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November kinda sucked.

December 4, 2012

Well, 90,000 was the goal for me. I ended with 62,043, approximately a third of which was smut. I ended with most of a novel and 3 short stories.

The reason I didn’t get to the initial goal was that about halfway through November, my father passed away. Some of you might recall that he had been sick for a while. A combination of leukemia, lymphoma, pneumonia, bronchitis, blood clots in his leg and simply being age 82 ganged up on him and simply wore him out. He was in no pain at the end (thank you, hospice care providers, for all you do), and he passed away in his home, in his sleep. My mom and I had a long time to come to terms with the fact that he wasn’t getting better, and while we’re still sad we’re not utterly devastated.

I know you guys sent a lot of kind thoughts our way, and I want to thank you for that. I’m glad to have taken part in NaNoWriMo this year; it’s quite possible that this was the only thing that kept me sane. Congrats to all you awesome winners, and here’s to next year being a better one.

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General writing updates

October 29, 2012

I sat down and took a look at the numbers of words written since my hiatus from this blog, and it ain’t encouraging. Well. It’s not good, how about that. It is kind of encouraging, in fact, because it shows me exactly how far behind I’ve fallen and how much I need to step back up. Shame is not always a negative emotion.

April: Goal 50,000. Total 35448. Percentage 70.9%. That’s a C-minus.

May: Goal 54,000. Total 24285. Percentage 45%. F.

June: Goal 52,000. Total 37229. Percentage 71.6%. C-minus.

July: Goal 52,000. Total 26983. Percentage 51.9%. F.

August: Goal 50,000. Total 24892. Percentage 49.8%. F.

September: Goal 50,000. Total 18637. Percentage 37.3%. Super F.

You know, that’s one way to look at it, and as far as negative motivation goes it’s not a bad one. However, there are other ways. The way I’m looking at things is that I wrote 167,474 words in that time. If I followed that pattern, I’d have twice that in a year, or around 335000. And the cool part about that is that I plan to do a hell of a lot better than I did. September was just shameful.

Side note: this year I plan to join in on National Novel-Writing Month for the first time in a couple years. I have a fantasy that I plan to write at the rate of 2000 words/day…and I also plan to keep up the smut at the rate of 1000 words/day at the same time. That’s 3000 words a day for the whole month, leaving me with 90,000 words at the end. To put it in perspective of the other numbers up there, the original goal for November according to my new year’s resolution would be 52,000 (and 90k would be 173%). To be honest, I’ll be happy with the 50,000 minimum for NaNoWriMo and another 25k for the smut, but this event is all about pushing yourself!

So booya. Cheers!

Actual Writing Stuff

October 22, 2012

I want to thank everyone for the kind words and thoughts about my dad. He’s steadily improving, but it’s a slow process.

And now for something completely different.

My writing has been…well, not sporadic, but certainly not as regular as I planned for it to be at the beginning of the year. I vowed to write 2000 words a day and have TOTALLY blown that. Some of it was the chaos from dad’s illness and some of it was purely burnout. I’m prone to that; once I get going on something and achieve a bit of success at it, something in my brain clicks off and I lose interest.

This is what is known as “a bad thing” for any kind of business that requires constant sustained effort. Like writing, say. In May I don’t think I posted anything. I wrote some, but didn’t put any stories out at all. Since then I’ve been better, posting two or three stories a month, but that May is still this sort of gaping failure that looms a bit in my mind. I’ve let it push me back into writing more, but I’m still not often up to 2000/day.

I plan to change this in November. I’ve enjoyed being a part of National Novel-Writing Month in years past, and I think it’s just the right thing to get my butt back in gear. The plan is to write 2000/day on my NaNovel and then another 1000 or so on smut. That’s 90,000 words in November, which should give me plenty to edit by December. If I feel myself burning out or getting complacent again, then screw all that. No more burnouts for this writer.

A reader named Lily asked me a question that I hadn’t really considered before:

If you don’t mind my asking, do you notice a difference in sales between your longer works and shorter? And, is it better to write two 20k word novellas per month, or four 10k word shorts per month?

Appreciate the question, Lily. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that I have a hell of a lot of useful information for you. I’ll do what I can here.

The problem is that I’m pretty new when it comes to professional writing. We’re not quite to the one-and-a-half year anniversary of my first post to Amazon as Maxwell. What’s I’ve found, though, is that my writing gets better as I go. Generally speaking, yes, my longer works sell better. My recent novella-length story, Breeder, is about 38,500 words and sells very well compared to others. However, that could easily be because of the three five-star reviews that I’ve gotten for it on Amazon. I like to think I earned those reviews, and it’s one of my personal favorites of my stories, but there’s no doubt that stars sell books.

My short-story collections sell fairly well, with Variations (two five-star reviews, 52,500 words) being the strongest seller. That might be because they’re a bargain. Most of the stories in those collections are 2.99 apiece. I bundle them together and sell the bundles for 4.99, and I’m probably going to raise that to 5.99 fairly soon. That said, my biggest collection, Multiple Variations (98,300 words, no reviews) is a low seller at 8.99. High price? Unappealing cover? People already own the stories? I’m not sure. Either way, I’m gonna make another set of bundles here fairly soon, and we’ll see how those go.

