Tuesday, July 3, 2018

How to annoy a published writer (one in a series of a thousand ways)

Something that gets on my nerves is getting writing and marketing advice from non-writers. The other day, a local friend of mine was over at the house, and I talked some about what I am currently working on.

("Icarus: In the future, a thousand people live and work in outer space. They depend on Earth for supplies. What do they do to survive when Earth goes dark?")*

So they tell me that I really should look at a link that a mutual friend of ours shared about "getting published." I tried to take the route of "Can I at least write one of the books first?" as well as "I am a hybrid writer--I have been on both sides of the business--I think I know what I am doing, and quite frankly have already decided how Icarus is going to be released (as well as the other projects that I am working on)." They sent me the link anyways.

And they had to dig to get to it. (The post was buried deep--deeper than I was willing to go looking.)

Turns out that the link was to a free seminar on "How to use a book to generate new leads for your business." And considering I have no desire to be the head of an international magical Order, or a world renown fortune teller, completely useless to me. Maybe if I wanted to become an expert on mental illness, it might be helpful--but still the process of writing a book and using it as a business card to make money as an expert does not appeal to me.

I know that he was trying to be helpful, but "I am not a writer--I have no desire to be a writer--yet I am going to share advice anyways" just annoys me. I would like to think that my thirty-four years of dabbling in the business (I wrote my first dubious erotica story in 1984 and got paid a whole twenty-five dollars for it) has taught me something. But there are loads of well meaning friends and critics who tell me otherwise.

Please, for heaven's sake--please, don't give me market advice, if you are not a writer. It just annoys me, especially when it turns out to be the hook for a paid consulting service.

Concept art for the cover of Axe Murderer of Titan.
[*I am going to be using a new pen-name for this series--Michael Ramalia.]

Monday, July 2, 2018

Tenth Annual Smashwords ebook sale

It is once again time for Smashwords annual July ebook sale (July 1st to 31st).

(Some of these books are scheduled to be expanded and updated--if it has an asterisk [*], it is scheduled to be expanded and revised--in other words, if you want to get it cheap before the expansion, do it now because the price will be going up on these ebooks when I update them later.)

Discounted to $1.50 USD

Five Reasons Why Magic Fails

Golden Dawn Rituals--Three Officer Neophyte Script*

Rite of the Magical Images of the Wiccan Sabbats*

Witchy Rants (the Collected MDE Heaarthstone Community Church Newsletter articles)*

Denver Witch Quarterly: To Curse, Or Not To Curse--The Big Cursing Issue (Samhain/Yule 2016)

Denver Witch Quarterly: Wealth and the Lucky Witch (Imbolc/Ostara 2017)

Denver Witch Quarterly: Evil Witches Bind President Trump and His Administration--also Occult Writers and Payment (Beltane and Lithna 2017)

Gaius Corbin: Light Out of Darkness--Lux E Tenebris (Thelema and the Necronomicon)

Free ebooks on Smashwords

Denver Witch Quarterly: A Modest Magazine Proposal

MDE Hearthstone: Pizza Boxes on the Floor (2010)

MDE Hearthstone: Bad Monkey (2011)

MDE Hearthstone: Lunatic With a Soapbox (2012)

MDE Hearthstone: Biggest Witch on the Block (2013)

MDE Hearthstone: Thirteen Signs That Your Occult Teacher is Rotten (2014-2015)

MDE Hearthstone: Hex the Vote--Mad Uncle Morgan Talks About American Politics (2016)

Shakespeare's Monkey (a fiction and poetry collection)*

Esoteric Comedy Show: Assault With a Deadly Taco (Mad Uncle Morgan, I am--Your Face is Going to Freeze Like That)

Esoteric Comedy Show: Free Guns For Everyone--Lap Cats Are Good Too (A Big Gun Control Show)

This is one of my favorite book covers.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Hey I was watching that (the world of sci-fi cancellations)

One of the things that annoys me as a science fiction fan is cancellation of television shows that I am watching. (It should be noted that traditional legacy publishing--the Big Five Publishers and their siblings--also annoy me in this fashion, but to a lesser extent.) I have a list of shows that I was watching that ended up being canceled.

[Partial list: Star Cops, Continuum, Lucifer, Defying Gravity, Star Trek Enterprise, Reaper...]

It especially annoys me when a science fiction television show ends on a cliffhanger, one that was meant to set up the next season, and it becomes a "Surprise--you are canceled!"

[Yes, I am really annoyed about Lucifer being canceled with such a great storyline that was about to be opened.]

The really sad part is that often the writers and cast of a science fiction show will get no advance warning that the show is going to be canceled. So more often than not, there are a ton of storylines that are left dangling when a science fiction show is canceled because the season finale was written and filmed months before the cast and crew of a show knows that they are not coming back.

There have been instances where enough advance warning has been given to allow writers to create a season finale that helps wrap things up, but that is the exception and not the rule.

And it seems to happen to science fiction shows a lot.

Why? My current theory (compounded by watching how the Big Six* during the 80s and 90s, and their treatment of science fiction book series) is that it is all about Cost and Eyeballs (aka f***ing ratings). After all, what else could it be?

[*At the time, it was the Big Six, being before the merger of Random House and Penguin.]

Science fiction is a niche audience, a long tail of the dog market; it does not appeal to everyone. Starting off as a smaller audience, it is not as profitable as stuff that "your average man on the street" would watch--therefore, ratings are automatically an issue.

Plus special effects count money. And that means less profit.

And it is all about the profit, or lack thereof.

The entire television industry (outside of PBS) is all about making money. So for a science fiction series to survive, it has to become a runaway hit as soon as the first episode airs. And that is if it hasn't already been canceled before the first episode is aired (sadly many sci fi shows are dead before their first episode airs--Defying Gravity is a good example of a show that was dead on arrival because of how the network treated it--only three weeks notice that it was going to air, so no one, well almost no one, knew that it existed--one could argue that the network did everything it could to kill the show.)

