Tuesday, May 31, 2016

It's just harder to motivate myself to rewrite. The feeling of discovery isn't there--though sometimes in the midst of doing it, something new pops up. But it's more of a chore. It has to be done.

Working on the scans of my earlier books is even harder. It has to be done. There is no fun in it.

But I need to catch up on my earlier stuff so that it isn't all wasted. I mean, they are written and they are worthy and they need some updating to make them "Live." Silly not to follow through.

So the month of June is going to be dedicated to that. Trying to get as many books cleaned up and ready to go as possible. They may not be published until next year -- though I'm contemplating putting out Star Axe and Snowcastles/Icetowers sometime this year if they don't get in the way of The Darkness You Fear and Tuskers III.

Clean all these books up, put them in the Vault, and get back to writing again.

Funny thing is--you'd think with how prolific I am that my writing is unstoppable. In fact, I'm incredibly finicky. There's a reason I didn't write for 25 years. Anything and everything can derail me, therefore I have to eliminate the possibilities of anything and everything to get it done.

Cameron called in sick yesterday, so I had to work the store just as I was super eager to get going on the rewrite of Faerylander. Fair enough, except today all the eagerness is gone.

It doesn't take much.

I'll get to it sometime today, and once started the eagerness will probably rekindle, but man, I'm off my feed.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Into the bookstores.

So, I have to make some distinctions here.

There is being published and distributed in bookstores.

There is being published and being available for bookstores.

And there is being self-published.

When I came back to writing I had every intention of self-publishing. My friend Jared convinced me this was the way to go. The thing that had bothered me about mainstream publishing in my first career was that:

1.) I'd send my books off to the Void, not to hear about them for six months to a year at a time, only to then be put on hold, told that I was almost there, just one more rewrite, and so on and so on.

2) If a book didn't make it, it went into a cedar chest to be forgotten. Six months or more of work, just gone. It seemed like a dispiriting waste of time. So when I bought Pegasus Books, I used my creative energies there for the next 25 years and I'm glad I did. I made a success of it, despite all the odds, and no one but me knows how fucking difficult that was.

Anyway, the waiting was agonizing, the knowing that it was all for nothing was even more agonizing. And that's when I had an agent!

I researched self-publishing myself and was convinced it was a valid thing to do. (Since then, I've talked to dozens of aspiring writers who dismiss it out of hand. I'm thankful I was able to get over this bias.)

But to be honest, I thought I'd get more sales when I self-published, but I probably missed the window of opportunity. There are probably something like 1500 books a day being published, both physical and ebooks, and there is no real reason for anyone to read your book instead of someone elses.

So when I self-published my first book, I got something like 25 downloads, no doubt most of them friends and family.

That's okay. I accepted that. (I did make a brief foray into trying to get an agent which went nowhere, for which I'm extremely grateful now. Probably would have short-circuited my writing...)

So anyway, I knew that whatever the result, the book would be the same. I saw no reason why I couldn't get the a cover for the book and have it edited by myself. Still don't.

But I stumbled on a middle path by accident, and discovered that there are publishers who will pay you, do the editing, get the covers (much better covers than I was able to do myself--at first. Now I've got a couple of guys doing covers from me who are great) and actually PAY you. Maybe not a fortune, but enough to be proud that someone is paying and doing all the work.

Sales were considerably higher than self-publishing, of course, but not as high as the average person thinks a writer makes. But...well, that was always an illusion, reserved for the top 1/10th of 1%.

The downside was--while these books are available at Barnes and Noble online, and on Amazon, and you can buy physical copies, and there is a chance a wholesaler or an independent bookstore will order and carry your book, it isn't as likely.

This is the hybrid model, and I'm a great believer in it. Small publishers are very open to knew ideas, and aren't resistant to new writers, and respond quickly and efficiently, and you're actually dealing with the owners and publishers.

But I also write so much that I would overwhelm the two publishers I've got very quickly. I'm going to be self-publishing without a doubt, because I just write too much stuff. (I write everyday, just about, and I seem to have oodles of creative energy.)

And then, one of my publishers, decided to go the bookstore distribution route. That is, like the mainstream publishers, the book is promoted in advance and then sold into bookstores. It's a dangerous move, really. Returns have killed more than one publisher, but hey, I'm along for the ride.

Ragnarok Publications hooked up with IPG (Independent Publishers Group). Tuskers III, which was on the verge of being published last October, was delayed until this October.

Fine, I thought, wondering what would happen.

Not much, for a long time.

Now that is all changing. The IPG Fall catalog was just released and it is chock full of Ragnarok books, including Tuskers III and a sidebar with Tuskers I and II. The books are given prominent space in a slick catalog. They represent a major portion of the fiction novels being offered.


So here's the thing: IPG has 70 reps, who visit all areas of the country. They have rep who deals with Barnes and Noble. They deal with foreign markets.

