Planning Releases for 2020

 

This year we’re targetting getting twelve releases out. This will be a mix of standalone short stories, novels and collections. If we can really get things together, a couple of the collections will be omnibuses of a few of my earlier novels.

For January, February, March and April there will be four science fiction releases, three standalone short stories, “Life-Span”, “Fabulous Skies” and “Mem, and Cyborg”, and the novel Deuterium Shine.

The novel is the first in a new series – The Jupiter Files. The second book, Tritium Blaze will be out later in the year. There are no concrete plans for a third book, so this might well be a duology. Of course, the obvious third book would be Hydrogen Something. Can’t use Sonata since Ian M Banks did that so well already. Would it be cheeky to call it Hydrogen Coda? After all it would be the last book. Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself there.

“Life-Span” is available for preorder from Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers. Just $2.99 for the ebook and $5.99 for print, since it’s a short story. Release day is January 31st.

The blurb goes like this:

Cody Albine watches as her elegant and well-organized presentation collapses. Right in front of her last chance at getting corporate funding for the project of a lifetime. Her absolute passion.
But hope lies with her friends. It might take compromise, but a little compromise between friends never goes astray.
A short biological sci fi thriller with a heart. From the author of Overrun and L-Own.

 

“Fabulous Skies” will be available from February 29th, Deuterium Shine from March 31st and “Mem, and Cyborg” from April 30th. All will have preorders for about a month. Short stories stay at $2.99/$5.99, but the novel will be $5.99/$16.99 (probably – still working on the layout and the size of the print book dictates the price).

 

Moving on from there, May will be a collection of literary short stories, with some previously published. June will be the novel Desert Creepers, the fourth book in my Captain Arlon Stoddard series. It’s been a while since the last volume, so it will be great to get this series going again. There are two more already written in the series – Core Runners and Underworld Climbers.

July will likely be an omnibus of shorter sci-fi novels, August will have a collection of sci-fi stories, September should be Tritium Blaze. For October we’re targetting another omnibus, this one of earlier thrillers, November another sci-fi stories collection, and December will be book three of the Morgenfeld fantasy series, The Black Chimneys in Atterton.

That’s it. A big year that will push me out there into some areas that challenge me.

Exciting times.

Gearing up for a busy writing (and music) year.

After a year of being almost in stasis, of stumbling and letting things slide, focus feels like it is returning.

I knew I would be more focused this year, but then Dean Wesley Smith offered a publishing challenge. I signed up. Nothing will motivate me more than having to report in monthly. I had already planned to release a piece of writing each month, but this ups the ante with each monthly item having to be a novella (20,000 words plus), a novel, a collection of stories (minimum five) or an omnibus of novels.

That’s a level up from where I was heading – I was aiming for four novels, and eight stories. Maybe putting out a story collection later in the year.

Now, I did  put out four novels last year.

But it was a bit haphazard. There were a couple of standalone stories in the mix too. This year I’ll be scheduling everything. Doing preorders (hoping I can figure out how to get the paperback to run as a preorder on Amazon, rather than just dropping the moment I complete the uploads).

I’m formally beginning the challenge from May (I have some travel and other commitments through to April), but I’m still sticking with the release per month schedule from January on to April anyway. Targeting the last day of the month. The first is available for preorder now – the short sci-fi thriller “Life Span” (short as in sixty odd pages). I’ll do a proper promo post on that soon.

Life Span

Life Span will be out on January 31, and the preorder will be pretty wide shortly. Here’s the blurb

Cody Albine watches as her elegant and well-organized presentation collapses. Right in front of her last chance at getting corporate funding for the project of a lifetime. Her absolute passion.

But hope lies with her friends. It might take compromise, but a little compromise between friends never goes astray.

A short biological sci fi thriller with a heart. From the author of Overrun and L-Own.

 

I’m also putting some focus back on getting music out.  Some few of you may know that I make electronic music as Venus Vulture.

