Monthly Archives: February 2012

Reading as a social pheonomenon

Some of you are already friends with me on Goodreads. You might have noticed that while I read voraciously, and am happy to rate, I don’t do a lot of reviewing. Today, I think I figured out why.

I started reading early. I remember being utterly stunned at starting first grade and there were kids there who couldn’t read. Their parents didn’t teach them, instead saying, “you’ll learn it in school.”  I doubt very much that happens these days, but in 1972, it wasn’t that far out of the ordinary.

In several years of elementary school I was either sent to the next highest grade for their reading classes, or given a more advanced book of my own. This meant I didn’t have anyone to talk to about what I was reading.

There was a brief period when I was in junior high that everyone was reading either Danielle Steele, John Saul  or VC Andrews. That was a fun time, being able to swoon,shiver or say “eww” as appropriate, but it didn’t last long. I outgrew the traditional romance novels, as a lot the other fiction I read had its share of romance, but also adventure.

In high school, I had a great crowd of friends. As a college friend put it, they were “the right people masquerading as the wrong people.” We read a lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy, we could (and probably still can) quote entire passages of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, some of us played Dungeons and Dragons. These are some of the best-natured people I’ve known in my life, but to the rest of the school population, we were considered weirdos. So for a while I could talk about books with this select group. It was like coming home.

When I got to college (at a midsized university in Long Island made famous by a Bill Cosby routine), so few people seemed to have time to read for pleasure. I was the one who would have a stack of required reading and one or two mass-market paperbacks atop (I couldn’t fit everything in my backpack). More than once I was asked, “How can you read for pleasure when you have so much other reading to do?” My answer was, “How can I not?”

I’m also an only child, which lends itself to generally being happy in my own company. What it comes down to is I’ve always felt that reading is a solitary activity, but that is changing.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time working in retail bookstores (may Borders and Waldenbooks rest in peace). While the extra money never hurt, and neither did the discounts, there were two other perks to working there that I’ve never had anywhere else: I could borrow books, and I could talk about them. My favorite part of working would be (and you’ll see Zofia, James or Feliz do this)  helping a customer who has come up to me and said, “I like X Author and X author, who is similar?”

I’ve tried a few book clubs, but I’ve never totally relaxed into one. First, there’s the feeling of “forced” reading. I know way too many people who hate reading because of all the “literature” they were forced to endure in school (and these weren’t even the liberal arts majors). Movies and TV, I’m happy to tear apart with a group, but I guess the formality of it is a little off-putting, no matter how cool some of the people are.

It still delights me that I can chat books easily with some of my current friends (check out Opal the Akamai Reader, who’s been putting out some great reviews!). LizziBabe, who you’ve seen commenting here, got me started on my fascination obsession with mysteries taking place in Asia, specifically Thailand. She introduced me to John Burdett, I introduced her to Colin Cotteril This is thrilling for me.

I have a Kindle, which I love, but I still pretty much use it as a unitasker. I don’t feel the need to quote parts of what I’m reading and share them on Facebook. I don’t listen to music while I read. I don’t even lean on  my darling boyfriend when I’m curled up on the couch or in bed reading, bless his heart for trying to understand. Reading is still solitary to me.

I’m thinking writing and reviewing here might open up some of that solitude. Thank you for reading and I hope you’ll stay tuned.

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Before I get in…

Before I get into today’s post, I’m going to take a few pages from our friends at dictionary.com

re·write

[v. ree-rahyt; n. ree-rahyt]  verb,-wrote, -writ·ten, -writ·ing, noun

verb (used with object)

1.to write  in a different form or manner; revise: to rewrite theentire book.
2.to write  again.
3.to write  (news submitted by a reporter) for inclusion in anewspaper.

re·vise

[ri-vahyz]   verb, -vised, -vis·ing,noun

verb (used with object)

1.to amend or alter: to revise one’s opinion.
2.to alter something already written or printed, in order to make corrections, improve, or update: to revise a manuscript.
3.British . to review (previously studied materials) inpreparation for an examination.

ed·it   [ed-it]

verb (used with object)

1.to supervise or direct the preparation of (a newspaper,magazine, book, etc.); serve as editor  of; direct the editorial  policies of.
2. to collect, prepare, and arrange (materials) for publication.
3.to revise or correct, as a manuscript.
4.

to expunge; eliminate (often followed by out ): The author hasedited out all references to his own family.
5.to add (usually followed by in ).
Bloody Murder #2 has gone through all of the above and I’m still nowhere near done. When I wrote the original draft, there was a different dead body and the killer made themselves too suspicious much too early in the story. So much so that the ending did not surprise any of my beta readers. Bad mystery writer! No wine!
So there came the rewrite. I actually printed out all 60,000 words and retyped everything from scratch. I also did some more editing and revision as I went along and ended up with closer to 40K words. Then I gave it to a beta reader and held my breath. It came back with some edits, which I just finished this week.
Today began more revising. A adjective here, an adverb there, what’s a good name for a band? I’m really starting to feel the story come together. It’s fun, but it’s very intense work and I tend to do it in small chunks.
Still need a name for James’ band. Poor guy goes through bands almost as quickly as he does girlfriends. He’ll have a new one in the next book, but she doesn’t play a big part in this story. Later stories, I make no promises other than she does not turn out to be a hardened criminal and she will not not try to kill anyone.
Thank you for reading. I’m going to grab a beverage and get back to work.

