16 Jun

Someone Asked: ETA on the next book

Q: You said [alarming thing], and now I’m worried there might not even be a next book. Will there be, and if so, when can we expect it?

A: I’m currently 23,000 words into the rough draft of another contemporary. Judging by the position of the Act I/II break, I guesstimate the full rough draft will run about 56,000 words, so I’m pretty well into it and committed. (Full sentences are a rare sight in my rough drafts, so 56,000 will easily become a standard 100,000-word novel after revision.) If the guesstimate is close and if I maintain current production speed (either of which might not be the case), I might be finished with the rough draft before the end of July. If revisions went fabulously well after that (which they might not), a late 2018 release might be doable in November or December. That’s a lot of ifs and mights, but there is definitely one more book coming.

After that? Depends. I’m sick about how badly Silent Song tanked on release. 1/12 the preorders of 10KH and 2% of the month-one revenue and downhill from there is… not sustainable as a business. If only the people who gave 10KH a 5-star rating on Goodreads had bought it during the first two weeks at the discount price, it wouldn’t have been a good release, but I wouldn’t be thinking about pulling the plug right now. Sadly for me, the interest just isn’t there, even among readers who have historically liked my writing. If something doesn’t change dramatically by the end of the year, I’m done with contemporary romance and probably self-publishing in general. Despite the scar tissue from the last time traditional publishing burned me, it’s looking like the best bad option at this point. I’ve already reached out to a former agent to see if he or anyone at his agency might be interested in a side project that as of now is only in the outline stage, and if anyone wants to nibble, I’ll be devoting myself to that. Since trad pub deadlines are bruising, I won’t have time to dick around with no-reward contemporary romance as a hobby, even in the unlikely event I felt masochistic.

So… good news/bad news. I’m going to finish this current book regardless of whether anyone wants to read it, but after that, I’m not going to continue sinking time and money into books only a handful of people want to read. The market has spoken, it’s currently telling me to fuck off, and I’m not betting the few pennies left in my self-publishing account that the market’s affections toward me will improve in the next six months. It is welcome to make me eat those words, but I’m planning for the future like that’s an impossibility.

This isn’t a “poor me, save me” whine. I’m well aware that there are things I could do to improve the situation but won’t for various reasons. I’ve known for 20 years publishing is not a kind, supportive mother, and every year she punches a little harder, so this is not a devastating surprise to me. I’m going to be just fine because I duck and weave like I’ve been dodging hits since birth. I’m just making it known, as a courtesy, what can probably be expected from the future, based on current unfavorable data.

08 Jun

Cleaning off the camera

The vines are looking kind of rough this year, but they’re making baby green tomatoes.

The season's first dozen baby green tomatoes on the vine

Despite the deer stripping every single leaf off the blueberry bushes in the spring, followed by mid-April snow, they recovered to produce some berries.

Cluster of young blueberries in a bush

I put up the hummingbird feeder and had a couple serene days of little girls buzzing around, and then some ruby-throated asshole started perching on the chain from dawn until dark, chasing everyone else away. I never thought I’d spend so much time cussing at a bird. I badly want to organize the ladies. “Babs, you do a flyby and make him chase you into the woods. Lola, there’s your chance to get in there. When he comes back to chase you away, Babs can have her turn.” I MADE THAT NECTAR FOR EVERYBODY TO SHARE, CHAD. THIS IS WHY NO ONE LIKES YOU.

Territorial jerk ruby-throated hummingbird waiting to ambush invaders

The feeder is right outside the window where the cat tree is, but the cat, who went berserk about a swarm of goldfinches (and one indigo bunting) half an acre away a few weeks ago, can’t even be bothered to chitter at this little bastard—no doubt sensing a kindred evil spirit.

Goblin communing with nature from the safe side of the window
The deer, bunnies, and foxes aren’t cooperative, but the turkeys sometimes stand still long enough to pose.

Wild turkey that passes through the yard from time to time

Also, flying turkeys are… terrifying. They’re huge. We have no shortage of vultures and the occasional bald eagle sighting, and they’re all dainty little flowers compared to an airborne turkey. If they got some kind of aggro virus and started dive-bombing people like avenging Furies, we’d be goners.

I’m acutely conscious that if something happens to my 16-year-old car while dwelling this far from civilization, my child and I are completely fucked, but I do enjoy the glimpses of nature I’ve never gotten while living in town. (That being said, I’d trade nature in a heartbeat to be back within walking distance of a grocery store because I do not need an additional source of anxiety, thank you very much.)

ETA: I found some deer in last year’s archives. Blurry, but if you squint, you can see the baby near the middle.

Blurry photo of two white-tailed deer and a fawn

The herd was bigger this year (sightings up to six), but I haven’t seen them parade any new additions through the yard.

