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IWSG: Marketing

InsecureWritersSupportGroup It’s time again for the Insecure Writers Support Group! This post goes up the first Wednesday of the month. Read and support other writers by clicking here. You can sign up to participate, too!

This month I’m insecure about marketing. Actually, I’m insecure about that every month. Things that used to work no longer do, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to catch and keep readers. That starts me worrying that I’m just not a good enough writer—a fear any good writer has—though I know a big part of the problem is that there are simply so many books out there in the world, and so many people hawking theirs, that it’s almost impossible to be heard. Readers can get books for free pretty much all the time, so why should they buy mine? Until I build that loyal following, it will continue to be a struggle, and it can be very disheartening.

(Want to make me feel better? Consider signing up for my newsletter there on the sidebar. Pretty please? I don’t send it out too often and I don’t share your email address with anyone.)

Okay, question of the month: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

Not having to work in a “real” office? Seriously, though, I’m very fortunate to be able to make writing my career. I worked in publishing for a while but I don’t do office politics well and I’m better off working on my own terms. I like that I’m making something that will exist after I’m gone, even if no one ever reads these books. A legacy of sorts. And I really enjoy the community of writers I’ve found along the way, the ones I’ve met at conferences, the mutual support. So much better than the backstabbing I encountered in the professional environment!

As for writing itself, I enjoy the problem-solving aspect of it. I’m a creative thinker but have an analytic streak and enjoy writing through things and seeing how the plot points connect—like bones and sinew. Hmm, that’d make a fine title . . .

Welcome to November

It’s NaNoWriMo time! And that’s not all—I’ve got a pretty full slate this month, starting tomorrow with Insecure Writers Support Group. Be sure to check back for that!

On the 12th I’ll have a booth at the Virtual Book Fair on Facebook. I hope you’ll stop by. There will be prizes! Link to my Facebook page here.

Then, on the 14th I’ll be part of a panel about world building, which you will be able to watch on Andy Peloquin‘s YouTube channel or (I believe) his site. Don’t worry, I’ll add the link to the “In the Media” page when it’s up.

Finally, on the 26th you’ll be able to find me on Jay Lemming‘s site where I’ll be talking about what it means to be a “literary” author. Am I one? Well . . . sometimes. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say I lean that way, but I keep being told literary doesn’t sell unless you’re already an established lit author. Readers, I’m told, go for genre. Is it true? Stop by the blog on the 26th and let me know your thoughts!

All this and, yes, I’ll also be doing NaNo! (Also spending a week on holiday in San Diego, so . . .) We’re sliding toward 2017 now. Let’s let ‘er rip!

TBT: Looking Back at the Library

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My first “real” job was in a library. I found shelving books to be soothing but much preferred to do it when the library was closed so I could focus and be left alone, unpestered. Because part of the fun was sometimes stopping to thumb through the books. Not the ones that got checked out over and over again, though I did look at some of those and wonder what made them so popular. (Where I worked it was always Ed McBain…) But I really enjoyed finding random treasures, books I would never have otherwise known existed.

In the far left corner of our library were paperbacks. These had been donated by patrons and you didn’t have to check them out, you could just take them. For years I had a collection of paperbacks with orange dots on the spines that had “F” for fiction or “M” for mystery or whatever on them. I might still have them in a box somewhere…

While working at the public library, I discovered Agatha Christie. I smuggled out battered paperback versions of things I was pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to read. Or maybe I just liked to pretend I might get in trouble; that made it more exciting.

The children’s area was the worst, of course. Always a mess, felt like Sisyphus trying to clean that up. But there were plenty of times I would sit between the bookcases with a book open on my lap, engrossed and having forgotten where I was and what I was supposed to be doing. Sometimes toddlers would come over and just start climbing on me. The parents were often apologetic, if/when they were paying any attention at all, but I didn’t mind. Kids (and animals) have always liked me, dunno why.

I got a weird satisfaction, too, from shifting the stacks. If you don’t know what that means, it’s when a shelf gets too full and—usually because you want to keep an author on one shelf or a series together or something—you have to move stuff down in a kind of cascade effect. Most people find it a pain, but I sort of liked it.

