Category Archives: Rants

Working Title

I’ve been through several titles for my upcoming book now, and nothing seems to quite have the right feel.  Now, an unpublished book doesn’t need to have those details figured out, so why does it matter?  Is it really important for me to have a title I like right now?  I’m not selling yet, so it’s kind of an unnecessary obsession for me.
This is a problem that I’m sure other writers have; we want everything to be perfect before we’re even ready to submit.  First drafts are no big deal add far as details go, add it doesn’t matter until the draft is actually done.  So why seat the small stuff?
It’s an easy trap to get caught up in,  wondering whether we should self-publish or traditionally publish, and looking into all the details for both options.  This obsession had stolen valuable writing time from me, as I’ve looked into all of these fine details without first having a book to actually sell.
I’m beating myself up a bit over this, as I see myself lagging way behind in my goals. I almost wonder if this is the kind of thing that holds up certain popular series for several years.  (I’m thinking of one in particular as I write this, but I’m not saying who, as he might kill off my favorite character in retaliation.)
This is the idea of the working title: Don’t worry about what you’re going to call it until you’re ready to stay marketing the particular book.  At this time, as I write,  I only need a title from which I can work.  For that matter, I could simply call it “Work in Progress”.
If love to hear what you have to say, dear reader.
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Posted by on June 23, 2013 in Advice, Rants, Update


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Rough Draft

Well, here I am again, trying to write.  I say trying because as I sit in front of my computer my inner editor is trying to make me crazy.  (In case you were wondering, he’s succeeding.)  He says to me “that looks terrible,” and “better go fix that line in chapter 3 to make this work.  He even criticizes my word count.  So here I am asking one simple question; how rough can my rough draft be?  I know that I’ll have to write more drafts, and there will be much editing.  On the other hand, I know from where I am right now that there are certain things that have to change.  So why not fix those things now?

It’s tough to silence the inner editor.  He never seems to let up.  Every time I stay to write, the he is with all sorts of nasty things to say. I know I shouldn’t listen to him, but he doesn’t care.

I wonder, could my rough draft be little more than “this happened, then that happened”? It’s not like anyone’s going to read it anyway. Thus is the nature of the though draft. I can sort out details later, and improve that pesky word count.

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Posted by on March 9, 2013 in Drafts, Editing, Rants


Short Stories

It seems that the short story is back in style, at least for writers.  Every time I look at my Twitter feed I am bombarded with posts about the various short stories that people have written, and I’m just as guilty.  Why not?  Short stories are fun to write, quick to read, and can accumulate quickly.  All said, it seems like a great idea.  Of course, this is the writer in me speaking.  However, there are some distinct advantages to writing a short story or five.

1) Short stories can tie into larger works.

I’ve been enjoying The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.  These stories are not only fun to read, but they also work to build up the characters first introduced in A Study in Scarlet.  They were also written in a time when there was big money in short fiction.  These days it isn’t as common to see such stories, though they do seem to be making a comeback thanks to the eBook.  For examples,  look up John Jackson Miller’s Lost Tribe of the Sith series of short stories, or Lindsay Buroker’s Shaped Over Innocence, which ties into her Emperor’s Edge series.

Another consideration: Even if your short story is never published, you can use it to gain some insight into the world that you’ve created.

2) Short stories are a cure for writers block.

You may have read my short story, The Immortal. If you haven’t, look for it at your favourite eBook retailer or download it at Smashwords. That particular project was a distraction from a larger work that I’m currently working on. I was suffering from a bad case of writers block, and decided to try writing something else to get the creative juices flowing. It worked. Add it turns out, my writers block was nothing more than intimidation related to writing a novel. A smaller project can help alleviate that intimidation.

3) Short stories make for some nice, light reading before bed.

Do I need to build on this? If you read before bed, short stories are great because one can finish the whole story before turning out the bedside lamp. Of course, this isn’t for everyone. Some of you may prefer to read a chapter or two from a medical thriller or fantasy adventure. On the other hand, if a short story is for you, you may have a collection of them on your night table already.

4) There’s no better way to test an author.

Authors and readers alike need to give this some thought. Books, even eBooks, can be expensive. You may not want to spend between $10-$20 on an author that you don’t know. Then there’s the investment in time. A cheap or free short story can solve this issue. I can think of a few books I would not have read of I had read some sort stories from those authors. For the sake of professionalism I won’t mention names, but I have a never-read-again list of authors, add I suspect most do. (In fairness, everyone has their own preferences, and the authors I dislike may be some of your favourites.)

