Monday, January 30, 2012

Sweet Ophelia free today and tomorrow for Kindle

For anyone who has already bought a copy of my novel Sweet Ophelia for Kindle, thanks for helping support a starving writer! ;-)  For those who haven't picked up a copy yet, I'm running a free promotion for the next two days on Amazon.  Get it while it's free!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Summer in Winter

This has been quite an amazing month here in Southern California.  Usually during the winter the high temperatures hover around 65-69 degrees or so (18 C), but this month the temperatures have been regularly hitting the high 70's and even into the low 80's (27 C).  It is hard to complain, since I've always been one who prefers summer to winter.  The downside is that I've hardly accomplished anything with my writing lately.  I figure, make hay while the sun shines, right?!  Or at least make the most of it, in any case.

Today I drove up to Newport Beach with my dad to rent a couple kayaks and go paddling around the harbor.  Lots of other people were out on boats or the little beaches ringing the harbor, pretending that it was summer for the day.

Tomorrow I'm headed up to Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Nevada mountains for a month or so, where I'll encounter real winter.  After the driest start to the season in ages, they finally got some snow last week. I'm sure I'll get a lot more writing done in the colder weather, but if it gets too cold I'll just think back to today, hanging out on the water and basking in the winter sun!

Friday, January 27, 2012

You can take it with you

Your camera, that is!  I posted a few weeks ago about how I got a new camera, but I've hardly used it since.  I sort of feel like there's nothing much to take pictures of around here in Laguna Beach, since it is all so familiar to me.  No point in taking a bunch of identical pictures of the beach over and over, right?  This morning I looked at the camera on my desk and thought about bringing it along, but ended up leaving it behind when I went for a morning walk.  Well, it ends up there was a huge pod of dolphins frolicking in the surf just near the shore!  Among them were a bunch of newborn calves, bobbing their noses up out of the water and practicing waving their tails in the air.  And me without my camera.  Sigh...  Oh well, hopefully I learned my lesson!  Next time I'll have to bring it along...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Matter of Time

There was an interesting article in the Los Angeles Times today about a YA writer named John Green and his success in the realm of social media.  Green produces a popular video blog and has over one million followers on Twitter.  That's an awful lot compared to my 14 followers! What really struck me about the article, however, was this quote from Green:

"When you're writing a novel, you spend four years sitting in your basement and a year waiting for the book to come out and then you get the feedback.  When you do work online, the moment you're finished making it, people start responding to it which is really fun and allows for a kind of community development you just can't have in novels."

Now obviously, Green isn't considering the world of online publishing.  When "Indie" novelists like myself finish a book, we design a cover, have the book proofread, and put it up right away.  No year-long wait to get it up or to get feedback

This quote points out another huge difference between the traditional publishing model and "Indie" publishing.  Successful indie novelists don't generally have the luxury of taking four years to work on a book.  They crank out the titles.  All of the big names in online self-publishing these days put out titles at an amazing rate.  This is something they just couldn't do in the traditional system, where writers do have to wait around to be fit into their publisher's schedule.

Amanda Hocking famously wrote many of her 70,000-word novels in just 2-3 weeks each, finishing 17 novels by the time she was 26.  If she'd gone with the four-year model, that would have taken her 68 years just to write them, never mind getting them out!

So one thing that this self-publishing revolution is doing is most definitely speeding up the process.  Successful indie authors are often those who can write and get their books out the fastest, and without a publishing house schedule, they can get them out as fast as they write them.

But what of those writers who need more time to write them?  Those of us who can't just crank them out?  I'm currently working on a draft of my latest novel, and I definitely feel pressure to get it done and out as soon as possible.  Time is money, right?!  But I just can't rush it.  I have to let it develop in my subconscious and mature as the process goes along.  If I want to make a living at this, though, I don't have the luxury of John Green.  I can't take four years to write a book.  I'd starve in the meantime.  So I need to find a balance.

At the moment it has been more than six months since I came out with my last book, Sweet Ophelia.  I'd hoped to have my next done by now, but maybe if I can get a book out every nine months or so that will be enough to get by.  I guess only time will tell!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Switching Genres

One thing I've noticed about the truly successful "Indie" writers is that they pick a genre that works for them and stick with it.  John Locke writes mystery novels following the same lead character, Donovan Creed.  Amanda Hocking sticks with paranormal YA romance.  Joe Konrath writes thrillers, many with distinctive covers and titles revolving around a mixed-drink theme.  Their readers know what to expect, and once they are hooked they keep coming back for more.

So why am I currently switching genres?  It is a question I have to ask myself.  So far I have two novels out, both of which have had a reasonably good response.  Both fall into the category of romance, in one form or another.  When my first novel came out, some readers compared me to another male romance (though he prefers the term "love story") writer, Nicholas Sparks.  Sparks is another writer who has picked a genre, stuck with it, and had a great deal of success.

The thought of emulating this path has definitely crossed my mind.  If I was in it for the money alone, in fact, it would be a no-brainer.  But I just can't brink myself to do it.  I suppose I just have too many varied interests to pigeon-hole myself like that.  Writing the same type of novel over and over again would become tiresome, and if it became tiresome, the writing would suffer.  And who wants that?  All one has to do is look at some of the reviews of Sparks' latest for evidence of the inevitable decline.