Short answer, I suppose, is that I tend to see more sales from my longer stories…as long as they’re well-received and there are some good reviews. Some of my recent ones are longer, but I’ve become better at writing as I go, too, so that’s probably a factor.

Um. Not to be arrogant or anything here. I go back over some of my early stuff and wince. I HAVE to be better than I was.

Okay, second question! If you are just starting out, and have nothing or very little available in the marketplace, I would focus on the shorter stories for now. This will allow your fans to find additional works by you if they like your stories and do a search for more. It also allows you to create bundles more quickly, which leads to more volume of available works for new fans to find. I’d give it a few months before taking some time out for the longer stuff, so you build some momentum. That said, if you think your novella is going to seriously win some awards or fans, hit it. This is just one guy’s opinion. Lily, I look forward to seeing you in print, even if it’s on my Kindle.

Checking my work:

Current story: Working on one about a voodoo tattoo. Political correctness ho!

Currently editing: Something that I honestly haven’t named yet (sci-fi body morphing deal), along with a book from yesteryear of NaNoWriMo that will be published under my actual name as an urban fantasy. Waiting in the wings is book two of Staying In Vegas.

I’m Not Dead

October 16, 2012

But I AM a fan of British comedy.

Anyway.

I haven’t posted here in a while. Some of you have noticed. There is a reason for this. Well, two reasons, but one vastly overshadows the other.

Dad got sick.

He found out late last year that he had leukemia and a slow-growing sort of lymphoma. He didn’t tell us about it until after the Christmas holidays (mom’s still pissed about that). Neither of the cancers are horribly serious forms (a nurse friend of mine described his version of leukemia as “about as serious as a broken leg”). However, the term “serious” takes on a different meaning when you’re talking about a man in his early 80’s. Dad’s tough, and he’s gone through the chemo well, but there’s been a vastly increased demand on my time, often at random. He recently caught himself some pneumonia and spent damn near a month in the hospital; he’s still not totally out of the woods, but he’s doing better. To top it all off, there were also some drug interactions that led to him contracting diabetes. Seriously, this is the gift that keeps on giving.

Dad is in good spirits. He got to see some of his other children a couple weeks back, kids that he hasn’t seen in two years or so. With the right food and nursing from mom, along with the medical community, he’s doing as well as could be hoped at the moment.

It’s impacted my writing schedule, folks. I’m not saying that in a whiny way; it’s just how things are. In May I didn’t publish anything at all and my sales took a pretty serious hit. The energy has come back as dad has improved, and I’m adjusting to not knowing precisely when I might be called away from the keyboard. A person can adjust to anything. It helps that my complaints are petty compared to what dad’s going through; I can remind myself of that when I get pissy.

I want to thank the fans for sticking with my books, and particularly the kind comments on this blog in the last few silent months. I have kept writing, and today I finished the second in what I think is going to be the “Staying in Vegas” trilogy. I’m also going to be branching out into less boob-oriented fiction under my real name, but I doubt that I’ll abandon the smut just yet.
See you guys around. Any kind thoughts or prayers directed toward my dad’s recovery are appreciated in advance. Cheers!

March in Review

April 1, 2012

April Fool’s! Okay, now that that’s out of the way (I don’t know about you guys, but I suck at April Fool’s), let’s take a look at how things went in March.

Total words written in March: 56339.

Word goal for March: 52000.

Stuck with my New Year’s resolution: Technically, no. There were days when I only wrote a little and then made it up the next day, or on Sunday.

Concern with New Year’s resolution at this point: Zero. As far as I’m concerned, I’m meeting my writing goals, so New Year’s can sit and whistle.

Stories published: Shamrock Delight, Further Variations, and Granted.

Stories written: Silken Jane, Shamrock Delight, Granted, a Weird West story that I might publish under a different name, an untitled one having to do with magical shirts, and another untitled one set in the Absolute Ecstasy universe.

Misc: Retitled the book “Looking Sideways At The World.” It is now “Additional Variations,” ’cause branding is fun. I’m also currently writing another Aegis Chronicles story, even though they don’t sell very well. I just like ’em.

Also I decided to try World of Warcraft. I know, I know, I define the term “early adopter.” If you’re on the Stormrage server, say hi sometime!

Difficult Stuff (and Crocodiles)

March 22, 2012

This is going to come as a shock to you.

Sit down.

You’re reading this on a computer screen, so I’m assuming that you’re sitting. Never mind.

Here’s the shocking bit: writing is not all roses and song.

I know.

I’ve heard male writers (not me, I like being alive) refer to it as analogous to a woman giving birth: there’s lots of pain and screaming, but at the end you have something to show for your effort that you can be proud of.

There are multiple problems with the analogy, of course, not the least of which is that it makes women want to slap you upside your fool head. I don’t have enough women in my life that I can afford to alienate them like that.

