Houses of the Broken and Other Stories

Posts tagged “publishing

Technically Writing

I miss my woodchippers. I truly do.

I’ve been writing my fingers off in recent months but it doesn’t feel like it because it hasn’t been anything ‘fun’. Agent queries, product specifications, legal transactions… yes, I’ve been trapped in the world of technical writing and it just makes me yearn for the greener page all the more.

Some frivolity of tossing ne’er do well bodies in the ‘chipper could do me some good. Not to mention the question of what’s in the ‘meat’ that has everyone going crazy for it? The muse is demanding 80 degree days and fish bowl size tropical drinks heavy on the pineapple and rum. I would love to indulge her, but the Great Lakes region is not so forgiving.

In the mean time, the morning commute behind the local woodchipper service serves as a good reminder of what’s waiting for me on the other side.

Maybe soon I’ll be sharing exciting agent news! At least for now I know I’m official as the rejections come piling in. Until then… we wait.

Advertisements

Waiting for the Door to Close.

The submission deadline is almost up for those of us throwing our hat in to the ring for ABNA 2014. I’ve been curiously watching to see if the submissions would fill up early, but much like last year, it appears they’re not going to… or at least it will come down so close to the wire, we won’t know if they truly hit 10k or not.

I have lots of questions about the process of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards… but there’s no true way to really quantify things. How many submissions do they really get? What’s the initial break down in categories? From what I’ve found there’s no true way to know, short of taking a survey of people willing to post in the forums. I think knowing the raw numbers alone would be helpful in figuring out market segments, and where to focus effort as you craft future work.

This is probably why they don’t tell us.

But maybe it’s better that way. A little vague competition keeps everyone wondering and makes it harder to work the system. For now, tonight marks the beginning of the real wait. I’m more patient than last year because I have a better idea of how things go, but I’m still insanely curious to see how far my submission goes this year.

Once again, I submitted Houses of the Broken. Last year HoTB made it to the Quarter Finals, but no further. In truth, I was pretty pleased for it being my first attempt. With nearly the same material as I submitted last year, I am more curious about seeing if I get the same results, than I am hedging my bets on my chance at winning.

Will I get kicked out at the Pitch stage? Maybe never make it past the second cut? I have little illusion that I’ll go ‘all the way’ but… you never know. Good readers having bad days can send your submission into the circular file. And bad readers… well… we all seem to get at least one.

Last year the one that made me chuckle the most was the review complaining about my use of ‘language.’ Serial killers? No problem. Child abuse? Whatever. F-word? Oh my stars, you vile little girl…

We all have our triggers, I suppose.

So now… well, soon… we wait. In the mean time I need to try and keep busy with other things, because I officially have no control over my fate until the dust settles.

Patience is not my virtue.


Formatting a plan.

I pride myself on thinking ahead. It’s my blessing and my curse.

When I decided to self-publish for the first time, I had what many new writers had. A nicely formatted manuscript. Take the data from manuscript to print-ready resource took some time and effort, but in the end all was well. As I tinkered and tweaked, and caught typos, I reloaded the CreateSpace file more times than I can count before it was finally, truly, done. All was right with the world.

It’s a little less than a year later, and the need for a nice, clean manuscript has arisen. It’s now time for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award – 2014 edition. But guess what… the final edits? They’re all in proper book print format.

Formatting a manuscript is hard enough. “Un-formatting” a manuscript is a a good way to drive yourself insane. It’s amazing how many things are just different enough between the manuscript and the print template. Reverse engineering into a publisher friendly format takes a methodical mindset and a chunk of time without distraction.

How do we combat this in the future? In truth, there’s no real good way I can think of. There are still going to be tweaks to the final print files. There’s no way around it. That means maintaining both a fully up to date manuscript AND a fully up to date print file. It’s a recipe for disaster but in the long run I think it might be better than reverse engineering things down the road. Of course, this only applies if you want to submit your work to something that requires a traditional manuscript format. If you’re content with self-publishing, problem solved!

