We all talk about what we like to read, but what about what we don’t? Not to be negative, but there are just some kinds of books I don’t enjoy and cannot seem to get through no matter how hard I try or how many people encourage me to read them.

1. Erotica

Yeah, just no. Maybe it’s my prudish, religious upbringing, but I don’t want intense descriptions of sex in my books. This is why I like Regency romances (and why I’ve started writing them, too). I have many friends who write and read erotica, and more power to them. Just not for me.

2. Cyberpunk

Okay, so I took a science fiction and fantasy lit course in grad school, and I discovered I just can’t make myself read cyberpunk or hard sci-fi. We were supposed to read Snow Crash, which so many people say is brilliant, and I don’t know if I ever made it past the first chapter? Like, I’ve totally blocked it from memory, and everything William Gibson too. It’s like my brain repels these books like ducks do water. I dunno.

3. Epic Fantasy

I love fantasy! Except I can’t read the kind where there are a dozen characters and twenty books and I’m expected to keep track of ALL THE THINGS. It’s not that I don’t have brain space—I manage to remember really stupid bits of trivia all the time. But there’s something about . . . I don’t know if it’s the writing style or what, but all these pseudo-medieval worlds with names and kings and fiefs and elves and poor peasant boys being sent on quests . . . I tried to read Robert Jordan, tried to read George R.R. Martin, and just nope. Can watch Game of Thrones, no problem, but I can’t read it.

What about you? Any types of books you wish you could read but for whatever reason can’t? It’s not even a matter of not liking something, it’s like a brain block that refuses to absorb the content. If so, tell me about it in the comments!

It occurred to me the other day that being an indie author these days is a bit like a never-ending popularity contest.

I only say this because so many online sites where indie authors are featured have contests where the author has to try and get friends, family, readers to vote for their books. So instead of a book being judged on its own merits, or an author being judged on ability, it’s really the author being judged on how many people he or she can muster.

And when agents these days insist on an established platform, what they’re really asking is, “How popular are you?”

Sites that demand you have a certain number of reviews or a minimum star rating before they feature your book—they’re asking you to prove your popularity.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve never been popular. I don’t think I was unpopular in school, either, just sort of quiet and people left me alone. Which works well enough for me being a writer, but not so well when I’m trying to market myself. Or when “popularity” is the deciding factor in whether my book wins an award or an agent signs me.

Life is not a meritocracy. It’s a shame, but true. It turns out gold stars are not for stellar work; they’re given to the students the teachers like the most for whatever reason. Same goes for job promotions. You don’t have to be the one who is really good at the job, just the one other people like.

Alas, in school they don’t teach you how to get other people to like you. Feels like a missed opportunity, doesn’t it? “How to be Popular” would be a full course every term, I bet.

Maybe I should grab a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People . . .

InsecureWritersSupportGroup It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Read and support writers by clicking here, and if you’re a writer you can also join!

Writer’s block is what has me insecure this month. I simply can’t seem to make headway with the Changers sequel, and that’s causing a certain amount of anxiety in me. I’ve got a little over 20k words written, and now I’m well and truly stuck. I’ve tried just writing through it, but no. I’ve outlined, so I know where I need to go, I just feel like a wagon with its wheels in the mud. I’ve considered skipping the chapter I’m on and writing the rest, but I can’t work that way—I’m a linear writer. I’ve dabbled with other projects on the side, but I know this book needs to get finished, and that’s probably making things that much worse. *headdesk* Anyone else want to write this book for me?

Question of the Month: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Uh, I’ve pulled out some old stuff now and then and looked at it. I’ve even thought, I should do something with this. And then I never do. I don’t know why. In particular, I would like to rework my Master’s thesis, which was a middle grade historical fantasy. It’s on my list of project, but I don’t know if or when I’ll ever actually be ready to tackle it.

I read an article yesterday about how authors who publish 4+ books in a year may be rushing things a bit. There’s a link to the article on my Facebook page, along with my remarks on the subject; I’m not going to re-discuss it here. Instead, the article made me wonder: What was the most I’d published in any given year?

Now, I recently wrote about how 2012 is the year I consider my first “real” year as a writer. But it actually wasn’t the first year I published anything. Here, then, is a chronological list of my publications:

2000

  • “A Day in the Life of a Moderately Successful Writer” and “The Snake”—each short pieces—appeared in Dingbat #4.

I wouldn’t publish anything again until

2004

  • “Haiku 101” appeared in The Aurorean
  • “There Was an Old Woman…” appeared in Rosebud

Both of the above are poems. But also

  • “A.B.C.” (short story) appeared in Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine

Then I had another break before

2008

  • I put the first edition of The World Ends at Five and Other Stories on Lulu.

