New estimate

Ready or Not is coming along pretty well, not as quickly as I’d like or had hoped, but it’s not as far off track as I’d feared.

To be frank it’s got rougher edges and so is needing a more thorough polish than Love or Lust did, as well my editor is taking things a bit slower this time around because she’s terribly embarrassed at some of the errors that managed to still be in the first book despite her editing.

That said, book two could be out as early as the anniversary of the first book.  The more likely date is about a week later than that — around 3 – 6 July; worst case scenario we’re looking at mid-July (barring some catastrophic mess that carries things beyond even that).

All told it is going well, and the story came out pretty decently and the edits are really making it shine I think.  So the wait, I feel, will be worth it if you can all be patient a little longer I think it’ll be enjoyable.

I’m, of course, working on book 3 as well.  It still doesn’t have a title because — frankly — I’m not far enough along to be entirely sure what it’s about.  Still, I’ve some rather great bits so far, and it should go pretty smoothly (though, now I’ve said that, I’m going to hit a case of writer’s block 60km thick and made of adamantium).  I really can’t imagine it being out sooner than spring 2015 and will likely be summer 2015, though if the rest of the book goes as well as these first chapters have we could be looking at a Dec/Jan release (just don’t hold your breath).

How do people shop for books?

English: Author and musician Seanan Mcguire at...

English: Author and musician Seanan Mcguire at Dezenovecon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, in perfect honestly I almost never read the comments of blogs (other than my own), YouTube videos … I’m not even wont to read internet forums much.  So I never noticed, until it was pointed out to me, a very peculiar phenomenon that just blows my mind and makes me wonder just how pervasive this is … I mean is it just a Paranormal Romance/SF thing, or is it all books?  Did I get some of my initial sales from this, for example?

What phenomenon is this?  People buying the author rather than the book.

I don’t understand this.  I mean, I do in the sense of, for example, I’ve met next to no Heinlein books I didn’t like, thus I will often buy a Robert Heinlein penned  story without doing more than glancing at the synopsis, and (given the single Heinlein I can’t stand, Starship Troopers) I read the first page to be sure I can get past it.  Same with Dennis L. McKiernan.   Thing is, I’m not buying the person, I don’t really care, I’m buying the writer or writing.

Now, it is true and fair to say that I’ll not be in any hurry to put money in Orson Scott Card‘s pockets, but if I discover a story of his is particularly fantastic, I can always pick it up at a second hand bookshop with no itch of conscience, he doesn’t see a dime from that.  Why?  Well, because his homophobic tirades were just a little too offensive to want to give him my cash when I can help it.

I guess I can’t understand this idea that the producer of something is the brand that needs selling.  I mean, yes, Starbucks, this is somewhat the case – that said, though, I don’t care how awesome they are as a company, how good they are to employees, how they use fair trade coffee and such … they make awful coffee!  And, in the end, the coffee is their brand!  Tazo, on the other hand, is fantastic, and Starbucks gets lots of my money for that stuff.

So I have to wonder now, did someone buy Love or Lust because they were impressed with one of my random blog posts about writing or about … stuff?  Because I shared something from The Kindness Blog?  Before tonight I’d have never wondered that.  “Of course not,” I’d say.  Then I learnt that in the comments of authors like Seanan McGuire and John Scalzi are people going “Wow, this post moved me so much, I’ve got to buy your book!”  All I can think is, I like Scalzi’s blog, he’s got a fun way with putting things … doesn’t change that his stories don’t interest me, I don’t care how much his blog posts inspire or move me, I’m not buying a copy of Redshirts, I’m sorry.  Certainly a blogpost of Seanan’s is how I got addicted to Incryptid stories, but that had to do with a part of one that was describing Verity Price from Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue-Light Special that involved her being like the bastard offspring of Dazzler and Batman; who wouldn’t want to read that!?  It, admittedly, was in conjunction with her post about being annoyed that so many people equate rape and tragedy with character growth and … I already blogged about it, here but that’s irrelevant, I didn’t buy the book because of her views of rape, I bought the book because of Verity, I bought the sequel because of Seanan’s talented writing.

I always assumed everyone else thought this same way, certainly no readers I’ve ever once had the chance to converse with seemed to operate on any other basis besides the few who shop by genre and will read anything that’s from the Science Fiction section, or the Fantasy, or anything that’s a Warhammer 40k title, or Star Wars Expanded Universe (a rant for some other time), etc. which is understandable enough if you just enjoy wizards and warriors, or ray guns and spaceships and the rest be damned.

I’d be interested in comments on this, but I’ve learnt in the past that most people will just click like.  C’est la vie.  It’s an interesting insight into someone’s psychology … I’ve no idea what to think of it, or how to interpret it, certainly no idea what I’m supposed to actually do with this knowledge, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.

