Monthly Archives: August 2013

We have a title!

Book #3 was a toughie in terms of choosing a title. Originally, the title was Hidden to Death – but then the plot changed completely, and that title no longer worked. I’m going to use it, with the discarded plot, later.

I usually come up with the title at the same time as the idea for the story. Cited to Death and Hoarded to Death were easy. Books four and five were easy to name. But not this one.

The working title of the new book was Remembered to Death. I wasn’t crazy about that, as it didn’t really reflect the plot. But I, and my critique partners, had a terrible time coming up with something better. One suggested Haunted to Death, which fit with the story – but I could see myself using that in the future for a Jamie/Pete ghost story.

Yesterday, I sat down with two of my critique partners and got out the thesaurus. We looked up the word haunted – and there it was. Burdened. It fits perfectly.

So book three is going to be called Burdened to Death. And it should be out by mid-October.

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I’m ahead of schedule!

Earlier this week I turned my second draft of Jamie Brodie #3 (the title of which is unclear) over to the beta-readers. Yesterday, I sent the first draft of Researched to Death, Jamie Brodie #4, to my critique partner. I’m ahead of schedule on both.

My intention was to publish #3 this December. I should have it ready by the end of October. My intention was to publish #4 next June. I would love to have it ready by the end of the year, but that may be a little too ambitious. If not December, then January for certain.

How did I get ahead? #3 (I really need a title!) came to me very quickly. And, it’s shorter. Cited to Death was around 48,000 words and Hoarded to Death was 53,000 or so. #3 is 41,000.

Researched to Death, #4, is longer – 57,000 right now – but I wrote the body of it during NaNoWriMo last November. It needed a good bit of revision, based on the changes in Pete and Jamie’s relationship since then, but that hasn’t taken too long.

All this means that I can start on #5 – Encountered to Death – sooner than I thought. And I’m really looking forward to that. It’s going to be a fun one to write.

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Social media: a full time job

I’ve read some things – mostly other blog posts – about publicizing yourself as a writer. Some of them have sounded reasonable, some haven’t. Most of them emphasize participation in social media. I agree, it’s a great idea. I just wish I had time to do everything they recommend.

In terms of social media, I mostly do what I’m doing right now. I blog. I have other blogs on other subjects in my other life, and I don’t find it onerous to keep up with. I have my blog connected to my Twitter feed, my Amazon page, and my Goodreads page. So even if I don’t get to those sites in any other way, at least they get updated when I blog.

But – that’s about it. If I was to actively participate on all those other sites, it would take a couple of hours a day, I think, to do it well. Maybe once I got started, it wouldn’t be as long. I tend to be the most interested in Goodreads, because I was a a reader first, and I’m still a reader. Any extra effort I put forth will probably be there. But – I sell my books on Amazon. Should I pay more attention to that?

And then there’s Facebook. I started a Facebook page under this name, but so far I’ve done almost nothing with it. I may decide to get more involved with it, or I may not. I haven’t decided yet.

It makes me tired just thinking about it! I have a day job, and I have to find time to write – and then work in the social media thing, too? Even full-time writers must struggle with finding time for social media. For me? I think the best thing for me is to pick one or two and stick with them.

So what should I do about Facebook? Hm.

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Have book, need title

The first draft for Jamie Brodie Mystery #3 is done! It’s going to be the shortest book so far. Cited to Death was 48,000 words and Hoarded to Death was around 54,000. The third book is about 42,000. But that was all I needed – the story was done. I’m not going to include filler just for the sake of word count.

The thing about #3 is that I have no title! The working title was Remembered to Death. I decided I didn’t care for that one, as it didn’t really have anything to do with the mystery. My writing partner suggested Haunted to Death, but I thought I might want to use that at some other time. (I can see Jamie getting involved in a haunted house mystery at some point.) So now I need a title.

I still have to ask my primary beta-reader. He’s the one who came up with Cited to Death for the first book, and he’s good at titles. I’m also having a reading for my writing group on October 1, so they might have some good ideas too.

But this is the first time I’ve finished a first draft without a title. It feels weird.