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February 25, 2012 · 8:21 pm

2nd pass

To my endless delight, I have had people ask me when the next Bloody Murder book is being published. The manuscript has had its second pass for basic revisions and now I’m in working on tightening up some loose ends. I’m targeting an August release. The title, I’m keeping to myself for a bit, but Watch This Space. 

One hint I will drop: you will find out just how Nate Dodson gets some of his information so quickly.

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Risk Assessment in Novel Writing

Like a lot of writers, I have a day job. I work for a software company that makes a learning management system for hospitals. I help our customers implement the software and get ready to deploy it. These implementations are what led me to pursue a certificate in Project Management, and I’m partway through my fourth course of six.

Risk Management is, simply put, hedging Murphy. You try to predict what will go wrong, figure out how much of a disaster it’s going to be, what you’ll do to prevent it and what you’ll do if it happens.

So, instead of doing my homework, I’m thinking about how I might be able to apply some of these principles to writing. I’m having a hard time, because I tend to use a pretty free-form approach to writing. If I know I have a few hours uninterrupted, I get comfortable–sometimes on a couch, sometimes at Cafe Oo La La which is a few blocks away. Then I write until I can’t. 

This approach contains a lot of risks. Distractions, for one thing. I use the internet for research, and I don’t have to tell anyone reading this how easy it is to go from a news article to another news article and suddenly, you’ve spent an hour goofing about on YouTube watching kittens. If I work on my couch, there’s the TV. If he’s home, my boyfriend is quite distracting, in many happy fun ways that don’t get writing done.

Basic activities of daily life also need to be attended to. I plan meals out about four days in advance and have gotten myself and my sweetie on a schedule where we eat out of the freezer on the nights my homework is due. This means I have a resource risk: Time. I have to figure out how to work 8 hours M-F, manage meals for two, do my homework, research and write new novels, marketing, and still see my friends once in a while. Oh right, sleep, too.

I don’t think I’m going anywhere with this, but it was fun to think about for a while. Thank you for reading!

 

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What I’m reading

If you’re also following me on Goodreads, you know that I generally have  anywhere from three to seven books in progress.  I am a little embarassed to say I mislaid my copy of Les Miserables during a move and when I got it back, the bookmark was gone. I have no clue where I was in the book. It was about 70-80% of the way through, but I can’t for the life of me find where the prose is familiar and where it is new. I think I will start it over, eventually. Meanwhile, sweetie, you were right. I should have bought the abridged edition.

My love of mysteries and my love of fantasy & science fiction go hand in hand. Sometimes you can get some great combinations of each–Asimov’s Elijah Bailey books, Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, Mike Resnick’s John Justin Mallory. 

I finished Sabrina Chase’s The Last Mage Guardian last night and immediately went back to her Amazon page to find something else she’d written. The characters were believable–I would have happily sat down and had a beer with most of the characters. The protagonist, Ardhuinn takes a bit of reading to get to know. It takes much of the tale to get her to realize her own worth, and I found the development made me like her quite a bit.  Pick it up. I think there will be a sequel or two, at least I hope so.

Thanks to my friend Sarah, I am hooked on John Burdette’s Sonchai Jitpleecheep novels, and the latest one, Vulture Peak, is shaping up to be fantastic. If you’re not familiar with the series, Sonchai is the last honest cop in Bangkok. Pick up Bangkok 8 in your format of choice, and you will be plunged deep into the sex, seediness and corruption that is the city. 

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Winner winner chicken dinner

Paging Lizzibabe! Paging Lizzibabe! You are the final winner in the February Bloody Murder giveaway!

For those that have already been listed as winners: Please email bloodymurderbooks@gmail.com with the address I should send your ebook.  Thank you all for entering and  I hope you enjoy reading!

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I couldn’t have said it better

In some ways I’ve been lucky. My reviews on Amazon have been great, my reviews on B&N and Goodreads have also been good.This means Amazon is much more likely to put  Bloody Murder on someone’s recommended list.

In this blog entry, which I urge you all to read, Ann R. Allen talks about book bloggers and reviews. This goes hand in hand with one of my previous posts talking about the changes in the ways people buy, review, market and sell books. It’s an exciting thing to be part of. Readers and writers are being hear more.

