What’s Cooking?

Today is the last day of June. Half the year is over and I thought I’d give an update as to where things are at in my little corner of the world. You can read here what I planned for 2015 and make comparisons, if you like.

Writing

Thus far, I have 8 books published in 3 series with a standalone novella. Sales are exceedingly modest, but then I’ve done little to advertise them. Right now I’m writing and to be honest I feel the weight of years. Statistically speaking, I have about 20 years remaining. Morbid sounding, I know. But as Eeyore said, I’m not complaining, that’s just how it is.

I have so many book and story ideas, I don’t know if 20 years will be enough. So at present, I feel compelled to write and not do much marketing. But there is also the fact that while I have 8 books published, they are in 4 different genres and sub-genres.

My contribution to post-apocalyptic cozy catastrophes, The Rocheport Saga, has 3 books thus far. My mystery series, Justinia Wright, PI, stands at one novel and a novella collection. The dieselpunk alternative history series From the Files of Lady Dru Drummond also consists of a mere two books. And then there is the one psychological/supernatural horror novella, Do One Thing For Me.

Looking at it by genre, I don’t have many books in each genre. Hugh Howey had 7 science fiction books published when Wool appeared. I have a little ways to go to reach 8 books in one genre/sub-genre. So, taking a page out of Howey’s book, I’m writing now and marketing later.

But most importantly, I’m having fun!

Works in Progress

I do not have a dearth of ideas. If anything, I have a surfeit. Makes it difficult for me to focus at times. At the moment, I’m trying to concentrate on three stories.

Currently I’m working on typing and editing/revising book number four in The Rocheport Saga. Word count thus far is at 15,000. The series is my best seller to date. And there is a lot more manuscript material to go through. I’m guessing I wrote something over a half-million words (2200 handwritten pages) and the three novels out at this point comprise about 160 to 170 thousand words. So I’m guessing the series will have 9, maybe 10 novels when it finally ends.

I’m writing Justinia Wright, PI #3. After several fits and starts, I think I finally have a handle on the story. To date, I have 10,700 words typed and much more handwritten. I’m hoping to finish the book in the next month or two.

My new dieselpunk tale, featuring a new character, Rand Hart, stands at 14,300 words written and typed. Given where I’m at in the storyline and how much I have written, the story might reach novella length. Otherwise it will be a long novelette. And it too I hope to have out by September.

Future Books

If I get my wish, there will be lots. I’ve recently completed 3 flash fiction pieces (or short short stories as they used to be called) which I intend to include in a short story collection, hopefully published before year’s end.

In addition to the short story collection, I’d like to try to bring out The Rocheport Saga #5 before January 1st.

I have a completed short novella which might be the start of another post-apocalyptic series of possibly 7 books. Instead of waiting to publish it when I have additional books written, I’m thinking of publishing the tale as a standalone in the fall.

Lady Dru Drummond fans, do not despair! I have two ideas for further adventures of our intrepid reporter and once Rand Hart and Justinia Wright are completed, I intend to focus on Lady Dru.

In addition to the above, I have two potential space opera series on which I’ve spent time writing. These are incomplete and I’d like to return to them at some point. I also have partially completed: a fantasy novel, sci-fi historical novel, a seafaring novel, and a bunch of short stories.

In short, more is a comin’.

KDP Select

As of today, my books are no longer enrolled in KDP Select. I’ve written about that here, so I won’t spend much more time on it. In the coming weeks, they will be available in other markets.

I believe the free market is the best economic model. But the “free” in free market means everyone gets to compete without government control (which is fascism, by the way) and monopolies are not tolerated, because monopolies are just another form of control.

Amazon has taken over the book business. Everyone has to deal with Amazon. Whether we want to or not. Also keep in mind no monopoly or near monopoly is our friend.

So I’ve decided it is time to put my eggs into more than one basket and to give Amazon a bit of competition. Which I’ve also taken to a personal level: if I can get anything at a vendor other than Amazon, I will. The only way to beat a monopoly is to support the competition. Which is why I will also encourage folks to buy my books from vendors other than Amazon.