I didn’t have my library job for very long. I’d only gotten it in order to earn money for driver’s ed. Once I was able to drive, I got a “better” job at the mall. I did really like the library, but we had some librarians who were… let’s just say “difficult to work with.” But now I find myself volunteering in my kids’ school library each week. And the other day I started shifting some stacks and was—just for a minute or two—weirdly content.

Bookshelf 1:4

I’m doing an ongoing series in which I go through each of my bookshelves. Here is the first bookcase, fourth shelf (1:4).

fullsizerender

 

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Slayer of Gods by Lynda S. Robinson
The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George
A Little Folly by Jude Morgan
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Life Application Bible (NIV)
Treasures of the Earth by Saleem H. Ali
The Greeks and Greek Love by James Davidson
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Isabella by Colin Falconer
Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle
Mistress of the Monarchy by Alison Weir
King and Goddess by Judith Tarr
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
Smiley’s People by John Le Carré
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Katherine by Anya Seton
The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry (signed)
Lorelei’s Lyric by D.B. Sieders (signed)
Captive Queen by Alison Weir
Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
Impossible Things by Connie Willis
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
Very British Problems by Rob Temple
Life after God by Douglas Coupland
Three Maids for a Crown by Ella March Chase
Restless by William Boyd
The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers
Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin and Robert B. Cialdini

This started as my historical fiction shelf, but then like so many others ended up being a collection point for whatever else I could stack there.

The Other Boleyn Girl was my first, as still possibly my favorite, Philippa Gregory novel. Picked it up in an airport. Have attempted but been unable to finish The Constant Princess and The Red Queen, though I have read other of Gregory’s books that I got from the library but don’t own. I usually find Alison Weir more to my liking. I read both her fiction and nonfiction.

The Lynda S. Robinson book . . . She had a great series that I loved and then she and/or they seemed to disappear. I should go see if she ever wrote anything else. Likewise, Jude Morgan—love those books but there aren’t a ton of them.

Not sure where Treasures of the Earth came from. Have a vague recollection it was given to me, or I won it or something. Maybe it was a review copy? If so, I never read it. Oops.

Big fan of Judith Tarr and surprised only the one book of hers is on my shelf. I should have Throne of Isis somewhere . . .

I picked up the Liane Moriarty book because so many people said they loved it, but I couldn’t get into it. As I go through these shelves, I’m mentally making a list of books to discard so I can make more room for what I truly love.

And Restless—I never got around to reading it. A literary agent suggested it when he sent me an R&R (that’s “revise and resubmit” to those not in on the lingo). So I ordered the book and meant to read it and then, as I sent him the extensive rewrite based on his notes, he informed me he was leaving agenting. One of the biggest letdowns of my career, and now I can’t even think of reading the book, no matter how great it may be. Should be added to my discard stack.

So. Any of you historical fiction fans? Or enjoy history books in general? Did you like The Husband’s Secret or read Restless? Let me know in the comments!

‘Tis the Season (for Hallowe’en Movies)

I’m not a gore person. I don’t do movies that involve hacking and lots of blood. But I love a good psychological thriller or dark comedy. Here I’d like to mention a couple lesser-known films that I’ve enjoyed.

mrfrost1. Mister Frost

This gem from 1990 shows Jeff Goldblum just prior to his big Jurassic Park moment. I’ll admit, my best friend and I found it equal parts hilarious and disturbing. Goldblum has some amazing lines, like (to the best of my memory): “Oh, yes, the bodies. I was just finishing burying them as you were walking up.” It’s been years since I’ve seen this movie, but I’d love to watch it again. As I recall, there was something about cake—Goldblum, playing the titular Frost, baked cakes then took pictures of them and dumped them in the trash. But that’s only the start. Once they put him in the psychiatric ward, things gets increasingly sinister. “Soon. Soon you’ll be on my side of the mirror . . .”

2. The Last Supperlastsupper

Perfect for this election season. In this film, a gathering of frustrated liberals decide to turn their dinner parties into murdering sprees so they can rid themselves of rightwing pundits. As with Mister Frost I don’t remember many details, but I do recall the Shonen Knife cover of “Top of the World” being fabulous as it played over the end credits. And I remember liking the movie in general.

You have to take into account that when Mister Frost came out I was 14 and when The Last Supper came out I was 19. It might very well be that, should I go watch these again, I’d find them abysmal. At the very least I’m sure they’re dated. But that’s sort of the fun thing about these kinds of movies, too—special effects aside, being dated only adds to their charm rather than detracting from it.

