Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad; whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.
- John le Carre
- John le Carre
Everyone's doing a year in review retrospect kind of post in their blogs. I've got a lot of things rattling about up in this old noggin of mine so here goes...
Where should I start?
It's been a fast, dizzying ride around this obstacle course of a year. You know what it feels like?
It feels like I've dodged some bullets and maneuvered through treacherous roads: falling boulders, sharp turns alongside cliffs (and you know how much I hate heights - It's not so much the actual fall, it's the abrupt stop at the end that gets you).
Had I known the trip was going to resemble a stunt in one of those box-office action-adventure hits of the summer then I would've suited up appropriately, maybe even packed up some provisions.
But life just don't play it that way - no heads up, no memos, no reminders, no forewarning, no tips, not even a friendly reminder to buckle up. Just BOOM! Before you know it, I'm engaged in what seems like a high velocity chase: steering past people, places, and scenarios. THAT'S the kind of pace I've had for most of 2010.
It's always nice to see how far you've gone since the beginning of the year. Where you stumbled. Where you failed. Where you outperformed even your own expectations. If you're gonna do an end-of-year flashback, get the good and the bad in there. It's always good to reflect - a way of tracking your progress, to see where you need to improve on. I'm all for that.
I can honestly say that 2010 has been my most productive year writing. Ever. I've written a lot of short stories, started a couple of novellas/novels (which are still in progress), have a couple more ideas for books/comics/screenplay waiting in the wings, jumped in and messed around with a lot of new media just to get a feel for what works for me and what doesn't. Even started a second site that's closing in on its 100th post.
I've started a lot of things that I didn't follow through on. My reasons for dropping it? It varies, really. It either didn't feel right, took too much of my time to produce, just wasn't fun anymore, or didn't have the potential for profit. So I trashed it.
Too much fucking drama. Just a lot of distractions. Personal and professional. A lot of it was beyond my control. Anybody that knows me well, knows that I despise that kind of thing. Who needs that shit? It goes against my grain.
It was a rocky year but my accomplishments far outweighed anything negative that happened. What about you?
So what now?
Full speed ahead baby!!! I prefer to plan ahead and look forward to things to come. Take steps to get the ball rolling. No resolutions. Those things are bound to get broken, compromised, even forgotten. You know it. I know it. Yet people continue to make 'em.
How about setting goals instead? Start with smaller, actionable, easy to achieve ones that build your confidence so you can crush the larger ones.
Make it a year with less distractions and more focus.
More action and less excuses.
More confidence and less doubt.
More storytelling. More interaction.
Whatever it takes right? Whatever our goals may be. Since this, for the most part, is a site to chronicle my (mis)adventures in writing and making money off it, then I'm primarily addressing all of us who sit alone and spend an unhealthy amount of time sitting on our asses and staring at a screen, punching letters and hoping that the story unfolds the way we see it in our heads.
I've roughly written out an editorial calendar of sorts for my writing. Specific dates for specific works. Looking at it right now looks like an impossible task especially since I'm going back to school. But I work well under pressure. At the end of 2011 even if I come up short with these self-imposed deadlines, I still win.
As with any creative endeavor, it starts out with an idea. Then you break down how to get from point A to point B. Then you just do it.
Here's to 2011.
Let's make more signal and less noise.
Dear reader: If you dig what you've just read please help me build even a wider audience by spreading the word (via Twitter, Facebook, email), leaving a comment and joining my mailing list.
It's a curse. It's always crazy around this time of the year. By this time of the year, I mean the time frame which starts a week before Thanksgiving and concludes a few days after the New Year. Guess what? We're right smack dab in the middle of this dirty little mess. It doesn't matter how low-key you try to keep holiday gatherings. It doesn't reduce the stress factor. Don't ask me. I didn't make the rules up. I just put up with it.
So, the next few days is gonna pose a challenge to your ability as a human being to tolerate as much craziness and still manage to crack a smile for those precious little snapshots.
Rest assured, these are some things you can always rely on:
My holiday survival kit:
A sense of humor
The knowledge that in just a couple of weeks, this too shall pass. Like a tinsel covered bladder stone.
Soon we can stash away the tree and the ornaments. Return gifts. Or maybe even regift. Blame the holidays for the weight gained, for the bills incurred, and so on, so forth. Back to work. Back to school. Back to normal life, right?
Remember, Valentine's day is just around the corner.
From your friendly neighborhood pen monkey.
From Z2R Media - A collection of short stories assembled in Bad Juju: Vol. 1
Includes the stories:
The Secrets of Mothers
The Faster You Run
The Body Vacant
Get your digital copy now
35% off retail price w/ coupon code QK49V (Good until Jan. 1, 2011)
50% off retail price w/ coupon code if you join my email list. (Good until Jan. 1, 2011). You'll get access o it after you sign up of course.
