, Bond St., 5/5/11.
Donner's Flowers, Wall St. 3/11/11. (Moved out downtown)
Maryjanes, Wall St. , 3/11/11. (new name, Tryst,  Franklin.).
Di Lusso, Franklin/Bond, 2/9/11.
Earth Sense Herbs, Penny's Galleria, 1/2/11
Marz Bistro, Minnesota Av., 12/20/10.
The Decoy, Bond St., 12/7/10.
Giuseppe's, Bond St., 12/1/10.
Ina Louise, Minnesota Ave., 11/3/10.
Laughing Girl Studios, 10/21/10
Dolce Vita, Bond St, 10/21/10
Diana's Jewell Box, Minnesota Ave., 10/15/10.
Lola's, Breezeway, 10/8/10.
Oxygen Tattoo, Bond St., 10/3/10.
Great Outdoor Clothing, Wall St., 10/3/10.
Volcano Vineyards, Minnesota Ave., 10/3/10.
Subway Sandwiches, Bond St. 9/2/10.
Old Bend Distillery, Brooks St., 6/19/10.
Staccato, Minnesota Ave. 6/18/10.
Showcase Hats, Minnesota Ave., 6/1/10
Cork, Oregon Ave., 5/27/10.
Wall Street Gifts, 5/26/10
Microsphere, Wall St. , 5/17/10.
Singing Sparrow, Franklin and Bond, 5/15/10
28, Minnesota Ave. and Bond, 5/13/10.
Glass Symphony, Wall St., 3/25/10
Bend Home Hardware, Minnesota Ave, 2/25/10
Ciao Mambo, Wall St. 2/4/10
***Angel Kisses 1/25/10   (Have moved to 'Honey.')
Ivy Rose Manor 8/20/09
***Downtowner 8/18/09 (moving to Summit location)
Chocolate e Gateaux 8/16/09
Finders Keepers 8/15/09
Colourstone 7/25/09
Periwinkle 6/--/09
***Tangerine 7/21/09 (Moving across the street.)
Micheal Cassidy Gallery 6/15/09
St. Claire Coffee 6/15/09
Luxe Home Interiors 6/4/09
Treefort 5/8/09
Blue 5/2/09
***Volcano Tasting Room 4/28/09
Habit 4/16/09
Mountain Comfort 4/14/09
Tetherow Property 4/11/09
Blue Moon Marketplace 3/25/09
Plenty 3/25/09
Downtown Doggie 3/25/09
***King of Sole (became Mary Janes)**
Santee Alley
Bistro Corlise
Made in Hawaii
Stewart Weinmann (leather)
Kebanu Gallery
Pella Doors and Windows
Olive company
Pink Frog
Little Italy
***Pomegranate (downtown branch)**
Pronghorn Real Estate office.
Speedshop Deli
Paper Place
Bluefish Bistro

(List begun, Fall, 2008 )

Dystopian Authors and Fans.

Joined a Facebook group called A Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans.  Seem like my kind of people.

Just in time, too, since Tuskers is my first true post-apocalyptic story.

Got the edited version back from Lara.  It'll take me a couple of days to go through her edits and add the ones I've done myself.  Then I'm going to send it on to a publisher who expressed interest and try to get a commitment of some kind.

I sent Tuskers II to Lara.

I'm halfway through Tuskers III.  It will get done, I have no doubt.

There has been a bit of an uproar in the small press world, since a company that was making a lot of waves, Permuted Press, has been making some questionable moves.  My publisher, Books of the Dead Press, wanted to make a statement about how he is different from that and asked all his authors for quotes to put in a splash ad in Cemetery Dance magazine, which I was glad to provide, as were most of his other authors.  I've been feeling fortunate that I hooked up with a company that seems to have integrity and seems to know the horror niche so well.

Interesting times in the publishing world.

I know at some point I'll make the leap to self-publishing, but I figure it doesn't hurt to get a little grounding with established publishers first.

I keep working on my Lander series (Faerylander, Wolflander, Ghostlander, so far) and I'm thinking of it as my magnum opus.  The series that I spend the most time doing.  I've already paid for the first two covers, so there is nothing to stop me from putting them out myself.

But, one step at at time.  I don't really want to release my books so fast that they step on each other, so I'm just going to be patient and get each book ready for their best time.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

2nd quarter: my book sales.

Got a report from Books of the Dead Press of my book sales from April through June.

Better than I expected.  Not setting the world on fire, but enough to feel like I've got my foot in the door.

I had a rough idea of sales for Led to the Slaughter from Amazon, but there were some under the wire things happening that I couldn't see. 

Sales on the Vampire Evolution Trilogy were quite a bit higher than I knew.

There were some promotional sales that happened that bumped the numbers up a little, but didn't amount to as much in royalties.  I'm perfectly okay with that, in fact I was going to maybe recommend to the publisher that he do more of that.

