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Bottom line: After two (four-day) weeks of 2000 words/day as my goal, I have written 16,147 words. So far, so good! I will not say it’s been easy (hence the four-day work week), because it takes up all of what I would otherwise refer to as “my free time,” but oddly, it’s finding the time that’s difficult; the writing has been surprisingly easy.

Oh, I do it in fits and starts, and (real) Internet research has led to some (unnecessary) Internet “research,” and there are points every evening when I think, “Maybe I’ll cut myself some slack tonight. I have a few extra words banked from last night,” but so far I’ve managed to get past that (except last night. Last night I stopped at 1400. I was wiped.)

I don’t know how I can do this on some projects and not others. It definitely has to do with outlining. The one time I tried something like this on the fly, I wrote 6000 words in two days and burned myself out for a week. But the one time I’ve worked for hire (and thus using an outline someone else imposed on me), I cranked out 2000 words a night without any trouble (which is what inspired me to try it this time).

Obviously, then, it’s not a matter of typing too much (although with this and my day job, I worry about that). It’s more a matter of mental exhaustion. (So, yeah, four days on, three days off.) If I do this again, I will throttle it back to 1500 wds/day. It’s less about the daily word count and more about avoiding those long stretches of writer’s block that come from not knowing where you’re going.

So that’s where I am, and I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t remind you that this is a sequel to The Choking Rain, available on Smashwords and Amazon.* While you’re there, check out my other books as well, and if you’re one of those sainted people who’s already bought one, please consider giving me a review on Amazon. You have no idea how important those are (to any author).

So in two weeks, will I be at the half-way mark, or will I be a gibbering mass of dangling participles huddling in a corner?

Beats me, I haven’t outlined that far yet.

 

*Current leader in the title race is The Scent of Death. I’m still taking suggestions.

#SFWApro

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Netgalley is a site to join where readers who review can go to find new books and recommend them to their friends, followers, and the world at large through Amazon reviews, blogs, Twitter, and whatever the new app-of-the-day is today. It is free and easy to join. And among its thousands of offerings by traditional and independent publishers, you can find The Invisible City.

Reviews are the lifeblood of book-selling. The way things are today, it’s not enough to go down to Barnes & Noble or your local independent bookseller (yeah, right) and scan the shelves. This is particularly true of independent publishers whose works aren’t on the shelves. Nowadays, many people find the best way to choose books is to hunt down reviews on Amazon. And without reviews, authors (especially new ones) can’t get traction.

So if you didn’t know about Netgalley, give it a try. You don’t have to look at my book (although you can at least vote on the new cover), but there are thousands of authors in dozens of categories who are begging for your attention.

Read and review. It’s the thing to do!

#SFWApro

 

 

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I was wandering the halls of the internet a while back, and came upon a discussion of some of the classic (as in old) novels that formed the foundation of the “planetary romance” genre, the genre my Stolen Future trilogy belongs to. Some I’d heard of, some I hadn’t, but it was fun to see just how far back the antecedents of what I’ve been working on go. Turns out they go back to at least 1905, in the person of Edwin L Arnold‘s Lieut. Gulliver Jones (later reprinted as Gulliver of Mars), published in England seven years before Edgar Rice BurroughsA Princess of Mars, which is usually considered the seminal work in the field.

Well, that’s nice, right? In one eye and out the other. Nothing special about it–until the other day when I wandered into Fahrenheit 451 Books in Carlsbad, California, reached the SF section, and there, staring at me from its own little shelf on the wall was… Gulliver of Mars. Hey! went my brain. That’s that book! So of course I had to buy it and now I’m reading it. So far, it’s…quaint.

The point of this rumination, however, is that you don’t make these kinds of serendipitous discoveries on Amazon. You don’t sit down in front of your computer, type in a URL, and inhale the subtle aroma of old paper. You don’t wander past high wooden shelves and glance through their offerings, and come away with a book you didn’t even know existed, in a genre you weren’t looking for. (As I did. In fact, the book was so obscure the owner didn’t remember having stocked it.) Only in a bookstore can this happen.

I am a book person. Not an e-book person. Amazon is for readers, but bookstores are for book people. And for book people to survive, there must be bookstores. Only in a bookstore can book people know true love. Amazon has its uses, such as when you know exactly what you want and you can’t find it locally but you have to have it now because someone’s birthday is coming. Amazon is like the 7-11 of books; it’s okay in an emergency, but you really shouldn’t do your weekly grocery shopping there.*

Many will disagree with me. Many will espouse convenience, and choice, and price. And for them, they may be right. But I’ve shopped Amazon, and I’ve shopped bookstores, and you readers who only want convenience?

You’ll never know true love.

*Yes, my books are only available on-line. I appreciate the irony.

