Monday, April 30, 2012

Sometimes, social is good.

It should come as no surprise that I am not a very social being. I'm a writer. We can be very solitary beasts.

There was a time, Once Upon, when I was in my twenties (...and how much did I never think I would write things like this, then) that I was relatively popular. Friends would often come to visit, even from out of state. I went and did things. It was fun and sometimes overwhelming. No, I was never Popular Girl in High School popular -- despite doing the morning announcements senior year. Everyone knew who I was, by voice, at least. Did this score me extra party invites? No, it did not.

Anyway! Now that I am older, I am not so social. And really, I tend to like it that way. I embrace my hermitness. And I'm old enough to make up words now, too. I am happy to write and dye at home, alone, for the most part. But sometimes, it's nice to get out and be social, too.

Though I am considering a virtual knit night, I go out to my local yarn shop once a week and knit with friends. We have, as I've mentioned, gone to the local gaming store to play board and/or roleplaying games. And this past weekend, I got to see a friend present a fantastic workshop at my local RWA chapter.

RWA, if you don't know, stands for Romance Writers of America. It is one of the few professional writing organizations out there that allows people without publishing credits to join. It is a fantastic resource for those who are writing or want to write romance, and want pointers, advice, and a shoulder to lean on. I've been a member for many years. When I was crazy, I considered volunteering at the National level. I was on the board of my local chapter for many moons. I got better.

As I am no longer writing pure romance, and I'm in that nebulous space between published and NYT Bestseller, it's not a perfect fit for me any more, but I'm staying. I'm still writing and most importantly, I treasure the people and contacts I've made while a member.

And this was not meant to be a recruitment ad.  Organizations are not required and aren't for everyone. But they do give me an excuse to practice being social, and for that, I have all the gratitude in the world.

Oh, and speaking of my chapter: Brenda Novak is one of my chapter mates. As tomorrow is the first of May, her auction fundraiser for diabetes starts tomorrow. There are amazing things up for bid, my friends. If you have never seen it, go take a look. If you have, come back this year and shop again. You won't regret it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Worth of Words

Hey, look at this. I'm being somewhat serious. It does happen on occasion. No need to mark the calendar.

Lately, there's been some great conversation about what books are worth, at least as far as e-books, e-publishing and independent publishing is concerned. I'm not sure whether that's because conference season is upon us again, there are interesting things happening with regards to security and format on electronic books, because there have some hugely successful fiction projects on Kickstarter lately, or phases of the moon. Whatever the reason, lots of people are thinking, talking, and discussing it.

And since I'm going down the indie road myself over here, of course I've thought about it too. I have not done a lot of opining on it until, well, today, because there are a lot of things to take in to consideration and a lot of factors to weigh.

For instance: Is it possible to underprice a book in the "new" electronic market?  Yes, I think so. Though there's something to be said for free fiction (if I didn't believe this, I wouldn't be offering it) and for the "introductory" price point of $.99 on some of the big book selling sites -- Amazon and Barnes & Noble at least -- I don't think that it's a good idea, personally. Not for a first-time author. Not for a first independent offering.

The argument is that free and low price points get an author's name out there and help to build a readership. I think that those things might help, certainly, but I can't agree that a low price point alone is going to do the trick. If an author writes a crap book and offers it for $.99, it's really not going to benefit them to have a lot of people read it simply because it's cheap.

(I realize that no one thinks that they're offering a crap book to the reading public, but let's face it. No one writes a book that makes people squeal with delight every time. There are good books, better books, books that pale in comparison to others, and crap books. Sorry, but it's true.)

On the flip side, it's also absolutely possible to overprice your book as well. Having read comments and talked to people both on and offline, it is the rare reader who is enthusiastic about paying full paperback (or hardcover) price for an ebook. Though there are still costs and time involved in writing and preparing an ebook for general consumption, the perception is that they don't take nearly as much money to make so they shouldn't be sold for as much.

Fair enough.

I think the solution lies somewhere in the middle. Where, exactly, I'm not sure. There's still a lot of figuring and hashing and thinking to do.

Which clearly I didn't do enough of before typing out this rambly, point-lacking post. If you have thoughts you'd like to share with me, feel free to comment or question. If you don't have thoughts and you just want to doodle smiley faces on your screen where a comment might go? Well. That's okay too.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Words on Wednesday: And The Skies Fell #7

The weather is back in my world, my friends. Fortuately, it didn't bring thunder with it. Not yet, at any rate, but we went from rainy to quite a lot drier and hotter than anyone wanted, to rainy again, all in the space of, oh, a week or so.

