Monday, August 11, 2014

The Titans are Fighting...

www.macobserver.com
And the question is... Do I join this war? Hrm...

So, this weekend I woke up to an email from Kindle Direct Publishing, detailing their side of the war on e-book pricing, and to email the CEO of Hachette on my stance. The letter I received seemed very thought out and well written, but had the tinge of one-sidedness that you often find in these things. They have become very public on their stance, and you can find the letter here if you want to read it.

So the first time I heard of this issue was when I got a kickback from Barnes & Noble for the few e-books I purchased from them. Now, I loved my new bright and shiny e-books and was all about putting a request for a Nook in my letter to Santa, but the affair I had with B&N burned brightly and died quickly. It's a sad story, really. After a heated brush with customer service when all my books went poof (error on their side), I immediately turned to Amazon without a look back.

Don't dick around with me when I'm on the penultimate chapter of a Stackhouse novel, people.

But fair is fair, so here's another side of the story, published by the NY Times. It details the hardships that Amazon has brought some of Hachette's authors by refusing to sell Hachette's e-books until they cut their costs.

Now, I had a really hard time seeing past the media spin they put on his tale of woe and actually digging out some compassion for these 900 authors, but despite the odds, I did it. I don't think it had the desired effect, because I'm definitely not on Hachette's side, as a consumer or an author, but at least it did give me another perspective to eye Amazon with.

Annnndddd....  I think both companies are wrong.

I'm not on the fence though. I know what I agree with, and I do agree with Amazon's basis for this war, just not their methods. I think banning Hachette's sales might have been a wee bit too much. That's not to say that I agree with Hachette's stance. In fact, there isn't anything I've seen come out from Hachette that I agree with at all. Their tag line of 'lower e-book pricing devaluing the authors work' is bogus. That's not going to happen. Are we, as consumers, THAT stupid? I don't think we are, but I guess that question's still up for debate. I admit I might have a little more faith in humanity that's justly deserved, but I still say no.

So I do not agree with Hachette, and I'm having loads of trouble trying to find their justification. Also, this article doesn't help. Really, Hachette? You think lowering e-book prices is going to devalue the authors work, but their work is only valued at 25% of an e-book sales to you? Is there something I'm missing here?

And I guess there might be, because I've only ever dealt with Smashwords and Amazon, who both give their authors a much bigger slice of the pie, so I will just put a pin in that question for now, and for the love of a run on sentence, I'll just sit over here quietly with my mind boggling on that point. The one above, I mean. With the 25%. Yeah. Got it? 'Kay, moving on, then.

So where do I stand as a consumer?

That one's easy. Amazon and Smashwords, all the way. Why? Because duh... Lower e-book prices. With as much as I read, I can't afford to drop $10+ a few times a month just to snag another book. There are only a few, and I mean A FEW books that I would spend over $10 on... does that make me cheap? Don't care.

Let's go way back for a sec, before all these fancy-smancy e-books, back when all the other kids at school thought I was the 'weird' girl cuz I was always carrying around a 600 page tomb by King or Jordan... Do you know how I got those books? I got them resale. And I'm not talking about the hardbacks that resale for $14.99 still, I'm talking about the beat-up paperbacks that were coming off the spine, because that's what I could afford. And you know what else? I LIKED IT. Because I didn't have to save up my precious pennies just to wait for weeks to buy ONE story. I was able to buy multiple and be taken away to a different world each and every week.

Did that devalue any of those stories I read? No, it didn't. And that's why I keep my e-book price low. I write for my stories to be read, not to be looked at and passed over because the price was too high. But that's how I want to approach it as an author. As much as I don't agree with Hachette, I still think the authors have the right to set their own e-book price. If they want to sell their book at $19.99, by all means, set the price at $19.99!

I could be wrong on that, but with every author able to set their own price, I doubt there will be many books being sold for $19.99, because Amazon and Smashwords will still exist, giving readers the lower cost for their fix. And even (godforbid) that was taken away, I'd be back at Half Price Books, buying up all the paperbacks again.

War sucks. Whether it be fought with a pen or a sword, apparently there are casualties either way. I can't see the justice or the reasoning behind everything that's happened/happening with the e-book struggle, but I do believe the consumer will be the deciding force in the end. That's the way of the beast. It's how it's always been, and how it always will be. At least until the zombies come eat all our faces.

And I'm out. 14,000 words left to go! Have a glorious week, everyone!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mondays



Do. Not. WANT!

