10 January 2014

The Liar #Fridayflash

That sure as hell wasn't five minutes. What do you mean? No. I won't accept that answer. You're out of your fucking mind. Yeah, I heard you and no, I don't care. I won't. I can't. Please? Pretty please? I'd donate vital organs at this point if you would. No, really. I would. I swear!

You're breaking my heart here. See? It's pouring out on the floor in some kind of gelatinous mutiny. There are pirates in those sticky red waters. Stop it.

Why though? Why?

It's impossible. You jumped through a time portal in order to arrive five minutes later. It's not that to me. Will you quit? Just stop?

I'm begging you. Stretch out time. If you chewed it for awhile, it'd get soft. Like reworked bubble gum snatched from under a school desk. God no. I haven't done that. That'd be gross!

Fine! Now fuck off! I mean it. I'll find something heavy to hit you with. Does it look like I'm kidding?

Alright. Alright! Enough already. You've ruined my entire day with your screeching. I'll get up.

Even though you're a goddamned liar.

09 January 2014

Price yourself - The value of your work

I've seen a few articles and comments around the internet lately about "worth" of writing. Some articles deal with pricing and potential financial gain (this link may disappear), while others are simply the equivalent of sitting in a corner and whining because shit isn't working out the way a person assumed it would. I won't point the latter out, simply because it's okay to feel down about something not turning out quite how one expected.

But what does this mean for us as writers? There are so many examples of overnight success stories, yet there are millions of books that haven't been widely read, and I'd like to imagine that the authors of those stories love their work and want to share with the world. Sure, you can quit. If the publishing/self-publishing racket isn't your bag, go ahead. But what's to gain from quitting?

I'm sure many of you remember the famous story between the tortoise and the hare. At times in my life, I've felt like either of the characters. Zip through life, take time to relax and bam! Life has run me over. More so lately, I feel like the tortoise, and the finish line isn't getting any closer. But what is it exactly that I'm after here?

I have no fucking idea.

If I could make a wishlist of what I'd like to achieve, it'd be a lot more than just writing books. I'd love to learn guitar, see the world, go back to school. Some things I will be able to do, eventually, provided I am patient and bide my time. Other goals cannot be achieved without a deal of severe sacrifice, such as writing full-time. Unless something fell out of the sky to change that fact, from this vantage point, I would have to stop working the real job in order to provide enough time to pursue my dreams. That's not going to happen, but what I can do is not quit. Do my best to not complain about how I'm not getting what I feel I deserve from the world. The world doesn't owe me a goddamned thing. Unless it's in a contract, then that shit is due when agreed. See? Simple.

The point of this ridiculous blabber is to simply say, hey. I see you there. Trying. Working. Writing. Things can be easy, or they can be tough. Things change. The industry is changing. On all fronts. Media in general, whether it be newspaper, radio, music recording, writing, etc. The experts have no fucking idea where we are going in all of this. Technology has progressed at lightning speed, making it easier and easier to get what we want, when we want it.

Maybe that's why it's so damned frustrating when it doesn't rain paychecks. I don't know how old you might be, reader, but I'm old enough to remember the time when, if I wanted something, I had to work for it. Even if it just meant driving to pick it up physically, in person, and hold it in my IRL hands. I try to remember that part of the reward is the challenge itself. And that comparing myself to people who have worked their asses off, without working my own ass off, is juvenile.

Let this be a note to myself and maybe you. Be your own challenge, and no matter what happens, if what you are doing is what you must...then do it for yourself, above all. Before the champagne and limousine dreams. Write because it brings you peace.


08 January 2014

Losing my head - Watching an ebook go off-market

I'd mentioned in the previous post that Crooked Fang would be disappearing from the electronic vendors' virtual bookshelves and that has happened. The vanishing occurred within twenty-four hours of said-notice, in fact. I've decided to take the ebook back to Katarr Kanticles so the ebook and print book can be under one roof and make many happy Crooked Fang parties together. Also, it's easier to keep track of what went where.

