Saturday, January 31, 2015

Faerylander is done, one way or another.

I'm sending Faerylander: The War Between Cthuhlu and Faery to Lara, my editor, in the next week for a final edit.

She calls it my "problem child."  After wrestling with it all day yesterday, I think of it as my "quagmire."  I so struggle with it.  I started this book 4 years ago.  I went off in the wrong direction, tried to correct, made it worse, tried to correct again and made it slightly better.  Most of the next 18 or so versions have been slightly better, a few have been much worse.

It has been my "re-acquiring my skills" book.

I've been 1st person and 3rd person.  I've been present tense and past tense.  I've been breezy and I've been dark.  I've had serious horror elements and cute faery elements. There has been some highly polished sections right next to newer less polished sections.

It has fallen into my dreaded "Word Jumble" which is what I call it when I've rewritten something so many times I lose touch.  What I've learned by testing, however, is that these word jumble stories are often better received by the readers than the ones I'm totally in tune with.  Because by definition they've been re-written so many times.

Thing is -- it's got great characters, and a neat idea, and an nicely invented world.

So I like these characters and this world.  I just don't know if I'm introducing them to the world right. 
I'm tempted once more to mash them all together for an "author's cut."  As disparate as all the elements are, in my fictionalized world, they all happened.  (Whatever happens, I may let a few years pass and go ahead an throw up my massive 200K "author's cut" and not care if anyone reads it.)

I've also written two sequels that are as good as anything I've done.  But the sequels require that Faerylander actually exist.

This final version is about half the size of the "author's cut."  More focused, more serious.  I've accentuated the horror elements and de-emphasized the cute Faery elements.  There is less extraneous material. I think it has more forward momentum than other versions.

Questions is -- does it have forward momentum enough?

It's not that I don't think it's good enough, it's that I've worked on it so much I can't see it clearly anymore.  I can't quite feel it. 

Intellectually, I think I've assembled a version that works.  But I don't know for sure.

I think it's time to put it out there, and let it do whatever it's going to do.

I'm undecided about self-publishing it, or offering it to my publishers.  I've already purchased the first two covers, so there is nothing keeping me from putting it out myself.

On the other hand, as an example of self-publishing, Cyber Flash, my current self-published book just sits there day after day without selling.  I like this book, but I've been promoting my other books because ironically, I feel an obligation to my publishers.

I suppose I could send it to Ragnarok and see what they think, and not take offense if they don't like it.

Like I said, it isn't that I don't think it's good -- it's that I can't tell.

I think I'm O.K., because it feels good to be done.  It's been nagging at me for a long time.  I love the Lander series, and it's time to get them out there.

Good or not, though, it's my first baby (of my second writer's life).

Friday, January 30, 2015

Why most small businesses don't survive.

This morning, I mentioned I was letting go of my list of downtown business Comings and Goings that I'd been keeping for the seven years of the Great Recession.

I mentioned that "most" small businesses don't survive, downtown or anywhere else.  I'll actually expand on that assertion and say, almost no small businesses survive.

Maybe my standards are too high, but I think a successful business is one where the owner makes a living for a career.  I'm aware that not everyone approaches business that way -- that some have limited time horizons.  But at least, as far as I can tell, very very few businesses last more than 10 years as a going concern.

Service businesses seem to do best.  Retail after that.  Restaurants have it the worse.

But my assumption is that business that is doing well for the owner (either monetarily or emotionally) usually doesn't close down.  No matter what anyone says.  (Except for burnout, and more about that below.  Just to say, working yourself to burnout is also a failure.)

I'm now in my 32nd year of managing or owning Pegasus Books in downtown Bend.  It's been in the same (expanded) location for the whole time. 

And I have some observations about small business that maybe somewhat reductive and simplistic, but I think get to the root of the matter.

First of all, to me it doesn't matter why you close down. You can maintain you had a "successful" business because you were making money -- but in my opinion if you close down you didn't have a "successful" business.  (The only exception to me is if you sell out or close down for retirement.  Or I suppose if you make a huge profit selling your business -- which is so rare as to be barely worth mentioning.)

I think there are two equally valid reasons businesses fail.

Lack of money, of course.

But equally important is burnout.

The two are related of course -- not making money leads to burnout, and burnout leads to not making money.

So here's the crux of it.  In order the making a living in a small business, you have to put in time, energy, and money.  You have to work hard.  You have to take on risk.  You can never settle, but constantly have to change things, add things, drop things, and grow.  It is a constant struggle.

If you don't do the above things, you will fail.  I guarantee it.  I've seen lots of businesses fail because they don't want to take on risk.  Or they don't want to change and adapt.  Or they want to hire managers rather than work the store themselves.  Or they take too much money out of the store and don't replace inventory, or fail to invest in the necessary upgrades.

But the Catch-22 of the matter is that if you do all the necessary things to make enough money to make a living, you constantly risk burning out. Constant change and risk and hard work and on and on takes a toll.  It ain't fun after awhile.

What I've noticed is that so called "successful" business that suddenly close up -- you know, because of "other" opportunities, are usually people who went too far in promising the customers everything in the world.  The more promoting and adding on and working you do, the more you risk burnout.

So there is a very fine line between Burnout and Success.

My way of handling this is to diminish anything that makes money but is unpleasant if I possibly can, and instead, to accentuate things that may not make as much money but are pleasant.

Obviously, this is a pretty fine line, but I recognized early -- because I was pressed up against the wall -- that hating my business was at least as dangerous as not making money.

I always want to tell the newer gung-ho businesses to be moderate.  Don't take too much money out of your business; work it as much as you need to, but don't overdo it.  Don't make tons of promises -- or offer too many extra services.  Stick to doing a good job on the basics. Ask yourself if you will still be comfortable offering such services five or ten years down the line when it no longer has a beneficial effect but is taken for granted. Take on risk, but not too much. 

In other words, don't underestimate the danger of burnout in your pursuit of money. 

If you own a business, you want to like your business. People will reward you if you like your business -- they'll pick up when you don't, or when you're being cynical, or when you are on your way out the door. 

So that's my simplistic answer as to why most businesses fail.  They either don't make money -- or they work so hard for the money, they give up.

Letting go of Comings and Goings list.

I've been keeping an accounting of downtown business's Comings and Goings for the last 7 years or so.

Since 2008.  It was a scary time. The economy was crashing.  I didn't know what to expect, and I realized that I could never quite remember when businesses arrived and when they left.

So I started keeping a simple list.  Non-judgmental and objective, without trying to explain why and wherefores -- just a list of who was moving in and who was moving out.

Well, it looks to me like the Great Recession is over.