If you're already on the list expect an email from me today or you can go ahead and access the Hooligans Only area to claim your discount.
I've updated the Books section to reflect my current sales.
Additional Holiday Sale:
Get Panic in Year 2020: A zombie story for $0.99 with coupon code ZX88X (Good until Jan. 1, 2011)
Everyone else is having sales, so why not me?
As for deciding price point for this and future collections and releases - it's been probably the toughest thing to decide but as an indie writer I have to experiment w/ what works for me.
My zombie short story is my best seller at a retail price of $1.99 which was basically a lot higher than a lot of the other short stories in the Smashwords market at the time of its release. Yes, it was a gamble but if you're not willing to take a risk as an indie writer then I don't know what to tell you. That set the tone for this current release. I can't very well charge less than that for 7 stories. It just doesn't make any sense right now.
I'm not saying it will stay this way. Nothing is set in stone. I'm not gonna price myself out of people's hands when it comes to my current and future releases especially novella/novel length works. I want as many people as possible to get a hold of my stories but at the same time I'm not going to sell myself short.
I'm a control freak so I gather data on stats, sales, and patterns so this entire thing is one exciting experiment for me. Finding the "sweet spot" is what I'm trying to do. I'll be tweaking prices accordingly based on what I see. Stay tuned.
7 short stories. Available sometime tomorrow in digital format. I'll announce it here of course. Sign up for my newsletter to get a coupon code. If you're already on my list then you're already set. I'll be sending you the code along with some other news tomorrow.
In case you didn't know - Bad Juju means: Bad aura, bad vibe, bad karma.
A colleague of mine used to always say: "I'm staying out of that, it's got bad juju."
I like the way it sounds and I actually say it quite a bit. So there
P.S. Volume 2 is already in the works. There are plans for a limited edition (print) and collected volumes version. Each version will have something different to offer.
Just some thoughts clogging the gray matter lately. Similar to my Mixtape post, but less random and more opinionated.
You don't have to declare yourself as a guru or an expert. I should already have a sense of that based on your words and actions.
You don't have to throw out your TV or own only 100 things or less in order to have a minimalist way of life.
You don't have to quit your 9-5 to be liberated. If you like your job, that's wonderful. If you LOVE your job, then you are one blessed son of a bitch. If you absolutely dread it then it's time to reassess your situation and do something about it AKA Plan B.
You don't have to write an essay and call it a manifesto to get me to read it. A nice regular title will do.
You don't have to have a trailer to promote your book. Unless it's a really amazing one, that is.
You don't need to spend a lot of money to start building a platform for whatever it is you do. You just have to be resourceful. Later on, if you can afford to turn your game up a notch then do it.
You don't have to sign up for every social media site under the sun. Just master the ones you like and enjoy. Mine? Twitter first. Facebook second. I actually use Hootsuite so I can tackle both with one app. Even better.
You don't have to multitask. Seriously. Doing one thing at a time is perfectly fine. You'd probably get more done.
You shouldn't feel obligated to write a blog post or feel guilty when you miss one.
Try not paying attention to your word count. Instead, just write until you feel like you're done for the day.
Your inbox doesn't have to be zero. Mine isn't. It never is. I just keep it down to a manageable amount. I do an occasional review and trash - kinda like email spring cleaning.
You don't have to have a moleskin notebook to jot down ideas. A cheap composition notebook is just as effective. Or a pack of index cards. Or post-its on the wall. Or a web app.
Don't be a carbon-copy of the bloggers you admire. I came to your blog to see the headliner (You!) not a cover band.
You don't have to start a revolution, be a freedom fighter, be epic unless it's something you feel strongly about.
You don't have to plan and schedule everything. Sometimes the best things/experiences come from winging it and being spontaneous.
You don't have to take my word if you don't believe in it. I wouldn't want you to. Create your own rules and let me know how it works for you.
This story is a work of fiction and for mature audiences only. Don't steal, create your own.
"Top Notch Auto, this is Steve speaking."
"Uh, hello, hey Steve, it's me. Is, Carl around?"
"Yeah, just a sec."
"Wait, anybody else show up today?"
"Yeah, the whole crew's here. Kate. Jim. We just let Sally in a minute ago."
"Ah, shit. Really? Have you been outside Steve? It's a mess out there."
"I know. I need this job."
"But what good is a job if you're..."
"Lemme get Carl for you."
A click then hold music plays.
"This is Carl."
"Hey Carl, just letting you know I'm calling in sick today."
"It's Saturday, you get double points for this."
"That means you've only got one point left before you get canned."
