Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010: That's A Wrap

Three years this blog has been up. Three years and three books.

The year certainly went by fast

What have we learned for the year? Well, I've learned that a person cannot read 10,000 books in one year. I've only been able to read 300. I've also learned that I set my sights too high. I also did the same thing with wanting to find a traditional publisher. Hours before the new year are the only thing between me and that dream and I doubt that someone's going to be calling me up from St. Martin's Press or Random House. But that doesn't bother me. I've learned a lot by designing, formating and writing my own books. When you're that in-control of a project, it makes you self-reliant. If a publisher picks me up, I guess that's okay, but in the meantime, these books will go public when they are finished, edited and on Amazon when I choose.

As for sales, only a handful of print books have been sold. Some customers have bought used copies but, little did they know, I don't get paid royalties for used copies. They have to be bought new. On the upside, the ebooks have been selling quite well. I guess the way of e-readers has really opened more readers up. Here's what I've garnered so far. That is to say, here are my profits for the year:

Smashwords - 1,414 ebooks: Price Free.

Amazon Kindle Sales - 73 ebooks: Price 99 cents each

B&N Nook Sales - 3 ebooks: Price 99 cents each

So, as far as I can see, I've sold close to 1,500 ebooks on my own and maybe 15 to 20 print books. Not bad.

Calculating my earnings, with the 35 cent royalty for amazon, I've made about

Yep. That's the life of a writer, starting out, anyways. But this year I'm going to step up my efforts, open up a podcast and see how far that takes me. Page by page, I've been able to type up some stories, now thanks to my new secret writing place. We'll see if I can change these numbers.

Happy New Year everyone! Drive safe, live large, chase your dream.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ur In For It Now

With King, the mighty, word-savvy, page-turning King - You get what you paid for. I'm no stranger to Stephen King. I remember where and when I first met him. I was a sophomore in high school, just learning how to go through my lines (only four) in a production called Up The Down Staircase. I played a kid named Edward which was originally written for a black kid but, for me, they changed it to Italian.

The stage was occupied with twenty or so school desks. Every kid who walked on stage held some sort of prop. Figured I might need one too. I rooted in the back, looking through some boxes, when I found him. The weathered and dusty paperback of Insomnia was heavy, to say the least. I had trouble sleeping so it only felt natural to read the book. I asked one of the members of the faculty if I could borrow it but they just said, "Take it."

I plowed through that thing in one week, sometimes taping some of the pages together because there was a section, near the end, where four of five pages had been ripped out and stuffed back in.

That's when I first met King.

Now, a Kindle loaded with over thirty books later, I was ready to read that elusive, exclusive, ever seducing book called UR.

The story follows a 35 year old lit professor who, out of spite, buys a kindle. The kindle arrives and looks like all the others expect for one thing. It's pink. And it apparently has a direct line to different, literary dimensions. What if Hemingway wrote just one more book? Or what if Shakespeare wrote five more plays before his death? Even though this title is a novella, it works at an even pace, getting you comfortable with the story as well as the new techno gizmo that is the Kindle. I could just imagine King tinkering with it, jumping from his seat and bolting to his writing den to pound out the story as he examines every button on the kindle. But that's the draw of King. He gets us where we live. He always starts fresh with what is new, foreign or, quite possibly, alien to us.

I mean, think of it. A plastic box which holds thousands of books that you can just have zapped to you every time you press a button? Imagine what it was like in that pitch room. Look out Radio and TV, there's a new revolution in town. But such is the Pop of King. He tackles the things of today, haunts them tomorrow then serves them to us thick with the aroma of mystery, intrigue and horror. Twice already he's terrified me with vintage cars: From a Buick 8, Christine. He's turned the common cold into a plague: The Stand. He's turned our phones against us: Cell. Our dogs are against us: Cujo. Any way you slice it; nothing is safe from King.