Argh! I am such a fan of sleeping in, but getting jolted awake at 6am is pretty much the opposite of that. I know that happens five days out of the week, but I have a special resentment reserved for Monday mornings. My alarm blaring Everything Is Awesome might not have been the best song choice in retrospect. Oy.

Now, I have heard of these fabled morning people that thrive during the dawning of a new day, but I have yet to meet one. My question is, do you actually exist, or have you gone the way of the unicorn? Have the grumpy-grumps strangled you all? I figure that would be my first reaction to meeting a morning person, especially if it was prior to 10am. I need to hang a sign on my door that reads Come back at noon. I know there are already tons of jokes and quips out there regarding stuff like this and "morning coffee," but that's because they're true. Yet, it's late afternoon and I'm still yawning. Oh well.

But, I didn't come here just to bitch about Mondays, although I could go on and on... No? Okay, moving on then.

I actually came here to give you some cold hard stats on the creation of After - Part Three. (cheer!) A long, long time ago, when I started the editing process, I based my timeline off the previous two books. Over the months that followed, I discovered my folly since After - Part Three was not written the same way as the others. I wrote most of the back half of it using Dragon Naturally Speaking, a nifty little text to speech program that is correct at least 75% of the time. The other 25% of the time leads to a quagmire of confusion that is neither time-efficient nor productive, although amusing at times.

Ehe... Oops.

So when you're speaking off the top of your head, and just yammering and yammering, you do get a lot of words down, if that's your goal. A first draft getting created this way is not a bad thing, but pretty much the whole thing will need to be rewritten, and I mean COMPLETELY rewritten. Nothing good is going to come out of that first draft. It's only a little better than an outline as far as I'm concerned. I did not take this aspect into my equation when I calculated the time it would take to finish.

I remember opening up the draft for part three and being somewhat disappointed that it was just under 50000 words... probably about the same size at part one. Part two came in over 70000, and I really thought the final chapters of After would top out a little higher than that. Boy, was I wrong.

Or was I?

I'm not going to skimp on my book just because I could stamp it and call it a day. My manuscript will get the full attention it deserves until I'm satisfied with the story I've told. That means some chapters need shuffled, some scenes cut, some scenes added, some perspectives changed, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears shed by moi. Well, maybe not the blood part, (unless you want to count the papercuts) but still, you get it.

So I dove in and really started chewing it up. And aren't you curious as to where I stand now?

After - Part Three is roughly at 86,000 words.

Zoh. My. Gosh!!

Looking at it that way kinda boggled my mind. It wasn't my focus during the rewrites, but one day, I decided to compile everything and got quite the surprise. The whole manuscript of After is sitting just over 211,000 words right now. Um... Did I do that?

I never expected this first book to turn out to be so many words. I was thinking I'd be lucky to hit even 100k. Actually, there are a lot of things I didn't expect to happen with this first book. I guess the biggest thing that's blown me away is all the fans, followers, and supporters I've gained. I love you guys! You are all so wonderful, and I hope to be able to get through the remaining 20k words of part three, and have this book out to y'all by the end of the month!

Happy.. uh... Monday, and I hope the rest of your week just keeps getting better from here!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Stress

I do not handle it well, apparently.

So I haven't posted much lately, nor really given an explanation as to why, other than I lack time. That is true, but why do I lack the time? Home life has been extremely hectic lately, and most of the time that I get to myself has been devoted to finishing After - Part Three. (News on that later.)

But, truth is I simply don't spend a whole lot of time talking about what's been going on with Debra. Mainly because at this point, it just seems like I'm making excuses since I'm getting further and further away from the wrong side of my deadline, and I push myself to write and edit and edit and write until I collapse. And do not doubt that this has happened! It is not pretty when the meltdown occurs, because I generally end up in a fetal position crying... or laughing... or sometimes both. But mostly I just get all passive aggressive and snappy, and that scares my husband and the cats. (I love you, honey!)

ANYWAY, I'd like to put that aside for a sec, and actually take a break from all the hubbub and just blog. I'm going to talk about what's been going down in Debra town lately (sorry) and share with you a little something I learned about myself last week.

Stress is bad. Very bad. It's awful. Atrocious. Evil. It's what will cause my death during a zombie apocalypse, or any type of apocalypse, really. I realized after watching World War Z that I am *NOT* going to be one of the select few that make it through the cataclysm to later become a hero of humanity. No. Not even close. In fact, chances are pretty slim that I'm going to make it past the first 24 hours. It's just not going to happen.

