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Archive for August, 2011

Just a quick post in reminder that today is the last day to get Come the Shadows for 99 cents!

Kindle – Come the Shadows

Nook – Come the Shadows

Smashwords – Come the Shadows

The short story One Final Night (which now has a few more 5-stars on Amazon!) will remain free.

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My worst fear was that when I published I would wake up one day and be inundated with 1-star reviews declaring me the William Hung of self-publishers.

As yet, it hasn’t happened.

But I did receive my first 1-star review yesterday, on the short story One Final Night (which has now been downloaded 23k+ times).

My heart skipped a beat and I groaned when I saw it. I really didn’t even want to read the criticism, but I soldiered on.

The reason for the 1-star rating was given as this:

The problem is the story is depressing and discouraging and unlike other reviewers the ending was not enough to save it for me. Too little to late!

While it’s hard to see a 1-star pop up, I understand that it’s a tough story where the most common reaction is profuse tears and hugs and kisses for your loved ones. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to be thought-provoking. As Lisa Vaughn (@thegiftedones) said on Twitter – not every story can have a happy ending. It’s a bummer, but it’s just the way it is. Stories not only do – but need to – represent all facets of life.

Ironically, I tend to avoid tear-jerker, sad stories myself. I watched Message in a Bottle in the theaters and refuse to watch another Nicholas Sparks offering. I can’t stand such a sustained level of raw emotion. But I give him 5 stars for the work because it did exactly what it should – made me bawl my ever-loving eyes out.

But, I digress…

It was quite a long review and several other nuggets do jump out:

The problem is not that the author can’t write, because she certainly can!

…books that have unhappy endings just do not appeal to me, I hope the author takes that into account in future offerings because she is a good story teller who I would read again if her stories are more positive and uplifting in some way!

Those were some nice compliments, hidden in the paragraph, and I hope they stand out to others who read her review in the future. Honestly, if this review helps other people who dislike hard endings stay away, maybe that’s not entirely a bad thing. I want people to enjoy the writing and if, for some people, the quality can never overcome the ending then there is nothing I can do about that. But I’m glad to see the quality acknowledged, even under the 1-star heading.

Read the full review here.

This officially scuttled my plans for a post about review jitters, inspired by this post I saw linked on Facebook yesterday. I’m still a bit jittery without much chatter on Come the Shadows (and who wouldn’t prefer everyone to LOVE what you write) but I am just taking this a sign it’s time to get to work on that thick skin that’s been on my to-do list for, oh, 20-25 years.

PS: As for the suggestion in the review that all the 4- and 5-star reviews are all just people I know… Nope!

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I wrote Come the Shadows without any form of outlining. I knew the answer to whodunit (which, coincidentally, changed) and that’s about it. It was based on a script I wrote 3 years ago, which provided about 5% of the content of the book. The rest I wrote very organically, step by step, day by day, until a full book emerged.

When it was time to start book two, I drug my feet. To kick-start things I began an outline and came up with nearly 30 chapters of material before I actually started writing the text.

The outline has officially ended.

I’m again flying by the seat of my pants and while I’m a bit unsure how I’m going to get from M to Z I know X Y and Z, and a few bits in between. I have a feeling that I might just get faster now that I won’t be tied down by a plan. I hope so! It’s more than a little exciting to not know what exactly is going to happen in the next chapter. I get some of my best stuff that way (for example, most of the 2nd half of the last book).

In a few weeks, hopefully, I will be saying that the first draft is in the bag, and complaining about the three weeks of typing ahead.

PS.

If I had gone the traditional route, I might not even be writing this book now. Then again, I probably would write it right away despite the most well-intentioned advice. I do better when I finish a story fully so I can put it aside and free up all that mental room for the next one.

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Wendy, who recently reviewed Come the Shadows, has read and reviewed One Final Night on her blog. She doesn’t normally touch short stories but liked the book enough to give this one a chance.

Result?

She liked it even more than the book and says (I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting her email.) “skip the mysteries and just go for drama!”

And she pointed out that’s a genre issue more than any issue with the writing of Come the Shadows – she’s not really a mystery person. Either way, I was very gratified by her overwhelming love for the short story.

Check out her review here.

And, as always, One Final Night is free here, here, and here.

Reminder: Come the Shadows is only discounted until the end of August. Snag your discounted copy now via any of the links on the right side of the blog.

