sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means....

So, I signed up for a June writing workshop on short stories under the tutelage of Kristine Katherine Rusch (award-winning writer and editor), among others. It was a week-long exercise is reading and writing and reading and writing and more writing. Or so I hear.

I didn't make it. I couldn't get the time off from my day job. I didn't get my time off request in soon enough for what is, unsurprisingly, prime vacation time real estate. I was disappointed, but frankly it may not have been a bad thing. I'm not sure I was in the right headspace to work at my writing last month. So maybe it's just as well I couldn't go.

I can't complain about not getting the time off--my bosses have been very accommodating about my need for time off--just over a month after I was hired--for my surgery last November, and for the trip back to Virginia (again, on very short notice) for my father's funeral.

I'd already paid for the workshop, so I wrote to them and had them apply the fee to a different week-long workshop in October...which was cancelled this week for lack of interest (only half a dozen of us had signed up). So I'll be applying the fee for some other workshop once they announce the schedule for the remainder of 2012 and the first half of 2013 later this month.

But in the meantime, I didn't get the boost of enthusiasm and confidence I always have when I've spent a week with other aspiring (and accomplished) writers. And I won't get one in October now, either. So I need to find that somewhere else. I also need a first reader (or two, or three) for my fiction. My wife used to do it, but I think I need some input from other people.

So I'm looking for a writing group.

I know a number of local writers (for various flavors of "local") are on my friends lists on Dreamwidth and LiveJournal. I'm in the Portland Metro Area (Clackamas, to be specific). For that matter, it doesn't HAVE to be a local group. People who are willing to share work and responses by email could prove helpful too.

If any of you are in, or know of, a writers group that could use another member, I'd be interested in knowing about it. I write erotica, romance, science fiction, and fantasy for the most part, with the occasional mystery or crime/adventure story. Short stories and novels, both. I've had a number of short stories published by Cobblestone Press, an epublisher, and have published more under my own publishing name (Gelastic Press).

Any help anyone can offer will be greatly appreciated.
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I haven't been posting as much lately. I've been doing most of my posts lately just to let my lovely and talented wife know what's going on in my head. (I'm the silent type.) But I've been talking to her more, I think.

I'm seeing a therapist. My lovely wife urged me to do so, believing (correctly, as it turns out) that I've been depressed. I've been seeing the therapist for a couple of months now, and I think it's helping. Some days now I feel both less depressed (able to do more, get more writing done and get more job-hunting done) and more depressed (in that I am FEELING depressed now, and like I don't want to get out of bed to face the job search). But then, nobody likes job-hunting. It's demoralizing.

On the other hand, I've had three--count 'em, THREE--responses this week to my blizzard of emails and resumes lately. Which is a much better rate than I had been getting. I haven't changed what I'm doing, so I wonder if maybe the job market is actually picking a little. I didn't get one job (I'd have heard today if they were offering it to me), but I am still waiting on a second interview for another, and have lined up an appointment for a third job this coming Monday.

The therapist is also working with me on digging into some of my less-than-helpful behaviors. Things I do that cause strife between the wife and me, and which are not helpful. I don't like the results. She doesn't like the results. But I keep doing them. So we're working on identifying why I do them, and how I can learn to use more constructive behaviors.

I'll be in Lincoln City for four days this coming week, attending a writers' workshop on Thinking Like A Publisher for those of us who are writing and publishing our own work electronically (or in POD form). I'm looking forward to it. Hanging around with other writers, and learning from them, is always inspiring. I expect to learn a lot next week, and hope to put it all to use as I slog (slowly) toward the day when I can make a living (then a decent living, then ultimately a very good living) from my writing.

Speaking of writing, I have seven short stories published through Cobblestone Press. They were my first seven sales. At this point, I have two dozen other stories (from shorts to novellas to one full-length novel) self-published on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and other sites. I am currently getting more sales (and making more money) from the self-published works than from the stuff I published through my epublisher. Not that I'm making a lot, but...I'm making even less from Cobblestone. I suspect that had I sold to some of the much larger epublishers, I might have done better. Or maybe not.