I still have things to learn. I didn't realize there was a difference between a wholesaler and a distributor.

Here's how I understand it. A wholesaler, like Ingrams or Baker and Taylor, carry your books. They do have catalogs, and they do send them out, but they don't do much more than that. The books are there to order, more or less.

IPG actually goes out and TRIES to get your books into bookstore, and are apparently very good at it. They have experience on how to use metadata to get your books noticed, they know their clients, and so on. (Already, Tuskers III is being offered in advance on Amazon, the first time that has happened with one of my books.)


In other words, this is a bigger deal than I expected.

Because of my previous experiences in bookstores, I have very low expectations. Here's how it normally works: The books get into bookstores, where they are for a month or so, and then they get moved out. For 99% of the books, that's pretty much it. The wholesalers might hold onto the stock for a little longer, but eventually it fades.

But, hey, it's way more exposure than I was getting before, and I'll take whatever comes.

Kind of exciting, really.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Spent 10 days thinking about how I wanted to split up Faerylander.

While I was going through this, I wasn't writing. At the same time, The Darkness You Fear came out.

I got steadily more discouraged.

Then yesterday, I finally sat down to do a rough version. I figured it would take 3 days for the first book and 3 days for the second book, after which I would take the month to actually rewrite the two books.

I have tons of good material to choose from. What I really need to figure out is tone and characterization, and then stick to them.

It ended up taking only 6 hours, and there it was; a viable version of book I, and a semi-viable version of book II.  Book III of the Faery versus Cthulhu saga will have to be written almost completely out of whole cloth.

At the end of my walk, I was feeling unexpectedly chipper about it all, and I realized an essential truth again: When I'm writing, I'm not worried. I'm not stressed. I'm just enjoying myself. All the doubts fade away. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks because I'm down in the dirt digging and I'm doing the best I can.

Ironically, the first book very much resembles the original version, except much better written and completely thought out.

I wrote the first 2/3rds of this book several years ago and got stuck. Went on a trip with the sole intention of forcing an ending, and that's what I got: a "forced" ending. The last third of the book just seemed incredibly weak to me, and I didn't publish the book and went on to other things.

But I kept coming back.

I've mentioned that I have 35 versions; but really, there have been four different sessions where I tackled the book. This will be the fifth time.

Each time I did improve it, but I also complicated it. In order the strengthen the last 3rd of the book, I built a bigger infrastructure in the first 3rd of the book, and pretty much took out the middle 3rd of the book. This helped make the book more cohesive, but...well, it took a lot of the loose fun out. It made the book too complicated and dense and not in a good way.

The solution turned out to be unexpectedly easy.

I went back to the original beginning, brought back the original middle third, and pretty much skipped the last "weak" third and went straight for the original ending.

This retains more of the flavor I intended, and has a much cleaner storyline. I do feel like I might want a scene or two in the penultimate chapters to shore that section up slightly, but pretty much, it feels right.

For the second book, I took the overlay I used trying to re-enforce the plot as the 1st third, and I use that last "weak" 3rd. They fit together much more seamlessly. The weak becomes strong.

I'll have to write a middle third bringing in some of the characters from the first book, so that will be a bit of a challenge.

But even in a first draft form, without all the little additions, the new Faerylander comes out at 65K words, and Zombielander comes out at 52K words.

Most importantly, I feel that excitement I always feel when something is happening. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Bear with me as I promote.

Asking again, dear readers of this blog, that you buy my new book.


Not to guilt trip you--okay, I'm guilt tripping you, but I'd like to believe this blog serves some purpose beyond just blathering to myself.

I'd like to believe that if you been reading it, you have seen how important writing is to me. So, yeah, I'm asking.

Won't ask again, but as I've mentioned before, the first weeks sales in a book contain the seeds of the long-term trajectory on Amazon, where you're positioned in the rankings helps get the ball rolling.

Meanwhile, onto news. The release of the new book seems to have stirred activity in my other books, which is cool. It reinforces the notion that being a writer these days means putting out a steady stream of books.

When I researched it early on, I settled on a release every 5 months as being optimal, which the schedule I followed for the first 7 books or so (Vampire books released all on the same day, which was probably a mistake). When Ragnarok decided to make the leap to bookstore distribution (which might be a long-term good thing) they delayed Tuskers III by a year.

That book is now supposed to be published in October, so that starts the 5 month cycle again.

Unfortunately, when Tuskers III fell off the schedule last October, I didn't react quickly enough. I really should have released The Last Fedora, which is fully finished with cover and which I liked quite a lot. By the time I realized that too much time was passing, I had a different book ready, one I didn't think publishers would be interested in but which I liked a lot: Blood of the Succubus. So I put that out in February.

I will tell you all this: there is a dramatic difference in how books put out by publishers do and books I put out myself sell. At least part of that is that I'm considerably more aggressive promoting my books by publishers, because I feel an obligation to the publishers to do my best, since they took on the risk of taking me on.