So, I guess a good starting point for this story is around February, when we finished up our second move within 3 months (DO NOT RECOMMEND.) Short story, sold house, moved to rent house, bought a house, moved to a new house, husband aggravated an old injury in his hip. Ugh!

We've been dealing with his hip pain on and off for the past 3 or 4 years, and he's been to the Doc a couple times for it. Treatment was generally a steroid regimen to help the inflammation go down, and normally that worked. This time... not so much. So it was off to a specialist, who did not have good news.

After taking a look at his x-rays, the Doc was like, "LOL what happened to all your cartilage, buddy? Holy moly, looks like you need a new hip!"

Note: I wasn't actually there when he got his diagnosis, but I imagine this is how it went down.

Of course, we got a second opinion, but the consensus was the same. Severe arthritis in the left hip and no doctor liked the idea of putting a new hip into a thirty-two year old, but whatcha gonna do? He was in a tremendous amount of pain, and unable to move around freely anymore, so last Wednesday, he got his new hip.

Sorry, we do not have a cool video of him walking 24 hours after the surgery like Mark Cuban. Stop setting these crazy standards, Mark!

Anyway, day of surgery. We get to the medical center early morning, and I'm feeling okay. I'm nervous, but he seems excited. They take him to pre-op, and suddenly my stomach is like... "I don't like this so much, bub." I realize that I'm queasy, but it should get better once I finally see him again. So I wait, and do my best to ignore the growing queasiness. Then the nifty little pager they give you goes off, and we (his mom and myself) get to go back to see him before they wheel him into surgery.

It did not get better.

The string of nurses, doctors, and anesthesiologists start coming in to give him the spiel of how they're going to cut him up and... stuff, and my stomach has firmly set its speed to hyper-drive on its downward spiral. I just couldn't handle it. I began to pace in the tiny little room while, trying to settle my stomach, but it only helped so much.

And this is the worst part. The nurse comes in to shave him, and all my concentration was focused on not throwing up that I couldn't even enjoy the moment!! He was getting his ass shaved, and I couldn't even quip about it! He's mother was in the room to witness it, for crying out loud, and I had nothing! Ugh! Golden opportunity missed.

Then, my wonderful husband, who is about to go into major surgery, says to me. "I'm fine, you can leave if you need too." Oh really? Okay! *Zoom* And I barely make it back to the lobby bathroom before my stomach turned inside out. There was also a major headache that went along with it, and the few hours that followed did not get any better until the nurse updated us mid-surgery that everything was going well. That was when the stress finally let go and I began a slow, steady upswing.

I'm so happy I could be a real pillar of strength for ya, babe!

*facepalm*

I'm horrible.

This has been an ordeal, but the tough part is behind us, and now he can really start to mend. Living in chronic pain is not fun, y'all! I'm glad he decided to go through with the surgery, even though he'll never be able to run again. (yet another reason we aren't going to make it through the apocalypse.)

So there's a little bit of what we Johnson's have been dealing with the past few months! Time is still being poured into After - Part Three and I think I'm still on my schedule to release next month, as long as my #1 beta reader can muddle through the pain-pill drowsiness to actually concentrate on reading. Then I ship the manuscript off to my editor. The timeline is looking good!!

And now..... ***VACATION!!!*** Well, working vacation anyway. I'll continue to write! Catch y'all soon!

Also, quick shout out to George Tate. Thank you for the copy of The Gathering of Twine! It's on my list of things to read, now!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Writing Process - Blog Tour

Alright, everyone! It's time to hop! That's right. Let's get your blog hop on! And I'm about to hop to it!

Was that painful? I apologize. I've never participated in a blog hop before, so wasn't entirely sure how to get this started. I'm going to assume that my awkward stumbling has sufficed as a header, and just move on. *facepalm*

Today is my post for the My Writing Process Blog Tour.

First thing, I want to thank Johi Jenkins for tagging me. I have read both her Resurgence and The Thirst Within novels, and I'm eagerly waiting on the next installments. They're definitely the kind of books I still think about long after I'm done reading. Thanks again for tagging me, Johi!

Welp, I guess it's on to the questions now!

1) What are you working on? 

I am currently in the finishing stages of the last 3rd of After - Part Three. I'm getting nudged on this almost daily now to get it released, so the pressure is on! But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that the release date is just around the corner. After that, I have a couple of other projects simmering on the burners that I will unveil in August. I am incredibly excited about both of these, but my main focus still remains on The Phoenix Curse.

2) How does you work differ from others of its genre?