Going from Lyrical Press to a different publisher has proven to have some drawbacks, not all which I anticipated. I will admit that it's been a bit of a process to look back through a book previously gone through approximately 12 MILLION TIMES and catch anything left that can be addressed, without alienating the print copy owners. One thing is for certain: print and ebook versions are linked. If one is changed, the other should be as well. This produces [drumroll] Da-dada-DAH, a version 2.

A second round, a second version of one, which should not be all that different. This is the trick to not pissing off the readers. Fortunately, I have the print manuscript, so correcting the digital version, book...this is getting confusing here...should be a breeze. But what were my other implications?

Loss of Reviews

I'd like to take the opportunity here to say thank goodness for Goodreads. This particular situation has more than highlighted the residual worth of the giant review and share book-centric website.
Amazon, however...SHAME ON YOU.
Crooked Fang (Kindle version) had roughly around 44 ratings and 14 reviews, if memory serves correctly. Since the publishers for each version type of book were different, the two stories weren't merged in the Amazonian mega-system, leaving the future edition version of Crooked Fang practically naked. Granted, the thought of Mr. Crooked Fang naked is appealing, however naked ebook listings are not.

These are the things that produce the "ut-oh's" in the writing life. Werd.

Loss of Cover Art

I didn't have this problem, but more than a few of the rights-takebackers (yes, I made that up) did. When rights are returned, they usually do not include the cover art. And this is why we see different covers for the same book throughout the years, true? Possibly.
Getting more cover art is no problemo whatsoever as long as you have 1.) an artist, and 2.) payment. Have only one or neither, and there could be an issue.

Identity withheld to protect the innocent
General Public Confusion

But wait, one might say. Isn't it just like a transfer over, leaving the ebook posting intact and perfect
with all of its trappings? Ah, but in the future, young Jedi. Each posting is in fact, a storefront for a specific book file (started to write "bile") so when that store decides to drop the strawberry-scented shampoo you've always loved, they aren't going to leave a place-marker on the shelf, no, NO! It will be replaced by coconut, coconut, COCONUT! Like strawberry never existed. 

Which brings me to:

How I Will Survive the Crooked Fang eBook Holocaust

Even before my ex-publisher ever crafted a cover, I'd already demanded determined that I wanted to keep the print rights, which (according to contract) could not be the same cover as the ebook. This led to an alternative version variety fuck it, version of the Crooked Fang cover. The very same that graces my print version book to this day.
Since I had to essentially go off on my own blaze of glory direction, editing was thrown in at the checkout stand also. Which left me with a lovely document just begging for release. That came out so wrong.
Annnnd! I'd commissioned a website already out of pride foresight for marketing, so I still have that same storefront (which is a front for other stores) website url and the whole blue thing going on.

So, as you can see, I'll be fine. A little extra crap I did back in the pre-publishing days paid off. A fortunate turn of events. Hell, I was just lucky.

In case of a fire (sale) are you prepared?


03 January 2014

Crooked Fang ebook is moving - News

Beloved readers of Crooked Fang:

The new ebook cover of Crooked Fang
Soon, the ebook links for my flagship novel, Crooked Fang, will be removed from vendor sites. Lyrical Press has undergone a business change and I decided that was not the right direction for my series. I'm in the process of changing the ebook back to the way it was written, accent marks and all. I've a goal to get the book back up on the vendor sites as soon as possible.

These changes only temporarily affect the ebook version of Crooked Fang. No other title will be changed from the current form.

If you are a current ebook holder:
To my knowledge, this will not affect your copy. I will be extending an offer out of courtesy in the near future to all Crooked Fang ebook owners to get a free updated version. The updates will be both cosmetic (both versions will now have the dark blue "print" cover pictured to the right) along with extremely minor edits in the text. Main changes will be the re-introduction of native speakers' accent marks as appropriate (and respectful) back into the story.

