First Draft Done, What I Have Learned, and Publishing Coaches

30 11 2017

This will be  my usual post about writing, terse yet rambling, with some sundry crits at the end of movies and writers who have caught my brain.

doggo

So! Finished with draft one of Lampreyhead at 25K words. The world building was fun. The story is set in contemporary Philadelphia because I know the Northeast US well. Religious aspects appeared, were inevitable really, which added a whole new layer to the characters and conflict. The jokes are good. There may be one darling, but we’ll see if it survives (the “moist” joke I posted on my FB three weeks ago.)

How did I write the draft and what did I learn? I did a bit of an outline, but it was way too spare. I discovered a good way to outline a few weeks ago, but I also discovered that very few writers enjoy writing outlines or synopsis.  New method for outlining is like the Snowflake Method of writing novels: one line summary of each chapter, then add three lines to each summary, then add three more lines to each of those lines, etc. I’ll try to do that next time.

So, with what I thought was an adequate outline, I used Rachel Aaron’s method of speed writing, so I wrote the fun scenes first and backfilled the remainder of the plot. Writing the filler was not only a bit tedious, it exposed the gaps in my outline. Writing the draft took longer than it needed to, but this is how we learn.

I had a tough time getting a grip on the protagonist. I had behavior for scenes, I had previous short stories, but I didn’t have a deeper character profile that could support this work.

I kept his nerdiness and built around that. I considered that LH was 700 years old and that he would be a little bored. Being made Evil, he knew there is a God because religious items caused injury. However, I had him go 700 years without knowing who made him or why. His problem became the reverse of Mortality: is there a Satan to justify his existence?

Supporting characters fulfilled their functions, but they need more depth in the second draft. He meets the werewolf who will be a recurring character in the series, but the were doesn’t have a lot of agency. The Mortal in this story (needed to help bring out the supernatural world-building) became a sophisticated businesswoman thrill-seeker; can I pull off this complicated character?

I was hoping to market this series as “Erotic Paranormal”, but I have no experience in writing erotica. Besides, the plot only has one valid erotic scene. I’m now looking at the humor market.

I have to finish the second draft for my writers group, that deadline being Sunday.

I learned about Publishing Coaches on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast. My research has provided a couple of names and I will be contacting them tonight.

Recent discoveries: the movie “The Devil’s Candy” is a pleasant throwback haunted house horror that’s well made. “The Midnight Meat Train” squandered a great production on a weak Clive Barker story. “Cult of Chucky” still camps it up, but keep an eye on Fionna Dorrif, because she is excellent. Belgian horror “Raw” takes your unsettling French moodiness to a college for veteranarians, but worry not, the animals are safe from the cannibal sisters. “Demonic” takes ghost hunters to a haunted house, but even Maria Bello can’t save us from a flat ending.

 





I Learned About Self-Publishing From 50 Writers — Launching My Series (A Repost)

2 11 2017

My website URL lapsed and I had to get back online. Here’s the post that everyone missed:

I am launching a three book series in Spring of next year.

The first book has the working title “Lampreyhead”.

 

Sea-lamprey-head-detail

Designing the plush toy giveaways is going to be a challenge.

 

You may see short stories with the character Lampreyhead in my Bibliography page, but these books will not have the frantic Animaniacs energy. There would be no way to sustain that pace over three books at 100K words without burning the audience out.

It will be about vampires, and it will be funny, hopefully intelligent, insightful, and yes a tad gruesome. Think “Clive Barker and Christopher Moore, or maybe Neil Gaiman with a Christian fixation”.

If it makes me happy, I will expand the series. I will be self-publishing, because I lack the hide to deal with agency submissions.

As I proceed with the publication process, I’ll update as to what decisions I’ve made.

For the past two years, I’ve been listening to self-publishing podcasts:

“The Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast” with Lindsay Buroker

“The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast” with Simon Whistler

I listened to well over fifty writers give their advice on self-publishing.

What I learned:

