Free Sherlock Holmes Story!

Today through the 17th, my Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of Ichabod Reed” is free on Amazon. It’s an e-book, but remember that you don’t need an actual Kindle to read Kindle books. Amazon has apps for your phone or tablet, and you can even just read it on your computer. Click here to grab a copy. And thanks for being readers!

Reviewing 2015

There are still a couple more days. More could happen. But here’s my 2015 so far:

72 rejections*
1 script optioned (that then lapsed)
1 book contract
1 new Sherlock Holmes story released
1 film premiere
1 shortlisted story
1 R&R (revise and resubmit) from an agent
1 potential agent who hasn’t signed me yet

I could also add that I’m co-writing a script with a couple guys, though that seems to have fallen by the wayside in past months. I’ll check in with them again after the new year. Aside from that project, though, I’ve more or less stepped away from screenwriting and am focusing on my prose projects.

I also attended a couple writing conferences. One local and then the DFW Con, which was amazing. I would definitely recommend that conference to other writers.

Sufficient to say 2015 was a good year. A lot of progress. And the rejections, well, those just come with being a writer.

2016 promises to be interesting, too. Peter will be released on January 15 (go pre-order on the Shop page! the Kindle version is discounted until release day!), which seems like a fine way to start the year. Hopefully it will set the tone for even more progress as the year goes on.

My goals for 2016 are pretty simple:

1. Finish the revision on Changers
2. Find an agent or publisher for Changers
3. Get “Aptera” accepted somewhere (it’s the story that has been shortlisted for an anthology)
4. Write at least one more Sherlock Holmes story
5. Help Peter find an audience

I put Peter last not because it’s least important—far from it—but because it’s the most difficult of the goals to quantify. The other four can easily be checked off, but the Peter thing is about marketing and just trying to get the book out there. Which I’m working my tail off to do, but . . . It’s harder to say if/when one has been successful at something like that. Maybe once Peter has some reviews or has been featured on some blogs?

I’d like to do a signing at the very least. But first I have to convince the publisher to do a print version of the book.

I’d also like to attend at least one conference this year, maybe two. It would be even more amazing if I were to be a guest at a conference, but I don’t know if I’m at that level quite yet.

Finally, increased meditation is a bit of a goal for me this year as well. Keeping up with my exercise routine but also making time and space for . . . quiet. Listening to myself, getting in touch with my intuition. Tuning in. I was recently guided to do this, and I think it’s important.

Also, to improve my posture.

I guess there’s a lot I want to do in 2016! I’m actually quite looking forward to this year.

*The rejections are combined book (Peter and Changers) and script rejections.

IWSG: ALL THE THINGS!

(You can visit other Insecure Writers by clicking on the IWSG link on the sidebar.)

What am I insecure about these days? A lot of things! Peter is due out in a few short months, and so of course I’m worried about reviews and how well it will do. I’m also worried about being able to write a sequel. I’ve dabbled with it a bit, have a couple pages written and a vague notion of the plot, but it’s all still very amorphous, like a cloud with no clear shape.

I’m insecure about finding a place for Changers, and about writing more Sherlock Holmes stories. Can I keep three series going? (The Holmes stories, the Peter Stoller series, and the Changers series?)

And I’m insecure about how I will come off in a recent podcast interview I did. Like, I’m excited for having done it and simultaneously worried I’ll sound like an idiot or a nut job or something. Sigh.

The more I have going on, the more paralyzed I begin to feel. It means I have to be (gasp!) disciplined and have to (double gasp!) prioritize. I never had any trouble with it when I worked in publishing because we had set deadlines. But when you’re working for yourself, unless you have a publisher breathing fire on your neck . . . And if you do, never complain about it—you’re lucky.

I know I’m capable. I can do it. I just need to organize myself. And some encouragement wouldn’t hurt either. I heard from a reader this week, and it was just lovely that she took the time to say she’s been enjoying my Sherlock Holmes stories. Stuff like that makes me want to keep going, even when I’m feeling insecure and stuck.

30-Day Writing Challenge: Day 4

4. Ten interesting facts about yourself

I don’t know if they’re “interesting” or not—that’s sort of subjective—but here are ten facts about me:

  1. I won’t eat meat off a bone. That’s something that runs in my family, actually.
  2. I won’t eat poultry unless it’s so covered in something else (sauce, seasoning) I can’t actually taste the meat. That also runs in my family.
  3. I’m allergic to berries and oranges.
  4. Maybe a non-food item? Um . . . I grew up speaking both French Creole and English.
  5. My favorite movie ever is Young Sherlock Holmes, which I used to watch every day (not even exaggerating) after school while doing my homework. Marcus in Changers is modeled a bit after Nicholas Rowe from that movie.
  6. I’ve both performed and taught Shakespeare, and an essay I wrote on Hamlet exempted me from any required English courses as an undergrad. (But I took a bunch of English Lit anyway because I like it.)
  7. The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller started loosely as an idea for a Sherlock Holmes story but ended up going in a very different direction. As made obvious by the final product.
  8. My “M” necklace from Style Newport shows up in The K-Pro (except Andra wears a “C” for “Cassandra”).
  9. I love to dress up. Either in costumes or in fancy clothes.
  10. I chose the University of Texas at Austin because I’d visited the campus when I was eight years old and fell in love with the Harry Ransom Center. In particular, I loved that they had a plaster cast of the Nike of Samothrace, which is my favorite of the Ancient Greek sculptures. When I visited the Louvre, I didn’t give a fig about Mona Lisa, I just had to see Nike.

I don’t know if #7 actually counts as being “about me” but I figure it is by proxy since it’s about my book, my idea.

Roster of Projects Redux

My priorities continue to shuffle.

