Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Upate? Oh, right....

Crapazoid!  It's time for bed and I forgot to do my update.

I have a good excuse, though, I was up late playing with a cool new cover for The Adventure of Anna The Great.  The concept is actually a copy of something I came up for a book I'll publish around September 12, The Ride to Save King

This is way way way better than my previous covers for this book.  It still makes use of the illo I did back in college, but with a reverse and some better typography.  The only thing is that the design kinda begs for something in white across the top.  With Ride, it will say "Novelette."  I'm not sure what to put on this one or if I'll put anything at all. (Maybe some more cloud swishies?)

Anyway, I did say I would give my publishing schedule. (Tentative publishing schedule -- as it keeps changing as I speak. I think I've got pretty close to what I'm going to do though.)

Publishing Schedule:

NOTE: These books should be available on Amazon and Smashwords by the end of publication day.  Other vendors will trickle in as Smashwords distributes. (B&N, Apple, Kobo, Sony, Diesel.)

*August 25: A Fistful of Divas, a Mick and Casey Mystery Novelette. (Approx 40 pages) (ADDENDUM: heat wave issues have postponed this to August 26th.)

The rough draft of this story appeared here as a serial in the spring.  More about this on September 1.

*September 12: The Ride to Save King.  Middle reader's novelette.  (Approx 50 pages.)

A girl and her mother evacuate their horse ahead of a hurricane by riding him to a better shelter.

*September 27: Stone-Cold Dead at the Trading Post, a Mick and Casey Mystery Novella (length to be determined.  Might be a long novelette.)

When a mean man is found dead in the market, with his abused wife standing over him with a frying pan, Mick and Casey have to back a lynch mob down from hanging her.  Mick better find a good outcome for the lady, or Casey won't be happy.

*October 11: Feral Princess, a Vespero the Bandit Story.  (Probably a long novelette, possibly a short novella -- 70-ish pages?)

Princess Magda, the last descendant of the wild mountain kings of Prokyar, is penniless, powerless and, as her guardians groom her for marriage, now forbidden to run wild in her beloved mountains.  But as she learns to juggle suitors and ride side-saddle, she still manages to help out a local bandit.

*October 25: The Pottsville Miracles.  Fantasy Western novelette (Length to be determined).

When an impressive stranger is revealed to be a powerful wizard, the tiny town of Pottsville struggles between wonder and terror.  As they struggle to control him, he struggles with his own conflicting desires to take power, or to be accepted in this foreign egalitarian society.

*November 15: Six-Gun Santa, a Mick and Casey Mystery novelette (Or maybe just a short story -- I don't know yet. I don't even know if it will be finished by this time. Alt Date will be in December.)

A crazy old drunk takes a bunch of orphans hostage and demands that Santa Claus meet him for a shootout at midnight.  Mick is elected to put on the red suit and face him.

All of the above stories (some are finished, some are partly drafted) should be drafted by the end of September, and I should be able to focus on the next Starling and Marquette novel, The Man Who Stepped Up,  through October and November.

I decided to put off my romantic suspense novelettes until 2014.  More about some of them in some other post.  I have a few other things to pull together for next year as well.  I fantasy novel I have in my trunk might be suitable for serialization. (Not on the blog, but publishing it in parts.)  I have a bunch of partly finished stories from my fantasy/juvenile fiction days.  More fables and enchantments.  Some screenplay potboilers that might go with the romantic suspense stories, or might be a little more hard edged. (But not too hard edged -- something like Harsh Climate, only with grown ups.)

See you in the funny papers... (in September.)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sunday Update - New Book!

Lots of interesting things going on.  I'm easing back into blogging now. I'll do Sunday Updates for the rest of August and then... well, see below about the fall blogging schedule.

Published: Fables and Enchantments

Fables and Enchantments is a collection of seven children's stories.  Two of the stories were published in Cricket Magazine back in the 1990s.  One was originally sold to a publication called Story Cards, but never published.  You've seen a few of them here on the blog before.

As you may notice, I decided not to do a pen name.  Most of my writing for grown ups is really appropriate for children too.  Where do you draw the line?  I can't.

