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 🙂

2015: The year that was

japan 1drt6gAs far as writing years go, 2015 was pretty good. I’ve acheived my goals, realized some dreams, and learned a few lessons.

I had numerous publications over the course of the year, and was pleased to be in the pages of Asimov’s Science Fiction and Landfall once again. My second stories in each of those magazines, over consecutive years, and that suggests to me that the first wasn’t a fluke. I may actually be doing some things right.

I also had stories in Perihelion, Capricious, Takahe, SQMag and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. A good mix of literary and science fiction.

Good news on the competition front too. I was first equal in the Gernsback Amazing Stories innaugural competition this year for my story “Penny of Tharsis Montes”. That should be out in the first issue in February.

I self-published numerous short stories, and five novels. Sales of these have been unspectacular. Included in the plans for 2016 is more learning about marketing, discoverability and the like. I’m confident I have a good product: I lack the skills to get it noticed.

I’ve also taken more courses and read more books about writing and business. I’ll continue that next year.

As Shadows on the Snow, Kendall and I had a lot of music come out. Kendall’s brilliant at getting the stuff out into the world. Thanks Kendall!

I managed to fit in a jaunt to Japan (hence the photo), which was fabulous. Almost a month there visiting Hiroshima, Kyoto and Naoshima Island among other places, sampling okonomiyaki (yum) and green tea ice cream (not so yum).

For the fourth year running I wrote every day (including on the trip, albeit slower). Also for the fourth year in a row, I wrote over a half a million words. Funny thing; the goal is 500,000, but I hit that on November 19th. With forty-one days left, I wondered what to do. Why not write another novel? So I ran with that. Athena Setting will came in at around 57,000 words and I’ve just finished it tonight, New Year’s Eve (squeaked in at 11.59). These days, it’s not often I’m up at midnight for new year, but there you go. I celebrated finishing the novel (as I usually do) by starting the next piece. Might even be a new novel.

For the first year since starting that word count, I also published over a half million (about 100,000 over that – not bad). I have more words (should say complete stories/novels) written this year and last, that haven’t made it out yet. Next year.

Next year’s goals remain the same, with clear additions. Write every  day, write a half million words, and publish ten novels. Also; learn a whole lot more around business and marketing and so on.

Happy New Year everyone.