Thursday, February 28, 2019

"Fateplay" is almost ready.

Crossroad Press sent me back the edited version of "Fateplay." It is a pretty polished book, so there was very little that needed to be done.  The guy in charge read the first eight chapters and then handed it off to another editor.

So me being insecure and all asked: "Did you lose interest?" and "What did the new editor think?"

He answered: "I thought it was great, kind of a cosplay version of Ready Player One..."

The new editor thought it was a little long and confusing but... "Based on what I read, those who like the genre and are familiar with it will love it."

We have to come up with a cover, and I think they're going to submit it to Bookbub, but it will be ready soon.

I want to have an edited version of "Eden's Return" done by the time "Fateplay" is published. I want to keep a steady 3 to 4 month release schedule. 

I'm still uncertain about my "Lander" books, especially the first one. I wonder if it isn't a clunker. I know it has some good stuff in it. Can I afford to take a chance it is a clunker? How do I know? No matter what I do, some will like it and some won't.

I also need to tackle "Takeover" and turn it into a Hart Davis book.

Lots of work to do, and I'm being lazy. Going into my fourth month of not writing. It's very strange, but I keep telling myself that a little break probably isn't a bad thing.

I don't want to turn this blog into a "Why I'm not writing" blog, but...

I'm sure I'll get back to it soon enough.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Meanwhile, I'm waiting.

I really haven't written much in the last three months. I've dabbled with a novelette called "Rudy Red and the Robot," but I haven't been consistent. This is by far the longest time I've gone. In fact, I think previously I haven't let more then two weeks go by without writing.

Such a slow down was inevitable. I knew from the start I'd couldn't keep up the pace, but as long as I was keeping up the pace, I kept on writing. But the newness has worn off.

Part of it was by design. I decided to take December off because family was going to be home and that is always a disruption. Then, once that happened, I still didn't feel like doing anything. I told myself maybe it was time to take a step back, to take stock.

It's obvious I can write books. I have roughly 22 books up for sale right now.

But to what end?

It's a strange question to ask since I've just had my biggest success with "Deadfall Ridge." But this is a standalone book, in a different genre than I usually write. To take advantage of its success, I would need to write a series of "Hart Davis Strawberry Mountain Mysteries." Which is daunting.

I love being about to write whatever I want without regard to whether it sells or not. But to really make any headway, I need to think strategically. I should have another Virginia Reed book, another Hart Davis book.

I think some writers are much savvier and disciplined about what they write. Nail that long series down so that there is a synergistic effect.

Series are the biggest thing I need to do, but then that obligates me to keep writing them. Up until recently that wasn't really a problem because I was basically doing both. Original one-offs, followed by a series book, followed by another one-off, and so on.

But since I've slowed down, I need to start thinking about it.

The other thing I need to do is finish off the books that are almost done. I have four novellas set in a world I call "Tales of the Thirteen Principalities," which need to be edited to be consistent.  I have the four "Lander" books, which have been rewritten multiple times and need one more attempt.  I have "Takeover" which I can turn into a Hart Davis book, but not easily. I have "Eden's Return" which needs a solid rewrite.

My "game-lit" book, "Fateplay," is with the publisher, hopefully being edited and finding a cover.

If all these are finished, I have the next year or two covered as far as publication goes.

I'm pretty sure the day will come when the creative urge will just take over again.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

12 years of blogging.

When I first started this blog (2006!) I was anything but circumspect. I didn't think the truth could hurt me. Linda was somewhat worried, but there didn't seem to be much consequence to my babblings.

I figured I just wasn't that important.

Oh, occasionally I'd say something I probably shouldn't have said. There were a couple of times I talked about local businesses and their prospects, only to learn to my alarm that they'd read my posts and took offense.

So I stopped doing that.

I'm mostly curious about how businesses survive or don't survive. There is no rooting for downfall, or envy over success, just curiosity about how they did it. I speculate based on my knowledge of overhead and profit margins and what I know about the local economy. I'm pretty good at it, but I can't expose my spculations out loud.

I have to keep it to myself.

When it comes to my own business, I don't mind being forthright. I don't give out specific figures but general trends. I don't see any harm in it. However, sometimes the industries I'm involved in have some troubles that I'd love to talk about, but I've learned the customers sometimes draw the wrong conclusions and so it's better to deal with the problems myself instead of airing them.