I'll talk about some of the individual stories later on in a story notes post.  In the meantime, check it out!

Currently available at: (Amazon international stores: UK, DE, FR, IT, ES, IN, CA, JP, BR.)
Coming soon to: Barnes & Noble, Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Smashwords.

Return to Blogging

I'll return to limited regular blogging in September.  (I'll be updating on Sundays for the rest of August.)  The schedule will be:

Sunday Update: What I'm up to, book announcements, maybe commentary and videos.
Writer Wednesday: Story Notes and stuff about writing
Friday Favorites: Reviews and analysis of books and movies and TV shows that interest me

IF (and only if) things go well, I'll expand again to a broader schedule, and separate the story notes from the writing stuff.  I might even bring the serial back.

More Mick and Casey On The Way

I'll talk more next Sunday about my planned publishing schedule, but I thought you Mick and Casey fans might like to know that today I beat out the plots for a couple more unfinished Mick and Casey novelettes.  One might well be a novella.  (I figured out what was missing, and so there's a whole level of subplot to add.)

The stories (and my hoped for publication dates):

*A Fistful of Divas - this story was published here on the blog as a serial. I have done some rewriting, but mostly to clean it up and make it flow better.  Expected pub date: around August 25.

*Stone-Cold Dead at the Trading Post - Mick and Casey get caught in the middle of a battle of the sexes when a woman is accused of killing her abusive husband.  That is, Mick gets caught in the middle. Expected pub date: around September 26.

*Six-Gun Santa - A crazy old drunk takes a bunch of orphans hostage and demands that Santa Claus meet him for a shootout at midnight.  Mick is elected to put on the red suit and face him.  Hoped for pub date: Thanksgiving, or maybe early December.

Return of the Serial?

Wait! What was that?  I might even bring the serial back?  Well, MAYBE... a little later.  If everything goes right.

If I do it, it will be once a week. I'll continue to tell the story of The Case of the Misplaced Baroness.  But I'll ONLY do this if I get my other work done successfully, in a timely manner.  Also if the story doesn't morph into something more "novel" oriented.  (I'm letting the story dictate.)  Also, it would help if I actually start making money at my other work.

Formatting Fun, and Smashwords

Pardon me while I indulge in a little neepery (i.e. geek-speak);  I spent a week working out a new process for formatting my publishing files in html.  I get to skip Word completely.  Yes yes yes yes yes!  If I type in "Markdown" style, I can write anything anywhere and it will not carry formatting junk from one platform to anohter. (I can even type in Word.)

This process creates beautifully formatted mobi and epub files -- very clean, no junk hidden in the files.  (Or such limited junk it's easy to find and kill it.)  HOWEVER....

It is hard to get a Smashwords-compatible Word file OUT of html -- and that means I will only be uploading epubs to Smashwords for a while.  Smashwords will only offer other formats if you upload a Word file.  One of these days, I'll work out an easy or at least semi-automated way to convert my html to a Smashwords style Word document, but until then, only my older books will have those other formats at Smashwords.

That means I won't be able to use Smashwords for coupons for a while (because I don't want to cheat the Kindle users by offering coupons that are only good for ePub users).  Sigh.  I was hoping to reward mailing list subscribers with coupons in every issue.  Oh well.  Mark Coker says that they have other formats in development. Maybe they'll be ready soon.

(UPDATE: I figured out how to get a Word file out of the process with only a moderate amount of hassle.  So full features -- and coupons -- at Smashwords after all!)

Next week I'll talk more about the upcoming publication schedule.  Lots of exciting stuff coming this way.

See you in the funny papers.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Holy Moly, I used to be a pretty good writer!

I know I said I was going dark on blogging, but as soon as I cut loose of the blog, the throttle got stuck on my plans, and I've been varooming around wildly.  And now I'm too excited for words..... Wait, I mean I'm too excited to NOT have words.