Probably went unnoticed that after the first week, I barely mentioned Blood of the Succubus (until last week when I decided to change stuff...)

I don't think I've mentioned Cyber Flash at all, which was the first book I released. I've not talked about Burp the Burrow Wight (Linda's favorite) since the day I published it.

It's not something I really want to do, you know?

But here's the thing--it is absolutely necessary. Nothing happens without a little push. (Probably more happens with even more push, but I can't go there. I'm uncomfortably forward the first week, and then I can't sustain it, even for the publishers sake.)

Anyway, if I can't spam my friends about my books every 5 months or so, then are they really friends?

So bear with me, I'm only going to bug you about this for a few more days.

Friday, May 20, 2016

My new book is out, so I'm asking...

"The Darkness You Fear" is Live! From Books of the Dead. (Cover by Andy Zeigert. Edited by Lara Milton.)

It's off to a good start. I'm asking readers of my blog to please go buy it. You know how much time and effort I spend, more than anyone, and I'd be very grateful if you'd see your way to buying this one book. I don't ask for every book. I feel obligated to my publishers so I try harder for them.

The thing is, this book is already #55 on the Alternate History list on Amazon, which gives it exposure. Any sales in these first few days affects the long term trajectory of this book. So I'm asking faithful readers to buy it. Please.

Wouldn't this blog be so much more interesting if I was a best-selling author? 


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Trapped by Faerylander again.

Faerylander was my first book after coming back to writing. I gave it to a couple of people (hey, Martha) and they came back with sort of a Blah reaction.

Anyway, I always felt it was missing something, so I kept trying to rewrite it.

And rewrite it, and rewrite it, and rewrite it. Every six months or so. In the file, I have 35 versions of the book. Yes, 35. (Some are just rearrangements, more than rewrites.)

All of them seem to be missing something, none of them have really gotten the reaction I want out of readers. 

I've been tempted to give up on it, but there is just something about it. I'm sure there is a good book under that pile of manure!

It's the quintessential quagmire, what I swore I would avoid. In the time I've taken trying to fix it, I could probably have written a couple of perfectly nice books.

What fascinates me about it now is that it has been rewritten and edited so many times that it is by far the most polished writing I've done. If I'm worried about not putting in the work to refine my books, this book is a contradiction to it. Also an example of why over-rewriting might not be such a great idea.

I've had Bren's latest editing on my computer for a year now. She's pretty brutal as well as a task-master. She is also damn good at word choice and such. Enough time has passed that I'm willing to cut large swaths that she recommends I lose.

She recommended that I split the book in two, and when I looked it over, I realized that it really would work better as 3 books.

How exhausting.

Meanwhile, I had Mike Corley do five covers for my projected "Lander" books, and he nailed it. Beautiful covers that simply MUST be used. If not for those covers, I probably would give up.

The other thing that fascinates me about this book is the complexity. I feel like I can work with that complexity, that I can make something interesting with it. I think in trying to make this work I have a chance to really get something better.

I WILL NOT start rewriting until I have a firm plot for at least the first two books. I'm guessing that about 80% of the current book will be used in the first two books, and that the third book will have to be mostly written. (Actually, the idea of writing the third book is much less intimidating than trying to make sense of the first two books).

The biggest problem is using the same McGuffin for the first two books, which isn't possible. Unless I make two versions of the same McGuffin, which is a bit of a cheap trick.

I hadn't planned on it (I never plan on Faerylander--it just grabs me) but I'm going to try to plot the damn books over the next few days, then slap together a rough version, and see if it reads at all.

The way it looks, the first book will be similar to my original version; it will be lighter and slightly more silly, but also have some really creative elements.

The second book will be darker, and since it contains more of the later writing, is probably better written. It will also contain the original sticking point, one that I worked and worked on and which now passes muster if not knocking it out of the ballpark.

If I'm going to self-publish, it probably doesn't really matter how good they are. But I've not taken that attitude up to now and I don't want to start.

Trapped by Faerylander.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How am I so prolific?

I know that as more and more of my books are released, that the question will come up. How is it that I'm so prolific?

There will be the suspicion that my writing can't be any good if it is so quick. There will be the inevitable snark that I'm "typing not writing."

I reject that.

Here's what you have to understand. For four years now I've dedicated most of every day to writing. That is, unless I'm sleeping or eating, I'm probably in writer's mode. So for roughly 16 hours a day I could possibly be writing.

Sure, I have occasional days were I do other things, occasional hours within the day. But not much. Mostly my life revolves around writing.

So with 16 hours available everyday, I get it done. I'm very diligent. I'm very persistent.

It so happens I'm kind of a loner anyway. I like being alone with my thoughts, and my best thoughts are my creative thoughts.

I'm young enough -- at least I think so -- to have enough energy to spend on writing. And I'm old enough and established enough not to worry as much about money. My store is doing well and is in good hands.