So I deal with the situation myself.

I'm not working at the store much these days--which keeps me apart from the daily store experiences, which interesting or not, at least filled my days. Everything is a little bit at a remove nowadays. Sabrina is the one dealing with that.

So you're not hearing about the stuff of day to day retail.

Since I've started writing, I've also decided to keep my blog neutral about politics and religion and such. I don't think it does much good, and besides, everyone expresses their opinion about such things--to no avail. There is a whole industry of outrage out there, and my blog doesn't need to add to that.

That takes away a whole lot of subjects.

In other words, slowly but surely I've whittled down the list of appropriate subjects for this blog.

I know that non-writers (and probably writers too) have limited interest in my process of writing. One thing I do is obsess over whatever my interests are. I go over the same topics again and again, gleaning little insights each time (or not.) 

So, even there, I've decided to quit constantly going over the same ground, at least publicly.

All this is to apologize for not posting as often as I used to--and for being so bland about everything. Or maybe I'm just in a lull. I'm actually dying to talk about lots of things, but the very things I want to talk about are the things I shouldn't talk about.

Or I could throw caution to the wind. But the problem here isn't that I'm worried about what will happen to me but whether I hurt someone else.

And that I don't want.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Publish traditionally, or indie, or with smaller publishers?

There are proponents of traditional publishing (Big Five) and proponents of Indie publishing and proponents of small publishers.

I rarely read the views of any writer who hasn't taken a side.

As both a bookstore owner and a writer, and as someone who has been traditionally published and published by small publishers and published Indie (that is, by myself), I've been open to all possibilities, without closing the door on any of them. I've now been published by 8 different publishers (!)

2 publishers were/are traditional, and 6 were/are smaller, independent publishers.

But the data is starting to accumulate and I think I can come to some conclusions.

First of all, there is no doubt that smaller publishers are better for me than having no publishers at all, despite the fact I have to share the revenues. I'm not great at self-promotion. I never will be--because I have no intention of doing that. So a small publisher garners better results than anything I can do by myself. The smaller publishers have been responsible for getting some of my books in audio form, as well as in manuscript form. I've gotten a Bookbub out of it. I've gotten editing and covers without me having to pay for it.

Secondly, I still publish occasionally by myself--short stories, especially--and I may someday put out some books under a penname that don't quite fit the "Duncan McGeary" moniker.

I would very much encourage anyone who wants to write a book to take self-publishing seriously. It's not like the old vanity press. Ebooks cost nothing at all, if you can do the cover and editing. Even physical books only cost the paper and ink for however many copies you want to do. I highly recommend it.

But since I've already embarked down the road with small publishers, that's the direction I'll continue to pursue.

Third: That leaves traditional publishers. Almost any imprint you can think of is owned by five different corporations--or if not owned, they distribute.

I kinda still wanted that to happen. So when one of them approached me, I spent a few years trying to write a book he might like. He finally took one, but as a ghostwritten book. That is, my manuscript would come out under another writer's name. This author inhabits the Top Ten bestseller lists almost every week I check. The advance was pretty good.

But that's not why I sold the book. The editor more or less implied that if I wrote a good book in the thriller genre he would publish it under my own name.

I sent him 3 different books and never got so much as an answer.

The first was "Deadfall Ridge," which I rather thought passed muster. The second book was one I haven't released yet--"Takeover." The third book was "Shadows over Summer House" (which admittedly turned a little supernatural halfway through as I realized that the editor wasn't serious about publishing me.)

Meanwhile, the ghostwritten book sits there year after year with nothing happening.

So that's it. No more attempts at traditional publishing. No attempts at an agent (pretty much a prerequisite if you want to be traditionally published.)

Now there are tons of reasons I could talk about--the lack of timeliness, the lack of control, the giving the rights away forever...all that--but I'll give you the main reason.

At a minimum, a little bit of communication would have been nice. 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Anvil on the head. Bong!

 Like Wiley Coyote, I'm still here. But unlike Wiley Coyote I'm introspective about it. So I'm still trying to take it in.