Short stories may not be the master works that everybody wants, but they do serve an important role.


Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Advice, Rants


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New Years Blues

Happy New Year!  Okay, I’ll admit I’m a little late, but the wish still stands.  Why shouldn’t we be happy in the new year?  It’s a time of fresh starts and new beginnings, a time to make a positive change for the future.  Time to lose weight, eat healthier, and quit smoking/drinking/picking on your coworkers etc.  Time for the new you.
Every New Year people around the globe make resolutions regarding things they want to change.  That’s all well and good, but I hope you didn’t go and buy a three-year gym membership thinking it would motivate you, because it won’t.  And that e-cigarette?  You’ll lose it in a month and go back to the real thing.  And don’t get me started on choosing New Years Eve to quit drinking!  The biggest binge-drinking day of the year, and you think it’s going to inspire you to quit?  I don’t think so.
So now what?  Seems hopeless, right?  Bad habits die so hard, and good habits are so hard to develop.  Is there any hope?  Sure.  Don’t make resolutions.  Instead, try making goals that you can achieve.  Personally, I’m aiming for a finished book.  If I mead up by not writing anything for a week I can get back at it and call that week my personal indulgence.  Of course, that only works if I get back to writing, which is the entire point in the first place.
The fact is that anyone can make resolutions, and anyone can promptly break those resolutions.  Anyone can make smaller goals, too, but it’s harder to screw those up.  So, by all means, eat healthier and exorcise, cut back on smoking (or quit if you can), and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.  These are great plans, and anyone can do them.  Me?  I’m gonna get back to writing.

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Posted by on January 5, 2013 in Rants


The “Evils” of the Agency Pricing Model

I received an email not long ago informing me that several publishers may owe me money due to a settlement regarding the agency pricing model.  I’d heard the term before, but – like many others – I didn’t really understand it.  So I did some research.
There are many articles explaining the case from as many different angles as can be found, so I won’t get into details here except to say that the big publishers weren’t happy with Amazon’s pricing for their books, and Apple offered them an alternative.  For some reason, everybody seems to think that this is all about Amazon and Apple.  As someone who deals with neither, I have a different perspective.

Every time I pull out my ereader in public I’m asked “is that a Kindle?”  To which I invariably answer “no”.  I try explaining that there are other brands of ebook readers on the market, and other places to get them besides Amazon.  They don’t get it.  Then I’m asked if it’s an IPad.  I just shake my head.  It seems that we as a society have forgotten that we don’t actually have to buy at the big department stores.  I don’t buy my groceries at Walmart, even though it’s only a few blocks away, and does sell groceries.  Instead, I go to a grocery store.  For books, I go to a book store.  Or I download the ebook.  Some of you are wondering what this has to do with Amazon and Apple.  It’s really very simple; Amazon is basically an online Walmart, and Apple is actually a computer manufacturer, not a major book seller.  But now I’m just splitting hairs.  Or am I?

Consider this; if you shop at Walmart it’s because you know that they have low prices.  They have buying power that other stores simply can’t match,  But they also sell some products at a loss.  That said, they don’t keep all of their prices low at all times.  You have to go in to see what’s on sale that week.  Now consider Amazon.  They sell books real cheap.  In fact, they are selling books – even print books – at a loss.  They can afford to do this because they make money on the up-selling of other products.  This is the difference between a bookstore and a department store.  Bookstores can’t afford to make all of their books cheap, because that is the source of their income.  Now, Walmart isn’t going to set the prices for Barnes and Nobel, but Amazon very well could.  The difference?  Amazon has other product to sell, Barnes and Nobel is primarily a book seller.  That means that they are dependent on book sales to keep afloat.

You may be asking “what does that have to do with agency pricing?”  Did you know that Barnes and Nobel has it’s own ereader?  It’s called the Nook.  “Oh yeah, I think I heard about that one somewhere,” you might say.  Then there is my own ereader of choice – Kobo.  Kobo doesn’t sell anything but ebooks and ereaders.  And they sell the ereaders pretty cheap.  That means that they have to make money off the sale of ebooks.  If they have to follow suit with Amazon, then they will have to sell absolutely all of their product at a loss.  You don’t have to be an economist to know that no business can afford to do that.

