This is the short story I wrote on my first ocean liner type cruise. (Had taken a Windjammer cruise years and years before). I started the story in the car on the way down to Galveston, writing by hand in a really neat green tablet I bought at Target just for the trip. Writing in a car is hard. Had a difficult time reading my handwriting afterwards.
Continued the story sitting in the bow of the ship as we sailed into the Caribbean. Then hung out in the ship’s library at various odd hours writing, mostly with the room all to myself. Everyone else came in to get sodoku cards. Wrote in the stateroom (we had a balcony). Wrote at the bar, I think.
I’d like to think someone noticed me all that time. “Hey, there’s that writer again!” I don’t think anyone paid attention.
SAINTS & SINNERS is a quirky little story where the two main characters throw people overboard. For a reason. It’s one of my favorites.
Here are some of my favorite covers (of my work). All were designed by Glendon Haddix and Streetlight Graphics (with guidance and suggestions from myself and my sister Roxanne). See Glendon’s other work at http://streetlightgraphics.com
TRUEPENNY was the hardest of the covers we ever collaborated on. I wanted a cat with some attitude just like the one he finally used, but I couldn’t communicate the specifics well enough. We went through several covers I didn’t like. And then I got this one. Love it that Streetlight Graphics is so committed to getting it right.
Because we already had the cat, THE RETURN OFTRUEPENNY was a snap.
SAINTS & SINNERS ended up very close to how I envisioned it. I wanted the mid-century ocean liner and the sky with the sun blazing out from under the clouds, and a woman who’d been thrown overboard. And that’s what he gave me. The woman was quite different in my mind, but she’s obviously fallen off the ship (or been tossed overboard, hint, hint.)
What a pleasure to make your own book covers (or to have a big hand in their making).
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Search and Recovery by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. (It’s been a Hunger Games couple of weeks)
Taking time off from writing. I’m nearly at the end of my brief respite, and it’s cost me. I should have finished THEGOODALL MUTINY by now. Aiming for the end of April, now, and honestly, it will probably be the end of May.
I realize I do a lot better when I write every single day, but sometimes I just don’t want to and I just don’t want to make myself do it. Welcome to the real world.
This isn’t writer’s block. I’ve got the ideas and the desire to write. I just decided to catch up on a lot of things I shuttle to one side in the ordinary scheme of things (like emails and the blog and website), and to read and watch TV.
I’ve just finished two months taking Dean Wesley Smith’s workshops on writing and the business of writing, and it was very hard working on those and writing at the same time. I’ve got a few more notes to input and a book to read, then I’m completely finished here (except for practice and review and practice and more practice).
Knowing that I’m the type of person who likes starting-off points, I’ll probably get back to writing Monday. Or maybe Sunday if I want to be a stickler about it.
In the meantime, I want to show off some of my favorite covers.
WHAT I’VE READ THIS WEEK: Blowback by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Dragon’s Bait by Vivian Vande Velde. A Murder of Clones by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
Anything written by Alexandra Fuller. I’ve only read the two, Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, and Cocktail Hour Under The Tree Of Forgiveness, but boy does that lady have a story to tell. These are memoirs from her childhood and early adulthood in colonial Africa. Cocktail Hour can be found here http://amzn.com/B004IYISJ4, and Don’t Let’s here http://amzn.com/B00CUG8GAS. I didn’t realize she had even more books until I was compiling this list today. Look’s like I’ve got some more Alexandra Fuller reading to do.
The Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch, but I’d advise watching the miniseries made out of it first, that way the shocking surprises will truly and surprisingly shock you. The books in question are Pines, Wayward, and The Last Town.
I can’t recommend the Grave novels of William Doonan too highly. They had me falling out of my chair laughing. Are good mysteries, too. About a very old man solving crime on cruise ships. Here’s the link to the first of them. You can find the rest through it. Grave Passagehttp://amzn.com/B0088JO4RK.
We just got through with AggieCon 46. Thanks to all of you who bought books by Gretchen Rix and Gretchen Lee Rix and Patrick Kampman. (I’m the two Gretchen’s, of course. Use my full name for romance novels. Patrick is his own man, and his books are pretty damn good).
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Downbelow Station by C. J. Cherryh. Frogged by Vivian Vande Velde. A Taste of You by Irene Preston.
The last day of February I finished the rough draft of the companion piece to The Safari Bride, The Cimarron Bride. Mind you, it’s a rough draft. I was supposed to have finished it at the end of January. Spent too much time watching TV, reading, sleeping, all sorts of stuff that interfered with the writing. Plus, there’s still a lot of work to be done on this, but I immediately launched into my next book, a science fiction mystery The Goodall Mutiny.
Start date on this was was March 1. It’s March 7 and I’ve only finished three chapters, but the good news here is that I might have a more complete first draft on this one than I did with The Cimarron Bride. At least that’s the plan. It’s also the plan to finish this one before April 1. We’ll know how that turned out pretty soon. Going to write a bit more on it tonight before I turn in.
Don’t forget to turn the clocks forward early Sunday morning. Daylight Savings Time begins.
Looks like I’ve done nothing but read in the last few weeks.
