Sunday, May 22, 2011

The End

Many writers have a little ritual about their writing to celebrate a manuscript’s completion. I never type “The End” until I’m done with it, or as done as I can humanly be. Today I typed “The End” at the bottom of Grind Joint. Considering I sent another book in to be e-formatted this morning, I’d call that a rich and rewarding day.

Now I intend to take the summer off. Maybe I’ll outline the next book, write a short story or two, but nothing structured as a day in-day out activity. I did that for the first time last summer and it worked great. No burn out from the previous book, raring to go on the new project. (Thanks to Declan Burke for hinting that might be something for me to try. He’s quite wise, considering his youth.)

I’ll also spend some time this summer trying to get the word out about Wild Bill, but, since I don’t know yet when it will be ready (I’ve been told prep times are currently eleven weeks), I’m not going to get my knockers in a knot about it. It’s summer, it’s baseball season, the Pirates are flirting with .500, and if I wanted to stress about those things, I’d still be looking at traditional publishers.

Life is good.

Formatting Should Not Be an Afterthought

The two primary problems with self-published e-books are shitty writing and formatting so bad it detracts from the writing. (Not that big publishers don’t release e-books with shitty formatting, but some of the independent jobs practically have to be decoded to be read.) I’ve already done what I can about the shitty writing in Wild Bill; today I sent the manuscript off to be properly formatted, along with its ISBN number and hi-resolution cover image. (Thanks to Chris Kaknevicius for allowing me to use his photograph, which has a panorama and an angle I couldn’t have chosen better myself; and to The Beloved Spouse for tweaking the resolution and adding the titles.)

I’m willing to accept criticism for the writing, but the formatting is beyond what I want to spend time on, at least at this time. Charlie Stella was kind enough to refer me to a small company that does this, and after trading emails with the owner, I’m looking forward to working with them.

I’ll keep the blog current as event continue. I don’t remember if I mentioned this before (not surprising, as the AARP card in my wallet can attest), but I hope some novice to e-publishing such as I am now may benefit from seeing what mistakes and tribulations I’ve have to go through. Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. With luck, someone else can gain  experience from any bad judgments I might make along the way.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Best April Reads (and some catching up)

I went through a reader’s slump the early part of the year. Not that everything I read was crap; nothing appealed to me enough to recommend it. That ended several weeks ago, but, once out of the habit, the monthly recommendations failed to materialize. Rather than wait for the clamor sure to result should I cease these posts completely (brief pause for laughter), I ‘ll do some catchi8ng up here.

Rut, Scott Phillips. The scariest kind of post-apocalyptic story, one that shows what things could be like if we keep going the way we have been. Phillips’s dry wit and easy style make this a fun read even as it creeps you out.

Generation Kill, Evan Wright. The book on which David Simon and HBO based the miniseries, it provides context Simon had no good way to describe. Wright looks back and lets the reader in on why some things were done the way they were, while Simon has to keep you with the Marines full time. The afterword of the new edition (written when the series came out) also places some of the characters in context. The respect that built between Wright and the Recon Marines is as obvious here as in the series. For a dispassionate look at the Iraq War, look no further.

The Lost Girls, Declan Hughes. Not Hughes’s best, but he and Ed Loy are so good it’s still highly recommended. Few crime writers can resist dipping their toe into the serial killer pool at least once; this is Hughes’s edition. Not as gruesome as many, and Ed continues to show growth. If you’re already hooked on Hughes and Loy, you’ll be happy to see how things are progressing.

Blood of the Wicked, Leighton Gage. The first of the Chief Inspector Silva series. Good, taut story and crisp writing makes it easy to see how he got contracts for more books. The interplay between his cops has improved as the series has progressed, but it’s worth the time to see how they all started out.

Crashed, Timothy Hallinan. Taking a holiday from the Poke Rafferty series, Hallinan writes a lighter tale with a new hero, burglar-for-hire Junior Bender. Hallinan has a gift for creating protagonists who are interesting because of how they react to their lives, not because of their addictions, mental hang-ups, or psychological baggage. A welcome relief and an entertaining read.

The Creative Writers Survival Guide, John McNally. Not a book about how to write, a book about how to be a writer. McNally covers the writer’s lot in life from picking a school to finding an agent to how to make enough money to not starve while you’re writing all this deathless prose, and does it in an easy to read, entertaining style that makes you wish he’d gone on a little more.

True Grit, Charles Portis. As good as they said, and better than either movie, both of which were very good. Confession: I’m more into Jeff Bridges than John Wayne, but as the action picked up later in the story I heard Rooster’s lines in The Duke’s voice. A quirky and wonderful read.