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Fifth Friday Promo Post

As we head into the holiday season, the Mad Geniuses thought we’d do a little self-promotion. Yes, yes, I know. We usually “forget” to promote our work. This time, someone–and I’m not naming any names (Pam)–reminded us we needed to do something. So here goes. Read more

The Unreliable Narrator

 

 

 

I’m quite fond of this device, though I admit that in its simplest form (“and then I woke up and it was all a dream”) it has been done to death. No, I didn’t think Agatha Christie was cheating in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and I enjoyed the double-impostor twist of Mary Stewart’s The Ivy Tree with its narrator who misleads us delightfully by telling the truth… just, not all the truth. So I was pleased to see a new twist on this in one of the fantasy novels I’ve been reading via Kindle Unlimited, and I’ve made a note of the author for further reading.

In W.B. McKay’s Bound by Faerie the narrator is hired to retrieve a magical artifact. She’s warned in advance:

Today, however, we’d gotten word that Lou was in possession of a heavily enchanted necklace. I hadn’t been given any particulars about its power, just a strict warning not to put it on and a description.

 Of course she puts it on – what do you think? It’s part of the rules of the game, isn’t it? Psyche brings in a lamp to gaze on Cupid, Beauty picks up the only remaining spindle in the kingdom, and McKay’s Sophie Morrigan puts on the necklace, part of whose enchantment is the power to lure her into doing exactly that. Read more

Some good news

The Bugger-cat had an oncology appointment on Tuesday, and he’s gained a whole pound since the last one. This is very good news: he’s gone from six pounds to seven – he’s still very underweight since his height and length are about the same as Her Royal Highness Princess Buttercup who weighs in at 16 lb (and is rather more substantial than she should be but there’s no way we’re up for putting one cat on a diet while trying to get the other one to eat more).

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Writer’s Guide to Horses Part X

Traveling with and by horse

Most modern horses don’t have to go from Point A to Point B on their own legs; that’s what horse trailers are for. But until the development of cars starting in the late 1800s, nearly everyone traveled on horseback or by carriage if they were going any great distance. Quite a turnabout- horses used to haul us around; now we haul them around. Read more

Words and the Lonely Writer III – Setting the Mood

Would you prepare for a romantic dinner at home by turning off the lights and lighting candles, maybe putting a vase of flowers in the center of the table and putting on your skimpiest dress? (Unless you’re a guy.  Though if you want to put on a skimpy dress, who am I to judge?)

Or would you prepare for that romantic dinner by scrubbing every piece of furniture with pinesol, spraying it with disinfectant, turning on every light, turning a spotlight on the table, and wearing a coveralls?  (Yes, I know there are times that– Keep it to yourself, okay?  This is generic you.) Read more

Greasing Mental Gears

I hope everybody has survived the Annual Feast of Gratitude followed by the Annual Frenzy of Materialism. I managed to find several virtual opportunities to replace or upgrade items, which was nice. I also ate too much. There was pie. Most of it happened for breakfast the following morning. I also stumbled into one of the classic blunders. Not the Asia thing, or even the Sicilian one, no: I peopled for a week as an introvert and expected to get things done after returning home. Oops. Suffice to say, I’ve gotten nearly sufficient sleep, barely-adequate nutrition, and the Vitamin M hasn’t really touched my headache. So I’m just going to ramble for a while and hope it coalesces from inherent gravity. Foolish? Then I shall become that fool!
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The PC Police Strike Again in the Form of Andy Duncan

I should be used to it by now. After all, it seems a week doesn’t go by without someone claiming a “classic” book or movie is racist. We’ve watched publishers sanitize books like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, as well as others, by changing the “N”-word into something more socially acceptable. Forget about the fact the word was in common usage at the time when the book was written and set. Oh no, we must protect our poor little darlings from exposure to a word instead of using it as a teaching moment. Read more

Pace

You may remember I mentioned last week having trouble with a story because it was one-paced.  Pace is one of those terrible things to try and do well, because there are several components to it. It’s a bit like patting your forehead and rubbing your belly, or like my efforts at operating an excavator. Yes, it DOES look easy when someone skilled does it. Ridiculously easy in fact. Appearances can be deceptive: I mean you might look at me and say ‘ugly and dim-witted…’ oh. Well, moving rapidly on.  A lot of writing is like my excavator ditch-digging efforts, where because there are four ideally co-ordinated actions and I find one on its own a bit of a challenge, the trench tends not do what I want it to do.