Sale extention

Image representing Amazon Kindle as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

Due to all the grief and nightmare getting the book to discount for all of you who prefer Kindle meaning nearly half (or more) of the sale was over before it could be taken advantage of, I’ve decided to bump it another week.

So, until the 9th of March you’ll be able to get Love or Lust for 75% off in ebook.

I’m extending the sale across the board, not just for Kindle.  So iBooks, Kobo, Nook, DriveThru Fiction, All Romance eBooks, Smashwords … whatever you like, you’ve got an extra week to get the book for only us$1!

Tell your friends, you enemies, your local radio station, the pope, Ben & Jerry (please inform them, in fact, that — should they wish — I’ll negotiate copies of the book for a pint of ice cream), extraterrestrial abductors, random strangers, and the Easter Bunny about this!  Get creative.

Hell … that’s a fun idea!  Anyone who actually takes my shameless pleading to heart, and can show me proof of your elabourate and creative endeavour to spread the word … I’ll give you a free copy of the ebook, and one first place winner gets a signed paperback (free ebooks for creative shameless plugging till the end of the month, on 1 April I’ll announce the paperback winner … if anyone decides to play along, that is).

Pre-ordery goodnes!!

So I was poking around on Smashwords today and discovered something wonderful!  They offer pre-order!

This is outrageously awesome.

Now, a few things to bear in mind:  I do not distribute through Smashword’s Premium Catalogue.  I go to each marketplace myself.  Apple, Kobo (if I recall correctly), and (now) Smashwords allows this.  Amazon does not, DriveThru Fiction … I don’t think so, and neither does Nook (unless they’ve changed something, too).  All Romance eBooks, I’m still getting the hang of, they may offer pre-order and I’ve bungled right past it so I won’t hazard a guess either way.

Still — for everywhere I can — I will be putting Ready or Not up for pre-order just as soon as I have a date I’m comfortable it’ll be ready for release on.

I’m almost ill with excitement and nervousness.  I do so sincerely hope you’ll all enjoy it as much or more than Love or Lust!  I’ll warn those who have very strict notions of what a plot is:  this is very much more slice of life; it’s better seen as several little plots carrying the thread of a central theme … and I’ve exhausted everything I remember from literature classes (I loved my high school lit teachers, but loathed the subject … in college I loathed both the professor and subject).  I’ll ask my editor to give me the literary way of saying what it is sometime later today and tell you more tonight or tomorrow.  I’m better at saying what things are about, myself.

P.S. for my fellow WordPressers who still want those neat Zemanta services for related articles, suggested links, suggested tags, etc.  There’s a browser plugin for that!  Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer (oh God, I nearly typed ‘Exploder’ … I’d rather take a lit class than use IE).  Opera is, however, not supported; all other browsers I can think of (Tor, Flock, etc) are modified Firefox, so should be fine to use the one for it.

Getting fed up with Amazon

Warning:  I’m highly annoyed, in a foul mood, and not much inclined to be remotely charitable to a certain major corporation just now.

Well, my 75% off sale is up and going. … except Amazon.

They were one of the first places I set the sale, but they haven’t seen fit to post the new price.

I contacted their support and, after an unprofessionally long wait (most others respond within hours if not minutes, Amazon typically is best measured in days) they replied … the price change page hadn’t loaded properly so a key step was missed. Lovely of then to finally say so this morning. Got it sorted, and it’s been almost 12hrs … still no change. Should I mention that the price hasn’t even dropped through automatic price matching yet?!

This is not my first issue with Amazon, and I imagine it will not be my last. Simply put, they can be decently professional to their consumers, to judge by anecdotes at work, if people need to return or exchange something, but in their inter-professional dealings they are, frankly, insulting. So much so that if they were not currently such a major bookseller that I sell more copies per month there than I do in all other estores combined in a quarter, I’d drop them.

They have the slowest response time when contacted for issues and their responses are less attentive to what was said. Their terms are among the worst in the industry. Their format is obtuse and needlessly complex; not to mention stiflingly proprietary. Their KDP site, while not horrible, is not so intuitive as others. Finally there is the treatment: you are a charity and potential customer, not a serious business interaction – you are inundated with offers for premium services you can buy and denied options afforded to larger publishing houses (pre-orders and certain options that Tor has without exclusivity that little ol’ me mayn’t have).

Why say all of this? Information is a powerful tool. Most people perceive Amazon and Kindle in a very positive light. Certainly they are not Satan manifest, but neither are they the greatest company on Earth.

For those who prefer companies that treat everyone interacting with them with equal respect and professionalism I recommend Apple, Kobo, and the group behind All Romance eBooks (all of whom carry my book).

I’m not saying to cease using Amazon nor to trash your Kindle … but if you are already feeling a bit dissatisfied, perhaps this is one more reason to look at that iPad or similar you’ve been eyeing.

