Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Virtue of the Three-Day Work Week

So I'm starting this campaign. I'd appreciate your endorsement, and would not say no if you would donate to the Naked World Domination Quest, because honestly, you'll all be happier when I'm in charge... but baby steps...

How have I blogged 5 years and this is my first paradise?
So I've been taking Fridays off this month—I had so much vacation accumulated I was losing it and said NO WAY. This is NOT the way to go, so there you have it... and THIS week, I also had MONDAY off because of the holiday (Memorial day, to any of you not in the states)

Well for STARTERS on my 4-day weekend, I got almost 16,000 words written, so THAT was a bonus, and I felt good—enough sleep, enough down time.

And then on Tuesday, low and behold... I got WORK done at work! Wednesday, too. See, I think Americans are expected to work so many hours that you just can't POSSIBLY be productive all of them. But if we had less time we had to be there, we could be productive for all of them. So employers should like this TOO.

Rested productive employees, reduced stress-related diseases, well-rounded people because they have time for a life (or second career, whatever)...

Who's with me!?

In Other News.

I spent much of yesterday twitterpated. I can't tell you why or I'd have to kill you, but I am really hoping it is good news. It's NEARLY good news in ANY case.

In Other OTHER News

BuNoWriMo: 3 days away!!!!

Anybody want to volunteer to clean my desk? After my MONTHS AND MONTHS on one project, it looks a bit like a typhoon.

if you look at the word 'sale' too long, it looks wrong, dunnit? 
And FINALLY: Best Idea EVER!!!

You know, I am really BAD at this whole wonky timing of sales and promo thing. When I do it right, it is totally a FLUKE, but timing that Good PW Review to lead into FREE and SALE? Seriously... I've not only given away more than 500 of the first book (as of last night—more than 250 a day for the free days), I have also SOLD about a third of my TOTAL sales ever in 2 days. Is it going to make me rich? Not even a little bit. For what I've made this month I can buy a seriously less cheap than normal but not good bottle of wine... But people are READING MY BOOK!!!

If you get a good prestigious review and have the authority to have a sale about it, I strongly recommend it—sharing the celebration by giving people a change to share what you are celebrating? Seriously.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Free and Cheap!!!

You know, I'd been a little worried with my review that PW reviews were a little easier on readers this year, but then I spent some time on the ABNA threads and I see that isn't so. I got really lucky to get a match for a reviewer who likes my sort of books, but I also feel like I get to feel pretty good about pulling it off for him or her.

To CELEBRATE, for the next 5 days (Tuesday through Saturday) A Flock of Ill Omens is FREE. This is the first in the serial and I think 12 chapters—the Amazon excerpt is only 2 chapters—so it is quite a bit more than was already available for free.


For the REAL PAHTAY... the whole book, A Shot in the Light, Parts I-IV, is only 99 cents. (normally it is $2.99). I am leaving it this price until Amazon cuts are posted June 13.

If you are confused about WHY I am celebrating, my review I'm so excited about is HERE.

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE some help spreading the word if peeps wouldn't mind giving a share or a mention.

In Other News

I had a KICKASS writing weekend. Friday-Sunday I wrote 15K and I should finish my LAST first draft for A Shot in the Light today. It will run about 20 pages longer than the others, but not enough longer to think I should split it into two books.

This is often how I am... The third quarter is hardest, but once I really get rolling into the ending, it flies. I know what I want to happen. I'm excited to make it happen. And I am a lunatic adrenaline rush until it's done.

Hopefully book 10 will be ready by NEXT Monday. Sooner if possible.


And BuNoWriMo starts SUNDAY! Want to write book in June? Have your idea ready? I think it's time to get plotting!!!

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Shot in the Light: Publisher's Weekly Review

This review is for my Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Entry, which is books 1-4 for the serial, available HERE if anyone is interested.

