Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Oh, nice job

So I told the kid this morning, "I'm going to tell you a story. It's a girly story, you're not going to care. In fact you won't remotely be interested. But I want you to nod and smile and at the end say, 'Oh, nice job.'"

He said, "Uh, okay."

I said, "I want you to practice. 'Oh, nice job.'"

He was silent.

"Say it," I prompted.

He barely managed to not roll his eyes at me. 

I said, "No, come on, practice. 'Oh, nice job.'"

He said, voice dry, "I'm practicing in my head."

I said, "'Oh, nice job? You're ready?"

He said, "Go."

I told my story. It was a long story. It was a boring story. It was not something  he would remotely care about. It required me to discuss clothing. At the end, I said brightly, "Okay, I'm done."

He said, "I forgot what I'm supposed to say."

"Dude!" I protested.

And then he paid me a nice compliment that both proved that he'd listened to my whole long tedious story but also that he'd paid attention yesterday when I told him a different story. It was a really sweet thing to say, delivered in his typical totally deadpan, matter-of-fact way, as if it wasn't really a compliment, just a statement of fact (when really, it was much more on the side of 'sweet and totally not true'.)

I was surprised and touched. So, of course, I said, "Oh, nice job."

He grinned at me, and said, "That, too."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I got a message from fictionpress that I should have ignored, but couldn't.

This person Inappropriate sent me a private message that said -- and I quote --
can i talk?
thats me in my profile picture"

to which I responded, "If that's you in your profile picture, does your mother know you're writing to strangers online? Because I want to call her up and tell her she's being negligent -- and you should know better! And no, we cannot talk. Get offline and behave like an appropriate eight-year old."

And I still feel angry. I have no idea who that is but I am quite sure, he/she/it is not the person in the picture and whoever he/she/it is, using a little kid's picture like that is disgusting. I feel slimed just by the interaction. And also furious. I wish I could call someone -- if not a mother, better yet the police. And just the fact that someone so sleazy would respond to something I wrote makes me want to throw things.

GeekGirl Con and the hobbyist writer

In August, I'm going to be giving a presentation at GeekGirlCon in Seattle, titled "From FanFiction to Self-Publishing: Ten Tips for Making the Move." I've been thinking about what I want to say quite a bit. The tip part is easy, although why I picked the random number ten is beyond me. It's not a very useful number -- I wish I'd gone with seven. Or maybe eleven? I know it was just the alliteration that got me, but I hate realizing that I've thought in cliches.

Part of what I want to talk about, though, is writing as a hobby. Everything I read about self-publishing is so crazed about the work, the need to be entrepreneurial, the pressure, the business side and how important it is to take seriously, but very few of them ever acknowledge that there's an implicit goal in all that advice that maybe not everyone has. Or needs to have. Sure, if you wish to be JA Konrath and earn $100,000 in a month, then maybe you need to spend the next ten years working 17-hour days. But you can have fun with self-publishing on a lot less time and a lot less effort. (Admittedly, those attitudes comes from the sites that I've found and follow, so possibly there are quieter people who feel exactly as I do.) And the idea that if you like to write, you must want it to be your full-time job is so limiting. I like to cook -- that doesn't mean I want to spend the rest of my days in a restaurant.

Amazon, CreateSpace, and the self-publishing revolution makes it possible for writing to become a hobby like...knitting. Crochet. You don't have to create "Art;" you can create something fun to share. My goal doesn't have to be to write a NYTimes best-seller -- it can be to share a story with friends. Publishing is now a spectrum activity. Yes, you can use it to work like crazy and try to make lots of money and build a "career," but you can also use it to play and have fun and experiment and take chances and enjoy a really entertaining hobby.

I made a book this weekend. I did it on Sunday. I sent the order for copies to CreateSpace this morning. I'm going to make five copies and only five copies. I'm not going to sell them, I'm just going to share them. It makes me happy to think about getting them and to think about the people I'm giving them to. And that is a totally valid and wonderful aspect of self-publishing that needs to be given more credit.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Ooh, so cool! They have found a real tetrachromat!! Yes, two exclamation points, I know, but I'm excited. Tetrachromats are -- for those who haven't memorized Akira's speech about quirks and super-tasters -- people with four types of cone cells in their eyes. Theoretically, they would be able to see a range of colors enormously far beyond what ordinary people can see, but they would probably never know they were different, because how would they find out? Apparently, though, they are no longer theoretical: Humans-with-super-human-vision

To a tetrachromat, the rest of us are color-blind. But there's no way for them to explain the colors that they can see, because we have no shared language to use. It's a completely useless super-power. But very, very cool.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ghosts free today

A Gift of Ghosts is mentioned on Free Kindle Books and Tips today. It'll be free on Amazon through the 15th to celebrate the publication of A Gift of Thought.