Smashword sales still weren't huge, but much better than that month and a half I had in the first quarter. I'm pretty sure they don't include sales from Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, or the rest yet.  Not sure if it matters, the vast bulk of sales are likely to be Amazon, followed by Smashwords, and then the rest.

I know the books continued to sell at a slightly slower pace in the 3rd quarter, July through September, so I've got that to look forward to.  They've stopped selling as well in the 4th quarter so far, but I'm hoping that the release of The Dead Spend No Gold (soon, I'm told) will help that.

I'm trying to see this as a long term process.  That each book will help the previous book and so forth.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The writer's lot in life.

Read another section of Tuskers at writer's group last night and got encouragement.  They really seem to like it.  Just when I needed it.

I've been feeling isolated for awhile now.  On my own.  Which is the writer's lot in life, I suppose.  But even five people approving of something you wrote face to face can be a powerful tonic.

I was a little horrified by how many little typos I had, since this is the version I sent a publisher.  I had at least half a dozen places where I had first person instead of third person narration, despite trying to wean those out.

I'm supposed to get a "clean edit" from Lara tonight, and when I'm done consolidating the changes I've made, with her edit, I'll send that version along to the publisher.

I've been sitting down and writing every day, despite not feeling particularly inspired.  I'll be about halfway done with Tuskers III by the end of today.

I've been struggling with words, and wondering if I wouldn't be better off waiting for "inspiration."  But I just took a month off, and I've got the feeling that not only didn't it help as much as I thought it would, it may even have hurt.  I need to immerse myself in this world, and the only way to do that is to sit down and do it.

I'm finding that even when I don't get much writing done, a few little plot turns come to me here and there.  So I'm sitting in that darkened room and trying to get there every day.  I'm on pace, but instead of it taking a couple of hours, like when I'm on a roll, it is taking all day to eke out the words.

Thing is --  by the time I rewrite, I'm not sure a reader can tell the difference between those words that come easy and those words that come hard.

No word on when The Dead Spend No Gold might be published, either ebook or physical. (The contract was signed.)  I swore I wouldn't pester my publisher, and I'm sticking to that vow.  But it's hard.

Led to the Slaughter has had it natural selling period. (About six months).  Now it needs the sequel to hopefully give it a boost.

It's just one of those lulls that happen.  Part of the cycle.  I just have to hang in there.

Linda and I drove out to Paulina Springs Bookstore in Sisters, to see if they had done anything with the five copies I'd left.  They had a copy of my book in the S.F. and Fantasy section, among all the other books, and that felt good.  They'd sold a couple copies, apparently, and sent a couple of copies to the Redmond store.  (Unlike another regional bookstore I'd given copies to, and who had basically dissed my books by putting them in a very poor location in their store.  I just picked up the copies I'd left there, thanked them, and left.) 

So thanks to Paulina Springs.

I also keep getting reports that the book is constantly checked out at the local libraries.  So that's cool.

Just looking for small encouragements.

And then trying to forget about them while I write.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Getting out there.

It's interesting to watch other authors, who are more or less my peers, and see how they handle themselves.

One thing is for damn sure. Most of them are considerably more active in promoting themselves and their books, both online and in person.

Some of them are extreme extroverts, dressing up, acting out, engaging and arguing and posting and showing up at every conceivable event.  This is not to criticize them.  In fact, the opposite.  More power to them!  I can see how that might work.

Actually, I can see how that might be the only thing that works.

Ah, well.  I need to just keep writing my books. That takes all the energy I got.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Never mind the bollocks.

Or in this case, the birthday.

Too late to change the title of my blog.  I started this blog 8 years ago this coming November, (another significant anniversary.)  Haven't missed a day of posting since.  I don't edit myself a whole lot, I just let the bollocks out.

I'd been using the joke in the title for years before that, when I was solidly middle-aged.

I'm not minimum wage anymore, nor am I perhaps technically middle-aged (I qualify for S.S. as of today), nor are most of my entries about the store.

But, hey, if I'm talking about writing, I'm still that 32 year old (heading into 'middle age') who quit writing who's taking up writing again, and who's new 'job' is definitely paying 'minimum wage'.  (Actually, not even close, if you take the hours into account.)

You know what makes me notice age?  My poor cat Panga is really struggling to move around.  I remember her being a cute little kitten not so long ago.  From kitten to crotchety in a flash.

Just like life.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Waiting for a breakthrough.

The plot isn't going where I expected.  Usually, that's a good thing.  Plots that are too easy or too foreordained, also tend to be predictable.

So I'm fine with it.  It comes with the new characters.

I'm having to change some of the relationships and some of the personalities so that they all fit in.  Also a good thing. 

