Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Innuendo and a teaser

Something I never considered when choosing a name for this book was that I'd be listed among sex instruction manuals and religious manifestos. My only thought back then was that a little innuendo might make for a nice catchy title, a bit of titular wording to attract people's attention.  But when the book was first listed on Amazon and I gave people the title to look it up, they had to scroll through several pages of sex instruction manuals, S & M books, or texts on Mother Theresa before they got to The Missionary Position.

I'm happy to report as of today, however, that when I typed in "The Missionary Position" in Amazon's search box, my book came up number SIX! Mother Theresa is still on top (as she probably should be), but I've knocked the sex books down the list. I'm feeling pretty good about that. Sex is a hard genre to compete against when mine is admittedly a very small niche market of pulp-styled historical adventure fiction.

Now for a little teaser...I've got a number of sequels and prequels lined up for The Missionary Position. A couple have basic outlines already done, and I've got a number of ideas for the rest. One in fact is about a third written. What's my point in telling you this? All have the same innuendo style of titling as TMP. Should I veer away from this? I don't know. From a marketing standpoint I like innuendo, but it comes with a twist. By default of how I title my books I'll continue to get listed with books outside my genre if someone just types in their names. But I think it works. We'll see.

This is my first foray into indie publishing, and I've got a long way to go before I understand the pros and cons of it all. And truth be told, this genre represents only one of a couple others I'd like to publish in. Genres where innuendo titles won't necessarily come into play. For instance, I've had a novel written in the suspense-thriller genre for a couple years now, but I need to find some reliable editors and beta readers to take a look at it before I'll be comfortable putting it out into the world. The book sort of fell off my radar as I've worked these past couple years on finishing my Masters. I think it's a good read, but the longer I wait to get it ready for publication the more work it'll require to go back and update it.

Why? Well, I began writing it in 2007, and finished the first draft sometime in 2008. Think about the technology changes that have occurred since then. Some of my characters were using PDAs.

PDAs! Remember those?


Thursday, July 26, 2012

No futz'in around

I think I should first apologize for the long delay between blogs, but times they are a'tough.  Well, not really, but they're at least pretty damned busy.  I'm nearing completion of my Master's and everything is converging in the form of papers, tests and the ominous Comps in August.  No excuse, I know.

Anyway, a little update on book distribution...

According to Smashwords, The Missionary Position (TMP) should be getting distributed to B&N, Apple, and other premium outlets either today or tomorrow.  To be honest, I'm a bit frustrated with the process, and concerned about the quality of the product they will put out.  Formatting for distribution through Smashwords did not allow me the same kind of product I achieved through Amazon's Kindle.

Granted, I didn't have a great first outing with the Kindle platform either when I looked at my "proofs," but at least with Kindle's interface I was able to make quick changes and see them implemented quite fast.  With Smashwords, I saw my initial proofs, didn't like'em, changed them, and then had to wait for daaaayys.  And then a few more weeks before it finally reached the point (today or tomorrow) that it will get to the Premium distribution channels.  I'm afraid if I go in an putz around with it again, it'll reset the whole thing and I'll have to wait an equally long time for the changes to go through and get to market again.

Don't know.  Maybe it doesn't work that way, but I unfortunately don't have the time now to futz around with it.  In a week I'll have a break and look into it, but to be honest the first priority then (book-wise) will be getting the paperback versions available.

Point is, I want to put out a quality product that represents the best possible reading and viewing experience I can provide my readers, however few of them there may be.  That means there cannot be excessive amounts of "white space" between pages, no convergent paragraphs and all that mess.  Just good story that's easy to navigate through.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


The Missionary Position is now listed on Smashwords for downloads to various eBook platforms. This is in addition to Amazon. Distribution through Apple, Barnes & Noble and other premium outlets are still pending. I'll keep you updated.