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I get a lot of pitches for ways to get your self-published book noticed. Paid reviewers, unpaid reviewers, virtual libraries, PR companies, Amazon, Smashwords…everybody is out to help the poor writer get readers. What I can’t figure out is, with so many writers out there now, why do we need help? If all the indie writers simply read all the other indie writers, everybody would get rich (or at least sell respectably).

I do not claim not to be part of the problem: I don’t read my fellow indies, either. The problem is, I have little time to read anyone, and the few authors I like pretty much fill it. Now this, of course, is my problem. And it is most certainly a problem, since writers need to “feed their heads” more than most. I write better when I’ve been reading; I suspect most of us do. I should do a lot more of it.  (Of both, actually.)

So if writers aren’t reading, who is? And is that why indie writers can’t get readers, because nowadays so many people are busy self-publishing that no one has time to read?

We had dinner at a fish restaurant tonight. I am not terribly fond of fish, but I’ll eat some, and there’s always something else available. (After a detailed examination of the menu, and consultation with my wife and the very patient waitress, I chose the shrimp pasta. The waitress was very enthusiastic about the cheeseburger. I am nothing if not transparent.) But in talking of the choices afterward, my wife said, “You have to take some chances.” (To me, shrimp pasta with a spicy red sauce is taking a chance.)

It is not my intention to encourage reading more independent writers; I can hardly do that if I don’t know what I’m recommending. (I could recommend myself, but that would hardly be helpful, let alone objective.) But I would encourage people (myself included) to read more broadly, to branch out, take a chance.

If we can take chances with what we put into our mouths, why not with what we take in with our eyes? After all, a paperback (let alone an e-book) is a lot cheaper than a good fish dinner, and if you quit when you’re half-way finished, no one can see the leftovers on your plate and blame you for wasting food. (“There are illiterate children in China who would love to read that book!”)

A lot of people would choose the cheeseburger book. Others would go for the hazelnut-encrusted halibut novel. It doesn’t matter; they both go well with a glass of wine, and we all have to eat.

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If there’s anything we can count on in today’s world, it is that if you dare to put any sort of opinion forward on the Internet, a million people will attack you for it. Amazon apparently feels it is big enough to stand the hit, and it is publishing various lists of 100 Books You Should Read in Your Lifetime, categorized by genre. Today it’s science fiction and fantasy’s turn. Well, to take my inspiration from the Bard (who better?), I come not to praise Amazon nor to bury them. I just want to nit-pick a little bit.

First, in a flurry of self-congratulation, I have to admit that I’ve read–or tried to read–a good number of the recommended books already. (Okay, 37.) Although “tried to read” is a more accurate description in several cases, I count them. Intent is important, and in almost none of those cases did I simply give up for lack of time. No, it was nearly uniformly for lack of interest. And therein lies the nit-pick.

Now, I am not going to say that every one of those books I failed to finish was bad and doesn’t belong on the list. Most of the time, they simply weren’t my cup of tea. And a couple were just too damned long. There are only so many hours in a day. I mean, I read A Song of Ice and Fire, but I gave up in the third book because the story’s just too complicated and I haven’t the time–nor can I remember each book for five years until the next comes out. But a few of these titles…yes, one or two I simply cannot hold with. And while I realize they have their defenders (I’ve had the arguments), and they certainly have the sales, I would not have put them on this list.

Three books stand out for me: Pawn of Prophecy, Perdido Street Station, and Guilty Pleasures.

I didn’t hate The Belgariad. I read the first five Eddings books straight through. They were entertaining. They just weren’t award-worthy. I thought they were derivative, stereotyped, and thoroughly run-of-the-mill. It’s on this list because it sells, and Amazon is a book-seller.

Perdido Street Station is hailed everywhere I look as a transcendent work of art, a masterpiece. Me? I finished the book, looked at the cover, and asked: “What was the point of that?” It might belong on this list, but I wouldn’t put it there.

I loved Guilty Pleasures. I bought it when it first came out, and read the next half-dozen or so like clockwork. I got some signed. Then I stopped. The story veered way off in the wrong direction, and the last I heard, it was a parody of its former self. More to the point, though, there’s nothing ground-breaking or life-changing about that first book. Again, it’s there because it sells.

Bonus title: Why The Curse of Chalon? Why not one of Bujold’s Vorkosigan novels? Not a quibble, just a question.

What would I have picked? Why, I thought you’d never ask. Off the top of my head…

Telempath, by Spider Robinson. Blew my mind. A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It’s been in print for over a century for a reason. And for heaven’s sake, any of a dozen novels by Tanith Lee. They’re like Pringles, except that you can’t read more than one without a break, because they are so rich.

So, there. Only three or four disagreements out of a hundred. Who says you can’t be reasonable on the Internet? Now, if you wanted to rate all the Godzilla movies…

#SFWApro

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