But I do seem to be struggling with my writing right now, which hasn't been my usual experience over the last couple of years.  I'd wonder if my creative surge is coming to an end except that Tuskers I and II came so quickly and easily.

The only thing I can think to do is keep making the time, try to coax the ideas and words, and just hang in there.

I've having some 1000 word days, which are a struggle, instead of 2000 word days where I'm purposely holding myself back.

Is it because the book isn't going where it's supposed to go?

I don't see how, since I'm not sure where the book is going.  Maybe that's it.  I don't know.

Going to cloister myself again, and hope for a breakthrough.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I cloistered myself yesterday.  Took my shower, got dressed, and got to work.  Pretty much shut myself in my darkened bedroom with my laptop and waited for the words.  It took all day, but I got there.

The focus was on the book.  Make the book good.  Don't worry about deadlines, don't worry about the finished product, just engage in the process.

A couple of things happened, which I'll talk about in more detail in a couple of other posts today.

One was, I realized that I pretty much take procrastination into account when I do this.  It doesn't take all day to write 2000 words.  Most of the day is spent waiting around.

The other thing was, after taking a nap, a couple of characters came to me that were full developed in conception.  Two characters I really liked.  The only real question was -- could the book handle two more characters?

I decided it could, barely.  At any rate, I like these two new characters too much not to use them.

So I didn't go for a walk yesterday, but I nevertheless woke up at 4:00 in the morning with a sore knee.  What???  I think, sometimes, my joints just snap wrong or something.  Took an Aleve and it feels okay this morning, just a little sore.

Also almost got sick to my stomach, and almost passed out from lightheadedness.  This comes from low blood pressure if I get up too quickly.  I'd intended to drink some wine last night, but once again I didn't do it, thank goodness.  That seems to be my regular thing now.  I just don't drink.  Not a conscious decision, just a slow devolution.

Going to cloister myself today again, and the next day, and the next.

I do owe Linda some book filing time.  She needs my help and I sort of enjoy doing it.

But writing first.

Friday, October 10, 2014


I've spent too much time on the internet.  I've let other things distract me.  I've let the writing slide.  I haven't cleared my mind, or my time, or my space the way I need to.

I've been comparing myself to other writers too much.

I've been waiting for confirmation from publishers.

I've been second-guessing, overthinking, and doubting myself.

It is time to get back to writing, where the writing is the focus and to hell with everything else.

So that is what I'm going to do.  I'm clearing away the rest of this month to do nothing but writing.  

Cool.  I think I'm ready for it.

Writing is #1...and #2...and #3....

Still in limbo.

Taxes are due and they are going to cost me.  The store has been slow for a few days, just when I could use a boost.  (Maddeningly, the new Magic release isn't selling. Why?  What happened?  Argghhh.)

Stock market is dropping.

Anyway, yesterday I just gave up.  I worked at the store.  (Sold 2 books, though I hadn't intended to try).  No dieting, didn't go for a walk, didn't write. Just in a fuck it, what does it matter mood.

I had planned to really get rolling on Tuskers III in October, but I made the mistake of carrying on my dieting and exercise program, and I had my taxes still to do, and I was planning a trip to eastern Oregon later in the month to follow the Meek's Cutoff.

All of it was distracting.

Here's the little secret about my writing so much.  I'm writing so much because that's what I do.  It is #1 on my list of things to do, and #2, and #3.

Unless everything else is cleared away, it doesn't happen.

So that's what I'm doing, as of today.  Everything gets shoved to the side.  Pay the taxes out of savings and fuck it.  Let the store do what the store does.  Drop the dieting and exercise. (I might go for walks for inspirational purposes.) Delay the eastern Oregon trip until spring.

Put writing #1, #2, and #3...and #4.

Make it my total and complete focus.

Pardon me while I live in my Wild Pig Apocalypse for awhile.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thought experiment. Writing without the Internet.

I did a little mind experiment yesterday, to deal with my impatience over the slow pace of everything outside my own writing: the editing, the submitting, the paying, the publishing.

What would my writing career be like without the Internet?

Pretty awful.

I'd no doubt still be sending off physical excerpts of my books to agents, who would no doubt still be sending back form rejections.  I'd probably have tried submitting to less agents at a time, because of the cost and time of mailing.  So I'd probably still be submitting the original effort.

Or maybe I'd have moved on to trying a second excerpt.

And even if I was accepted, which doesn't seem likely based on what has happened so far, I'd then have to go through the same process with a publisher.

I'd probably have have written no more than a couple of books by now.  And I would no doubt have only written the first book in each trilogy, because what would be the point of writing further?

So I'd be sitting here for a couple of years with extremely limited and probably negative feedback.  I'd have spent far less time writing and learning and hoping.

Frankly, I'd probably have quit.

Meanwhile, when doing this thought experiment, I can't help but think about Linda and how grateful I am to how she responds to my writing.