To get your free updated copy (when it becomes available) you will need to email a proof of purchase.

For all new purchases of the Crooked Fang ebook:
You will get the new version of the ebook (all vendor sites). 

Watch this space for updates. Or this one. (Crooked Fang book website)

Again, thanks for reading and continued support of the Crooked Fang series.

Carrie Clevenger

PS: Further inquiries can be directed to the "Email Me" form on this blog's sidebar.

02 January 2014

Making resolutions and shaping goals - Thoughts

The year has come back round again to January, which prompts an onslaught of resolutions, dreams described and other determinations. Yet I see so many "These are fucks I give," or other grievances against those who will at least try to make changes. Why would we make resolutions or set goals? What's the goddamned point, you may ask. Perhaps history can be of use.

[insert wavy flash-back shimmer]

Augustus, just because.
According to more than a few articles, notably this recent one, the Romans took New Year's Day as a day to reflect on the past, while looking ahead to the new year. Citizens exchanged food, apparently, along with greetings and blessings.

And according to Wikipedia, the ancient Babylonians made promises (to their gods) at the start of the new year that they would repay their debts and return borrowed objects.

[shimmer effect fades]

Great, so you say. What's this got to do with me? Who gives a hairy rat's ass whether I make any sort of statement about what I intend to do all year with my life? Okay, true. No one cares in particular, unless you're famous and have fans/followers looking for the next big whatever-it-that-you-do to be released.

Here's another interesting concept: Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions. - Dalai Lama

So, if happiness is directly rooted in your actions, what's the harm in making a few promises--to yourself? What better time to try something different or better, than right when a good chunk of the planet is doing the same thing? (Unless it's gym. The wait-times for the treadmills are absolute murder)

For those of you who don't give a fuck, groovy on you. Quite possibly you don't give a fuck about yourself, is it? Or are you ashamed to take a stand for something you want, rather disguising it under the shroud of aloofness? It's okay to want something better, to be something more.

Maybe you have created a little goal plan for yourself, ignoring the allure of the who-gives-a-flip crowd to persevere and say, "2014 will certainly be the year! Damn it all!" You've raised your fist to the sky and stated, nay, vowed to Do Something Else. Where do you go from the initial battle cry?
First of all, don't let panic set in yet. Everything is simpler if broken down into individual steps. I can use my situation as an example: I write, so of course my goals are primarily writing-related. I want to do this, finish that, and so on. If I look at the goals dead-on, it looks like one hell of a lot. But if I break it down by each thing I want to do, and even then dissect that goal even further, it comes out a little like this:

Want To Do Novella (I'm being realistic this year) so let's say 30,000 words, roughly.

I'm only going to break down one of my goals, just for example's sake. I can only write on weekends primarily so there are what, 52 weekends in the year 2014? That's 52 opportunities that I can advance on my goal. Divide that by how many words I think I can type per hour and well, that's not too bad. So, say I devote four hours a weekend (this is crazy-talk, by the way) every single weekend there is. I type about 1500 words per hour, so that's 1500 x 4 = 6000 words a weekend and then multiply that by 52 weekends = 312,000 (WHAT? Even I didn't know this until just now) friggin' words I could POSSIBLY do in one year.

But, life happens. Kids like to do stuff on the weekends, I like to catch up on sleep and well...I'll just stick with SHIT HAPPENS as an excuse suitable explanation. But you can easily see how my little goal is most certainly possible and perhaps that is why we make these goals. To see if we can. To challenge ourselves, not look cool in front of all the other kids. The greatest challenges lie within ourselves, no? So challenge yourself. Even if it's just taking up a different hobby, reading more books, vacuuming the cat every so often. Because every progress changes things and change is what life is all about, people.

I'll leave you with Victor Hugo's words: Many great actions are committed in small struggles.

And for us, every day is some form of small struggle. Give yourself the permission to dream, and dream big.