  • Have at least three books in your series ready to launch. Release the books one month at a time, then have your next material in the series ready for Month Four.
  • Use simple, all-inclusive publishing solutions. Use someone who will format, publish, and distribute. Adjust and optimize to your market as you learn particulars.
  • In self-publishing, e-books lead print in sales.
  • Have a mailing list ready at the time of publishing. Use a third-party service to gather new fans.
  • The cover art should cost as much as the publishing. Use experienced cover artists who have worked in your genre. If you publish print versions, your book title should be readable from ten feet away.
  • Draft and redraft your blurb. Have others review it. Favor a sympathetic character over action or idea. Use other writers’ as guideposts: “if you like Clive Barker, yet get a laugh out of Christopher Moore…”.
  • For promotion, use story excerpts over reader reviews.
  • The number of reviews on Amazon or Goodreads help, but are not essential to good sales.
  • Provide new material for sale at least once per month per series. Even a short story or excerpts of WIPs will do.
  • Use pseudonyms only to separate family-friendly material from racier series. Otherwise, pen names multiply promotions needing upkeep with no multiplier in reward.
  • The effectiveness of an advertising tool can change weekly. An ad tool’s effectiveness varies widely between genres. The only reliable promotional tool at this moment is the mailing list.
  • On your website, your mailing list prompt should not block the text or stop navigation. I know when a site pops up asking for an email, I get angry and click away from the site. Apparently, I’m not the only one with that reaction. Keep your mailing list prompt to the sidebar.
  • In your books, place your Acknowledgments and Dedication on the last pages; this makes more space for story text in the Amazon “Free Sample”.
  • On the last page, place active links to sales pages for previous publications and your mailing list, followed by “Please leave a review at Amazon or Goodreads” with links.
  • Do not bother with Book Bub until the third book of your series is released, and even then only if sales are noteworthy.
  • Do not bother advertising on Twitter.
  • Set sales price at $2.99 unless the book is 100K words or more.
  • Reduce the price of Book One to .99 when Book Two is released. Do not give away books for free.
  • Do not hesitate to change your book cover if you think it will increase sales.

 

I am most of the way through first draft of Book One. I’ll update you every week as to how things are progressing, and if you’re interested in beta reading, coo. Let me know and I’ll be glad to help you out in whatever way I can.

Let’s have some fun!

 

 

 

 





“Body Horror and Psycho-Sexual Transcendence”

12 12 2015
 

CHAPTER TWO: THE MOTHER AND THE WORM

We were in our places, Olivia at the door and I in the wicker basket. The windows were concealed with heavy curtains to keep out the afternoon sun, but oil lamps pushed back the gloom. The lady who entered our study first was the old friend of Olivia’s family, who embraced Olivia, then introduced her guests. The other matron wore black; she was the hopeful patron. The men were young, one balding and mustached and the other dark and intense. They were surprised by her frank smile, by her firm handclasp, and smirked to each other.

The basket that hid me was a cubit square. Within it, I sat naked on a thin cotton mat, waiting for my cue.

After brief pleasantries, Olivia bade everyone sit at the mismatched slat chairs around our worn table. Slowly, not without drama, she turned the gas lamps down.

“Everyone take hands, please. This afternoon, we speak with the spirits. I need for everyone to speak these holy words of the Hindu. Om mani padme hum.”

Her resonance and theatrics gave the others confidence. The older ladies intoned with Episcopalian reserve. The men seemed strangely comfortable with the trappings, and joined in.

The chant rose in pitch.

This was my cue, as thespians say. I lay back and breathed deep, humid air inflating my months-old lungs. As I inhaled, I imagined the proper yantra symbol. I exhaled my own mantra to release my spirit from my misshapen flesh.

“Come to us, Alecsandri. Come to us, spirits.”

I continued my chant and let myself drift, imagining myself in warm black oil. As she implored, the study was swallowed by the warm oil. My spirit rose from the basket. My hands glowed, my fingers lithe.  My spirit body shone golden and tall, like before I had forced myself into Thomas Spalding’s brain and was reborn in the manikin shape.

The bodies of the attendants glowed with auras of life. Rainbows flared along the older women. The bald man’s was a healthy bronze. The young man’s was odd. The flares were violet and tight, like a gas burner pressed by a weight. Olivia’s lavender opened and extended across the room as she entered her trance, so that she could communicate with the spirit realm.

Unseen by the others, I drifted to Olivia and caressed her neck. Touching her spirit was like touching soothing wool on a winter day. Feeling me, her head eased back and magenta sparks streaked her neck after my fingertips.

She said, “My spirit guide is with us. Are you ready to help us, Guru?”

Her head fell forward and she affected a deeper, thicker-tongued man’s voice, an impersonation of me when I was human. “Olivia, I am always pleased to make new acquaintances. These are charming people.”

She sighed and rolled in her seat, as if buffeted by forces within. In her voice: “I sense a presence with you, Guru. Who is with you?”

I had been too distracted by Olivia to notice. A disembodied glow had appeared by one of the women. It was the size of a grown man, and boiled red. It pointed to the older woman.

 

“I love ‘The Flesh Sutra’!” – Nancy Holder, NYT Best Selling Horror Author

My debut novel was on the preliminary ballot for the 2015 Stoker Awards.

“In this excellent novel, the writing is crisp, the characters sharply drawn, the plot engrossing; as a result, this tightly written and propulsive narrative addresses postmodern angst about humanity and spirituality in the context of body horror and psychosexual transcendence with literary flair and at times deeply disturbing imagery.”

Order it below.

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19,000 Words On NaNoWriMo

24 11 2014

My first chapter is 6500 words.
The rest of the novel is 12,000.
There may be fleshing out….








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