Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Interval

Two weeks and an eternity ago, Autolycus died. Tonight, Hatshepsut is in the hospital. I'm binge eating ice cream bars, listening to the Gayatri Mantra - all 108 recitations of it. There may be eye leakage while we wait for word on the youngest girl.

This is how long it takes between books. This is how long it takes books in general. Because life and death and illness and joy and pain don't stop just because a book is due. The stories never stop. They don't die until you do. So it doesn't matter how much time one takes between books. What matters is that you keep going. Keep trying. Keep taking refuge in the stories in your blood and bones. How fast versus how slowly you do that is meaningless. Your heart beats in its own time. So do your stories.

Just don't let anyone or anything suppress them. Not even you.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Perils of the Writer: The Novel Refractory Period

How long should you take between novels?

Or, if you have contracts and deadlines, how long can you afford to take?  That's the real question.

Now, at this point, with six novels written, two more waiting for editorial turnaround, one out shopping and one in draft... I've got my methodology down.  That isn't to say that I've got nothing left to learn, because... I've always got more to learn.  But I don't really sit down and ask myself, "How do I write a novel again?"  Nor do I really dither about What To Write Next.  Given contracts and release schedules, that's kind of a given right now.

But how much time do you take in between?

For the purpose of this discussion, I'm talking about going from a polished draft of one novel to starting the rough draft of the next.  The polished draft is "finished" when I send it in an email to either agent or editor.  More work will have to be done, but it's as finished as it's going to be without their input.  And the rough draft starts when I write actual words that will appear in the manuscript.  Outlining, re-outlining, and other "pre-production" work don't count.

Now that I've defined my terms, I can say that, for me,  a two-week gap is about right.  I took two weeks between turning in Imposters and starting Lady Henterman's, and also between Lady Henterman's and Parliament of Bodies.  Those two-weeks are usually spent either on the pre-production stuff for the upcoming project, or doing side-project work to reboot myself. But I definitely don't like to take any longer than that.  Two weeks is plenty.  By then, I'm itching to get going again.

And along those lines, time to hit the word mines.  See you down there.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How long between novels?

Hi thee. I'm a day late, for which I apologize. I found myself in a situation without real access to a computer and there was no way in heck I was gonna do any length article on my phone.

How long is the right length between novels? I don't know. My usual waiting time is about a week. During that week I'm likely to write a few short stories. Why? because, as I have said before, I am fond of having a roof over my head. I work steadily at my career as a writer, I don't really have many days off and if I do somehow manage days off, I tend to feel guilty about it.

I was raised by a woman who worked 60 hour weeks to keep her kids fed (Deadbeat dads, folks, you gotta love 'em.), and she instilled within me and MOST of my siblings a very strong work ethic. There are a couple of exceptions. No names, no finger pointing, it just is what it is.

To that end, I work a full time job, I write full time and I do some teaching on the side. If I didn't, I honestly wouldn't know what to do with myself.

There's another reason this happens, by the way. I still have trouble saying "no," when a publisher asks for something. Seriously, best way in the world to get work when you're starting out is to say yes to anything that isn't insane. I never said yes to a free novel. I insisted on getting paid, but still, I said yes to a lot of offers early on and I still have trouble resisting the affirmative when I'm asked for any length tale.

It's the nature of the beast. I'm a storyteller, not a literary writer. I write fast and to entertain. I also write a LOT on the average. I'm not as fast as I used to be, but who among us is?

it's a book birthday for me, Christopher Golden, Charlaine harris, Kelley Armstrong, Mark Morris, Tim Lebbon, Kat Richardson, Seanan McGuire, Cherie Priest, Jonathan Maberry and Kelley Armstrong.  Our book INDIGO came out today.

Keep smiling,.

James A. Moore

Mental Resets: Taking Time to Recharge Between Books

I wrote a book! My brain is now oozing all over the floor. How many days does it take to stuff the gray matter back inside?


One week to do nothing remotely related to writing. To clean out the creative closet. I usually repaint a room or tackle some mid-scale home project; something with a visible end result that'll buoy my spirits when I'm in the throes of frustration with the next book.

One more week to repack the creative closet. Read. Binge TV.  Draw. Visit a museum. Amass the imagination tools that I'll need for the next book.

Then the outlining begins.  

What? I'm all for Jeffe's vision of the Italian villa and wine-soaked nights for a month or two...or four. But that reality thing, man, crimpin' styles and cutting vacations short all over the world. Fie on it, I say! FIE!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

What's the Ideal Amount of Time to Take Between Writing Novels?

These signs always amuse me so much. Although, in New Mexico, the lakes are often somewhat hidden from view, and one can come upon them precipitously, from flat mesa to deep canyon filled with water. Still... the warning signs make me smile.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is the Novelist's Refractory Period: How you handle that time between "just finished the novel" and when you “have” to start the next.

I’ll be interested to hear what everyone else has to say. I suspect that, for some of us, this is driven by the “have” to of deadlines. It sure it for me – both of the self-imposed and external variety.

But I do have this little fantasy I nurse. It’s on the same shelf with the one about the villa overlooking the Mediterranean, a lovely house of vine-draped balconies and sweet cabana boys who bring me balanced meals and vodka cocktails. In this fantasy, I take a month or two off between novels. I see myself as this glamorous writer who plans exotic vacations during her “down time.”