In any case, my contracts for the works published there are for three years. They also have a clause allowing me to reclaim the works after they've been available via the publisher's website for eighteen months, if I notify the publisher via registered mail. I've been thinking about doing that. Those stories, along with a few new ones, would make for some nice short story collections--but I can't collect them while they're under contract. Plus, I think I might do better self-publishing them.

Or that was my thinking until recently. Cobblestone has recently made a deal with Amazon, so my stories (and everyone else's) are now available on Amazon, where they are much more likely to be seen by potential buyers than before. (In fact, just tonight I looked at my author page on Amazon and found that "Flying High", my first Cobblestone sale, was the third or fourth-ranked of my stories on Amazon now, nestled amongst my self-published stories.) Which suggests that they may sell better now that they're on a much, much larger platform.

Plus, Christmas is coming. And with it, if 2011 is anything like 2010, a huge boom in ebook sales as people who recieve a Kindle or a Nook (or some other ereader, but mostly Kindles) start looking for fiction to buy and read on their new toys. Since I have to give my publisher 90 days notice of my intent to reclaim my works, and it would take days or weeks for new versions of the stories I self-publish to propagate to all the various web sites, it would be counterproductive to do so now, when Christmas is less than three months away.

So I've decided to hold off on that. I'm going to wait to see how they sell for the next few months, both before and after Christmas. Eventually I'll reclaim them, even if it's when the contracts expire.
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
It's been more than two weeks since I last killed a man posted to my journal. I just don't feel the urge to post that much these days, but I do mostly so my lovely and talented wife can keep up with my thoughts and feelings. (I communicate much better in writing than verbally.)

So...just got back from another trip to the mall right across the street. Twoson and I are pounding the pavement (or the tiles) looking for work. I've been instructing him in the fine art of making cold calls on mall stores. He's getting better at it, and finding it easier to do. The first time I providing an incentive--when we finished our quota of calls I'd buy us lunch in the food court. This time we didn't do that, but we still did our quota of calls, and a couple more for good measure.

I've got an interview next week with one of the big anchor stores for a "sales associate, part-time" position (I'm looking for part-time work so I still have time to write) which would be a stocking position. That suits me fine. Stocking and restocking is more my speed than sales anyhow. I'm hoping to get it. It would be almost perfect: part-time, across the street from the apartment, and nothing too mentally or socially taxing.

Today we got a very encouraging response at a jewelers. The lady behind the counter urged us to go their website and fill out the application online ASAP as they're hiring. So that's first on our agenda, ahead of all the other online applications. Virtually all the stores simply give us a website address to apply to. We can haz the future.

Later today I have a therapy session. Snippy asked me to consider therapy a few weeks back. She was under the impression (and, I think, correctly) that I was depressed. What with all the change in our lives in the last year (selling our house, moving to the apartment, my father being in hospice care, Snippy and I being deathly ill in May and June, my hospitalization, etc.) I've definitely been off my game. And she needs me functioning so I can take care of her; that's a big part of my raison d'etre around here--and I wouldn't have it any other way.

So I agreed. I've had three or four sessions now. I think they're helpful. The first couple of sessions I talked about my writing, or the lack thereof lately, and my resistance to sitting down and writing, though I enjoy it when I finally do it (and really enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I am productive). That's just old-fashioned anxiety, and something I'll probably always have to battle. Most writers (most people, for that matter) do.

Last week we went into an argument Snippy and I had, and why it happened. That was more difficult. It required more self-analysis, which is...not my forte, shall we say? I expect we'll talk more about it today.

My writing is going better, though not as well as I'd like. I'd like to be producing more words (and more finished stories), but I'm definitely trending upward, so that's good. I'm even seeing some money from my writing now. Nowhere near enough to constitute even a part-time job's worth (if that were the case, I wouldn't need an outside job), but that too is trending upward as I publish more material, and that should continue.

I started self-publishing in January of this year. Dean has written repeatedly that you won't REALLY know how you're selling for months. Smashwords, for instance, publishes your work to a bunch of other retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, Apple, and others) both domestically and abroad. Some of those sites report monthly, others quarterly. Then Smashwords has to report to you. If one or more sites are slow to report, it could be near the end of the SECOND quarter (or even the one after that) before you find out how well you sold in JANUARY.

