Saturday, March 31, 2012

SitRep Saturday: Verbal Abuse

It's Saturday again. Holy crap, where are the days going?!

I'm within a day or so of being finished with One Good Cowboy. For realsies. Right now, I'm trying to cover up some verbal abuse. You know how it is. Sometimes, you overuse a word (or fifty) and it feels stale, flat, and meaningless when you need it to feel fresh, exciting, and loaded.

This week, I actually started reading the dictionary again just to combat that.

I'm excited. Are you excited? There's finally an end in sight!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Miscellany: Writing, Reading, Weather

I've finally figured out how to fix the last 3,500 words of One Good Cowboy, so editing is going much smoother now. Blah blah blah. You'll believe it when you see it, won't you? I don't blame you.

Dear readers, I have caved. Let me say first that I have nothing personally against books on the important bestseller lists, it's just that in my experience, they're not my kind of books. Except I've heard rumblings about The Hunger Games since it first came out and it has always sounded like my kind of thing. Then it got wildly popular and I shied away. The last two wildly popular books I tried to read made my brain hurt. Over the last few weeks, I've revisited the Wiki page and the reviews and I took the plunge. Whoo, boy, am I glad I did. I'm about a quarter of the way through it and I am engrossed. So if you're wary, don't be. It's a really good read.

You know what else is a good read in a totally different way? Candlelight Sinner. Yep, I'm still reading it. Tom and Celia are such normal characters. I mean this in the nicest way possible. It's vaguely voyeuristic, like watching your neighbor across the hall and her new boyfriend settle into their new, happy life. I'll have more thoughts in the proper review, I just wanted to plug it again.

The weather is so, so nice right now. The kiddo and I are getting out of the house for a couple of hours in the middle of the day just to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air and to touch trees. She's a little hippie, I don't know what else to tell you.

I am determined to get some blog posts up this week. I have a couple of pages of titles and subjects scribbled into a notebook and if I don't write them, I'm going to get way, way behind. Wish me luck? Please?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blog Roundup: March 19 - 25, 2012

Because he's awesome like that, Chuck Wendig shared three great teaser posts this week: Ten Things You Should Know About... Setting, Endings, Writing Screenplays. (Do you have this book yet? Totally worth it.)

Greta van der Rol had an interesting post on the rules of romance. I think, as a general rule, most female romance readers do read to escape reality. I know that I certainly do. But I also don't mind at all when my heroes act like men. I think romance is subjective to character. Rules of romance will be determined by rules of characterization.

Girl Who Reads offered this tip: contact the author when you mention their book. Oops. I am not always as good about that as I should be.

Keystrokes and Word Counts offered up this short post on the importance of suspending disbelief. I think most readers of fiction, in an attempt to escape reality, are willing to believe a lot... but not everything. I think the best tip is to stick to what you, personally, can believe.

The first link in this entry over at Paperback Writer caught my attention, though the video is pretty cool, too. I haven't tried the search engine, but I'm excited about it.

Do you follow Release Notes? I enjoy the look it gives into books I wouldn't otherwise be aware of.

As usual, Sierra Godfrey's Google Reader Roundup is spot-on.

Sirra gave us all insight into the mind of an editor this week. Have an editor? Looking for one? Thinking about becoming one? I think this post is a must-read.

Stella Deleuze posted her tip of the week on characters, telling us all not to overdo it. Personally, I don't mind characters who fit stereotypes at first glance; stereotypes exist for a reason. But if the character is important enough to write about, even in a minor role, then he or she is important enough to be whole.

I think I need more good blogs to follow. Do you have any suggestions?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

SitRep Saturday: Is It Really Saturday Already?

This morning, when my husband didn't go to work, I realized that it was Saturday. And so I also realized that the week had completely gotten away from me. Wow.

