Thursday, July 28, 2011


"Hello?" Her voice was like a host of heavenly bells ringing down the line and into his ear.  In the break room, Damian shuffled from foot to foot and fought for something to say.  He pulled at his collar.  He hadn't expected Genny to answer.  Not on the first try.

Isn't that what is supposed to happen when you employ a telephone? Inigo asked.

Of course, of course, Damian replied.  Shut up and let me think.

The silence stretched.

I believe you should state your name.

Shut up!

"Hey, it's Damian," he said in a rush.

"Hi, Damian," she replied.  He could hear the smile in her voice.  His stomach danced.

"I, uh, just called to..."  Shoot, what did I call for?  "Ah.  Do you want to do something sometime?"

"Sure," she said brightly.  "What did you have in mind?"

Crud, he though.  He was hoping she'd have an idea.

"A movie?" he tried.

Terrible idea, Inigo said.  You cannot converse in the cinema.  At least not freely.  I would offer her cheese and wine under the moonlight on a beach.

We don't have a beach, Damian fired back.

"Dinner?" He realized he hadn't waited for a response from his first question and blushed.  Thankfully, no one was around to see it.

"Dinner and a movie, then," she said.  "When?"

"Ah."  More decisions!

Dinner generally happens in the evening, Inigo pointed out helpfully.

"The evening?" Damian parroted.

Genny giggled.  "How about tomorrow?  Say eightish?  I'll text you my address so you can pick me up.  Sound good?"

Sounds heavenly.

"Sure," Damian replied.  Fortunately, his brain wasn't entirely occupied.  "Um, do you have a preference where we go?"

"Surprise me," she purred.

Damian swallowed.  Hard.

"Okay, then."  He cringed when his voice cracked, but, like a champ, he powered through it.  "I'll pick you up at eight," he said in a lower-than-normal voice.

She laughed, reminiscent of tinkling bells.  Damian found himself smiling as well.

"Good bye, Damian."



That last voice had not been hers, his, or Inigo's.  He turned to face The Boss.  His stomach stopped, dropped, and rolled.

"My office, now," The Boss said.

The smile slid off his stupid face.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

ROW80: Settling Back In

Yesterday marked my pronunciation of my first novel being "officially released."  It took us about two weeks to get every format in our marketing plan up and good to go.  Print took the longest, but is totally worth it.  Love print books, even though ebooks are oh-so-convenient.  One of the odd things about being your own publisher is that, well, who says when something is "official."  Me, obviously, but it still strikes me as odd.  Self-publishing is settling in for a marathon, not expecting to compete in a quick sprint.  There's not a lot of fanfare out of the gate.  Sure, family and friends are excited.  Same with the readers you picked up along the way.  But no one is taking me out for lavish dinners and clapping me on the back... except for me of course.  And my lovely wife.  (We did treat ourselves to a nice celebratory dinner at Ruth's Chris.  Yum.  Can we write that off, though?).

This week sort of represents the calm before the storm for me.  We've turned more of our attentions away from the launched book, letting it go out into the wild.  We have great reports from readers who are "staying up all night," which is one of my favorite things to hear.  But, realistically, it's going to take some time before people begin finishing and reviewing in earnest.  In the mean time, we turn our attentions to other projects.

Next week, football starts with two-a-days.  As a coach, this means my time gets gobbled up.  I subsist on seam routes and cafeteria food prepared by parents for two weeks.  I'm not a teacher, so I'll still be working the day job too.  When to write?  Well, I'm done at 9.  9-10 looks to be writing time.  Thank the electric gods for DVR.  I can keep up with my favorite shows another time.

Here's a quick look at the goals.  Again, this represents a full week for me as I was busy Sunday:
  • Publishing lesson learned: CreateSpace printers don't posses the fine color gradient that a PDF displays.  Thus, make sure your covers contrast a little extra or they may just not show up.  What you see is not exactly what you get when it comes to a print cover.
  • WIP Pages: 5.  I'm one short, but one day was spent editing a finished chapter.  I do a lot of editing as I go so that when I finish a first draft, I'm really looking at a third draft in terms of quality.  Also, I write sequentially, which allows me to send the story out chapter by chapter to a very small number of Alpha readers.  Their feedback is great and keeps me honest.  It is something I didn't start out doing (like most writers, I wanted to "hide it until it's done"), but I've settled into this process and it really works for me in a variety of ways. 
  • Posts: This will be 3 here.  Had 5 on the other blog.  A fiction post on each.  And I knocked out my monthly personal entry.  I've been knocking the posting out of the park, and this week is no different.  I don't want to increase my goal, because I think 3 per week is a good minimum, but it has proven an easy one for me to achieve.  Still, having some low-hanging fruit isn't always a bad thing. 
Right on track.  These seem to be good goals for me.  I'm also going to resist the tendency to "overwork" this week.  Even though I know I'm going to be busy next week, I feel like if I try to "double up" to gift myself a free week, it never ends well.  It's far better to simply stick on pace and leave yourself wanting to do more, lest you burn yourself out.  There's something to be said for creating habits, and habits are formed by being regular... not spiky in terms of output.  You can't always help it, but the urge to "save up" good time isn't always a good one.  At least that's what I've found.  It's something to be used sparingly.