This is a toughie, since not only am I in the over saturated horror/supernatural nook, but in the zombie nook as well. Zombies!! Zombie novels are literally a dime a dozen now-a-days, and if someone had told me ten years ago that my first published novel would be about the mindless hordes, I would have scoffed and thought they were a moron... and then delved into what else they might know about the future, but seriously... zombies?

Yes, zombies!!! Not only because so many people out there love apocalyptic/distopia/zombie fiction, but I love apocalyptic/distopia/zombie fiction... and a strong female lead. Now, zombies have been done every which way, so I went the way of the not-dead mindless horde and ended up with infected LIVE zombies. Ones that will definitely die (and stay dead) if they suffer some massive trauma, but they're strong... and they're fast... and they're resilient, and that's what my nightmares are made of.

Also, most zombie novels start at the cusp of the desolation. I jump a few years past the apocalypse, and dropped my characters into the new and (not) improved distopia America, and let them take over from there. 

3) Why do you write what you do? 

It captured me. I fell in love with my characters and then fell into the world that I created. The Phoenix Curse started off as an exercise, but managed to bloom and come to life in my mind. Now it's just a matter of finding the time to get it all down on paper.

4) How does your writing process work? 

Slowly? *cackle* Probably not the answer you're looking for. I start with a prompt, a rough outline in my head, and I try to get a complete story down on paper as fast as I can. I've only done this a couple times, so I'm definitely no pro at it, but I'm working to get better! Once that part is done, then I bitch and moan for the next few months about how much I hate revising/rewriting/editing while I put myself through a slow kind of torture by getting my manuscript ready for the editor. Oy, editing sucks.