I've made money in three digits (excluding cents) so far this year. Not a lot, but it's a start--and I'm only just starting to see results from downstream sites (as explained above). Plus, in January I only had a couple of stories up. Now I'm up to over a dozen; given months and months to wait before all the sales on all of those are reported and...there's no telling. In the mean time, I need to write, write, write and publish, publish, publish.

I'll be attending a workshop on self-publishing in October. I got my first assignment for that class by email today. I was to read Dean's "How To Think Like A Publisher blog posts (done); choose a publisher name (Gelastic press--long since done), and establish accounts on Smashwords (ditto), PubIt (ditto), Amazon (ditto), and Createspace (done), register my Publisher name with the state as a DBA (done today), and establish a bank account I can use with all the above publishing account (also done).

I've started running again. The Couch Potato to 5K program. I downloaded an app to my phone that tells me when to run and when to walk, and keep track of mileage and pace. I'm going to have to get an audio & music-streaming bluetooth headset, though. Carrying the phone is a pain in the ass when I'm running, and when it's in its belt pouch I CAN'T HEAR IT. Still, it's a useful app; I don't have to carry a stopwatch and try to remember which intervals I'm doing on a given day. My legs are very sore; after being bedridden for a while, and very low energy for so long afterward, I have no stamina and no strength.

But that's why I started running again, so I can get that back.

Time for lunch now. I didn't eat breakfast.
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
That's the name of the writing workshop I returned from yesterday afternoon. I spent a long weekend--from 7 p.m. Saturday to about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday--at the Historic Anchor Inn in Lincoln City with a dozen other writers learning the delicate art of selling our work to potential readers via...pitches, blurbs, and taglines.

Unlike a previous workshop I'd attended, which had to do with busting myths about writing, and explaining how you can make a living at it and which was mostly lecture, this one involved writing. We got together first early Saturday evening. Dean Wesley Smith, the instructor, talked about the topic and what a good blurb involved. Then we were given two stories (one by Dean, one by Kristine Rusch) to read, with instructions to write blurbs and back cover copy about them for the next session at 11 a.m. Sunday.

I sweated over that project, as did we all. Sunday morning we got together and distributed copies of our efforts and then we read them, each of noting down whether or not we'd buy* the story based solely on each blurb. Nothing more. No critique, no commentary, just a binary decision like a reader in a bookstore (or cruising Amazon): buy or don't buy.

After that, we went over each one as a group, led by Dean, discussing what worked and what didn't, and why. The ultimate no-no was using passive constructions ("to be" in any form). That was an automatic re-do: you had to revise that project for Dean in addition to the new assignments. Then we were given three more stories to read and write blurbs and cover copy for. Oh--and we had to do a blurb for one of our own stories.

That's how it went all weekend. We got reading and writing assignments, then went over them together, then got more for the next session. We ended by doing blurbs and cover copy for THREE of our own stories, as well an exercise in writing taglines, and a requirement to write our own author bios.

We didn't distribute the bios, or even show them to Dean. The point was to get us to write them, since a lot of writers (being introverts) tend to resist doing them--but they're as much a sales tool as anything else. Readers (or editors) who have something in common with you, or who can see that you have experience that applies to a story you're promoting, will be favorably inclined toward you.

It was good practice. Seeing how a dozen other people approached the same story and generated wildly different results (both good and bad), really highlighted what sort of things worked and which didn't. I learned a lot, and I'll be putting it to use. I'll be revising most of my online book pages, adding taglines to covers, modifying blurbs, and adding author info.

It was a good weekend. About half the class was staying for a follow-up workshop on being your own publisher. I'll be taking that class in October.


*"Buy" in this context means, would you open the book and look at the story opening? The point of a blurb or of cover copy is to get you interested enough to investigate further. Whether the writing itself sells you on the story is another issue and not relevant to this workshop.

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sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
sinanju

August 2017

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