As my next work in progress hits editing and formatting, I’m going to keep in mind the backwards slide that happened with the first one and strive to do as much editing as possible in the manuscript format. But I know there will be tinkers. And tweaks. And things that don’t look quite right once I see it in a proof.

But for now, the lesson has been learned. My manuscript is official in for ABNA 2014, and let’s hope that the effort to re-convert it can also be used for sending out queries. Yes, I’m taking the step of trying to find an agent, but I’ll still self publish if that doesn’t work.

File management has never been so important.


The Heat is in the Tools

Presently I have two very big influences in my life. One is trying to get my writing persona established and off of the ground, the other is a massive restore-o-vation of the very old farmhouse I live in. Neither are for the faint of heart. It takes a special kind of crazy to face insurmountable odds and go “Eh… what’s the worst that can happen?”

Life evolves. There’s no two ways around it. Things that were important one day, may not be so important the next. Likewise, something you never thought to be a consideration maybe become the burning desire that spurs you to action. Between renovation and writing I have found a few simple truths.

1. Each one is a lot of work.

2. If I don’t do it, no one will.

3. The heat is in the tools.

#3, obviously being the entire point of this exercise, is the important factor here. Maybe you’re wondering what exactly it could mean, in either context. The answer is fairly simple: Activity keeps you sharp (and warm).

When you’re ripping apart a 160 year old house in the dead of winter, you start to appreciate the concept of movement. To stand still is to be cold. There is no progress. There is no warmth. There is an overwhelming urge just to give up. Too hard. Too cold.  Too dark. Your mind becomes your own worst enemy. Before long you have yourself talked into a nice coffee shop and a cup of coco. But the cave remains, haunting your moments of relaxation and warmth. Only when hammer hits wall do you meet true feelings of satisfaction.

That work in progress is the same way. Be it marketing or manuscripts, sitting and staring blankly at things on results in cold frustration. I like to mull things over, but if it goes too long ambition starts to flag. Ideas fall by the wayside. And it’s just plain easier not to. To write is to work. The catch to being a writer is: you have to write. Even the best imagination imagination in the world can’t call themselves a writer if they don’t put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard.)

It’s hard, but the best thing to do is keep hammering away. Even when you’re tired. Even when you’re bored. Even when you think you don’t have time to spare. (And yes, I am trying to convince myself of this as well!)

It’s the only way to knock those walls down and build something great.


Upcoming Events for September and October 2013

Finally some solid links for the upcoming events! I’ve been busy making connections, and Fall 2013 is starting to get booked.

September 14, 2013 from 1pm – 3pm I will be having a book signing at the Erie Book Store. The event listing can be found on Facebook.

October 18 – 20, 2013 at the Warner Theater in Erie, PA I also having a booth at the Eerie Horror Film Fest. Come keep this ghoul company during 3 days and 3 nights of reckless horror abandon. In addition to books, there will be some teasers for my upcoming works and the opportunity to see some of the work of Shane Montross, first hand!


Coming in to the light.

My first book signing has been confirmed! September 14th, I will be having a signing at the Erie Book Store. I am both excited and anxious.

Up to now I’ve kept my identity… obscured… in my publications. There are a variety of reasons, but most of them come back to my day job and the potential clash of realities.

There is the question of who I want to be. Who am I? This part of me? It’s not the part that sits pushing technical documents around 8 hours a day. It’s not the part of me that’s expected to be responsible, reasonable and a good example at all times. It’s my artistic side. The side that gets to flex her mind, think outside the box and stir up mischief. The side that gets paid for pushing people into woodchippers. <spoilers>

How do I bring what’s inside, out?

“I am me.” That’s a phrase I often used in adolescences to give myself solace that being different might not be such a bad thing. But the truth is that on the surface, I’m not so different; just your ordinary, average office worker. Nothing to see here. But that’s not who I want to be, that’s who I’m expected to be.

So what’s a girl to do when the facets of her identity are at odds with each other? How do I show who I am and not the facade I’m expected to maintain on a daily basis?

If anyone has some suggestions, I’m all ears…


Shameless Self Promotion

I’m not good at tooting my own horn. Sitting quietly and observing is much more my style. It’s what allows me to take in the world around me and paint it on to the page. But with self-publishing, the responsibility of self-promotion falls squarely on my shoulders.

