Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: The Year Hard Work Hardly Worked

I'm so glad 2014 is nearly over. I'm hoping (not by much) that 2015 will be better.

As the post title suggests, I worked very hard in 2014 and got very little in return. This time last year I was happily chugging away on my e-book Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

It came out on Amazon.com in  October.

So far, it has sold 15 copies.

That's it. 15. That comes to less than $20 for my pocket.  Meanwhile, I had to fork out over $150 to get an ISBN, as well as take time from other clients to work on this book. And I had to do it all -- writing, editing, formatting for Amazon Kindle and promotion. The only thing I didn't have to do was the cover. It was donated.

Speaking of clients, I have very few left. Yahoo Voices went bye-byes in July and Helium kicked the virtual bucket in December. Rewarder.com also seems to have gone out of business, although I do not know that 100% for sure.

I worked incredibly hard for these clients and now it means nothing.

Want to be a writer? You're better off slitting your wrists and bleeding to death over a pile of paper. Even garbage men have better jobs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I'm 45. What the Hell Happened?

It's my birthday again. Didn't I just have one?

So, what have I learned in 45 years?  This: If you want to be sure about getting what you want for your birthday, do what I did -- buy the present yourself.

All else is extra.

(Image was Photoshopped years ago by a Peter Gabriel fan for the now late-lamented website solsburyhill.org.)

Monday, November 03, 2014

Happy Birthday, Jeremy Brett -- wherever you are

Today would have been Jeremy Brett's 81st birthday. He is deeply missed. Brett died in 1995 from cardiomyopathy. He also suffered from bipolar disorder (manic depression.)

Such a huge personality like Brett makes a big mark. We don't know what happens when we die. I'm an atheist, but think that dead people live on in other people's memories. Wherever he is, I hope he is at peace -- and has a good pack of smokes with him.

Brett plays a co-starring role in Part V of my eBook, Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I tried to treat Brett honestly but with affection and humor. Perhaps it will help to give more memories to readers and help keep JB alive for many years to come.

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" Now Available on Amazon Kindle

On October 15 (or 15 October, depending  on where you live), my first eBook Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes finally went officially on sale at Amazon. It is only available in Kindle so far.  If you don't have a Kindle, Amazon will usually give you a Kindle app for your PC, laptop or whatever free with your first eBook purchase.

I meant to blog about this on October 15 but I've been very busy.  I celebrated the day of the release -- by having to take Mom's urine sample to her primary care doctor's office.  Whee (or, more appropriately, wee.)  I've been spending more and more of my time taking care of Mom as she has been going downhill.

Since I took a few months off to write and rewrite and re-rewrite this eBook, I now have drained my bank account and have to start writing for quicker money than eBooks again. This is going to take up what little free time I have and so I'm disappointed to write that I will not be able to start the sequel to Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes until I can get some money in the bank.

I was going to try and make physical copies of the eBook, but cannot afford another ISBN number or figure out how to navigate Create Space (another Amazon company.)  Since there hasn't exactly been a huge rush in sales, I think I better hold off on making physical book copies until there is a sufficient demand for them.

A big thank you for those who have purchased Not the New Adventure of Sherlock Holmes.  I hope that you enjoy the ride.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Available for Pre-Sale on Amazon.com

I should've blogged about this sooner but I've been exhausted since getting this puppy accepted by Amazon Direct Publishing.  It will become available on 15 October 2014.  It already made 4 sales.  Yikes!  I hope Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes lives up to everyone's expectations.

So far, this is coming out only for Kindle.  If there is enough interest, I may invest in getting it available in a physical format in Create Space.  Right now I do not have the money for it.  If you do not have Kindle, you should be able to get a free Kindle app for your laptop or whatever from Amazon.com.

I've been asked if Peter Gabriel appears in the eBook.  Yes, he does.  He makes a very brief cameo in Part IV.  Since PG has a huge sense of humor, I highly doubt anyone will take any offense at his appearance.  If PG didn't mind being mentioned a few times on Father Ted, I doubt he's going to care about popping up in a Sherlock Holmes eBook.

The lovely cover drawing was donated (!) by the even lovelier Stephane Mailliard Perreti.