So I can dedicate myself to one thing.

If I can't come up with a couple thousand words in a day if that is my sole purpose, there is something wrong with me. I don't understand how a writer can spend years writing a single book. It's a mystery. I mean, do they shit words out one at a time? Anyway, that's them, not me.

I've got plenty of creative energy. I have lots of persistent energy that can't be noticed on a minute to minute basis, which I applied to my store for 35 years and which I'm now applying to writing equally vigorously.

I wrote 7 books in an earlier part of my life. I was equally serious about writing then, but the stress became too much. I had to earn a living. So I was very serious until I wasn't.

For 35 years I was chomping on the bit, and when the chance came, Wow--I have to admit that even I was surprised by what came out of me.

A couple of thousand words a day adds up to 700K words a year. Just a 1000 words a day adds up to 360K words a year. That's a lot of books. Even I can't quite do that, but it shouldn't be so surprising that I get so much done. When I'm writing a story, any scene worth telling will usually amount to at least 1000 words.

My goal is to write entertaining stories and the best way I know how to do that is to dive into the story and let it carry me, and then, try not to rewrite so much that the joy is taken out. Sure, I think rewriting improves a book, but I think laboring over it too much is counter productive.

So I let the story carry me, and then I look at what I've done and try to improve it.

Anyway, I think that anyone who thinks I'm not putting the work into these books that the reader deserves is underestimating me. I've always had this thing I do--I just keep at it. and keep at it, and keep at it.

I can start out with considerably less skill than others, but I keep at it until I get better, and then one day I find that by continuing at it, I've gotten somewhere.

That's how I'm so prolific.

Taking stock and cleaning house.

I've been writing for four years without taking a breather. Forging ahead every time I had an idea for a new story. That was sort of my deal with myself: I wouldn't block myself, I would write anything I wanted.

So when I woke up one morning a couple years ago with a vampire book in mind, it was already well past the time to write a vampire book. But I did it anyway. In other words, I've just written anything I want without regard to suitability. No long term career planning here.

Many of my better books actually started off as a lark and then turned into something. I'm not changing any of that. I think it's a good way to write, and I intend to continue. However, I'm so far ahead of myself I can afford to take a couple of weeks to try to clean up what I've done and take stock.

My files were an unholy mess. So I started creating files and eliminating files I didn't need. (Having first downloaded everything onto a flashdrive, just in case.)

It's given me a much better perspective on what can be done and what can't be done.

I contacted the artist of my Star Axe and Snowcastles books a couple of years ago, and he wanted 2K for each cover, which was way beyond what I could pay. I negotiated down to 1K last year, but the last year has proven to me that I can't justify that price either. He recently finally accepted 500.00 per cover, which is more in line with what brand new covers cost.

I've had Star Axe and Snowcastles and Icetowers scanned for some time now. It's messy and every line in the books have to be gone over to make sure that they are correct, and everything has to be formatted correctly. It's tedious but can probably be done in a week for each book. (I would combine Snowcastles and Icetowers into one book with the Snowcastles cover--which is appropriate anyway.)

So I'm going to do that.

The biggest thing I've done is going through my files of books and trying to consolidate them into folders. It's wrestling a real mishmash of stuff, but I started to see a pattern, how much each book was completed, how much needed to be done.

Frankly, if I was to take just a couple of months, I could finish a number of books.

I'm going to eventually put them in a Vault; each book finished off with editing and covers. Ready to go at the push of a button.

Then just start releasing them every 3 or 4 months for the foreseeable future.

So I have a number of books where I have covers and editing done. I'm just waiting for the right moment. This year is all about waiting to see what happens on the publisher front. I have books out being considered, I have books already accepted that will be coming out.

So I don't want to step on the toes of my publishers. I want to concentrate on those efforts and not dilute them with my other stuff.

I've got a couple of books that just need to be finished.

Devil's Forge already has a plot and 35K words. I've got a much better beginning planned. It is still a timely book, especially if wildfires continue to rage. So I could probably finish this within a month. I've been clipping newspaper articles out of the Bulletin for the last year, and it's amazing how much research material that has provided. I'm trying for a Crichton-like feel to the book.

The agent and publisher didn't care for my "100 kick-ass pages" so I'm going back to my original conception. I've put all the chapters back in the order they were originally, and I'm kind of excited to get started.

I also read through my Tuskers IV, and...I like it. It's good. It's a worthy continuation. I'm 25K words into that book, and again, I can probably finish it in a month.

So those are my next two projects.

I'm going to try to tick off each of my unfinished projects one by one over this year, have them all finished by the end of the year.

About 2/3rds of my books have a manageable number of versions, between 1-3 copies.

Led to the Slaughter had more than a dozen, but that book is two years old now, and I can just shove them in a file. Same with some of the others.

But Faerylander. Oh, la, la. Over 35 versions of that puppy. Every word has been gone over, every version.

