Add A Rare Vintage on Goodreads!

I’ve got lots of things lined up for the release of A Rare Vintage at the end of this month… I’ve got an amazing cover, but am planning a big “Ta Da!” reveal event for the 20th, so you’ll have to wait! (so will I. I hate waiting. hate it.) The book launches on the 31st of May… but you can get a teaser and add it to your shelves on Goodreads NOW! No waiting! Yay!

Also – thanks!

An Inspirational Story

I’d heard that good things come to those who wait. But that might not always be the case. It’s been a long weekend. Pbtht. And that is all I’m going to say about that.

The fact that it is snowing is doing little to improve my dull brown miserable mood. The fact that I’m working double hours this week to make up for taking last week off because my little guy’s preschool took spring break (not during the same week that my elementary student has break, mind you)? That’s doing even less for me.

So I thought it might be best not to write about me today. I want to write about someone else. Someone who I like more and more as I get to “know” him better. I want to write about a humble and talented writer named Hugh Howey. If you follow self-publishing at all, and assuming that you haven’t been under a rock, you have likely heard of him. He wrote the increasingly popular serialized “omnibus” Wool. This book – available altogether on Amazon – is actually five parts to one story. And Howey’s rise to fame began with the first one. A 12,000 word short story, or novelette, which he published on Amazon. He published subsequent versions to appease his fans, and ended up with the Wool Omnibus.

He also ended up selling foreign rights and finding himself in talks with some of Hollywood’s biggest names to produce his post-apocalyptic story. I’ve read only the first one myself, and am hungrily beginning the second now. And I’m smitten — mostly because Howey is a fantastic writer. This is no sci-fi Shades of Grey. The writing is beautiful.

Anyway, there have been lots of other things written about Howey. This article is from Huffington Post is my favorite.

I’ll leave you with this today… keep the faith, writers. The world is full of possibilities. Go outside yourselves – don’t believe everything you see through the windows. (if you’ve read Wool, this might make sense. Or it might seem like I’m telling you to die. I’ll have to read more to understand the full implications of what I’ve just said.)

Always Waiting

So, as usual, I find myself waiting for some things to happen. And this is the clear difference between self publishing and working with a publisher — even an indie publisher. A lot of things are out of my control. That could actually be a good thing. I benefit from the wisdom of those who produce books for a living (rather than from my own experience of having read a hell of a lot about it and actually done it once). But as a person who has, on occasion, been described as a control freak, this is hard. I wait for edits to be requested, I wait for feedback on revisions. I wait for the day the cover is revealed to the world, I wait for the book to hit Goodreads so I can start actually promoting it (no, not yet.) And in the midst of feeling like something so important to me is so far out of my control, I realized something: It doesn’t help to worry about this.

Instead, it’s time to focus on the things that I CAN control. (Yeah, I’m forty, and I have learned this lesson HOW Many times??? Shut up.) And those things include: trying to be a nice person so my whole family doesn’t hate me. (when I’m stressed about things that are out of my control, I have a habit of being just the teensiest bit tough to live with. Ahem.); WRITING — it’s easy to get wrapped up in focusing on the thing that is almost done, instead of on the thing that I’m meant to do. And I’ve got lots of half-done and in-progress things to keep me busy.

I’ll be honest here, too… the contract aspect of publishing is stressful. There’s been a lot of back and forth on that, and we’re still agreeing and disagreeing on things, though it will work out fine. But until the thing is signed, I don’t know exactly what limits may or may not be placed on the other things I’m working on and where they might be able to go. But again – out of my control to some degree. I have to trust the agent to listen to my concerns and work with the publisher for the best deal.

And in the meantime, I feel like Through a Dusty Window is just kind of hanging out there… there’s a blog tour for that book coming up in a couple weeks, so it’s time to focus on that again for a while. So that’s what I’ll be up to this week. What are you doing?

Indies Unlimited Annoucement

Check out the announcement about Through a Dusty Window on Indies Unlimited! They’re also featuring my book as a 2013 Featured Title. Cool!

Indies Unlimited is a great resource for Indie authors. Their mission statement:

It is the mission of Indies Unlimited to celebrate independent authors; to help them build their followings; to provide a platform for members of the independent author community to share and exchange ideas, knowledge, expertise and frustrations; and, for readers and reviewers to become exposed to the amazing depth and array of talent in the indie community.

Find your new favorite Indie author there…

I’m on a Roll…

I promise to get off my soapbox for the next post, but I’ve been thinking a bit about some of my writing heroes, wondering what they would make of the current publishing landscape. The Jazz Age writers discussed the difficulties of writing as a craft, leaving us lots of wonderful quotes about the virtues of working hard at writing. They didn’t talk as much about what happened after they did the writing, though insecurity was a common topic. So I’m led to believe that for the writers I’ve most admired, publication was not a foregone conclusion. They wrote because they needed to, had to; they wrote because they were writers.

What would Hemingway think of the publishing industry today? Would he stand with the old guard, defending traditional publishing though creating a bestseller often comes at the cost of an artist’s integrity? Would he be pleased to see that writers today have a modicum of control over what they create instead? In my mind, as long as the work is good — and that means that I’m not considering those writing simply to publish; those turning out commercial book after book and following a detailed plan that began with the market and ended with the writing only as an afterthought, or those who are putting out books that were not well formed enough to ever have been published traditionally — as long as the work is good then shouldn’t the writer be pleased to be able to deliver it to an eager readership him (or her) self? Shouldn’t we be happy to cut out the middleman and be able to take control of the fruits of our labors? I ask you – isn’t that what writing is about? The readers?

