Changing course

I've not been satisfied with sales of my book, so it's time to make some changes to the marketing. Those roll out today.

In the meantime, I'm working on my next book. I'm told that the best marketing strategy is to keep publishing books and built your list, so I am.

Onward.

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The nuclear option

It seems that saying "Screw it, I'm done with this writing thing" is part of the usual drama and angst that many writers go through. This is usually followed at some point by a return to the page and the world of words.

But under what circumstances would you actually make it stick?

An addict desperate to get clean will gather up all the drugs and flush them down the toilet, gather up all the paraphernalia and throw it into a dumpster, pack a bag and leave town to get away from the peer group of users, dealers, pimps and prostitutes that encircle a life of addiction. Sometimes, they get clean; other times, they only recreate their former life in a new place.

I've heard of would-be writers admitting defeat and taking steps to burn the bridges behind them. Take down the blog, recycle the notebooks, delete the files from the hard drive, pull the books from Amazon, cancel the accounts on twitter and goodreads.

Get clear. Get clean.

What would make you do it?

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The horror of old work

I'm cleaning out my desk, recycling enormous piles of old paper. Among the detritus is a complete anthology of science fiction stories which I never got around to publishing. Spaceships, aliens, antimatter, Victorian automata, black holes, time travel... this anthology has it all.

Intrigued, I read through them, letting my own words come back to me across the years.

In general, the stylistic choices I made way back then are not the choices I would make today. That's perhaps putting it kindly. One choice I made back then is exactly the same as I made today: the best place for this collection of stories is an undisturbed grave.

To my credit, however, I certainly seem to have written with a great deal of enthusiasm.

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Blog tour: Meet my main character

I’ve been tagged in the Meet my Main Character blog tour by my pal Icy Sedgwick .
Here are the rules:

The taggee must write a post answering the same seven questions about their MC (main character). Then the taggee becomes the tagger and chooses five other authors.

I debated using this opportunity to talk about my WIP, but since it's still too far from completion for me to have a publication date, I'll talk about "Verbosity's Vengeance" instead.

1. What is the name of your main character? Is he a fictional or a historical person?
The Grammarian, aka Alexander Integrity Graham, aka A.I. Graham. The Grammarian is a costumed superhero, so definitely fictional.

2. When and where is the story set?
The story is set in the present day, on the streets of Lexicon City. It's a lot like Chicago, mixed with bits of Philadelphia, Sao Paulo and New York.

3. What should we know about him?
He's a very human guy with superhuman abilities. His powers are based on language constructs. such as words, punctuations and grammar. He can project a full stop to block a grenade, punch through steel with an acid remark, or spray a mass of commas to silence a crowd. The raw material of his power is his intelligence, which can also be used for purely physical effects. By diverting his mental capacity into strength, agility, speed-healing or other super-abilities, he can do amazing things... just not too many at once if he wants to stay coherent.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?
The Grammarian can handle his arch-nemesis, Professor Verbosity. Tracking him down and stopping his latest plan is only a matter of detective work. What really screws things up is the interference of the Avant Guardian, an incompetent, rookie superhero eager to make a name for himself among Lexicon City's heroes. The Grammarian is patient, and he's out for justice; the Avant Guardian is splashy, and he's out for quick fame. Their clashes only serve to help the Professor Verbosity and another supervillain new to Lexicon City. Amid this action, the Grammarian (in his real identity as Alex Graham) is pursing a romantic relationship with a scientist with an interest in superhero technology. When her interest rises to the level of obsession, the entanglements with the damage caused by the Avant Guardian's bungling (and the Grammarian's attempts to set it all right) initiates a terrible cascade of events that threatens the entire city.

5. What is his personal goal?
Stop the villain. Save the city. Hire a sidekick. Get a date for Saturday night. Not necessarily in that order.