Not too many copies have been downloaded so far, so I was really surprised to see it on a Free bestseller list already. Then I looked at the list and the Free titles stopped at about 73 or so. I guess only 73 authors are giving away books in the Contemporary Fantasy section. That sure makes it easy to make it on the list! It's like getting third place in a race with only three runners. But hey, it's still third place.

I comforted myself by looking at the Top-Rated list and it's #24 on the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Ghost Romance list and #33 on the Contemporary Fantasy list.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

And it's up. . .

A Gift of Thought on Amazon

I suspect I'm going to be writing and rewriting that blurb. I had to firmly remind myself last night not to let perfection be the enemy of the good enough. It's not perfect, but then nothing ever is.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wishing for a marketing department

Book's done, proofed, ready to go -- all I need to do now is write a blurb that works. It is unbelievably hard. I think I'm going to be tweaking this blurb for the next three months. Should it start with Dillon? The book does. Or Sylvie, the way my current blurb has? Including both of them in the blurb without  spoilers has so far been completely beyond me. As I yearn for a marketing department, I have to remind myself that back when I did work with a marketing department, I almost always preferred to write the sales copy myself. And in this case, I'm definitely best qualified to do the job. I'm tempted to send out emails to all the people who've already read it, though, and say, 'Um, what's the book about?' just to see what they say.

...And I think I just published it. Wow, Amazon has made it easy. No more Mobipocket creator, meta data, building a table of contents -- you upload the Word doc, they turn it into a book for you. Not that I've seen the book yet. It's still publishing. But by tomorrow morning, I bet it'll be up there.

We used to hit a big gong to celebrate sending a book to the printer. Everyone in the company stood up in their cubicles and cheered the triumphant team that had just achieved a little miracle. Somehow hitting Save just doesn't have the same oomph. I think I'll go set off some fireworks. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Excerpt of A Gift of Thought

In the spirit of "flip the book open and see what it sounds like," here's a short excerpt from Chapter Six of A Gift of Thought, which will be released June 12th.

Stop reading here if you hate all spoilers! (Also if you object to curse words that start with the letter "B")


She forced all of her weight against him, but her feet were already slipping on the smooth asphalt. “You shouldn’t get near strange women in parking lots,” she said. “You never know what they might do.” The words came out more breathless than she liked, and she tried to steal a glance at the ground. If she let him go, could she get the bag and retrieve whatever he’d been holding? 

No, she decided regretfully. He was too close, she wouldn’t have enough time. Choke hold? No, the bastard was too big. And too tough. 

She felt the snap more than heard it, but his scream of rage could have been heard halfway down the street if there’d been anyone around. Damn. She dropped his arm and then quickly kicked her bag and whatever was beneath it under the car as she danced backwards and dropped into a combat stance. 

Had the break even registered with him? He turned to face her, his arm dangling limply at his side. Pale skin, hair in a buzz cut so short it was almost shaved, probably 280 pounds of muscle. She noted the details automatically, hoping she’d need them for a police report later. 

This guy was big, fast, and too hopped up on steroids or something else to care about the pain of his broken arm. Her best bet was to get help. And quickly. 

Ty would kill her for being so over-confident. 

“Now I’m gonna kill ya, bitch.” 

Okay, Ty would have to get in line. 


Last line revised courtesy of a wonderful beta reader, Mike Kent. Thanks, Mike!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Darling dog -- non-dog lovers beware

I just wrote a cranky comment on a blog and actually posted it. I think that makes the second time in a week. I read a blog post recently in which a line said something like, "If you want people to take you seriously, you must..." and my immediate mental reaction was "Why would I want people to take me seriously? Why does that matter?" This is relevant to my cranky comments, because, wow, some of the commentary on self-publishing takes itself really, really, really seriously. And yeah, technically I should be blaming the people behind the commentary, but I think it's just group-think. People read advice and accept it and then articulate it themselves without ever really saying "Why?"

