books

COVID-19 And Us

We’re living in unsettling times.

Dangerous times.

We’re all trying to cope while in the depths of a pandemic that threatens our lives and the lives of our loved ones. When our “leaders” advocate that the elderly should die to preserve the economy, tout “cures” for the novel coronavirus resulting in the unavailability of drugs for people who need them to survive, when preeminent medical experts are contradicted by a buffoon whose cultists hang on every word that spews from his mouth and says that the leaders of subnational governments in desperate straits should “praise” him and maybe then he’ll release the medical supplies he outbid them for and which they so desperately need, advocate that “stay-at-home” orders should be lifted so people can crowd the churches at Easter and get back to work where in many cases, it’s doubtful they’ll be able to keep the recommended distance from each other and in both instances raising the risk of infection…you know what I call that?

Attempted murder. On a grand scale.

And people vote for these monsters.

The hospitals trying to treat everyone who’s sick are really hard hit. They’re overwhelmed, especially in large urban areas. Not enough beds. Not enough equipment to go around. They’re starting to have to make the painful decision on which patients live and which patients die. Just like Italy. Today I read a story about a nurse in New York who died from COVID-19 because staff was reduced to wearing plastic bags for protection… Continue reading

Keyword Blues

For online book sales, keywords can make or break you.

The number of books for sale on online platforms is mind-boggling. Amazon alone has millions (I remember when it was a million, but that was a long time ago). With those numbers, you have to make it easy for readers to find your book. If they can’t find your book, you don’t make money.

That’s where keywords come in. Readers type a few words in the search bar, and Amazon shows you all the books that match the readers’ keywords. Here’s the trick. The author has to put in the right keywords in the book’s metadata so it’ll show up on the sales page. How does an author know she has the right keywords? That’s the second trick. She doesn’t.

So now what?

Lucky for the author, there are apps that’ll help her find the right keywords. I bought an app called Publisher Rocket, which helps me find the keywords–a single word or a phrase–to make it easier for readers to find my books. I plug a few words in the search bar, and the app shows me 1) whether my keywords are useful, 2) my competition (how many other authors use those keywords and the top 10 sellers) and the average daily and monthly income for each author, 3) helps me find the category that best matches my books, and 4) how often the keyword or keywords show up in Amazon searches.

It’s wonderful. For The Underground, I… Continue reading

I Write What I Know

One of the things a beginning author is always told is to “write what you know.”

Of course, that’s not true. If I’m setting a story in a place I don’t know much about–say, ancient Rome–Google is your friend. Just do the research. It’s all out there, and it’s free. Most of the time, anyway. That’s what I did for The Underground. The setting is Seattle and I’ve never been there. So I googled street maps, sunrise/sunset charts and temperature charts to figure out what time of year I wanted to set the story, stuff like that. And I talked to people–people who live there or who frequently travel to the city to get their take on its culture, nightlife, and so on. I spent a lot of time talking to a retired policeman who gave me lots of information and insight. None of it cost me a dime. It’s times like these when the internet is a wonderful thing.

Still, I think there are some things that the writer has to know, on a deep level, to pull off the story. That means the writer has to have personal knowledge, personal experience of what they’re writing about. For me, all my stories have an underlying message, messages that are borne of personal knowledge and experience. I don’t do this intentionally, but it always seems to happen. Most readers read for entertainment, and they may not “get” the underlying message. That’s fine. If they enjoyed my book, if it gave… Continue reading

Tornado!

That’s what life’s been feeling like lately. Except it ain’t takin’ me to Oz.

On the writing/marketing front, my newsletter subscriber list continues to grow–and fast. I signed up for this service called Voracious Readers Only, where the author submits a book and whoever chooses to read it gets a free copy. It’s a quid pro quo, though. The reader who chooses your book has to agree to sign up for your mailing list (of course, they can choose to unsubscribe later). So I signed up with them, putting up The Underground and its sequel Invasion on January 19 or 21–can’t remember which–and to date I have 219 subscribers, and only 3 have dropped out. More requests come in every day, usually 3 or 4, but sometimes many more. By now my fingers have a muscle memory of the “thank you” notes I write. Don’t get me wrong–I sure as hell ain’t complaining. Anyway, of those readers who have submitted reviews, their comments have been stellar, which is seriously gratifying. I’ve given them a couple hours respite from the drudgery, which tells me I’ve done my job as an author. One subscriber wrote to say he enjoyed The Underground so much he immediately turned around and bought Invasion, and is looking forward to the series. I hadn’t really planned on writing a series with these characters, but I guess I am, now. Think I found my tribe, folks.

Sometimes it bugs me I’m giving away so many free books,… Continue reading

Woikin’ Goil

Working to get my shit together. And there’s a lot of shit to get together.

Got The Final Victim back from my editor. Yeah, pretty much dipped in blood. Nothing really major–I don’t have to do a total rewrite–but it sure ain’t gonna be ready to send to subscribers by March 1 like I’d planned. Between that and the edits to The Moreva of Astoreth, who knows when When Gods Die is coming out? Ain’t gonna be in Summer 2020, I know that.

I’ve come to the conclusion I need something more than a calendar. I’m bad enough at remembering to look at it. But, I dunno, this is something different. A different kind of scheduling. Gaah! Am I talking about creating deadlines? Jesus jumping Christ on a stick!

And that’s just the author stuff.

