Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sunset on Mars and Other Stories

I write flash fiction off and on whenever I get a good idea, and I decided to collect 3 really short stories into a free collection, Sunset on Mars and Other Stories.

If you download it, I only ask that you spread the word to other readers who may be interested.

The stories are:

"Sunset on Mars" - from back when Flyday was a space opera (just imagine that). Appeared in 365 Tomorrows in December of 2007. The science fiction blog Marooned - Science Fiction & Fantasy Books called it "an excellent piece of flash fiction."

"...And Let The Apocalypse Happen" - I wrote this for a short story contest and it took first place. It was published in the spring issue of the literary magazine Theory Train.

"I Don’t Dream Like That Anymore" - a new flash fiction piece, which will make you feel bad for a robot and a starship captain.

You can download it here.

Cover art!

Here is the cover art for my upcoming short story collection, done by the awesome K. B. Wittke:

Check back tomorrow and I should have the collection up. It features three stories, one of which you can also read in the latest issue of Theory Train.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Newsletter & Advanced Review Copies

I'm starting a newsletter to keep everyone in touch with what's going on and to make it easy to send a lot of copies of stuff to a lot of people. Everyone who signs up by Saturday (May 21st) will get an advanced review copy of my upcoming three-story collection.

I won't send out e-mails often (look at how often I post to my blog, and divide that by three), but when I do, I'll try to include something worth your time.

Subscribe to the newsletter!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Summer Writing Months, #suwrimo

For a few years, radioactive alchemist over on Gaia has been running SuWriMo, which is like National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) but spread over June, July, and August. The idea is to set a writing goal, divide it up by about 90 days, and get writing. I've done it for several years, and I've always had a lot of fun.

This year I asked her if I could take it to Twitter, and she agreed. So on June 1st I'll start posting my daily progress toward my #writegoal with the #suwrimo tag, and I invite all other writers to do the same.

You don't have to write a book over the course of the 3 months, but you can add to an existing book, or set goals for any sort of writing or editing project. And you can start early, keep going after August, or take time off if you have a vacation planned. It's a free-form writing exercise.

Many people track their progress through number of words written, but you don't have to. It can be number of chapters written, amount of short stories completed, whatever. The point of #suwrimo is to set a writing goal, talk with other writers, and have fun with it.

My goal will be to finish a draft of my current book by August 31st. I'm guessing that will take about 60,000 words, but I'll stop when the book's done. That's roughly 667 words a day--easily manageable, I think.

So, what's your goal? Post it on #suwrimo.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

You need social media--even if you think you don't

I had a lengthy conversation yesterday with @pathunstrum, a writer I've known for some time, about social media. (He blogs regularly on the LW.) Basically, my argument was, I don't have the time commitment to be on Twitter or even Facebook every day promoting my book. I do what I can, but my efforts there aren't having much effect. This, to me, is discouraging.

A few short years ago, the advice to writers was this: "Pay your dues. Hone your craft. Learn how to write a query letter and get an agent. You'll get one if you try hard enough. And then, if you're REALLY lucky, you'll get a publishing deal."

Now, the game has changed. To self-pub (which seems to be the way things are going) you need to not only do all the book production yourself (get betas, a proofreader, cover, upload, etc), but you must maintain a constant presence on social media. It's exhausting, and sometimes it feels like I'm going nowhere. So my question to him was: am I going anywhere?

Pat pointed out things I could do (spend ten minutes a day on Twitter) and things I am doing right (working on my next book). And he pointed out that luck favors the diligent. Maybe you put in years of effort, and get nowhere. And then one day the scale just tips in your favor, and you get the readers you were trying to reach.

I'm not one of those people who has the major plans. "Okay, this November I'll reach 2,000 sales, and by next June I'll have 1,000 blog followers." I don't think that way. I think in terms of my writing, and the book I'm working on now, and what readers will enjoy. I try to write stories I would like to read, while working with the schedule I've got. I have a lot of plans for promotion that I think would be a lot of fun for readers, and go beyond Facebook pages and retweets. But those are a great launch pad to make people aware of them.

I've been following Kristen Lamb's #MyWANA hashtag on Twitter, and groups like that are a great way to find a lot of people on one topic. Sometimes Twitter seems very insular (unless you go searching, you only see tweets from people you're following), but the more I poke around on Twitter, the more I see there are a lot of opportunities for writers to connect and get their voice heard.

I have seen a lot of writers burn out on social media, but I think they're approaching it from the wrong perspective. It's not a tool to gain sales, or a roadblock you have to conquer. It's just a way to be accessible and learn more from other people. You can have fun with it, or you can treat it as a business--whichever way you want to go.

I have been busy on other projects lately, but I'm going to invest a little more time into social media. As Pat says, "You want to be standing on the platform when the train comes in."