So what if nobody can compete with Amazon?  Why can’t we all just buy a Kindle?  This is what we call monopoly, and, unlike the game, it isn’t much fun.  Right now Amazon has to buy ebooks at a set price from publishers, the same as anyone else.  They may sell at a loss, and it’s their problem.  If they were the only option, they could simply tell publishers “we won’t sell your book unless you sell it to us cheaper”.  They could also choose to raise prices for the end user (That’s you, bye the way) to make up for all the money that they lost selling books cheap.  Okay, they might not do that.  But reducing what they’re willing to pay for books?  you bet.  And I do like not having to go to Amazon.  And that’s the real point, isn’t it?  Don’t we want choice?

If you’ve stuck with me this far, you likely think that I’m for high prices.  Not at all.  I think lower prices are great.  I will buy more books if they are cheaper, and so will most readers.  But it should be left to the publishers to realize that lower prices will sell more books.  The market will determine this as indie authors take a larger share of the market simply on account of lower prices.  That said, let’s try to give our potential readers an option by not making our books exclusive to Kindle.  (KDP good, KDP Select bad.)  Try Smashwords, or Lulu.  Kobo, Barnes and Nobel, and Ibooks all have author platforms.  BookBaby distributes to ebook stores that I haven’t listed, as well as the retailers  have.  (Smashwords and Lulu are not retailers, though they do sell books direct to the reader.)

If you think books should be cheaper, then price your books at what you think is a fair price.  Don’t leave it to Amazon to lower prices for you, forcing other sellers out of the market.

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Posted by on November 10, 2012 in Rants


Family Support

Who else has had “supportive” comments from friends and family about plans to write?  Well meaning loved ones give totally unhelpful advice like “make sure you have a way to pay the bills in the mean time,” or “You’ll probably get rejected a lot before you make your first sale.”  While both of these qualify as good advice, it’s not what I want to hear when I tell people I know and love that I am putting blood, sweat and tears into work that will – once finished – be edited, rewritten, and the process repeated until there is something worthy to sell to the public.  What I would rather hear is “That’s great!’ or “good luck.”  Even “I hope that works for you” would be more supportive than a reminder of the struggles we will through until and unless the finished book takes off.

What is it about hopes and dreams that makes loved ones act this way?  If they know you, they ought to know if you are realistic enough to not quit your day job without having a bunch  of money coming in by other means.  As for the likely rejections, there’s so much information out there regarding the likelihood of rejection that one voice isn’t going to make any difference.  Maybe these loved ones just feel the need to put in their two cents?  Or, perhaps they really want you to give up, but don’t want to look like the bad guy?  I really don’t know.  Still, I get it from just about everyone I know, except at work.  Then again, I work in retail.  Everyone I work with has some kind of side gig, and will quit as soon as it takes off.  These people will actually offer good advice that will help me get my book off the ground.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the best advice will come from people who are asking the same questions you are.  People with no dreams can’t really help you with yours, but people with great dreams of their own will join you on your quest in hopes that you will both be made better for it.

If this has been helpful, please comment.  You may also comment if you think I’m full of beans.  Either way, I’m looking forward to you.

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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Advice, Rants


Sci-fi/Fantasy? Really?

Okay, I’m going to start with a rant.  Why a rant?  Because it’s my blog, and I’ll rant if I want to.  Do I tell you what to do on your blog?  I could, but you wouldn’t have to listen to me.  Likewise, you can tell me what to do on my blog with no obligation on my part to listen.  But I digress.

I’d like to talk today about the designation of Science Fiction and Fantasy as a combined genre.  This never really made sense to me.  I mean, really, do we not know the difference between science and magic?  Is there no distinction in our minds between the theoretically possible and the absolutely impossible?

It’s like Sci-Fi and Fantasy are the unwanted children of literature.  They don’t even get there own rooms, and, instead, have to share a room away from the other children.

Don’t get me wrong, Sci-Fi and Fantasy can play together quite nicely.  Star Wars is a fine example of that.  There was magic (the force), a black knight (Darth Vader), an evil sorcerer (the emperor, another fantasy element.  That’s two for one.), all set in a futuristic setting, even though it’s set “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”.  That said, you could set a murder mystery in the far flung future just as easily.

You may disagree, and that is your right. As I stated before, I can rant if I want to. It’s my opinion, after all.

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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Rants

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