Two of my friends released ebooks at virtually the same time and I’ve been meaning to do a signal boost ever since. Here they are (listed alphabetically!):


From Marshall’s Amazon page:

Six science fiction stories, including “Bullet” from End of an Aeon and “Sausages” from Talebones, which received an Honorable Mention from Gardner Dozois in his Year’s Best Science Fiction #27.


From Lila’s Amazon page:

Taken … and no one knows where…

This novel is inspired by the true events of a slave ship that disappeared off the west coast of Africa during an era of human savagery and ruthlessness. The year was 2001.

Kerri Mansfield and her family have a tangled history of colonization and aid — not just to one nation, but to all of Africa it seems. When the slave ship, Etireno, goes missing, Kerri is one of the few people who knows where to look. One of the few people with the contacts and resources needed to find it. But she must hurry because the children on board weren’t taken by chance. It’s revenge in its ugliest form.

She isn’t the only one searching either, oh no, that would be too easy and life is rarely that. The French Secret Service are also after the children and they’ve sent their best agent to find them … Kerri’s ex-husband. Even better is that he’s teamed up with her current boyfriend, just to make it all a little more interesting.

Tracking the ship to a Brazilian port two weeks before Carnaval should be the end of the story, instead it’s just beginning. The children have vanished and as Kerri’s leads dry up she begins to take risks that put others in jeopardy.

Oh, and did I mention the ex-husband?

You know that thing where you’ve edited a book so often you’ve cut all the life out of it? Yeah, that.

I’ve been reading the last hardcore edit I did on Shivery Bones with an eye towards e-booking it in some future when I magically have the time and wherewithal. I haven’t read it in a year and a half. This is the first reread where I think the edit has actually damaged the book. I went from 122k to 109k and that seems to have stripped some of the flow and life. Understand, we’re talking about a first draft that came in around 150k, which was definitely bloated and in need of cutting. But I think now that 122k version may actually have been pretty tight. The last edit cut into bone.

Certain parts of the manuscript are better for that cutting, but other parts have a disjointed, lifeless feel. I’m considering going back to the the non-eviscerated versions of those scenes/chapters.

Some books can be cut down to bone and still retain life, but not all. I recently read a novel by an author I love. Her series tend to be magically imaginative and inventive, and her books are usually big. It doesn’t matter. I love being in them no matter how long they take to read. But she’s not on the bestseller lists, not quite, and I’ll bet you anything her publisher started blanching at those big manuscripts. I say that because the current book, part of a series I’ve loved as much as the author’s other books, is much shorter than previous ones. Throughout the reading, it felt incomplete to me, missing beats, wanting something that kept slipping through the fingers–cut to the bone and unable to quite articulate itself as those bones clattered along. A large part of the life had been taken away. I intuited that it had once been there, but no more.

In the current publishing climate, this is happening quite a lot to midlist writers. Even to some bestsellers, I hear. It’s a dirty, crying shame. These are half-books, not allowed to be what they naturally are. E-books, in the other hand, don’t have to be as skinny as paper books to “turn a profit.” (Though, don’t get me started on shaky publishing accounting. Better you should read this post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.) (Thanks, safewrite, for the link.)

E-books don’t care if you go a little long. Which is not to say they shouldn’t be edited and made as tight and crisp as possible, but you don’t have to kill them in the process. They don’t have to rattle along like a defleshed skeleton struggling to keep itself in one piece.

I’ve taken the week off from writing due to bad attitude. My attitude has improved mightily. I’m still going to take the week off from writing. The Universe has reinforced this decision by sending me a rejection this week on a story that’s been out for months.

‘Course, the message could just as likely be, “Get back to work.” Good thing I don’t believe in Cosmic Messages.

Except, of course, when I do.

Blood Geek was supposed to be a quick and dirty edit because My-God-I’ve-Edited-This-So-Much-Already-What-Could-Be-Wrong? But there’s that old Samuel Johnson quote, “The prospect of hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully.” I’ve found the same to be true when I get close to actually releasing a piece of my writing to the world. I cannot see releasing something that I didn’t do my best job on.

