Friday, July 3, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 3-7-20

This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

I think I finally finished Standing Too Close.

Yes, at about 2pm yesterday, I realized I was actually done.  Or as done as I can be at this stage.

This book has been the hardest one I've ever written and I'm not sure quite why.  It's 12K longer than it was the last time I thought I was finished, but that's okay.  It was a little on the short side then anyway.

So now I need some people to read it and tell me it isn't really done at all.  If you'd like to be one of those people, just let me know...

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

IWSG - July

It's the first Wednesday in July, so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

This month's question is an interesting one:

There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

That's a pretty broad-reaching question, but I'll endeavor to answer it.  Obviously it's going to be couched in my own experiences so may not offer the solutions to the world's problems, just my own...

And right now, my biggest problem as an author is that it costs me money to have my books stocked in bookstores in my home country.  Because I have to buy my own paperbacks from Amazon, then have them shipped to New Zealand, then pay tax on them, each book ends up costing me over $20.  Then the bookstores need to make a profit so they take 15% of whatever they sell the book for - usually $25 -  which leaves me losing money on every book I sell in a store.  Not to mention $25 is pretty expensive for a YA paperback.

Readers want to be able to buy my books in stores.  They don't necessarily want to read e-books or have to order their own paperback copies from Amazon.  They want to be able to go into a store and browse and maybe discover my books on their own.  I want them to be able to do this.  Yet it makes no business sense for me to supply stores, even in my hometown.

I would love to see things become more flexible in the future.  Rather than small presses like mine having to rely on Amazon to supply their hard-copy books, it would be great if the load could be spread around.  If my books could be printed in New Zealand, the cost would be drastically reduced because I wouldn't be paying hundreds of dollars in duty and freight costs.  I would be able to buy my books in larger numbers to supply to stores.  Stores might even buy them directly if they knew they could sell them, saving me from having to do another round of shipping when I send the three or four copies each store wants to stock.

Instead, I tend to buy only 10 books at a time to avoid having to pay the extra tax you have to pay on packages valued over $200, which means I pay a lot more in freight because lots of smaller parcels costs more than one larger parcel.  I can't stock as many stores as I'd like to stock, and if the books sell out, it's often months before I can get them more.

And I still lose money on every hard-copy of my novels I sell.

Now, I don't write to make money.  I write because I love to write.  I write because I have stories I want to tell.  I write because sometimes it's the only way to make sense of the world.  Writing a novel takes a long time and it would be nice to be able to make at least a little bit from all those hours of work.  I've always subscribed to the "don't pay to play" theory which means I don't enter contests that ask for a fee to enter.  Yet now I find myself in the publishing business and it's very much pay to play.  

Pay for my own books.  Pay for my own advertising and marketing.  Pay for my own equipment and writing space.

When does it turn around?  When do I get paid?

What changes would you like to see happen in the industry?

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Weekly Goals 29-6-20

I didn't get much writing done over the weekend this week, so my goal this week is to write a lot.  I have two days off work at the end of the week, and I plan to use at least one of those days to write.  And if that first day is successful and enjoyable, I may even use both.

That should be enough time to finish Standing Too Close.  I'm so close to being finished.  All I need to do is little tweaks here and there, and change a few details in a couple of scenes.  I just need to time and focus to do them, which it looks like I'll have.

Other than that, my only other goal is to get back into going to the gym at lunchtime a few days a week.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, June 26, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 26-6-20

This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

You know that big project I was working on in the day job?  The virtual booth for the Cannes Marche?  It won the jury prize for the best booth.  That was a piece of good news to wake up to!

Then of course, to balance out the universe, I got a rejection letter from a publisher for a book I submitted...

I have two days off work next week and I plan to use at least one of them to write.  I figure one full, focused day of writing will be enough to finish off the section of Standing Too Close I'm working on, and move into the next part that needs work.  The other day I might use to relax and read and go to the movies and stuff.  Or I might write more.  I haven't decided yet.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Books I've Read: The Geography of Lost Things

Ali has just finished high school.  Her mother is away setting up an apartment she's found for them to move into after the house they've been living in is being taken by the bank.  Things have been tough for most of Ali's life, with her father largely absent, but his bills always showing up.