Instead, I'm rewarding myself by spending the last few weeks of summer outside.  Playing sports.  Doing a little working out.  It's still hot as Hades, but the humidity has dropped a bit, so it's not completely intolerable.  Next week I'll have to stay focused, but this week I could still hit my goals with a little less intensity.  Sometimes that's better than always "pushing it."

Hope this week finds you well, fellow ROWers.  Flex those fingers and keep ROWin!

Word Counts:
  • Since last check-in: 6860
  • Fiction: 1778
  • 26% New Fiction
  • Grand Total for the challenge: 21073
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Monday, July 25, 2011

The Binder's Daughter: Officially Launched

We got the print version up and for sale this weekend. This represents a big step as we are now, officially (by our book) launched.  There are no immediate intentions to offer any other editions (though we're not closed to considering other options if someone shoots us an email).  Everything is out there.

The print version is listed at $20.  Of that, we see a variable amount based on where you buy it.  If you purchase from the site here, we get a little over $5 of that money.  If you purchase through Amazon's size directly, we only see about $2 of that.  That's why we chose the $20 price point: it gives us just about the same profit margin as the ebook versions.  The fact that we can sell it through our own site and keep more of the money is great, but they only give an option for a single list price, so we had to cater to "worst case" scenario.  Most sales through here will probably be family, friends, and eventually (hopefully) fans.  It's my hope that contributing more to the aspiring author appeals to you guys. 

Also, as I note in the print editions, I'm offering the ebook free with print purchase.  For more about that, see the link at the top.  I think it makes sense and don't really see why more authors/publishers aren't doing this.  I love having a physical book (and it's a great marketing device... to hold a physical copy), but reading on my ereader is so much more convenient.  For people like me, I think the offer is a great one.  The only choice is really how much do you want to spend.  If you're really appreciative of what I'm doing, then maybe $20 is a good value, knowing more is going back to us.  If you're still just testing the my literary waters, then I think $2.99 is a bargain.  I'd rather it be a question of support than one of convenience.  That, and I just plain like physical books.  I love having a populated bookshelf and imagining my book on someone's shelf.  I wouldn't be doing this if I felt otherwise.

There is one "downside" to the print version that you may or may not notice.  I posted a preview of the print cover here, but the proof shows that CreateSpace is somewhat limited in their printable color palette.  You really can't make out the two tails on the back.  In the end, we didn't think it was a big enough issue to hold up putting it for sale.  We've had a lot of people asking after the print version, and didn't want to make them wait any longer.  We'll probably play around with that back cover in the future and try to get it to look exactly how we want.  Some of this is just learning what works with our POD publisher.  Obviously, it doesn't print out exactly as the PDF we sent in looks.  Probably just needed to go lighter on our grays and keep our blacks black.  We'll see.  Everything inside looks wonderful, and the cover certainly does not look "bad" (by our estimation), so it didn't seem right to delay a whole 'nother week to get another proof and go through that rigmarole again.  We're not sure how editing the cover works while "live," but I guess we'll find out! 

To the handful of you who have already purchased the print version (yes, we've noticed), thank you!  I really hope you enjoy the story.
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Friday, July 22, 2011

In the Wild

Damian blinked and the world dimmed.  He swore he could hear the sound of his eyelids closing, like the sound of a slamming door.  As they fought back up, fluorescent light lanced his eyeballs.  It felt as if someone had spooned sand granules into his irises.  Fridays were usually like this, especially when one visited a bar the night before.

The world returned to full speed once Damian's orbs were fully exposed.  He ground a palm into each socket, hoping in vain to massage himself into wakefulness.  He looked at the clock on his computer: 3:01 PM.  Two hours to go.

A pungent smell frolicked above the cubicles.  Coffee.  Of course there was coffee.  The steaming black liquid was the lifeblood of engineers.  It didn't matter the time of day, there was always a pot on.  A terrible, horrible, cheap pot.  Unless you knew the guy on the third floor that ground his own beans and kept a spare brewer under his desk - which Damian decidedly did not - you were subjected to the cheap stuff.  Free stuff was free for a reason.

Still, it drew Damian to his feet.  He periscoped atop the cubes like a rabbit sniffing the breeze, wary of hawks.  He saw other heads pop up.  Other rabbits.  Should their eyes happen to meet, they would quickly look away as if ashamed at being caught contemplating something other than work.  Ben laughed loudly behind him, probably watching another video online.  The noise startled Damian into action.  He grabbed his brown-stained, handle-free mug, a streak of white plaster down its side, and went off in search of the watering hole.

The oasis was populated by animals of all sizes, jockeying for superiority.  The rhino and giraffe stared each other down - or up as the case may be - and then back at the black wellspring.  The elephant had a handful of creamers that he might have flung at the zebra's face would it have advanced his cause.  The hyena cackled off to one side with the wildebeest.  When the Lion rounded the corner, his mane resplendent in its dignified perfection, a herd of gophers at his heels, they all stepped aside.  One does not bite the hand that feeds, especially on the wild office savanna. 

Damian patiently waited his turn.  A second pot was put on.  More beans sacrificed to the engineering gods.  More clean water dirtied. 

The paper in his pocket twitched.  Paper couldn't do that, of course, but Damian would have denied that truth, hand on the Bible.  His fingers found it, folded in a small, neat square.  He watched the drip, drip, drip of the coffee.  Most of the animals around him were the ones that had been too tired, too lame to chase down the first pot.  In their silent company, Damian almost wanted to scream. 