She is totally supportive.  She says she really "likes" my writing and I believe her.  While she may have constructive criticism, she seems to think I'm a "good" writer.

I don't know.  Maybe that support would have been enough to endure the waiting and rejection.  That and the fact that I pretty much enjoy writing, coming up with a story, living with my characters.

Reading my work in writer's group might also have been enough feedback to keep me going for awhile.

But no matter how supportive Linda is, and no matter how much I like writing, I'm not sure I could have continued without seeing something I wrote in print -- whether as an e-book, or as a physical book.

So what the Internet has done is released my creativity in an enormously constructive way.  I can write as fast and as much as I want, and know that -- in the end -- it will be somewhere online and that a few people, here or there, might actually stumble across it and read it.

And that makes all the difference.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sales graph at Pegasus Books has been a perfect V.

The sales graph at Pegasus Books over the last seven years has been an almost perfect V shape.

The high was in 2007.

It dropped 15% in 2008.

It dropped 11% in 2009.

It dropped 6% in 2010.

That was the low point.

It then rose 5% in 2011.

It rose 12% in 2012.

It rose 4% in 2013.

And it looks like it will rise about 6% in 2014.  

I will be very, very close to the high I reached in 2007.  It's not quite a perfect V.  It went down for three years, and it has taken 4 years to get back up to the previous level.

But amazingly close.

Also proof, as far as I'm concerned, that it wasn't the store, but the overall economy that caused the V.

The overall drop was about 28%.  I thought it might drop as much as 40%.  My worst case survival scenario was it would drop 50%.  (Worst case -- living in a cave, eating mice.)

If I hadn't added books and boardgames, that might have happened.  Because I was adding inventory, and thus sales, the drop wasn't quite as bad as it could have been.  But by adding inventory, it probably cut our profit margins substantially.  Still, the product lines are established, and I'm starting to see the benefits of that now.

I predicted, based on my research of previous bubble collapses, that it would take seven years.  I nailed it.

Within that time span, there were more severe drops. If you take mid-way between 2007 and midway 2008, it was probably a much bigger decline to kick the whole thing off.   So the year totals obscure the true magnitude of the decline.

We did fine.  I adjusted my ordering accordingly, I had eliminated debt, built up a small cash cushion, like I said, added new revenue producing product, and worked the store by myself for a year to keep down expenses.

I will give myself total credit for seeing the bubble for what it was, and responding appropriately, for planning, and for forecasting what would happen.  I was very careful not to add to overhead in the years preceding the crash.  No loans, no capital improvements, no adding to costs that I couldn't cut if I had to.

Despite all the doubters at the time.

I should add for the sake of those who don't live in Bend and didn't see such precipitous declines, that Bend probably had it as bad as anyone in the country.  We were a bubble within a bubble.  I wouldn't be surprised if we were in the top 10 declines, just as we were in the top 10 rises at the time of the bubble.

Just saying.

Superhero shows...nothing to do with comics, of course.

I extended my deadline for Tuskers III to a more realistic level, and then took the day off yesterday.  I also pushed back my trip to Baker City to follow the Meek's Cutoff trail until spring, because I'm not ready to write the third Virginia Reed adventure yet.

I also decided I was tired of walking in the heat and would skip a day.

So other than doing a few errands yesterday, I was pretty useless.

Then, just as it was falling dark, I decided to try to get in as much walking as I could.  I jetted out to the Horse Ridge trail, thinking I could follow the flatland part of it for a mile or two before it got dark.  Well, I got in only a mile or so before it got too dark.  I thought the full moon would be enough light to see, but the problem is -- in the desert, everything looks like a trail.

So I went out to the old highway and just started walking.

It was great.  Very refreshing.  75 degrees, completely and utterly silent, and plenty of moonlight.  There is something really peaceful about the darkness.  ("Hello darkness my old friend...")  Just followed my moon shadow, and the white stripes, and didn't see a car for nearly 2 hours.  Because it was a paved surface, I went 5 miles this time.

I'm going to spend more time at Linda's store today putting books away, see if I can't get my paces in that way.

We watched 3 superhero shows in a row last night.  Never thought that would happen.  Not only that, but all three were competently done.

Flash was pretty good.  The main character can act, even if he is a little too emo for me.  (Why are superheroes so emo these days?)

Then watched Agents of Shield.  This seems to be getting lots of criticism, mostly disappointment from the fans, I think, but I rather like it. 

Then another episode of Gotham, also very well done. 

Who would have ever thought?

Of course, it has nothing to do with actual comics...

By that, I mean, it's pretty basic stuff.  Comics have much more depth, in most cases.  And neither T.V. shows or movies seem to move the needle much on sales of comics.