Naturally this is the silly ditch or trench’s fault, just as it is the reader’s fault when he gets bored and decides that it’s the right time to clip his toenails or pluck his ear-hairs, rather than bothering to read your book. Read more

Anyone Awake Yet?

So, those of us in the US are starting to awaken from the postprandial slumber induced by the gastronomic delights and excesses of Thanksgiving. Maybe.

It is time to think about holiday and post-holiday marketing and what will happen after this fiscal quarter wraps up.

A few predictions: 1) The management of Barnes and Noble will do their best to make the holiday sales look excellent and to make the fourth quarter’s numbers look beautiful. And if they are not, they will blame the ‘Zon.    2) Amazon will have a decent fourth quarter and will [one hopes] get the kinks worked out of the Amazon Print system that has replaced CreateSpace.  3) The Big Five will not be pleased about e-book sales, but will happily announce that people are returning to print books and all will be well, no need to panic, nothing to see here, move along. And just ignore the little voice behind the curtain reminding people that children’s books tend to be print, so the kids can have something to hold and unwrap (and chew on).

In other words, the sun will rise, birds will sing unless they are shivering too hard and their beaks are chattering, and people will buy stuff in November and December.

Do you, those who are planning to sell or have a special holiday sale, have everything ready to go?  You should at least have dates and titles sketched out, how much you are lowering prices and why. Is it to hook readers on your series? Is it to kick sales of your latest release(s) into higher gear to get word-of-mouth and reviews before the post-Christmas buying surge? Is it to gain visibility for a series that you are picking up again with fresher covers and new releases? What are your goals, what sales do you want to see, how are you going to discount and in which markets?

For new releases, what dates do you have to meet? Apple sent out their deadlines two weeks ago. I have not seen hard deadlines from the ‘Zon yet, and I’d plan on having everything ready by no later than December 5 for Kobo, in case they have another short-notice software and hardware update between December 18-January 7 as happened in 2013-14. I was not the only writer dismayed to find myself locked out of getting books approved that year.

Now that you are thinking that a turkey coma relapse might be good, let’s do something really scary…

Readers, when do you buy books for gifts and how often? My family is big on books as gifts, both for adults and kids. We used to do the combo packs of book and stuffed animal, but dust allergies and a new puppy precluded that. I’m 100% in favor of giving kids and older children print books, as well as gift cards for e-books. Luddite that I am, the less screen and the more page, the better I think it is for the under 13 cohort.

Do you give fiction or non fiction? Or do you give gift certificates and cards so people can pick for themselves?

My big point is that as readers and as writers, we look at the fourth quarter and books differently. We writers need to put on our reader hats and think about how we sell during this time, or if we would do better to avoid the December Crush and focus on the entire year. We don’t depend on Black Friday and Cyber Monday as much as others, thanks be, but it is a good time to get Eyes On Books for the future.

Me? I’m going to release the third Shikari book in December, and have plans to launch the fourth one in January or February. I also have two Merchant books to polish and get ready, and the last Colplatschki title. As for marketing and sales, well, you’ll just have to wait and see. 🙂

Edited to add: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4224316-barnes-and-noble-needs-turnaround-expert

Because fake-fur-lined reading socks are not going to be enough to save the books. No, I am not kidding. They are the first display when you walk into the regional B&N.

Competence Porn

The First Reader hates the term, because it has negative connotations. Competence does not mean perfect. We should all like competent heroes. Take Miles Vorkosigan for instance. He was competent, but far from perfect. 

Last week, I was in Texas (this weekend, I’m in Kentucky. I really need to settle down and spend some time at home one of these days…). I was there for other reasons, but while I was there I had the amazing pleasure of meeting up with most of the North Texas Writers and Shooters Association. It was a bracing experience for the writer in me, since I realized I’d missed the company of writers badly. The chance to talk about all the little details we get into here on the blog, but accompanied by very good food, and stories told by some extremely competent people. Read more