There's a book under that pile of manure, I'm sure of it! In fact, there's 3 books!

Mike Corley did some wonderful covers for the first five books. Now all I have to do is figure out how to split Faerylander into 3 books. I'm going to do some detailed planning and outlining for each book before I start. It's a real puzzle. The 4th and 5th books are written, but need to be revised.

Finally, what about my early aborted efforts?

I have a bunch of books that I wrote first drafts and set them aside. I like them all right, but the stuff I started writing about a year into the process were so much more complete and ready to go that I didn't feel like going backward.

But they are fun books in their own right? What to do?

I've gone back and forth for years about doing books under a pen-name. Believe me, I have more than enough material. I have 2 books still unpublished from my earlier career, and I've written at least 5 other books since that I also think should come out. (These are outside the main career books.)

Question is-- do they fit the rest of my oeuvre, as it were? They are mostly fantasy, not horror.

So I'm thinking of having two tracks. The first is the Duncan McGeary route where I go to the expense of editing and professional covers for each book. These are books that I might send to a publisher; which I at least do some strategic career thinking about, when they should be released and how.

The second route is using a pen-name, where I do my own covers and editing and I just release whenever.

I've got at least 4 books finished and ready to go under the name Duncan McGeary. I've got Star Axe and Snowcastles and Icetowers coming out soon as well. I've got more two books in the pipeline. I have the five Faerylander books, I have Tuskers IV and Devil's Forge. (I already have 7 books out under publisher imprints, and two books out by myself under the Duncan McGeary name.

That's a career already. (I can hear some of you thinking: yeah, yeah, that ain't writing, that's typing. All I can say is, I'm spending a huge amount of time writing...)

And I'm by no means done writing. (Knock Wood.)

I could plunk these out every 3 months for years.

So why not do the penname thing on the other 7 books?

What I'm telling myself is--do my own covers as best I can, and do my own editing. I've got a much better idea of how to do covers now. My writing is pretty clean actually, not a lot of mistakes, so a little editing effort on my part should take care of that.

So I don't see any real downside to having books come out under a different name. (Right now, I'm thinking D.M. McKinnon, which is my middle name.)

Anyway, I think I'll feel a lot better if I can just deal with these little housekeeping chores. A couple of weeks or a month's worth of work.

Believe it or not, I don't think I've taken a month off from writing in 4 years. There is a reason I'm so prolific. I'm spending almost ALL my time doing it, I'm very diligent, and I seem to have a lot of creative energy.

I want to be sure that all this effort isn't wasted just because I didn't do the last few detailed things to make them possible.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Rebooting TMPDG Murders.

"The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders: Blood of the Succubus" went nowhere fast.

It deserves better, I think. It's a decent book with some interesting ideas.

Anyway, I decided to change to the alternate cover--which was the one most people voted for.

I also changed to the alternate title: "Blood of the Succubus: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders."

While I was at it, I researched how to describe the book, what keywords to use, and how to categorize it. Changed six out of the seven keywords (saved only "Succubus.")

This was the first book that I published myself after being published by Books of the Dead and Ragnarok Publications. It's pretty obvious I don't know what I'm doing. I need to experiment, figure out what works.

I got only one real category the first time, so I this time I changed it up, went in an entirely different direction. So far, partial success. I got 3 (!) different categories, which is better than I expected. The change in the description looks and reads better too.

There is nothing to lose here. The book wasn't selling at all. (What happened to the thousands of readers of my other books?)

I have a lot of books written and I'm going to need to put books out on my own (even while still going through publishers, hopefully) and I need to figure this out.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Finished Faerie Punk.

Finished the first draft of Faerie Punk.

However, I'm not quite satisfied with the ending. It seems like I sort of glided into the ending, instead of POW! hitting it.

I'm trying to figure out a more impactful ending. Right now, I have the main protagonist being more or less an observer. I need to bring Iggy into the action, but in order to do that, he needs some "magic" power to confront what is essentially a demigod. For him to have a magic power will need a little more set up, plus I can't imagine what that power is.

At this point I'm thinking this is a single book instead of making a trilogy out of it.  It's 477 pages long, or 138K words, which is a bigger book than usual for me. I've changed my mind about 10 times about this, but it would be considerably easier if I could figure out a couple of climaxes in the book, and I can't seem to. It's all of one whole cloth.

Besides, buying three covers would get kind of expensive. And it's not like I'm short of books.

So one and done, I think.

It's a fun book, unlike anything I've done before. It's fascinating to me that I haven't settled on a kind of book, but keep doing different things.

I guess I'm learning the hard way. I'm not going to mess with what's working. Just keep writing.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

My own humble Vault.

Prince was so prolific a songwriter that he had a "Vault" in which he put all his extra recordings.

I kind of need to do the same thing.