Do it, Inigo urged.  Unleash the beast.

Damian turned and fled back to his desk.  He would return to the pot a bit later.  It was... that had only taken seven minutes?  It had felt longer.  Time was skewed on the savanna.

The paper twitched again.  Damian freed it from his pocket and spread it out lovingly in the open space before his keyboard.  The number was hastily scrawled in pen.  He consulted the memory for the thousandth time.  Chills danced along his spine.  His stomach did a flip.

The digits burned into his mind, couching themselves deep within the delicate folds of his brain.  For a while, he just stared.  Should he call?  He took out his cell phone and dragged his thumb across the screen, opening it.  No bars.  He held the phone up.  No bars.  He spun in a circle.  No bars. 

That gadget of yours usually seems to preform better near the break room, Inigo said.

Damian had been known to make calls from the break room.  Usually to his mother.  He stood up, gazing once more over the cubes.  The animals seemed to have all returned to their pens.  The Lion was nowhere to be seen.  Nor was the Boss.  Perhaps it was coffee time; surely there would be some left.  If not, he could always put on another pot.  It wasn't even four yet.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ROW80: E-reader Pagination Scare

Today's check-in represents a full week for me. I skipped out on Sunday because I was out of town.  Now I need to go back and perform an archaeological dig on my electronic life for the last 7 days.  I was surprised by both how little I remember and how busy I was.  Sometimes you just don't notice how hectic things have gotten until you're trying to explain them to others.

A little personal side-note: This summer has been the epitome of busy.  Literally every other weekend has been exhausted by travel.  Generally, they've all been for weddings.  Family and close friends.  Stuff you can't really bow out of.  My wife and I both have big families.

(Side, side note: I'm also a volunteer football coach at the local high school, an avid player of casual adult sports, and an engineer in the automotive industry... late summer is a busy time for all of those tidbits.)

In the midst of all that, we released our first book; a busy time in its own right.  The good part about releasing a book while doing the summer wedding tour is that there are plenty of people to talk to about it.  I'm not exactly an avid self-promoter, but I figure when that great aunt on your Dad's side asks the inevitable "So, what are you up to these days?" question... she's asking for it.  Besides, it's more fun for both of us to talk about books than the boring old grind, right?

With a first book release have been the ubiquitous road bumps.  I've talked about some hassles getting the book up on B&N.  Our print proof had a couple issues.  Then last night we discovered we had a TOC and pagination issue in our released ebooks.  We take quality very seriously in our household business, so this was a mini-emergency.  More on that in a moment though, as there is a lesson learned, which is one of my goals.

Finally, as if that weren't enough, my wife's sister got diagnosed with a recurrence of ovarian cancer.  In addition to quality, we take cancer very seriously in our household.  We do relays and walks and runs.  Ribbons and donations.  It's a personal thing, so I won't elaborate too much.  After all, who's life has cancer left untouched?  Thus, you can all understand how it adds an unwelcome stress to an already stressful summer.  It was in relating all this to a friend that I thought: "Wow, this really has been a helluva summer."

Yet we still got the book out.  It is still selling.  I am still writing.  In fact, if anything, I'm writing more.  I think one of the signs that you're a "writer" (if you need them, which writers generally do) is that you turn to writing when things go gunnysack.

If nothing else comes of this ROW80 (which I believe other good things will), it has already taught me that "when the going gets tough, the writer gets writing."  At least for me.  And I think other writers will understand when I say that is a comfort.  No matter how bad things get, no matter how busy you are... there are always words.  They can be bad words, sad words, or half-asleep-yet-hopped-up-on-caffeine words.  They're still words, and they are my woolly blanket.

Here's a quick shot of my goals this past week:
  • Publishing lesson learned:  E-reader Pagination is wonky.  More in a minute.
  • WIP pages: 6.  Nailed it.  Had to pull double duty a couple days, but it was a fun scene so not very hard to do.
  • Posts: This makes 5 here and 4 on the gaming blog.  Shattered this one.  Got a fun fiction post up on each of those as well.  I still need to make my monthly personal post, but I may regurgitate and elaborate on the beginning of this one.  It's got good personal undertones (and obviously a recording of Important Shit, which is the point).
Considering that turmoil of the past few weeks, I'm pretty psyched about the progress.  Still, as I mentioned, it didn't seem all that hard.  I mean yeah, I felt busy, but writing also helps me deal.  It's a comfort.  Better than sex... um, television.

Oh, and the e-reader emergency?  Apparently the damn things don't paginate based on clicks or the actual display.  They count based on the background HTML coding.  Thus, one page turn does not necessarily equal one "page" on the count.  Kindle avoids this by using a percentage and specifying "locations," but Nook sure doesn't.  They just have an unlabeled number (proving my middle school science teacher right about the need to label your units!). 

We got early feedback from a trusted reader basically saying: "Um, this is weird."  Then, we panicked and thought we'd done something wrong and were putting out complete crap and were going to get loads of 1-star reviews because we can't even master a simple HTML conversion tool (simple being sarcastic, mind you... mystical and enigmatic may be more appropriate, and we're very tech-literate).  After breathing and a few shots of whiskey, we discovered the truth of the matter.  We did have a minor TOC issue, but that was easily remedied.

