Can I…

I’m digging into my erotic thriller The Hired Gun today.

Years ago, I read an interesting series – The Deathlands – that was labeled Men’s Adventure. It was a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic future filled with mutants, a co-lead central character with psychic hair (I kid you not) and a gun-slinging man’s man as the protagonist. There were plenty of sex scenes in it as well, as I recall.

I loved it.

And while this series is most definitely not sci-fi, not post-apocalyptic (or even dystopian), I can’t help but want to include readers of both genders in it.

One part of me says, “You can’t write it to please everyone.” The other is busy pointing out that men like to read about sex too.

And in any case, that is far from the emphasis – it’s simply the gravy on top of the story.

I wrote this blurb when I was just thinking of it as an erotic thriller…

Shane Ellis is a hired gun, determined to do his job, and keep his clients alive, no matter who is trying to kill them. Shane lives by and enforces The Code, a strict set of rules that have given his clients the highest survival rate – despite the dangers they have faced. Follow The Code and you stay alive. But Shane isn’t prepared for Lila, sexy, stubborn, and determined to ignore his rules. And Lila isn’t prepared for what he will do when she breaks each and every one of them.

But the story is more than that. It has corruption, money-laundering, and a shadowy organization that we are just going to skim the surface of in the first book.

So while I’m busy writing the chapters and focusing on the plot, I really need to consider re-writing the blurb to something that might encourage guys to pick this up.

Maybe.

Or maybe I should just stick with the ladies.

Hmm.

Do guys like to read about sex?

The Highs and the Lows

The last year has been full of some rather extreme highs and lows. For most of it, I feel a little helpless, caught on the ocean, rising and falling with the waves.

As I look at 2018, of which 1/12 of is already been gobbled up, I find myself still struggling to “figure it all out.”

 

Think Indie

Did you know Andy Weir, author of The Martian was an Indie author? So was Hugh Howey.

There are tons more and as I listen to podcasts while I clean my clients’ houses, I hear it over and over. People are getting into self-publishing not out of lack of ability or no other choice, but because of the ability to a) make more money, and b) exert more control over how their book is produced and marketed.

I hear it time and again and frankly, I agree with it. Every time I announced, “Okay, I’m going to submit this manuscript and try and get an agent, try to get this published traditionally” a hard lump formed in my chest.

It didn’t feel right, it felt wrong.

Why should I beg someone to be my agent and take a 20-30% cut of my creation?

Why should I deal with a publisher who is going to take 90% of my earnings before the agent takes out their share?

Why should I trust a publisher to market my book effectively for me when I know that only the top cut of authors get any marketing budget at all? Most get nothing.

A podcast I was listening to recently talked about one of Dan Brown’s books coming out on e-book recently, right before a new release. The publisher did a big promotion on the ebook in anticipation of the new book release, but didn’t bother to add a chapter from the new book as a teaser in the end or even provide a link to pre-order the new book. And Dan Brown is a very popular author! If they couldn’t get that basic marketing principle down for Dan Brown, how bad would they screw over a relative unknown?

So, thanks but no thanks, I’ll stick to working as an Indie author. I’ll continue to educate myself and improve not just my writing, but all aspects of the Indie author life – book cover design, formatting, editing, and marketing.

Imposter Syndrome

I have been listening to several podcasts that focus on marketing and more for Indie authors. One recently covered imposter syndrome, which I think that most people feel on a regular basis, no matter how experienced or talented they might be.

I struggle with it, just like anyone else. It has gotten better over the years – I can remember that shortly after I had written and published the second book I actually asked my friends on Facebook if I was officially an author. I had been one for two years at that point!

One thing that helps is getting reviews on my books. I check my Author Page on Amazon regularly and so I notice when new ones come in. This review just came in on my two War’s End books…

In case that is hard to read, the reviewer wrote:

“This is book one of a two book series filled with well-defined and well loved characters. Yes, it’s dystopian in nature and yet it could take place in any time or in any place. What designates this book as excellent is the author’s vision of her characters, their actions, and their stories. Her writing transcends the commonplace and rises to the level of prose. In fact, her choice of words, phrasing, and meaning sometimes brought me to tears of wonder.

The story, itself, is more than absorbing, having all the usual attributes of great literature, i.e., joy, sorrow, heartbreak, action and suspense. After finishing both books, I can clearly state that these volumes are not to be missed. You’ll find yourself heavily invested in the characters and their actions, trying to read quickly to see what happens and yet slowing down to catch the nuances of the author’s prose.

Don’t miss these books!”