But I did not come here to rant about that. The dog has been amazing me recently -- truly amazing me -- with her cleverness, which is pretty impressive for an eight-year-old dog. I did a really good job of training her not to make noise to get what she wants as a puppy, so she's never whined to go out or barked much. Run-down: noisy dog gets isolated in bathroom. Noisy dog stays isolated until noisy dog has been silent for exactly one minute, at which time the door opens and companion appears, lavish with love and praise. The quick response to silence allows noisy dog to realize that noise is counter-productive and silence is rewarded. Dog becomes quiet dog, especially remarkable for a JRT. Except in the back yard, where dog is allowed to bark freely. So the dog doesn't make noise to get what she wants. Except now she's learned how to make mechanical noise.

She started with the bathtub. She doesn't like still water and never has, so for years, she's hopped in the tub to get a drink. I think she might have started that in a house where the faucet dripped. And she's got me well-trained now, because I usually hear the sound of her claws hitting the porcelain and come turn the water on trickle so she can drink. But I need to hear her when she hits the tub, because if I don't, she's quiet inside it. Lately, though, I've been listening to a lot more music so I don't always hear her. She's figured out how to make the drain plug rattle in the faucet and that's loud enough so that I do hear it.

So she's now learned that I respond to sound. Extension of that: she used to sit and wait patiently at the back door for as long as it took me to notice her and let her outside. Not anymore. The doors are French doors, and on one side, the unused side, there are blinds that reach to the ground. On the other side, the door we actually use to go in and out, no blinds. She sits at the door we use and if I don't pay attention quickly enough, she sticks her nose over, into the blinds, and lifts them up and down to make them rattle. Then she waits at the door again. If I don't respond, she gets more and more energetic with her rattle, making the sound louder and louder. I'm obviously letting her train me, but I'm so impressed by how smart she is to have figured this out after a lifetime of not using noise in this way, and to have managed to extend knowledge gained in one area, ie "if I rattle this metal thing, my person will come and fulfill my wishes" to another area, ie "if I rattle this plastic thing, maybe my person will come here?" 

One more story of Zelda cleverness: she has made a connection between the sound of the phone and my preparations to leave the house. Normally, if I am wandering around looking like I might be going somewhere -- hitting the bathroom, picking up my keys, looking for my glasses -- she watches me with interest and a little hope, but not eagerness. And she waits in the living room to see what I might be doing. But when the phone rings and in response I start making preparations to leave the house, she dashes to the back door and waits there. She's realized that those two signals connect to mean a ride in the car to go pick up R wherever he might be.

I think what amazes me about these things is that she's making connections. It's not just that she's learned one piece of information or signal, it's that she's putting signals together to make sense out of larger ideas. She's the only dog I've ever known well, but I think she must be a really smart member of her species.

Also gorgeous and maybe later I'll add a picture to this post to show off how cute she is. At the moment, though, we're sitting outside, and I've got no pictures handy.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Revised Cover

Barring the unforeseen -- which is always sort of risky, but we can assume -- A Gift of Thought should have no problem making my mental June 12th publication date.

I suppose I'm nervous about that barring the unforeseen, now. I'm still in the midst of edits and revisions, but I'm having fun with them. I spent a while today giving Dillon a little more attitude in one chapter. I might even have gone so far as to give him an eye roll. By the time I was done, I was more charmed by him than ever and that's saying a lot, because I love Dillon.

Apart from the people who read it on fictionpress, another ten people are reading it now. Based on past experience, I might get feedback from three or four, five at most. I'll go with whatever I have by next Tuesday, but I've made some terrific changes already, so I'm definitely not feeling as if I need to wait for reader commentary to publish.

Good thing, too. I glanced at my traffic stats on fictionpress today (as I took the story down) and over 630 people had supposedly read the last chapter. Exactly three had bothered to take the time to say something nice. Three. I'd figure that if you made the effort to go to the last chapter, you probably read the preceding 80,000 words so the fact that 627 people had spent hours reading but didn't care enough even to say 'thanks for the free read' was...disheartening, I guess.

Writing is fun, but before I started putting the words on paper, I was perfectly happy making up the stories in my head and it was a whole lot easier. The only reason for me to put the words on paper is to share them with other people, and the only reason to share them is if other people enjoy them. It's tough not to view silence as apathy.

Ah, well. Maybe Natalya's story will just live in my head for a while.