The price is still set at a very low US $0.99. For those wondering why, the reason is simple. I'm more interested in getting my work out there right now than making a living on it. Most authors in the world do not make a living on their writing, despite their best efforts and dreams to the contrary. As I venture into the world of published writing, I think it's more important to get an audience who is willing to read an unknown author so I can get feedback from them on my style and stories, than it is for me to try and wring their wallets. 99 cents seems a reasonable way to do that. I'll leave the wallet wringing to the Patterson's and King's of the world. They're already so good at it, why should I infringe on their territory?

Stay tuned for more info. As for me, I'm back in the (text)books for now. It took way more time knocking out the Smashwords formatting and publishing today than I'd planned for, and now I'm even further behind in these damned master's program classes than I was this morning.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You're an a-hole, not a genius

On my way out the door, so not much to write now, but I saw this some time ago and wanted to share. Pretty much captures a sentiment I've shared many times over. Cheers.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Covers are tough

I’m an indie author, which to the uninitiated basically means I have much fewer resources at my fingertips than legacy house authors do to put a book together. For an author, the process is relatively straightforward. First, write a good story. Second, kill your babies (edit). Third, send it off to your betas (test readers) for feedback. Fourth, take the inputs that work and redo it. There’s more to it, but you get the gist.

Here’s the deal, though. As an indie author, I’m also an indie publisher. So after I take off my author’s hat, I have to put on my marketer’s hat, my graphic designer’s hat, my formatter’s hat (to make the book work on various e-reader platforms and for print), and so on, and so on. Much of the formatting stuff really isn’t that difficult, but when it comes to the blurb on the back of a book that sells it to the reader and the actual cover of the book, things get tough…and quick.

Collectively, the blurb and cover are your two most important tools to attracting readers. These are the first two things a reader will see when perusing the shelves of a bookstore, or, as is the case with me, the book pages of Amazon, B & N, or Smashwords. [NOTE: I’ll be posting The Missionary Position to the latter two in the next week or so…after I finish a test and paper for grad school.] As such, it is important to get these just right. Fail to do a good job and you risk missing readers who might actually love the story within the book, but for whatever reason were turned off of giving it a chance because there was nothing in the blurb or cover that appealed to them.

Legacy publishing houses have *teams* of folks whose fulltime jobs it is to put blurbs and cover designs together for their authors. These guys are professionals, trained in graphic arts, marketing and advertising. They’ve read studies of what gets reading consumers’ attention, and bend to make the books their selling appeal to their target demographic.

The indie author has none of this. At best, we can only guess at what a potential reader would like. For me, I wrote a blurb and produced a cover that would appeal to me if I were the one searching for a good fun read. I think the target audience for TMP is probably someone who shares a similar inclination towards historical pulp-styled adventure fiction as I do. In that vein, I felt my cover had to reflect some of the old-school cover art from similar texts sold 'back in the day'.

That said, the cover was still only designed by THIS guy (two awkward thumbs pointing in my direction), a NON-graphic artist who grew up in the days when Atari was the standard bearer for graphics. That probably makes me a bit clumsy with what I can produce for covers, but all in all I think it came out okay. After all, at the end of the day my goal is really just to create a world for my readers that is not their own where they can sit back and temporarily shut down the worry centers in their brains; a place they can disappear into, even if only for a couple hours at a time.

I would like to have readers’ opinions, however, on the cover work as this might affect future iterations of the book and others down the line. Thanks.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A few words on some words in The Missionary Position

TMP is a story set in the 1930s. Back then things were different. Language was different. Decorum was different. How one handled oneself in a social setting with others in the family home rarely entailed the use of four-lettered expletives. Sure, these might escape kids’ or parents’ mouths outside of the home amongst their friends, depending on the sort of group they hung out with, but contemporary decorum had it that they did not use such language in the home, nor in social gatherings among strangers or in other friends’ family homes.

So, why am I going here do you ask? It has to do with the text in TMP. There are some four-letter words in there. Is their use untruthful to the time period the story is set in? Absolutely not.