Whenever I get to thinking that I don’t have anything original to say and that my writing is stilted and generally sucks, I think I’ll just need to look this review up and I will feel better.

bad grammar – I did NOT create this meme!

Figuring Out This Damned Thing Called Marketing

Have you ever thought that it would be fun to ride a bucking bronco? Yeah, me neither. I hear those bastards are rather wily. They will trick you into thinking they are going one way and it turns out to be the other.

Marketing is just as wily and volatile.

I’m climbing up a real tall mountain right now as I try and wrap my brain around it. I am learning to:

  • Write good ad copy (it’s harder than you might think)
  • Utilize correct ad placement and timing
  • Understand Impressions vs. Clicks vs. Purchases and what a good ratio mix is
  • Find a mix of free and paid marketing that works for me (it feels like shooting into the darkness)

I’m in the process of reading several books on the subject…

Some of these are very short, others not so much. In other words? I’ve just started on the mountain. I also decided to scale back and focus on one book at a time until I get the hang of this marketing thing. So I’m focusing on Gliese 581: The Departure for now.

I’m also considering placing the two War’s End books into a “boxed” set for the Kindle and marketing it for $6.99. The individual books are priced at $3.99. If I do that, it will probably be in March or later.

When the Hell Will I Get Back to Writing?

Oh, yeah, that.

Um…

So after I finish this post I need to write a ghost story with a family tree and a veterinarian for NYC Midnight. It’s a short story competition and it’s due on Friday.

….

….

Yeah, so I’m hoping to make a goal that now that I’ve run out of month (I designated January to be a “learn about marketing” month) I will dedicate February to writing something.

What are you going to write about, Christine?

….

…..

Is that a squirrel? Wait, that’s a bunny! See the bunny?

[runs away from the computer]

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Taking Time for Learning

I listened to a great TED talk the other day by Eduardo Briceno. He was discussing how we tend to stagnate if all we are focusing on is performance and not taking time for learning or additional practice.

This hit close to home, especially since I’ve caught myself looking at all of the books on my shelf about writing and making the decision to not pick them up.

IMG_0974 (1)

Ignore the handful of business books in there!

Why?

I told myself, “You can either read about writing, or you can write. Choose one, because you don’t have time for both!”

After listening to the TED talk I realized that is not entirely correct.

Recently I’ve set down a lot of activities to focus on a few exclusively. Teaching was one of those activities I set down and I’m glad I did it.

Teaching classes took up a lot of brain space and time and it was often an emotional drain. I loved teaching, but it was a lot, and I was constantly having to change up my offerings, adapt to new ones, and shift with the seasons. It also meant time away from my family in the evenings and on weekends, the typical times that folks could attend my classes.

And most of my crafty, artsy, decorating stuff has fallen by the wayside as well. There will be time for it later. Perhaps between books when I’ve had it up to here with writing and editing. Or on the rare occasion that I am stuck in a car or waiting for someone.

As I look at those shelves of books on writing, on marketing, I can’t help but think I need to do something with them. The magazine markets book can go. I haven’t cracked that sucker in over two years. And I’ve got some business books in there – but I’ve also got some GREAT books that I should be reading. Books on marketing, but also on the art of writing, such as The Tao of Writing or The Artist’s Way. Even Robert’s Rules of Writing or [dear god in heaven, save me] the Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition books that have dogged my steps since high school…

IMG_0975

Ten or fifteen minutes a day. That’s it.

In any case, I urge you to check out the TED talk and listen to what he has to say.

And now I’m off to write again…or edit…or record…hell, I’m just going to READ!

 

Making a List…Checking It Twice…

After a fabulous party yesterday at our house (a birthday party for my eldest), I woke up this morning from the most wonderful dream…

I was part of some small group of people living and working in a large, mostly empty warehouse. The surroundings were sparse, but all of the people there were busy at work, creating art, cooking food, talking and laughing. In the dream, I was cocooned in blankets, in a little cubbyhole of sorts. I was warm, bundled up from the cold bite of air in the building and listening to my friends laugh and talk. There were clumps of worn out furniture near tall, opaque warehouse windows and I remember thinking that while my life was not full of luxuries, it still felt full and complete. I was surrounded by people who cared for me and I felt connected and at peace.

I think that the dream was an extension of the happiness I feel when we host these parties. So many wonderful, diverse people come to see us. One of my friends, Andy, who is gay said to me last night, “I’ve never been in such a diverse group of people, from all different backgrounds, who are so accepting and kind.”

And really that is exactly the environment we try to cultivate at the parties. It is especially wonderful when I see folks connecting outside of the parties, and know that they met at one of our parties.

