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Don’t tell anyone you’re an author. It’s a good way to lose friends…

My 1936 Royal Portable

Somebody asked me what it’s like to be a writer. I thought about it for a bit, then said, “It’s difficult to put it into words.”

Sometimes I get confused about why I keep writing. Between the agonizing labor required to bring forth a fully finished plot and going through all of the multiple steps to format it into a professional-quality book, there’s a lot of unrewarding work. Granted, I do still get a thrill out of typing “The End” when I’m finished with the manuscript, but that’s fleeting and no longer brings tears to my eyes the way it did for the first few books.

The only difference between writing heaven and writing hell is that your books are popular in the former. The pain and labor involved are the same in both locations. I sometimes think that editors, while they are essential, are a form of lesser demon. If an editor was shown a lamp, they’d want to change the lightbulb, even if it was working. They’d replace it, then break the replacement, install an LED bulb, then finally remove that and question why the lamp was necessary in the first place. Seriously, though, I love my editor. She’s excellent and helps make my books far more readable.

The process is more expensive than you might think. Cover art, interior formatting, copyright, ISBN, and editing eats up a considerable amount of money. Unfortunately, sales are more and more challenging to come by, mostly because there is so very much competition. How does a reader find my book or any book he or she wants to read? Some are poorly done with lots of errors, others are poorly written, although a certain percent are quite well done. I aspire to create books in that last category.

It’s said that everyone has a book in them. I wonder if that is meant literally, and if so, where the book is stored. Most of the body doesn’t seem to have any spare space. Getting the book out is a different matter. I was educated to write scientific research and I thought I knew how to write. It’s not all that easy, though. It takes lots of practice. The best way to get better is to keep writing. I keep telling myself that my next book will be perfect. There’s a story in the publishing world about a company that decided to publish a perfect book. It was edited hundreds of times until everyone agreed that it could be no better. Once it was printed and hit the bookstores, someone noticed that the title had a misspelled word. As I said, it’s not that easy.

But, how does a reader find a book out of the millions on Kindle, for example? The key is marketing, and that is the responsibility of the author.

Once the book is finished and uploaded to Kindle for ebook distribution and Ingram for print copies, I belatedly start thinking I should do some of this marketing stuff. I’d much rather be writing another book, of course, but I still make an effort to get the news out.

It got so bad that when I saw an old friend at a party for the first time in several years, I told him I was writing books. When he asked if I’d sold anything, I responded that I’d sold my house, my car, and all of my possessions. I don’t think he got it. He wandered off, and I later saw him pointing at me while talking to the host. I don’t know what was said, but I haven’t been asked back.

I guess whether you’re happy or not in your writing career depends on how you define success. What do I mean by that? I have it on good authority that one of the most successful authors–one who writes things that invariably make people react emotionally, cry, curse, howl, and scream in anger–is the guy who writes error messages for Microsoft.

I like it when readers comment that they loved my characters and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen in one of my books. That’s a thrill, but it doesn’t pay the bills. The fact that some readers do leave reviews helps, though. A series of excellent reviews give a book some credibility so that a potential reader who is searching for a new read might be tempted to pick the one with better reviews.

Then there are the service providers. Those are companies that exist solely to “help” authors sell books. It’s easy to spend far more than the book will ever bring in, so one has to be careful here. Fortunately, I’ve already had a good education along those lines, having taken lots of courses on real estate during my life. Ultimately, you just have to get out there and do things yourself. That’s the most important lesson.

My books do sell, and many readers have left reviews, a few have hated the stories, but most like them, so I feel happy about that. I’m also pleased with my initial decision to publish as an independent. Indie publishing has become mainstream now. There are still traditional publishers, but unless you’re already a success, your chances there are minimal. If Moses were alive now, he’d show up with the Ten Commandments, but he’d spend the next five years trying to get them published. Unless, that is, he did it himself. Then he’d have to go through the entire marketing thing to get people to read them.

At the moment, I’m two chapters from writing “The End” in my latest story, and this little screed has taken some of the time that I should have been using to tie up my work-in-progress. I guess I’ll call this a marketing effort so I can justify my effort.


BTW. I’ve never written a word on the Royal. I keep it to remind myself how hard it used to be in the pre-digital age. Can you imagine? Spell check used to mean paging through a heavy dictionary:-)

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Latest Review

Despite my late night blackest imaginings, apparently I can actually write a good story.

“I loved these two books. A wild and crazy ride, with great characters and a very imaginative story. I need more….please!”

Heart of Fire Time of Ice
All the Moments in Forever

The introductory speculation (first sentence, above) probably makes more sense to other authors. I’ll elaborate.

The problem is: writing a reasonably good book is only half the equation. The book still has to find readers and that requires marketing–aggressive marketing. At the current rate of change in the book marketplace, doing a reasonably good job of marketing requires all of your time, so how does one find the time to write?

I’d rather be writing. It’s fun to develop a book and watch the characters you’ve imagined develop. It’s enjoyable to tell an entertaining story. Getting positive feedback is wonderful.

On the other hand, marketing is expensive, a lot of drudgery, boring (at least to me), and frustrating. The learning curve is very steep and to make matters worse, the topography of the available venues and tools changes continuously.