With UR (read in two sittings) I'm glad King has stuck to his guns when it comes to having story be the key driving point and wait for plot later. There were a couple of times where I thought I could predict the outcome, but he cornered me with my suggestions and addressed what we were all thinking in the story. Not only does the Kindle device have lost literary titles but it also has alternative newspaper articles...I'm going to leave it at that. One reviewer called it brain candy and I'm willing to agree with them. It was so intriguing I didn't want it to end. All I can say is that I can see a second part to this fantastic tale. But what would the title be? Kindle 2: UR IT? Or maybe Pinky's Revenge? In any case, this is one title I'm willing to re-read over and over again.

By the way, there were, in King's own way, hints of other books. I'm noticing a lot of connections and crossovers in his works. Most notably, the Dark Tower Series has some relevance to the plot. I guess there's never a stand alone work when you're as prolific as the master storyteller himself.

Thanks, King. I've had the damn Kindle for less than two days and already you have me edging away from it in some cases and watching it from a distance the next. Will I discover another, terrifying literary underworld? One can only hope.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wouldn't You Know It

This 8,000 worded thriller, tackled by two authors no less, completely took me by surprise. In reading, that is always a good thing. Not only is the premise fresh, quick and straight to the action; it compels you to read faster.

The story is simple. Your elders always said don't pick up strangers, they may be psycho's. They also said don't get in to any stranger's car. They may be wacko's as well. But what happens when two killers meet, thinking that the other one is their next intended victim. Well, I don't know about you, but I think that makes for a great Hitchcockian thriller and a feast for the avid reader's eyes. And if you know me by know, you very well know that I am hopelessly addicted to reading.

I give this tale a solid five stars for originality, pacing and it's length.

I must also note that I read this short tale on the Amazon Kindle version 3. That's right, T.A.T.T. fans, I have given in. I am now a proud owner of a kindle. And this story, Serial, was the first thing I read on it. Of course, it was free. But the story was worth a good five spot at least. Call it a literary cutting of the ribbon. I'm sure I'll review the functions of the Kindle in the future but, for right now, I'm still tinkering with it. It was a very thoughtful gift from my in-laws.

To put it to good use, I've already collected twenty or so classics to wet my literary appetite. This does not in anyway mean I've stopped reading traditional paperbacks or audiobooks...this just means, depending on my mood, I can carry less bulky tomes while I go for a walk deciding what to read next.

Oh, there is one title I've forgotten to mention which I've added to my Kindle collection of books.

Yes, it's a Stephen King book.

You might say an exclusive novella.

It might be right up ur alley...

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

One thing I have to admit, I'm not the biggest fan of mysteries. But I do get curious on occasion. Take for example my wife. She's an avid reader like me. She also introduced me to such books as Catcher in The Rye and T is for Trespass. So, when I saw her reading a hefty tome that had just a title and no cover art I asked her what she was reading.

"Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."
"Is it any good?"
"I dunno. I bought it cause it was six bucks."

As the nights passed I noticed that she read for longer periods. Sometimes, when we were both reading in the front room, I'd catch her gasp or groan as if she were living in the novel itself. After she was finished, she ran out and bought the next book in the series: The Girl who Played with Fire.

She told me that the first book was intense. I believed it and decided to take the dip. The story revolves around three central characters: An old, retired billionaire who is trying to solve a case over forty years cold, a investigative reporter who is called upon to take on the task and a girl who has a troubled past but mainly keeps to herself. She also works for a security company gathering data on clients and is a hacker.

I won't say that this book CAPTURED me right away until around page 180, when Lisbeth Salander, the hacker girl, convinces me that there's more to her story.

This book, by late author Stieg Larsson, took a while to get going but once it did, hoo, it did not let up. There are a lot of details in the case and a hell of a lot of exposition but that further saturates this book in realism. Compared to the mystery books of today, which are few and far between, this is the first one that really got me interested. It has the sharpness of a Sherlock Holmes book but has the atmosphere of an Agatha Christie novel. Yet it is set in 2007.

Lisbeth may very be the new flawed heroine of our time, she has the draw of Hannibal Lecter where you know she's smart and you know there is more to be said but she keeps a lot of information hidden for her own personal reasons. She is by far, one of the most original characters I've read in a mystery yarn. Do yourself a favor and read this book and find out why a Girl with a Dragon Tattoo would play with fire or kick a Hornet's nest.