One writer who fits into this genre category that has managed to cross over is the current reigning queen of romance, Nora Roberts.  She also writes thrillers, though under the J.D. Robb nom de plume.  She (or her editors) didn't want to confuse her readers.

Which brings up the question; should I use a different name for different types of books?  I've thought about it, but just can't bring myself to do so.  My next book is a thriller, sort of.  I'm also working on a book of narrative non-fiction, and a drama based on real events.  Do I use a different name for each one?  No.  Too confusing.

One of the reasons I decided that I wanted to be a novelist in the first place was so that I could write whatever I wanted to write without having to listen to anyone else's opinion on the subject.  During my career I've written for magazines and newspapers and a television station.  I never much liked writing what I was told to write.  I always wanted to just work on whatever I wanted to work on. 

So that's how it's going to be.  No one genre for me.  I hope my readers won't be too disappointed if I jump around, but hopefully I can take them along on some interesting journeys along the way!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Finally did it! Got a new camera...

For nearly a decade I've been thinking about getting a nice digital SLR camera.  In 2002 I went to Ireland and took a bike trip around the Beara Peninsula.  I planned to write it up as a travel story, complete with photos that I'd take along the way.  In the end I couldn't bring myself to spend the money on a new camera, so I used an old 35mm SLR instead.  I did manage to sell the article to the Los Angeles Times, along with the photos, but still I couldn't justify the cost of a camera upgrade.

Over the next few years my interest in photography grew.  I began exhibiting and selling my prints in art shows in California, including the annual Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach.  But then my camera was stolen.  That was pretty much the end of the line for my budding photography career.  At least until now.

After waiting so long, I finally broke down and got a new Canon this week.  I opted for the T2i (550D), which is the previous model year.  I'm done with the art festivals, but hopefully this will motivate me to post more photos here on the blog.  Today I went down to the beach and took my first shots.

This is main beach here in Laguna at sunset on a winter day.  The first of many shots to come, no doubt!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Newsweek Agrees...

Last week I blogged about how I sometimes like to write by hand when I'm working, using pen and paper instead of my computer.  Not only do I feel more of a connection to the process than when using a laptop, but it is also a great way to avoid the temptation of the Internet.  This distraction can be the bane of my existence on some days.

Well, it ends up that Newsweek magazine agrees.  This week they published a list of 31 Ways to Get Smarter in 2012.  Number 24 on the list is "Write by Hand."  As they say:

"Remember what that feels like? Brain scans show that handwriting engages more sections of the brain than typing. Bonus brain boost: it’s easier to remember something once you’ve written it down on paper."

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who feels this way.  I also like number 11.  "Eat Dark Chocolate."  I can live with that one.  And also number 31.  "Get Out of Town."  Now I just need to plan my next trip to someplace that has good dark chocolate!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Advantage of Paper

Wow, what a day in Southern California! I sat on the beach today, where temps were around 80 degrees (25 C), and worked on my latest novel with a pen and a pad of paper.

Normal temps this time of year are around 67 degrees (19 C), but this whole week has been near record highs.  It was so nice, I even managed to go swimming today, twice.  Which brings me back to the theme of this post.  Never in a million years would I take my laptop with me to the beach.  The sand and the salt and the water would destroy it in no time.  But going back to the old-fashioned method, with a pen and notebook, I can work anywhere! 

Aside from these considerations, there is something spiritually appealing about writing with pen and paper.  It just feels more natural, for some reason.  I'm not sure exactly why, but I feel like I can slow myself down and take my time a little bit more.  There's also the feeling of the paper in my hands that I like.  I know this is ironic, since I'll end up typing it into my computer and then offering it for sale as an ebook, but that brings up a whole other conversation.  Ebook versus paper, modern versus traditional.  I won't go there now...

What I will mention is another of the benefits of writing on paper.  I can't check my e-mail, or the news or Facebook, or any of the other time wasters on the Internet that are just an Alt-Tab away on my laptop.  At the beach where I worked today, I don't even get phone service!  That's a plus, too. :-)

Of course, this doesn't mean I'll give up my laptop completely (though sometimes it sounds like a nice idea).  The truth is, I'm so used to constantly editing myself as I go that writing on the computer is far more efficient.  But still, there are days like today where nothing is better than to take a chair to the beach, pull out a pen and paper, and get to work! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Thanks to everyone who picked up a copy of No Cure for the Broken Hearted while it was free, and especially to those who have plunked down the $2.99 since it went off the free list! I hope you like it! Since the book went back to the paid list two days ago, it has been rising up the Amazon bestseller lists (currently at #323), which is great to see. I hope everyone else who stops by is having a nice start to 2012 as well!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Climbing the Free Charts

Well, today is day three of my book No Cure for the Broken Hearted being free for Kindle on Amazon, so I thought I'd post a quick update. So far it has been steadily climbing the free bestseller chart. When I started two days ago it was around 14,500 on the chart, and as of this morning it has moved up to #25. Not too bad! Tomorrow it switches back to paid, so we'll see how that goes! :-)

Happy New Year to all who stop by here, and I hope you're having a great start to 2012!