I keep coming back to "They can't hurt" in their effect.  But sadly, I don't know that they help all that much either.

It's a weird disconnect.

The best way I've ever heard it explained is this.  "When you came out of The Unforgiven, was your first impulse to go buy a western novel?"

Like I said, anything that gives our industry credibility is good...lays the groundwork for possible future customers.  Someday, maybe there will be a trigger.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Werewolves...a true story.

One of the more unexpected questions I get about my book, Led to the Slaughter: The Donner Party Werewolves, is:  "Is it a true story?"

The first couple of times it happened, I laughed and said, "It's all fiction...except for the werewolves."

But...I've been thinking that's kind of strange.  Because they are serious when they ask it.  Totally serious.

I mean, does their world view -- their factual view of the world -- include werewolves?

Today, I think I may have finally figured it out. 

I think, they think, that I think, werewolves are true.  You know, like believing that aliens built the Pyramids, or something. 

It's still funny, but maybe not quite as strange as I thought.  I suppose there might be people out there who truly believe in vampires and werewolves. 

Funny thing is, I'm pretty sure none of the writers who write horror believe in them. 

Taxes. Say what?

My tax bill was way bigger than I expected.  Much bigger.

"Where's the money?" I asked.  "I don't understand how that's possible."

"Everyone says that," Gary says.  "Hey, look at the bright side.  It will make your Social Security payout bigger..."

I'll have to pull money out of retirement savings.  I swear, no matter what I do, I can't seem to add to what's there.

"At least it's there," says Linda.

So here's my brightside take on it.  At least the store is showing it can provide a 'living wage' if I ever want to sell it.  Especially considering the amount of time I take off.  So...

Nothing I can do about it.  I owe the money.

We had a discussion about whether I should include my writing expenses or treat it as a hobby.  "You'll have a couple of years to prove that it isn't a hobby.  Frankly, most people hold off."

"Let's include it," I said, thereby probably proving that I'm as delusional as anyone.  What I'm saying here is that I have the faith that the revenues will be enough in the next couple of years to turn the "hobby" of writing into the "business" of writing.  That my income will exceed my outflow...

Went for my walk yesterday.  It seems like it's getting harder, not easier.  After a couple of weeks of walking, I felt so much better.  Now after five weeks of walking, I'm feeling tired.  I think it's because of the higher temperatures.  It seems to take it out of me.

I ate rice crackers again last night.  I'm scrupulous about calorie counts, but it seems like everytime I have a snack of any kind -- even if it is within the limits -- I don't lose weight.  So either the crackers have more calories than they're saying, or something else is going on.  Back to my four small meals a day...

I'm on track with my writing, but not feeling inspired.  I've decided not to write unless I feel some 'spark.'  I can put words down without the spark, and that can be okay sometimes, but not for most of the book.  For me, good news can be motivation.  Strangely, bad news is usually motivating.  No news, not so much.

Everything is in limbo.  Waiting.

Writing isn't for people who need instant gratification -- unless the writing itself does it.  Even then, it takes a huge effort to write an entire book and get the full measure of satisfaction.

Oh, well.  Stick to the program. Three years left on my pre-schedule.  When I step back, I realize I'm actually ahead of myself so far.

Carry on.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Being optimistic, not delusional.

Very often, people will say, "Hey, when you're a best-selling author I can say I knew you when!" or "Let me know when the movie is coming out!"

I know this is the conversational equivalent of "How ya doing?" Nevertheless I can't let it go unchallenged.

"That is extremely unlikely," I say.

The funny thing is, people seem to believe that I'm being pessimistic, or that I don't have confidence in myself.

To me, it's the opposite.

What I'm saying is -- even though I can clearly see that the odds of anything like that happening are extremely long, I am still willing to give it a go. I still think I have what it takes, with a little help and a little luck.

That to me that is optimism.  Knowing it probably won't happen, but trying anyway.

Thinking it is going to happen, without looking at it soberly, doesn't take much willpower or stamina or discipline.  It's just being delusional.

When you're delusional, you aren't seeing the world correctly. You're likely to make stupid mistakes, you're likely to overestimate your power and influence.

Worse, you'll probably give up when the world gives you something other than your delusion.

So I prefer to understand how the world really works, as best I can, and then say, "Fuck it, I'm going to try anyway."

You know, someone has to be the one that gets lucky. 

But I think it's important to recognize it as such.

You can skip this post.

Nothin' happening.

Went for my walk, and my favorite spot was taken.  I think the same couple, who seems to be there in the mornings.  I'll try the afternoons.

Perforce, I went to top of Horse Ridge again.  I like that walk.  There is something inspiring about walking along the rim of a cliff, something that lifts the heart.  But it is a short walk and very dusty. 

Wrote my 2 thousand words.  I've got the first half of Tuskers III mapped out.