Do you have any favorite Hallowe’en movies? Oldies but goodies? Have any of you had the joy of watching either of these two movies? If so, I want to hear about it in the comments!

NaNoWriMo

I know, I know, we haven’t even gotten through Hallowe’en yet and I’m already talking about November. But if you’re planning to participate, it’s time to make plans. Sure, you can just jump in and write, but for those who prefer more structure, I recommend at least making a few notes about whatever project you’d like to work on, if not outright outlining anything.

I haven’t done NaNoWriMo in several years. Because I already write full time (ostensibly, though life often chips away at those writing hours), I haven’t felt the need to devote a particular month to it. But this year I’m going to do it! My goal is to finish this draft of The Great Divide (Changers Book 2). If you want to be my writing buddy, I’m on the NaNo site as mpepper; you should recognize the photo. You can also join this blog hop.

Good luck to all who are participating! May the Muse be with you!

Feast or Famine

I’ve found this to be so true in my writing life. Either I’ve got nothing or there are a dozen projects going on at once.

At the moment I’m working on the second Changers book. I’ve had some eager readers asking for it, which makes me so happy because it means they really did like the first one. (BTW, the latest Amazon review stated that the reviewer would recommend Manifesting Destiny for fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. How flattering is that?!) I’m also keen to finish my Regency romance novel Brynnde which feels as if it’s been very close to done for a long time now yet somehow just keeps going.

And now I’ve been fielding questions about whether there will be a sequel to Peter. I love that book and those characters and that world, but it didn’t sell very well. ::sad face:: I do think I want to write at least one more book, maybe two, maybe more, and I’ve even started on that process, but I can’t prioritize it at the moment. Still, very heartwarming to know at least a few people enjoyed it.

Finally, it also seems that screenwriting stuff is heating up again after being on the back burner for a while. I have fresh interest in a couple of my scripts and another content creator asking if I’d consider helping her write her series. And another screenwriting project is inching closer to pre-production with talks about potential casting. Wow! Always nice, if exhausting, to be in demand. Make hay while the sun shines and all that.

As we get ready to hurdle Hallowe’en and slide toward Thanksgiving, I have much to be grateful for. This is certainly a feast for me, at least in terms of creative work. Thank you, readers and fellows, for all the encouragement! You feed my soul!

Goals Check-In

October is half over. We’re flying toward the end of the year. It seems like a good time to look at my goals.

I’ve accomplished most of them (achieved goals are in green). I’ve struck out #3 because circumstances beyond my control have made it untenable. Sometimes you just have to let go. I don’t think it will never happen, but I don’t know when we’ll manage to get back to it, and I’m not going to stress myself out over it. I’ve got plenty else to keep me busy.

That said, I don’t think I’ll be finishing Brynnde this year either. With so little left of the year, and the holidays besides, I can’t do all the writing. And I really do need to focus on The Great Divide. I’d like to get it to my publisher early next year.

1. Finish the revision of Changers.
2. Find an agent or publisher for Changers.
3. With my co-writer, finish the Hard Reset script. Finish and publish Brynnde.
4. Write and release at least one more Sherlock Holmes story.
5. Attend at least one writing conference and/or do at least one reading or signing.
6. Find a home for “Aptera.”
7. Finish the draft of Changers: The Great Divide.

But look—even though a yearly review is premature—I’ve had a pretty banging year. Two books published, plus one short story. Two writing conferences, at one of which I sat on panels and had an author table. Met fabulous people at both.

And looking ahead to 2017, I will definitely have Brynnde on my goals list, as well as seeing The Great Divide published. As I mentioned in a previous post about success and goals, I want to get to the point where I’m selling two books a day on a steady basis. That probably means writing more Sherlock Holmes, too, since those continue to be my best sellers.

I need to prioritize my projects. Can you help? The Great Divide and Brynnde are #1 and #2 but from there it’s a toss up. Give me your input, please! Which of these would you be most excited to see?

A. Another Sherlock Holmes story
B. The rest of Hamlette
C. A K-Pro sequel
D. A Peter sequel (featuring Simeon as the central character this time)
E. None of these/something else entirely

Thanks for your help! Here’s to a productive end of 2016 and exciting 2017!