Roll on October.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

I'm Nearly Finished the Final Draft

Yipperdoodle, that's right -- I'm nearly finished the final draft of Not the New Adventure of Sherlock Holmes.  Basically, all I have left to do are fix formatting issues, make sure copyright page is up to snuff and add an illustration that has been generously donated by one of my Facebook followers.

It's been quite a ride...and it's not over yet. Did you know that ISBN numbers you see on the copyright page of your favorite and not so favorite books aren't free?  They cost about $125 each.  And yes, I took the plunge and bought one.

Also, did you know that you have to remove page numbers from manuscripts before submitting them in an eBook format?  I found that out the hard way.

There is also no guarantee that Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing will accept my manuscript (and if they don't, I am royally screwed.)  Yes, according to the folks over at Amazon KDP, eBook manuscripts are scrutinized before they are allowed to go on sale at Amazon.  I have no idea how thoroughly they check (considering some of the crap sold at Amazon) but this is what their FAQ page says, anyway.

Off to collapse. Muse rode me hard and put me away wet.

Monday, August 25, 2014

So How's the Book Going, Part 11 or whatever it is now

I must have been insane to think I could get this Sherlock Holmes eBook out by the end of September.  I had no idea that the easiest part of making an eBook is writing the eBook. Now I'm editing for a final draft (and fighting illness), but also need to:

  • Change formats to PDF files before submitting to Amazon
  • Make sure no strange symbols or line spacing appears as a result of changing to PDF files
  • Figure out how to make an eBook cover
  • Get an ISBN number
  • Find the time and energy to do all of this
Maybe I should just go back to bed.  Sounds like a plan.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Finished the First Draft of Sherlock Holmes E-book

I meant to blog about this on the day I finished the first draft (Saturday) but I was too darn tired.  Quite frankly, I'm still too darn tired, so this will be a short post.  Some stats:

  • Book has five parts
  • That's 33 chapters
  • So far, it's about 96,000 words but I still have tons of editing and rewriting to do before the Muse will be satisfied with a final draft
  • This will definitely be an e-book and not a conventional book
  • I've worked on this since December for hundreds of hours
  • If I sell 100 copies/downloads it'll be a freaking miracle
  • My Mom is nagging me to read it

The working title still remains Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and that will probably be the final title.  Just my luck someone else will take the title right when I hit that publish button for Amazon's e-book program rigmarole.

I'm currently scouring public domain photographs for a suitable e-book cover.  I'd rally rather not pay someone to make the cover (which can go into three figures) if I don't have to.

Off to collapse now.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

So, How's the Book Going? Part 10

My Muse (Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes) is my jockey and I'm the racehorse about to break down right at the finish line.  However, I'm still amazed to report that we are both in the homestretch of getting the first draft completed.  (Okay, technically it's not a first draft. I must have written Part I nearly 30 times. The book will have five parts and I'm over halfway completed Part V, so I'm still calling it a first draft.  Don't argue with me.  I'm writing.)

Getting the first draft done means (of course) that the book is not ready for prime time just yet.  After the first draft is finished, I will then still need to:

  • Edit
  • Reformat the Microsoft Word document to whatever format Amazon handles
  • Edit it some more
  • Somehow figure out a cover image for the damn thing (!)
  • Edit is some more
  • Go through a final internal argument where I decide whether to go for "mere" ebook publishing or try to send the damn thing to a traditional publisher (and have it ignored for ten years)
  • Market it when it's published in whatever format it comes out as.
It's actually getting scary now.  So far, no one has seen this manuscript except my Muse.  Letting someone else read it means that someone could really hate it.  Or, worse yet, I could place the book up on Amazon.com and sell not one friggin' copy.  As Holmes is saying in this scene from The Second Stain, "Every man's hand is against us."

Well, now I know what I'll have nightmares about tonight.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

So How's the Book Going, Part 9

The Sherlock Holmes book was chugging along pretty well until July 2, when my main client Yahoo Contributor Network suddenly announced that it will go out of business on July 31. It will start deleting all 1643 of my articles on July 30.

I also have about 1100 articles on Helium that will go dark in December when they officially go out of business. At least Helium gave their writers a six month warning.