What's interesting is that the downtown district never did have a very high vacancy rate.  Chuck Arnold from the Downtowners and others were concerned that my list wouldn't reflect well on downtown, but if anything it did the opposite.

The list showed the strength of downtown, not the weakness.  There were always more Comings than Goings.  Downtown showed a real resiliency that was somewhat unexpected.

Keeping what I'd hoped was an objective list only showed the truth, which was that downtown proved to be an attractive place even in the midst of a Great Recession.

There was a lot of turnover, but I'm not sure that the rate of turnover was that much worse than normal.

Normal turnover is probably more extreme than people think.  The list exposed at least that much.  Most small businesses really don't make it.  But that has always been true.

I'm glad I kept the list, if only for my own curiosity.

I've stepped back from the business these days, and I'm really not in touch with what's going on.

I've always been very very careful to list "Goings" only after a great deal of confirmation.  Telling people that a business is leaving if they aren't could be very destructive.

So because of that carefulness, I have to wait, and by the time it comes to pass, I'm on to something else.

There is another round of turnovers downtown, but I'll let you guys figure that out for yourself.

Time to move on, folks.  I hope you found it edifying.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Found two lost chapters!

I've been saying I've had two careers as a writer, but I've always been a writer, I guess.

My first career was from the late 1970's to the early 1980's when I had three books published, and three other books finished.  I also started at least two other books and got a fair way in before I quit.

Then...I started writing again about 3 years ago.

But just before I got serious, I'd also gotten a good start on two books which I had rather liked, but abandoned.  One book had five chapters, the other seven chapters.  One was missing the first chapter, and the other was missing the second chapter, which is pretty disheartening. 

I'd given up on them.

After spending most of the morning trying to find a way to recover lost files, I gave up and dug into my closet.

Now as most of you know, I have been writing a blog every day for 8 years now.  But before that I had been keeping notebook journals for probably 15 years before that.  I actually wrote more in those journals than I do on my blog.

I also found a couple of drawers full of random writings.

Once I started looking through my 'business journals' I discovered that there was quite a bit of fiction in there.  Just random things.  Some bad poems, some beginnings of stories.

But lots of it.  Some went 5 to 10 pages.

Thing is, I have absolutely no memory of writing most of them.  Some of them are pretty damn good starts.  Intriguing.

I also found a notebook which contained by some miracle the two missing chapters in the books I'd gotten a good start on -- they are in rough, hand written form, but they exist!  My subconscious must have realized this, because I really don't know why I started leafing through all the notebooks.

I think I can safely say I never really did stop writing -- I just didn't try very hard to finish anything.

Which is why it is such a rule of mine now.

I think I'm going to see if I can't recover some of this lost material on the side.  At least the two abandoned novels.  Why not?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Writer's group is invaluable to me.

Read chapters 4 through 6 of Tuskers II to writer's group, and they seemed to like it.  I had a time problem that I need to fix, but other than that...they especially seemed to like the little surprise I spring at the end of 6.

The new member, who was horrified by my horror tinged first chapter, "Liked this one much better.  You didn't kill anyone."  Heh.

Interesting to see what she was confused about, and how much I need to inform the uninitiated reader into the second book if they haven't read the first book.  However, I don't want to warp the book trying to do that, because I really doubt very many people are going to read a book entitled: Tuskers II without reading Tuskers I first.

The "problems" with this book, which come from rewriting, come later in the book, so I'll be interested to see if those chapters work as well.

Writer's group is invaluable to me as feedback.  Even just reading something aloud makes the whole thing clearer to me.

Sometimes as I'm reading, like last night, I'm thinking "Oh, my god, this is slow....." and so I wait for them to tell me that, but usually I'm harder on myself than they are.

When they are hard on me, I know I have a problem.  I've had several stories that I loved that they pretty much tore apart (in a nice way) and I knew they were right.

Unfortunately, I usually only get the writer's group help on the first half of my books because I can only read three chapters every two weeks and I write faster than that.  But better the help I'm getting then not, and the first chapters are awfully important.

But it's always been nice to get feedback of any kind every couple weeks or so.  Writing can be pretty lonely otherwise.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Gimmicks are a bad sign.

A friend pointed me in the direction of a new book venture which sounds interesting.

Basically, each accepted author writes a book, and then squares off with another author, with the winner moving on to the next round.

I can see how that might generate sales.

But...well, it's a flat out gimmick, and my experience with gimmicks in my business is that they are sign of failure.

Any product that depends on gimmicks to succeed is in trouble.  Gimmicks might work at first, but they quickly loose effectiveness, and then the ante needs to be increased, and so on and so forth until no one responds anymore.

That is, if the base product won't sell without gimmicks, it is probably doomed.  In fact, the gimmicks, while appearing to revive the product at first, eventually cause its downfall even faster.

I wonder if the book industry is in a race to the bottom.  Following the example of the music industry.

The music industry continues to decline.  None of the things that was supposed to save them has apparently worked.

Don't give me the exceptions.  Exceptions don't prove the rule.  There are always exceptions.

A healthy industry doesn't work if only the exceptions work.  A healthy industry is one in which the mid-level works effectively, and where even the lower levels provides enough incentive to keep trying.

Our hyper capitalistic environment has given success only to size -- the mega corporations. Or the exceptional -- smaller entrepreneurs who work harder and are smarter than the average bear.

So we've set up another industry to follow that example.  Not that book publishing was ever easy, but there was a time when mid-list books were a viable alternative.

I have no solutions.  I'm wondering if there is one.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

Every book is an experiment.

I've stuck to my 2000 words a day goal as much as I can.

Nobody's Killing Me has been a strange experience.  It may be the most complicated plot I've ever attempted, but I've probably done the least planning.

I'm winging it, letting my subconscious create the solutions and hoping that I can consolidate all the changes later.

Much of the plot is being deliniated by dialogue, which is also very unusual for me.  I'm waiting for characters to say things, to tell me what they're doing and thinking.

I don't have a sense of depth to this story, which is disappointing, but I'm going to finish it anyway.  If I ever try to publish it, I'll need to go back and fill it out.  It needs description and development.  I've got the barebones plot down, like I said, mostly with dialogue.

But I'm going to spend the next 2 weeks finishing the book.

Because 1.) It is important I finish, and it may still surprise me.

and 2.) it's a worthy experiment.  Every writing experience seems to bring out something new, and this one is no exception.

I know it's a cliche, but every book writing experience really is different.  I'd love to bottle what I did with Tuskers, (it emerged quickly and completely) but it doesn't seem to work that way.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

If my writing career was my store.

If my writing career was my store, what would I be doing?