To quote Mr. Monk,

Here's What happened

I had this plan which I didn't fully mention to you guys, because it was in constant motion anyway.  But it went like this:

1.) I've only published on thing in 19 months -- The Misplaced Hero, which is available here for free on the blog, so it kinda doesn't count.  For at least 17 of those months, I've been dealing with kerfuffle, and really haven't done much of anything but this blog.  So in a sense, my career has been at a standstill while I dealt with 'stuff.'

Which gave me a chance to start over.

2.) So the plan was to write a bunch of stuff and start publishing again, maybe with some of the stuff under a pen name.  And not really do anything else.  Let each book be the promotion for the previous book.

3.) Then I was browsing around KBoards, and I noticed a lot of people were saying the same thing: the one thing they all wished they had done from the start was have a mailing list.  Most people were regretting 90 percent of the other things they did to promote books, etc.  But nobody regretted having a mailing list.

And, thought I, as long as I'm starting over, I might as well start a mailing list.  I gotta make over the end matter on my books anyway, so I might as well have that link there from the start of the new me.

4.) Which led me to think, golly, I really should redo the end matter on my old books.  Some of those have long annoying samples.  And it will give me a chance to add the mailing list link, or maybe just a link to my main webpage which will have a prominent mailing list link.... Oh, crap.

5.) That main webpage is WAY out of date.  Gotta update that.  Well, I'm not going to publish anything untl the end of August, so I have some time.

This is beginning to sound like a death spiral, isn't it?  I mean, "I'm just going to stop everything else and write, except I'll just do this one thing, and that one other thing, which actually means I have to do these six other things...."

Except it isn't a death spiral, it's a start up chime.  (It's true, a lot of my grand plans have ended with the words "Oh, right, I have to update my webpage."  But not this time.)

The Restart Chime

6.) I went all zen on that "Getting Things Done" thing.  My GTD System got implemented.  It was all completely unconscious.  I just had stuff I wanted to get done and the system sort of created itself.  I created a "Job Jar" document where I put every little thing I wanted to get done that I could do while working in my office.  And I numbered the items so I could use to choose a task any time I found myself dithering. I also acquired a little Mac software thingy called "Minute Timer" to time 15 minute work bouts.

It didn't work perfectly, but I found I was getting things done....

Then I accidentally hit the turbo-charge button.

7.) A long time ago I published a collection of my fantasy and children's stories -- then realized the stories didn't fit together all that well, so I unpublished it and put the grown up fantasy stories into another collection (The Bellhound), and I always meant to republish the children's collection and never did.  So that seemed like a natural to add to the publication schedule.  It's all ready, just needs to be redone to fit my new standards.

8.) I just had to redo the cover... and oh, wow, I really like how that came out.  (You see the rough version to right. With my old pen name for children's writing - I'm considering using it for the kid stuff.)

And the collection looks really nifty.  I can't wait until the middle of September to publish this.  I want to do it now.  Tonight.

Except with my new pricing schedule it was a little short, I thought, for a 2.99 book.

9.) I wrote a bunch of children's stories, so I started digging in my trunk for a couple more stories to fill in for the ones I had removed.
10.) Now suddenly I had two collections of children's stories to publish.  Oh, and a novelette.  Oh, that story would work with a little change here or there.  And that one, though it sucks, would actually work if I rewrote the idea now as a children's story.  Oh, crap, I forgot about that story!  That's got to be the best thing I ever wrote!  Why didn't I finish it? (No market.  Right.)

I used to be a freaking good writer, you know that?  Why am I not writing like that any more?  (Except for those other stories.  I'm glad I don't write like that any more.)

Anyway, it's kind of like I stumbled into a room full of triple-fudge dark chocolate cake and ice cream, all for me.  I am so utterly pleased to revive that story I didn't finish.  I am still tickled about all my current stuff too.

And yeah, I'm pushing up the start of publications under my own name.  I'll start with the first collection around August 15, and go with two publications a month until the middle of November.  I expect, at that time, to go dark and publish some of the stuff I'm going to write under a pen name.

But for now, I'm just tickled pink to have rediscovered 3/4 of a fantasy/western story titled "The Pottsville Miracles."  I bet I can beat that last 1/4 into submission.  I can't wait to get it out there.

See you in the funny papers.