Anyway, to bring this long ramble back to ROW80... I hope that the rest of you are knocking your goals out of the park.  Perhaps the shamble described above can serve to motivate you.  Or, maybe confirmation of the pagination issue comforts you.  Either way, keep on ROWin'.

Word counts:
  • Since last check-in: 6178
  • Fiction: 2048
  • 33% New Fiction
  • Grand Total for the challenge: 14213
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

B&N Version Goes Live!

Good news, everyone! After several emails (thank you, though they apparently just said: "Nyah nyah, we can't tell you.") and a short phone call, the B&N version of The Binder's Daughter is now available.  Happy day. 

In the future, this part of the process should not take nearly so long, as now we officially have an account in their system.  It only took them about 24 hours to review the actual book, so it was obviously the account that was the sticking point here.  That only has to be done once.  Hurrah.

Unfortunately, the print version is going to be probably another week off as we had to correct some minor (but noticeable) errors in the proof.  We've ordered a new proof, which has to be printed and mailed, so that will take a few days.  We're hopeful that we might be able to hit early next week, provided all goes well. 
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Monday, July 18, 2011

Short Random Monday Bullet-points

I'm struggling with coherent thought today, so here's an un-clever bullet-point list of things on my mind that I'd like to share:
  • Finally got a hold of B&N.  It seems that our Fed EIN number (tax stuff) didn't updated to some list right away.  Thus, when they ran it through their system right away, it rejected us.  Apparently, we'd simply submitted too quick (we did do it immediately before moving on to Amazon).  They're re-running the number today and we expect the book to go up tomorrow or Wednesday.
  • Print proof should arrive today or tomorrow.  If good to go, we should activate the print edition tomorrow or Wednesday as well.  Yaaay!
  • I mentioned it in a post the other day, but I'm including the e-book free with purchase of a print copy.  Details to follow on a page.  Basically though, I'm going to either send it to you in email, gift it via Amazon, or provide a Smashwords coupon.  We'll see how that goes. 
  • Missed the ROW80 check-in yesterday because I was out of town.  That's okay because I'm just going to do a full week update on Wednesday.  I'm pretty sure I nailed my goals this past week though.  Good stuff.
  • If you are currently reading my book... Thank You!  We're in double digits for sales now and it's only been a week!  I know I'm not shattering any records here, but I've seen some successful indie authors grow out of a far sparser first month (and I'm only at a week!).  Hit me up with a review on any of the sites, or email me if you prefer.  Got a favorite passage?  I'd love to share it on here.  Where did I shine?  Where did I suck?  I want to learn!
That's all I got for today.  I've been announcement-heavy lately, and for that I apologize.  I did squeeze in a fiction post which was fun.  I'm enjoying that little story, though I have no idea where it's going.  Feel free to offer suggestions of things you'd like to see.  I have some ideas, but there is no outline there.

Otherwise... thank God this Monday is over with :-).
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Friday, July 15, 2011

Eight Six Seven Five Three Oh Ni-ee-ine

You should have asked if you could write her, Inigo admonished.

Write her? You mean get her number? Damian glanced over his shoulder at the closed door of the bar.

Yes, so you may telephone her. Sometimes I am forgetting of modern conveniences.

Damian shook his head.  No, that's not my style.

I can feel the untruth of those words, Damian.  You are scared, Inigo said.

There was no point in lying to something that was already in your head.  Of course I'm scared.  You saw her, Inigo.  She is way out of my league.

League? Inigo asked.

Yes, Inigo.  League.  As in, she is far too attractive for me.  Damian checked to make sure that he had replaced his wallet in the back pocket of his jeans.  After spending more than enough on drinks - delivered swiftly and with a radiant smile - he'd tossed a twenty on the bar and left.  The night had raised his spirits somewhat, and so, in that regard, he supposed it had been a success.

Ah, but you are intelligent and possessing of a well-paying job, no?  Even in my time did money entice pretty women, Inigo said.  It cannot be much different in these days.

No, I guess you're right... but she's not like that, Inigo. 

And you know this how?

I don't know... she just... I can tell.  Damian shoved his hands into his pockets.

It sounds to me like you are making excuses.  I could not help but notice the amount that she smiled upon you.

She was working.  It is her job to be friendly as well as serve the beer.  Damian frowned.  Had she really smiled at him more than the other patrons?  Just let it go, Inigo.

As you wish, Damian.

"Damian."  The voice had said his name at the same moment as Inigo.  As such, it took Damian a moment to realize that it hadn't been completely in his head.  He froze a few steps later with one foot in the air.

"Damian," she said again, closer this time.

Damian's heart was hammering against his chest as he turned.  He swallowed once as he drank her in.  Even in the unflattering orange light of the parking lot, she was radiant.  He struggled to remember that he could speak.

"Yes?" he answered.

She smiled, closing the last few steps between them.  Her chest heaved and Damian tried not to stare.  She had apparently jogged to catch up to him.

"I'm sorry to chase you but I just..."  She bit her lip. 

Damian envied the tooth.  They stood there.  Crickets chirped nearby.  A truck passed on the distant highway.

"Here."  She had a napkin in her hand. 

"Did I spill something?"  Damian looked about his person in a panic.  Why am I such a klutz?

She giggled.  "No, it's my number."  She pressed the paper square into his hand.