1.) Building content.  Getting as much as I can get online, developing each product line as best I can, but getting it done.  Having so much choice that the customer can't help but find something they like. Making the content different and quirky and idiosyncratic.  Doing it the best I can, but making it my own.  People find that kind of authenticity attractive.

2.) Diversifying.  Doing as many different types and genres as I can do.  At the same time, doing the biggest genres with the understanding that others will get the lion's share.  Add up enough sales in each category, and I'll have a viable business.

3.) Being patient.  It takes a long time to develop a following.  It doesn't happen overnight.  I'll have to be consistent and never give up and always keep up the quality.  The customer can tell if I'm not interested in what I'm doing, so I need to be sure I'm doing interesting things.

4.) Writing what the other guys aren't.  So everyone is writing fantasy and romance, but maybe not as many are doing westerns or horror or ... well, anything else the big boys aren't doing.   There are undoubtedly sub-genres that aren't being exploited.  Historical Horror?  Whatever.

5.) Making it simple.  Not doing all the extraneous things that everyone else says I should and must do.  Promotion and advertising are probably a waste of time and effort. I need to create the content and wait for people to stumble across my offerings, and hope they'll come back.  HOWEVER: I do need to find a platform where they will find me.  And that won't be easy.

It took many years for Pegasus Books to become truly viable.  I had many setbacks.  There were times when I wondered if I should continue, but I kept on going, and eventually I was established enough to earn a living. 

Obviously, this is a completely different venture, but the parallels are also pretty obvious.

I haven't done anything so far that detracts from any of the above, except perhaps to try the promotional route.  But I did that at the store too, until I realized that none of it was working.

I will have to find a way to get onto main street -- which has been my biggest advantage at Pegasus Books.

I need to find a place where people can find me and my quirky offerings. 

I just have to keep my eyes open and find where that is.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Deflated balls.

I've been watching Korean movies on Netflix.  They are absurd and entertaining.  Absurdly entertaining.  Weird and different and fun.


So we always talk about World War II as being the "good" war.  But saving South Korea is looking pretty worthy, too.  More so all the time.


A guy who just quit 10 Barrel was in the store yesterday and said it had all gone to shit.  New owners are awful.

The former owners were in the Bulletin this morning, sounding smug as shit.

Take your money and go away, guys.


Another local business was prominently profiled in the Bulletin awhile back.

The article talks about the problems the business was having, and four solutions to the problems.

None of the solutions addressed the problems, and from my outlook, being in a similar business, all four solutions were actually steps backward.

Like, no one thinks through these things.  It sounds good, so...

Sorry, can't be any more specific than that...


Linda has been sick, so I've been expecting to get sick.  I may have escaped it, knock wood.  But I've been sleeping in the guest room and no matter how comfortable the new bed is, I still wasn't sleeping well.

Operating on a few hours of sleep, lately.


Pegasus Books continues to do well, and I'm starting to think my absence is a plus not a minus.  (Yeah, yeah, you don't have to agree.)


Wondering if I should keep my Downtown Comings and Goings list active.  I'm pretty sure I'm missing things, and if the list isn't accurate, it ain't worth much.

The Great Recession is over, so maybe I should let it go.


Got in a stack of 30 used conservative books.

I challenge you to read those titles and tell me there isn't "hate" involved.  I mean, it's pretty nakedly awful.  Sorry, the liberal books just don't have the same bile.  (Mocking maybe...)



Taking a break from social media.

I don't think any of the promotional things I did for Tuskers worked.

Led to the Slaughter continues to sell just as well without any pushing by me.

What the hell.


I dreamed three incredibly detailed 'reviews' of Tuskers last night.  Down to every word.  But they were describing a book I didn't write.  The book they were describing was in some ways better.


American Sniper.  No way to have a nuanced discussion of it.  Better to stay away from it altogether.  The Third Rail of movies.


Not much into football these days.  I hated the way the Seahawks were forced on me on TV when I was growing up.  (Oregon and Washington are the same, right?)

But I can't help but root for the 5' 10" quarterback.


Man, I have a scattered brain.

Friday, January 23, 2015

"So you want it good...or fast?"

Awfully quiet out there.

Well, I did ask for quiet.

The store is humming along, thanks to Cameron and Matt.  Things have slowed down on the social front -- my social being a hermit to anyone else.  No promotions on the horizon, less activity on social media.

I can concentrate on writing and nothing but writing.

Told Linda I was going to be burying myself in stories for the next six months. 

I'm curious to see what I can accomplish, and if I can get back to the incredible productivity of a year ago.  Thing is, I want to be productive, but I also want it to be good.

"You want it to be good or fast?"

Both, man.  Both.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Writing 50 pages to learn the plot.

Nobody's Killing Me has the most complicated plot I've ever attempted.  Not only does it entail time and space travel, it has three separate plotlines.  Despite this, I've been winging it, doing it intuitively, and hoping I can correlate everything later.  Dangerous.

I really couldn't seem to get going on the book yesterday, but I dedicated the whole day to it, and kept trying, and finally, about an hour before it was time to quit, I sat down one last time.

I had two characters sitting in a bar, and I had no idea why.  Usually by 50 pages into a book I have a general idea of where the book is going, but I was still pretty foggy.

So I just had the two characters start to talk to each other -- and boom, the plot is suddenly clearer.  The conversation is a bit revealing, but then one thing I have a really hard time doing is holding back on plot developments.  I find I'm usually better off just going ahead and revealing them, with the assumption there are more mysteries ahead.

Anyway, I got that moment of excitement I was looking for.  Up until then, I'd been more intellectually curious than anything.  I was exploring an alien landscape, trying to adapt it to Iliad and Odyssey elements, and trying to keep the home world part of the book going.  I was interested, but this was the moment of frisson that I was looking for.  Maybe it's a little late.  50 pages in, but I can now take these ideas and apply them to the earlier parts. 

I had to write 50 pages to find my way, as usual.

This is sort of an experimental effort for me.  My "side" projects seem to be me trying to write outside my comfort zone.  Sometimes, as with Tuskers, it works out.  Other times, like Spell Realm, it's a bit of a mess.

My next side project will also be an experiment. A love story.  I've done a love story before, Sometimes A Dragon, but I messed it up.  It's still there, and I'm still hoping to tease out the original conception, but I'm moving forward for now.  Gargoyle Dreams will be a love story written by someone a little older, if not wiser.  But someone with more life experience.

The main thing yesterday did for me was confirm I'm back.  Hanging in there all day, and then finally having it produce something worthwhile, was incredibly validating.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Housing shortage?