And since I apparently take four-year breaks

2012

  • “Warm Bodies” is produced—twice—which isn’t quite the same thing as a publication, but kind of?
  • I publish “St. Peter in Chains”
  • I publish “Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Last Line”
  • I publish “Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of Ichabod Reed”
  • I re-release The World Ends at Five and Other Stories on Amazon with a new flash fiction piece

Okay, so 2012 wins hands down as the year I put out the most stuff. But three of those pieces are short pieces and one is a re-release. And does the play count? I’d actually written it the year before.

But here is where I also begin to put out work more regularly rather than having the big hiatuses.

2013

  • I publish The K-Pro

2014

  • “Warm Bodies” is adapted into the short film Adverse Possession. Yeah, not a publication, but… still a thing. That happened. That year.

2015

  • I publish “Sherlock Holmes and the Monumental Horror”

2016

  • Tirgearr publishes The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller
  • Evernight Teen publishes Manifesting Destiny
  • Aurora Wolf publishes my short story “Aptera”

2017

  • I publish Brynnde

So there it is, at least so far. I’m a pretty slow writer. I can put out a few stories a year or one to two books, I guess. I do still hope to have one more out later this year, but it depends on how long it takes me to, well, write it.

What do you think? Do you have any feelings about writers who publish a lot in any given year? Too much to keep up with or is it worse if the author is slow? (If so, sorry. I promise we writers can’t always control how quickly we produce work.) Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

To vote for Brynnde in the Books & Benches cover contest! If you’ve already voted, you CANNOT vote again, else you risk disqualifying my book. But thank you to all who have voted!

And if you still haven’t read Brynnde, keep in mind that Kindle Unlimited members can read it for free! It’s a light, fizzy little book. I hope you enjoy it and that you’ll consider leaving a review if you do read it. Thank you again for your support!

Five years ago, I had no real plan.

Five years ago today, I went into surgery first thing in the morning. Nothing major; I just had a bone spur on my right index finger that was making it painful and almost impossible to write or type. After the surgery, I hopped in the car and headed down to Enfield, Connecticut, where my play “Warm Bodies” premiered. It was my first ever produced play, and I consider that to more or less be the moment that officially started my writing career. I’d worked in publishing, and before that in film, but having a play produced was the jumping off point for my own work.

In fact, 2012 was a big year. Not even a month later, we moved from Massachusetts to California. That June, my play was produced again as part of the Source Festival in Washington D.C. (It would later go on to become the short film Adverse Possession.) 2012 was the year I first self-published two of my Sherlock Holmes stories. It really, truly was the year I decided to be a writer. For realz.

If you’d asked me then about a five-year plan, I’d have given you a blank look and said, “I dunno. Write, I guess?” If you ask me now, I’ll probably give you a similar answer. I do have a better idea of some of what I’d like to accomplish, but I also remind myself to be grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and proud of how far I’ve come. It’s easy sometimes to be frustrated with a seeming lack of progress. But in reality, I’ve come a long way. And I have a lot of great things to show for those five years: 6 self-published books, 2 traditionally published books, a play, a short film, an award-winning screenplay (that I’m still hoping to get produced one of these days—put it on the next five-year plan) . . . Not a bad haul.

But I couldn’t do it without YOU, dear readers and fellow writers. THANK YOU for the support over the years. I’ll be celebrating five years of writing by putting out an audiobook later this year, too. Hope you’ll enjoy that and whatever else might come from these [now fully functional] fingers.

Reminder that The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller is just 99 cents for a limited time! Click here for all available formats. And click here to enter to win various prizes from Tirgearr as part of their 5th birthday bash!

From my current Regency romance WIP Faebourne:

“Do you live here all the time?” Edward asked.

Duncan shook his head. “Only when the servants get bored.”

Richard cocked his head, and his gray eyes gleamed with bright interest. “You would not choose London over the country?”

Duncan sat back and sighed. “I don’t know,” he said after a minute’s rumination. “I’ve never had to choose.”

“But if you did? Have to choose, that is?” Edward asked.

Duncan considered. “Dove Hill is where I grew up. And it is roomier. I think… Yes, I would say I am more attached to it than here.”

“You would choose the country,” said Richard.

Duncan nodded. “Yes, I daresay I would.”

Upon later reflection, it seemed to Duncan that Richard and Edward exchanged a meaningful look when he spoke those words. But hindsight is always clearer, as they say, particularly after one has been kidnapped.

One of my publishers is having a birthday party. Tirgearr is now five years old, but they’re giving the presents to YOU. Click here to enter to win books (print and ebooks are on offer) and t-shirts. [Note: Rafflecopter opens at midnight GMT.] Also, my novel The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller will be discounted to just 99 cents during the celebrations. So if you haven’t already grabbed a copy, now is the time! (UK link is here.)