Since enrolling in Select six months ago, my monthly sales have gone from around $50/per month, to surpassing my day job income in three of the last four months. I’ve reached thousands of new readers by enrolling in this program (Kindle Select–ed.), and these readers have, in turn, bought my other works.
Depending on how quickly you work, I think it’s vital to come out with new material at LEAST every few months. Debuting new material allows you to promote it and simultaneously call attention to your other works. I’m aiming for new stuff every other month. I’m not necessarily talking a new novel every other month – it can be as small as a new short story.
Author’s Note: Here’s another bit from the archives for you. I screwed up earlier this year and lost several months of blog entries, and this is another of them. As I’ve been doing periodically already, I’ll continue to post such material as I rediscover it, in my Facebook Notes, on my hard drive, etc.
L-R: Wrath James White, Me, Hank Schwaeble, Joe Lansdale, Adam Coats, Sandra Wickham, Brian Keene, Weston Ochse
A few weeks ago, I had the honor of sitting on a panel on Killing and Violence in Fiction with Wrath James White, Hank Schwaeble, Joe Lansdale, Adam Coats, Sandra Wickham, Brian Keene and Weston Ochse at the World Horror Convention. I’d known for a couple weeks that I’d be on the panel, and I did what anyone in my position would do when graced with such knowledge: I freaked the hell out. And then I gave some serious thought to what exactly I would say when the time came.
The panel, as I’ve since learned they often do, went in an entirely different direction than I’d imagined, and I didn’t say as much as I was worried I’d have to. This is for a couple of different reasons; one, the conversation drifted heavily towards the martial arts and while I have some training, I’m not a master or a trainer and don’t know enough to warrant running my mouth. Two, the guys on that panel… when some of them get to talking, I’m going to STFU and listen. But, since I didn’t want all that nervous thinking to go to waste, and this blog doesn’t write itself, here are my thoughts on the subject:
Writers have a responsibility to readers. The degree of responsibility is a matter of debate among some in the industry (see George R.R. Martin is Not Your Bitch, for example), but there are certain commitments that I feel an author makes when one chooses to publish. One is to Not Be a Dick, unless someone just comes out and asks for it. Another is to Be Gracious to Readers and Other Authors Who Are Where You Used to Be (Lord knows I’ve frequently been the beneficiary of this one). A third is to Suspend Disbelief. As a fiction writer, you enable the reader to get lost in your world, or else You’re Doing it Wrong.
As genre authors, we’re already stacking the deck against ourselves. We have to make readers believe in a world where cowboys fight zombies, werewolves exist, serial killers can resurrect their victims, etc. Why complicate matters by doing slipshod research or taking bad shortcuts that some readers are inevitably going to call us on? On the panel, I mentioned an author who sent me a story in which a husband attempted to treat his wife’s head injury with a tourniquet around the neck. We also touched upon the effect of individual rifle calibration on said weapon’s use by a third party. Whether your violence is inflicted by knives, guns, teeth or Kung Fu, the bottom line is Figure Out How it Works For Real. We have to create good fiction from scratch in most cases and hope it resonates, but the facts? We have complete control over the facts. The facts are what they are.
In terms of writing a fight… I look at it as choreography. The fights in movies and in books are staged; staged because we know the characters are going to throw down and in most cases, as creators, we know who’s going to win ahead of time. Creating such an illusion, in film or in prose, requires thought and planning. Think about how the surroundings can affect the fight. Consider such things as momentum and how body parts bend. Think about how long (or short, to be more accurate) a real fight is likely to be.
Also, don’t think of any of this as a limitation. Think of it as freedom, and as a way to make your stories more organic and spontaneous. Take my calibrated assault rifle, for instance. Every soldier goes to the range and calibrates his or her assigned weapon to interact with his or her own visual perception. If a random civilian picks it up, say after it’s dropped in the midst of a fight with zombies, the likelihood of them scoring a headshot on a zombie that’s attacking their friend 100 meters away is unlikely, even if they’re trained in the use of that weapon. If, upon consideration, you decide to have your character use the gun anyway, a far more likely result is that your character will kill or injure their friend instead. This might not be a bad thing. It can result in a plotline or character development that will take you by surprise… and if you’re surprised by your own story, imagine how it will affect the reader! This is the sort of thing writers mean when they talk about stories writing themselves.
I’m living enough life for three people these days; between family/legal stuff, the Army, moving and trying to move forward creatively, I’m feeling a bit like a pat of butter spread across too much bread. I have to admit, life was so much simpler when I was deployed, but all these things that are going on are so GOOD! Besides that, most of them will be finished soon, and it’s not like I’m going through it alone.
First of all is the whole custody thing with my ex over my daughter. That should be settled right before Mother’s Day, which is good because I need things set in stone before I move to Texas. No one in their right mind would want to conduct that kind of business from halfway across country. The end result of the whole matter should be the preservation of my joint legal custody of Abby and granting my summer visitations.
Before I handle that piece of good work, however, I’ll be in court on the 3rd to finalize the adoption of my stepdaughter, Cheyann. This has been a long time in coming; Connie and I have been working on this most of the time we’ve been together, and we had to postpone the actual proceedings due to my deployment. Believe it or not, with competent help it isn’t all that hard to adopt your stepchild, so please, if you’re thinking about taking that step, go for it. It’s not as much of a pain in the ass as I thought it would be.
Also, there’s our move to El Paso. That takes place before the end of the month, and I have all sorts of bullshit to handle before we leave. One thing’s out of the way, at least; Connie and I have secured the lease on a beautiful 4bdr/2.5 bath… I’ll post pictures when we get settled in.
In writing news, I still have about five short works I’m trying to complete; finding time for that is an incredible struggle. Now that I’m home I plan on attacking the pro-mags like Cemetery Dance; I have one in mind that’s right up their alley and the good thing is that it’s well-suited for St. Paddy’s Day, so by the time they read it… heh. Be Strategic, Be Be Strategic! Anyhow…
My weekend Rawked! It started on Thursday night with the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade’s Welcome Home Ball. It was Connie’s first time ever attending such a function, and we had a great time.
Friday was pretty much a laid back day for me, as I had off work. On Saturday Connie, Cheyann and I got to spend the day with Abigail. She’s a lot of fun now that she’s almost three! We got her a haircut, took some family pictures, hung out with my mom, went to lunch and piddled around the mall. Greece Ridge Mall has this old carousel that has been around at least since I was a kid; we went on that, too.
After taking Abby back to her egg donor’s house, I stopped off at Justin’s for a few beers. I blew through five Guinness before Connie called me; she was doing a jewelry show, and there was no way I was sticking around for that!
We had a great night out with some friends, Bob and Cher, had dinner at PF Chang’s (if you’ve never been… GO and try the Lettuce Wraps!) and spent the night at there wonderful house in… Penfield, I believe, or maybe Perinton. They have these wonderful puppies, Prince Charles Cavalier Spaniels. I wants one, I does!
Anyhow, that’s about all from me right now. Keep your eye on Estronomicon and The Late Late Show… both have fiction from yours truly on deck in the near future! Cheers!