I had a point. Ah, there it is, hiding under all the words. The point is, writing is difficult. There are easy parts, like there are easy parts to everything. Even crocodile dentistry has its easy, pleasurable bits (most likely the parts having nothing to do with the crocodiles). Writing has its wonderful moments, where you’re flying along and not worried about plot or word count or crocodile insurance or anything else. Even the parts where you wrestle with theme and stuff can be fun.

For me, though, the re-writing is a bitch. If you read some of my earlier stories, I’m ashamed to say, you’ll see that.

I’m not big on re-writing. Some people say “writing is re-writing,” and while I’m not going to throw overt abuse their way, I will think nasty thoughts at them. Re-writing, the editing process as a whole, is a vital part of writing. Initially, it’s easy to see your finished rough draft as a masterpiece. This is particularly easy when you haven’t been writing long, and honestly, I haven’t been writing that long, at least not professionally. I know enough to know better than to throw my first draft out there, though.

What I’ve been doing is, I’ve been teaching myself to do minimal rewrites. When I edit, I start at the beginning and go page by page, line by line, and fix the stuff that doesn’t make sense. Really, that’s all editing is: making sure that what you write is clear enough. It’s like clearing the crocodiles out of a swamp to make a lake. They do that to swamps, right? I just realized that I hadn’t thrown a crocodile in there for a while.

Right. Editing. So I go through, catch all the typos, fix things like sentence structure, execute most of my commas (the commectomy has to be half of my editing cycle), and make it look like the story was written by a person with a nodding acquaintance with English. Then I go through it again and fix things like plot points (fuck, the crocodile bit his left leg off, dammit!) and other details to make the story work better. Then I publish that sucker.

Am I perfect? Allow me to spend a moment laughing here. I have many faults as a writer, and I’m even aware of some of them. But I’m better than I was when I started publishing in August. I’ll be better this time next year, and the year after that. I’ll probably be making more money, too, but we’ll see how that goes.

I want to thank my audience, by the way. Each month that I’ve been writing has been better, sales-wise, than the month before. February was by far my best month ever, and I finally broke the $1000-in-one-month mark, domestic. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am at that, and it’s all because of you guys. Thank you, and I plan to keep writing weird erotica for the foreseeable future.

Checking my work:

Since my last post, I’ve put up two short stories and a bundle of shorts.

Shamrock Delight is my St. Patrick’s Day story. Michael wakes up in the body of an incredibly hot redhead and has to figure out what the hell happened. The last thing he remembers is going into a bar on St. Patrick’s Day, two days ago.

Granted is my newest story. John visits a company called Wishes that promises to grant his wish (for true love) as long as he helps Wishes grant two other wishes from other clients. He agrees, and soon finds himself helping with a bank robbery…as the extremely female distraction.

Finally, my newest bundle is Further Variations, which collects Absolute Ecstasy, Changing My Channel, Changes of Heart, Shamrock Delight, and A Desire For Dragonfire under one cover.

A few housekeeping things: I’ve changed the cover of More Variations just a bit, because I always sort of hated the original one. I also changed the title of the collection “Looking Sideways At The World.” It’s now Additional Variations, with a different cover, but the contents are still the same as they were.

Next story is gonna be Silken Jane, though it will appear in a fairy-tale erotica collection first. I also have a fun short about shirts that change people, and that Weird West story that took a variety of strange turns. I also have the body swap story…okay, novella to edit. Bleh. You know how I adore editing things.

Crocodiles.

Cheers!

Welcome to March!

March 1, 2012

Ah, March. Gateway to April. My favorite things about March are that my brother and dad have birthdays, and Cadsbury Creme Eggs are on sale. I will give it this, though: it’s a hell of a lot easier to type “March” than “February.”

But we have other water-dwelling lifeforms to sear. As I did last month, I’m going to post my word count for February.

Word count goal for February: an even 50,000. Thanks to the extra day and lack of Sundays, etc, etc.

Words written in February: 55,091.

Stuck to New Year’s resolution: Fuck yeah I did. That is, I wrote at least 2000 words per day except on Sundays if I didn’t feel like it. Go ME. For those keeping score at home, I bought myself a bottle of whiskey to celebrate. Bushmill’s, don’t settle for anything less.

Stories published in February: 1 from another pen name, The Dragon and the (Virgin) Princess, and Enticing the Unicorn. That’s right, got the damn unicorn story finished! I actually quite enjoyed it. Remember, if you head to Smashwords and enter the coupon code “BB34Z” you can get your free copy of The Dragon and the (Virgin) Princess.

Stories finished in February: 2 from another pen name, Dragon, Unicorn, the sci-fi bodyswap one, and two more called Granted and Silken Jane. Granted will be the next one posted, most likely, and Silken Jane (a retelling of the folk tale Iron John, with rather more transgender transformations and sex) will probably show up in a collection of erotic fairy tales fairly soon. Either way, it’ll be out as a stand-alone story soon enough as well.

Works in Progress: A TG one that has to do with St. Patrick’s Day (I know, I’m behind. Sosumi.) After that, I’m going to take a stab at the Weird West with a project I’m calling Sisters In Arms in my head. Also gonna have another bundle of published stories out fairly soon. I think I’ll call it Further Variations. Themes rock.

Cheers!

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