I really want to take a leap in the second half of the book.  Conceptually.  Make it "post" apocalyptic instead of during the apocalypse.  Make it kind of weird tech, steampunky.

I think I may jump ahead a few years, bring in some new characters.  Try for a different feel.

Don't know why.  Just feels like the right thing to do.

Finished my taxes yesterday.  I shouldn't have tried to do it in one day because I started making big transcription mistakes.  Broke away and napped for an hour and came back and finished it.

Somehow I seem to have spent less on product and overhead.  My best results ever in profit margins, this in a year where we had increased sales.  So a successful year.

Means my tax bill will be bigger than I expected, bigger than I can afford, which will put the crimp on the rest of the year.

Why was last year better?

Because I wasn't there to get into mischief, for one thing.  I'm sure the smaller ordering was completely due to me not constantly filling holes. 

The increase in business despite spending less -- is due mostly to my guys, Cameron and Matt (and Jasper for part of the year.)  They are bright-eyed and bushy tailed.  Just what I need at this point in my life.  I was the frontman perhaps for too long.  It wore me down.

I was talking to my friend Wes about how so many writers my age seem jaded and cynical, and how I was feeling very enthusiastic about it.

"Yeah, but you spent 30 years in your business.  How do you feel about that?"

"Uh...slightly jaded and cynical."

Not as bad as all that.  I managed to keep reinventing the store.  There were a couple patches, about 10 years in when sports cards collapsed, and then when I was near the breaking point when the credit cards got out of control, and then I got on a high-horse for a few years about people "not reading!" when I was not as cheerful as I could be.  But for the last 8 years of so, I've been good.  I regained some of my freshness.

Then I started writing.  I really let most problems in the store go these days.  Let the store be the store.

It seems to be working.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

%(&$(#! Taxes.

Drove to the top of Horse Ridge again yesterday, and this time walked in the other direction.  I tried to reach the end of Dry Canyon, but the slope above the very high cliffs got a little too steep for me and started to give me the willies.  When did I become such a wuss?

Anyway, it was a very pleasant walk, and I wrote my 2000 words, and all was good.  As I was walking along, I kept seeing flat stones.  I'm not sure if they are technically 'slate' but they had that look.  When I was halfway back, I came across a natural cairn that was just stacked with these stones.  I realized I was only 50 feet from the highway.  So I started carrying the rocks up to the fence and tossing them over.  Got about 30 of them.

Then walked back to the car and drove parallel to the deposit-point and loaded up the trunk.

Came home and made a very cool path in my garden.

I hope it is legal to take rocks from public land.  Gosh, I wouldn't want to take all of them.  I mean, what would hold everything up?  The trees might sink!  The cliffs might sag!  The sand might fall into a whirlpool!

I'm thinking about doing the same thing a few more times.

I've lost 16 pounds, but I was sweating profusely yesterday, so I'm figuring 2 of those pounds are water.  Plan to keep going with my diet for another couple of weeks.  I'm hoping to continue walking for the indefinite future.

My garden could be really cool if I just paid more attention to it.  Writing took over my life, but I'm also physically lazy, and maybe not the green thumb I'd like to be.  I think 'architecturally' when I garden, and the plants are part of the architecture.  I get so much done in just a few hours of gardening, that I realize I could really create something nice if I applied myself.

But I chose writing.  Writing, writing, writing.

Meanwhile, I can procrastinate on my taxes no longer.  Have an appointment with the accountant tomorrow morning.  I laid out all the paperwork last night (even that took a couple hours!).  I'm not quite so detail obsessive on my numbers as I once was.  For instance, while I have the daily totals on the register tapes and in my notebook, I've always written them in my Dome accounting book too.  I realized I don't really need to do that.  All that matters are the totals.  So I photo-copied the totals and put that in the notebook.  Saved a couple of hours, probably.

I'm hoping I can get my 2000 words in today, despite the taxes.  I'm going to head up to Horse Ridge again, but probably not try to grab any rocks.  I was pretty exhausted last night, and I need to save up some energy for taxes.

Fucking taxes.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Writing among the lava and junipers.

Yesterday, I drove to the top of Horse Ridge, where a monument sign overlooks Dry Canyon, and then walked along the rim. There isn't really a trail, but there were lots of other tracks so I'm not the only one who has found this spot.  Every few hundred yards, I stopped and wrote for awhile.  When it came time to walk back to the car, it turned out I'd gone a couple miles, so four miles altogether, much further than I expected.  Saw a bunny and a chipmonk and hawks.  I suppose if I want to see more than that, I need to quit talking to myself.

The ridge was very pleasant.  A gentle slope, spectacular views, interesting formations.  It had an almost spiritual quality.

I'm finding on my walks a kind of rough circle of beauty.