YCN is now the third client of mine to go out of business this year. My industry (web content writing) seems to be completely screwed. I had hoped writing would be my final career -- what a dumb hope, huh?

The nice thing about the late YCN is that I could write about topics I had an interest in.  Now it's back to writing about such scintillating topics as vaginal cosmetic surgery and how to choose a DUI lawyer.

The big problem is that the residual payments that I received help pay my ridiculously expensive health insurance premiums (I live in America, remember) and still take time out to work on the book.  Remember, time I work on the book is time that I'm not getting paid.  Odds are, I'll never make a single cent with this book, so I'm not sure if I can ever find the time to finish this damn thing, let alone try to edit it and flog it.

And yet my Muse is nagging me to finish this.  Of course, he gets very quiet when I'm upset.  He doesn't seem to understand the importance of getting my bills paid.  He gets jealous so easily when I have other things on my mind except him.  If he really wanted to be helpful, he'd get me publisher.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

So, How's the Book Going? Part 8

The first draft of the book is still chugging along.  My Muse is getting more loquacious, but I really want to stop this book before or at 100,000 words.  More than that and I think I'll tax even the most tolerant of a reader's patience.

One bit of Sherlock Holmes legal news to report: All of the Sherlock Holmes stories EXCEPT for The Case-book of Sherlock Holmes (the last one) have been declared part of the public domain.  That's pretty good because the license fee from the Doyle estate starts at a minimum of $5000.  Now, I can see the Doyle estate getting steamed over non-canonical Sherlock Holmes books that suck.  Hell, even I wanted to sue the authors after I read these books. And that crap got published!

I'm debating whether to just go ahead and do an e-book or try to submit to a traditional publisher.  The big problem is that my parents are in their 70s and I'm not too sure how long they have left.  It'd be nice for them to read this thing before they die.

And yes, I know that 99.9% of all traditional publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. However, these do:

So far I think my best bet is the e-book format.  I have to wrap up this blog post, as my Muse is muttering again.  Until then, here's a little video I put together during a brief spell of writer's block:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

So How's the Book Going? Part 7

The book seems to be rolling along but I could use a vacation.  It's now at about 70,000 words long. I've done some reformatting so hopefully that will translate well with Amazon Kindle's ebook download program.  It's a bit daunting to face the end of this draft.  After that is editing and then we're off to the races.  I get to face mind-boggling choices like what to use for a cover and do I really need to add an acknowledgements page?

But what's been really tiring has been working with my Muse (pictured, left (actually, it's a picture of Jeremy Brett, but anyway...)).  He's turned into a real slave-driver.  He is still only revealing the story bit by bit instead of a whole grand overview.  He does not always reveal the story while I'm at the keyboard.  Sometimes he talks when I walk the dogs, do the washing up or when I'm trying to sleep.  He especially likes the last option.

Successful writers like Stephen King advise writers to lay down the first draft as quickly as possible.  My Muse is not so keen on that idea.  He always wants me to go back and fix errors so sometimes I wind up writing a sentence three or four times before he grudgingly allows me to go on.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not "hearing voices."  Yet his is quite insistent.  I can see where the idea of demon possession came from.

And now he says that I've taken up too much time here and have to get back at it.  See you when I see you.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

So, How's the Book Going, Part 6

And I'm happy to report that after 5 or 6 months, I've been able to dive back into my Sherlock Holmes manuscript.  It's been so long since I've looked at it that I'd forgotten half of it.  This time I reworked a chapter, fixed some plot problems and added two new chapters.  I've also made a new file to reformat the manuscript so it can have page numbers, double-spacing, indentation and all of that happy crappy.

I have managed to give Peter Gabriel a cameo in the book, although I'm not sure about the legality of that.  I think I'll just throw that out on the blogosphere and see if anyone from PG's camp screams obscenities at me. If they don't, I'm going to assume that I'm good to go.

Mom asked me an interesting question, "Is it any good?"

Now, how the heck am I supposed to answer that?  The worst person to ask about the quality of a piece of art is the artist herself/himself.  It's not like the artist can be coldly objective.