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I write in a spiral notebook. It’s my greatest strength and my greatest weakness. It feeds my creativity and my terror all at once.

When I’m writing I’m ‘in the zone’ and I don’t think about anything but the next step or even the next curve of an ‘a’. I just let the ideas flow and the physical act of writing does wonders to my overactive brain, forcing it to slow down and focus on those few relevant moments in the story.

But when I’m not writing, or thinking about the next part of the story, I’m thinking one thing…

What if I lose it?

That fear grows in proportion with the number of days since I last typed up my pages. And right now, that’s a lot of growing.

I really dislike the typing stage. It takes me a solid week to type up one month of work. I can type a good 25-30 pages a day and the sense of progress is great, especially near the end of that week.

But so is the pain. And the boredom.

I know, I know – stop with the notebook already, right?

Eh….

Maybe one day I will. But there are benefits to the notebook as well – the creativity it feeds, and so much more. The notebook is the Rough Draft. When I type it up I then have a respectable First Draft. Typing is my first stage of editing. I fix little mistakes, and big ones too. I realize where areas need to be stronger. I start to plan out what needs to be fixed. I even put little red-text notes, with underlining and parentheses, that say FIX THIS HERE!

Right now I have 80 pages in my notebook and am just beginning Chapter 29 .(Yes, I have 3-5 page chapters – not James Patterson level but still kind of pace-y). Only the prologue and chapter one exist in the computer and I’m actually starting to forget some of the earlier information. (Did we already discover that evidence or not?!) Once typed up this will amount to about 100 pages, based on the way it converts due partially to what I end up adding as I type.

I know I’m at the point I need to type. I’m beyond it really.

But I resist.

Last night I even skimmed through most of the pages, reading an item here and there, to figure out my question about a particular piece of evidence. I got my answer and I kept writing.

My current goal is to be more than halfway finished writing the second book by the end of the month. I’m completely on track to hit that and if I’m smart I should then pause and type for a week. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. I’d really like to finish the first draft entirely by the end of September and typing, though vital, feels like treading water (in mud) instead of swimming powerfully toward my goal.

If you see me out with a big purse with a distinct notebook shape and I have a very tight hand on it… I still haven’t started typing yet.

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I have a tendency to adore things that most people don’t know exist.

Movies:

Vibes
Who’s that Girl

TV Shows:

The Goode Family
Better Off Ted

Musicians:

Curtis Stigers
Billy Falcon
Junior Brown

And then there’s a very specific pair of flip-flops Wal-Mart carried when I was in college: for one year. I still have one pair that is about a millimeter away from wearing through entirely.

I gravitate toward the things that spark something different, that aren’t ‘like everything else’. The first two musicians are soulful and unique, the 3rd is just downright funny and surprising. In TV shows I love rapier wit. Both of those skewer something (environmentalism and other earthy ideals or corporate culture). The movies are actually quite bad in many ways but they are just so cute and warm.

But it’s harder to be on the fringe with the written word (at least for those of us without e-readers). I do love less-than-mainstream work. I’ve read most of Kathy Reichs but only a couple of James Patterson’s works. I love Diana Gabaldon who has many rabid fans but is not a ‘star’ at the top like others. I do enjoy a great cult read, with The Hitchhiker’s Guide topping the list.

Now I am ‘fringe’. It’s an interesting full-circle.

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12749 people have downloaded One Final Night from Amazon, and a few of them have even taken the time to give (very nice) reviews.

I know it’s a drop in the bucket, and some people actually sell that many copies of something in the same amount of time but it’s really gratifying simply to have a small piece of work get in front of a lot of eyes.

And there are many other eyes I can’t even count.

I published the short story on Amazon and Smashwords only, and the later sent it to Barnes & Noble. As a consequence,  I have no idea how many people have downloaded it from B&N and I never will, as far as I can tell.

But a couple of days after it became free the B&N ranking was around 50k. Now it’s 18k. (They don’t separate free/paid). I like that climb.

What does it mean for me?

Honestly, I don’t know. I lost all perspective on numbers somewhere around 5,000.

Has it translated into mega-awesome numbers of people purchasing my discounted Come the Shadows?

No.

Will it?

I don’t know.

I plan to leave the short story free indefinitely, and Come the Shadows discounted through the end of August, when it will then return to $2.99. My hope is simply that more people take the time to read the work and consider the longer piece. They are not in the same genre, but I hope it gives a hint of my writing and show’s the value therein.

12807

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