Damian was stunned.

"Call me sometime," she suggested.

Damian nodded.

Then, she turned and walked back to the bar.  Damian stared openly.  She was so... smooth.

It took the door swinging shut for Damian to be released from his trance.  He held the paper in his hand up to the light.  Sure enough, there was a number on it.
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Thursday, July 14, 2011

TBD Print Cover Sneak Peek

Ash finished the full print cover a couple nights ago and I wanted to share it. I think she did a great job. Basically, she just had to add the spine and back cover for the CreateSpace version, and I really like what she did. I think it'll make a beautiful book.

The blurb on the back is the same as can be found on the series page linked at the top of the site. I know I didn't really make it big enough here to read.  I love, love, love the eyes on the spine and can't wait to stick the first proof we've ordered on a book shelf and just... look at it.  Books can be fun like that, right?

You can see on the back she's got two swirly black things there.  It's might not be immediately obvious, but those are tails.  I love the subtle design.  You'll have to read the story to find out how they fit, though.

This cover makes me wish we could do a hardback run.  Sadly, that's not really feasible for a small, independent outfit like us.  Maybe somewhere down the road though...

One last side note: I need to type of the official more "legalese" page and post it on here, but if you buy one of the print versions, I'm offering the e-book free with that purchase (your choice of format).  It's something I want to do for all my titles forever (not like a limited time thing).  I'm sort of trying to equate it to what I do with music.  With artists I really like, I try to buy the album even though I do most of my listening on a portable device.  It's great to be able to have the physical copy as more of a collectors item and just rip the songs to my iPhone.  I figure, why not do that with books?  The issue is that you can't really "rip" a book on you own.  Thus, I'm going to try to figure out clever ways to get people a free copy of the ebook so that my readers can have their cake and eat it too. 

For now (and it will say this on the page I eventually work up for the top), if you come into possession of a print book (I'd prefer you purchase one to support me, but I honestly have no way of knowing and am just happy if people are reading it), I'm going to ask that you just send me an email with a picture of the book.  I'm hoping people get clever with it, maybe take a fun picture with my book somewhere exotic.  Like Kansas.  Because Kansas is a lot different than Indiana.  I will, however, accept and appreciate the pictures even if they're simply of the book on a table in some random house.  Or in a hand held out in front of you taken via cellphone.  If you don't own a camera or don't know how to get a picture into an email... email me anyway and we'll figure something out. 

In the future, I may try to get a more automated system where I can embed a code that lets you download the file from somewhere, but we're not that clever yet.  Until then, I'm just going to do it manually via email.  Oh, and if you're looking for how to contact me... it's up there under the About the Author tab.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ROW80: B&N Needs To Speed It Up

We're what, ten days in now? My first week was a bit hectic with the release of my first book. I'm settling back into my process now.  Here's a look at the goals:
  • Publishing lesson learned this week: B&N is slow.  More on that in a bit.
  • For new fiction, I got a page in on Monday, plus two pages last night to finish off the next chapter in my WIP.  That puts me a page ahead of schedule, but I figured I probably won't be able to write tonight... have to go coach a football scrimmage after work.  Yay for succeeding in giving myself a little bit of a cushion.
  • In the world of posting, I'm at 2 and 2, including this one.  I need to make my fiction practice posts on each site still this week, but should be able to nail that.
So I've set myself up for a 3 for 3 week.  One of the keys to approaching weekly goals, in my mind, is to do what you can when you can.  Don't sandbag and wait for later in the week "just cuz."  If you have a chance to get ahead early, snatch it!  Relax only after the work's been done.  Easy to learn, difficult to master. 

I mentioned in the first goal that I've learned a lesson this week.  We put both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble editions into the grinder at the same time.  The date on Amazon shows July 8th, but actually it was sometime the following day when we actually clicked submit.  We had to wait overnight for the Feds to give us a tax ID number before we could proceed. 

The Kindle version has been up since Sunday the 10th.  Barnes and Noble is still processing the request.  What's up with that?  I can't really say I understand how one can be so fast and the other so... not.  It's a point of consternation for me because not only are we a Nook household, but so is a majority of my family and friends.  Since, as we all know, indie publishers only sell to family and friends (/sarcasm), that is like a huge chunk of my sales.  One of my buddies was so excited that he stayed up late because he wanted to be the first one to purchase the book.  Problem was, he had a Nook. 

If B&N wants to be competitive in the Amazon dominated market, they're going to have to speed things up.  I'm not saying I'm going to abandon my Nook or anything like that, but speed to market represents a significant monetary advantage.  If I were a bestselling author, my readers might not be willing to wait on B&N and eventually get sucked into Kindleland.  Then, you're not just losing out on my sales, but the future sales that individual would have purchased as well.  That's a big deal.

Maybe they're just having a bad week too, who knows.  At this rate, though, we're going to have our print version available before B&N even sniffs at a sale.  I know some people who might just say "screw it" and pick up the print.  Not that it's going to hurt them.  Still, lost business is lost business.  There's nothing I can do about it.  I guess I'll just have to keep in mind that if I ever want a perfectly synchronized release, I'll have to give B&N some lead time.

