Cry Me a River…

Nothing, I mean nothing, grinds my gears like squandered opportunities. I joined the Army for a chance at a real life, and I went from dropping out of high school and sleeping on a couch while making $5/hr as a dishwasher to being a noncommissioned officer and combat veteran, a business owner and a publishing author with a gorgeous wife, three beautiful children and two clean, reliable vehicles (not base-model, either). People thank me for my service all the time, and I get that, but I’ve received at least as much as I’ve been given. Nonetheless, most of it hasn’t been handed to me. I’ve had to work for it. And I preach that all the time to my soldiers, too.

So, when I see something like this on Facebook, via a fellow author, it almost makes me rage-vomit. This lady sold a book for a $200,ooo advance and now all she has to show for it is a woe-is-me blog about how quick the money went and how in debt/screwed she’s been since. I probably can’t even mention online what I’d do for the opportunity she was granted! Several things stick out to me as things that any sane person should be able to realize on their own:

She’s Living in New York Frickin’ City. Hell-to-the-NO. Throughout the article she references the stupid amount of rent her apartment costs (around $700/mo more than I pay for my three-bedroom, three-bath townhome). Mind you, she didn’t have a full-time job paying for this. What she made in a year at her part-time job wouldn’t even cover the year’s rent. She blew her advance money, in part, on it.  The same money she could have spent on relocating to a more affordable part of the country and keeping afloat until she could find the sort of employment that would pay the bills while still giving her the freedom to write on the side. You always hear people complain that they wish they could move, but don’t have the money, right? She had the damn money. Moving away from everything you know can be somewhat of a problem when you’re…

Lacking in Independence. Three huge things stick out in my mind from her article, two of which are interconnected. She borrows copious amounts of money from her boyfriend and moves in with him (which doesn’t stop her from being totally selfish when he asks her if his family can stay a few days…hell, I wouldn’t have even asked, if I was paying the bills). She mentions at one point how nice it is to have access to a car again when he gets back from a work trip. Aaaaand…here’s the kicker–she doesn’t know how to drive! Thirty years old and doesn’t know how to drive! You have to be independent in order to take advantage of opportunities. She could have moved somewhere less expensive and started a new life as a six-figure author…hell, that money could have kept her job-free for three or four years in the right place, and who knows what kind of creative momentum she could have picked up in that time. But she can’t even drive a bloody car. However, this didn’t stop her from…

Taking Care of Others When She Can’t Even Take Care of Herself. She has this cat. It has health problems, to the tune of several grand. Guess where a bunch of that money went? You guessed it. I have a family member who’s on disability. Never seen her work a day of my life. She doesn’t have money for all sorts of things, but she has six cats (at least) and when one dies, she pays a decent chunk of change to have it cremated. When you’re establishing yourself, you need to worry about yourself for awhile. Not saying you should be cold and heartless all the time, or blow off a legitimate need for help from a friend or loved one, but for Bob’s sake don’t create problems for yourself.  I’ll bet the cat’s medical issues would barely have made a dent–she could have budgeted for them, in fact–had she taken the initial step of using a bit of that cash to leverage herself into a better living situation in the first place.

So, yeah. Very frustrating article to read, especially when I know so many great creators, and the statistics show most of them won’t be offered what this lady pissed away ever in their lifetimes.


Trouble in the Heartland!

trouble in the heartlandLast summer, I was invited to contribute to an anthology of crime stories inspired by the music of Bruce Springsteen. I’m pleased to announce that my offering, “Born to Run,” will be the first published Crisler fiction of 2014.

It will also be my first published piece of military-inspired genre fiction.

This may surprise those of you familiar with my work and/or background. I’m in the military. I’ve seen combat a couple times. I started writing seriously during my second deployment. I write about some pretty scary things. You’d think I’d have tapped this particular vein a few times since 2006.

