Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hot Firemen on a 100 Degree Day

This afternoon, I stopped by a Tucson firehouse to do some research for the book.  There were only two guys there at the time, which was a little disappointing.  Firefighters tend to be in great shape, and I kind of hoped the place would be crawling with hotties, shirtless and glistening with sweat from a recent workout.  And there was no pole - the firehouse was a converted one-story ranch house with an over-sized garage for the trucks. But the firefighters that were there were more than helpful, and they didn't seem at all annoyed at my questions.  Or concerned when I asked about the ins and outs of arson investigations. On the contrary, they seemed happy to talk to someone other than each other, and kept asking if I had any other questions.  They were probably bored.  This time of year most of their time is spent removing rattlesnakes from people's yards (they do it for free here), and they usually send more guys than needed to extract the offending reptiles.  They only need one to hold the box and one to grab the snake with the long pole.  But there is always at least one superfluous dude who just stands around and watches the other guys snag the rattler.  So I assume that ennui compels the extra man to come, because, honestly, it's not all that exciting to watch someone catch a snake.  Although it might be if the firemen were shirtless...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

It's hard to write when you're with 16,000 gastroenterologists

From Friday until Tuesday, I am in San Diego for a conference (for my day job).  At this conference are thousands of gastroenterologists from the U.S. and around the world.  And let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've spent a weekend with a bunch of people that, in most cases, spend their professional lives sticking things up people's butts (At least I hope it extends only to their professional life, because I don't even want to imagine them doing that in a non-professional setting).

These meetings used to be more fun when the "vendors" that flock to these things like flies on shit (I had to use that; it is a GI conference after all) were allowed to woo the attendees with awesome giveaways.  Like fancy backpacks and full sized fleece blankets.  For a awhile, the Fleet Company had a person dress up like a super-hero enema, called "Eneman".  They even gave away plush stuffed enemen, because who wouldn't want a stuffed dude with a phallic appendage sticking out of its head?  Now, you're lucky if you can scam a free pen.  I know it's better for these companies to not influence the M.D.'s, but us scientists are poor.  We can use the free swag.

Anyway, I haven't had a chance to get much novel writing done while I'm here.  During the day, of course, I have a multitude of scientific sessions to go to.  Today, I even gave a talk, which required a certain amount of advanced preparation.  Like I had to put on makeup.  In the evening, these party-animal GI people always want to get together - mostly to eat, although drinking comes in a close second.  And I'm supposed to be here not only to disseminate important scientific facts (and learn some, too) but also to make connections with other scientists.  So I kind of have to go out with these folks, even if I'd rather hole up in my hotel room (which, BTW, overlooks Petco Park where the Padres play baseball) and write another chapter.

But I think the real problem is I'm in my scientist mode throughout the day AND evening, and it's hard to switch over to author mode.  I'm really writing this hoping it will stimulate the other side of my brain so I can get back to Hailey and Alex and the parallel dimension.  Maybe I should have brought eneman for inspiration...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Going to hell with KDP Select?

I've been on the fence with the whole Kindle KDP Select thing.  You know, make your book exclusive to Amazon (and thus to Kindle owners only) for three months and get all sorts of fabulous benefits.  The most fab is being able to offer your book for free for a certain number of days during the three month period of exclusivity.

An author I follow on Twitter posted today that there have been 5000 downloads of his book in less than 24 hours of being offered for free! Unbefuckinglievable!  That's a whole lot of people that may, someday, read the book.  My book is available on Smashwords (as well as Amazon) and they had a freebie promo during "Read an eBook Week".  Special Offers was available for free during that period (reduced from the regular price of a whopping $0.99) and I had 114 downloads.  Which is probably comparable to the 5000 on Amazon given that tons more people buy books there.

Of course, people are probably downloading hundreds of books for free, many of which will likely be lost in the deep recesses of their Kindles, never to opened and read. But if even 10% actually read it, that's still good exposure.

What irks me, is that distancing oneself from all other sales venues when joining KDP Select is the ONLY way to offer a book for free on Amazon.  It's like extortion wrapped up in a seemingly pretty package.  Come to the dark side and your book will be seen by thousands!  Cleave onto Amazon, and you will be rewarded with exposure beyond your wildest dreams!!!

That being said, I still am considering selling my soul to KDP Select for a chance at better exposure.  As a new author, what could be better than a crap load of people downloading my book?  It's not like Smashwords gets me a lot of sales; aside from the freebies, I've only actually sold 3 copies versus 30 times that on Amazon in the first 3 months of being available.  But Smashwords allows me to download MY book for free, and generate coupon codes for free copies.  This is particularly helpful when requesting reviews.

Maybe I should download Special Offers in all available formats from Smashwords, and then make the deal with KDP Satan, ah, I mean Select.  It's only for three months.  It's not like I'm signing away my first born male child. Although he just turned 16, so that might be a more palatable option compared to Amazon exclusivity.  (Just kidding. Really.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Reviews, Rejection and Randomness

Recently, I received a 4-star review from Paranormal Romance.  I even made the blog owner’s favorite quotes list Hailey says to Angelica.  And after it was posted, my sales went up! (thanks, Amanda!)   But now, sales are slow and that’s making me twitchy. Today, on Twitter I offered a free kindle copy of Special Offers to the first two people that responded.  It was even re-tweeted by Amanda from the Paranormal Romance blog (thanks again, Amanda!).  No one responded.  Great.  I can’t even give the book away.  I am depressed. Maybe I need to up the Zoloft.

Next month, a bunch of reviews of Special Offers are scheduled to be posted, and I am hopeful that if the reviews are good, my sales will again increase.  I only occasionally find a reviewer that I haven’t already contacted, so my review requests have also slowed.  And then there are a few people that said they would review the book, but haven’t.  I’m not sure if that means they still plan to, or they hated it so much they couldn’t finish it.  Or maybe they have amnesia and don’t remember agreeing to review it.  But I suspect they didn’t like it.  Not that I expect everyone to like it (see my blog post below on that subject), I actually would like some honest criticism.  My husband says a crappy review makes the rest of them seem more authentic, but that’s from a guy that thinks the atrocious puns in the newspaper’s “Jumble” puzzle are funny.

Anyway, my reviewer request total is up to 70, with 13 saying “yes”, 4 responding “no” and the rest haven’t replied.  And my Amazon reviews are at 9, with an average star-rating of 4.7.  

And now for the randomness.  I took this photo in a small, neighborhood park in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  No one was around, just these creepy dolls.  I think it would make a great book cover.

Now if I can only come up with a story to go with it...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

X-rated on a PG-13 flight

Yesterday was my first experience with writing while on a airplane.  It seemed like a great time to add to the in-progress second book; it was a long flight, and I was traveling alone. So, I whipped out the laptop and started typing away.  The older woman next to me was asleep, so I wasn't overly concerned when I moved onto a more racy part.  The scene was coming easily - as were the characters I was describing - and I was completely involved in what I was writing.  So focused that I didn't notice my next-seat neighbor was awake and staring at my computer screen.

I could have ignored her.  That seemed like the mature thing to do.   After all, if she was bothered by what she was reading, she had only herself to blame.  Unfortunately, once that I knew she was paying attention, I couldn't write.  I decided to give her a moderately dirty look.  Nothing too confrontational; after all, I had two more hours of sitting next to her. But she was invading my imaginary, personal airplane space.  She did look away, but I never did get my creative mojo back.

I probably should be happy she didn't report me to the flight attendant.  Or offer suggestions on how to make the scene hotter.  How weird would it have been had she blithely remarked, "I'd rethink the use of the word "cock" dear.  I've always preferred "one-eyed trouser snake myself".