1. Finish screenplay for indie director.
2. New Sherlock Holmes story.
3. Changers sequel.
4. Peter sequel.

I also am in the middle of doing advance publicity for Peter‘s release in January, and I’m querying agents and publishers on Changers.

Then there’s that other screenplay I’m co-writing, but I haven’t heard from my partners in crime on that one recently, and the ball is in their court at the moment. If/when they come back to me on it, I’ll probably have to insert it in this list somewhere.

Well, it’s good to have projects. Back to the grind.

One Book Won’t Do

Used to be one book was enough to make an author a superstar. Harper Lee dined out on To Kill a Mockingbird for decades. Well, and even had her book assigned as regular classroom curriculum (at least where I’m from).

Maybe an author didn’t write only one book, but it only took one to shoot him or her to the moon. Stephen King’s Carrie was just the start of his huge success, and he’s built up from there.

But then one has to keep in mind that, back in the day, one had to go to a bookstore to get a book.

I liken it to movies, now, too. There are so many different distribution streams. And, hell, cinemas have 10 and 20 screens now. When I was a kid (God, I’m old enough now to start using that old chestnut), growing up in Small Town, South, our cinema had one screen and showed maybe two movies at any given time. Those films played for about a month before we got anything new. Now, though, a slew of movies come out at a time, and if you don’t feel like spending $50+ at the cinema, there’s just as much on offer at home On Demand.

Same for books. A bunch of books came out each Tuesday, and the local bookstore would display them for at least a week, if not more depending. (On what? The whims of the bookstore owner or manager, I suppose.) Your choices were to pick up one of these books, or maybe browse the older stuff on the shelves, or go to the library, which had pretty much the same stuff as the bookstore but for free so long as you gave it back when you were finished with it. In short, though, an author had a fair amount of time on display and a fair chance of getting noticed. Same as movies. At some point in that month of What’s On, odds were you’d suck it up and go see it because, well, that’s what was playing.

But now? Thousands of books get published per day via self-publishing platforms. It’s a constant deluge. And the minute your book is out, it’s lost in the flood. Even if you get some attention from readers, the chances of you being a breakout superstar are miniscule. Because today people don’t have much of an attention span. So any attention you do get is fleeting.

Which means you have to (a) market constantly, and (b) keep producing new work.

I’m going to switch metaphors on you now. Think of it as fishing. The readers are the fish. When only a few boats (authors) are out on the stream, the chances of catching lots of fish are pretty good. But when the stream is crowded with boats—so many boats you can’t even see the surface of the water—that’s a lot of bait for just a few fish. So you up your chances of catching anything by throwing in more hooks (books).

I could go on about using the right bait for the right readers, but I already feel bad about calling readers “fish.” Let’s just say, readers, you are a valuable and necessary resource to us authors (who are also readers)!

I’m thinking about all this as I look at my list of projects and wonder which to tackle next. Some I’m bound to do, but after that . . . What bait do I load onto my hook? Because while of course I hope Peter is successful, I can’t honestly count on it being my one shot at glory. I’d keep writing in any case—I can’t not write—but I must balance the things I want to write with those that catch fish. Ideally, the two are the same, but it’s not always so. I know my Sherlock Holmes stories are still my bread and butter (would it help to say Peter started in my head as a Sherlock fanfic and then went somewhere else entirely?), and I’ll write more of those, enjoy writing those, though not as often as readers demand. So I’m forced to juggle wanting to write more Peter, more Changers, and Hamlette with the fact that my Sherlock Holmes stories are what sell.

Usually it ends up going something like: Work on a big project until I get stuck, then transfer my attention to something smaller and more immediately gratifying. Then go back to the big project. So I’ll be working on a novel, then I’ll write a Holmes story (or some other story), and then go back to the novel. It’s good to insert the quick stuff in the cracks whenever possible. Though when a book is really rolling, I might not stop to write anything shorter for a long time. But that also means I won’t catch any fish for a long time, either. Gotta have fresh bait out there.

Which is why I say one book won’t do. That bait gets old, and unless you’re picked up by, I dunno, Oprah or suddenly assigned to classrooms across the nation . . . You’re going to have to keep baiting the hook for the older stuff and putting out new hooks to boot.

And I don’t even like fishing.

But, hey, a girl’s gotta eat.

Insecure Writers Support Group

I’ve never done one of these. I don’t know if I’m supposed to officially sign up somewhere or what. But I feel like it’s fair for me, as a writer, to voice things that make me anxious or nervous about my work.

Like choosing the next project. I get emails from readers every now and then (and I love that!) asking whether I’ll be writing [fill in the blank]. And then I feel all excited that someone wants (a) a K-Pro sequel, (b) another Sherlock Holmes story (especially one explaining Lord Llewellyn), (c) to know where the hell Peter Stoller is and when they can read about him again (A: look at the countdown on the sidebar), (d) more “Hamlette,” (e) something else entirely, possibly that I’ve never even heard of, but will I please write it anyway.

Um . . .

So I keep a list on my desk of potential projects and when I hear enough rumblings from people, I push this or that one to the top of the list. But it IS anxiety inducing because I do want to please my readers, but it’s a lot of pressure! And then I also have directors wanting screenplays and that kind of thing, too.

So, yeah, I worry that I can’t do it all, or at least not quickly enough.

I guess, however, I should look at it from the positive side and be grateful I’m in demand.

But then I get nervous that, if and when I do write these things, the readers won’t like them. I mean, I love Peter (as much as I can be in love with an imaginary gay man), and I’m happy with his story and excited to share it with everyone, but what if they all hate it? *gulp*

So, yeah. That’s what I get insecure about as a writer.

Thanks for listening.