"Don't you think you should just close the shop with the way things are?"
"The district manager got me up at 4am to tell me to get my ass up to work or I'm gone so here I am and you should be too."
"I won't be doing that Carl. It's flat out stupid."
"We've taken precautions and everything's holding up fine. Top Notch Auto sent us supplies for this occasion. They wouldn 't put us in harm's way."
"The only thing that Top Notch Auto cares about is having a warm body by the counter to peddle auto parts. Do you really think anyone will be buying spark plugs and wipers with the way things are right now?"
"You saw how much we made yesterday? Best ever. Plus, it's the holidays. People spend money and travel this time of the year."
"But yesterday, we also lost..."
"I was advised by the legal department not to speak about that matter. Besides, he should've been more careful."
"Have you got the TV on Carl? Turn it on for fuck's sake. It's real bad out there and it keeps getting worse! Even Metro Mart is closed today."
"Those Metro Mart employees are a bunch of pussies. Get your ass here today or you'll be canned. We've got inventory to do."
"I'm afraid I can't do that Carl." I walk over to the closet and grab my rifle behind the door.
"When this whole thing blows over I'm up for an interview for a district manager position. It's salaried and I get a company car."
"Good for you Carl. It doesn't change my decision." I turn the TV on at half mute. The emergency news ticker flashes a bright orange as it scrolls below the pallid-faced anchorman.
"I'm not really surprised, you've never been a team player. You don't value what Top Notch Auto stands for."
I walk towards the window and carefully brush past the curtains to get a quick glimpse outside.
"That's the problem with you, no ambition."
I open the window slightly and position my rifle as I tilt my head to hang on to the phone.
"There's something more important right now than all of that..."
"This seals the deal. You're done for."
"....Survival." Click. Boom. One down. I'm getting better at this. There's three more zombies wandering this street.
"Carl, I gotta let you go. I just wanted to call in sick."
"I'm gonna put you down as no call no show."
"Fuck you Carl. By the way, there's a high concentration of this epidemic in your area. If I were you, I'd lock everything down and get ready because they're coming."
"If you think you're gonna get any recommendations from me, forget about it. Don't put me down as a referral because I ain't helping your ass out."
"Goodbye Carl." I toss the phone to the side and aim for zombie number two with the red plaid shirt on. Two more after that. Then time to get out of dodge.
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This post is a mash-up of things floating around my head. I sometimes have to dump info to get my mind decluttered (yes, I'm taking neat freak to another level), otherwise I'm stuck with all of it in my head all striving to get equal attention from me. That's just not gonna fly so here goes.
1. Why aren't there frets or markers on violins? I tried fiddling (no, that was not a cheesy pun) with it and it sounded like a wailing sick cat. Sure, part of it is because I haven't got a clue what I'm doing. I was basically playing by ear. Fun, but very challenging.
2. My brother sort of suggested an idea for a site. I think I need to look into it. Or at least put it in my idea file.
3. I just interrupted this post to play a quick round of Guitar Hero.
4. I really enjoy cooking but hate the clean-up.
5. I have websites to work on.
6. That collection of short stories will be released by Christmas. Somehow.
7. As of today I have 43 readers/subscribers for this blog - 35 from newsletter, 8 from RSS. This is not groundbreaking by any means, but for me it is. This makes me ridiculously goofy-happy.
8. Reality TV shows make me want to bash my TV sometimes.
9. Commercials on TV during the holidays make me feel numb. No, I don't want that cashmere sweater. And please don't use the word "Santabulous" as part of your ad campaign. Better yet, just don't say that word anymore.
10. I think I'm gonna write a post about indie writing.
11. My skills on playing guitar is now back at beginner level. That's what you get for not practicing. Oh well.
12. I read so many blogs but most are kind of saying the same thing. Only a select few really resonate with me. Time to whittle down my subscriptions.
13. I sure missed winters here in the East Coast while I was away but Fuck! It's cold outside and I can't feel my toes.
14. My writing area is bare bones. In the middle of a sparsely furnished room. I sit on the floor on a bamboo floor mat, an internet-less old laptop sits atop a vintage fancy food tray. My iPod next to it on a dock with speakers. A pen and notebook. I love it. We actually have a small computer desk which is where I'm typing this but all the fiction writing happens in aforementioned room.
15. I'm still annoyed that the cable guy sent to hook up our cable box failed to
a) actually hook up the box
b) color code
c) have appropriate wires to hook up said box to TV
d) have the HD box - told us we'd have to pick it up ourselves
(this was actually resolved after a phone call - reimbursed fee, new box, and upgrade at no charge)
16. Speaking of, I'm about a paragraph or two away from finishing my latest story and have another one I want to write.
17. But first, a nap.