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Working with Smashwords

Oh. My. Goodness.

When I first published Cited to Death and Hoarded to Death, I did so through Kindle Select publishing. That way, Amazon Prime members can borrow the book for free. I’d considered other platforms, but a friend who had previously published had warned me off it. She said that Smashwords had taken a huge amount of time to sort out and her sales didn’t justify the aggravation of it.

I had no plans to publish in other formats, but then got a request from a non-Kindle owner. So I figured I’d try it. After all, it had been over a year since my friend had published her book. Maybe it had gotten easier.

Um – no.

The first thing you have to do is download a 103-page style guide. This takes you step by step, page by page, through the formatting changes that need to be made to publish through Smashwords. Basically, you undo all of Word’s formatting, then you do it over. I just finished that process this morning. It took me a day and a half. There don’t seem to be any shortcuts.

Formatting for Amazon takes about ten minutes. :-/

I understand why it’s more complicated with Smashwords than Amazon. Smashwords sends the work out to about ten different platforms, not just one. I get that, from a technical aspect. But is it worth it, to the author?

The sales will tell. My current three-month commitment to Kindle Select with Cited to Death expires on 9/2. So I’ll publish on Smashwords on 9/3, and watch to see what happens. I’m not sure how many sales it will take to make it worth converting Hoarded to Death to Smashwords style – but it’s a lot.

One thing about books that are published for Kindle – you don’t have to own a Kindle to read them. You can download Kindle for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, etc., all for free, then buy the book and have it delivered to your PC, phone, etc.

Stay tuned.

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Doing research

I’m writing this from Oxford, England, where I’m back in my room after a day of walking around the city taking pictures. I love seeing all the truly old college and church buildings here, and the Bodleian Library is amazing. The only problem is, it’s hot! I never dreamed it would be so warm here! I wish I’d brought shorts…

But one of my primary purposes in coming here was to do a little research. Not research in the library, but research on the city of Oxford itself as a setting. In the Jamie Brodie mystery series, Jamie has a doctorate in history that he earned from Merton College at Oxford. I’d been here once before, just for a few hours, but hadn’t ventured beyond the entrance to the Bodleian. Today, I walked around taking pictures of the places Jamie would have gone.

I was too early for a tour of Merton College, but I took pictures of the outside, and of the field beyond. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside the Bodleian, but now I know what it looks like. I took pictures of a couple of pubs where he surely would have gone. And now I have some idea of what he would have seen when he was walking around here as a student.

Part of the fourth book in the series is going to take place in Oxford, when Jamie comes for a week of vacation and research. Now I can make the setting a little more authentic. Google Maps is awesome, but it’s no substitute for being here.

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A cool new toy

I have a friend at work who is a first adopter. He was the first of our group to get a smart phone, a Kindle, an iPad, etc., and he’s always looking for new things. And sometimes he sucks me into his excitement as well.

A couple of weeks ago he came into work and said to me, “I’ve got to show you this.” What he had was a keyboard to use with an iPad. He set it up on his desk and started typing. He said, “You need one of these.” And he was right.

I’m typing on it now. It’s the coolest little thing. It works with Bluetooth, so it works anywhere. And the best thing about it is that it pretty much replaces my laptop. I’m able to write anywhere now without hauling my laptop around. And it also acts as a cover for the iPad when it’s not in action. It has the same metal strip that holds it on as my regular cover.

I have a program on my iPad called Quick Office (it wasn’t free) that allows me to edit Word docs on the iPad. It also syncs with Dropbox, which is where I back up my writing. So while I’m here in England, all I have to do is get out the keyboard, connect it and start writing or editing. This will especially come in handy when I’m in Oxford, looking for real locations in which Jamie will have adventures in my fourth book.

And I’ve decided that the boys have to come to Scotland. Both Pete and Jamie are of Scottish descent; maybe they can come here to research their roots. And there will be a bog body. 😀

Although Pete and Jamie live in LA, I’ve never been there personally (although I have a friend who goes a couple of times a year, and takes pictures for me when he does). It will be nice to write about a location where I’ve already been.

And I can do it with my new keyboard.

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