ABNA Publishers Weekly Reviewer

This novel is a compelling look at how people survive when everything they know has changed. Chapters focus on a cast of alternating characters across the United States and their reactions to a massive flu outbreak that begins killing people all over the country. Journalists Sydney Knight, Tonya Simons, and Theo Jacobs, grad students Nathan Drake and Jules Ahler, nurse Sarah McGrath, mercenary Matt Jacobs, senator's daughter Dorene Radcliff, and CDC employee Pierre Van Wouten utilize their skill sets and knowledge as they try to investigate and survive the epidemic. As paths cross and groups form, a picture of what caused the epidemic begins to emerge. This novel engages readers from the first page and keeps them turning pages until the end. Characters' backgrounds and motivations are explored in depth, and relationships grow. The sense of dread grows along with the epidemic, and action scenes leave readers on the edge of their seats. The author's writing style is engaging and serves the plot well. This novel is a very strong look at the lengths to which people will go to survive.

The underlined bit is the thing I plan to use for my promo stuff... Definitely a nice perk!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Naked Thursday!!!

It has been WAY too long since we've had a Naked Thursday around here, but you know what? It is the LAST day I have to work before we ease on into the post-memorial day SUMMER feeling, so I think we just ought to be NAKED!

What do I MEAN by Naked?

You just thought I was taking my clothes off, didn't you? Well I AM, but that's just the START. See, NAKED is an ATTITUDE. It is shedding all those false fronts and just being YOU, no layers of deception, no purchased false fronts, no status symbols. Just YOU, out there loving the world and life. (or not—Naked can be vulnerable, too—scary and revealing the BAD)--Wherever you are, that's okay. Just embrace it. Own it. And put it out there.


The Benefits?

Well there is no itchy, course false front... No BINDING discomfort.
You know the people who love you, love YOU and not some false you they think you are.
No need for matching or sorting. No WORRY about accessorizing.



Well when there is more of you exposed, there are more scrapes and bug bites.
Sometimes it can be awkward...

All in All I think you can SEE the way to go, but if you NEED to test it out... start with Thursdays...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ebb and Flow

It's funny how things need to be aligned for the writing to flow. I am a person who doesn't actually believe in writer's block, but I DO believe a story can get stopped up... that sometimes you have to write something ELSE for a little while before you can get back to progress on that WiP.

One side of the mountain blew totally off
So IMAGES today are from Mt. St. Helen's... it blew 34 years ago yesterday, covering the little town I lived in (Moscow, Idaho) in ¾ inch of ash... school was canceled for the year... one of those once in a lifetime experiences... (which is probably good)

You know what helps the writing flo?


I am SO IMPORTANT at my job that I can never take time off... erm... or rather, we are in our first real year as an office and I'm the only veteran besides my boss... it is possibly my own exaggerated sense of self importance, but it has just seemed for too long like I couldn't actually be GONE...

We had a bunch of hiring to do, then we had a grant, then I had a national meeting, and I had students with projects... (like I really COULDN'T be GONE)--but I also noticed I was losing vacation days... you can only accumulate so many, so this summer, as much as possible, I am taking three days weekends... now into the foreseeable future. And Friday was my first one.

Hubby worked part of it. Me home alone... and it was a GREAT writing day.

It left the forest below looking like this--those are TREES (not grass)
Know what DOESN'T help the writing?

A hangover.

I really am too old to be so stupid, but I got to drinking wine with my neighbor Friday night and Saturday I was really mostly worthless writing-wise. I got some other stuff done. Some shopping, some chores. But each time I'd think, “I should write” I would sit down and think... no, what I really want is to watch a episode of Deadwood... So don't do that.

Know what HELPS?

A good night SLEEP!

I do really good writing when I get up feeling refreshed. When I still feel tired, not so much.

Here it is 30 years later, recovering slowly
Know what DOESN'T HELP?

Needy people. Doesn't matter who they are, but mostly childings... childings who need rides. Childings who need jobs. Childings who need clean clothes. Childings who you are married to who are just generally needy. Childings with fur who need their dogfood made... Other childings with fur who need their litter boxes changed... But I love them, so I suppose that is just part of the deal.

I suppose if it flowed too fast, it would just bowl over everything in its wake.

Whatever the challenges, I managed to write almost 8000 words in my three days off and have reached the halfway point, if this book doesn't end up a bunch longer than the rest. The biggest deal is I really wound up about the first five chapters, all of which I'd started, but had [needs a scene that does this] at the end of all of them. I finally feel like I really AM half way, rather than having a whole bunch of started chapters, none of which had reached satisfactory conclusions. Hopefully a week from now I will be able to tell you the first draft is DONE.