A comment from a reader:

"Duncan, I used to enjoy your blog and the Bend Bubble Blogs a long time ago. Am from the Willamitte Valley, and enjoyed watching the real estate discussion from afar.  Now I just saw this article in the Bend Bulletin and wondered if it can possibly be true.  It makes it sound like it's 2006 around there again!  Curious to know what you think.  Jeff. R."

The article was about the housing/rental shortage.

Well, as most readers of this blog know, my focus over the last few years has been on my writing career -- which I understand isn't as interesting to many readers.  But that's what I'm doing, and that's what the blog reflects.

I've mentioned lately that my store has finally gotten back to the sales levels it was at in 2007.  So that was a 7 year swing, which is what I predicted back then based on what I'd read about other booms and busts.

So is it possible?

I'm skeptical of anything related to housing/rental.  I tend to believe that the information is manipulated to a large extent. 

But if the housing/rental people haven't built anything in the last 7 or 8 years, I suppose it's possible.  (And just shows yet another sign of their boom and bust incompetence.)

I haven't waited the last 7 years for the economy to come back at my store.  I kept reinvesting, trying new product lines, and building my store.  Now I'm situated to take advantage.  In other words, I'm not short of material.

I tend to believe, though, that the shortage of affordable housing is more a factor of landlord's charging what the market will bear...and then some.  That's been my experience with all landlords -- either commercial or not -- that they will constantly push the outer boundaries of what they can get.  So whether there is an actual shortage driving up prices or whether they think they can pretend there is a shortage and get the higher rents, I'll leave that up to you to decide. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Story goes where a story goes.

Nobody's Killing Me is supposed to be an Odyssey story, where the main character travels through many different alternative worlds.  I figured he'd spend a chapter in each world and continue his journey.

Instead, the second world the hero lands on got interesting and started growing and growing, and I've now spent about 5 chapters there, and I can't be doing this.

But it be where the story wants to be... (the characters in this world insert "be" wherever they can.  It "be" amazing how often you can "be" doing that.)

So I'll just keep following the story to see where it (be) leading.  It's getting a little science-fictiony, which I really didn't want, because then I have to make the world-building viable.  I prefer to think of it as science-fantasy, where weird things happen but I don't necessarily explain them.

Also, the time/space travel element is confusing, and I'm not sure I understand it.  I'm following some sort of intuitive thing which seems to make sense, but I don't know how it will stand up the scrutiny.

Then again, the most important thing is -- I'm enjoying writing it, and I'm intrigued, and I'll just have to assume the reader will be equally intrigued.

I'm about 1/3rd the way through -- and have written a little each of the last 3 days, so if I can keep that momentum going...

I've dropped all the promotional things I was doing -- without any effect on the sales trajectory that I can see, either up or down.  As I said yesterday, my goal is to finish my stories.

As soon as I'm done with this book, my goal will be to finish Faerylander once and for all.  Then Tuskers II and then Tuskers III.

Then Wolflander, then Ghostlander.  

I'm hoping to publish my Lander series this year, by myself.  Without a publisher.  Kind of scary.

Get them done.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Simplifying my goal.

Finish the book.

Just that.

Don't worry about the length, don't even worry about the quality of the writing.

Just finish.

I was on such a roll for two years that it is a little disheartening to fall back to my more dysfunctional ways.  It's all because I emerged from my writing fog and interacted with the real world.  I know it couldn't be helped.  It was going to have to happen at some point.

But I yearn for the innocence of those two years when I could daydream about what would happen without having to find out what would really happen.  I have decided that most of the promotional distractions I've done have been fairly ineffective.  (And I've done none of the really distracting things like conventions or signings.)

So I want to just get back to the steady writing and the steady finishing of my stories.  I felt very empowered there for awhile.  I'd like to get that feeling back.

Forget about the rest.

Get it done, and then write another and get it done. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Making the Strange, Real.

I do believe that Tuskers is probably my most entertaining book -- which by my definition, makes it my best book, because above all I think books need to be fun to read.

I actually think the second book in the Vampire Evolution Trilogy, Rule of Vampire, is probably my best crafted book.  Put together in all the right ways.  (By the way, it is currently free on Amazon.)

I think Led to the Slaughter has the most authenticity, and some genuine emotion.

It looks like Led to the Slaughter and The Dead Spend No Gold are my most steady books, sales wise.

Tuskers has gotten some good reactions, but I'm not sure the world was ready for a Wild Pig Apocalypse.  Probably too outlandish, even though when I write these books, I'm more or less trying to make them as real as possible.

I've had another idea for a book.  Just a frisson of excitement over the idea, which is usually a good sign.  Something in my subconscious really likes it.

It would be called, Gargoyle Dreams: A Love Gothic Story.  And it would be, yep, a love story with a gargoyle, kind of Hunchback of Notre Dame idea.  I don't know if I can write a "love" story, but I want to try.  Linda thinks I should try for Steampunk.

Meanwhile, I want to finish Nobody's Killing Me.  It is important I finish, though I've been stalled.  If it was the book that was stalling me, that would be one thing -- but it's me and the time decisions I'm making.

So I'm going to put my head down and try to finish this story so I can go to the next book.

I have at least 3 or 4 ideas for books, so I'm not worried about that anymore.

I don't know why my books all tend to the fantastical.  I pretty much find everything else boring, and there is absolutely no subject, theme, or idea that can't be done in the world of the fantastical -- in most ways, better than a straightahead drama or whatever.

I mean, the metaphorical possibilities, aligned with the entertainment, just make everything deeper in my opinion.

I don't know why people can't see that.

The automatic rejection of an idea on the face of it simply because it has an element of the fantastical is a failure of imagination.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

"Do This and Don't Do This."

So I'm stumbling across an Internet landscape full of pitfalls and prizes.  Trying to figure out how to be a writer.  I manage to avoid most of the pitfalls, and occasionally, by accident almost, I will find one of the hidden prizes.

Not a very efficient way to to proceed, but better than not exploring at all. Thing is, I don't really know any professional authors personally.  I don't have anyone's brain I can pick.  Someone who can say, "Do this" and "Don't do this."

So I'm just bumbling along and someone asks, "Do you have a Street Team?"

"What's that?" I ask, innocently.

Or my publisher will ask, "Your ARC's are out."

"What's that?"

Back in my first career, I took writing classes from Dwight Newton, who wrote something like 60 westerns novels. He could at least steer me through the basics.  He could look over my manuscript, make suggestions on how it should look, how to mail it, how long I should expect to wait for an answer, what a contract looks like.  That kind of nuts and bolts stuff.

So while there is much more information out there, it is that much harder to figure out what's important and what isn't.  For instance, I finally signed up for Author's Central on Amazon, which is a handy little place where I can find the rankings of all my books on one page.