Draft 2 Digital

After researching Smashwords and alternatives to Smashwords, I’ve decided to use Draft 2 Digital as my aggregator to reach other markets.

Why not Smashwords? I think The Passive Voice article and the comments (link below) make the case why Smashwords is not my aggregator of choice. Take a moment to read MCA Hogarth’s “Leaving Smashwords”.

A friend recently uploaded her book to D2D and was done in half an hour or less. No problems whatsoever. Within several days, it was on Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, and the other vendors D2D contracts with. I like no problems.

D2D takes 15% of net royalties (or about 10% of gross). But it saves me time uploading to the vendors myself, which leaves me more time to write.

Other Formats

For the remainder of this year, I will be working on putting out paper versions of my books. I know there are folks who truly prefer paper books. There is a tactile experience with a paper book that one doesn’t get with an eReader. Personally, I like looking at shelves of books and holding a book in my hand. So paperbacks are coming. Although, ironically, I read more books on my iPad.

I’m also exploring audiobooks, because I have friends who prefer to listen to a book being read. The problem is production of an audiobook is expensive. Three to four thousand dollars. So I’m exploring doing it myself. As this unfolds, I’ll keep you all in the loop.

My Reading List

Like most writers, I like to read. In fact I enjoyed reading before I ever considered writing. So if you have a great book you’ve read, please share it with me! So what’s on my reading list?

Fiction

  • The works of Kazuo Ishiguro. That’s 7 novels and a short story collection.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson: Thrawn Janet and The Suicide Club
  • The White Company by Arthur Conan Doyle

Non-Fiction

  • Simon Garfield’s We Are At War and Our Hidden Lives
  • Because this is the centenary of World War I, The Beauty and the Sorrow by Peter Englund
  • And re-read David Shi’s excellent studies in simple living: The Simple Life and In Search of the Simple Life

Life In General

Being retired is wonderful. I recommend it to everyone. Work is so very much overrated! I think I’m enjoying retirement because I planned for it. Throughout 2014 I worked on my novels, built my website, learned social media, and prepared for my new career as an author. When I left work Friday afternoon on the 23rd of January 2015, I had a few regrets — after all one makes friends working at a place for 30 years. But when I woke up on the 24th, I sat at my desk and put pencil to paper. And when Monday rolled around, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had no virtual clock to punch. I WAS FREE!! And I put pencil to paper and wrote.

April, May, and a week in June I spent with my sister. It was a wonderful time. Then I spent a week with my dad in Arizona and finally returned to Minnesota.

Life is good. Life is what you make it. And right now, writing everyday, I’m having the time of my life.

One downer is that the freighter cruise to Samoa I so much wanted to take, doesn’t seem to be offered any longer. A whole bunch to China, but I’m not interested in seeing China. I want to see Samoa! More research is needed on that front.

Now that I’m back home, I am going to go bicycle shopping. I’d like to get a nice used bike and take advantage of the summer to get out from behind my desk for an hour or two each day.

One thing I have found of interest is that since I’ve retired, I’m seeing everything in somewhat of a different light. I’m more content and satisfied. I truly have time for enjoying il dolce far niente — the sweetness of doing nothing. And I love it! I find little things are very satisfying. To watch a favorite show on TV. To read that book, or write a letter. To just sit and listen to a piece of music. Or to drink tea and savor it or cherries (I so love cherries!). Even grocery shopping is a delight.

Life is what you make it. Make it good.

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8 Sentence Sunday On Dieselpunks #12

In today’s snippet of the forthcoming second Lady Dru novel, The Golden Fleece Affair, we get her reaction to learning that not only is the mythical Golden Fleece real, but media mogul Walter Ramsey Hall wants Dru and Karl to get it for him. He’s terminally ill and wants the fleece to cure his sickness and give him long life.