Chelden River Suite 2

For the last few years I’ve still been making music, but letting it linger on the hard drive. Some I’ve been sharing with Kendall, my collaborator from December Nightskies. We release music as Shadows on the Snow.

Even that has slowed down a bit.

So, my challenge this year is to get some music fragments to Kendall each month to see if we can do some Shadows on the Snow releases.

I’m also taking on getting a new Venus Vulture album out every three months. It’s not like there’s a shortage of music (either in the world or on my hard drive), but the act of getting the music out there takes some focus for me.

Chelden River Suite, a four part album, is already up and available at Bandcamp, again as a preorder for full release on (you guessed it) January 31.

I’m also figuring out reactivating venusvulture.com. After all, I’m paying for that URL.

 

Add to that keeping this site active, posting weekly at prowriterswriting.com, staying fit and healthy, a little travel, a WorldCon to attend and everything else that keeps us going, I think it will be a pretty fine year.

Writing sales copy – still learning

I like to think that I’m growing and learning as a writer (and despite a string of university qualifications, I’m starting to  wonder if I’m a slow learner. Perhaps a topic for another post). As I learn, I hope I’m getting better a writing blurbs. Blurbs are a whole other language (did I mention somewhere that I struggle with learning languages?).

Stories seem to fall out of me, yet blurbs are more like that old story about pulling teeth.

It strikes me that a blurb, as in sales copy, must describe the book, but not reveal the book. They must be punchy. Rather than saying, ‘well, you might enjoy this book’, they should say, in effect, ‘READ THIS NOW! Your life depends on it!’ I’ve been looking back over some of my blurbs and starting to get a sense of how they miss that. By a wide mark. Sometimes wide means something like the gulf between galaxies.Raven Rising thumb

My recent book Raven Rising started out with this goofy blurb:

“Practically swallowed up by alien forest, the wreck of the Raven offers few clues to the team eager to discover why the ship wrecked so violently. Crack investigator Angelie Gunnarson faces an enormous task. Will she be able to find the answers before time runs out? An action-packed short sci-fi novel from the award-winning
author of The City Builders.”

I think this blurb has some good moments (the last sentence kind of works), but frankly overall it’s pedestrian. Where’s the good reason why a reader might be interested in the book?

All right then, I’ve had a go at another iteration:

“Light years from home, Starship Raven went down in an plunging blazing wreck. Crack investigator Angelie Gunnarson and her team love this kind of impossible mystery. But the Raven might have more secrets than even Angelie can handle. An action-packed short sci-fi novel from the award-winning author of The City Builders.”

Hmm. Not quite sure yet. Don’t quite know what the next iteration will be.

I am, however, going to take a course in Writing Sales Copy, to see if I can’t get a better handle on this.

Then of course there’s work to do on the covers… and all the time work to do on the craft of writing too…

All this is pretty fun.

Scheduling 26 publications this year

 

As I continue to attempt the business of getting a handle on having indie publications, I’m starting to get a rhythm beyond the haphazard. Over the last few years I feel like I’ve certainly gotten a handle on the writing side of things – writing every day, finishing everything I start, and so on – but getting that material out sometimes gets away on me.

Last year I managed just eight publications. Four novels and four longer stories (some of those in the image above). I didn’t even manage a single collection of those stories, which would have bee kind of easy.

Ah, well.

So this year I’m challenging myself to publish 26 items. One every two weeks. So far I’m on target. Just. Twelve weeks into the year and I’ve managed to publish six items. Two novels (albiet one being the shorter Raven Rising), and four longer stories.

Some of the 26 publications will be collections, which helps, since some of the stories will have already been formatted ready to go. I will try to make sure that each collection has one unique story in, in some cases they might be mostly unique.

I have enough writings ready to go to keep this up for a while, but at some point I’ll run out unless I keep writing. Well, keeping writing is the easy part. Keeping this up might push me somewhat.

Working on learning how to write better blurbs too. And to make better covers. And to get my website looking better. And to do some courses. And to get more things published in the professional magazines. And to just be a better writer.