So she doesn't exactly mourn when she hears he's died.  And when someone shows up with her father's car - his pride an joy - she doesn't even consider keeping it.  Who needs that reminder hanging around?

She finds a buyer online who offers enough that she might just be able to save the house.  The catch? He's hundreds of miles away and Ali doesn't know how to drive a manual car.  In comes Nico, her ex-boyfriend, who not only can drive stick, but insists on doing it.

Ali and Nico's relationship was brief (88 days) but intense.  It ended with a single act of betrayal on Nico's part.  At least, that's how it looks from Ali's point of view.  And after being betrayed over and over again by her father, she knows when to walk away.  So she did.

But as they travel up the coast, the feelings she thought she'd banished keep rearing their ugly little heads.  Nico is still sweet and charming and quirky and fun.  She still enjoys talking to him and teasing him and being teased.

When the car sale falls through, Nico convinces her to keep going, constantly trading up useless objects for ones of more value as they struggle to find the cash to save Ali's home.

This is one of those books I enjoyed, but not as much as I should have because the main character was kind of a bitch.  Sure, she had a reason to be prickly and distrusting of people, but the way she treated Nico just wasn't okay.

Plus, Nico's secret was pretty obvious to me from early on - not the exact detail, but the general gist - so that moment of great reveal toward the end was not really a huge surprise to me.  And frankly, it shouldn't have been such a big surprise to Ali either.  If she wasn't so self absorbed, she might have picked up that something was going on there.

I really loved the trading up idea though.  I'm sure it's a fictional device designed for this book, but it sounds like a lot of fun.  Start with an elastic band, end with something worth way more...

So I would recommend this book.  Just be aware the main character is difficult to like.  But it almost doesn't matter because the people surrounding her are so much fun to spend time with.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

In this romantic road trip story perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson, a teen girl discovers the value of ordinary objects while learning to forgive her absent father.

After Ali’s father passes away, he leaves his one and only prized possession—a 1968 Firebird convertible—to his daughter. But Ali doesn’t plan on keeping it. Not when it reminds her too much of all her father’s unfulfilled promises. So when she finds a buyer three hundred miles up the Pacific coast willing to pay enough money for the car to save her childhood home, Ali can’t wait to get going. Except Ali has no idea how to drive a stick shift. But guess who does?

Ali’s ex-boyfriend, Nico. And Nico has other plans.

He persuades Ali that instead of selling the car, they should “trade up” the items they collect on their trip to eventually reach the monetary amount Ali needs. Agreeing with Nico’s crazy plan, Ali sets off on a unique adventure that is unlike anything she ever could have expected.

And it’s through Ali’s travels, through the strangers she meets and the things that they value—and why they value them—that Ali eventually comes to understand her father and how his life may not have been as easy and carefree as she previously thought. Because just like the seemingly insignificant objects Ali collects, not everything is exactly as it appears.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Weekly Goals 22-6-20

It's probably a vain hope, but I'm really hoping this week is somewhat quieter at work.  I was so exhausted over the weekend, I couldn't bring myself to sit down and write, so once again, I've made no progress on Standing Too Close.

So once again, this is going to be my goal for this week: to sit down and do some work on this book.  It's so close to being done!

If it does end up being insane at work again, I am planning to take a couple of days off the following week, so one or both of those could be writing days, or writing half-days.

What are your goals this week?  Are you any better at actually meeting them than I am?

Friday, June 19, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 19-6-20

This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

And boy do I need it!  Over the last two weeks I've been working with a design company to build a website for the Cannes online film market.  If you know anything about website building, you'll know two weeks is not a long time to do it, especially when you want it to be beautiful, informative and functional.

But the Marche starts on Monday, and the site is built and seems to be working across all devices.  I have some more testing to do over the weekend, and a couple of small content tweaks to make once I get access to the code, but basically, it's done.

Hoping to get a few days off before I start on my next big project, but that's not going to be next week because I have too much other work to catch up on after spending pretty much 100% of my time on the site the last two weeks.

So this weekend I'm going to try and take it easy.  It's my son's 13th birthday tomorrow, and all the extended family are coming for dinner, so I have to cook for a crowd.  And clean the house.  And do laundry and all those other chores. I may get some writing in there at some point, but I'm not counting on it.

What are you celebrating this week?