I finally got to see Peter Gabriel inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I'm surprised he bothered to show up (he didn't when his old group Genesis was inducted.)  He even toted along Wife Number Two and Kids Three and Four for the ride.  My Mom was impressed with PG's speech.  She has never been impressed with his most laudable music, fantastic singing abilities or even with the dazzling videos of the 1980s and 1990s.  But she liked this speech.

Mom told me, "Pretend Peter is talking to you about your book." 

Um, cute idea, Mom, but no.  His speech was clearly not intended for anyone trying to hammer out a first book.   I've got to get back to work on the manuscript.  Anyway, here's his speech, filmed by someone in the audience.  The actual speech was much longer than what was shown on HBO, which heavily edited PG's segment.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

So How's the Book Going, Part 5

It's still not going anywhere at a remarkable speed. I had hoped to have the first draft completed by May but that ain't gonna happen. So failing to accomplish this goal is yet another in a series of spectacular failures that make up my life.

The  main wall I've hit with the book is the matter of money. My taxes were astronomical. I've working like a fiend in order to put some money in the bank so I can take some "time off" (ha ha) and work on the manuscript. The only problem is that on those days when I'm not writing for money, I'm absolutely shattered. On my "days off" I'm still working at taking care of the pets and my Mom. On my "days off" I usually have to:

  • Make all the meals
  • Drive Mom to her various doctor appointments
  • Do at least one load of laundry
  • Do the grocery shopping
  • Go to post office
  • Walk the dogs
  • Do the washing up
  • Clean up all the dog poop in the yard
  • Unclog the toilets
  • Etc.
I did manage to read Publishing E-books for Dummies and am not completely surprised that my hundreds of pages long uncompleted manuscript is all in the wrong format. Just makes me want to get stoned on Benadryl and curl up under the covers with a pile of books that other people somehow managed to get published.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

So How's the Book Going, Part 4

I have not made any advances in my Sherlock Holmes book since I posted about my problems last month. (And, good golly, it wound up being the only blog post for March 2014.)

I did start reading Publishing Ebooks for Dummies, which I consider a good first step to get back on track, even if no one else does.

Problems have multiplied which has prevented me from continuing work on the manuscript, which include but unfortunately not limited to:

  • Deterioration of Mom's health. I'm spending more and more of my time needing to care for her -- which means I have less time to write. I have considered writing while she's asleep, but I have an unfortunate tendency to fall asleep at these times, too.
  • Deterioration of my mental health. Hey -- I spend my days watching my beloved mother fall apart. That plays hell with your headspace. Most days I just can't find a damn to give.
  • Deterioration of my bank account. The big problem is that when I write on the Sherlock Holmes manuscript, I am not writing for paying clients. Earlier this year, I devoted nearly two months to getting most of the first draft done. I still have been unable to make up for that time of not making any money.
I do intend to finish this book (someday) as my Muse seems to have returned from his winter break. For now, it's difficult to find the time to work on material that will not give me some moolah in less than a month's time. Unfortunately, that also means that I have less time to devote to this blog, since I do not make money off of it.

See you when I see you.

What About Peter Gabriel?

If you've come here looking for Peter Gabriel news, I apologize. PG is still planning on attending the ceremonies for his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tickets are apparently still available for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in New York City, but I have not been able to find prices, so I assume they are out of the financial reach of 99.9% of humanity. He wanted to donate the original Genesis costumes to the Hall of Fame, but as he'd ignored them since 1982, it's not so surprising for fans to discover that the costumes rotted away.

PG has also cryptically said that something is being planned to celebrate the release of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, which was released in November of (gasp) 1974. Since PG cannot keep a promise to save his life, I really wouldn't bank on anything happening on this "celebration" except for a colorful post on PG's Facebook page.

The best way to find the latest PG news is to go to Google News and enter "peter gabriel" in the search bar.

In the meantime, here's a rather over the top trailer for the concert film of Back to Front:

Sunday, March 02, 2014

So, How's the Book Going, Part 3

How's the book going? Currently, it's not. Sometime in January I caught the flu and it just started to say bye-byes last week. In all of that time, I hadn't been able to take the dogs for a walk. (I can't remember how many storms we had in that time.) So, finally, last Monday, I got to take the dogs out on a walk.