I realized today that I need to spend a month or two doing nothing but cleanup. I have Star Axe and Snowcastles and Icetowers all in my computer, but they need to be cleaned up. (They were scanned, which is a messy process.)

Plus, I need covers. (I'd love to have the original covers, but the artist wanted a lot of money for them. I've made an offer, but I'm not hopeful.) I'm a better writer now, but these were real books that sold all over the world, so they are nothing to be ashamed of.

I also need to finish transferring "Deviltree" from it's original floppy disks, and then editing the sequel, "Deeptower." I need to finalize the covers (have a rough version.)

These five books are more or less done, and I'd like to get them in my Vault as finished.

The following books also need to go into the Vault.

"The Last Fedora"  (done)
"Gargoyle Dreams" (done)
"I Live Among You" (needs editing)
"Deep Sea Rising" (needs cover)

I've written a bunch more, but mostly first drafts, or drafts I'm not satisfied with, none of which are ready for the "Vault." 

There is nothing keeping me from continuing to write. But I probably should finalize some of these and get them ready to go. What's stopping me is my obligation to my current publishers. "The Darkness You Fear" is supposed to come out soon from Books of the Dead, and "Tuskers III" is due out in October from Ragnarok.

So I don't want to step on their toes.

But just for peace of mind, I'd like to have my completed books ready to go with the touch of a button.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

My first 500 page book.

So my little Faerie Punk storyline has grown into a monster. If you include series, such as Tuskers, I've written more than 500 pages before, but never as one story.

I've been back and forth on whether I can break this up. I decided to finish the book before making a final decision. I gave up at one point yesterday, then on my walk figured out how I might be able to do it.

I'm three to five pages from the end of the first draft. I decided I would save that up for this weekend.
Of course, if I decide to do 3 books instead of 1, I have a minimum of 8 more chapters to write, which would still be the first draft. Still, I should be finished by the 17th.

So...150K words. Broken up into thirds, those would be short books, however, a minimum rewrite would bump that up another 20K words, which would make them respectable. (57K words.)

I will have no trouble adding 10 to 15% to the story. I write sparsely. I tend to get from point A to point B pretty directly. I'm not terribly coy (subtle) about getting the action going.

This is both good and bad. I do think a little fleshing out for me is a good thing, gives the book a better pace, allows me to embellish--in a good way--the characters and locations, etc. It's just a matter of doing it.

So I'm sending this off to Lara on the 17th, then turning to my wildfire/terrorist book, Devil's Forge. When I get Faerie Punk back, I'll dedicate a month to rewriting it.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The book is writing me.

Instead of me dragging the book to the ending, the book is dragging me to the ending.

Faerie Punk demands to be finished!

I've become so accustomed to writing everyday that sometimes even when I'm not feeling it, sometimes even when I'm intending to take time off, I end up writing. For the last few days, instead of me feeling like I don't have anything in the tank (which is what my brain is telling me) I end up writing something anyway. Not only that, but I have sloppy seconds still there for the next day.

Does that make any sense?

It's much like my walking. I now feel really deprived if I don't go for my five mile walk. And my five mile walk almost always--I probably should say always--results in ideas and in writing.

Instead of me dragging a book out of my subconscious, my subconscious is dragging me to writing the book.

I'm going to be finished with the first draft in the next couple of days. I've dropped the shorter version--let's be honest, I was always going to go with the longer version-- even if it stays one book instead of three. It got a little confusing distinguishing between the two versions, and I spent a couple hours yesterday realizing I was missing a chapter in one, and had double chapters in the other.

Unnecessary complications.

I'm guessing it will be close to 138K. I've got three of four other chapters I intend to write, so it might be over 145K by the time I'm done.

I'll send that off to Lara, with the intent of giving it one last rewrite to make it even a little bigger just by fleshing it out.

I have no idea if this book works, but I enjoyed writing it.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Duck my head and keep writing.

I'll be done with the shorter version (if 130K words can be considered shorter) of Faerie Punk within a day or two. (Today is off the schedule because Toby is home and Dave is coming over and we're having a Mother's Day dinner, and then GoT's, Good Wife, etc. etc. T.V. night.)

I think I'm going to spend another week or so adding the extra chapters to the longer version (I'm guessing between 145 to 150K). Then sending it off to Lara.

I want to plunge immediately into Devil's Forge and finish it up within a month and a half. Since it is half finished, this should be relatively easy, especially since I have most of the plot figured. But I want to take some time to do research...before...I write more, so that will be a different approach.

Feeling pressure, which isn't pleasant and something I'd hoped to avoid in my writing. But the truth is, I can't just put my books out without pressure and expect anything to happen.

Or, put another way, I CAN put my books out without pressure and not expect anything to happen, and that may be all right.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

My wildfire/terrorist novel.

I'm sort of itching to write my wildfire/terrorist novel. I'd like to try to finish it before the height of the fire season, August or September.

The current title is: Devil's Forge. It kills me that it is so fucking topical. What am I waiting for?