Then there is the competition — millions upon millions of books, who knows? Thousands, maybe even tens of competitors are searching for your perfect reader. (Trying to be funny here.) In point of fact, the better you narrow down your optimal market, the fewer the competing books, but then the fewer the buyers also.

Heart of Fire Time of Ice seems to enrage some readers, while others find it so enjoyable they immediately start on the sequel: All the Moments in Forever. I can live with that, if I have to, that is.

Then there’s Cyber-Witch: The Origin of Magic <sigh>. It won the silver President’s medal from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association this year (2018). People who read it like it, but readers aren’t finding it or are bypassing it for some reason. Few sales to date and I’m deep in the end stages of writing a sequel.

Why am I doing this? I mean writing a sequel for a book that doesn’t sell. Why??? <insert mental picture of a man choking himself with his own hands>

Two reasons really. One is that Cyber-Witch is really close to potential reality. It is a possible version of our world at the very beginning of the AI apocalypse. The sequel extends that world into an interesting future.

The other reason is I think the basic idea is a good one and the characters deserve their story to be told.

The two books are entertaining and hopefully thought-provoking. The reader is led to contemplate questions about sentience and whether an AI can be considered to be equivalent to a human. I’m not positive yet, but I’m pretty sure that the character “Snake” in the second book will tug at the reader’s heartstrings with his (its-although he has decided that he has masculine characteristics) struggles.

As I write, I’m continually amazed at the plot twists that develop seemingly without my active intervention. Things just suggest themselves as part of the story. I’m left wondering how I can blend the various elements into a seamless whole, but they are resolving nicely at this point. Still, I want to be done–just to see how it all turns out.

The one thing I’m sure of is I’m not making much money out of all this effort. However, I still love to write.









Then, maybe…





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Fun Words and Wasting Time

Still writing on the sequel to Cyber-Witch. Somehow it’s turned into a difficult task, although once I get to writing, the words flow well.

Meanwhile, here’s a fun word – one of my favorites, although I like them all:

Absquatulate — meaning to leave somewhere abruptly.

For some reason it always reminds me of the early Tarzan movies where Tarzan would say, “Umgahla.” (Or something like that.) The result was always that the elephant he was riding and any other nearby animals would abruptly leave the scene.

Based on that observation, Umgahla (or whatever it was that he said that sounded remotely similar) is Tarzanese for Absquatulate.

It’s just that having Tarzan holler, “Absquatulate!” seems a little out of character. It might have worked though. I’m of the opinion that most of the audience for those movies wouldn’t have known the difference. I could be wrong on that.

That’s enough rambling. Time to get back to Sophie and her problems. Most recently she’s been faced with a surreptitious attack that exploits her previous drug addiction. I’ve got to write the next few scenes in order to find out how she handles it.

On the other hand, it’s probably a good idea to write a section about another character and leave Sophie writhing in pain until I can get back to her. I’d like to find out how Snake is dealing with his (its?)* involuntary enslavement by Abubecar.

(its?)* — I can’t quite make up my mind how to deal with Snake, inasmuch as he/it is a nanite-based AI construction with some organic parts created from cells extracted from other creatures. The only thing I know is he is somehow becoming convinced that Sophie will be good to him if he ever contacts her again, despite his origin as part of a nanite-dragon that she mostly destroyed.)

The weird and strange way this story is developing is starting to get a little intimidating. Hope it works out the way I think it will.

More to come later.



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Brief Update on Writing Activity

Troll and girl
Cover concept for Cyber-Magic

I’m now working on my eleventh book “Cyber-Magic.” <see the cover concept to the left> It’s the sequel to my cyber-punk novel “Cyber-Witch”.  Which hasn’t been getting much attention, by the way, although the people who’ve read it like it (note the clever use of homophonic alliteration;-)

Anyway, this one has become a problem. I’ve ventured away from what I view as hard to semi-hard science fiction and fallen out of cyber-punk gritty reality (with a drug-addicted MC) into a post-modern world where civilization has totally changed due to A.I. mediated “magic.” It’s essentially a fantasy and this is my first foray into this genre. I’m finding it difficult to gather all the strings together.

One of the problems is that “magic” allows the author to define the rules of the world. My version of magic is so powerful that there are few rules. With enough ability, a character can do almost anything. That’s not a good story line. It leads to the reader thinking, “Why not just wave your hand and solve all of the problems in chapter one? Then I wouldn’t have to waste time reading the entire book.”

Well, it’s not really that bad, but I’m seriously having difficulty defining the scope of what is possible.

Today my goal is to get my WIP in progress again.

I’m sitting on 25k words, six magicians (1 evil, 1 bad, 2 neutral or possibly allies, and 2 superstars), trolls that breed like tribbles (for you Trekkies out there), one fairy, a were-bear, an A.I. creature in the form of a snake, and an implacable dark force in the form of a distributed AI and my plot line suddenly seems inadequate, so I’ve been wandering in the wilderness for a while.

Besides paying business has picked up greatly and gets in the way. Then I’m moving. It looks like it may rain and the grass might grow and need attention. <Delete more excuses and cue sad violin music.>

This is what writer’s block looks like and I DON’T LIKE IT. I don’t like it in a box. I don’t like it with a fox. I will not tolerate Writer’s Block. I will not, Sam-I-Am.

More about this struggle to come soon. <Provided the grass behaves.>