Up until now, I've had to go to each book and look, so this will save a huge amount of time and effort. I have no doubt there are dozens of such simple shortcuts that I'm unaware of. You'd think all I need to do is research it.  But so much of what people recommend is spam-oriented bullshit that it is hard to know what's important until you already know.

I know from my small business career that almost ALL of the advice I might find online would be bad, useless, or even harmful. I only found one book in all the time I was researching small business that was in the slightest bit useful.  (Growing a Business, Paul Hawken)

I only found one adviser that I thought was helpful, when I went up the Small Business Center up at COCC.  And I consider myself lucky to have found him.  (He told me I had a "primitive sophistication.") So I don't really try.  The useful stuff comes along if I keep poking enough, staying with the more productive channels of browsing.  Keeping up the primitive sophistication.

I keep adding to my repertoire through sheer incompetent persistence with whatever native canniness I possess. I don't have a lot of the personality characteristics that could make me successful as a selling author.  I do have a lot of the personality characteristics that can make me an author.

Unfortunately, being an author and being a selling author aren't the same thing.

But again, I have the experience of owning a small business, where I didn't have the characteristics of a profitable business owner, but I did have the characteristics of a someone who can create a nice store.

Again, not the same thing. But I just kept doing it, learning by trial and error, being persistent.  I eliminated the things that I couldn't make work (often through my own personality quirks) and reinforced the things that I could make work (again, through my own personality quirks.)

I learned to think for myself and have confidence in my judgement. So I'm just going to keep focusing on the content -- the actual writing -- and apply my native persistence and opportunism, and hope the best.

Learning when to "Do This and Don't Do This" on my own.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Back to writing -- for reals.

Took the first 3 chapters of Tuskers II to writer's group. They liked it.  Had a few more criticisms than normal, but overall a good reception.

I feel a little guilty about starting a new book with them, when I never finished reading Tuskers all the way through.  But there would be little point since the book is actually in print. 

That's how you know you're writing fast -- when your book is published before I you can finish reading it to your beta listeners.

I gave them a one sentence spoiler about the end of Tuskers to prepare them for the new story.  Not too much of a give-away.

As I said the other day, I'm ready to really get rolling on Nobody's Killing Me, now that both the holidays and the release of Tuskers is out of the way.

Andy Zeigert has been encouraging me to quit checking my rankings on Amazon so assiduously.  I agree, it's time to step away. 

But I do feel like I had a good reason to do it.   I could watch, on a real time basis, the effects of different promotional efforts, so that I would know what works and what doesn't.  Short answer -- not much works.

It goes back to what Roy at Books of the Dead told me at the beginning.  Getting good reviews is the most important thing I can do to help my books sell.  So I've done everything I can think to do to get that much accomplished, at least.

I do have the feeling that it is probably necessary to scrabble for every sale.  But how do you do that without stepping over the line?  It's a fine line.

Thing is, I get tired of doing that.

So back to writing.  This time for real.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Missed the Golden Age?

I'm starting to get the feeling that I missed the golden age of self-publishing.

I mean, I ended up going with a couple of publishers, but I was very close to doing it myself at one point, and figured that eventually I'd be putting out books by myself.

In my store, I've often been involved in trends that go through a sort of arc, the beginning of which I call the Golden Age.  This is when no one believes the trend will be successful, but if you've gotten in early you see a constant rise in demand.  You reap the benefits.

Then everyone jumps in, and the Golden Age is over.

But there is a lot of chatter by self-published authors who were doing well a couple of years ago that their sales have plummeted.

Looks to me like there is two reasons.

1.) A glut.  More and more books are coming out.  More and more of them have nice covers and are decently edited.  It is becoming harder and harder to stand out, to be discovered.

2.) Amazon is giving books away free.  Or rather, for a modest subscription service price.

Meanwhile, the big boys on both sides are still arguing.  On one hand, you have Jame Patterson and his ilk, who are defending the Big 5 publishers.  On the other hand, you have Hugh Howey and his ilk, who are proponents of self-publishing.

Thing is, both of these guys (and their ilk) are the extreme exceptions and in no way represent the average author in either camp.

I chose to go through smaller publishers, even though I could have grossed more income per book by myself, for several reasons.  They do all the work.  They have access to better covers, editing, and support services.  They do much of the promotion.  And the credibility of being paid in advance, which gave me the confidence to hawk my own books.

But I had always wondered if I'd made the right decision.

Now I'm pretty sure I did.  Not because I saw Amazon's subscription service coming or because I saw the glut (or rather, there was already a glut when I started, but self-publishing still seemed to be doing well) but because I'm still more a traditionalist.  I wanted to concentrate on writing.

As it turned out, I still am the one mostly responsible for whether I have reviews, or whether I have initial sales.

I'm am still glad I made the small publisher decision (not to mention, I glad they decided on me!) because it appears to me that they aren't included in the subscription service and because having a publisher gives me a slightly higher profile than if I was self-published.  A slightly higher profile in a glut is probably what I need.

The Golden Age was going to end sooner or later, so might as well adjust as best I can.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Time to get back to writing.

Well, that was fun.

The holidays, which are always a difficult time to write, coincided with the publication of Tuskers, so I've been pretty distracted for a couple of months.

But with Tuskers safely in the world now, it's time to get back to writing every day.

I'm waiting for the edit of Tuskers II from Lara before giving it another go around, so I have a couple of weeks to fill.

Until then, I'm going to keep working on Nobody is Killing Me! The Odyssey of Linger Longfellow. I've got about 13K words done, and still some juice.  It's an odd book, and I'm not sure how it will work, but I'm going to go ahead and finish it.

Then, hopefully, I can finish Tuskers III.

I want to write my Virginia Reed Adventure, The Dark You Fear: Ghosts of the Lost Blue Bucket Mine, after that, when the weather is clear enough for me to explore the terrain of eastern Oregon.

I'm leaving myself open to a brand new idea somewhere along the line.  The more differenter the better.

I'm embarking on yet another extensive rewrite of Faerylander with Bren.  While she has it, I'm going to rewrite Wolflander to fit the events in Ghostlander, the third book in the Lander Series.

I'm figuring 2016 will be the year for the Lander Series.

But none of this will happen until I get back to writing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Back where I started.

Pegasus Books has finally gotten back to where we were in 2007.  We beat that year by a very small percentage.  Going into the downturn I predicted a 7 year turnaround, based on what I'd read, and sure enough, that is exactly how long it took to get back.

The holiday season beat last year, which I didn't think it would do.