So…I’m going to have to rewrite several chapters of Blood Geek because the voice is just wrong, wrong, wrong, and I’m going to have to rewrite a couple of other chapters from the ground up in order to make the heroine protag instead of thinking about protagging. I just can’t see any other way of getting around that. I’ve tried tinkering with the material that’s there countless times and it just doesn’t work.

I have examined my mind, my heart, my spirit to see if this is just a perfectionist delaying tactic, but I honestly don’t think it is. Whether anyone looks at this book or not, it’s still going to be out there. Why would I want it to be out there if it wasn’t the best book I could make it?

The rest of it reads pretty well to me. Decent escapist fare. So I’m going to take a week off, gird my loins, and get back to the dirty work next week.

At the risk of sounding like I’m disappearing up my own hindquarters, I wanted to refer ya’ll to a blog by Melinda Young. She mentions me by name and my post from yesterday, so it is a bit like log-rolling. However, I mostly wanted to refer interested parties there because of Melinda’s similar-but-different view of this subject, plus some remarks on traditional publishing by Lori Devoti.

I’ve been reading some good blog posts lately about self-publishing and quality control. First from Richard Parks:

“Evolve or Die”

Then, by way of his comment thread, Jim Van Pelt:

“Writing: Self Publishing and Quality”

“Evolution of a Writer”

“So How, Exactly, Does a Writer Grow”

“Evolution of a Writer (redux)”

They support the new publishing paradigm of “indies,” but they also talk about the vetting process that Big Time Publishing does to separate the wheat from the chaff for readers, to cut down on the high ratio of noise to signal when everybody who can starts slapping their writing against the walls of the internet. They also talk about the stages in a writer’s development, how rejection and writers’ groups and critiques, et al., help the conscientious writer improve her craft.

But I’m not going to paraphrase what they say. Read the articles yourself—they state their case better than I can restate it.

What I am going to say here is that, for the most part, I think they’re correct. Oh yes, I am considering adding to the white noise by self-pubbing one of my novels, but I don’t do it out of any sense that this is going to be a Brave New World for me: doors that have hitherto been closed to will suddenly fly open and I will become the next web millionaire. I think that if I sell one copy I’ll be lucky. I haven’t got a pre-sold audience, see, and making oneself heard through the sea of static is quite difficult to do without making oneself obnoxious on every writers’ and readers’ forum on the interdweebs.

So no, I’m not considering doing this with the expectation of Incredible! Breakthroughs! and Millions! I’m doing this purely to have something out there, something I can point people to if they happen to get curious.

I’ve done a hellacious amount of writing (almost certainly a lot of hellacious writing). I have done a heap and then some of critiques, and I have received a heap and then some of critiques. I have submitted and submitted and gotten feedback. All of that, the giving and the getting, have been invaluable to me, have made me grow as a writer, have improved my craft. Some very generous and talented writers and editors have given me priceless feedback. I have listened, I have learned, I have grown.

But I have little to show for that yet. Maybe I didn’t listen and learn enough, maybe I haven’t grown enough. Or maybe my subconscious and writerly changes proceed at ice floe speed. None of that advice has been wasted or ignored. I just process it in a different time zone. I haven’t given up on trying to grow and I haven’t given up on traditional publishing, perverse and dog-eared as that belief may sometimes be. I see no reason not to pursue both e-publishing and traditional publishing at the same time.

Because I do believe in that vetting process. It provides a valuable service. I do not believe there is a vast conspiracy to keep the little people down. Not everybody is as good as they think they are. Myself included. I want to put out the best product I can. I want to grow an audience. Writing isn’t just about screaming to be heard, it isn’t just about gushing out Your Message. It’s about honing your craft. For that, you need the input of other people, the ones existing outside your own head. Not the ones who love you and want to be your friend, or the ones who you’re related to by blood or marriage. No, I’m talking about objective others who have no vested interest in convincing you that you are a Special Puppy and a Very Good Dog. People who are generous enough to be honest with you about what works and what does not work in your Very Special Creation.