I've already written 100 pages. The 100 "Kick-ass" pages that a big agent and mainstream publisher asked for last year.

The agent rejected the manuscript outright and the publisher has never gotten back to me. This is the same mainstream publisher who said about Led to the Slaughter: "It's a brilliant premise and beautifully written." And who said, "I'm sure we can find a premise we both like--I'm sure of it."

I thought I was in like Flynn.

But...no answer. I kept sending him little updates, because he seemed so gung-ho at first, but I'm finally ready to give up and do it myself.

I knew going in that it was going be difficult to meet their standards."100 kick-ass pages?" What does that even mean? A book, is a book, is a book, and it isn't a book until it's a book, and I'm just not the kind of writer who can pre-think a book so much that I've figured it all in advance. I gave it a try, but I could tell I'd probably fallen short. I was just hoping they could see the promise.

I've already made a huge change in the first few chapters that will dramatically improve the story, but I didn't think of it before I sent off the proposal. I have no doubt that in the course of actually writing the book, I'll make similar improvements.

I've stockpiled a bunch of firefighting books for research. I've also clipped out articles about wild-fires from the paper, and it turns out there are a lot more of those kinds of features than I realized.

This is getting to be a big deal, what with the climate change, and I'm just adding the match of terrorists to the plot.

It is going to be a Crichton-like techno-thriller set slightly in the future, with as much science as I can stand to add.

It's a great story and very topical, and I'll just get it done.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Bend: A Boom Town Again?

The question mark is only a slight modifier. I'm pretty sure Bend is going through another one of its booms. When half the people who come in the door announce that they have just moved to Bend or are planning to move to Bend. When new businesses are opening everywhere.

I think this is the fourth boom I've seen in the last 36 years of business. The first was the boom in the late 70's up until the Reagan recession. The bust after that was the most severe this town has ever seen, including the Great Recession, compounded by the decline of the lumber industry. There was a ten year dry spell after this, with very little building or development in Bend. The stores in downtown at the time would be astonished by the activity and vitality of downtown today.

It was a time of opportunity, too. Pegasus Books was able to establish itself downtown (which was half empty.)

Then a second boom started around 1990, which lasted until a slight crunch near the turn of the century. Then the biggest boom from about 2002 or so until the Great Recession.

Now, for reasons that escape me, we seem to be going through another one.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I see these events as cresting events--that is, we get a big surge, which doesn't pan out, but which when it recedes still leaves the town higher up. A whole lot of creative destruction.

Much of the creative destruction would be avoidable if these new businesses would take the time to research Bend, realize its limitations. Instead, they get the opposite. Boosterism from every direction.

Who's going to tell newcomers the negative parts? Me? Heh. Not likely.

I don't take all this personally. I try not to be a nativist. As I always say, I couldn't even have this business if Bend hadn't grown. In fact, it needed to keep growing as my niche became smaller and more fragmented. I've managed to bring in a combination of product lines that manages to work.

Which makes me skeptical of the specialists that always pop up during booms. I'm a comic store, a bookstore, a games store, a toy store. I sincerely doubt I could survive as only one of these.

But...there is always a window of opportunity during a boom. Specialists can work, even thrive during a Bend boom. Trouble is, that layer of support evaporates during the inevitable bust. When I see a boom, I build into it, but I don't assume it is going to last. In other words, my base of support has to be strong enough to survive when the boom is over.

So diversity does that job. But it also means that if a game store, or a bookstore, or any kind of specialty but comics (I do the full-service comic thing) comes along, they may look for a time like they are doing the right thing.

Maybe, I suppose, if the boom continues long enough, if it doesn't bust too much, it's possible Bend can finally support the kind of specialty shops that its population would seem to indicate it should.

This is where a little skepticism and critical thinking might work.

I've always said, most of these stores would work--if you do EVERYTHING right. I do mean EVERYTHING. That's a hard measure, especially for a new business that is trying to find its way. Not impossible, just really, really hard to pull off.

So what I see is--stores opening in locations that are sexy but pretty much won't work. A classic example of newcomer thinking is that they believe they can do a "neighborhood" specialty store.

Now neighborhood stores work if they have a broad enough appeal. Specialty is the opposite of Neighborhood, so you need to position yourself for the entire town, actually, all of Central Oregon.

First, try to scale your business for a Salem, Medford, or Eugene size market (even though all those markets are twice our size and along the I-5 corridors.) Be careful, but try. Because Bend people and tourists want big city services with a small town population. Whatever you do, don't think you can do what Portland does. Portland literally has 10 times our pull.

Secondly, realize the rhythm of Bend. It's a tourist town, with four or five good months, four or five bad months, and the rest in-between. Realize you are opening in a boom and the good times won't continue forever. You want to open a "pure" store in your specialty, but you might want to bring in some diverse product.