Everything but game cards were up this year.  Game cards are a nice sideline, but I refuse to discount more than I already do (and even now, Magic is the only product I significantly discount at all.)  So there will be steady erosion there, and I don't much care.

Games had a good year again, and new books continue to increase.

Comics and graphic novels had a good year, and I attribute much of that to Cameron and Matt's efforts.

Even toys were up slightly.

The store seems steady and stable, if not spectacular, and in good hands and I feel like I can continue to write.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A watched pot never boils.

TUSKERS went live last night at 9:00 PT.  Yes, I was there watching. 

Since then, not much has happened.  Yes, it has only been 12 hours, but bear with me, that is sort of the point of this post.

In olden days, when STAR AXE was published, I wouldn't have had any idea how my books were selling for six months or a year or even then.  But for some reason that didn't bother me -- except, well, I wanted to get some royalties if possible, but I had done enough research to believe that my advance was likely to be all I would get.

Besides, back then, my real goal was to be published.  Just that.  First to finish a book, which was a major accomplishment all by itself, then to get it published, to hold a copy in my hands.  The book was out there in the bookstores and on the bookstands and that was good enough for me.

I didn't think beyond that for some reason.

Now I realize that's just the beginning.  After that there is the whole garnering attention thing -- hopefully getting some good reviews.

And then there are the sales.

But I can't really do much about the sales now.  It's possible no one will be interested in a Wild Pig Apocalypse.  Who knows?

So I just need to take a step back and let nature take its course.

It's a good book.  It's getting exposed to a more critical audience than my books have been so far, but I'm ready to take that step.  See what happens.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Not going to ask.

Not going to ask people to buy my book this time.

Nah, uh.  Nope.  

Going to announce TUSKERS publication, and that's that.

But I ain't going to ask.  No sir.

Not going to ask people to buy TUSKERS on Amazon in the first week, even though sales in that first week have a huge effect on the ongoing sales of the book.  Amazon is the big kahuna, the 500 pound canary in the mine, or whatever you want to call it.  If I can get up the rankings by having a good first week, it has a huge effect on the algorythms.

Not going to ask.

Nope, nada.  Not going to do it.

Not going to ask even though I think there is a really good chance the book could do well. Becoming a bestseller on Amazon really isn't as hard as you might think.  A bunch of sales consolidated in a concise timespan -- say the 12th of January thru the 19th of January -- sales my book may garner anyway over a longer period -- well, that can have an outsized effect on the rankings.

But I'm not going to ask.

Not going do it.

Not going to ask, even though I think this is a very fun book that most people would enjoy.  I've not felt this confident about a book ever.

But I ain't going to do it.

Please, people, don't throw me in that briar patch of having to ask.

TUSKERS, by Duncan McGeary.  Released on Amazon on January 12, 2015.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Seems about right.

The retail amount of sales of my own books I've made in my store would probably make most authors pretty happy.  In the end, I'm guessing I'll make much more money from that actual profit margin on a tradepaperback, than I will in any other format.

Only because I already own a business.  I'm making Keystone on every book.  I'm making five to six times what I will make on royalties and advances with each book I sell.  If I worked every day, it would be even more.  There are lots of tourists downtown, so lots of new people to show my books to.

But really, I'm not going to be looking at the numbers for another couple of years at least.  For one thing, it takes forever to get an accurate gauge of how things are doing.  For another, I feel like I'm in the start-up phase of a small business.

One thing that running a small business for 30 years taught me, is that you can't always monitor success or failure by the numbers.

You get a sense in your gut as to whether you are making progress, or falling behind.  Sometimes the numbers will lie.  Such as having increased sales, but knowing intuitively that the store is on shaky ground, and vice verse -- the store has falling sales, but you somehow know you are on the right path.

That's how I feel about writing right now.  I'm on the right path.

Not that I'm unhappy with the numbers I've seen -- actually, I haven't seen 2/3rds of the possible numbers, because of the delay in reporting -- but what I've seen seem all right to me.

I went into this with a realistic appraisal of the possibilities, I think. 

Another thing I learned by building a small business is how long it takes to get anything done, and how much upfront effort is required. 

So this writing thing doesn't surprise me much -- it seems about right.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Person of Interest has gotten very good.

Agent Carter was loads of fun.  It set just the right tone.  Love the 40's styles, the cliff-hanger plotting.  They spent some money on this thing, and it shows.  The main actress is very good (and dare I say voluptuous?)

Meanwhile, I've been saying for awhile that the only network drama that is consistently great is The Good Wife.  Linda and I watch other shows, but mostly as filler.  Flash and Shield are innocuous fun.  CSI, Mentalist, Castle are all very formulaic.  Elementary tries to be more, but most often doesn't quite get there.

But last week's episode of Person of Interest was a real winner.  The dialogue was snappy and humorous, and I'm really loving the two A.I.'s fighting for world domination plot.  It's become much more of an ensemble piece -- Agent Reese was an intriguing character, but it was wearing thin.

I'm a sucker for alternative universe story lines (going back to my favorite STNG episodes with Moriarty)  -- and  the computer going through different scenarios is a satisfying plot trick, allowing for main characters to get killed...but not really.  They've almost managed to make the main computer a sympathetic character.

It feels to me that this show has finally found its groove.

I'm becoming very fond of pigs.

I was a book-selling machine yesterday at Pegasus Books.

Sold 17 copies of my own books.  Enthusiasm is contagious.

Sold all my books to two people, the entire Vampire Evolution Trilogy and Led to the Slaughter and Tuskers.  Sold 7 copies of Tuskers overall, and 4 copies of Led to the Slaughter.

So...If I just worked everyday, who knows what would happen?

But then...I'd never write.

Same old problem.  I could run multiple stores and make more money if there was just more copies of me.  Right now, I've got great employees, and I'm using that as my opportunity to write.

Meanwhile, reviews of Tuskers are popping up on blog reviews sites.  They've all been positive, though the rankings aren't quite as high as I'm used to.  Actually, I understand this.  Giving out 5 stars on every review is probably self-defeating for any self-respecting critic blog.

But still, good reviews.

Paul, who's been a big supporter of my books from the beginning, came in and told me it was my "best book yet."  Which made me feel strangely defensive.  Like, what about my other books?  It's like someone telling you one of your children is best...

Still, I have to say, Tuskers is probably the most inherently complete package I've written.  I wanted a fast, fun read, with some good characters, and I wanted it to be different but believable, and I think I pulled it off.

I think the decision not to try the shorter version has been confirmed.  I felt that I was leaving out some of the best scenes and characters when I did that.  And sure enough, so far everyone's favorite character is the bad-ass ex-sheriff, Barbara.