It was great.  It was invigorating.  It was so gratifying to see the two wagging tails in front of me.

And then I hit the ice.  I thought it was slush. It was solid ice.  I fell flat on my back, skinned the palms of my hands and hit the back of my head.  Welcome to Concussionville.

So working on the book was put on the shelf for another week.

I did try to write a chapter while in the first throes of the flu.  Bad idea.  I've taken a peek at that and now realize that all of it will have to be rewritten.  Sherlock Holmes, the main character, suddenly turned into Hannibal Lecter (who is not a part of the book.)  I really want this book to stay true to Holmes' character.  This means lots of rewriting. Oh, joy.

Which I'm not looking forward to doing. And oh, hey -- there's yet another snowstorm on it's way, expected to hit late this afternoon.

Maybe I'll suddenly hear my Muse again in the spring. At the moment, I think he's in Cancun.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happy 64th Birthday to Peter Gabriel!

I'd spend some time to write about this, but I'm still recovering from the flu. As always, here is the photo I stick up here on this blog every 13 Feb. And no, I didn't send a gift this year.  Hell, he's getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, so what else does he need?  Obviously nothing I could provide.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

So, How's the Book Going, Part 2

On Monday, I went to my primary care doctor for my annual checkup.  The waiting room was full of folks with the flu.  By Wednesday, I had the flu and still have it.  Apparently my muse fears that I am contagious and has stayed away most of the week.  I was able to rewrite problematic parts of 2 chapters, but other than that, nada.

And I do really miss having my muse take up my head space.  Life is definitely much better when I  can write in the book.  I do occasionally wonder if Sherlock  Holmes somehow  takes over  my personality as I write.  Actors sometimes get so deeply into their parts that their characters possess them.  This happened to the best actor to ever portray Sherlock  Holmes, Jeremy Brett.  He would look into a mirror and wondered aloud why Jeremy Brett was looking back at him.

Quite frankly, I wouldn't mind being possessed if means that I could get the bills paid on time.  It is possible that this book will never get published properly.  So far, it looks like the best I can do is get it published as an e-book (which means I have to fork out a substantial amount of my non-existent money) and then if it sells a few thousand copies, bring it to the attention of publishing houses specializing in Sherlockian novels, like Titan Books.

And then again, there's the notion that I'll wind up like Emily Dickinson.  Great poet -- but couldn't get a damn thing published until she was dead.

On that happy note, I wish you adieu until next time. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

So, How's the Book Going?

A month or so ago, I announced that I had started a book tentatively titled Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.  It's clawing it's way out of me bit by bit.  I'm losing weight which I assume is a good thing, since I was a fat cow before I started this book.  I  now have 13 chapters and a prologue, but I think the final chapter at the end of Part I is going to need a total rewrite. Oh, joy.

I've read so many books on how to write books that I thought I knew what I was doing.  Now I don't harbor such illusions.  I haven't a clue as to what I'm doing.  For example, successful authors like Stephen King advise that writers write their complete first draft as quickly as they can, stick it in a drawer for two weeks, and THEN go back to fix any mistakes.

I just can't do that.  Perhaps I'm too anal.  I don't know.  It's just that those mistakes get into my head and in front of my eyes and I can't write another damn word until I go back and fix the damn thing.  This puts me behind schedule.  I was hoping to finish the first draft by May, but that's probably not going to happen. 

And then there's my muse.  I've told you about my muse before.  He's a cranky bastard.  He hasn't a clue as to how a mystery book is to be written and he really doesn't give a damn.  He won't keep regular hours and when he does it's usually from about 10 pm to 3 in the morning.  Now, the way you are supposed to write a mystery book is to figure out the crime first (motive, whodunit and how he or she hides the facts) and then fill in the rest.  So, you really need to write the story backwards.

However, that approach ain't flying with my muse.  He wants to tell the story in the way he found out the facts.  I also tell him that I  need to somehow have time to write non-fiction articles and  promote them online in  order to make money so I afford to argue with my imaginary muse.

But if you start to argue, he goes away in a snit for three days.  You just can't argue with a muse because you never win.  No wonder I'm so damn tired all of the time.