I’ve pretty much steered clear of the military in my writing because I write for the same reason many people read: for escape. I already do the military during the day (and often at night, and on weekends…you get the idea). So, while I’m grateful to be employed in the service of my nation and to provide for my family with a job that also supports my creative efforts, it just seemed like a good idea to separate the two halves of my life.

This time, though, I couldn’t write the kind of story I needed to without drawing on that part of myself. I mean, we’re talking about Bruce Springsteen here. I don’t see myownself as a patriotic icon, but the US military as a whole certainly is. And so is Bruce. I’d like to think that my contribution to Trouble in the Heartland, about a soldier who falls in love with a girl (online, while deployed, just like I did!) and takes action when things are jerked out from under him, is a story Springsteen himself could write a song about.

And I’m especially stoked that I’ll be joining a table of contents that includes Dennis Lehane, Les Edgerton and Chuck Wendig, along with my pal Brian Panowich and his Zelmer Pulp partners Chuck Regan, Chris Leek, Isaac Kirkman and Ryan Sayles.



QUEEN & Other Stories Cover Art and Sampler! (UPDATED!)

(UPDATE: This book has been picked up by a publisher and is scheduled for publication in April. I will be filling the pre-orders received through the fundraiser at that time. I really appreciate all the effort that went into helping me put this together as a self-pub project, and am very excited about working with the publisher, as well!)

It’s been live on the pre-order page for a while now, but I’ve been too busy to update the site. This is the finalized wraparound cover for the paperback version of QUEEN & Other Stories by the wonderful AD Roland (click to enlarge). In addition, I’ve created a sampler with the opening pages of the collection’s first five stories, for those interested in flipping some pages before they buy. You can do that here. Long-time readers may be familiar with two previous, slim volumes collecting some of my short work, but this will be my first novel-length collection.



Web Design and Blogging Advice for Writers

Originally written in 2008, reblogged due to a recent social media discussion regarding websites/blogs for authors. I don’t think any of this is out of date, and if any of my readers have something to add, feel free to do so in the comments!


Every so often I’m in a position to give advice to writers who are either newer to the game than myself or who simply don’t have as much web experience as I do. I gave an exhaustive crash course to a fellow Arctic Wolf author yesterday via instant messenger so I figured now is as good a time as any to put down what I know in an easily accessible format that I can link people to.

Disclaimer: This is what I do. It works for me. It might not be your Gospel truth, but take what you need and forget about the rest. I do know what I’m talking about, though; I’ve been an IT professional since 2000 and an amateur web designer since 1997. My site will never be the flashiest or most cutting-edge; I don’t have any use for that stuff. It is, however, an effective marketing tool. These lessons have been learned through trial and error; my writing site alone has undergone 4-5 revisions since 2006.