That is truly what separates the wheat from the chaff. That’s truly what turns white noise into a beautiful melody.

Here are some more ETA’s to my long list of e-publishing links.

Some of these posts debate one another, which I suppose is a healthy thing. Damned confusing, though. The truth, I suspect, is that nobody really has a handle on the current truth. The publishing world is changing fast, and changing again even faster.

Book View Caf̩ Blog/Brenda Hough РGetting Your Backlist Up: A Report from the 2011 Nebulas.

I’m leading off with this one because it is chock full of helpful links and how-to’s—a great place to start. Thanks to sartorias for providing the link on her blog. Some of these other links were provided by others, but frankly, I’ve forgotten where I got them. But they are much appreciated!

Dear Author – Why DRM Won’t Be Abandoned Soon.

DGLM Literary Agency – If you get it for free…

Sean Cregan/John Richards – Price, Insanity and The Race To The Bottom.

John Vorhaus at Writer Unboxed – Let’s Have a Pity Party.

Ellen Fisher – Intriguing.

Richards Parks – Good Idea, Bad Idea (Ebooks) and Good Idea, Bad Idea – Continued.

Guido Henkel – Take pride in your eBook formatting.

This is part one of a nine part series. You can click through from here to the other posts.

Smashwords – How to Publish and Distribute Ebooks with Smashwords.

Blood Geek cover design by F-Bod Studios.

ETA: Okay, no more excuses left. Time to finish the last chapters of the current WIP rewrite so I can start editing the old novel…

Two more ETAs for my list of posts on e-books and e-publishing. This first one also has some interesting perspective on the Amazon announcement that e-books are outselling paper books at their site.

Victoria Strauss: The Gloves Are Off.

Forbes: Is there gold in your backlist?

Here are some ETA’s I’ve added to my list of posts on e-books and e-publishing.


Kristine Kathryn Rusch — Trust Me.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch — Writing Like It’s 1999.

Jennifer Laughran — On Agency Agreements.

A. C. Crispin — The Interminable Agency Clause.

As I’ve said before, I’ve been reading excessively and obsessively on this for months and months. I thought of doing a distillation post, but that proved far too cumbersome for the time I had to do it—and really, it’s not my call to make. Everyone has to make up their own mind on this, and I am far from being an expert experiencer.

So I’ve decided to post a sampling of what other people have said. These are not posted in any particular order, but there is both pro and con. I am probably leaving out somebody or some post that is essential to this discussion and will probably smack myself upside the head for it later, so if any of you think I should add anything to this list, leave the link or whatever in the comments and I’ll add an ETA section.

I hope this is helpful.

Ebooks and Self-Publishing – A Dialog Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath

The Washington Post: Novel rejected? There’s An E-book Gold Rush!

Ilona Andrews: On E-books, Realistic Expectations (A 4-page, comprehensive analysis)

Tracy Marchini: Five Things I’ve Learned by E-publishing

The New York Times: Book Country by Penguin – Aspiring Authors Get Help Online

DGLM Literary Agency: If a Publisher or Agent Came Calling

Victorine Lieske: Reasons Why You Should Not Self-publish

David Rothstein: Midnight and I’m Not Famous Yet

Amanda Hocking: Some Things That Need to Be Said

Jim C. Hines: The Anti-NY Playbook (Bashing Commercial Publishing)

Ellen Fisher: Unexpected Loss of Income, or Why Indie Publishing Can Be a Bit Scary

Ellen Fisher: The Vulnerability of Being a Writer


Kristine Kathryn Rusch — Trust Me.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch — Writing Like It’s 1999.

Jennifer Laughran — On Agency Agreements.

A. C. Crispin — The Interminable Agency Clause.

Victoria Strauss: The Gloves Are Off.

Forbes: Is there gold in your backlist?