B&N will have to improve on this, I'd think.  Until then, my buddy is trying hard to at least be my first Nook customer.  His poor refresh key might wear out.  If Amazon is any indication... he'll probably know it's up before I will.
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When the Power Goes Out

A line of storms rolled through my central Indiana locale last night, knocking out power for a while.  My wife and I are pretty "wired" people.  We have an entire room devoted to our computers.  You might call it an office.  It doubles as a game room, hang out area, and, yes, sometimes a dining room.  It is adjacet to the kitchen.

As you might expect, then, it is a major event when our power goes out.  There is a moment where we each have a mini-panic attack, flipping switches and trying to turn on some lights.  Then, of course, we realize that, dur, the lights depend on electricity too.  Are we the only ones that fail to make that initial intuitive leap?  It only lasts for a minute or two, but it's a harsh wake up call, forcing us to realize just how much we depend upon electricity.  It's not just the computers and TV.  It's lights.  Clocks.  The AC.  Fans.  That one lamp we've never used but tried because - hey, it's dark in here.

After we dig out a flashlight, then curse a bit feeling around for the appropriate battery.  Then switch it on.  Then curse a bit because the batteries are dead and we should have just gone to the "battery drawer."  Then finally get some light only to have it slowly start dieing in your hands as the "new" batteries that haven't been used in three years (everything is rechargeable these days, right?) start to lose charge.  Then your wife comes in using her cell phone as a flashlight and you think "oh yeah, we still have those." 

After all that, maybe you find a few candles.  And a lighter.  If you're not a smoker, finding a lighter can be a sort of mini-adventure in its own right.  The wife points out that "see, aren't you glad I'm sort of psychotic about having candles?"  Ecstatic, dear. 

The house begins to smell like Christmas cookie.  In July.  There's a hint of Ocean, and maybe some Smooth Peach Lavender Rose-petal Tulip Surprise.  And Cinnamon.  Always Cinnamon. 

If the lights haven't come back on yet (sometimes they just like to screw with you), then you're probably sitting there like we were thinking: Now what.  You've just been dealt an unexpected break from life.  This is where my wife and I somewhat differ.  She played with our rabbit, played some games on her phone, and texted some friends.  I went straight for the bookshelf - or, in this case, the Nook... thankfully charged. 

The irony of reading an electronic book by candlelight was not lost on me.  Even as I wedged my butt in the recliner so that the flickering flame struck it just so, I marveled at the oddity of the situation.  The warm glow cocooned me, isolating me from the bunny oinks and girly giggles, and I pressed the button to open the pages.

If you've never read by candlelight, I suggest you try it.  There is something very primal about it.  It reminds me of when I went hunting for the first time.  In my mind, I was transported back to another time, a different place.  I felt closer to my ancestors.  The worries of modern life floated away.  What would it have been like in a time where your job was simply staying alive?  Finding food?  Where the only entertainment at the end of your grueling day was a book?  Or maybe just stories around a fire...

The lights snap back on.  I blink.  The house hums back to life doing its usual house things.  The bunny freezes near my feat, a guilty ball of fluff.  I look over at my wife.

You know, they didn't have very good medical care back then.  Or ice cream cake.  That's a lot to give up.  Still, I can't help but look forward to the next time the power goes out.  I wouldn't want it to happen all of the time, but in small doses, it seems good medicine for my soul.  I'll take my breaks where I can get 'em.
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Sunday, July 10, 2011

ROW80 Check-in and FBS

We're at the one week mark. It's still early. Plenty of time to turn it around!  Here's a look at where I stand:
  • Revisions finished, first book is up!  Huge milestone for us.  I'm sure we'll be learning more, but I think the quality is great.  On par with professional ebooks I've read and it's only our first!  Amazon was the quickest... it's still in the B&N system.  This goal now morphs into getting the print version available this week.  Also, getting the appropriate purchasing links up on here.
  • My "new fiction" page count took a hit this week as the focus was on the revision and release goal.  Having hit that, it's hard to feel too bad about missing this one.  Still, I managed to squeeze in 2 pages this week on the WIP.  I should get back on track with this in subsequent weeks.
  • I beat the blog posting goal, though.  4 posts this last week on here and 3 on the other blog.  I still have my one personal post to do this month, but plenty of time for that later.  
So two for three this week isn't bad.  Definitely on target.  One of the things I tried to do with my goals, you may notice, is make them weekly goals.  There is a two-fold thought behind this.  First of all, smaller, more immediate goals are almost always easier to figure out how to hit.  Second, I wanted to avoid what I'll term the Falling Behind Syndrome.

Sufferers of FBS usually experience acute anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, and, of course, explosive diarrhea.  (Sorry, had to throw in a poop joke).

I've contracted the syndrome many times, and I think one of the root causes is, well, falling behind.  You set these goals, you miss a few.  Then, you try to treat your symptoms with "catch up."  That never works, because inevitably you just feel more stressed and exacerbate the condition and it all snowballs and then the world falls on you and your dog dies and... deep breaths.

Likely, it is much better to be able to say, "Nope, failed that week," and then put it behind you and focus on hitting the mark next week.  Week-framed goals lend themselves well to this.  It's a strategy I've used as an engineer, coach, and, now, author. 

So, if you're suffering from FBS on this round... don't get hung up on the goals you didn't hit.  Like when you drop your keys in magma, forget 'em, 'cuz man, they're gone.  Keep your head up and forward.  The only writer I know that embraced lamenting and succeeded was Job.  And, quite frankly, I'll pass on being Job.