The closer, more accessible places, while technically in nature, seem scarred by humans.  Shotgun shells, dog poop, rusty cans.  Pretty disgraceful.  What the hell is wrong with some people?

Go out a little further, and evidence of humans starts to fade slightly, and yet it still feels somehow tarnished.  I'm still likely to run into other people.

Go out a little further than that and I get the sense of aloneness I crave, and the scenery is usually nicer.  It takes too much difficulty for most people to get there, so it is somewhat protected.

I can enhance this by going off the paths.  Wander away from the worn trails and strike off on my own.  I don't go so far that I could get lost, but far enough to make it extremely unlikely that I'll run into anyone else.

Here I get lost in my writing.

Finally got untracked yesterday on Tuskers III.  Wrote more than in the first 3 days combined, so I'm back on track.

I left the house early yesterday, determined to get into the story once and for all.  I wasn't going to come back home until I had a firm sense of it.  But once I started writing, it came to me pretty easy.

I think what happened is that I created a couple of characters I really liked, which led to other characters I liked, and then the connections between them.

This isn't turning out to be the mega-world spanning scenario I originally envisioned.  Like the first two books, it is locally oriented, set among a couple of small bands of humans and Tuskers, with the implication that more is going on that we can't see.  That makes it more personal, more human (or individual) oriented.

If I feel the people, like the people (good or bad), then I have a story.

Yesterday's walk was so pleasant, I'm going to retrace it today.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Good things come to those who wait.

Oh, sure.  Keep telling yourself that.

Feeling a bit in limbo. The Dead Spend No Gold has been with the publisher for a month, which isn't that long in the scheme of things, especially compared to the old days.  Still, makes me a little uneasy that it hasn't come out yet. (No good reason, the contract is signed.)

Just waiting.

I feel responsible for the sales of my books.  I want my publisher to be happy. When it comes out, I'm going to do my best to get my friends to buy and read it.  Just warning you.

I have another publisher looking at Tuskers.  I was perfectly willing to self-publish Tuskers.  In fact, that was my intention.  But I had an opening, so I took it. (One of the owners had given Led to the Slaughter a good review.)

It is straying off the path I assigned myself.  But sometimes, I believe, you have to stray off the path so that you can find the outlines of the path.  It may be setting myself up for disappointment, but I've decided I can risk the blow to my ego. (Linda is always warning me to watch out for my arrogant mood.  I'm trying, I'm trying to be humble...)

Just waiting.

Meanwhile, having a bit of a hard time at the start of Tuskers III.  I've written about 1500 words a day, instead of my usual 2000 words and beyond.  Again, not that big a deal in the scheme of things.  My pace has been blistering for a couple of years now, and should be no surprise if I slow down.

I thought maybe the month off would rejuvenate me, but instead I think it made me slightly rusty.

I continue to walk as much as I can, and my weight hasn't budged in a couple of weeks, which is disappointing.  Still...sticking to the program.  I'm weirdly disciplined for being such a lazy S.O.B.

Just waiting.

Ordered a cool book from my book distributor, called The Meek Cutoff, which is full of detailed maps.  I plan to diagram a route I can follow, and then stop every ten miles or so and write about what I see.  I'm hoping I can do this before the weather turns.  If I can't get to it, I'll do it in the spring instead.

I'm feeling like the current book is missing some description, so on my walk today I'm going to try to work at adding some sensory material.

Because I plan to make a full push when The Dead Spend No Gold comes out, I've been quiet about it on my social media.  Other than this blog, which is about the nuts and bolts of writing. (And my constant trying to boost my motivation.)

Just waiting.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Writing as therapy. Readers will understand.

I spent a month not writing.

And it bugged me.

I did it because I thought I needed to recharge a little.  I had other things I wanted to do, exercise and losing weight, which are like having a second job.

But I got more and more antsy as time stretched on.  I started to doubt myself.  The fun started to fade.

As soon as I started writing a couple of days ago, I felt a calm come over me.  It felt comfortable and right.  I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.

As I've mentioned, when I'm actually writing, I don't care whether the book is ever going to be published or successful.  I just care that the book feels good to me. 

People have asked if the writing is enough.

For reasons that are somewhat unexpected, I'd have to say yes.  The process itself to me is very satisfying.  Telling a story is very fulfilling.  I love the challenge and the technical details.  I just like having that subconscious flow going.

Readers will understand how I feel.

I think if you are inveterate reader you feel antsy if you're not in the middle of a book.  For me, it has always been like a 'second life' if you will; just under the surface of my everyday life, I've got this other narrative going.

Writing is like that for me, only more so.  Without it, everything seems a little more shallow, has a little less meaning.  It somehow adds depth, some inner meaning to the day's events. 

It may be an illusion.  But it feels so good that I think that I could do without most anything else as long as I have a book to read.

Or a book to write.

Something had to give.