As T-Day approaches, it's dawning on me that it occurs on the National Football Championship day, where Oregon is one of the two teams.  That might be distracting for my local supporters.  I hope not.  But I guess it's just a day for the old pigskin.

Turns out I have a natural marketing tool for Tuskers.  There are cool pictures and video's of pigs everywhere, which are entertaining in their own right.

I'm becoming very fond of pigs.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Star Wars Party.

For the first time in many years, Pegasus Books is hosting an event.

Marvel is releasing Star Wars #1 on January 14, so we are going to have a little party that night after closing.  Cameron is in charge, and this is what he has to say about it.

Come to Pegasus Books a week from today at six o'clock for exclusive Star Wars swag and the chance to grab your copy of Marvel Comics' Star Wars #1!

Prizes for best costume and a trivia contest, plus a free raffle!
He has set up a Facebook page: 
Check it out! 

It's time Bend had a good Cosplay opportunity!

Pegasus Books of Bend's photo.
Wednesday, January 14 at 6:00pm
You're going

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

"Can't we open the presents now?"

Funny how time passes so quickly as you get older -- young un's don't believe this, don't even hear it, yeah, yeah, whatever...

But guess what?  When you are highly anticipating something, it turns out time slows down to its old pace again.

I've known for a month that Tuskers was coming out on January 12, 2015.

I've been like a kid at Christmas for the last week or so.  "Can't we open the presents now? Why do we have to wait?"

5 Days to T-Day.

It's a different experience from my other books, because I just never knew when Roy was going to put my books out, so I just didn't think about it.

I got my paperbacks yesterday and the book is gorgeous.  Really nice looking.  I showed a customer the cover and he shrugged, and then turned around and bought Led to the Slaughter, because he "likes history."

That's what I don't know.  Will anyone actually be interested in a Wild Pig Apocalypse?

I never thought superintelligent pigs on the rampage was much of a stretch.  I mean, for someone who thinks like me.  Sharks kill like a measly 5 people a year (cows kill dozens) but a book convinced everyone "don't go into the water!"

Seems totally believable to me.

I look forward to our Pig Overlords.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Holidays are hard on writing.

I'm not so much surprised that the holidays completely disrupted my writing schedule this year, as I am amazed that it didn't disrupt me the last two years.

Nothing got in the way of writing for those two years.

This is how silly it got.  I went to the Farewell Bend's Writer's Group Christmas party the year before last for five minutes.  Walked in, told them how excited I was to be writing, and then left.  I still remember the looks of surprise.

What I was trying to do was say, "Hey, I'm part of this group and I appreciate you all and Merry Christmas" but it probably came across as abrupt and self-congratulating.  But really, that five minutes was a huge concession!

I don't know if I'll ever recapture that first year.  But I also think I'm probably a better writer today, at a slower pace.

I've been noodling with my Nobody is Killing Me! book, while I wait for the edit of Tuskers II to come back.  Usually when I noodle with a book, it doesn't go very far.  I'm just playing around.

But the ideas keep coming with this book, and I'm 10K words in, so it may actually turn into a book.

At some point I may decide to get serious and assign my 2K word count per day to it and just finish it.  I think I started noodling with it because, though I was distracted through the holidays, I still wanted to do something.

I'm not worried about getting rusty.

Monday, January 5, 2015

A brain for trivia.

Especially pop culture trivia.

One of the ways I used to bond with my Dad was trying to outguess him on who the actors were in a movie; or the director, or the screenwriter.  We got down pretty far into the character actors parts in old B & W movies.

One time, I sat down and read one of those movie ratings books from cover to cover.  I even analyzed it a little.  Who had the most 4 star movies?  Cary Grant.

I have a very strange brain.  I probably wouldn't do that well in a trivia contest because my memory isn't instantly concise.  I have to circle around a little, but I usually get there.   I just love gathering these obscure facts that no one else cares about.

When I'm in either store, people can ask for a title or an author, and I'll almost always know who it is, or where to find it.  Or, at other times, a name or title will pop into my brain from somewhere that is so obscure that even I'm surprised I know it.

Anyway, Linda and I were visiting with my sister Sue's family last night.  These are not really pop culture people, except in the most casual way.  I used the term Steampunk and Sue had to ask what that was.

I mentioned that William Hurt had been in my store once buying Star Wars comics.  "Who's William Hurt?"

Out pops the computer and I'm looking up the wiki entry.  My nephew Carl, who I think is about  15 years old, is looking over my shoulder.

Anyway, that must have emboldened him.  So every time I was searching for a name -- proper names don't come to me as fast as they once did -- Carl would pop up and provide the name.  Any movie we mentioned, he knew what we were asking.

Finally, his father Klaus looked looked at him in surprise, and said, "WHO are you!"

And I answered for him, "He's a McGeary!"

I'm not sure how useful an ability this is in the age of Google.  Dad was known for his esoteric knowledge.  Any of the doctors at St. Charles who had a question would automatically go to him to ask.

I think it is pretty useful for a writer.  I'm writing a story right now that combines a sort of alternate universe, future Odyssey and Iliad.  I keep coming up with details that I'm sort of surprised I know or remember. It makes the creative flow that much easier.  I can make these weird combinations.

I think it's a comfort blanket for me, this accumulations of facts.  

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Worst advice I ever heard.

Some other writer...I'm glad I don't remember her name...said, "Don't waste time on daydreaming."

Really, she said that.  In public.  In an essay.

I cringed, because that's pretty much all I do.  Either I'm writing, or I'm daydreaming.  Or I'm daydreaming and writing at the same time.

Come to think of it, writing IS daydreaming!

So I have a book, Tuskers, coming out in 8 days, and all I'm doing is daydreaming.  No doubt, I'm setting myself up for disappointment.  I think that's what this person would say.

So what?  I'm enjoying these 8 days of daydreaming, baby.  That's 8 more days of daydreaming then this nimrod will have!

She would say, "You're wasting time on daydreaming when you could be writing!"

Well, sure.  But what's the point of writing if you can't enjoy it?

Look -- the odds of success are slim to none.  But the odds of daydreaming about success are 100%!

What I'm saying is, daydreaming is what fuels my writing.  Without daydreaming, I never would have started.  If I looked at the cold hard facts, I'd probably look for something else to do.  Accounting, maybe.  Go back to running the store full time, probably.  It wouldn't be so bad.  I enjoyed my business -- I still enjoy my business.

Of course, owning a small business also entailed a lot of daydreaming.  And spending the rest of my time trying to match the visions in my dreams.

As far as I know, that's how it's done.

You daydream what you want, and then you try to get there.

I still don't understand what that other writer was getting at.  Or what planet she came from.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

How much "Me" is too much "Me?"