But as much as I grumble, it is all worth it when the scene I was struggling with finally clicks into place, and nothing compares to that feeling when I have my final manuscript in my hands. It's wonderfully awesome, and I hope to have that exact feeling here soon with After - Part Three. Never fails to bring a tear to my eye.

~~~

And there it is! We're really hopping now!!

Ugh, I'm sorry. I shouldn't torture those that made it this far down my post. Please accept my humble apologies. I'm ashamed. And sleepy, but no excuse.

Okay, NEXT week, be sure to check out the two blogs below, whom I have nominated to follow me in this blog hop.

First is Monica La Porta, whom I worked with on Off the Beaten Path. She is the author of the wonderful Priest series, which is set in a very intriguing world.

Next is Arreis Rose, who is currently working on her first series, and is just now getting her brand new blog off the ground with this blog hop. The first book in her series, Small, is tentatively set to release next Summer.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

News!

Summer is coming! It's just around the corner. That fact is unavoidable and weighs on me every day because I said roughly 8 months ago that After - Part Three would be released in Spring of 2014.

Now spring has come and almost gone, and it's time for me to face the inevitable. I did not finish as promised. There are a number of reasons why I did not finish on time, but like my fortune cookie told me... Excuses are easy to manufacture, but hard to sell. I never liked excuses anyway, so I'm not even going to bother wasting my time on an explanation right now. However, it will be coming later, because there was a lesson for me, a huge lesson as a matter of fact, and it's something I want to share because it might be helpful/inspirational... but later.

I could have published prior to this, but the book wasn't something I wanted to rush, based on the previous lessons I've learned. I got overly excited with After - Part One because it was the first book I'd ever written and finished, so I was a little over eager to hit that publish button. Then I had a slew of errors that I had to go back and fix. Then with After - Part Two, I had promised to get it out by October of 2013, and I did it!! ... And had a slew of errors that I had to go back and fix.

Third time's the charm?

I want to do this right. I can't promise a release date, but I can promise that I'm going to deliver a book that I'm happy with, and hopefully one better written and put together than it's predecessors. I can also give you my schedule, and at this late date, one that I feel comfortable in sticking with.

I should be finished with the rewrites by the end of this month, and then the manuscript will go to my editor in July. Once she has it to look over, I can get a better timeline of how long it will take her to finish the edits, and then I will be able to have a true release date. During that time, I'll be marketing part three, finishing up a project that stole some of my attention earlier this year, and working on the first draft on my next Phoenix Curse project.

Lots and lots and lots of plans! I'm excited about them all and can't wait to share it with you! Until then, blog posts will be scarce, but if you want to check up on me, feel free to reach out to me on Facebook. Yes... I have Twitter, but I suck at Twitter. I love you, Twitter followers, and I apologize for being Twitter stupid, but I just can't get with the program. I continue to try, but it feels like my efforts are doing more harm than good.

Sorries.

Have a good weekend, everyone!!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dreaming and Days of Future Past

I've said this before and I'll reiterate right now, that I do enjoy my day job in procurement and I find it satisfying, but that is not my dream. 

*queue soft, inspirational music*

I have a dream! That dream is to wake up at 7 every morning, come downstairs in my bath robe, fix me a cup of hot chocolate, and open up the manuscript that I will pour all my creative juices into for the day.

*record screech*

Well, I guess I could be doing that anyway via starving artist fashion, but I'm a little more pragmatic than that. I need to make a living to support this hobby I have, but one day I hope to turn the hobby into the career that can put food on the table. And oh how satisfying THAT will be!

I have so many stories in my head that I don't have time to get down on paper right now. I would have liked to have been done with After months ago and already deep into Dreamland or beyond, but I can only do what I can do with the little time I have. Rest assured, that my free time is going into After - Part Three

Hell, I've had two prompts floating around in the ol' noggin for over a week now that I haven't had time to pen. If I don't get them down somewhere soon, I'll forget them. One is decent, one maybe meh, but you can't ever tell just from a prompt. The story doesn't really come to life until you work with it, and decent prompts aren't always easy to come by. I can go for months without a prompt, then have two fall into my lap within a day of each other and send my brain into hyper drive trying to untangle them. 

Think I'm going to get to them after I publish this post. Don't want them getting away!

Evan Peters
On the fun side of things, I got to go see X-Men: Days of Future Past last weekend. I really enjoyed the movie, but I'm not a hardcore X-Men fan. I only read a few of the comics when I was a kid, mostly Rogue and Phoenix stuff... which means I was not a fan of The Last Stand, but whatevs. Thank you for turning that fubar back around, Simon Kinberg! 

I just thought Days of Future Past was really well done, and it had some excellent comedic moments as well. Someone who's unfamiliar with the X-Men mythology should still be able to enjoy this movie, but I STRONGLY recommend watching First Class first if you haven't seen that one. 

My favorite introduction of a new character to the screen was Quicksilver! YAY, TATE!! Yes, I know his real name, but Tate is the first thing that pops into my head, even after watching American Horror Story season 2. I can't even remember what his name was in that season. Probably because I always referred to him as Tate. 

Okay, okay... Here on out, I'll refer to him as Quicksilver, because.... QUICKSILVER!! But that's only going to work up until the next Avengers movie releases. Then everyone's going to be confused. 

Welcome to my world. 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bioshock and Editing

I believe I have finally managed to get a good editing process down for myself. Goals are easy when you're still in the first draft process and you're just writing words, words, and more words, but it was difficult for me to set goals during the editing. Mostly because I didn't have a good process. First there are rewrites, then you have the macro-editing, and then you have the micro-editing... All of which I find very daunting tasks. Hell, there are probably more editings in there I should be doing that I don't know about. Don't tell me! Don't tell me!! I don't wan't to know about them, or it's just going to scare me more.

So a couple weeks ago, I was able to work out a goal for myself, and I started to meet it everyday. So I upped that goal last week and I met it EVERYDAY! WOOHOO!! It took a bit of adjusting to create an attainable goal while I juggle work, family, and sleep, but I think I've finally done it.

If I try to do to much, I end up over reaching, stressing myself out and then the inevitable crash and burn catches up with me. Once that happens, it's hard to get started again. Doubts and fears creep in, and other projects dance enticingly at the edges of my mind. Don't worry though, I am determined to make this work. I'll get through this one step at a time, one page at a time, one word at a time, until it's done and I can hit that publish button. Then I will begin the next project and finish it the same way. 

And.... I still don't have a release date for part three yet... sorry! But we're getting closer!

So please don't hate me for taking some time off this weekend. I enjoy playing PC games and grabbed Bioshock Infinite while it was on sale for $10 on Steam. My husband has played it, and it's one of his favorite games. He was not spoiled to the ending when he finished it, so he had a pretty mind-blowing experience. Me, on the other hand, I tell him back then, "I'm never going to play it. Go ahead and tell me how it ends."

Oops! I really had no intention of playing the game, and I suck at first person shooters anyway. Why would I think I'd play it? Guess I won't be having games spoiled for me anymore. But I played it, and I enjoyed it. Of course I had it on EZ mode, but that did not distract from the story. Shame I was spoiled to the ending. Now I'm left to imagine how mind-blowing it could have been.

I guess FPS games aren't so bad... I still need to finish Mass Effect 3.

After all the edits are done, of course. :)