Writing & Business Updates for June 2020

Good morning, my fellow productive peeps. It’s time for another monthly project update. These posts keep me focused on my goals and provide a peek into the work of an independent author.

Novels

Power Play – Woot! The first draft of my suspense novel Power Play is complete and the story makes me go wheeeeeee! Much suspense. Much danger. It’s spy versus spy! Power play is the second installment of my Emerald City Spies trilogy, which started with The Assistant.  I like to let a story rest in between kneadings, so I’ll begin edits in two weeks.

Ellie Tappet #4 – I have cover art done and the basic story arc worked out. It’s gonna be a hoot! I can’t say much yet, but I’m anticipating a traveling magic act, an inconveniently mouthy parrot, and two surprise reunions. I’m working on the outline this week and next.

Kat Voyzey #4 -Progress! I have a new book title (it was going to be Death on Wheels, but I came up with something better and less generic) and I’ve contacted my cover designer to get the ball rolling. I’ve got the basic shape of the story worked out, some of the new characters are coming to life, and I’ll continue to noodle on this one while I work my way through my to-write list.

Business Projects

Distribution Decisions: Well, after stomping my feet and gnashing my teeth for a few weeks, I’ve made peace with the fact that putting my books in Kindle Unlimited (at least for a time) seems to be my best path toward earning actual pay-my-bills money. What does that mean for you, my dear readers? The vast majority of you already get my books from Amazon, so there won’t be a change. For those of you who prefer to shop at other retailers, there will be a delay before my new releases come to your preferred store.

If you’re a non-Zon, I empathize! I don’t like exclusivity either. But I have to balance my preferences against my desire to earn a living with my writing. For what it’s worth, it’s not my intention to leave my books in KU forever. I intend to do a second (wide) release on all my series, after an initial period where they’ll be on Amazon only.

Considering Patreon for my non-Zons: If there’s enough interest, I can set up a Patreon so my non-Zons can get my books early. The way it would work is subscribers pay a flat fee per novel that comes out ($5, probably) and they’d get each book as a DRM-free EPUB a week or two before they are published. If that’s an option you’re interested in, feel free to ping me. There’s some overhead in getting this set up, so I likely won’t move on it until I have a group of readers who want it.

Updating Old Books with New Software: Over the last 18 months, P has been designing a build system for our books. It takes a compile of my Scrivener manuscript file, pulls the metadata, applies a style sheet, and generates e-book files and a paperback interior. The big advantage of P’s system is that once the templates are set up, book updates become a lot easier. If I find a typo later, or if we decide to update the end matter, it’s a fairly simple matter to rebuild the e-book files without going through a zillion steps. I can make changes in Scrivener and run an export, he types a few words into the command line, and POOF, freshly updated EPUBs and PDFs. Amazing!

So we’re putting my older books through the new build system to get everything up to date.

Non-Work Projects

This month we had a nice (socially distanced) day trip to Whidbey Island, celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, and I finally got around to watching the 1984 adaptation of Dune. (Neat movie, although the book is a zillion times better.)

Coronavirus cases are ticking back up in the US and locally, and this seems like a good moment for renewed vigilance. During the Spanish Flu, Seattleites made it through the first wave, re-congregated with gusto over the summer, then had many deaths during a deadly second wave in the fall. Between our good summer weather and quarantine fatigue, it seems that history could repeat? I keep getting calls from my dentist to schedule a cleaning and I’m like HA HA, no, I will not be laying back with my mouth wide open, indoors with strangers. No thank you. I’ll just floss extra, for now.

I’ve been enjoying Western books and TV. Most recently, the Longmire series. There’s a poetry to the western genre. Amid themes of law vs lawlessness, order vs chaos, and good vs evil, Westerns are stories told through a lens of masculine sentimentality. The sheriff, the cowboy, the stoic husband or father, he says far more with his actions than his words. And the result can be quite lovely to behold. I see a connection between Walt Longmire and the Expanse’s James Holden.

It’s good stuff, and if Westerns seem outdated, it’s probably because the new “West” is outer space? There’s a strong tie between Western themes and space opera. I’ll have more to say on this down the road.

Anyway, that’s my update! Enjoy your week, everyone. And don’t forget to enjoy the sun while it’s shining.