Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sales! Events! NaNoWriMo! Kobo ereaders!

Scott D. Parker

Funny. Despite that headline, sometimes, doing the normal things like writing a new yarn means there’s not a lot of interesting stuff to write about.

My NaNoWriMo

I am well into my way with my own personal Na-Novella-WriMo project. My goal is to write a novella of between 20,000 and 30,000 words in a month. That is entirely doable. My productivity on my iPod during day job breaks continues apace. Wednesday saw me top 800 words while Thursday was just over 700. It’s a thrill to be able to take those five-minute breaks and transport myself into my new story.

Awesome Books for the Indie Author

Yesterday was the March to a Bestseller 2 event over at There are some tremendous deals. The one that really got me was The Indie Author Power Pack: How to Write, Publish, & Market Your Book. This is a boxed set of the following titles:

Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran
Write. Publish. Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn

Now, I had just finished Let’s Get Digital a week ago having paid full price. But I bought this boxed set anyway. For one, there's exclusive content. Two of the books are updated and revised. All are foundational books for the indie author. As soon as you finish them, starts listening to Joanna’s podcast (The Creative Penn) and the Self-Publishing Podcast, with Johnny, Sean, and David Wright that I wrote about a few weeks ago. Indispensable wisdom.

Kobo Glo

Last Monday, my Kobo Glo ereader arrived in the mail. While I love my iPod Touch for writing and reading on the go, I am very partial to e-ink readers. Yes, they are easier on the eyes and they last a long time between charges. With the Glo, I now have the big three, having purchased a Kindle Paperwhite earlier this year and my Nook SimpleTouch back in 2012. What I really, really want is an e-ink iPad-type machine that is for reading lots of stuff over different platforms. There are good reasons to have all three devices, the least of which is to ensure my books render correctly on all three platforms. A great feature for the Glo is that it syncs my Pocket articles. Now, I read them on an e-ink screen.

Here’s the link to Kobo’s platform and the readers they have. Give’em a look. I got the pretty white one with the blue back. Refurbished no less. Kobo has great deals every weekend. In fact, I bought Kristi’s debut novel, Blessed are the Dead, yesterday for only a buck. Seriously. Ditto for Amazon and Nook.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Five Book Plan

By Russel D Mclean

A few people of late have noted that the new McNee novel, Cry Uncle, may or may not be the last to feature the dour Dundonian PI. Its something, I know, that has confused people, so maybe its time for me to elucidate just a little on what that means.

Back when The Good Son was being bandied around as a debut in 2007, an editor expressed interest on the guarantee that there would be more on the way to be written every six months (this editor was then nixed by marketing who believed no one wanted to read about Dundee - - well, that's a discussion for another time). At the time, my agent knew that I had several other plots and my response was, "Well, there's a five book plan." Which there was. I had this idea that one should start structuring novel series akin to an HBO TV series - that is that instead of writing one story at a time, you should try and create ongoing threads to each book, treating each akin to a season of TV instead of pressing the reset button each time.
Cry Uncle - is this the end for McNee?

Chatting to someone recently about the books, they observed that "the first two books seem vaguely connected, but its only in book three you see that something else is happening". This is pretty much on the ball and what I wanted to achieve. Throwaway things came into sudden focus and although book 3, for me, is the one that I would look at again if I had the chance (for some very basic things) its amazing that it achieves its goal of suddenly setting up much larger stakes.

The story has been about McNee and his personal progression, but also about the fate of David Burns, who started as a mysterious background figure and has come into sharp focus since book 3. Burns is one of my favourite characters; a gang boss who calls himself a family man, who believes that he is only doing what it takes to survive in this world, who exists in a state of perpetual denial about the things that he does. The plan was always to bring him and McNee into direct conflict and as book 5 opens, we find that McNee has apparently switched sides to work for Burns. Of course, those who read book 4 will know why this happened.

The Five Book Plan is about telling this story, the story of McNee and Burns. Yes, each book has its own plot, but there's been something larger happening all the way through. Its not exactly as I envisioned it all, of course, but I am proud to say that I think I have achieved the five book plan.