I’ve chatted with more than a few folks who lived during this time, and I’ve seen even more interviewed on television. My decision to implement those words generally comes from the fact that the further folks wandered from home, and especially if that wandering took them to far off places in the world, the more at ease they were at letting such language escape their lips. Not that they spoke freely as kids and adults do today with every fifth word being a four-letter devil, but when they encountered stressful situations or got particularly angry…well, the word existed at the time, they knew it existed, and it fit the situation so they used it. And why not?

So, if any of you might wonder why I chose to throw some of that language in the book, there you have it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A different kind of story from a bygone era was standard fare once upon a time

My book, The Missionary Position, was born out of the voice of one of its characters – the protagonist, Jack Halloway – barging in on my mind whilst in the middle of writing another story. But the point I want to get to now has more to do with the tone and style of how that story is told, than Jack's intrusion.

If you’ve read it, you’ll note the difference from many of today’s reads write away. And I think this has to do with the influence I felt from the old pulps that were once popular in the early to middle part of the twentieth century. I was introduced to them by Louis L’Amour, the famous writer known most for his Western stories. But what many don’t know is that Mr. L’Amour got his start writing for pulp magazines in the 30s and 40s. Maybe earlier – I’m not sure. Many of these stories were high tales of adventure, set in distant locales that to an American reader of that day were often too far off to be comprehendible.

The stories of this era – and not just Louis’ – were a simple fare, with good guys and bad guys, and plots you probably had figured out pretty early on, but it didn’t matter because the story was so rough-and-tumble fun that you couldn’t help yourself but to keep reading on. Think Indiana Jones, since these same pulp fiction stories were the inspiration for George Lucas bringing Indie to our local theaters.

That was the kind of story that popped into my mind with TMP, and I had immense fun writing it. It flowed onto the keyboard so fast out of my fingers that I hardly had time to eat or drink. It was finished, I’d guess looking back on it now, in a matter of a week or two.

And then it sat. 

I began a graduate program. I moved across the country. Life got in the way. And then one day out of boredom I went back to look at some old files and there it was, in all its shining, debacled (is that a word?) glory. I read it again, and loved it, though I did see it needed some tweaking. A buddy read it for me a while back and he made some recommendations. I decided to re-edit it, add some of those recommendations in, have others edit/look at it, and then stepped back to see what I had. 

I liked it again. Loved it, even. I hope you do too!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Time waster or future maker?

I’m in grad school finishing up my last term this summer en route to my master’s degree. I have essays coming due, a big term paper that I’ve yet to start (and have little interest in writing), and a mid-term to prep for next week. So, what have I done with my time today?

I read a blog. Not just any blog, but the blog of another indie author who has managed to turn indie sweat into legacy house dreams. (‘Legacy’ meaning the traditional publishing houses). It was and is and interesting, engaging and utterly absorbing read for someone at the start of their own indie publishing career. A sort of “how to” manual that speaks to the doubts, frustrations and tribulations that I’ll wager all writers endure, whether they cop to them or not. It begins prior to her even being an indie author and ends (haven’t gotten there yet) with the news I’ve seen of her getting signed by the big boys.

So as the day winds down and I look at the calendar on my desk chock full of to-do’s with not a one of them scratched out, I sit here with a sense of guilt at having not accomplished any tangible work. But should I have the guilt? Another way of looking at this is to say that I’m still studying, just in a different class. The class of publishing and of life; or, more specifically, the class covering the “how to guide of getting to where I want to be.”

I suppose the guilt comes from the grown up side of me that has worked, sweated and bled in the “real world” and considers this writing stuff to be for those wishy-washy artist types out there who would rather live out of their vans buying meals with the pocket change they garner from busking than having real jobs. The trick is to manage both until one or the other takes off, I guess. In my heart I know which I’d rather take off. In reality, I’ve paid a pretty penny for this degree, and it’d suck to piss it away with only a few months to go, so even if I have low hopes for using the degree in the “real world” I’d better get’er done.

