Republishing backlist, FAQs about series, and NaNo2016

Hello world! Since my last blog post, EC announced their closure and I did reclaim my backlist there and get my official reversion letter. My EC titles will officially revert at the end of 2016, to be re-released in 2017.

This means I now have Samhain and EC titles to re-release along with other bits and pieces from other publishers like Cleis Press, Mammoth Books, etc. This is A Lot Of Work ahead. To which end I’ve been busy doing things like acquiring software and ISBNs and all things needed to be my own publisher and do this right.

Part of doing things right will include finishing series that due to schedule or contract conflicts didn’t get completed. And part of it will include deciding if writing a sequel is worth doing or not. There are factors besides sales that come into play when deciding to write a thing, and I will have to think like a writer, a marketer, and a publisher.

In the meantime, it’s the official start of NaNoWriMo 2016, the month that celebrates the joy of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, 1,666 words a day. If you’re writing, hooray for you! I’ll be writing because if ever there was a time to reconnect with joy, it would be during this gawdawful endless election. Which will end, huzzah, and there will be pie, and turkey, and Dr. Strange will hit theaters. Good times.

Fun with Fitbit

I started using a Fitbit some time ago. I’m actually on Fitbit One #2 because Fitbit One the First fell off on a walk and was never seen again. It’s a helpful tool, but it has some pros and cons like everything else. The first obvious con being “it can fall off and get lost,” but Fitbit actually has some helpful recovery tips if this happens to you. (They didn’t save Fitbit the First for me, but most people don’t lose theirs in the wild like I did.)

The pros:

  1. Being able to measure what I really did for activity and what I really consumed helped me get a realistic picture of my habits. It didn’t take very many days of logging all my activity and all my food data to realize I had a large calorie deficit and needed to eat more to support my activity. I thought I was less active than I was; I thought I ate more than I did. Surprise! Having some measure of this showed me what I needed to change to reach my goals. The One only measures steps, but I used the Dashboard function to enter all the other stuff I did, from yard work to laundry to swimming. So the limitation of step-measuring has a pretty good work-around.
  2. I got a built-in reminder to drink more water. Very helpful for the person who tends to refill her coffee cup instead of her water glass, and the reminder alone helped me improve my habits.
  3. The badges earned and progress updates and general fitness cheering are motivating. I get notices telling me how many lifetime steps, flights of stairs, and so on I’ve logged. I get notified that I hit my daily goal, or am close to it, and often being just below the next level is motivating enough to get up and hit it just to win the achievement. “I’ve done 40 flights of stairs today, if I do 10 more I can get the 50 flights badge!”
  4. Fitbit has a social aspect, so you can team up with your friends. If you see your friend close to goal you can “cheer” them. If you see that they’re ahead of you, you can try to beat them. But either way it keeps you from feeling like you’re going it all alone. Even from a distance, you can work toward a fitness goal with a buddy. Having another person to be accountable to helps on those days when commitment is flagging.
  5. Privacy settings allow you to control what other people see. Yes, Fitbit still has all your data and doubtless is using it to target ads or whatever, but it’s only public if you make it that way. And you can make some things public, some private, and some visible only to friends.

The Cons:

  1. The Fitbit One really is very small and easy to lose or leave in clothes bound for the laundry.
  2. Even when I manually enter miles bicycled or time swimming, it doesn’t add those logged activities into the daily fitness goal of 10,000 steps. If I swim for an hour, do ten minutes of yoga, and walk 5,000 steps, I still show up as below goal instead of the extra activity counting as the equivalent of another 5,000 steps. Likewise, flights of stairs get logged but don’t count as more effort than regular steps. It would be nice if there was some mechanism that took all the logged activity and gave it a cumulative “goal”. Still, we’re basically dealing with a glorified step counter here so the limitation is sort of built in.
  3. Like most fitness devices, it doesn’t seem to know what to do with women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. I started wearing mine while breastfeeding and had to do a rough calculation of the calories that deducted from my day and plug it into my data to adjust for the difference but there was no setting whatsoever for this. Seems like quite an oversight when you consider how many women get pregnant and breastfeed and need to account for the caloric difference. (I still remember how the Wii Fit screamed at me when I was pregnant and kept gaining weight even though it was the textbook one pound per month, so I have the same beef with pretty much all fitness tech when it comes to this. Fitness tech needs more women in the design stage. Or at least men who recognize female biology as a thing. A setting for “pregnant” or “breastfeeding” isn’t too much to ask, really.)

Overall, I find it helpful so I keep using it. Plus I get to cheer and/or taunt Kate Rothwell and Sasha White while I work out, and I don’t think you can put a price on that.