But is this the end for McNee? Will he live? Will he die? Will he go to prison for some of what he's done? Will he have a happy ending? All I will say is that you'll have to read the book and say. I'm not saying whether this is the end for McNee, but I am saying that here, finally, the five book plan has been completed. And I'm rather proud of that.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Authors against book festivals

By Steve Weddle

Brian McClellan, an author I knowest not but seems like a decent fellow, wrote a post the other day about the economics of book festivals -- from an author's perspective.
The event itself was six and a half hours, and we were asked to be there a half hour early. The drive from my house was an hour and a half each way. That's ten hours of my time. It was a 78 mile drive each way, at an assumed 25MPG, at an assumed $3/gallon of gas for a cost of $18.72 in gas money (which is tax deductible).
I made $9.08 in profit over ten hours. $.91 an hour. So, uh, not looking so good for the use of our time is it?
The question he has, the same as many authors, is whether going to a book fair as an author makes economic sense. My take is that being an author doesn't make economic sense, but what do I know? Some folks make a living doing this writing stuff. Good on 'em, I say.

The travel to the festival. The time spent at the folding table in the tent. The hotel. The eating. The buying of a nice shirt. This stuff adds up. And if you're getting a couple bucks for each hardback you sell, then you have to sell about 750 books just to cover the hotel and the nice shirt.

Brian McClellan does a quick and dirty breakdown in his post.

If you're going to a book fair to make money, you'll probably want to come at it from a more sophisticated angle than I do, which is, you know, pretty much just the showing up.

You'll need to schedule readings around the fair itself, I'd think. Maybe a radio interview. Maybe a group reading with some other folks one of the off-nights. I dunno. Merchandise? Get a cool saying from your book and put it on a mug and then sell the mug in the parking lot. Hell, I don't know. The internet probably has someone going on and on about "The 23 Things You Need To Do At A Book Fair To Earn Your Keep." Your Google-Fu is probably good enough to find it. Have fun.

That said, I use the Being An Author thing as a good excuse to get to places. I've been to book fairs and festivals to read, and it's swell to have been invited and I muchly appreciate that. The thing I really dig, though, is getting to see other authors and getting books signed and hanging out with folks around the edges of the festivals for dinner and bar talk and all.

This past weekend I was a the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge. I read from a story called "South of Bradley," which is scheduled to appear next year in Playboy. That was great because I got to see some friends I hadn't seen in a long time and catch up for, well, not long, but still. And then my lovely bride and I were able to have dinner with some nice authors and their families. And we were able to spend some time with my family eating shrimp po-boys and drinking cafe au lait (made correctly) and travel around the area. And, at the fair itself, I was able to buy a stack of books from some great authors, meet them, have the books signed, trade stories and contact info, and on and on.

I had a great time at the Baton Rouge festival and would recommend it to anyone who digs books. Sign up for next year when you can.

Was it expensive? Damn right it was. Did I make that money back? Hell no, I did not.

A friend of mine asked me who the book festivals are for, if not for writers. Again, hell if I know. Who makes the money? At the Louisiana Book Festival, a team of folks worked their butts off VOLUNTEERING to make the event a success. Heck, they didn't even make the two bucks a book, you know? Barnes and Noble had the book tent there and sold, by my estimation, 17,237,863 book on Saturday. And I bought 14 of those. The food tent people? I paid seven bucks for a cup of jambalaya, so I'm sure they did fine.

So for me, the question isn't whether it makes financial sense to go. Does Bouchercon make financial sense? Can you put a price on networking? (If you can, email LinkedIn. They'd like to know.)

If you're looking to make money, authoring is a tough way to do it. I mean, I love ya as an author. We can hang out and talk shop after. I'll buy your book and you'll make two dollars from it. That's cool. But going to a book fair to sell books doesn't usually make economic sense for an author whose name isn't Evanovich or Child or Rowling or Charbonneau. You want to make money at a book fair? Sell shrimp po-boys. You'd make a killing of me alone.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Bouchercon Dos and Don'ts

by Holly West

Bouchercon 2014 is around the corner and I can't wait. While I'm not new to the conference itself, this is the first year I'll be on a panel as a published author and I'm very happy about that.