It's hard to know when you've gone too far on publicizing yourself on the Internet.

Especially if you're an Internet autistic like I am.  I simply can't tell.

I try to be restrained, you know -- really I do -- and if I talk about Tuskers a bunch it's because I like the book a lot and think people will enjoy it.

I also have the nice problem of two new books coming out about a month apart from each other.  The Dead Spend No Gold is my baby too, and I think a very worthy successor to Led to the Slaughter.  I don't like having to choose between the two books which to mention, but I'm afraid of hawking both of them at the same time.  But it's like trying to choose between two children which one to push forward.

But sometimes I get sick of myself, and I have to assume others are pretty sick of me too.

However, no one will read the books if I don't publicize them.  Simple as that.  Just putting them online doesn't do any good.  My Cyber Flash book is proof of that. Basically hardly anyone has read my cyberpunk Hobbit book.  (And yet, I can't feel rejected if no one reads something, because it can't be based on the actual book, can it?)  I put this book out myself with no fanfare whatsoever.

Led to the Slaughter has sold better than my other books by far, because I decided that choosing one book and promoting it was better than trying to promote all my books.  I felt pushing the Vampire Evolution Trilogy at the same time was too much.

And I figured that if people liked Led to the Slaughter enough, they'd go ahead and buy the trilogy too. 

I'm not so sure that's true anymore.  I think for that to happen, the name Duncan McGeary has to become a brand, and I don't think that's happened...yet....

I had planned to take a two week break from mentioning any of my books, but Ragnarok Publications and Angelic Knight Press are keeping up the promotional efforts and I feel like I need to share those.  Books of the Dead Press has managed to place my books on some sites that have larger followings.

I'll be getting some author's copies of Tuskers a week before the book comes out on Amazon (in just a few more days!), and I'll be excited to see them, to touch them.  I have a feeling they are going to look magnificent.

So here's the thing I don't know.  I can't know.  From experience at the store I know that people saying they like something doesn't mean they'll buy it.

So the true test will be -- Tuskers goes on sale, and people buy it because of the idea and the cover.

And that is totally beyond my control.

Maybe a Wild Pig Apocalypse will be irresistable.  A refreshing change.

Or maybe people will shrug and turn away.

For the life of me, I can't tell.

So I approach it like I do my business.  There is the sky blue possibility -- which rarely happens.  There is the total dud possibility -- which happens more often that I like.  And there is the middle possibility -- neither as good or as bad as the other two possibilities. 

That's what happens most times -- almost all times.  The middle ground.

I've done my best.  I've written the best books I can, took the time to make them right, tried to time them right, placed them with some up-and-coming publishers, gotten very lucky with some beautiful covers.  And I've done my best to get word out -- within my skill and comfort zone.

So whatever happens, I've made the effort.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Kill/Off by John Taff review.

I've decided to spend this year reading the works of my compatriot authors at Books of the Dead Press and Ragnarok Publications.  I'm curious to see what they're writing. It will help me to understand where I fit in the scheme of things.

I figure if I read about a book per week, I should be able to keep up.  Maybe...

I decided to start with John Taff's Kill/Off because it is a thriller, rather than fantasy or horror.

Because that's the kind of books I've been reading over the last few decades.  Not that I don't love fantasy and horror!

I'm glad I chose this book first because I really enjoyed it.

Here's the Review I posted on Amazon:

"Kill/Off has a simple premise, from which the action becomes darker and more complex as the story evolves.  An ordinary man is drawn into a web of intrigue, and finds to his surprise that he has the aptitude and the moral ambivalence to survive.

As he travels through the dark highways of American life, his very anonymity is his strength and his tool for survival. It's very believable and yet intriguing, and who knows...maybe this is the way our monsters are created."

Context is credibility.

Credibility depends on context.

So we have a customer at the Bookmark who I was having a discussion about indie publishing and I showed him the cover of Led to the Slaughter.

"Hey!" he exclaims.  "I saw this at Barnes and Noble and spent five minutes looking through it.  I came that close to buying it."

"Linda has shown you this book in this store several times and you dismissed it instantly." I said, being the diplomat I am, and also knowing he had done it and being irked.  I was there once when Linda pointed it out to him and I saw his eyes glaze over before she could get the sentence out.

"I did?  Show me where it is..."

I take him over to where it is by the register.  "Huh," he says. 

Later, Linda and I drove out to Barnes and Noble and asked them if they had carried Led to the Slaughter in the store, and the clerk said, "We had a copy in June."

But even that is a little bit of a surprise.  The local manager must have gotten it because I'm a local.

Anyway, the point is:

Book sold by me in my own store.  Eyes glaze over.

Same book sold in Barnes and Noble.  Worth a five minute ponder and an almost purchase.

There's nothing to be done about it.  I don't think I'm the exception either.  I too look at context to tell if something is worth paying attention to.  How can we not?  There is too much coming at us, so we need context filters to make our decisions.

So...well, I'd love to have my books reach greater and greater reach through context, and it's what I'm striving for.

Same book...but more context.

More context, more credibility.

More credibility more context, more...well, you get the picture.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Fantasy is serious, dammit!

Linda and I spent New Years with my two 'little' sisters, Betsy and Susie, and spouses, Micheal and Klaus, and Sue's sons, Nic and Carl, and for a short time, before he went off to party, Todd.

Found myself getting defensive later in the evening over fantasy in general, and a book about wild pigs in specific.  Fueled by maybe one or two too many glasses of champagne.  I think they were teasing me.  I know that all of them read fiction and most of them enjoy fantasy and/or S.F.

They even cooked a pork dinner in my honor -- a little roast with two tusks and oreo cookies for eyes, and a little curly tail.

So that was cool.

I get to be kind of an annoying proselytizer about writing fantastic fiction.  Trying to convince everyone it's a valid art form, that it is metaphorical and analogous and has deeper meanings.  And the more I try, the more they joked about it.

Funny thing is, I've been joking about Tuskers from the beginning.  But, while I'm willing to tweak myself a little, I still take my writing seriously.

I had a friend in high school who told me, "Never be self-deprecating...people will take you at your word."

I've always preferred to believe he's wrong, but the evidence is often that he was right.

Like I said, I should have just smiled at their jokes, because I know they mean me well -- so it was just me getting all self-righteous and defensive about my taste for entertaining fiction. 

Besides, it either stands or falls on its own, without any arguments by me.  If you have to argue the point, you've already lost.

I mumbled in the car on the way home, "Either you get it or you don't."  And Linda, being the kind and reasonable person she is, didn't quite agree. 

But it isn't something to get all worked up about.