Bride of Fire is coming soon and the state of things

bride-of-fire-225-newLook! Bride of Fire has a new cover for re-issue! I’m not going to post a date because I truly don’t know how long it will take to produce all versions and upload and go “live” at the various vendors. Once I’ve done that a couple of times I’ll be better able to predict the “on sale” dates for re-issues.

The state of things: I am working my way through re-issuing the 5 novellas/novelettes I hold rights to already. Yes, it’s taken forever. This is because doing a thing right requires a lot of setup and I’ve had limited resources to direct at this project. (Time and energy are resources.) But with the tools and workflow now in place to do this, it will go smoothly.

Once I’ve got those re-issued, I intend to pull Men of Action and reissue those stories singly with new covers, and then put all seven shorter works together in one anthology in both print and ebook. This way readers who are new to the stories can get them in one convenient (and less expensive) package, and those who are looking to fill out a collection or just want to read a one-off can buy individually.

Meanwhile, I am working on new things and finishing old things. Because more books!

And I’m still poking at the website with much help and support from my fabulous husband who built this and every other incarnation of the site. Some books and comments from prior site aren’t live here yet and this is because I’ve had this site in one form or another for almost 12 years and published, um, many books. 12 years of data is a LOT to deal with. Eventually everything will be visible here, minus things like dead links.


A word about buy links

One comment on the new site was a question about buy links to places other than Amazon. Yes, I used to have these. Yes I will have these again. Many links were outdated. Many no longer apply or will shortly no longer apply and so on. The overhead of adding buy links to multiple places per title is one of those things I’ll be working my way through. (Along with, you know, getting the rest of the titles IN the site. I think it’s at a third right now?) It’s a work in progress over here.

The novelist and the pottery wheel

First time novelists are in a tough place. Overwhelmingly before the book is even finished the questions are flying; do I need an agent yet? How do I get it to a publisher? Do I need to copyright it before an editor reads it?

These are understandable questions, but the biggest question facing the first time novelist is really: can I do it? Can I actually write a whole book? Until that question is answered, none of the others matter very much. And after that first vital question is answered, there’s another biggie that comes before the rest: is it publishable?

Nobody wants to sit down and write a whole novel that will never sell. This is understandable. I balked at the idea myself. Even knowing the percentage of first novels that never sell (it’s big), I wanted to believe that mine would be the exception. My first novel was not the first to sell, and before I sold it, I had to revise like crazy and fix a major structural defect. It was worth doing because it had some key things going for it: good writing overall, lively characters, and a story that grabbed me no matter how many times I put it aside. Oh, and it was finished. Without those four factors, it wouldn’t have been salvageable let alone publishable.

We live in a world of words and writing. We write resumes and cover letters and business letters and emails and invitations and lists. This leads to the belief that anybody can sit down and write a book. I believe anybody who really, really wants to can, but the barrage of words we live in and the daily writing we all do is a whole world apart from writing fiction. Writing fiction is like going from making pinch pots to using the pottery wheel.

Pottery is an incredibly difficult art form. Those pieces of clay, it looks so easy. Watch beginners using a wheel for the first time. Construct after construct begins to rise from the lump of clay, and then collapses. It’s messy. It’s frustrating. And it takes a lot of practice and patience before that first lopsided vase comes off the wheel.

But because we live in words and not clay, we think a novel should be easier. It isn’t. Be prepared to get messy and frustrated and to make mistakes and fail before getting it right. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Doesn’t mean your first novel won’t defy the odds and be publishable after you manage to get it to complete.

But worry about getting it to rise on the wheel and not collapse back into a lump of clay before worrying about copyright, how to get it read by an editor, how to get an agent or when you need an agent. And allow yourself to be a beginner. Don’t be too hard on yourself or your first attempt. Everybody starts somewhere. Plenty of first attempts make really great paperweights (or help get a fire going in the winter), but the next one is better and the one after that, wow.

Growth spurts

The no-longer-a-baby is going through a growth spurt. She’s fussy and awkward, has regressed in her abilities, clumsy, voraciously hungry, and when she walks, the formerly sure-footed girl trips over her own feet repeatedly.

I can relate. I’m going through the same thing with writing. Voraciously hungry to read, awkward when I write, regressed in my abilities, tripping over my own words. I’ve been through this before and I know what it means. I’m growing. The timing sucks, but you don’t really get to pick when this kind of thing happens. It’s kind of like having your voice change right before the big solo, only when you’re a writer, there’s no understudy to deliver the performance (or in this case, the book) for you.

Growing as a writer means that things are shifting. My process. My voice. My abilities. Having been through this before, I know I’ll get through this and things will come together on the other side, stronger than they were before. Awkwardness will give way to new grace. The words and the stories will sort themselves out and be suddenly stronger than I could have made them before. I’m looking forward to that, but in the meantime, here I am, tripping over my words and trying to do what was so easy not so long ago before everything started to shift and change.