I would use this down time to take a Mediterranean cruise, or hike along Hadrian’s Wall. I might stay in a little house in Bali and spend the mornings meditating and the afternoons snorkeling. (And the nights in wine-drinking.) No matter what I did or where I went, people would (of course) recognize me and say how they loved my last novel and what will the next be about?

This is when I toss my long, fringed silk scarf over my shoulder and say, “I’m mulling it. No doubt this [hike along Hadrian’s Wall/cruise of the Mediterranean/month in Bali] will provide inspiration.”
I love this fantasy.

But who am I kidding? If it ever happens, that’s pretty far down the road. That time between finishing one novel and starting the next? It’s usually a weekend. Sometimes three days. I’m actually trying to plan my writing schedule better so that I finish drafts right before planned weekend or week-long vacations, to give myself a little rebound time.

At this point, the most of a break I feel I can give myself is to switch to editing instead of drafting, or to draft in a different genre than I just finished writing.

One day, when I can afford to take that time off in between, though, I totally will. 

*Note to self: must buy long, fringed silk scarf. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

My Mini Movie Book Trailer Phase

Our topic this week is basically book trailers and how effective they are as a sales tool. My colleague K. A. Krantz said earlier: “Usually, book trailers are done because the author simply likes having them.”

Yup, that's exactly why I happen to have any. They were fun to do, not that I have the skills to make them for myself! But I enjoyed the collaborative process of picking out images and music, and working with creative people who did the video making. I LOVED having what I viewed as mini movies of my books. Who knows if I’ll ever get actual movies made of any of my stories? (Came close once but hey…Hollywood, you know?)

So I have…  I don’t know five or six book trailers maybe? And I worked with four or five different people, and the experience varied each time but overall was cool and fun. Do I think any of the trailers sold any books? No.

                Besides making me personally happy, the videos are useful to add to blog posts, tweets and Facebook. I had several featured on USA Today Happy Ever After blog when they reviewed book trailers. Not sure they even do that anymore. (Yes, I am a contributor there but I had no influence over the tastes and choices of the person who was the video critic.)

A couple of the older videos are wayyyyyy too long. One is now cringeworthy as tech has moved beyond where it was at the time. I saw a lot of the stock photos I’d chosen used by other authors since, on covers etc., as we’re all using the same sites and models. I always envied the authors who could afford the actual made-for-them videos with actors and vignettes from the book, but I was never going to have that big a budget and even if I did, I couldn’t afford TV ad time.

Will I ever do any more? Not unless my book take off into the stratosphere or I win the big Powerball lottery and thus I have money to burn, so to speak. I make wiser choices with my marketing pennies nowadays. I got over my “gee whiz I have a mini movie of my book!” phase.

I’ll share my biggest budget trailer, for Star Cruise: Marooned, and my most recent, for Hostage to the Stars, which was the last one I had made, and was about four books ago. The trailer for Hostage was on the low end of my cost curve but I loved it. Cheri Lasota was a joy to work with.

SFR Galaxy Award Winner Hostage to the Stars is still on sale as an ebook for $.99 by the way! Buy Links:     Apple iBooks     Amazon    Kobo     Barnes & Noble

Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Trailer Challenge

I know nothing about book trailers. Except that I've seen a few, and those few haven't left a good impression. There might be a way to create a killer book trailer, but I sure haven't seen it yet. Maybe if I did Claymation excerpts? But, you know, I already have a job or three. So that's not likely to happen in this lifetime.

I like video/film as a mode of expression. Not crazy about it as a means of selling. That's a me thing. I suspect I've got some prejudice about using the visual storytelling mode (video) to tell a story about a story told in a nonvisual mode. It shorts my simple brain. Right now, YouTube seems geared for the unbearably cute, the sadistically amusing, or the insanely clever.

I'm sure someone out there can create book trailers that fit all of those criteria. That someone is not currently me.

So while I think video has some serious strengths if you understand the pros and cons of the medium. It's an excellent teaching tool. Most people in our culture are visual learners. So there's that. Silly cat videos (KittenLady and TinyKittens, anyone?), DIY projects, instructional videos, experiences travel and adventure vids, and actual performance (assuming you can handle the trolls) - those are the things that really seem to pop on YouTube. If I still had an orange cat (sniff) I'd consider doing a trailer for Damned If He Does - it would be all from the cat's point of view. But. Ship sailed.

All of that said, I do have a YouTube channel. It's pretty invisible because my video quality is crap. It's all cat videos, boat videos, and this. The Night of The Frogs.

So. Book trailers? Nope. Not unless I can come up with a way to make marketing the written word via a visual medium I can't justify the cost or time. Now. Someone come tell me why I'm wrong. I'm always interested in learning that I'm thinking about something incorrectly.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Value of Video Promotion

So, I've mentioned before that I don't think Book Trailers, as they are typically done, are effective marketing for a book.  Frankly, they're rarely going to get the attention of anyone who wasn't already interested, and at best they probably won't detract from audience interest.

And that's because translating "movie trailer" style to promoting books doesn't quite work.
But I've been putting some thought into how video can be used, if not for book promotion strictly, then as part of author branding (there's that thing again).  And, I mean, I do have a degree in Film & Video Production.  So I know something about how the medium works.

So I'm putting something together, teaming up with my son (who is pretty gifted in the video arts, see below) which should be fun and dynamic to watch in its own right, and just possibly inspire some book sales.  We'll see.  Watch this space, because stuff is coming.  (And in case you missed it, earlier this week we dropped the cover to Lady Henterman's Wardrobe.  Check it out.)