BONUS: The physical manifestation of despair.

Goblin cat slumped against the wall in a boneless heap

No, she does not have any bones. I think my spinal problems are 95% sympathy pains secondary to goblin posture.

02 Jun

The Romancelandia Gazette

The Ripped Bodice is once again hosting Summer Romance Bingo! Print your card, follow along on social media with the #rippedbodicebingo tag, and even enter to win prizes. They have suggestions for each square, and this post at Smart Bitches may also be helpful on your bingo quest.

Because this is my site and I’m almost comfortable shilling here, I’ll point out that Gin and Lex being stranded by a blizzard qualifies Silent Song for the Forced Proximity square, and Tally and Ben are both back in their teeny town of origin if you need What Comes After Dessert to occupy Return to Hometown.

Cockygate. Courtney Milan generously ordered the stat transcript of Friday’s hearing for the injunction relating to #cockygate and shared with the world. I believe this link will automatically download the PDF, so if you don’t want to do that, maybe find some of the fine people online sharing screenshots of the highlights using the hashtag. To summarize, Kevin Kneupper’s challenge on the trademark of the common word “cocky” can proceed. Tara Crescent can continue selling her cocky books. The Cocktales Anthology can continue to be sold. The judge described the trademark’s validity as “weak.” The real names and addresses of the defendants (who are, by the way, NOT the “I bought this word so no one can ever use it” side) can be submitted to the court as sealed if necessary so the plaintiff (the “I bought this word so no one can ever use it” side) can’t dox them. One of the defending lawyers will move for dismissal, but otherwise, it’s back to court in September for Round Two of “I bought this word so no one can ever use it.”

I’m going to say something about trademarks in general. I am not a lawyer, so this is obviously not going to be a legal treatise on the subject, but I do have reason to have a basic grasp of the subject. These folks who are applying for trademark on single, everyday words like to protest when called out that they’re “not going to enforce it.” This reflects one of two things: (1) A lack of understanding of how trademarks work. If you don’t defend your trademark on Occasion A, and you don’t defend your trademark on Occasion B, but you decide to go after Occasion C for some reason, Occasion C gets to use Occasion A and Occasion B in defense of common usage. If you don’t defend a trademark, you basically invalidate it, so you’ve wasted a lot of money acquiring it, only to throw it away. Who would do such a thing? Which brings us to: (2) Lying liars who tell lies. They did something shady, they got called out, and now they want everyone to calm down just long enough for their application to go through so they can start wielding their bullshit one-word trademark like a hammer. So when you see these trademark applicants for generic single words that are common usage and should be available to everyone crying “But it’s not like that!”, they either need to belatedly educate themselves about this legal process they’ve blindly initiated and halt it in response to their newly gained knowledge of the ramifications, or they’re full of shit and should be treated as such.

ETA: Some pretty high-profile outlets are treating this one hearing like the whole debacle is over, which is… wrong in every way. There are multiple legal cases involved, and Judge Hellerstein merely ruled here those multiple cases can go forward. Kneupper is still going to court to challenge the validity of the trademark of a single, commonly used word. The trademark holder is still pursuing her grudge suits against two parties who used the single, commonly used word, one before the trademark application even happened and the other as parody. Nothing is “over.”

Book Stuffing, Incentivizing Reviews, and Other Shenanigans. While the writing world was enjoying the cocky transcript, Amazon dropped new, clear rules explicitly prohibiting book stuffing (no more than 10% “bonus content”) and incentivizing reviews (no promises of gifts), theoretically cutting the heart from the bosom of KU scams. They also issued a separate warning that those not in compliance immediately will not get the KU bonuses of up to $25,000 free money per month that make cheating extra worthwhile. David Gaughran reports at much greater length on the whole shitshow.

No one really believes Amazon has the will or the means to enforce this, but for one evening, we enjoyed the dream that these people who stuff every book they’ve ever published into every “new” book they publish and tell their Facebook groups to click through all 3000 pages so they get paid $13.50 for a book that’s often sold for 99¢ (net 35¢ royalty) will find their scam no longer profitable and fuck off to sell timeshares or whatever their next get-rich-quick scheme will be. (I saw right away how they’re going to get around it, and Amazon won’t hire human beings to vet files, but it’s a glorious dream.)


23 May

Knowledge Aforethought

Once upon a time, there was a great war between the kingdoms of Plött and Påntz. Countless battles were waged, despite the fact that nobody cares which side you’re on as long as the story wins in the end. Plotters have written great stories and terrible stories and all kinds of stories in between. Pantsers have written great stories and terrible stories and all kinds of stories in between. In the endless quest to improve by exploring new techniques, plotters have converted to Pantsianity and pantsers have converted to Plottism. Eventually, all writers settle where they’re happy and/or productive.

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