Here's a look at my cumulative word count:
  • Since last check-in:  2823
  • Fiction: 1041
  • 36% New Fiction
  • Grand Total for the challenge: 4339
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Friday, July 8, 2011

TBD Cover Sneak Peek

I finished revising last night and shortly thereafter, my wife wrapped up her manipulations of the cover.  We've already done test runs on our templates, so converting the files and sending them off to B&N, Amazon, and Smashwords is all that's left.  That'll be tonight's project, and we hope to be able to offer the e-book as early as this weekend.  The CreateSpace print version should follow swiftly on its heels, but we have a few more things to do for that (spine and back cover design, namely). 

I wanted to share what we've settled on for the cover.  I'm pretty excited about it, as it embodies a lot of the things we wanted to do.  I think it is unique without being jarring.  We may update it as we learn more about cover creation, but I think it's a solid design.  What do you think?

The Binder's Daughter Cover
I've updated the featured banner and the series page (linked up top) with the cover image.  The editing took me just about two weeks of "second shift" work.  That is, I came home fromt he 9-5er, then worked at this until my eyes burned.  I found that I enjoy editing, though I feel like I could keep returning and rewriting forever.  That's not a good thing, in my book, because then projects would never get done. 

Anyway, we're almost there!  I need to get a fiction post up (maybe this weekend), and I'll slap a post and links up here as soon as the book officially becomes available.  Stay tuned and thanks for reading!
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Almost There

I'm steadily closing in on the end of my revision gauntlet, finishing up the last chapters (hopefully tonight).  We're still hoping to get the book posted to B&N, Amazon, and Smashwords sometime this weekend.  CreateSpace will follow soon thereafter, with all the appropriate links back here on the site.

I nearly had a catastrophic event as I got to work editing last night.  Generally, I sneak bits of writing it at various places, sometimes at lunch on my day job computer.  There's a great little program called Dropbox that has really helped me to do this seamlessly.  Basically, it lets you story your files "in the clouds" with a light client that syncs up a local copy of the file whenever you're on the Internet.  If you're disconnected from the Internet, you still have full access to the last files (they're physically on the computer), but changes won't be synced until you connect to the web.  It works well so long as you remember sync changes in between writing session, especially if you happened to make some of those offline.  You wouldn't want to have conflicting versions and all.

Anyway, part of our workplace protocol is to change your password once a month or so.  This mucks up the proxy which mucks up my Dropbox access.  All I need to do is update the passwords accordingly, but I forgot to do so yesterday.  When I got home, I started working and got about two hours into an editing session before I realized I was working with the old versions.  I had forgotten to sync with the bit of I'd done over lunch. 

In my world, there is nothing worse than trying to recreate creative magic.  Once I've dipped into that well and drizzled out my words on paper, it's is really hard to reclaim the thread.  Knowing you've already done something once - and were pleased with it - totally takes the wind out of my sails.  Such was that case last night.  So I stopped and ate the lost work time, hoping against hope that I'd be able to salvage some of it on the morrow.

Fortunately, a quick password update and word-compare later... I merged my edits and am back where I left off.  I had almost lost a cumulative 4 hours of editing!  All is well now, though, and I'm back on track.

I did want to share a quick link to an article written by Michael Stackpole the other day.  The message is great, as usual, but I specifically wanted to share the following where he relates a bit of reassurance for beginning writers:
If, after doing all that, and working as hard as you can on a story, you’ve made the story the best you can possibly make it, it isn’t crap. It might not be the most polished story in the world—developing your skills and voice may take some time—but it’s a better story than you started out with. And if you keep working hard, the next story will be better, and the one after that better still. By offering potential patrons free samples of your work, you let them decide if they want to read you; and they’ll be able to come back and chart your progress to the point where their desire to read and your skill at delivering a story coincide.
The article is in response to the recurring cry from some folks that e-books are leading to "more crap" in the marketplace.  One of my biggest fears has always been that, right now, I'm not a Michael Stackpole.  I don't have years of professional experience to fall back on.  I'm just starting. 

But everyone has to start somewhere.  Even Michael Stackpole.  The key, then, is putting together the best story you possibly can.  Hopefully, tonight I'll be putting the finishing touches on just that.  I don't think that it's the most polished story in the world, but it certainly isn't crap.  It's the beginning of a journey for me, one I hope to share.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Since we just started on Monday, there's not too much to say yet. I'm still face deep in my Revision Gauntlet for my WIP.  I have time blocked aside tonight and I'm hoping to be able to buckle down and finish the last three chapters.  I'm on target to succeed with the first goal of finishing editing this week.  We're hoping to get the book up this weekend.

I was able to sneak in a page of writing yesterday, so that's good news.  I also got two posts up yesterday on each of the main blogs.  Thus, my writing goals are on track.  From the posts I netted 1,129 words.  From the new fiction I hit 387.  I didn't do any writing on Monday, so this is all Tuesday. 

I generally don't count the blog post word counts, but for the sake of this challenge I'm going to try and keep a "grand total" of words written from all my sources.  I don't have a word count goal, but I'm interested.  I see posting as good practice, and thus do a lot of it.  I wonder at my ratio of random words to actual new fiction.

