Sunday thoughts

Good morning, guys — oops, there I go. I’ve already broken the cardinal rule. I’ve used a male pronoun to address everyone. Excuse me. Good morning, gentle (and not so gentle) persons. As you can probably tell already, this is not Sarah. This is the caffeine-deprived, more skeptical member of the Mad Geniuses, Amanda. I’m filling in for Sarah this morning as she deals with a couple of things AND tries to finish Through Fire (Sarah, get back to work. I want to read that book NOW!)

Anyhow. . . .

The past week has been filled with the usual “what the heck were they thinking?” moments when it comes to all things publishing. There have been the usual stories bashing Amazon, including a so-called debate where the not-so-unbiased audience decided Amazon is not a reader’s friend. Huh? I’m sorry, but Amazon lets me buy just about any book I want, lets me have instant access to e-books and even gives me multiple ways of reading books. Yet it isn’t my friend? The logic of the allegation that it isn’t a reader’s friend escapes me.

Then there was yet another article about how the first thing writers should think about when sitting down to start a new project is the diversity of their characters. Yep, you read the right, diversity comes first, even before plot, genre and the rest of it. After all, we must be PC at all costs. Forget about writing a book that people want to read. Forget about your characters actually making sense within the framework of your novel. No, you have to have diversity in it or else EVIL!

And then there was this from the always whining James Patterson, he of the “Amazon is Evil” ilk and who believes the only way books will survive is through the resurgence of bookstores and the return to the old publishing model. Patterson is oh-so-generously (well, his publisher) going to give one lucky fan the chance to read his next book before anyone else does. The catch? It will cost that reader close to $300,000. Yep, you heard that right. For the cost of a house and a car and who knows what else, you can have the privilege of being the first to read Patterson’s next masterpiece. Included in the price will be a trip to an undisclosed location to have dinner with Patterson and then you get to see the book be blown up — complete with having SWAT standing by.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I’m paying that kind of cash for a book, it had better be a damned sight better written than the last few of Patterson’s books and I’d better get it autographed and be able to keep it. More than that, the dust cover had better be gold leaf and that meal I’m getting best be the most fabulous dinner I’ve ever eaten.

But there is more. To prove how generous he is, 1,000 of Patterson’s fans will be able to download the book for free. Before you get all excited, there is a catch. If you are one of the lucky 1,000, you will have exactly 24 hours from the time of download in which to read the book (no big deal if it is anything like the rest of his work). The clock starts ticking with the download and there is no way to pause it. This “revolutionary idea” is his way of drumming up PR for the book and the publishing industry because, as he put it, publishing doesn’t have the money or other resources to promote its work the way movies do. Funny, if the publishing industry would put half the money it spends on promoting Patterson into promoting some of its other works, sales might go up across the board. But that is probably too logical for them to consider.

Now, the first thought I had when reading about this free download was to wonder why Patterson thinks it is such a revolutionary idea. After all, libraries have been using limited time check-outs for e-books for years. All this promotion is doing is adding additional DRM costs to the overall cost of the book. Sure, those 1,000 readers won’t be paying for it but the readers who come along later and buy the book will. But this is a good thing for readers and publishers according to Patterson.

There are a number of other things I saw over the course of the week that deserve their own posts but one that hit me and had me shaking my head was a comment by yet another wanna-be dahling of the publishing industry who was taking someone else to task because they wrote more than one book every year or two. After all, how can you be writing quality literature if you are writing that quickly? It is obvious that you aren’t agonizing over every word and nuance. As authors we shouldn’t worry about how much money we make. We are in this for the art and, if we are very lucky, the government will realize our importance to society and start giving us stipends to live on so we can continue to create literature that will help shape the right-thinking children of the future.