And lo, it does play holy havoc with a girl's motivation.

I have been letting my to-do lists slide a little too much lately, and falling back into some of my old habits. I'm still much better about things than I used to be, but it's time to crack the whip at myself and edge back onto the course of Getting Things Done.

To be fair to myself, actually, I have to back up and say that I haven't been completely idle. I've just been concentrating more on the Other Business than keenly focused on the writing biz. That's the balance I need to find again. That's the thing that keeps knocking me off my author's chair. I'm getting butt glue. Just you wait and see.

You do not, however, have to wait any longer for the next installment of And The Skies Fell. Don't say I never gave you anything. (I was going to type nothing. I couldn't do it. You're welcome.)

Remember: If you need to read back to see where we last left off, you can always jump to the webpage and avoid all that pesky rummaging through blogposts. :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day!

To state the obvious: House-hunting is often an exercise in frustration and futility.

Hello! Happy Monday! Can you tell what we were doing for a good portion of the weekend? The area we live in is going through some housing market weirdness. Said weirdness makes me a bit grumpy, even while I struggle to be cheerful. Did I mention the weird?

The big news in my corner of the writerly world is, of course, that the Kickstarter for the Dinocalypse Now project ended not only successfully but SUCCESSFULLY. If I could add bells and whistles to that, I would. 1500+ backers, $42K+ in the end. People are getting awesome package deals out of this project and I'm really excited to see everything as it comes out.

I'm also excited to see what we/I can do as Kickstarter continues to grow.

It's a big day for other reasons too. It is, in no particular order:
  • William Shakespeare's birthday. If you know me, you know I'm a Shakespeare kinda gal. I write my own sonnets, for goodness sakes. Shakespeare and me, we're tight.
  • World Book and Copyright Day
  • St. George's Day AND
  • International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day. It's a wiki page. Go read up about it.
So. Lots and lots of reasons for it to be a good day for writers. Today, I will be a writer and ignore that frustrating house stuff for a bit.

If you are a fan of Jane Austen's works, you should go and read the free story C.E. Murphy has posted to her Livejournal. If you have not yet checked out the free serialized novel that I am posting (there'll be another update on Wednesday!), you should check that out too.

Heck. Cruise the web and find all the free stuff out there today. It's a good day to be a reader, too!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pretty fly for a Friday!

Despite that I have been living by To-Do list for the last six weeks or so, today, I decided that I could let myself slack, just a little bit. It's Friday. There are things to be done this weekend so I'll take my free time where I can get it.

And I'm not being entirely lazy. Not entirely. I did wash the latest yarn I spun up. I am skeining stuff I dyed so I can put it in the shop. I am spinning other things like mad. See, Jodi Meadows, you are not the only spinning writer out here! (She knows she isn't. I tease because she's Pretty Dang Cool.)

Know what else is pretty dang cool? Kicktraq. Yes, my friends, there is a way to look at your projects or projects you're interested in and see how their climb toward funding is progressing. Pretty interesting stuff, I think. When I have a new project up on Kickstarter, rest assured that I will be watching my trends obsessively very closely.

Speaking of friends: Catie more or less officially spread the word that she and I will eventually be Kicking a project together, to get Legion new airtime and new eyes. As she mentioned on Livejournal, this is a project that she and I came up with more than a decade ago when we amusingly thought that two nobodies lacking connections could get a tv show made. We were so young and naive. We have since considered new ways to get the story told because it is an amazing world and concept and we think people should love it as much as we do. Hold on to your butts, because when it arrives, it will rock your toe socks.

And if you happened by this blog because of hers, hey there! Nice to see you! Stick around.

Because there are other Projects and more Stuff. Too much to sum up. One day, I will essplain. (Points for getting the ref.)

But for now, I have more not-slacking to do. Hope the weekend is kind and only eventful in good ways.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

End of an Era (And The Skies Fell #6)

The big news today, for me at least, is that Dick Clark passed away. I am not old enough, obviously, to be of the same generation, but I did grow up watching his New Year's Eve celebrations. I used to watch American Bandstand. I cheered for him when he came back after his stroke. And yes, I had some very amusing and entertaining conversations about whether he was actually a vampire or a demon. I liked the guy and he will be sorely missed.

Rest in peace, Mr. Clark.

