Jan 16, 2012

The Universe Loves a Good Punch Line

Life's a glorious thing, isn't it? Always keeps you on your toes, always has one surprise left around the next corner, and most of the time it's even more amazing than you expected.

An important lesson was re-framed for me recently, one of the essential nature of keeping onesself squarely balanced between confidence, experience and aspirations. Also known as "don't ever think you're too much cooler than you actually are."

What it boils down to, basically, is this: before you go around spouting wisdom, be sure you know your audience. Because chances are, they're wiser or more experienced than you are. It's just the odds of the game, really. I usually know this lesson pretty well, so it's always amusing when I get reminded. Yikes.

And, on that note, I resume my daily duties; there are stories to tell, books to publish, and progress to be made.

OH. And before I go. Any of you who plan to be in the Seattle area at the end of March, I'll be manning a table with the other writers of Talaria Press at the Emerald City ComiCon. Also, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes will be attending. (that's Jay and Silent Bob, for the folks who don't already know)

So, you know, it might be an entertaining weekend. :)

Jan 11, 2012

First Step: A New Identity

It was recently pointed out to me that I now get to add a new identifier to my name: Amazon Best Selling Author. At this moment, "Reaper's Return" is sitting at #8 on the children's Science Fiction and Fantasy list, #16 in the overall Fantasy list, and #371 overall. I have to keep looking at that in a desperate effort to make it sink in. Two years ago, I was just barely a published author, and now... this? Okay, so I have more than 7 books published at present, fine. And the numbers are bumped enthusiastically due to the current promotion I have on Reaper's Return, so I can't just totally lose my mind over this. A truer test will be to see how much of this translates into the rest of the series getting picked up, and I acknowledge that, even as I grin and Snoopy Dance, that numbers are only numbers and not the entire story. Regardless, I'm really grinning.

I've pushed the Amazon promotion out through midnight tonight, and I'll probably relaunch it later as well to see if I can maintain a bit of the momentum across the entire series.

But that's all maintenance stuff, and not the big thing that really struck me as interesting this morning.

It occurred to me as particularly interesting how we both shape and are shaped by our identities. We all pass through those during our lives - defining ourselves (or being defined, depending on how much control we have over the process) as children, siblings, friends, lovers, enemies, et cetera. Student, Teacher, Leader, Follower, Visionary, Victim - there are so many hats to wear, and we don't even always have the choice of whether or not to wear them.

I've gone through a lot of those through my life: from the Nerdy Little Freshman to The Freak in my junior year of high school, a Missionary, Musician, Husband, Father, Author, and so forth. Some of the roles we wear come with some pretty heavy specificity, some come with badges, and many become a matter more of perspective than any sort of official designation.

But lest I totally drown in rhetoric, the thing on my mind today is that I have this new identity, now. Part of the challenge in the present publishing climate is that there persists a sort of stigma with regards to being "self-published." In many circles, self published equal unpublished. I listened to one publisher a scant year ago compare self published authors to overweight twenty-somethings banging out fan fiction on a beat up computer in their parents' basement. You may be shocked to know that I'm pretty much quoting him on that, too. I didn't believe his assessment then, and I don't believe it now. Are there examples of that? Oh, I'm sure there are. I'm also equally certain that there are some financially successful authors who fit that same general description. Ripe fruit can grow wild in untilled soil.

I've seen a lot of the complaints levied against the self-published set: lack of editing is the most common one, however. Overall, I've seen so many folks who dwell in the midst of the status quo defend their own roles as Guardians of the Consumer, and I think that might be a bit of an overplay as well.

But really I think it comes back to a misconception that stems from the current publishing process' adoption of the term "traditional publishing."

Traditional? Really? I can't help but think folks have neglected their history classes when I hear that term bandied about.

Traditionally, books were manually printed on a press, usually by the author himself, and then taken around and sold - usually, again, by the author himself. Before that, they were hand-written.

The current process of agents, distributors, chain retail stores and publishing corporations are a much more recent process, just through the past 120 years or so. Granted, we've constructed some other, fairly elaborate traditions in that same time frame, so what's one more contrived entity between friends? And if you can't think of any offhand, we did just go through a holiday season that's rife with a plethora of fabricated "traditions". Like, why does Santa wear red? Google it if you don't already know, you probably wouldn't believe me if you didn't look into the background of that yourself.

Are you a writer? Do you want to be an author? Then publish. Do your best to make the book as good as you can make it; get it edited (an extra pair of qualified eyes never hurts!), and get it out there for people to check it out. Will everyone love it? No, of course not. Will everyone hate it? Of course not! Will you make thousands of dollars and be able to retire? Well, probably not, no, let's be realistic. Not everyone can have a #1 book, it's just the way of things. But neither should that be our goal - it's not something anyone can truly control. What you CAN control is whether or not you write a book, whether or not you decide to get it published, and what you decide to do about it if you do publish.

In the paraphrased words of a dream version of Jim Morrison, the only thing stopping you is the stopping.