I guess that makes me a hack because I am in this to make money. I write the sort of stories I enjoy reading and, thankfully, others do as well. I price my books lower than I probably should, at least according to traditional philosophy, but I do it because I know my own buying habits. For a writer I don’t know anything about, I’m not going to pay $5.99 for an e-book (No way am I going to pay traditional prices of $9.99 or more.) But, by offering my novels at a lower price when the first in a series comes out, I can raise my prices for later entries. By doing so, I see my sales increasing. It has been slow but it has been steady and I am not about to complain, at least not too loudly, about what I now make. However, I wouldn’t be making what I am now if I only put out one novel every year or two. Part of becoming even moderately successful as a writer is building an audience and you can’t do that if you produce work at the speed of molasses on a cold morning. Not if you are just starting out. So I choose to be a hack. I’ll put out a book every two or three months, alternating series and stand-alones and I will laugh all the way to the bank. I might not be making James Patterson money — I’m only a few light years away from it — but I am making enough to do what I need right now.

I’m a hack and damned proud of it. How about you?

And, to show just how crass I am, here are some of my books currently available from Amazon:

boxsetcover2Nocturnal Lives Boxed Set
(Contains Nocturnal Origins, Nocturnal Serenade and Nocturnal Interlude)

Nocturnal Origins
Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

Nocturnal Serenade
Lt. Mackenzie Santos of the Dallas Police Department learns there are worst things than finding out you come from a long line of shapeshifters. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself. It’s not that she resents suddenly discovering she can turn into a jaguar. Nor is it really the fact that no one warned her what might happen to her one day. Although, come to think of it, her mother does have a lot of explaining to do when – and if – Mac ever talks to her again. No, the real problem is how to keep the existence of shapeshifters hidden from the normals, especially when just one piece of forensic evidence in the hands of the wrong technician could lead to their discovery.

Add in blackmail, a long overdue talk with her grandmother about their heritage and an attack on her mother and Mac’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. What she wouldn’t give for a run-of-the-mill murder to investigate. THAT would be a nice change of pace.

Nocturnal Interlude
Lt. Mackenzie Santos swears she will never take another vacation again as long as she lives. The moment she returns home, two federal agents are there to take her into custody. Then she finds out her partner, Sgt. Patricia Collins, as well as several others are missing. Several of the missing have connections to law enforcement. All are connected to Mac through one important and very secret fact — they are all shapechangers. Has someone finally discovered that the myths and bad Hollywood movies are actually based on fact or is there something else, something more insidious at work?

Mac finds herself in a race against time not only to save her partner and the others but to discover who was behind their disappearances. As she does, she finds herself dealing with Internal Affairs, dirty cops, the Feds and a possible conspiracy within the shapeshifter community that could not only bring their existence to light but cause a civil war between shifters.

coverforvfaVengeance from Ashes
(Honor and Duty, Book 1 — written as Sam Schall)

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

Duty from Ashes
(Honor and Duty, Book 2)

Duty calls. Honor demands action.

Major Ashlyn Shaw has survived false accusations and a brutal military prison. Now free, she finds her homeworld once again at war with an enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy everything she holds dear. Duty has Ashlyn once again answering the call to serve. She has seen what the enemy is capable of and will do everything she can to prevent it from happening to the home she loves and the people she took an oath to protect.

But something has changed. It goes beyond the fact that the enemy has changed tactics they never wavered from during the previous war. It even goes beyond the fact that there is still a nagging doubt in the back of Ashlyn’s mind that those who betrayed her once before might do so again. No, there is more to the resumption of hostilities, something that seems to point at a new player in the game. But who and what are they playing at?

Will Ashlyn be able to unmask the real enemy before it is too late?


  1. I loathe Patterson. I’ve read two of his books and bleh. And he’s trying to tell other writers how they should go to market? Go pound sand, Mr. Patterson. I plan on self-publishing three or four books this year – with the maiden voyage out by mid-March. Let the market tell me whether I’m any good at this writing thing and whether my books will thrive.

    And be as crass as you want. I think your books sound interesting and I’ll be adding them to my wish list.