In personal writing news, another chapter on a mystery chapter is finished. Go me! This is a collaborative project, so that means I'm off the hook on it, for a little while. Doesn't mean I'm done writing though. I have more stuff in the pipes. Don't we all? More stories, more books, and more ideas than most of us will ever, ever commit to the page.

But let's not dwell on that. Let's dwell on the words that exist, shall we? :) There they are, under the jump.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Oh, to have a thought.

Sometimes, this word thing, she is hard.

Coming up with words, that is. In writing on a project or just, well, having something clever to talk about on a Monday.

One thing I can tell you: my pal Anna has a new Kickstarter project to fund a pair of urban fantasy novels. The cover art so far is really nicely drawn and promises to be even better when completed. Check it out, if you're so inclined.

And speaking of Kickstarter, it seems to me (and some other people, obviously) that pulling together and doing group/collaborative projects is the way to go. Oh sure, there's nothing wrong with doing an individual project. Many people manage it with grace and skill, but there's a whole lot to be said about combining forces and fanbases and helping everybody involved get a little boost, you know? I fully expect that my next go will be of a collaborative nature. I just haven't worked out what exactly. It'll come and I will post about it, have no fear.

In the meantime, I have started a new week's routine and plug new stuff into my to-do list as it comes up and needs to get done. Very shortly, I need to make sure I include extra dyeing time, as I have a couple of fiber festivals to do to later this year and I want to have plenty o stock. And to build some displays. And and and.

Things to do. Projects to type on. Houses to be found. Life as I know it, currently.

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 13, 2012

My very own Friday Five

Because five things make a post, right? Right.

1. It's Friday the 13. You are all well aware, I know. I am a superstitious person, but not really about the 13th. I have a cousin who was born on the 13th, and occasionally, as it will, that means his birthday lands on a Friday. So it's just another day, for me, but if you're fearing, hang on, the weekend's coming. The 13th will pass soon! And if you're celebrating, party on!

2. Those of you who live in parts of the world for which 'April showers bring May flowers' was meant will not understand why the Californians in your life are fussing over rain, I'm sure, but for us, this is -weird-. We don't get rain in April. More, we don't get thunderstorms, funnel clouds and copious amounts of hail in April. Weird, weird and weirder.

3. One of my cats is deaf. Well. Mostly deaf. This does not stop her from occasionally rolling around with the kitten (who will be a year old this weekend!). Because she's deaf, however, she doesn't make a lot of noise. What's the point if you can't hear it, right? So I have started to call their wrestling matches "Silent Titan Fights". It really is sort of like watching a black and white Mothra vs. Godzilla movie with the sound turned off. Hilariously entertaining.

4. I have a copy of Ann Aguirre's Devil's Punch, latest in the Corine Solomon series. She sent it to me. From Mexico. I am ridiculously excited about this. Ridiculously. No joke. Ridic--okay, you get it.

5. And The Skies Fell  is now live on Web Fiction Guide, which is a great place to go if you are looking for/are curious about/would like to read what's out there in terms of web and serialized fiction of all flavors. As with any site, read knowing that there are writers of all levels and I cannot guarantee that you will enjoy everything you happen across, but go poke around a while. It's pretty cool.

And that's five! Now that I've started I could probably ramble on, but I think I'll save some for the next time I need help.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Weather and why it's scary (And The Skies Fell #5)

I do not like thunder.

There, I've said it. You all know. And I know it's not rational. It's just a thing. I have not liked thunder ever. My mother tried, desperately, to cure me of my fear by sitting on the porch in thunderstorms and making up stories about what was making the noise. Elephants bowling is one of my favorites. We would go out when the rain stopped and splash around in puddles and have fun. She really, really tried.

Sorry, Mom. I'm still afraid. I am not afraid of lightning, the thing that will actually do me harm. Thunder raises my blood pressure, makes my heart pound and my eyes about as big as saucers, according to those who have observed me in a storm.

So today we had thunderstorms. Don't get me started about how weird that is for April in California. (It's weird.) We had thunderstorms with hail. Did I mention the thunder? Not the boomers that make the whole house shake, fortunately, but thunder that rolled across the whoooole sky.

I'm glad it's gone now. My heart is beating at a reasonable speed. And the aftermath of the thunderstorm means soggy, grey, eegy air that makes me want to curl up and read. That part's not so bad.

I just wish it would storm quietly.