Dru and Karl were in the Soviet Union only last year (The Moscow Affair) and have no desire to go back. The country has descended into civil war and been invaded by Hitler and Mussolini, who are backing the Czarists.

Here are our 8 sentences for today:

Neither of us said anything. I, for one, had no desire to go back to Russia. Besides, everyone and his aunt and uncle wanted the damn thing. As sure as I love Karl and the sky is blue, there was going to be a lot of shooting and bloodletting over this hunk of wool. Not something I wanted to be in the middle of.

He looked at us, undoubtedly guessing we weren’t excited about the assignment. He simply said, “I won’t play hardball, Karl, Dru. I am asking you, as a friend, to do this for me.”

If you write or read Dieselpunk, join in the fun: 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks.

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8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks #7

Today’s snippet is from The Moscow Affair, my published Lady Dru novel, and gives a little picture of Karl, who is Dru’s soulmate. Because he’s married, he is usually very reserved when in public with Dru; something she complains about, but is resigned to.

They are at Cardington waiting to board the airship Deutschland for Moscow and decide to eat lunch before boarding. At the restaurant, Dru orders stout and a Ploughman’s Lunch, while Karl orders ale and Bangers and Mash.

“What,” I said, “no elaborate French dish with Bordeaux?”

“Ja,” he replied, “Ich bin eine Hessisches heute.”

I gave him a smile. “And all the other times you eat, you’re from Paris?”

“Oui.”

He reached across the table and ran a finger over the back of my hand.

“I wish we were staying longer,” I said. “I’d love to hear the swing band and dance.”

If you write or read Dieselpunk, join in the fun: 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks.

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8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks #2

Today’s snippet is from The Moscow Affair (published in November). In the novel the character Dunyasha is a Russian baroness, who has lived in America since a child to escape the Bolshevik Revolution. Now she is back in Russia trying to overthrow the Communists in the wake of Stalin’s death. Even though married to the Baron Bobrinsky, she and the Baron have a very open marriage and in fact don’t see much of each other. Dunyasha has fallen in love with Dru, but Dru doesn’t feel the same for Dunyasha. At this point in the novel, a young Czarist fighter, whom Dunyasha cares deeply about, died in a battle. He was a poet and the poem below is his last, which he had written for her but didn’t get the chance to give her:

Amongst the trees of this muddy spring
I sit foxhole deep and zeal fades away.
Again the rain so gently falls today
And to this gun, a babe to the breast, I cling.
We wait, listening for the word he brings
Which tells if we shall go or we shall stay.
And yet, it matters not. We just obey,
Day in, Day out, the orders of our King.
Foxhole deep in mud I sit thinking thoughts
Of her and all the choices wrong I made
Which put me here and left her, longing, there.
The things we do for love of king, I swear
We should think over again the things we were taught
And give our love to no one but a maid.

Tears were in my eyes by the time she finished the poem.

There are more snippets over on Dieselpunks.org. Check them out and if you are into dieselpunk, you might even want to join the fun!

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8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks

Last Sunday, I participated for the first time in the 8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks.org. The exercise was fantastic. I met great people and got tremendous feedback. Check it out if you are into dieselpunk and maybe looking for a little feedback on your writing. Or just check it out for fun.  8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks.org.

Characters have a way of appearing in a story. Especially, I think when one is a pantser. In my published novel, The Moscow Affair, such a character strolled onto the stage and stayed there. She is Avdotya, the Baroness Bobrinsky, known to everyone as Dunyasha. She and Lady Dru become best of friends.

Here is a snippet from my forthcoming Lady Dru novel. Dru has just said she is so very glad Dunyasha decided to join the expedition.

“I almost didn’t,” Dunyasha replied, “but this one –”, she hooked a thumb in Klara’s direction, “was most persuasive. Besides, I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to you.”

“So you decided to join us just to play mother hen,” I said.

“Someone has to. You get yourself into the damnedest predicaments. Doesn’t she, Karl?”

Karl smiled and said, “That she does. Sir Galahad would have to put in overtime.”

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