It wasn't an unproductive week. I'm within days of finishing One Good Cowboy, I did some preliminary research for a dystopian (zombie) story (I haven't decided if it's a novel or just a series of short stories or what), and I read a lot (still on Candlelight Sinner). But to be honest? I spent the majority of the week focusing on my house and my kiddo. The weather was kind of disgustingly beautiful so we spent a lot of time outside. This part of Germany is one of the most gorgeous places I've ever lived.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Miscellany: Paragraphs, a Toddler, a Website, and Books

Paragraph by paragraph, I am editing One Good Cowboy. I still feel really good about it. I managed to do about 25% of it yesterday, but today has been something else entirely. Toddlers are moody little creatures. One day they want nothing to do with you and the next they're all up in your business insisting that you hold them while they sit on the couch and watch "Tangled" eleventy billion times. (I actually like the movie. It's really cute.) If it's not a movie, it's listening to Queen. (I was prepared to listen to, say, the Gummibear for six, seven hours at a time--I was not prepared to listen to "We Will Rock You" for six hours straight.) I can't and won't complain too much, though. She has the same cold I do. This thing sucks.

Recently, I discovered the tumblog UnFuck Your Habitat. It has been hugely helpful to me. The best thing about it is the way it's helping me change my mindset when it comes to housework, to be glad when I make any progress at all not only when I've finished a chore. Twenty minutes spent cleaning the kitchen (which I hate to do, seriously, I'd rather clean a toilet bare-handed) is still twenty minutes spent cleaning the kitchen, even if the kitchen doesn't sparkle like a Febreeze commercial.

As I mentioned, I managed to finish No Wings Attached, so look for a review of that, Supertech, and Morgan's Choice in the near future. I also have started Candlelight Sinner, so maybe I'll be done with that this week? We'll see. I should be back on the blogging bandwagon this week. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Blog Roundup: March 12 - 18, 2012

Chuck Wendig wrote 25 Things You Should Know About Creativity. I'm particularly fond of what he wants to do to the term "creative writing" and his suggestion that writers read more non-fiction than fiction.

Greta van der Rol's post about suspending disbelief is a good one. (The thing about the parsecs was retconned in the EU. The Kessel Run was an 18-parsec route. Yes, I know my geek is showing.)

Erotic Romance blogger and writer Emily Veinglory wrote about her experience with an anti-pirating service. Worth the read. She also blogged about PayPal in the most concise way, I think.

Girl Who Reads posted tips on Twitter connections. Twitter is how I got in touch with Greta van der Rol and Stella Deleuze (both authors I've hosted as guest bloggers, both authors of books I've enjoyed) so I'm always looking for ways to use it more effectively.

James Killick wrote about subtext. I love subtext in my entertainment because of what it says about characters.

As usual, Sierra Godfrey's Google Reader Roundup is worth the click over.

Stella Deleuze offered up her take on why writing is for masochists in addition to offering this tip of the week post on unnecessary repetition. We are all suckers for pain, aren't we? Accounting was so much easier than writing. It didn't drive me to tears nearly as often.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

SitRep Saturday: Progress and Life

It was another crazy week. I got sick again (seriously, twice in one year--what the hell) and we had a ton of stuff to do for my husband's work (he reenlisted, he had a formal evening function to attend) and he was off for more than half the week, which means more family time. It was like the universe was conspiring against me. Or, you know, it was just one of those weeks where I had to play wife-and-mom instead of writer-and-blogger. These weeks happen.

As far as One Good Cowboy goes, I'm still struggling. I actually ended up converting the whole thing to html and spacing it out for web reading, doing a find-and-replace for words I knew I had overused, cutting the last 40% with the intention of re-working, and going through it paragraph by paragraph, ten minutes at a time. So far, the first 30% is much, much better and I'm feeling good about the rest of it.

I am going to finish this story. And it will be good.

Probably the best thing about the downtime this week was the fact that I got a lot of reading done. I finished No Wings Attached and started Candlelight Sinner and I read a Supernatural tie-in novel called Coyote's Kiss. I also read a short book on household tips, but I only mention that here because I want to offer this advice: if you're going to write a book of tips for hacking your home, please try to come up with new tips and don't rely on free Internet tidbits or things you read about on the back of the baking soda box.