‘Nuff said.

We buried a friend

We buried a friend yesterday. His name was Vince and he was about twice my age. I hadn’t known him long, maybe two years tops. But he was one of those characters in life who make an impression. Even in the first days of our meeting he wasn’t in the best of health, but his mind was always clear. Always sharp with humor and the kind of off-balancing questions that if you were looking the wrong way when they struck would knock you on your ass in a fit of laughter.

Twice my age… That’s not long at all.

It gives me pause and forces my priorities – often straying from life’s long term goals to the little mundane worries of the everyday – back into perspective. We don’t have long on this planet to make the experiences that we will be proud to look back on when we're Vince’s age (which wasn’t all that old, by the way). You never know when it’ll happen, so don’t let yourself get bogged down in the small stuff. Don’t worry over the little things, and especially those things that haven’t even occurred yet, despite what your inside voice is threatening will happen.

Worry, as they say, is interest paid on a debt you may never owe. Life IS short, so despite the cliche, get your ass moving and do something worth looking back on in your golden years. Thirty years in a cubicle (not me) ain't cutting it, world.

Monday, July 2, 2012

hello internet world

So this is my first post to this site. The purpose of the blog is to (careful, internet cliche coming at you) share my thoughts on whatever comes to mind. Hopefully, though, I don't do this in an extremely boring or self-aggrandizing manner. Well, maybe a little self-aggrandizing is okay given that the site's other purpose is to keep folks apprised of where I'm at in my writing and of what I've got published and available for reading.

Yep. That's right. I'm another one of those guys who puts words down on blank white screens believing that it's worthy enough of someone's attention (or hoping that it is, at any rate). When it comes to the blog, though, I will be upfront in saying that I am not one of those who believe that anything I have to say is something the world needs to hear. That to me is simply a little too vane, so in that regard I will try to keep politics and such things outside of the scope of these posts. Come and go at your pleasure.

Oh, yeah. For those of you who don't know (and that's plenty more than who do), I am the author of The Missionary Position: A Tale of Adventure on the South Seas. And, no, this book is not a sex instruction manual discussing modifications to the missionary position discovered while traveling the South Seas. I probably just lost 90% of my potential readership with that disclaimer, but so be it.

It is a story written when I needed a break from writing a much longer novel that is as of yet unpublished. I needed a break from it, and suddenly the voice of my protagonist, Jack Halloway, popped into my head and began telling me his story in the first person. I swear it was one of the easiest and most natural writing evolutions I ever had. From start to finish, the story was written in less than two weeks, though editing and revising and constant procrastination has put it off until recently for publication.

The downside to this tale, however, is that Jack Halloway was never a vampire, a vampire hunter, a teenage heartthrob, nor does he have any supernatural abilities. In other words, he was not born into a popular genre with today's readership. His tale is one of adventure, set in the South Seas of the Pacific in the 1930s. This was another era and place where the frontier mentality of the American West lived on for another generation of adventurers. They were ex-pats, trampers, freighter captains and crews from all parts of the world who came on their own journeys in search of adventure and wealth. They dealt with heavy seas and typhoons, jungles, cannibals, and disease. The rule of law had yet to reach many of the islands here and, to be frank, still have not made it to some. It was a place where dreams could come true for a lucky few, but where most who sought better lives found theirs lost and forgotten to subsequent generations.

I have tried to revive some of their stories through Jack Halloway's own misadventures into danger. I can only hope that today's readers might still like to read something that does not involve the undead! If Jack's tale proves somewhat popular, well, that's great because he's still speaking to me and trying to tell me a few more stories. I have outlines for quite a few more, but I'm also trying to finish a master's degree right now too, so for now they're being filed away at the back of my mind.

Anyway, welcome to you all. First post out.