Now, I know some people who will compare this trend of reviewer blogs and “everyman” reviews to Yelp. For those unfamiliar, Yelp is a site where “real people” give you “real reviews.” It’s mostly for restaurants, but I’ve also seen reviews for shows, doctors, pet shops and other merchants. Yelp has pretty much become its own microcosm on the internet, in that you really have to know how to search and what to search for to get what you need out of it. An example is someone who visits an Ethiopian restaurant for the first time. Reviews for a first-time visit to an Ethhopian restaurant are filled with dismay that you are not given utensils, but rather you use the injera (the soft spongy steamed bread) to pick up your food. As for myself, I’m familiar enough with the cuisine that this kind of review does nothing for me. I want to know who makes the best kitfo or awaze tibs (if you’re curious and in the NYC area, I recommend Queen of Sheba).

While I often compare books to food–heck, Bloody Murder  takes place in New Orleans, I’m also doing a bit of writing about food–there’s a bit of a difference. For one thing, most reviewers tend to specialize in only a genre or two. This gives them familiarity with the best and the brightest, the new and the classic.

Another difference I see between indie book bloggers and “everyman” food reviews is the sense of community out there. Yelp has its forums and its special events–I’ve been to a few and some of the food has been knock-down fantastic. The culture, however, is generally a little younger than my forty-something, and tends to be more gourmand than gourmet. In looking for reviewers and ways to publicize my work, I have seen a feeling of community, of mutual support, a way to help out one’s fellow author.

I’m starting to think of it as a gourmet pot luck. But I’m also rather hungry.

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and we have some winners!

I held off rolling the dice for this month’s Bloody Murder giveaway because I wanted to make sure everyone who wanted had a chance to enter had one. The winners so far are:

For February 1: Roger Dengle

For February 2: Lady Cheron

For February 3  Michael Cargill

For February 4  Rachel Hartman

For February 5 PauAmma

If you would be so kind as to send your email address to bloodymurderbooks@gmail.com, I’ll get your books to you as soon as possible.

Thank you for entering!

I will do one more drawing on the 10th, if you know anyone who should enter, just send them here!

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Now how much would you pay?

‘A book is so much a part of oneself that in delivering it to the public one feels as if one were pushing one’s own child out into the traffic.’   Quentin Bell

I’m still giving away copies of Bloody Murder this month. Actually, I thought I’d extend the entry time because word has not spread around the indieverse quite as quickly as I had hoped.  So if you comment on this post, consider yourself entered to win a free copy.

When the giveaway is over, I hope I’ll have some new readers. Specifically, new readers that will buy the upcoming sequels and tell their friends. So you see, I have an ulterior motive. I want to make money from selling my books.

If you cruise the web, you’ll find various forums about ebooks. Newsletters about freebies, the best deals around. I read a forum discussion, “What’s the maximum you’ll pay for an ebook?”  Scanning several hundred entries, it seemed the top price was about $9.99 for “top authors.” Seeing that, I figure the $2.99 I charge is a bargain.  Me, I’ll pay a little more to have a new book the day it hits the market, but I seem to be in the minority.

Some of what I read disturbed me.  There are a lot of people out there who think that because they spent money on an e-reader, that they are entitled to books costing $1.99 or less.

The most common argument is saying it costs next to nothing to store files of ebooks, therefore the books should cost next to nothing for the readers. If  publisher buys a manuscript, they are investing in an author with their eyes toward  making more money down the road. They spend money marketing, designing covers, editing, arranging publicity tours. All of those things involve people who deserve to be paid for their efforts. And that’s even before we get to the author.

Writing is work, folks. Yes, it’s a labor of love, but it’s not easy. For an indie author who may not be making enough to pay for a professional editor for their next work (a nickel a word times 80K? You do the math), it’s all the writing, revising, editing, formatting AND marketing. For the traditional author, there are more imposed deadlines, which add their own pressures.

I’ll be keeping my ebook prices low as long as I’m self-publishing, but not so low I don’t get a little something in return for my labor of love.

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Why I won’t pay for reviews

If you’ve checked in with the Bloody Murder Books blog once or twice, you’ll have noticed an increase in the links to indie author sites and to some independent reviewers. The indie community is really something else, and I’m learning more about it each day.

Today, I was looking for review sites and advertising rates on an e-book newsletter that shall remain nameless. I found a link there to Book Rooster, where they will distribute review copies of my book to a select group of people who are readers first, then reviewers.  They are not a “pay for review” site, but they do charge $67 for their distribution fee.

Why should an indie author, actually, why should any author pay for a review? Traditionally, reviewers have been paid by the publications their reviews have appeared in. The industry is changing and I’m excited to be part of this change. There are great sites like the Indie Exchange, which work to bring readers and writers together. There are a multitude of independent reviewers out there, who are making quite a change in the book industry. Take a look at this article, which details a little more.

Thank you for reading, and if you haven’t already, don’t forget to enter to win yourself a copy of Bloody Murder. Just click here  to enter

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