Love or Lust (ebook) now on sale!

Love or Lust coverUntil 2 March 2014 you can get Love or Lust in ebook for 75% off!

I wanted to celebrate how very close I am to having Ready or Not on shelves and this seemed a good way to do it.

I desperately wish I could cut my print price too — but that option still is simply not possible.

Follow the links to the book’s page, from there it can take you to your favourite ebookstore.

If your favourite still shows the normal price — give it a couple hours to a day.  I just launched the sale, and some stores don’t update in real time (Nook, Kobo, and Kindle I know don’t).

Finished!

As I sit here enjoying a bit of pizza while waiting for my power to be restored (gas stove, lights by match … modern gas oven with buttons? Not so much) I’ve hit the end of Ready or Not!!

Okay, I feel very good about what I have. I still have to give it back to my editor, though. Still … depending her own workload this could be out as early as next month, but expect April or May with June on the outside.

I’m thinking I might put Love or Lust on sale to celebrate. I’ll get back to you on that. Sales are a wretch from a cell phone and no computer at the moment.

P.s. Forgive me if my typos are worse than usual, I am using a cell phone.

Getting somewhere

Ready or Not is a step closer to release.

I’m in the process of another proofreading pass.  This one, sadly, is less a polish run and more of a revision/redraft/rewrite than when I’d don’t this for Love or Lust, but such is life.  The importance of that distinction is that it means I’m that much more likely to need till June to release.  With luck things will be swift and smooth enough that I’ll be done with this by March and able to give over to my editor for that last check for typos and grammar mistakes … if that’s the case we could see release by April or May.  So, fingers are crossed.

I’ve written one, and may write other short stories that expand things from the final book.  Still trying to decide if I ought to do that before or after putting the book out.  Probably after, at least for the one written already, since it spoils a surprise.

Happy Christmas …

Happy holidays.  I don’t care what you celebrate, I hope it’s very merry.

In celebration of Christmas, the winter solstice, the new year, and anything else that might be worth celebrating between the 20th of December, and the 1st of January I’ve made Love or Lust only 99¢ (US — 45p UK, and upwards of 50 other values around the world).

Yes, I mean the eBook.  As I’ve said before, I can’t make the print edition much cheaper or what I make would actually be a negative number (yes, as in I’d actually owe the printer more for them than I sold it for).

Vulgarity, sex, and other offensive things

As always, my opinion regarding asking “should I …” when writing your story should always be answered with “yes, absolutely, if you want to”.  But as always there can be room to discuss the impact, and nuances of that answer.

Graphics violence, explicit sex, vulgar language, lewd behaviour … should these be in our fiction?

The answer to that isn’t so clear cut, honestly.  Then again, perhaps it is.  Tough decision.  On one hand, they’re a part of our reality, so of course they should be there for realism — and even fantasy shouldn’t shy away from them unless it’s trying to paint a rosier setting.  On the other … how detailed a picture do we wish to paint for the youths?

Frankly, in most regards, I see it like this:  language should be accurate.  If swearing isn’t common in your fantasy world, then don’t use any.  If you’re writing teenagers in modern America, then odds are some or many of them will swear (probably, rather a lot).  We were all teenagers once, or possibly still are, and we probably hear teenagers talking to one another at the mall — profanity is a way of life.  The key is to learn the forbidden words of the day.  30 or more years ago the scary word that you just didn’t use if you could help it, in conversation, in dialogue, anywhere, was fuck.  Now?  Fucking fucked the fucker; that’s a sentence someone might say in a crowded street at the top of their lungs.  You’ll shock few with it.  Nigger, however … that will get people’s attention in a hurry.  That’s not to say it shouldn’t be used in the interest of accurate dialogue, but you should — for the sake of social acceptability of your work — weigh your options on using it at all, and be sure your dialogue uses it accurately or you’ll simply piss a lot of people off either for using it, or using it wrong, or … simply put, it’s the new fuck.

Also, what age are you writing for?  If for children, that’s a tough one.  I mean, as I understand it, in French any age says zut, merde, pute, et al because there is no dang/darn, shoot, and fudge.  It makes me wonder if, just probably, you find those words in French childrens’ books, therefore (I can’t read French, and don’t much enjoy the language, so I’m speculating from what I know of it from people who do).  In English, however, we tend to frown upon using profanity in front of children, so it’s probably seen as best to keep such language out of your childrens’ books.  Just remember, legal age of majority is not the same as adulthood versus childhood.  Many people are not so much children any longer in their language, experience, attitudes, etc. once they’re somewhere between 10 and 14, certainly by the time they’re 15.  Still, it’s your story, if you want little Brother Bear saying “Fuck this shit” to Momma Bear in your kids’ story, it’s your kids’ story, just don’t be surprised when every protect the children organisation in the country is calling for your head on a spike.  Personally, I prefer to be true to the characters.  Some people swear like the only vocabulary they have is entirely vulgarities, others blush if they say ‘heck’.  As such there are swear words in my stories, but it’s dialogue and by people who speak that way, it’s not meant for impact (well, at one point, but that’s after you’ve got to know Lauren well enough to realise that, while nothing too shocking about ‘fuck’ or its presence in the story, its presence in her mouth is shocking), it’s just meant to characterise.