Posting on websites is a fairly passive, low risk venue to get your name out there. Every day I find a new venue I should be using. A little time, and I can happily work through the websites.

But now I’m looking at a book signing. There is a book store here that loves to promote local authors. Once I get a schedule figured out, it will be full steam ahead. I’m going to have to smile, talk to strangers, probably prepare an elevator speech just to be on the safe side, and gather my promo materials. It’s both exciting and nerve wracking, especially for someone like me who likes to be over-prepared.

My mind is swirling with ‘what ifs’ and all of the things I’ve ‘heard’ you should do. I’m sure it will turn out fine, but figuring everything out is half the fun.


Hitting expanded distribution and feeling reflective.

Houses of the Broken is starting to hit the expanded distribution network. Now available at Barnes and Noble online!

Houses of the Broken at B&N

I spent so much time at Barnes and Noble in my formative literary years, I had every section memorized. It’s where we went to talk, to learn, to browse, to sample all of the exotic music you couldn’t find just anywhere. It was the first bookstore/cafe in our area, and we drank it up. I still wish they made the Italian Cream Sodas I grew to love… every so often I feel nostalgic. This was before Borders, before Starbucks and before books came inside slabs of silicone.

Giddily, we’d walk down the aisles of our favorite sections, looking for new covers we hadn’t seen before, enticing us to touch them, heft them and see how the pages felt flipping through our fingers. At that age it was probably best that I had to be thrifty with my money. I had to choose… carefully… what next adventure I wanted to take home with me. I rarely left empty handed, if I had a choice.

I admit, I still like the feel of a trade paperback. Hardcovers are nice, but just too pristine. The paperback, ideally one that fits in your pocket, is a great companion. It goes everywhere with you, there to quell your boredom or sooth the anxiety while waiting for something unpleasant. The tattered edges growing dark from use and life experience. Favorite pages creased from being read again, and again, and committed to a memory always held close to the heart.

But now we have iPhone and Google for that…


And now on Kindle! … I hope.

With any luck my newly posted Kindle book will behave.  I say luck because it took 2 of us working on multiple attempts to even get close to some consistent formatting. I don’t know where the ‘easy’ button was for this transition, but they sure hid it well.

Only when researching in the depths of the forums did the real truth come out… complications. Formatting issues. Shifting images and line spacing… Even now, while it looked good on the preview, I still can’t be truly… perfectly sure… that it will look right on the various devices and formats…

So I’ll cross my fingers and share the link… the content is there… if only it looked pretty…

Houses of the Broken on Kindle


Createspace on your shelf for me!

See what I did there?

I’ve been sitting on pins and needles since the launch of Houses of the Broken last week. To put it mildly, I’ve learned a lot. It’s been interesting watching how Createspace and Amazon handle the publishing, and sales. And torturous as to how long it takes for sales to report from the various outlets.

Every day I check my ‘sales’ list, and my Amazon ranking. Some days I’m happy, some days I’m said, some days I’m just plain confused. I need to get a better media blitz together, but it’s difficult when no one returns your inquiries… I could argue back from a ‘no,’ flat out ignoring is a lot harder.

In many ways, it’s what I expected: It’s a lot of work. It’s a leap of faith. It’s not great for immediate gratification or questionable self esteem. And Kindle formatting… good grief. Don’t let the ‘it’s easy as pie!’ sales speech from CS or Amazon fool you. If you have a formatted file for a print book… be prepared to completely reformat it. This is still a work in progress and I even have people to help. I’m already wondering if the $69 fee to convert it in CS might have been worth it… but I’m the stubborn sort, and I like to know how things work for myself. So… Kindle version will be out… eventually… Besides, spreading out the action should be good… I think.

For now, I’m keeping an eye on the sales numbers vs. the number of copies that are showing up in people’s hands. If they don’t match, I’m not going to be a happy camper and that will lead to a whole other series of blog posts in the future. But for now… I must wait.

Take a chance on me!