  2. Just remember – Patterson is “one of our betters”. He’s written some good stuff, but now he shops out all the work and does marketing (NTTAWWT). I doubt he’s got a dozen fingerprints on the actual writing for his last half-dozen books. I wait for his stuff to hit the library – not even shelling out $2 to read one of his. Not when there’s so much good stuff coming out at great prices from hacks like you and Sarah and the rest of the MGC (I keed, I keed). Keep up the workflow, and get those suckers out so we can give you our money.

    1. Thanks, Pete.

      As for Patterson being “one of our betters”, he does seem to keep trying to tell us that, doesn’t he? Like you, I no longer rush out to buy his books. I may pick them up at the library or I may wait for the library friends to have a book sale and pick them up for 50 cents each — money that goes to the library and not into his pockets. Yes, I know. That is a bad thing for another writer to say but I love my library more than I do his writing and I see the library doing much more to promote reading and authors than Patterson.

  3. At least on the casual level, “guys” has been in common use for mixed groups and even all-female groups for a long time. “Guy” as a singular is still a male, though. (Example: the 1984 Supergirl movie in which a girl addresses other girls in the school shower room: “Hey, you guys — did you see that guy on the ballfield?” This is from memory so it may not be exact. It may also be sloppy writing, but that can be most unconsciously revealing of how people think and talk.)

    1. Dwight, I know and, funny enough, almost posted something similar. However, I felt like tweaking all those who want to do away with words like humanity, etc., that include “man” in them because those words are oppressive to women. Oops, there I go again, using one of the evil words of the evil patriarchy. VBEG

    1. How else are the trads going to hold onto their place at the top of the crumbling mountain of NYC white halls without heavy weaponry?

  4. As I have pointed out before, the great William Shakespeare was a hack extraordinaire. He wrote gory bloody tales for the entertainment of the masses filled with sex and violence. And those tales were performed at the old Globe at a penny for the cheap seats and three pence for the balcony.
    And why did old Will write? To feed himself and his family. How low class. How mundane.
    As for Patterson, meh. Used to write some mildly entertaining mysteries, but lately I haven’t been able to finish anything with his name on the cover. Collaboration is one thing, but selling your name for someone else’s work is deceitful to your fan base.

    1. Will would have fit well into this bunch. About the only thing that would disqualify him was that he was PC – can’t really blame him, though, when potential critics had a tendency to use real axes for suppression of unwanted thinking.

    2. Uncle Lar, you are absolutely correct about both Shakespeare and Patterson. As for me, I write because I have to and also for the money. So, I am a hack and proud of it.

      Patterson has gone the route of least resistance, imo. He gets nice paychecks for doing more than figuring out the outline of a book and then he hands it off to someone else to write. At least that is the way it seems to me.

  5. I’ve been busy this week and must’ve missed it: I hadn’t heard of any recent article that says diversity should come first. You know where I could read it? I’m almost afraid to look, but now I’ve got to. Can’t help myself.

  6. I long for the day when I am numbered among the hacks. That means I’ve sold enough for someone to notice and look down their nose. Patterson? Can you imagine what he’d be like if he wrote literary fiction instead of *gasp* genre fiction?

    At the moment, I’m just trying to hack Amazon into telling me how to get into a sub-genre when it doesn’t appear on the menu for book descriptions.

    1. Everyone has already said what I was going to about the Amazon tags. If that doesn’t work, email me and maybe I can help figure out how to do what you want.

      1. Since I’ve gone through and double-checked all the category wording and tagging, I suspect the problem is that I have not sold enough yet to hit a certain mark that gets me added to the list of authors and books for that sub-genre. *shrug* Thanks for the suggestions and advice, everyone.

  7. I just bought the Nocturnal Lives Boxed Set, going to be a while before I get to them because I am in the middle of Peter Grant’s Take the Star Road and then there is life..

  8. I used to enjoy the zombie series by D.J. Molles. His fifth book was due to come out when he signed on with Hatchette and it has been delayed for over a year. The pre-order price is $8 while his self-published books were $2.99 or less.
    Well, after hearing from Hatchette authors about how terrible Amazon is, I try to cooperate by not purchasing any Hatchette books via Amazon, so I won’t be buying Mr Molles’s new book when it comes out. Unfortunately he probably had to sign away all of his rights when he signed with Hatchette.