01 January 2014

and Auld Lang Syne: Looking back, looking forward

2013 was an eventful year. In January, I lost my ninety-seven year-old grandmother, which prompted a return to the state of Indiana, which is where I'm originally from. We gave Kathleen the funeral she'd described to me in specific detail (see where I get my morbid interests?) and sent her off to Glory with Amazing Grace played beautifully on bagpipes.

Almost immediately following my arrival back in Texas, my sister discovered she has cancer. On the heels of that, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a nasty bit of business that attacks nearly every cell in my body in some way or another.

That, my friends, is what finally slowed me down. Made me start asking for help. Encouraged me to have a love affair with my bed. Honestly.

There be gaters in 'ere.
Highlight of my year was finally visiting New Orleans for the World Horror Convention. I signed books and walked the streets of the French Quarter and Garden District with Amy Burgess, who knows N'Awlins better than most tour guides.

Sure, it's been a tough year, with losses and gains and...hey, isn't that what life is about?

The instructions are in English.
I've got this daughter here, who tells me the most adorable things like, "I like to love you, a lot." I'm sure she'd write it as "I lik to luv you alot," but that's besides the point. Or maybe it's not. This whole language thing. Spelling. What is it, anyway? Have you seen the old manuscripts from the Dark Ages thereabouts? English is evolving, so should we?

I digress. As long as the majority of the national populace prefers to read their books spelled in the current accepted correct form, I'll comply. (Too bad, though, the kid comes up with way more reasonable English word renditions)

So. This year, I've done a couple of things, some writing, some behind-the-scenes. I was given an opportunity to write with Paul D. Brazill and his Drunk on the Moon project, which then broke into individual stories, all related to his werewolf PI, Roman Dalton. My story was called Chances Are, and as luck would have it, is available with a handful of others for free today through Jan 3.

I also finished a Crooked Fang sequel, simply titled Traitors. Traitors may be a novella, but I packed that little book to the gills with action. I took the advice "leave out the boring parts" seriously.

Around the same time, Nerine Dorman and I got to talking as girls often do, and we decided it was time to pick on Ash and Xan again. Blood and Bone is nearly done, thanks to months of chipping away at word count on Saturday nights. It'll be a direct sequel to Blood and Fire, Crooked Fang, and Inkarna. How's that for a tie-in?

Now during my copious spare time, I decided to get myself into more projects. I read a portion of a submissions-call slush pile and decided hey, that was fun. I want to do more of that. Back to Nerine again. Idea. What if...
Well, we came up with Guns and Romances, a high-action, music-soaked, gun-smoked anthology that will cross genres, cultures, and very unfortunate characters in some circumstances. Guns and Romances remains open to submissions from just about anyone until Feb 28. Submissions info is here

Okay, 2013. You've been fun. Anyone tired yet? Oh look, it's 2014. It looks funny, with the pointy 4 in it. I was getting used to round numbers, but my handwritten four is just elegant as can be. Perhaps the most legible of my penmanship as well. It's probably very good I don't sell handwritten books. They might be confused for alien cryptograms.

On the books (ha!) for 2014:

Finish out Blood and Bone
Co-edit Guns and Romances
Write and finish Jungle Rot, the next solo Crooked Fang adventure
Draw. I miss drawing. Or painting. I like doing that too. It's nice to do in Procreate
Road trip! I have some locations I need to visit for writing reference. Trust me, it's a good idea
Establish two other publishing credits (usually anthologies. I have an addiction)
Learn a new skill. This may include partial lobotomy, I think
Maybe I'll try to keep a plant alive this year. Until then, hide the geraniums. I'm a serial killer.

One more thing. I'll try to restart the flash fiction offerings. The reason I stopped is because I had to. Between publishing books and running after an insane monkey that curiously looks like my daughter and of course, working that full-time day/night job, I had no time, no brain, and no way.
And here I am, stuck in novelville. I miss the extremely short fictive (yes I just made that up) side of my work.

That's it, I'm done for now. Hey, no pressure, but have a great year.


Carrie Clevenger