So there. What helps and hurts your writing?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Seeking New Weather God

This man is an ASS HAT
So you know how here in Michigan was the worst winter EVER?

Well THIS week we had a real life, big deal 90 minutes in the basement Torado warning. Not ONE tornado, but THREE, and one of them touched down twice (so four touch downs, thankfully not where they did much damage) (and they got four inches of snow in Colorado and are having fires in California). I am declaring the CURRENT weather god incompetent and he needs REPLACING, preferable with one who is more mild tempered.

A little gender-bendy, too, which is good--impies balance.
Maybe Dionysus... He'd the god of wine and pleasure... Doesn't a weather god reminiscent of wine and pleasure seem like he'd be a really GOOD weather god... I LIKE wine. And I LIKE pleasure!

Add caption
Or maybe Demeter... At least she limits the misery to six months of the year...

Any suggestions for who ought to get the job? Surely nobody can be worse than the current guy...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Envy and Hope

So last week on my Monday, Thursday blog schedule I blogged on Tuesday and Wednesday, but I will try to get better at this schedule thing...
The Green-Eyed Monster is Mopey, but not angry

I have some amazing friends... not mere acquaintances, but people I've been friends with for YEARS that are having some amazing things happening right now. I want to share that news with you... and I also want to talk a bit about the emotional repercussions of our friends finding not just publishing, but HUGE successes. Three of these are ABNA friends—people I met in the first year I was in the contest in 2010, but let me start with the 4th case, since she is part of this blogging community.

Sarah Ahiers and the Freaking Agents COMPETING FOR HER

This is oldish news. Sarah's blog on the matter is from late January, but it totally fits the theme here, so bear with me.

You hear of this happening. A book so awesome that you don't just get one nibble, but several large BITES. But it doesn't happen OFTEN. It's certainly never happened to ME... and it happened to Sarah... her book was SO AWESOME that agents were competing to work with her.

I wish here an AMAZING giant congratulations... even if I'm a bit envious.

[note to self: one who fails to query will not have this happen. It is RARE if you query. It is IMPOSSIBLE if you don't]

Janet Oakley and Awards and Agent Requests

Janet writes historical fiction which has a smaller readership than some other sorts. She had some trouble traditionally, so she's self-published two books, Tree Soldier and Timber Rose. The first has won several awards and the latter WILL, once it's been out more than a couple weeks, so clearly Janet is doing well. And then this week she has gotten a request for a full based on a Twitter Pitch contest (who even knew they HAD these?] for another book—one set in WWII.

So HUGE congratulations for Janet for past and future success.

[Note to self: if you aren't paying attention, the opportunities are going to pass you by.]

Patrick Frievald and his Bram Stoker Nomination

Patrick writes horror, which makes me jealous already. I would LOVE to be able to write horror, but I seem to lack the imagination. He's had some great successes in publishing but the BIGGIE is that he was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for 2013: Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel (for Special Dead). I can't find who won, but I assume I would have heard if it was Patrick. STILL, you should SEE the names on this list—he is in AMAZING company... MADE IT kind of company.  CONGRATS Patrick!!!

AHA!  HERE are the winners!

And finally...

My Buddy Gae FREAKING Polisner got a Freaking NEW YORK TIMES Book Review!!!! (a really good one)

Gae's first book was quietly a raging success... and by raging success, I mean she sold movie rights and had teachers all over the country using it in their classrooms—a literary middle grade/YA straddler (14 year old MC). But the Summer of Letting Go seems to not want to make such a quiet appearance (yeah, we should ALL be so quiet as to sell movie rights)

So Hart... How do you FEEL about all this?
(yes, I talk to myself, doesn't everybody?)

A bit weepy with pride. Seriously, tears shed with joy and pride for my friends.
And jealous, a bit.
But mostly HOPEFUL... See, I knew ALL these guys before they MADE IT... that sort of means all of US might make it TOO, right?

So chins up, friends... WE WILL!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Vive le FRAUD!

So it's first Wednesday, right? And you all know what that means...

Yeah... me and my 800 best friends... feeling insecure... but feeling insecure TOGETHER, so that is good. I encourage you to get out there and visit oodles of insecure writers today to make them feel better.