— Note: I am actually not disparaging those writers who are following a detailed marketing plan, turning out books on a schedule and offering reliable plot lines to an audience who turns to them expecting one thing and getting that one thing reliably. I think that’s a smart business and I’m disinclined to suggest that I might not try it at some point, too. After all, this is meant to be a living and if there is money to be made, I do not think less of those who have figured out how to make it. But that’s another post. Today I’m looking instead at those practicing a craft, an art. And yes, I think writers can do both. —

If traditional publishing offers statistics like these stating that most writers sell fewer than 500 books, I think I’ve chosen correctly. I’m not Stephen King or even Amanda Hocking… but I have had a steady 1 or 2 sales a day since I published my collection. No, it won’t make me rich. But I will tell you that it has made me astoundingly happy. And when the book was free through KDP? More than 1500 downloads. That’s a wider audience than I could have hoped for through traditional means, I believe.

Anyway, this all comes from my frustration at being barred from competing my short story collection in any of the literary awards competitions meant to reward a debut effort by a new writer. My book, bound and edited professionally as it is, full of stories that I beat myself up over for endless nights, is invisible to the lofty literati who control these awards. Until there is an allowance for self-published work to be regarded alongside (or at least judged against) traditionally published work, there will always be a divide between the two sides of publishing. And I believe that it’s this kind of exclusion that leads the more traditional thinkers to look down upon those of us who simply didn’t want to wait to offer our hearts to the world.

Perhaps the work should be allowed to stand on its own? Why not let us new kids try? The worst that can happen is that you find a new voice to applaud. Perhaps you’ll get to shake your heads sadly as you read self-published entrants to these competitions and say to yourselves, “We were right…” Wouldn’t that make you happy? Wouldn’t you feel such joy of vindication? Then you can write scholarly articles for each other about how right you were!

What do you think?

The Downfalls of Self-Publishing

I don’t want to give the impression that this publishing my book on my own was a bad experience. In general, I have been overwhelmed (in a very positive way) with the reception that I’ve received from unknown readers on Amazon. Some of the reviews have been stunning to me, and the reviews I’ve received from family and friends have been equally amazing. In some ways, publishing your own work is a bit like coming out. (Okay, not like I actually know what it’s like to come out. Notice I did say “a bit”…) I found that I had to reveal myself to people who believed that they knew me well. I had to admit some things that were hard, because there is no way to escape the fact that parts of these stories are autobiographical. (I’m not sayin’ which parts, y’all.) But those who know me well will see right through the characters I’ve created to act out my own dramas. And it’s also hard to admit that this is something I’m doing. That I’m serious about it. That it means…everything to me. Because if one of those trusted friends or family members casts disparaging words or thoughts my way… it just might break my heart. But that hasn’t happened.

What has happened is this: I’ve realized that the fiction awards in this country do not recognized self-published work. So that can be good or bad. I’m proud of this work, and I’d like to imagine that it might have a shot at recognition through some of the notable “first work published” awards out there. (See Poets & Writers for a listing). But every single one of the awards that acknowledges a first collection of stories published stipulates that self-published work does not qualify. I can see why they’ve established that rule… or why they did originally. But perhaps it’s time for the old guard to acknowledge that writers today are making a choice. It is probably quite arrogant to say that I believe I could have found a small press to publish my collection, making me eligible for all of the awards I revere. But I’ve said it, so it’s out there. But I wanted to put something OUT there. I wanted to push this off and let if have a life of its own, see if it could swim. I didn’t want to wait months on end for the favor of a response to my queries. I didn’t want to wait months on end for the slow grinding publishing wheels to turn. And so I did it myself. And I’ve essentially made these stories – of which I am so proud – completely null in the eyes of any critics who might bestow upon them an award that would garner some recognition for my work.

I’m not saying that I think I am award-worthy. I am saying that not even having the opportunity to find out is disappointing. And I’m saying that maybe it’s time that the stodgy traditionalists wake up and smell the new reality of publishing. Even some good writing is going to be self-published from here on out, folks. Deal with it.

Through A Dusty Window – One More Day

It’s been great fun watching the numbers on Amazon climb as my book has been free for Kindle for the last three days. The site today says that almost 1500 books were downloaded as part of the promotion. I may have made a bit of an oopsie today by uploading new cover art, thinking that the change wouldn’t affect the book’s availability… still not sure about that, since the number’s stalled since I hit “submit.” Note to self: next time, wait until “free” promotion is over before making changes. Duh. This world of internet instant gratification makes that kind of restraint difficult…

The book is still at number five on Amazon’s historical fiction list (for free ebooks) and number four for short stories… It’s heady thinking that there are quite that many people out there reading something that all started with me, sitting here.

Thanks for all those who’ve been reading and reviewing – the feedback and support have been exciting.

Oh, one more thing! Through a Dusty Window was featured on freebooksy.com – check it out!

And in case you’re new here… don’t worry, soon I’ll quit talking about what I’ve already done… there are many more things in the works!