Some year. Looking forward to it really.

 

Books so far this year at my Smashwords page, or on Amazon. Also on iBooks and so on…

Interesting side note, yes, the Lord of the Rings films, and related items show up on an  Amazon search for my name. I figure because a couple of the hobbits were played by Sean Astin and Dominic Monaghan. As if I didn’t get enough Lord of the Rings already, what with living in New Zealand 🙂

A different kind of a year.

So my number of external publications is slowing. Down to a few factors.

First: I’m focusing on novels, so I’ll be writing fewer short stories and novellas. I may write a short story or two between bursts of novels. Inclination will be a big determinant on that 🙂

Second: I have a trip coming up later in the year. Six weeks. Latin America. I can’t guarantee my access to the internet to manage submissions and the business as a whole. So I’m putting submissions on hold from now through until I return. No sense in frustrating editors if by chance they want my story and they can’t get hold of me.

Third: I’m pursuing professional sales only. You would think that that’s an obvious strategy, but for many years I’ve undervalued my writing. That’s not to say that I’m not proud of my publications, or ungrateful to those editors who’ve honored me with publication.

Naturally this assumes that editors will take my stories. I have had numerous professional publications, and I generally get positive personal rejections from most for stories that don’t make the cut. Making it cut is always a long shot. I recall reading that Clarkesworld receives around 1000 submissions a month, all angling for one of five places in the magazine.

So, all that said, if I’m not here announcing more frequently, it’s because I have less to announce.

Naturally, I will be writing just as much 🙂

books 2017c.jpg

Five years of writing every day.

keys.jpgFor a moment, I thought I’d wait until I hit 2000 consecutive days of writing every day, but I still feel like five years (1826 days) is a good round figure.

So, last December 31st, 2016 I made it through five years of writing every day. I counted the words written each day as I went (heading for annual targets). Some days I wrote a little (156 words for my lowest count), some days a whole lot more (over 8000 on my best day), most days around 1500.

Each year my total wordcount has crept up. From just over a half million in 2012 to well over 600,000 last year.

What did I learn?

Well, I hope I learned to be a better storyteller. Raymond Chandler is supposed to have said that every writer has “a million words of crap” in them before they start writing readable fiction. My five years has produced over 2.5 million. With the years before, I suspect I’m up well over three million words. I’m not convinced that I’m not still writing crap.

Dean Wesley Smith would say that a writer is the worst judge of his or her own writing. I’d agree there. Some of my stories I think are duds sell, and some I think are wonderful circulate and circulate without finding a home.

(Chandler also said “A good story cannot be devised; it has to be distilled” – I like that one).

Along with learning about writing, I’m learning about the business of writing. How to manage my time more effectively and how to worry less often. I guess another thing I’m learning is patience. Whether that be waiting for the response from a publisher, or waiting for my readership to grow. Getting there.

100 Submissions

Last great time house.png So, as well as tracking my word count this year, I’ve also tracked my number of submissions. Now, I do keep close track of where and when I’m submitting (it would be kind of silly not to), but this is the first time I’ve ever recorded the actual number as well.

So far this year I’ve made 100 submissions. That’s submissions of short-stories/ novelettes/ novellas to various markets. It doesn’t count items I’ve sent to indie/ self-publishing.

To be clear, though, I have completed a total of fourteen new pieces. All of those submitted. There have been some novels that have gone directly to indie, so I’m not counting those.

Getting to one hundred submissions means some of those fourteen, and some of last year’s stories (and a couple from the year before) are finding themselves resubmitted. This is pretty standard practice. One market rejects a story, off it goes to another. Repeat. Heinlein would say ‘repeat until sold’.

Of those fourteen, I’ve so far sold six. Not a huge number for me, but I’ll take it (of course). Pretty low ratio in terms of submissions: six percent, but not too bad in terms of stories completed.

Cover illustration for The Last Great Time House of Muldemar Ridge © Ateliersommerland | Dreamstime.com