Third, realize that there is veneer of sophistication to Bend that is not very broad or very deep. It's what you see when you visit downtown, or the Old Mill, or Northwest Crossing. Much of it is aspirational rather than real. Much of it is fueled by the ardor of a single creator--which may dim over time, because getting EVERYTHING right is exhausting.

Fourth, realize our demographics. Yes, there are rich people here. Yes, some techies are telecommuting here. But mostly Bend is a tourist and retirement town, and that means mostly minimum wage jobs. Look up "Poverty with a View" in the Urban Dictionary. We don't really have a high paying industry around here that I can see.

Fifth, realize that Bend isn't all it appears to be. We are the furthest from an interstate than any other metro area in America. That's a big deal, actually. The entire eastern two/thirds of Oregon is bare of population outside of Central Oregon. We don't really have a four year college-- though we're working for one. We do get snow, sometimes lots of it. What happens is, newcomers see the glitz of Northwest Crossing or the Old Mill or the slightly funkier downtown, and assume it is all working great instead of...well, a work in progress with lots of creative destruction.

I could go on, but what's the point? Anyone who moves to Bend is convinced that we're a great place, and how weird it is that we don't have a specialty game store, or bookstore, or toy store. Worst, that whatever stores are that are doing that are falling down on the job and they could do so much better... (Instead of wondering, for instance, why 5 new bookstores have failed here since B & N came to town.)

So we're on another roller-coaster ride and good luck to all of us.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Profligacy of 2.

The profligacy of two versions of the same book. The bigger version could be broken into three books.

"Faerie Punk"

"Iggy's Choice (A Faerie Punk Novel)"

"Ever Punk (A Faerie Punk Novel)"

I'm so prolific I feel like I can afford to finish a book, and then do a second version of it. Well, not a second version so much as an expansion.

I have a hard RULE: Additions and subtractions allowed, major changes are not. But of course, at some point, if I make enough adds and subs, changes happen whether I want them or not.

I'm just a few chapters from the end of Faerie Punk. My guess, if I go straight for an ending, I'll end up at 125K words. A big book, but if it's going to be an ebook, not outrageous.

Before writing the last two or three climax chapters though, I started to making additions. So I've added about 5K in new chapters, and have ideas for quite a few more.

Thing is, if I can finish a book at 125K and it's legit, am I not just being profligate to do more? Am I not just fluffing the story? Are the new chapters even necessary?

I do think the new chapters add a little more depth and obviously complexity to the story. I think they flesh out the characters a little, up the ante on the plot.

So what does "necessary" even mean?

The biggest danger is that I'll make a hash of it. That it will become a tangled mess. I have a history of that: hence the RULE.

So I'm going to finish the book in the next few days. Three more chapters and I'm done.

Then I'm going to set aside that version (minus the 5K in new material) and do the second version with all the new ideas. When I'm finished, I'll look the larger version over and try to figure out if it can be broken up, or if it works as one large novel. Or whether I'm better of with the 'shorter' version.

My guess is the larger version will be at least 150K words, more likely bigger than that.

Right now, I can't see a natural break-up point where there is are satisfying semi-climaxes for three books, yet I have a weird feeling I'll be able to figure it out.

If I can't do that, then I'll either put the entire bigger book out or go with the smaller book.

I guess profligacy is a nice problem to have.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Woke up a few dozen times with ideas, ideas, ideas.

I mentioned yesterday that "I have too many freaking ideas!"

Which sounds pretty humblebrag. (I'm not saying they're Good ideas...)

Faerie Punk is packed with characters and locations and scenes and ideas. I passed 120K words yesterday without breaking a sweat. I still have the entire ending to write. So I figured, minimum, it's a 130K word book, which is a little too much. It's better nowadays to write less than 100K unless you're George R.R. Martin or Neal Stephenson or someone like that. You're asking for a lot of faith from the reader, and unless you've proved yourself, I think most will pass.

Anyway, I wondered about breaking it into a trilogy. I can easily reach the proper number of words (at least 150K) just by a proper fleshing out rewrite, but I couldn't think of any natural semi-climactic endings, which is also asking a lot of the reader.

So I decided last night to just finish it and put it out as an ebook in the size it is, and move on.

I woke up a few dozen times last night, each time with an idea of how to expand the book. In other words, my subconscious just nixed my conscious decision.

I woke up this morning and wrote down as many ideas as I could remember. So it isn't a question of having a long enough book to break up, but a question of how these scenes fit in and whether there is a natural breakup point.

I have to believe there is. Unless my subconscious is fucking with me. (More than possible.)

Maybe this will turn into an unwieldy mess, but I have to try. Spend another month writing and I end up with 3 books instead of one.

I have a nice motivational climax for the first book, a vaguely thematic ending to book two, so I now think it can be done.

Extensive rewriting, which I hate.

The RULE is: I can add or subtract, but I can't change. If I stick the RULE, then things will be all right.