As for the topic HERE?


If you haven't had it yet, don't worry. It's coming. Most of us have survived it several times over. Some of us have been debilitated for a while, but mostly we get past it and keep going.

This writer blogging circle is SO amazing, but it CAN be the source of some of this angst.

I remember my first time... the topic? Snowflake plotting.

I read the blog and found myself more confused than anything. It was a ringing endorsement on how STRONG her book was because she'd used this method that I couldn't make heads or tails of. I tried to understand what I was missing, but it mostly just really irritated me. (seems like a lot of work, eh? but the bigger problem is by day I am a statistician and my big analytic brain can go all hulk and become surprisingly DULL when I try too hard in a creative domain)

This has happened for the Hero's Journey. Character Arcs. Themes. (do my novels have themes? Um... what?)

And then things like this article I came across yesterday cross my screen... This is an interview with a half dozen VERY famous authors on their use of symbolism.

Symbolism Interview

You know how many of them use symbolism intentionally? John Updike. Do I want to write like John Updike. NO. Mostly because I take the man to be a misanthrope based on his characters--though his arrogance in the interview supports that conclusion "you can't write a classic without symbolism"--um... yeah (frankly I'd rather take my cues from Bradbury, but thanks), but never mind. The REAL point (HA!  GOT YA, because I HAVE ONE!) is for SOME PEOPLE intentional adoption of very meticulous techniques is REALLY helpful, and more power to them. If you do any or all of these things that is FABULOUS, but the process is DIFFERENT for every last one of us and we should never be hard on ourselves (or anyone else) for NOT using something when it seems to in fact get in the way. And if we DO use them, we should take caution to make sure the TECHNIQUE doesn't overshadow the STORY (I've seen this—it's a bit painful, but I've also seen ALL of these put to great use.)

TRY STUFF. If something works, GREAT. If it doesn't, it just is a mismatched tool for you—nothing more--not your fault, doesn't make you a fraud. I have an MS in psychology. I like to think that whole character arc thing is just how I see characters—they grow and change—sometimes that is a result of plot, sometimes a cause, sometimes it is just a lovely side story. But like most of these guys interviewed... I'd prefer my themes and symbolism to occur organically. Of course they will happen. And isn't it almost more beautiful when a reader reads your work and comes up with a theme you never noticed (it really makes you feel smart, but it also makes your work three dimensional). And it just was a lovely accident.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Think if I say that enough times it will happen?

This may give you a feel on my mixed feelings about order
So first I want to throw out a HUGE congrats to those of you who survived and thrived A to Z last month. I missed it in a lot of ways, but I would have been a loser poser who managed posts but not the getting around, and that just isn't fair—not in the spirit of the thing at all.

But now it's May.

And going forward I think I need a bit of structure. I don't really LIKE rules and such, but I've been too scattered for two long and I think I need this to get me going again. So the blogging plan going forward is THIS:

MONDAY: Blog with writing related theme.

THURSDAY: blog a little more personal, which for me is usually silly, but can sometimes be soapboxy, depending on if my soapbox is too sudsy (just got to rinse those suckers off now and then eh?)

ADDITIONAL POSTS: for extra stuff: promoting friends if they need it, IWSG, or straight out news.

But I wanted you to be able to count on original thoughts twice a week no matter what. I know I missed yesterday (today is Monday in my world—I traveled last week for work), but for the foreseeable future, this is the deal.

Speaking of writing...

I pushed send on Rescue Squad yesterday. This is Book 9 of A Shot in the Light. Once upon a time I thought I'd post the last installment this week, but at the time I thought there were 10 so I'm not as behind as it seems. Ten should post in May, 11 in June and 12 in July.

By Friday I also hope to have published the COLLECTION of 5-8, for anyone who wants hard copies or is behind and wants a bit of a deal ($2.99 for 4 books, rather than the $3.96 they'd be separately).

Speaking Speaking of Writing...

BuNoWriMo starts in less than a month. For any of you wanting to do a WriMo in the summer, my writing group will embark on our 5th this year and we invite any of you who wants to join. It doesn't preclude you from joining Camp NaNoWriMo. It is just a Facebook Group that makes it all a little more personal. If you are interested, you can join here.