By the way, traditional legacy publishing also does things like this. The entire traditional book industry is based on best sellers--if the first book of a science fiction series does not sell a pubzillion copies, it will never see a second book in the series.

Unfortunately, science fiction is something that often takes time to find its audience.

As a science fiction writer, in the traditional legacy market, your first book is probably going to be your last book.

Both television networks and publishing houses are only concerned with the current numbers, the current eyeballs, and they do not attempt to grow an audience for a property.

All the talk you hear about how traditional publishers cultivates writers is pure nonsense. You either swim or drown the first time you enter the pool. If you are not a success with your first book, you don't get a second chance.

Now, this whole issue of cancellations has been on my mind for the last few months. I have an idea for an extended science fiction book series, but the fact that it is an idea that totally needs a series and cannot be done as an one-off means that there is no way that I personally could convince a traditional publisher to touch it with a ten foot pole. Or at least, not with my current audience size.

Well, it could be done as an one-off, but I think it would suffer for it. The core idea--the situation that the characters find themselves in--creates many possible stories. Limiting it to just one set of characters and one location would totally rob the core idea of its vast potential.

And I honestly think that it is a series that I would have to build up the audience one reader at a time.

Fortunately, I live in a brave new world of indie publishing where I only have to convince two people that it is a project with potential (me and my wife).

And I have been clear that it is going to be a long haul project (the earliest possible wrap-up point is eight books in). [There are also good business reasons that apply to indie publishing that makes a series worth far more than a single book.]

But yeah, if I start to write Icarus, I am in it for the long haul--there will be no early cancellation because I hate cancellations that happen before the main story lines are resolved. 

I am still annoyed by the cancellation of Defying Gravity.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

In your end is your beginning (writing exercise)

Writing exercise (In your end is your beginning):

Write a 500-word introduction to your own imaginary collected poems or complete stories. Assume your writing life has undergone a struggle, from obscurity to hard-won fame. This is your final opportunity to say something wise to your readers and critics. What were your strengths; and why did your audience first ignore your writing, then welcome it? Do you have any literary or personal debts outstanding? Now you can settle them publicly. State what you think the future holds for your work.

Aim: Writers feel intense dissatisfaction. Learn to wait, and work at it; get used to that feeling of being perpetually dissatisfied with your abilities, achievements and the mercury-movement of language as you try to control it.

Trying to use words, and every attempt
is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say

T. S. Eliot, The Four Quartets (1943)

Writing exercise from The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing--David Morley

An imaginary look at the future-past of one's own writing journey. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

How I described myself in a WIP

[From a work-in-progress (Death to the Great Gherkin)]

On the Fourth of July in the year of…well, we actually do not know the year that the magician known as the Great Gherkin was born. Which is a real shame because if we had the exact time, day and year, we could read the Great Gherkin like an open book without all that messing having to interact with him.

For instance, using the secret Hermetic art of temporal divination, we know that the Great Gherkin’s least favorite critic was born on the day of the Ax Murderer in the year of the Disgruntled Monkey, during the hour of the Hungry Cat, and on the exact minute of the Bridge Troll. It is not a real surprise that the Great Gherkin’s least favorite critic is an angry blogger who owns a dozen cats and rage posts at one in the morning. If the critic did not do this, we might have to call into question whole swathes of the esoteric tradition, including the age old school of astrology. 

Now, as we were saying, the Great Gherkin was born on the Fourth of July, better known in occult circles as the day of the Patriotic Tax Dodger…

Saturday, January 14, 2017

DWQ Wealth and the Lucky Witch (Imbolc/Ostara 2017) release day

Today is the release date for the latest issue of the Denver Wealth Quarterly--Wealth and the Lucky Witch (Imbolc/Ostara 2017).

Get it now at pre-release price. (99 cents USD--regularly $2.99 an issue)

Denver Witch Quarterly is a magazine devoted to paganism, Wicca, witchcraft, magick, and the occult.

In this issue, we explore money, wealth, luck and prosperity, and the magic necessary to obtain such. Also articles on Imbolc and Ostara, as well as editorials about current events in the magical community.

Don't tell me how to vote: Cause I never vote (BHC)
Not a big enough safety pin—MDE

Totally not a racist (Big Name Occultist)
Seen on the internet: Trump-Pence hair joke

[Flash fiction] What do we want—Morgan Drake Eckstein
All Sales Are Final—A. J. Hallows

"A Kiss of Bliss, or Misery?"—The Broom Hill Crow
Body of a Goddess—Erin Lale
Blame It on the Wine. Or Kali. Or Both.—Shea Herlihy-Abba
My Parents Don’t Like Kali ‘Cause She Drives a Mustang—Shea Herlihy-Abba

Luck--Moon Gazer
Some wealth magic tips--MDE

Shining the light on this year’s plantings at Imbolc—Moon Gazer
Ostara’s Plantings—Moon Gazer

Wealth and the Lucky Witch (DWQ Imbolc/Ostara 2017)
 Now available for purchase at the various online ebook retailers. 



Barnes and Noble



And coming soon to Scribd!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Did you know that Monday is a holiday?

Conversation from tonight...

Weatherman--And a lot of people will be up in the mountains skiing this long holiday weekend.

Me--There is a holiday Monday? Which one? Is it President's day?

Wife--Martin Luther King day. I am off Monday. You really need to keep track of Federal holidays.

Me--I guess. It is not like I am changing my writing schedule because you are home.

[Nor do I imagine that it really matters from her end either. What is she likely to be doing Monday? Pottery. She always does pottery on days that she is off from teaching.]