WHAT I READ SINCE LAST TIME:An Invitation to Scandal by Kelly Boyce. The Disappeared by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Merchanter’s Luck by C. J. Cherryh. Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. Mercenary Instinct by Ruby Lionsdrake. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.
I did more.
In addition to all the reading, I binge-watched season two of American Horror Story (Asylum), got BABY SINGS THE BOOS up and ready for CreateSpace trade paperback publication, got the car maintained, got Merry Maids fired (actually they fired us, didn’t want to come this far from home base), and I’ve almost finished the first draft or rough draft or the non-critical brain version of my next book THE CIMARRON BRIDE. Next up will be a science fiction novel THE GOODALLMUTINY. And then the third in the Boo Done It mysteries CHECKING OUT THE DEAD DUDE. And I hope for a fourth novel this year, another short romance, THE TEXICAN BRIDE. I’m also deep into an online Dean Wesley Smith writing workshop that’s downright fun (so far).
What I haven’t done is eat properly or get any exercise. Taking the golf cart out for a ride doesn’t count as exercise. Not even in Texas.
The armadillo didn’t see his shadow on groundhog day. I think our short (very short) winter in Texas is almost over. Bluebonnet driving trips are just around the corner. Texas highways during the Spring are fantastic things to behold. People stop on the shoulders and walk out into rattlesnake-infested wildflower fields just to get a great selfie.
The Boo Done It Mystery series started with our dog Boo Radley, named for the To Kill A Mockingbird character played in the movie by Robert Duvall. Our Boo Radley is female. We tend to pick out our pet names before we pick out our pets.
Boo in real life was much as she’s described in the novels TALKING TO THE DEAD GUYS and TEA WITH A DEADGAL, and in the new short story collection BABY SINGS THE BOOS. Stubborn, beautiful, nervous, hard to control, afraid of thunderstorms (and just about everything else unexpected), and beautiful.
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Aleutian Grave by William Doonan.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED OVER FOUR YEARS OF INDIE PUBLISHING:
SALES AREN’T STEADY. A terrific six months can be followed by six months of few to no sales. You don’t necessarily get any sales at Christmas time. And a book that started off slow and then got a lot of sales, and then sold very slowly? That book still sells four years later. But not a lot. I don’t think you can look at your figures and plan your upcoming income from indie published books. ADVICE: When you do make a lot of money out of your books, save the majority of it against the year you don’t do so well.
YOU (AND THE PROFESSIONAL COVER ARTIST YOU HIRE) CAN CREATE BEAUTIFUL AND KICK-ASS BOOKCOVERS. I think the operative word in the above sentence is professional. A professional cover artist with experience knows what they are doing. You can still have a lot of input in the creation of your cover, but let the professionals handle it.
SALES TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY REALLY DON’T HELP. So don’t ask them to buy your books. Don’t expect them to buy your books. What you need is strangers buying your books. Work on that. How? Targeted e-book email blasts like BookBub and ebook soda.
WRITE MORE GOOD BOOKS. The more good books you have in your stable, the more sales you will make. It won’t be equal, either. One or two of your books might make up most of your profit, with the others getting few to no sales at all. But the more you have, the more visible you are.
KEEP PRICES REASONABLE (OR LOW). Even I don’t like paying $12.99 for Stephen King books on Kindle, although he is one of only a few authors I will accept that from. Book prices run the gamut from free to ninety-nine cents to $2.99 and up past $9.99. Best advice is to look at your own book buying habits. How much are you willing to pay for a book from an author you’ve never hear of? How much are you willing to pay for a book that’s part of a series? If you take a free book and enjoy it, are you now willing to pay for other of the author’s books?
CONSTANTLY CHECKING TO SEE HOW MANY BOOKS YOU SOLD IS FUN! It’s also a big waste of your time. And in more than four years of publishing, I still can’t break the habit. Like I said, it’s fun. ADVICE: Don’t let yourself get depressed over the days (or months) of no sales or over-elated over the sales you do get.
I LOVE INDIE PUBLISHING! This is the most important of the many things I’ve learned so far.
DISCLAIMER: These have been my experiences and might not apply to you.
I’ve got a new book coming out in a week. BABY SINGS THE BOOS. It’s six short stories combining the main characters from THE COWBOY’S BABY and TALKING TO THE DEAD GUYS. They get into all sorts of Texas-based mischief. It was damned fun to write. Should be fun to read. Look for it on Kindle, Nook, and at Smashwords.
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson. Hot In December by Joe R. Lansdale.
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Unwritten by Charles Martin.
My cover artist is Streetlight Graphics. They’ve done all my covers for about four years now. I couldn’t be more proud of them. And it’s an interesting process. Between me and my sister we decide what we want, we tell them what we want, and then we get back a cover that’s exactly what we ordered, but it looks nothing like we’d imagined. We’ve got another new one coming up in a couple of weeks: BABY SINGS THE BOOS, a collection of six short stories combining the characters from The Cowboy’s Baby and The Cowboy’s Baby Goes To Heaven with the characters from Talking To TheDead Guys and Tea With A Dead Gal. Lots of fun to write. Hopefully lots of fun to read.