Grand Total: 1,516
Fiction: 387
Ratio: 25% new fiction 
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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Revision Checklist

I got more done over the holiday weekend than I'd expected.  Three chapters fell prey to my revising eyes, and that leaves four to go.  The end is in sight.  I'm surprised at how many people are badgering for me to get it done.  Granted, they're all friends and family, but I've not really promoted it with those people a whole lot.  In truth, I get a bit embarrassed talking to that group of people about my books.  I guess I just find it hard to explain that, yeah, I wrote a fantasy novel, and yes, it will get published.  There's just no guarantee of success here.  You're not going to see my book on shelves.  I'm doing it independently.  Not everyone really understands what that means yet. 

Still, it's a risk I'm embracing.  The process has been liberating and fun.  It's a shared project for my wife and I, and something we can both feel proud of when it is eventually finished.  She's busy putting the final touches on the cover (which I hope to share sometime this week as well, because I think it's really turned out well).  I'm face deep in revising, when I'm able to set life aside for several hours.

One of the lessons learned through my process so far has been the value of what I'll call a Personal Revision Checklist.  I've seen other authors talk a bit about these.  Basically, as you write more, you'll revise more, and as you revise more, you'll start to notice the things you repeatedly fall victim to.  For my first book, since it is in first person, I've noticed a few unsavory trends.  I use "I mean" a lot.  And "I think."  These are weak words.  Of course the narrator thinks or means things... he wouldn't be telling us otherwise.  It's also a little more conversational than I should be in prose.  It's one thing if it's in dialog (even there, maybe iffy), but those are crutches I lean on in my narration, and they can easily be axed. 

The key to the revision checklist, though, is that it is personal.  Unless you're a super-awesome ghostwriter, chances are the mistakes you make are figments of your own style, process, and voice.  Sure you can take another writer's list to start, but eventually you'll need to make any revision list your own.  Put all the things on there that you see yourself doing more than once.  Chances are they'll pop up again.  It's great to be able to use the "find" feature in a word processor to winnow the errors up front.  I use it to help me get in the revision mood too. 

And don't throw that checklist away when you're done, either.  Not all the issues may translate from one story to the next, but chances are that I'll be seeing "I mean" and "I think" crop up in my writing again.  They're the weeds of my creative lawn.  A Personal Revision Checklist is my weed and feed.  The stronger I make it, the greener my grass will be.  Not that the occasional dandelion is horrific, mind you.  I'm sure I'll still have plenty of those.  I am, after all, still learning.
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Friday, July 1, 2011

ROW80 Challenge

Conceived by author Kait Nolan, A Round of Words in 80 days is a writing challenge for the rest of us. Like Festivus. There is an unadorned pole, and the Airing of Grievances, and of course, Feats of Strength.

Okay, not really. Except for the feats (some of us may air grievances as well). ROW80 encourages writers to wrestle with self-assigned goals on a more realistic basis than most other challenges.  I've been wanting to do NaNoWriMo for several years now, but never really could get up for it.  While I love the idea of writing communities and encouraging one another, I couldn't really get on board with the whole "writing a novel in a month" thing.  I just don't write that way. 

Slow and steady wins the race.  Doesn't anyone else remember the tortoise and the hair? Even then, the lesson we were supposed to learn is that, a lot of times, patience and persistence will win out over short bursts of activity.  NaNo is the hare.  ROW80 is the turtle. 

(Side note: I was obsessed with the Ninja Turtles growing up, so it is any wonder I wax tortoise at times?) 

Right now I'm simply a writer who wants to share stories.  I have to keep my day job (begrudgingly), and life matches on, oblivious to my wishes.  I cannot set aside a month to complete a sprint.  I've been able to create stories by chipping away a little at a time.  Isn't there another old saying about how to eat and elephant? 

ROW80 fits me, so when I found out about it, I was anxious to join in.  It's a great idea and an approach that I believe is healthier for people like me who would love to join the new and improved e-midlist.  So count me in.  I'll be updating as much as possible (We're supposed to check in on Wednesdays and Sundays.  I generally don't blog on the weekends, but I may make exceptions).  Here's a tentative list of the goals I want to set for myself:
  • Average 6 "pages" a week of new fiction.  I like to use "pages" rather than word counts because I feel it entices me to write more active fiction.  More dialog.  Dialog fills up a page quickly, and I like dialog.  As a reader, I dislike being bogged down by long passages of description, but those really help a word count.  Focusing on pages allows me to focus on what works better for me.  For those who are keeping score: this usually amounts to an average of 350 words per page, and I absolutely do not game myself (by changing fonts, margins, etc.  It's 1.5 spaced, 12pt, TNR font.  I won't muck with that until I'm done with an MS).  This works out to about 2100 words a week.
  • Finish the "Revision Gauntlet" on my first novel and get it out.  This should be accomplished in the first week.  The on-going goal here is just going to be to report/pay attention to what the released book is doing, learning the lessons it may teach.  
  • Average 3 blog posts a week on each of my two "main" blogs (here and my gaming blog), also put up 1 per month on my personal/family blog.  Some of this will be experimental fiction that I can use later, but that doesn't count as part of my 6 pages.  I'd like to average 1 post per week of fiction on each of my two "main" sites.  I try to space blog posts out so I'm writing at least 1 per day. 
We'll see where I stand in 80 days!
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