I should also mention that I have about five blog posts in various stages of drafting. I kept meaning to get them finished and up last week, but you know how it goes. I have some email to check, too. I've been a terrible professional this week.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Blog Roundup: March 5 - 11, 2012

Let's start with Chuck Wendig, shall we? As usual, he offered up an installment of his 25 Things series, this one on word choice. (There are self-proclaimed "writers" who don't obsess over word choice?)

Greta van der Rol had this post which hit a little too close to home. I've had the damnedest time reading for pleasure ever since last summer. I've resorted to re-reading old favorites whenever I want to read for fun, which makes it difficult to discover new work simply for the pleasure of it.

Joe Konrath posted about the most important ingredient in the self-published book. The book itself. He's right. When I decided to self-publish, I read a lot about the importance of blogging and tweeting and networking and very little on the importance of writing a really good book.

Over at Girl Who Reads, you can check out how bloggers can affect the success of a book. Blogging, to me, is the same as word-of-mouth. You want people to "talk" about your work. (You really want them to talk positively about it, but buzz is buzz.)

Aimee Salter wants to know if we writers are our own worst enemies. Yes. Yes, we are. Even if we manage to (usually) get past the defensiveness that comes with being an artist, there's still that insecurity which can lead us to the Dark Side of Not Finishing Anything.

Sierra Godfrey's Google Reader Roundup, as usual, features some great links.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

SitRep Saturday: The Joys of Pre-Writing

Update on One Good Cowboy: I'm still a few pages out from being finished and insecurity has gripped me tight, so I'll want at least one more editing pass from the beginning. I have a problem with the passive. I need to solve that problem immediately.

I wasn't totally unproductive this week, as noted by the actual blog posts I did, but most of what I accomplished was behind-the-scenes work. I did a lot of pre-writing for my next few projects. The Duct Tape & Pancakes anthology has been mapped out and I've identified the plot peaks, another short anthology has been outlined and the plots have been summarized. I've named characters, worked out basic occupations, and scribbled out setting ideas. I even have the beginnings of two other stories. Go me!

In non-real progress, I've been thinking a lot about The Guest and the other two novels I want to write. I just don't know if I have the attention span for them.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Self-Publishing: On Sales (January 2012)

I've posted on sales twice before, here and here, and figured I'd just keep going. These posts give me a good reason to reflect on my strategies and analyze the figures. Sales figures are final for January now, so let's look at them.

January's figures aren't as nice as December's, but I kind of expected that. I did see a spike in sales early in the month, something I attributed to people getting home from traveling and finally getting a chance to use their gift cards and really play with their new ereaders. I also didn't release anything new in January, like I hoped, so those sales are from the same four books and the same one book comprised the bulk of sales.

Those numbers aren't disappointing to me. Of course they aren't--any sale is exciting for me. I'm pretty proud of my numbers, all things considered.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Self-Publishing: Readers = Customers

Deciding to self-publish is deciding to throw yourself into the business of publishing. I know I certainly didn't think of this as "business" when I decided to do it, but when I was developing a plan for it, I realized that I had to become more business-minded. Not with the creative stuff--I write what I feel I need to write--but with this blog, with my Twitter, with my cover design, with my prices, I think about everything in terms of how it will affect my bottom line.

Target your audience.
These are your customers. You need to know who they are, what they want, and how much they're willing to pay. My target audience is the group of twenty-something mothers, either stay-at-home or work-out-of-home, without a lot of time or a lot of disposable income who miss being able to read romantic (erotic) fanfiction whenever and for however long they wanted. These women are my contemporaries. These women are me. I know what I want to read and I know how hard it is to find it, so I'm offering the product I want.

Respect your audience.
Appreciate that they are spending their hard-earned money on you and the entertainment you provide. Respect their buying power and respect the chance they're taking on you. Be grateful. Be determined to deliver. Make them trust you. Continue to earn that trust. These people are making your dreams come true. I know that's how I look at my readers. Without them, I'd have to get a real job. I had a real job. It was okay, but it was nowhere near as awesome as this.