In any case, it is a quiet house right now. A few minutes ago, the dogs and cats were making their needs known, but now that the dogs are outside, the cats are in, and everyone has been fed, life is once again quiet. The little one is off at a two night sleepover, the eldest and my hubby are both still asleep, and I figured this was a great time to get some writing done.

I have been amassing a list to ask a medical examiner when I reach out this next week. I have the basic idea of how an autopsy is conducted, and now I am taking specific notes that I figure only someone ‘in the know’ could answer best for me…

Questions to ask coroner:

  • If a person were to die from a ruptured stomach, which cavity would that appear in? And at what part of the stomach would the rupture most likely appear?
  • What would the overall appearance of the rupture look like? What verbage would you use to describe it?
  • What would an appendectomy scar look like (length) and where would it be located?
  • Would you take vitreous samples from both eyes or just one? What kind of findings can this give you?
  • If pseudorabies were to make the jump from pig to human, where would evidence of the virus be found (what part of the body)?
  • If death was caused by a virus, how would this be determined?
  • Where would an appendectomy scar be located and how would you describe it when listing any external scars?
  • What would be the listed cause of death? How would the death certificate be filled out?

That’s what I have so far. I will try and contact someone to answer those questions and any more I think of in the week to come.

Meanwhile, I think there are a couple of chapters I can write while I’m waiting. I’m off to do that…right after I get some yoga and stretches in…




Social Media is the Bomb

I have to say…social media…specifically Facebook, has really paid off for me lately.

As I have been slogging my way through this sci-fi behemoth I’ve asked any number of odd questions of my friends and connections on Facebook.

Including…

  • trying to understand warp speed travel (someone kindly directed me to the Alcubierre warp drive)
  • finding an ACTUAL VIRUS that could make the leap from pig to human, have a really long incubation rate, and cause excessive hunger (big thanks to a high school teacher of mine for directing me to her brother, who happens to be a virologist)
  • needing medical terminology for a trauma situation (thank you Nicole!) so that the written conversation didn’t sound completely stupid to someone versed in medical knowledge
  • getting a lead on a medical examiner that I could contact and ask questions about autopsies from (again, thank you Nicole!)

And the other day, when wondering what the common flooring in most houses built in the late 1800s was, I headed back to Facebook and posted on a site dedicated to folks living in my specific area of town – Real Northeast.

As an introvert, it is not my first “go to” thought to ask someone else. So I often flounder about, wondering how in the world one learns about such things before epiphany strikes (or maybe that’s just plain old logic) and I realize I don’t have to know the answer myself, I just need someone who can give me a succinct answer.

Voila!

Facebook!

It’s rather an awesome experience if I do say so myself.

Here is Your Chance to Be Part of My Next Writing Adventure!

HEC_Confirmed_Gliese581g

I need YOUR help with a small, but important, detail of my next book.

I’m writing a science fiction story next and it based partially on fact.

Here is the FACT part …

In 2010, American astronomer Steven Vogt announced that he had discovered Gliese 581g, a tidally locked super-earth with the potential for human habitation. There were doubts raised, and recently several articles have come out discounting the possibility of this planet even existing.

Ever since I heard about it I knew I had to write a story about it and I have pages of notes and some of the manuscript begun already. So imagine my dismay when I saw questions arising as to whether or not the planet ever existed. There went my story plot!

I could have begun the search for a new planet, but then I realized, no, this could still be real if there were a better, stronger telescope out there to find it.

I will include the articles debunking the existence of Gliese 581g saying that this planet was dismissed as imaginary but “with the installation of the [fill in the blank] telescope on the Mars colony Steven Vogt was vindicated in his discovery.”

So, now is your chance. What should the telescope and observatory be called? Should I place it on the Moon or on Mars and why?

GO!!!!

That Kiss

Status Update: no change

So, yeah, never made it to my goal of 27,000. I was doing great and then I just…stopped. No block, no nothing. I just wandered away from the keyboard and never really came back.

[sigh]

So for the past month or so I’ve accessed YouTube and watched, rather obsessively, the kissing scene in “Catch and Release” over and over and over and OVER.

For those interested it is Catch and Release: 5 and the scene starts at 6 minutes 48 seconds…not that I’m down to the precise second or anything.

I want this exact scene in Flea Keep (Book 4) if I can manage it. Damn, but that man is HOT!

He reminds me a lot of my husband. Not so much in who Dave is on a daily basis, but looks and personality-wise. It is a shame we do not keep the crazy passion that begins relationships. But I guess if we did, it would make life very distracting.