I'm just more comfortable with myself when I have a writing project going.  I'm not sure why.  I focus less on whether my books are selling, or when my books are going to be released, or if they are going to be accepted by a publisher.

Instead, my subconscious is involved in story.  My conscious thoughts are, "How can I improve this?  What does it need?  Where do I go from here?"

Yesterday, I was struggling with the first two chapters, instead of writing new material.  But at the end of the day I think I fixed the problems and now I can move on.

The second chapter of Tuskers III didn't make any sense, timing wise, with what I'd done in Tuskers II.

But it was Tuskers II that was wrong, I decided, so I worked all day on making the two books consistent with each other.

I really like my solution.  It doesn't wrap things up quite as much in II, but carries the story on into III. I have enough of a climax to satisfy the reader, I think, but this makes the story flow right into the next book.

I've decided I need a slight recap of what happened in books I and II, but as soon as I've done that today, I can move on. 

I also decided that the amount of time I was giving myself to write III was too severe, and I loosened that up.  Rescheduled.  Back to my very comfortable 2000 words a day.  (Which is still a lot.)

Tuskers I was a fluke.  I'll probably never write a book that fast ever again.

Meanwhile, it was mid-afternoon by the time this was done, not enough time to both go for a long walk (2 or 3 hours) and also sort books at Linda's store (1 or 2 hours).  I made a commitment to Linda to sort books (in exchange for her taking more books in) so I did that, and just took more time walking around filing than normal.  Walked maybe a couple miles that way.

I hated to break the string of walks, but something had to give.

I arranged to have today off from work, but I realized that I still need to go in for a couple of hours to do chores, so one of my new habits may go out the window today too.  Linda is sick, so I'll probably go for a walk instead of sorting.

Walking is very conducive to writing, by the way.  It really seems to stir the contents of my subconscious somehow. 

I feel very secure in my writing right now.  I like what's coming out of my brain. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Gatekeepers.

I've been thinking a lot about the old method of publishing (agents/Big Five) versus the new world of indie or small press publishing.

I think it may take 10 or 20 years, but I believe the old method is outmoded, that it is eventually going to be bypassed.

So here's my analogy to what I think is going on.

Let's say there is a fishgate in a stream that chooses which fish get to swim further upstream.  It's trying to chose the healthiest, biggest fish, or the fish with the biggest potential.  So in the old days, the stream was smaller and the gate was bigger and it did a decent job of picking fish, though it always seemed to miss a few big ones. (J.K. Rowling, for instance, got locked out something like 12 times, after all.  And there are many more examples.)

But over the years, as the stream has gotten wider and there are more fish, the gate has actually gotten narrower.  But since it is the only way to pass, it still has the same power it ever had, even though it no longer is doing a very good job.

Now they could expand and improve the gate, try to make it better, maybe hire some of young Turks who are better at picking winners.  But the Gatekeepers are doing the opposite. They have fewer editors, not more.  They have narrowed the gates.

Here's the thing that makes the gate an anachronism.  Someone has come along and built a channel around the gate.  Now anyone can swim around it at any time.  Big fish, small fish, healthy fish, unhealthy fish.  The gate no longer impedes them.

After a while, it will become very clear that many healthy big fish have ignored the gate and swum upstream on their own.

Why wouldn't they?

Writing first.

Wrote the first two chapters of Tuskers III yesterday.

So I'm ready to go.  Sorry.  Just boring writing updates for awhile.

Wrote the first chapter at home, then went out to the badlands for my daily walk.  Wrote part of the second chapter on the way there, pulling over to the side of the highway four times to write, and then about halfway through the walk, pulled out my MacAir and wrote the rest.

Very fulfilling.

Thing is, I usually sublimate everything to writing.  I am once again realizing how dominating writing becomes in my life when I'm active.  The way I have to subordinate everything else, no exceptions.

I've been delaying dealing with my taxes, though I have an appointment with the accountant on Monday. 

I'm taking the entire week off from work, in hopes that I can get a good start on the story. 

I think it can be done if I do my writing first, and everything else second. 

So that's the plan.

This is a little different, though.  I'm trying to fit other things in, like the walking, like the filing books at the Bookmark, like taxes, like work. 

Most of my writing up to now has been writing first, and second and third, and there was nothing else.

I'm feeling slightly disconnected, and I don't think that's a good thing for writing.  Maybe when I get the taxes done, I can fully commit.

I'm not sure. 

If this doesn't work, if I feel the writing isn't as good because I'm not giving it 100% of my time, then I'll clear the decks and do that. 

Because writing comes first.

Fuck it.  I'm doing taxes this afternoon, and clear that away, and then I'm going to do nothing but writing for the next 8 days, nevermind the book filing and the walks.  If I can fit them in, fine.  Otherwise, it's writing, writing writing.