6. Is there a working title for this novel and can we read more about it?
The book is "Verbosity's Vengeance: A Grammarian Adventure Novel". It's available at most e.book retailers: Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and in other e.book formats directly from me.You can also read about "Verbosity's Vengeance" and discuss it on Goodreads.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?
It came out last September, with good reviews. As of this date, it's averaging 4.60 stars on Goodreads and 4.7 stars on Amazon.

Now, I get to tag a few people. They are:

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Word Crimes - nerd love

Weird Al Yankovic has knocked one out of the park with Word Crimes. There are so many beautiful little bits here to warm the cockles of a grammarian's heart, like this:

Watch it in all its glory!

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You don't want me around anyway

Much ink has been spilled on SFWA's decision to side unconditionally with Hachette in calling out Amazon for being a big, mean corporation that is putting their own profits ahead of the profits of other big, mean corporations the interests of helpless authors. In general, this reads as a slap in the face to indie authors who are publishing their own sci-fi and fantasy works without waiting for permission. In contrast, it seems that most of the defense of Hachette is coming from the big name, guaranteed best-seller authors that make Hachette most of their money.

Ironically, SFWA has recently been taking comments on allowing self-pubbed authors entry. That is, they're maybe, possibly, thinking about doing some discussion at some point about deciding on just how high to set the bar. Some of the discussion about just how high to set the bar reminds me of how the Russian judges view ice skating by anyone who isn't Russian. I think this comment sums it up:
Marc Cabot

If, upon review, the work is professional, the applicant can be admitted.
Punchline of an old joke, modified for context:
Poll Worker, Incredulous: “You can read that?”
Indiepublisher, Resigned: “Yep. It says ain’t no independent authors gettin’ in here today.”

SFWA: proudly slamming the car door on its own fingers since forever.

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Story ideas

I had a story idea this weekend. This is notable only because it's the first such idea to present itself in a long time. Good enough to be worth writing down? Possibly, possibly not. At this point, any idea is a welcome half-cup of water to be drawn from a well that's been dry for a long time.

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I ran a 5K. Now what?

Not me. Close, but not me.
I ran my first 5K last Monday. It was OK. Not a huge milestone or a great accomplishment, as some of my friends predicted. Certainly not "life-changing", as one of my marathon-addicted relatives assured me.

It was OK.

I started running in February (or maybe March?) with the "Couch to 5K" app for my phone. The description reads:
Get off the couch with the OFFICIAL Couch-to-5K® training app from Active.com! This oft-imitated program has helped thousands of new runners move from the couch to the finish line. Spend just 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week, for nine weeks, and you’ll be ready to finish your first 5K (3.1-mile) race!
I can attest that this is just how it went. When I started, the training program had me run for 1 minute, walk for 2, run for 1 minute, walk for 5, etc. The initial workouts weren't bad, even for a couch potato.

Each week's workout got progressively harder, but never ramped up quickly enough to be beyond my capabilities. It was just enough of a stretch to make it a challenge to be overcome. By the end of the nine week program, I was regularly running more than 5K, three mornings a week.

Perhaps that's why my first official 5K race was anticlimactic. I'd already run that distance several times, so there was no physical accomplishment to speak of. I had no intention of challenging anyone for primacy in the standings, so my time didn't matter much, either. It was slower than my normal training runs, but I wasn't surprised by that.

My left leg hurt the morning of the race, but since my leg had been hurting for weeks, I knew that the pain would go away once I started running. Endorphins, probably. Besides, this was my first registered 5K, and I didn't want to forgo it, or quit after only the first mile. The upshot is that I ran the race anyway, start to finish.

Did it give me a newfound sense of accomplishment and wider vistas of pleasure at having done what I'd set out to do?

No. The most lasting impact of it has been the unremitting, bone-deep pain just south of my left hip. Not a muscular pain, it feels like a hard bruise. Since there's no discoloration, I can only assume I've done something to the bone. The frisson of tough guy pleasure at the thought of having run a 5K on a fractured leg is small compensation for the constant pain.

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