Violence.  Fun one that.  Certainly let’s leave that out of the little kids’ works.  I mean, come one, do you really want to give little Timmy nightmares?  Then again … ever read the old fairy tales as the brothers Grimm published them?  How about the older versions they worked from?  Maybe, if we don’t shelter little Suzy, she won’t be so bothered by a bit of visceral depiction and graphic violence.  After that … stand outside a cinema for 20 minutes some Friday night.  Believe me, by the time Jimmy is 10, Jimmy will watch Terminator and laugh at the cheesy special effects (ah, the expectations of the advanced CGI generation), you won’t shock him with some blood and gore.  After that it’s just a question of how disgustingly visceral you should be.  Do we give a highly detailed and graphic account of someone committing hari kari?  Do we do it in first person POV?  Mmmm … plenty of full grown adults, even a few who’ve been in war, might be squeamish to read that.  Doesn’t mean don’t do it, just remember — a reader who throws up, is a reader who may not read your next book — so you might ask yourself, do I need to be so graphic?  I base it entirely on tone of the story.  Now & Forever will never go into graphic detail of any violence that might be occurring; Færie Patrolon the other hand, might a bit — though we won’t be seeing anything as graphic as Kill Bill.  

Sex.  Funny thing, sex … what’s so wrong with it?  Sex is great, it makes kids, it doesn’t hurt anyone (certain very frightening fetishes aside — RP is one thing, doing that stuff for real!?  ~shudder~).  Still, it’s dirty, and something you should shield the children from.  Again, if you want to keep the PTA off your back, then leave it out of your Amelia Bedelia inspired fiction.  Stuff for the middle school/junior high crowd?  High school?  Frankly — if they’ve hit puberty, then odds are pretty good they know what sex is.  Unless I went to a very unusual school … they’ve got a fair notion by the time they’re a year or two away, I believe I was starting to get the clue around 3rd grade, myself.  So now the question is, fade to black or get explicit?  Explicit will almost certainly get people on your back if you write for a crowd under 25, but depending on details you probably won’t get much flak if you keep the target 16+.  So, again, is the exact detail of exactly who put what where and in what order so vital as to risk alienating readers?  It might be.  Certainly I could see a very clear argument for explicit sex scenes in a teen fiction work, I really can.  Point of note, even for the more puritanical crowd:  even the ones who graduate high school as virgins, because of those little “not until married pledges” … not personally, but some people I know quite well … they tend to be very technical on the whole virginity thing; put bluntly, an amazing number of ‘virgins’ are quite versed in oral and anal activities.  By being explicit you’re not providing these ‘kids’ with anything they haven’t already seen, done, or fantasised about unless you’re digging into the twisted depths of fetishist sites, then you might be providing a colourful piece of education.  Personally, I fade to black.  I always feel silly getting specific; but if it doesn’t violate the tone of the story then go for it, but if it would … well … for example, the sex scene in Ready or Not (uhm, spoiler alert?) is not so much fade to black as fade to the emotions rather than the bodies because the mechanical aspects of the event would have been discordant with the tone of the moment.

As always, you’ll write very little that’s safe enough not to offend someone.  I mean, have you ever mentioned that Jesus drank wine to a Temperance League member?  As with violating the rules of physics or the laws of grammar, do it with eyes wide open.  Remember, while in the end you’re writing for yourself, if you plan to publish then you are also writing for the public.  The public might be 7billion souls upon this globe alone, so there’ll always be someone who agrees with you, you ought to ask yourself “how many people are going to like reading about a toddler prostitute assassin” then ask “how many parents are likely to buy this storybook about said toddler for their sweet little toddler’s bedtime storybook” … no one says you can’t write and draw it and put it out there, just please don’t be surprised when you raise eyebrows and when your sales are low.

Taboos, those glorious taboos.  Society has expectations.  It’s our jobs to question, probe, exploit, reinforce, shatter, violate, uphold, and ignore those expectations, those mores, those taboos … but if you do it with eyes open you do it in a meaningful way.  When you are aware that most parents won’t like a storybook for little Timmy to be about a toddler assassin prostitute, then you will approach the narrative, the themes, the plot, etc. rather differently, one would assume, than if you take it for granted that no parent would ever take issue with a storybook about an assassin prostitute aged three.