Isolate your audience.
By this I mean offer them something they can't get anywhere else. Be unique in your product somehow, be it content or design or price. Build their confidence in you by consistently offering quality at a competitive price and make repeat customers--loyal readers--by always earning that confidence. If they're confident, they'll recommend your work to their friends and family.

Basically, I'm saying: benefit them. You want to get paid, they want to be entertained, this can be a mutually-beneficial relationship. People are smart. They're savvy. They're protective of their money. Give them a reason to spend it on you.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Miscellany: Cowboys and Toddlers and Books

I'm about halfway through the final editing pass on One Good Cowboy. Basically the same place I was on Saturday, but I have my reasons. It's not the horrible, sucky story I was worried it was. In fact, it's pretty good. I'm still shooting to have it finished by Friday, but we'll see.

My sister and mother have gone home. I took them to the airport on Sunday morning. It's just weird having the house all to ourselves again. Everything is quiet and my dishes don't magically get clean several times a day. (My mother, when she visits, does the dishes and the laundry, my two most-hated chores.) I'm adjusting okay (mostly by being lazy and watching "Community" on Hulu+) but my toddler... Well. Let's just say she got used to being constantly entertained and stimulated and is having a difficult time adjusting to mommy's version of "no" versus auntie's and grandmother's versions.

Last week, I started reading Stella Deleuze's No Wings Attached. Again, it's not my usual go-to genre for entertainment, but I have to say that it's pretty fun. It's so girly. I feel like I should be watching Lifetime or listening to Britney Spears and drinking red wine and eating really good chocolate while I read it. It's turning into one of those frilly pleasures for me, like Asking for Trouble. I'm glad I know the two main characters end up together because if I didn't, I'd feel really, really badly for Celia, but since I know they're going to be okay, my worry and sympathy are only mild.

This week, I'm hoping to finally finish that post on treating readers like customers, as well as a post on sales figures and at least one book review. I'm not sure I'll manage all of that, but I am sure going to try!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Blog Roundup: February 27 - March 4, 2012

Chuck Wendig added 25 Ways to Unfuck Your Story to his 25 Things series. If you're stuck, it just might be the article you need.

Keystrokes and Word Counts had an interesting post on the subject of returning ebooks. Personally, I think the option to return ebooks, especially self-published ebooks, serves the readers as customers really well. I think that authors should embrace the guarantee-or-your-money-back. Most people don't return things just because they can and most people don't demand their money back for entertainment they didn't enjoy.

Over at Seeking the Write Life, Aimee Salter had two great posts this week. One on using ambiguity and one on writing motivations that seem real. They're good posts for reminding you what you're supposed to be doing.

Sierra Godfrey posted about three ways to use your dreams for stories. I'm sure we've all heard how Twilight was written based on a scene from a dream, so that seems like pretty solid proof that dreams are great sources for stories. And, as always, her Google Reader Roundup is an excellent collection of links.

Sirra posted another collection of Twitter writetips. Are you following her yet?

Now I feel better about being MIA last week.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

SitRep Saturday: Real Progress! One Good Cowboy!

Guess what? I actually did some final-pass editing! I'm about halfway through the story and, you know, it's just not as bad as I feared. In fact, it's pretty good. If all goes well, I could have it finished and out by next week. This is very encouraging because it means I can start on my next project very soon.

Here's a very brief excerpt:

Heather inhaled sharply. “This is my bar. I'll treat my customers any damned way I please. If you don't like it,” she jerked a thumb toward the front door, “leave.”

“I haven't finished my beer.” He tipped the bottle, showing her just how little of his drink that he'd actually consumed.

She snatched it from his hand, her fingers brushing his. She felt the spark of electricity and ignored it. “Here, let me help.” She emptied the bottle into the stainless steel sink.

“Hey, I paid for that!”

She mustered her smuggest smirk and tossed the bottle into the recycling bin. “Now you don't have any reason to stay.”