  • Get Thee a Domain Name and Webhost. Or if you’re really not tech-savvy, at least get the domain name and redirect it to that free website you have. What sounds better, looks better on your biography, etc.? http://lincolncrisler.freewebs.com or http://lincolncrisler.com? Your name is your brand. People could see my name somewhere online or in a bookstore and find my website by taking a guess. “I don’t have money for that,” you say. That’s ok; I’m the cheapest guy on the face of the earth. Just ask my wife. I pay $35 a YEAR for my domain name and webhost at TinyHosts.Com. That’s for the URL, webspace and email. If you can’t afford that, you should be reading this instead.
  • Consolidate Thy Site. My first author site had three pages; one each for biography, news and links to stories. My second had five; I added two pages of stuff I can’t I can’t remember but sounded good at the time. My latest page has one, for all intents and purposes; yeah, there’s links to excerpts from my books and a little note to readers of my blog, but you don’t need to read any of that to know about my work. Links to my books, interviews I’ve done, what I’m reading/watching now, biography… all of it’s available in the sidebar of my site. I used to have a webpage AND a blog. My blog got almost no hits, for reasons I’ll get into further in a minute, but the biggest reason is: Who the Hell wants to weed through five pages of website AND a blog belonging to a relatively unknown small-press author? Once I had that revelation, it was simple; my blog is now my site, and everything else anyone needs to know about me is right there on the side of the page.
  • Make Thy Website/Blog Interesting. The dude I was helping the other day had nothing on his blog but posts about reviews of his book and interviews he’s done. The links on his sidebar consisted almost solely of places to buy his book. All that stuff is important, yeah, but no one is going to find your site on a search engine if all your content is about YOU. Unless they already know you; but you’re trying to reach new readers, right? Blog about your life. Show thumbnails of funny webcomics you like. Review books and/or movies of interest to people who might read your work. Have links to stuff like that in your sidebar. The most-read ten posts on my site include reviews of work by Brian Keene and Cormac McCarthy, a political rant, a funny IM prank script and a recipe for some chicken. Also in that top ten are my Dear Reader note, the excerpts from both of my books and an essay I wrote on the virtues of paying markets vs. 4TheLuv markets. What does that mean? The additional content brings in readers, and they do stick around to learn more about your work.
  • Optimize Thy Site. Use categories on your blog. Use tags on your posts. They help search engines direct people to your site. Honestly. I had the opportunity to guest-blog at A Bunch of Wordz a few months back, and since it’s a more widely-read site than my own and it’s run on WordPress like my own, I took the opportunity to analyze their statistics to see how they get so many hits a day. I spent an hour a day for almost a week adding tags to my entire backlog of posts and now I make sure to add them to every new post I make. My statistics also look as filled-out as A Bunch of Wordz’ these days.
  • The Bottom Line. I revamped my site in April of this year. That is, I scrapped my five-page website, switched over to just using my blog, installed WordPress on my webhost (and WordPress’ll even do that for you for FREE if you’re not tech-savvy) and went wild. That month I netted 173 hits for the month, and I called that good. In May I had 323 hits, and 572 in June. It’s nine days into July and I already have 175 hits; that’s more than the whole month of April landed me. Do the math.

Hope this helps. Drop me a line in the comments section with any additional advice, hate mail, etc.


Pre-order QUEEN & Other Stories!

I am now taking pre-orders for QUEEN & Other Stories, a novel-length collection of my horror and dark science fiction work which includes selections from my two previous small-press short story collections, pieces that made their debut in various anthologies, a handful of no longer available Amazon shorts and, of course, some brand new works. The thirteen short stories and one novella include:

  • Tradition: A widow and a group of her late husband’s friends take a stab at a cathartic hunting trip in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse.
  • Old Stooping Lugh: Irish and Italian gangsters run afoul of an ancient Celtic deity in 1920′s Boston.
  • Nice to Matter: The secret origin of a superhero cop’s prostitute sidekick.
  • The Bad Place: A little girl discovers the secret behind her brother’s disappearance–and an outlandish time-travel plan to save her from their abusive father that might do more harm than good.
  • Queen: A middle-aged woman in a frigid marriage discovers her experimental age-defying treatment may be something more than skin deep.

QUEEN & Other Stories will be self-published. I expect the Kindle version to go live in January, followed by the paperback edition in March. I’m taking pre-orders through Indiegogo, but I consider this to be more of a traditional pre-order than a fundraiser–there won’t be any crazy perks, just ways to order different editions of the book and either get them before anyone else or have them signed. My sole nods in the direction of bells and whistles are a Book Club package including a one-hour Skype chat, and my donation of ten percent of any money raised above my goal to the Horror Writers’ Association‘s Hardship Fund.

I’ll be using the funds raised to pay a cover artist and publicist, and to purchase copies of the book for sale at conventions and local signings. Though I’ve been published traditionally since 2006, I’ve had the occasional flirtation with self-publishing and want to finally take the plunge with a full-length, single-author work. Success in this venture will lead to more efforts of this nature, to include novella and full-length novel releases. Even if you can’t afford to purchase a copy, please consider sharing the link with your social networks.