    1. Those “successful” indies who have wound up going traditional as a result often find themselves in that position. When is the last time you heard someone talking about Amanda Hocking’s latest book?

  9. Keep hacking, hack!
    I’ve read all three of the Nocturnals, and the first of the Ashes. That ties you with Cedar in my MGC author review project. Pam is one behind, and the rest of the field is lurking with one or two reviews posted. Monkeyman is about to go triple, though, because I’m almost finished with Dragon’s Ring.
    Obviously, I’m not hitting my goal of one book read and reviewed every day. However, I HAVE posted 24 reviews, which is 24 more than I had before I started reading MGC. That’s just my e-reading; lately my bathroom books have been Game of Thrones. My firstborn son, Sgt Eli Jordan Patterson, gave me what I thought was a set. IT WASN’T. Who would have thought that FOUR 20 pound books couldn’t finish a series? Fortunately, my latest American Rifleman came before I went into powder room reading withdrawal.
    With respect to the writings of James Patterson: despite the fact that that’s my name too, I had to give up his writing many years ago, because his scenes of rape and torture bothered me, a lot.
    And now, back to Dragon’s Ring. 67% of the way through. See, that’s another way e-books have changed reading; page numbers aren’t really relevant, because the words aren’t on pages!

    1. Pat, I know I speak for all of us when I thank you for the reviews. They really do help as does you just spreading the word. So, here’s a big thanks from the MGC crowd for your support.

      Patterson, for me, turned into Mary Higgins Clark. Not enough development of the story, settings or characters and one size fits all. Change the names and the locations and simply grind out another book. Shrug.

  10. Patterson? the guy who gets TV commercials for his books is trying to tell the rest of writers how to work and publish?

    1. Not only trying to tell us how to do our jobs but he is also trying to tell readers how they should read and where they should go to get their reading material. Yep, the guy who never has to worry about where his next meal comes from and who supported Hachette’s decision to turn down Amazon’s offer to pay those authors impacted by the contract negotiations as they were ongoing.

  11. I tend to use Guys and Girls. Back when I worked for Claris, one of my co-workers had a real Feminist Bitch girlfriend who damn near ruined the company Christmas party at one of the lead programmer’s homes, jumping down my throat for using “girl” when talking about a woman. I mean, she simply wouldn’t let it go right after the first moment it came out of my mouth, opening with “How old was she? Ten?” and nothing, I mean NOTHING would shut her up from that point on. However, I did not yield to her hectoring.

    1. Condescending mockery works wonders in such situations. At least, that’s my experience. If she’s going to throw a temper tantrum, call it a temper tantrum and encourage her to hold her breath until she turns blue.

      1. Luke, it only works if they realize they are being mocked and her kind all too often miss it. Well, they don’t hear it because they can hear nothing over their own outraged screeches.

        1. If you work at it just a bit, their outraged screeching climbs in pitch to where it’s no longer perceptible to humans.
          But you have to feel sorry for the poor dogs.

    2. That person — I will not call her a woman, much less a lady — is the sort of harridan who gives us a bad name. I’ve been known to walk up to her kind and make certain suggestions about what she can do and where she can go to do it. But then, I’m a traitor to my sex according to those like her. Shrug.

  12. Gah, and someone told me I should buy a James Patterson book last week. Never heard of him before, that I remember. At least it was used.

  13. Bought them all (a while back). Loved them. I hope there is another Ashes book in the works. Maybe it can include Ashley having a nice restful vacation on a beach? She deserves it. Although, on second thought, she doesn’t seem like the lounging-on-a-beach type.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. There is at least one more book in the works. I’ve got the basic plot down but it has to wait to be written until I finish Nocturnal Challenge, the next in the Nocturnal Lives series. Hopefully, Honor from Ashes will be ready to go by June. I’d like it to be sooner but real life has been beating me about the head and shoulders this month and I’ve fallen behind.

Comments are closed.