Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Blog Activity and Visits

The above chart shows the number of visits Up Around the Corner has had beginning June 2008 up through April 2013.

Originally my objective was to get at least 1000 visits a month. Now, the objective is to earn at least 1500 visits a month. Maybe this summer I will focus on consistently attracting over 2000. Hopefully I'll increase the number of listed followers as well.

In setting goals, one should make them specific, measurable, attainable, and ones that you can actually directly impact and reach, without great dependence on the actions of others. In this case, I can provide interesting content but, beyond that, whether individuals visit is largely out of my hands. Sure, I can post return links and such around the internet, and work to drive traffic to Up Around the Corner, but again, return visits by folks who find what I have to say or the interviews I do interesting isn't in my sphere of direct control.

It's like a writer starting today and setting a goal of getting a novel published by the end of 2014. It's not necessarily a good goal as, unless the writer is talking about self-publishing, the writer can only write the best novel he (or she) can, and research, and professionally submit it to appropriate agents and/or editors, and see what happens.

In the end, whether a publisher believes enough in a novel to offer a contract isn't in the writer's hands, or sphere of direct influence (other than writing an awesome novel). Beyond that the author has little control over when a contracted novel will be scheduled for edits, how long they will take, if there will be delays in ARCs and cover art, and even the publisher's release schedule. A better stated goal would be for the writer to determine to complete a novel and submit it for publication prior to the end of 2013, hoping that by 2014 it'll have been accepted (which is a very optimistic timeline).

Okay, back on topic...

I realize in the big scheme of things, traffic to my blog isn't much. More like a partially obscured turnoff on the internet (or Information Super Highway) and onto a narrow dirt road.

In any case, we'll see what happens.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Art Affair on the Square in Urbana, Ohio

I have been invited again this year by the Champaign County Library to participate in the 9th Annual Art Affair on the Square.

I'll be there with a number of other authors discussing writing and signing copies of my novels and short story collection.

I'll post more details as they become available.

In any case, I hope to see you there July 20th!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

And so it begins...Another Year of Mowing


That's Kosh, the mysterious Vorlon from the series Babylon 5, confirming that the Shadow War had begun. Certainly more dire (well, SF/Hollywood-wise) than what I'm not looking forward to...Another spring and summer of mowing.

 I know, that makes the title misleading. But it sure seems like a year...

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Roger Zelazny Quote on Writing

Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -you just don't know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you'd mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place.

Trust your demon.” ― Roger Zelazny

How can I not agree with this? Roger Zelazny is one of my favorite writers, one that I've studied to improve my own writing. The way I see it, even when an author outlines (or plots out) a novel--organizing events, notions and ideas always crop up with the potential to make the story more interesting. Does it totally throw off the story's direction? Probably not, but it sure makes it interesting keeping on the general course. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Panelist at the Ohioana Book Fesival in May

I've been invited to participate in the Fiction: Horror & Fantasy panel during the Ohioana Book Festival.

The Ohioana Book Festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 11th from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, and the Fiction: Horror & Fantasy panel will run from 12:45 pm until 1:30 pm.  Also on the panel will be authors Gary Braunbeck, Mark Dawidziak, E.S. Moore, Denise Verrico and Tim Waggoner.

Once again this year the Ohioana Book Festival will be held at the:
Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center
546 Jack Gibbs Blvd.
Columbus, OH 43215

There are over 70 Ohio authors scheduled to be attending the festival. I'll be signing copies of Flank Hawk, Blood Sword and Genre Shotgun. Hope to see you there!

Friday, April 5, 2013

2012 Updated Sales Percentages: Print vs. Ebook vs. Audiobook

For those who might be interested, here's breakdown of sales of my three titles released by Gryphonwood Press:

2012 Sales
Print = 16.3%
Ebook = 50.1%
Audiobook = 33.6%

Total Sales (since Publication in October 2009/Audiobook since March 2012)
Print = 51.4%
Ebook = 40.1%
Audiobook = 8.4%

2012 Sales
Print = 40.1%
Ebook = 59.9%

Total Sales (since Publication in November 2011)
Print= 54.3%
Ebook = 45.7%

Total Sales (since Publication in November 2012)
Print = 92.5%
Ebook = 7.5%

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Casually Thinking About Writing a Novel?

Writing a novel is a long-term commitment, and an author has to really enjoy the novel he or she is working on. Why? Because they'll be thinking about it a lot, re-reading it a dozen times, and revising it probably at least a dozen times (and a few more while working with an editor, if the novel finds a publisher).

The process of writing a novel will consume vast expanses of time, inevitably crowding out other enjoyable activities. If writing the novel isn't made a priority, it will never get finished. Writing doesn't necessarily have to be the top priority, but it can't hover near the bottom.

I think most people feel they have at least one novel in them. Maybe they do, but very few ever get it out of them--and even fewer, successfully. Why? Because while there is enjoyment in writing, it is also work, hard work. It requires practice and study and close attention to detail--in addition to the wordprocessing. 

And there is the knowledge while writing the novel that, at the end of the day, there is no guarantee of success--that it'll find a publisher. The competition is stiff, and that's an understatement. And even if the novel does find a solid publisher (or the author decides instead to self-publish), that it'll find readers that enjoy the story labored over for so long isn't a sure thing--far from it.

That's just the way it is.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Writing: Studying and Improving

Sometimes readers wonder, and even ask, how a writer improves.

While writing on a regular basis can help, it doesn't necessarily mean you're improving. Practising a flawed technique won't advance quality. Folks reading your work, pointing out weaknesses can help a writer focus. But how does a writer improve and overcome that weakness?

Here's how I do it...or attempt to:

When I come across an author/novel(s) that I really enjoy I often re-read them.

One of the benefits of reading novels is that it sets the foundation of storytelling for the writer. The writer gets an idea or feeling how it should be done, structure, flow, what works and what doesn't.

Then, I will re-read good novels again and again, but not for enjoyment. I'll mark pages as I go, noting how dialogue was written, action scenes were accomplished, and other things like description, wording and pacing. This gives me ideas on how a successful author managed what I might be struggling with, or working to improve. I compare how other authors accomplished the same thing by--you guessed it--re-reading their novels. Then I take what I observed/learned and merge it with my own writing style and projects.

It takes time--a lot of time, but I think it's the best way to learn and move forward.   Some of the authors I've studied:  

Roger Zelazny, especially The Chronicles of Amber, and A Night in the Lonesome October
Steven Brust
, especially The Vlad Taltos Series
Stephen R. Donaldson
, especially The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever
Laurel K. Hamilton
, especially the Anita Blake Series (the early novels)

There are plenty more, but those are the main ones.

For a specific example, after finding a publisher for Flank Hawk, which I wrote as a standalone novel with the potential of continuing the storyline and characters into a series, I wanted to write Blood Sword as a novel that could be picked up and read without having to have read Flank Hawk. I also wanted readers of Flank Hawk to enjoy it, complementing while furthering the story and characters, but without feeling in any way redundant in what they already knew about the characters or the world they inhabit.

It took me about a year of reading and re-reading, and studying mainly works by Brust and Hamilton, in an effort to get the balance right--for providing backstory for Blood Sword. I wanted to blend it all into the storyline where needed, without detracting from the experience for those who'd read and enjoyed Flank Hawk. I noted when and how, through exposition, dialogue, and character observation, to accomplish this, since much of what happened in Blood Sword had its roots in Flank Hawk. It took about a year to do, and I think I got it right.

Really, what better way is there to learn how to write than by studying the works of successful writers?