And, like all journeys, it all starts with a first step - in the spirit of "fake it til you make it," the starting point as I see it is to define (or in some cases, redefine) yourself. What are you? Who are you? What are you doing? What have you done?

Seriously, take a moment and figure that out. Knowing that simple detail can and often will affect your course through the wackiness of life. Certainly, not knowing it can definitely affect you, but rarely in a good way.

And if you don't have the answers to any of those questions, take the time to answer them. And if you don't have definitive answers, that's okay. When it doubt, make something up. Who do you want to be? What do you want to do?

And, yes, it really is that simple.

So, if you haven't done this, or you haven't even thought about this before, take a moment to figure out who you are. What you are. What you're doing. What you want to do and who you want to be. And if one of those is "be a writer", "write books", and that sort of thing, then congratulations! And if it's, really, anything else.... Congratulations!

Cos in the end, what you are, specifically, doesn't matter so much as that you are.

Jan 10, 2012

My day


How are you today, my lovelies?

Reaper's Return Amazon promotion!

The special from Amazon is - for a very limited time - expanded to all Amazon customers! For the next 24 hours, you can purchase a copy of the first book in the Chronicles of Aesirium, "Reaper's Return", for the amazing price of FREE.

Seriously. Go. Check it out. Pick it up. You'll be glad you did! And, for that matter, so will I. :)


CNN is talking right now about how the Doomsday clock is presently only five minutes from midnight.

Hasn't anyone over there read the Watchmen comic? Sheesh.

Jan 9, 2012

Brand New!

Okay, it probably says something about me that I don't want to admit by the fact that it's more than a week into the new year (2012 - I need to get used to writing that, don't I?) before I actually blog about the new year. That's like getting a birthmark when you're 17.

But in my defense, it's been a grand and utterly, nonsensically, spectacularly crazy year already. Wee daughter's (okay, no longer quite so wee) birthday aside, it's been a packing up and moving on kind of year so far. Like 2011 was a 12 month frat party, but now the parents are pulling up into the driveway and if we don't get the empty bong pulled out of the fireplace and pick up the 3,491 red plastic party cups, my brother and I are gonna be grounded for a month.

And Mom, Dad? If you're reading this, I swear to god that never happened.

So, as I was saying before I literally interrupted myself, 2012 is going to be a lot of fun, if the past 9 days are any indication. Let's take an assessment:

The entire Chronicles of Aesirium are published and available online in first edition copies. Check.
Paperback and ebook: Check check. Oh, and before I go on, if you're an Amazon Prime member, you really ought to hop on over there and pick up a copy of book one: Reaper's Return. It's Free. Yes, seriously. Freebies. You go on over, click it and start the download while we finish up here. It's cool, I'll wait.

In fact, between them, the pair of "Middle Age" books and some other anthologies penned under a different author name, I'm now sitting at over a dozen books. That was more than my really generous goal for 2011.

My day job is my day job, and I've signed a code of conduct agreement indicating that I cannot say anything bad regarding my employer. It is a point of some interest that I don't consider the fact that I SIGNED A CODE OF CONDUCT AGREEMENT INDICATING THAT I CANNOT SAY ANYTHING BAD REGARDING MY EMPLOYER a bad thing. I'm weird, whatcha gonna do.But then again, I don't have anything really bad to say about them. They're a big company, they do big company things, it's hardly newsworthy. Besides, they put up with my shenanigans, and that alone should warrant a second look at that whole Nobel Peace Prize thing.

I did a few public appearances last year, did some interviews (in and out), and really fell in love with so many of my fellow steampunkers. It's just a great bunch of industrial and loveable freaks of nature. My kind of peeps. I have a few more things set up this year, such as having a table at the Emerald City ComiCon in the end of March. I'd love it if you could show up. It's right here in downtown Seattle, and I'll be there with the best Editor in this section of the known universe, as well as my two fellow authors from Talaria Press. Oh, the fun that will be had! Can you dig it, poppet?

But that's not all! I'm working on some Really Fun Things, many of which are going to have to remain somewhat secretish until they're coming up on my publishing deadline. But the hints I can give you about the two main projects are that one involves happy thoughts, and the other has truck with demons in the pacific northwest.

Oh, and I've been doing a lot of hobnobbing with Amazon - cos, you know, I'm, like, awesome or something - but seriously, I'm taking this whole process of being an entrepreneur much more seriously. Because, really, one must.

So on that stream, I'm going to start posting observations I've had about the self-pub world - ebooks and the printed medium. There will likely be examples of the music industry thrown in as well (because oh have I got some tales for you!), and, if we're both lucky, there might even be some teeny kernels of wisdom to take away from it. In fact, I'll guarantee it.

Okay, no, I can't guarantee anything.  But it'll be fun. Feel free to toss me questions if you have them; I see no reason why I need to yammer off into your vision holes without taking the occasional question from the audience.


Yes, I just called you an audience. Applause is totally optional. Just saying.

Okay, that's quite enough out of my fingertips for one evening. Thanks for checking in with me, and I'll see ya 'round the campfire, boys and girls.