Doesn’t help that I’m feeling exhausted. Guess that’s what happens when you barely sleep for a week. I have prescribed sleeping pills, but I have to find my pill cutter. Last time I took a whole one, I was so gone I peed in the bed. Couldn’t figure out why the back of my nightshirt was wet. I thought Daisy had done it, but then I woke up all the way and realized the wetness was right under my ass. Daisy slept close to me, but not that close. Speaking of Daisy, I’m really missing her. Sometimes when I wake up, I look over and wonder where she is. Sometimes when I’m in my office,… Continue reading

State Of The Union

WHAT A FUCKING JOKE!!

One of my favorites was about lifting people off welfare. 45 got ’em off welfare, all right. He KICKED them off.

Nancy Pelosi’s ripping the speech in two was PRICELESS!

I’ll be laughing in my sleep.

Ciao.

First Seven Days

So Daisy Mae’s been gone a week.

Really, I’ve been too sick to grieve. Was finally able to drag myself to the doctor last Wednesday, because by then I knew damned well it wasn’t the flu. Doc says it’s bronchitis. Gah. Nothing to do for the cough except lots of cough syrup and drops. Well, lemme tell ya–you know you got it bad when your drink of choice is Nyquil. I must’ve drunk at least a gallon of the stuff over the past 10 days. And let’s not forget I’ve strained my back muscles from all the coughing. That’s really fucked up.

Maybe it’s better this way? I’ve been too busy trying to stay conscious to think about my loss.

Once I reached the state of semi-consciousness, I did some writing in between bouts of passing out. When I took breaks, I’d turn around, expecting to see her lying flat out on the floor. Got a little jolt of surprise to see she wasn’t there. One time, I’d rallied enough so that the brain was just pumpin’ along, and I heard these thumps in the hallway. If you know anything about Great Danes, it’s that their footsteps aren’t exactly quiet. Anyway, the thumping stopped and I turned. She wasn’t in the doorway. I’m like “shit!” and jump out of the chair, hobble to the door and peek into the hallway. Nothing. I walked all around the house, and there’s still nothing. Returned to my office and went back to work.… Continue reading

The Final Victim

So I’m writing my novelette, The Final Victim. Feels good to be creating again.

After the nightmare that was 2018, late last spring I decided I was well enough to tackle author stuff. I knew I wasn’t at the point where I could write, so I thought I’d edit my previous works. Start slow. The updated versions of The Underground and Invasion are on the market, and The Moreva of Astoreth is getting there. Damn, did that one need a LOT of work! I cut myself slack because it was my second novel, but there’s no excuse for my arrogance in thinking it didn’t need editing. Won’t make that mistake again. After going through it, I’m really surprised it got as many good ratings as it did. Right now I’m letting it rest, and will pick it back up next week. I was going to say at the beginning of the year, but that’s next week. I’ll do a final round of edits, then send it out to betas. I’d thought to have it out by mid-January, but the beta reads is going to delay that. If I give the betas three weeks, it should be ready by the end of February, if not before. While TMOA is out, I’ll take up The Final Victim again.

Writing it is going better than I’d hoped. Of course, it helps that I already had the basic story, three chapters that I’d pulled from The Underground. I guess you could say I’m just… Continue reading

Looking Ahead To 2020

This is the first time I’ve written words like these in my life.

I’ve never planned for the future because I’d always hoped that for me, there wouldn’t be one. Despite all my best efforts, I’m still here so decided to give it a go.

My overarching goal this year is to complete two books, The Final Victim and When Gods Die. I think it’s possible because The Final Victim will likely end up as a novelette, maybe 25-30,000 words. The basic story is already written and all I have to do is flesh it out. It’s a companion piece to The Underground, told from the elves’ point of view. It won’t be a rehash of The Underground’s action–more like parallel. Like “this is what was happening over here while Parker, Melera, Garrett and Kurt were doing their thing over there.” One scene in The Final Victim will intersect with a scene in The Underground, but that’s it. If all goes well, it’ll be out by the end of February. I’m pretty sure that’s doable but I’m also sending it to betas. I used betas once before and it was a really bad experience but after talking to and reading other authors’ advice, I’ll give it another try. I’ve got two who’ve said they’re willing, so here’s hoping they can do a fast turnaround. I want to release When Gods Die in late summer or in the fall. I’ve got like the first three chapters written. It’s a start.

The… Continue reading

2019 Literary Roundup

We’re in the waning weeks of 2019, a time for me to look back at what I’ve accomplished during the year.

Step into an alternate Seattle, where the strangers you’ll meet may be stranger than you think. The Underground and Invasion

There is no room for morals when survival is at stake. The Underground

They saved Seattle. Now they have to save the world. But can they save themselves? Invasion

The Underground and Invasion, my duology/diptych/dilogy (take your pick) has been laid to rest. Finally. The original version of The Underground was published in 2013 and has undergone two iterations since then. The original was good but I decided I could make it better. It underwent an extensive re-edit–a hundred pages were cut–so under the copyright rules, I had to publish it anew. That was The Underground: Second Edition. But I wasn’t happy with it. Close, but no cigar. The book was edited again. This revision wasn’t nearly as drastic as the first but I did change the title–Second Edition was dropped–and under the ISBN rules, I had to publish it as a new book. Hey, if you wanna play, you gotta pay. The latest–and last–version was published in October.

Invasion is The Underground’s sequel, published in 2017. I’d never intended to write a sequel but sometimes the characters have other ideas. I resisted but after much bullying, had to give in. I grudgingly admit they had a point. The Underground had left behind much unfinished business. And though… Continue reading