I always wondered what would happen if I had a wake-up call like this. Would I respond by suddenly becoming motivated to get everything done?

The opposite seems to have happened--at least so far. I'm totally enervated. No motivation at all. Wasting away the hours and days. Doing nothing.

I've always been prone to that. I spent my youth with my Mom goosing me to go outside, to do something, to joins clubs, to make friends, to do SOMETHING! If I was left alone long enough, I sat and read and watched old movies and daydreamed the day away.

So, for the moment, I'm allowing myself that.

I've always hated the concept of the Bucket List. It seems empty to me. Pointless.

One thing about the empty time is that it gives me time to be creative. But this time off has made me wonder what I should do with that creativity.

Keep on doing what I was doing? Do something else?

I've just decided to let myself molder this time, at least for awhile.

It was a pretty big anvil.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Post Anvil-on-the head thoughts.

How did I get so lucky?

My wife, Linda, is the nicest person I've ever met. I used to joke that I was waiting for the "dark side" to emerge. It never has. Instead she has only deepened and matured in my eyes.

When my Mom was sick, Linda was hired by my family to take care of her. One particularly trying day, I walked in ahead of Linda and my Mom sat up and said, "Where's Linda? I want Linda! Linda is an angel!"

Now I tell this story because I completely and totally understood what Mom was saying and in fact often have the exact same reaction.

Linda is, in fact, an angel. She glows kindness and caring. All I have to do is think of her and I feel comforted.

When I met her she wasn't in any way what I'd had in mind. But I knew instantly that she was what I wanted and needed and I was going to be everything I could be to keep her with me forever. That feeling has never changed. There has never been a moment's doubt that she was the right one for me.

I didn't know then just how steadfast and funny and interesting and solid-to-the-core she was too.

I'm utterly amazed that I ended up with her. And that she still loves me after 35 years.

This is much sappier than I generally allow myself to say.

But it's what I've always felt.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Anvil on my head.

Sorry I haven't written anything in a few days. Kind of had a big life event that has thrown me for a loop. After much pondering, I've decided that it is a black swan event and not something I want to distract from the way I'm living my life. Suffice to say, I'm fine, my wife and kids are fine, the store is fine. Everything is fine.

So after 45 days, "Deadfall Ridge" is starting to turn back into a pumpkin. That is, I think it won't be long before it is selling at more or less the same pace as my other books.

My most recent review is a pretty good summation of how it works:

"A Very Pleasant Surprise. Didn’t know the author, never heard of the book but took a chance. It was an excellent story and hard to put down."

See, that's just it. "Didn't know the author"--and who does? "Took a chance"--and who does? Then the actual reaction to the book itself...

I don't know if there is any way around that. People need reassurance--so they gravitate to the authors they know, or at least authors they've heard good things about. I'm not sure that will ever change.

BookBook is an equalizer for sure, but it's pretty hard to get accepted. 

It was fun to watch.

Meanwhile, I've decided to forego my pride and try to get the major publisher to do something with the book I sold them. I've offered to buy it back. I've offered it under my own name at a much smaller advance. I've offered it to them to do whatever changes they choose.

The sticking point is at this point in my life I don't want to get bogged down in doing major rewrites of a book I finished 3 or 4 years ago.

But it doesn't seem to matter. I get no answer, even though they've paid me a significant chunk of money at the first advance. To give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they're ultra busy, or maybe they've had an "anvil on their head" too. Heh. 

My writing has definitely slowed down. I knew it had to happen eventually. I was at a fever pitch for two years, then very steady for another year, then diligent for the next two years. Without diligence, I too turn into a pumpkin. 

But Oh My, I really got a lot done there for awhile.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Day One.

I didn't write yesterday. Instead went into town and worked at the store a little.

Today I'm determined to write on "Ruby Red and the Robot," no matter what. I'm going to sequester myself in my room and not come out until I've done at least 1500 words. No excuses.

There is nothing ahead of me for the next few months so I can concentrate on writing, writing, writing.


Well, I did try. I spent about six hours in my room struggling with it, trying to latch into the story. I believe I have found the trigger--it's more a love story than anything else. That plus turning it into a novella and I'm determined to finish it. 

I'm satisfied with my effort. But it may take me awhile to get back into the swing of things.