I've been seeing quite a few posts by fellow authors and readers about ways to maximize your enjoyment of Bouchercon. Things like: "Pace yourself," "Don't feel like you have to do everything," "Be professional," and my all time favorite, "Don't drink too much."

All good advice, of course, but these posts always make me wonder how other people manage to behave moderately in these situations. Admittedly, I'm not that good at taking care of myself during the best of times, but for some reason, Bouchercon--and conferences in general--tend to bring out the most extreme parts of my personality. It's like I've been turned up to 11 and I'm a whirling dervish of social activity that can't be controlled.

As a result, I've come up with my own set of Bouchercon Dos and Don'ts that I hope you'll find helpful (or, perhaps, a cautionary tale):

1) DO buy a whole new wardrobe when you figure out that your nicest clothes, which you haven't worn since last year's conference, don't fit anymore.

2) DO circle all of the panels and events you want to attend in the conference program even though you will only actually make it to about four of them (including your own).

3) DO take a moment to chat with that friend in the hall because contrary to what you might think, you will not run into that person again (they may, in fact, be avoiding you).

4) DON'T eat or drink anything that might make you burp. Or fart.

5) DON'T take into consideration your introverted nature and run out of energy by Friday afternoon.

6) DO, because of the aforementioned introverted nature and resulting lack of energy, get rip-roaring drunk on Friday night.

7) DON'T let that stop you from doing it again on Saturday night.

8) DON'T eat anything resembling a balanced meal for the entire four days.

9) DO come home from Bouchercon determined to lose 40 pounds by the next one.

10) DO be inspired. Because above all, Bouchercon is a time to connect with many people I only get to see once a year. It's a place to learn, to kvetch, and to share experiences.

See you in Long Beach!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Conferences and Festivals

Last week I had a great time at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto. I saw Linwood Barclay interview James Ellroy. Ellroy was Ellroy, of course, but Linwood did a great job of bringing out his humour. After going on a bit about how much he loved Beethoven, Ellroy said, “You look like Beethoven,” and Linwood said, “I get that all the time.”
I was thrilled to be invited on to the crime fiction panel along with Peter Robinson and Michael Robotham. We had a nice crowd and a great moderator in James Grainger so the questions were lively.

Next week I’m taking part in something called the Wild Writers Literary Festival in Waterloo, Ontario and then it’s off to Long Beach for Bouchercon.

My panel at Bouchercon is Saturday morning at 11:30 in Regency C and it’s called, “We’ve Got Grit.” The other panelists are Graham Brown, Charles Salzberg, David Stout, and David Swinson and the moderator is Diane Vallere so that looks great.

I’m also taking part in Noir at the (breakfast) Bar Friday morning at 9:00 in Harbor A.

As usual there are a lot of panels I’m looking forward to. If you’re going to Bouchercon, what panels are you looking forward to?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Magic Keeps me Going

by Kristi Belcamino

I'm knee-deep in the middle of writing my third book in my mystery series and I've been slogging through the hell all writers know as "the middle" when I realized what was missing.

Somewhere along the line of writing a novel, past the infatuation stage when really the writing has just become plain old hard work, there is something magical that happens. The words, the story, the characters and the people come to life.

This is what keeps me at it.

I'm trudging along, putting my butt-in-the-chair, pounding out my minimum one thousand words a day, feeling lackluster, when suddenly IT happens.

Here's what IT is for me. I start thinking about the characters and the story at random times in my life when I'm not writing. This signals that magical moment when my story has come alive. It has taken on a life of it's own separate from me.

This magic is what keeps me in that chair writing when I really want to be reading the new book I just bought at Once Upon A Crime, or am tempted to surf the web or look at cute boots on Pinterest.

It's the magic. And luckily, it appears every single time I write a book. The mystery is in not knowing WHEN it will appear. So as with each book I write, I will continue plugging away, trudging through the middle of the book waiting for that magical moment when the story comes to life.

Do any other writers out there feel that magic? That moment when suddenly the words on paper take on a life of their own?