Anyone else got weird phobias they want to share? :)

Or would you just rather read fiction. It's after the jump.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Altered Plans

I fully expected to be telling you how I spent another weekend being silly and frivolous and playing board games with the Engineer and friends. Yep, those were the glorious plans for Easter weekend for us.

Instead, we were quite a bit more productive. You see, we've been looking for a new house on and off for several months. And so, rather than gaming (though we did swing by the store), the Engineer and I went back out into the field and looked at some houses. We revisited some areas we'd previously discarded. The short version of which is: with any luck, we'lll actually move sometime this year. That was a hope for last year. This time, I'm trying to make it real.

We also filed our taxes. Do we know how to party or what?

Today, I finally finished the coding on the webpage for And The Skies Fell. I can now submit it to some web serial sites and you guys can read earlier chapters without having to dig through the blog for posts. It actually feels good to have that done. And, I proved to myself that I still remember a little of my HTML-fu. Every little dribble helps.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Population: Me!

There are many things a writer needs to know when they start down this path. Many upon many things as a matter of fact. So many that it's easy to get overwhelmed by should haves and must haves and keeping track of which things are dealmakers vs. dealbreakers. And there stands the lowly writer thinking the hard part was supposed to be getting the words on the page.

Insert a pause for those of you who've been through this already to giggle for a while.

Back now? Good.

There's a lot of stuff to do, though, to be up to date and in the know and on the map, so to speak. One of those is having a webpage. The perceptive among you will note: I don't have one. Not yet. I have a blog. (check). I have a twitter account. (check). But no website.

I'm working on this.

Sort of from the inside out, really. I've been posting free fiction here. I figured, if I wanted to have people be able to read the whole novel (it will be a complete novel, really) from start to finish without having to dig through blog posts, I should put all the chapters in a centrally located place. Like, oh, a webpage.

So now there's a webpage! Please to note that this webpage will change when I get my domain redirected, but for now, there it be. You will also note that there's only one chapter available at the moment. It's a start. The rest are coming.

And one of these days, there will be a place on the web where people can flick by and see my little road sign proudly proclaiming Population: Me!

Edited to say: Until then, happy Easter and Passover weekend, to those who celebrate. Happy weekend in general to everyone!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Not forgotten! (And The Skies Fell #4)

I have not forgotten you, oh lovely blog readers. I swear I haven't. It's just that this living by to-do list means that I'm being more productive. Which means that sometimes I leave the house for a while. I know, I know, it's less safe outside the Box, but sometimes, one has to risk it and run. Or, you know, do errands.

So I did errands and now I'm back. Hello! How's your Hump Day been? At least moderately tolerable, one hopes.

During my various erranding today, I did a lot of thinking, and some of that was about that question that authors dread to get: Where do your ideas come from? I think a lot of us sort of go glassy-eyed and possibly a little terse when someone asks that question. Or we smart off. Oh, I have a personal idea fairy who visits every third Thursday...

I will tell you here and now that a lot of my ideas happen while I'm sleeping. When they're really good, I even remember to write bites of them down in the morning before they've completely faded away.

As a matter of fact, just a couple nights ago, I was having a fantastic space-opera-y dream, with a spunky heroine and a partner and action that was determined by the length of time between a beeping alarm went off. I was engrossed!

And then I was woken up by the persistent, perfectly timed beeping of our house alarm warning me about a dying battery. At least my subconscious kept me entertained!

Ah well. The cool parts will show up in a book or story some day.

Not to worry: the fiction under the jump makes up for silly dreams.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Just the words, ma'am.

Today there are no projects to bug  you about. There are no finished books to crow over. I haven't even finished my latest read. (Though Matchbox Girls is awesome and you should be reading it right now! What are you waiting for?)

What I have today is me, myself and I. Just the author. I shouldn't say just. An author's a pretty great thing. After all, without an author, all those bookstore shelves would be bare. You'd be left to making up stories of your own devising. All right, so that's how most of us started out. Yes, that's what most of us do on a daily basis, but that's not the point!

The point is: Hi! Glad you're here, either for the first time, or coming back to see what's going on at this website. Last month, I was all about pimping my Kickstarter project. This month, I have no pimping planned. I may boost the signal on other people's writing, but I intend to concentrate on getting some more writing done, prepping some things so they can be pimped in the future, and generally continuing to practice this new somewhat-organized phase of being me.

But stick around. In my mumblings and meanderings I'm bound to kick a couple of interesting crumbs loose. I promise I'll share.