Friday, December 6, 2013

New covers and new titles

This self-publishing thing -- or author publishing as some people prefer -- is a lot of work. I've got
some thoughts on that I'd like to put into a longer post sooner or later. Not today, though. Today, I need some thoughts from all of you. Seems like I ask for your thoughts, a lot, right? Clearly, I value your opinions.

Today, I'm wanting thoughts on two things. I believe I've mentioned before that I'm going to rework the Jackson Cane stories some. That's starting with the titles and the covers. I have two new covers that I like. But I don't always trust my opinion. I've liked the last two covers each of the stories has had, and those didn't help them sell anything at all. Like nothing.

So here are the new covers. What used to be Reunion is now Lincoln Lady. Or will be when these books relaunch. What used to be Scouts is changing to Three Dog Night.

Now, let me have it. Good titles? Good covers? These stories are part of an ongoing series. That's
why the covers look very similar.

OK, enough blabbing about it. What do you think? Let me have it.

P.S. One other thing. Had a good month for me in November. Sold 5 books. That pushes my total of ebooks sold to a round 200. Not much in comparison to others in the self-pubbing world, but it was nice to see things bounce back even for one month. Hoping to see more in December. None yet, but if I can have even another 5 that'll be great.

So, if you know someone who likes sci fi stories or crime stories let them know about Chasing Filthy Lucre.

Monday, November 11, 2013

New Cover for Chasing Filthy Lucre

A quick update. I worked with James over at GoOnWrite on a new cover for Chasing Filthy Lucre.
Sales have been stagnant. One of the issues -- at least I'm guessing it was an issue -- was that the cover wasn't doing it for people. It was time for a change.

James has premade covers. This was one of them, but I thought it fit the look and feel of Chasing Filthy Lucre perfectly. I've already told him that we are going to have to work together when it's time for Book 2 to come out. And, yes, Book 2 is going to come out. Hopefully some time early in the new year. I've plotted it as an 8 part book, and I'm nearing the end of writing Part 6. Everything in the story is downhill from here, so it should all go fast.

But this post is about the new cover. I'd love to know what you all think.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Breaking Bad, Marty Robbins, and other songs you should know

I never watched The Sopranos. Didn't watch Breaking Bad either. I don't have anything against either show, they just never made it to my list of must-watch TV. Maybe I'll catch up on Netflix. They do have something in common, however. Each of the series finales featured a song by one of my favorite bands/singers of all time. For The Sopranos it was Journey. For Breaking Bad it was Marty Robbins.

Robbins was one of my grandfather's favorite artists, so I was exposed to him as a kid. I'm familiar with his catalog. But if Sunday's Breaking Bad finale was your first time hearing Marty Robbins, he's got a long list of songs that are just as good as El Paso. Here are three I think you need to check out, keeping in mind that these are all going to sound a little dated. But in my book that makes them better.

This is maybe my favorite song of his, and it's mostly for the swing break in the middle featuring what sounds to me like an over-modulated bass guitar.

My favorite of Marty Robbin's gunfighter ballads, the same set of songs that El Paso came from. That's a fine song, also a favorite. But I'm a sucker for tight harmonies, and Cool Water is full of them.

I like harmonies, and I like an organ. This song has the organ break right in the middle that I like a lot. Plus the whole thing feels like one big grove to me. I like that too.

I couldn't include all the songs I wanted to here. I limited myself to three songs, and these were the three I came up with tonight. The mix might be different tomorrow. So, if any of these songs did anything for you, it's worth digging up other Marty Robbins stuff. It's classic country and early rock and roll, and almost all of it's good.

POST 500
This is the 500th post here at the blog. I debated doing something more with it, but just a normal post seemed appropriate. Plus, I got to share a bit about a guy my Papa loved to listen to. So that's cool enough for me.

Starting Friday and running through the weekend, Reunion will be free at Amazon. Maybe you've been hesitant to try the Jackson Cane series. If so, grab a copy this weekend and take that series for a test spin. I like it. I think it's fun. It just needs to find its audience. I'm sure it's out there. Maybe this little freebie period will help them find the book. Please, tell anyone you think might be interested about Reunion. Boiled down, it's cops and monsters. Thanks in advance for your help.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where were you on September 11?

I wrote this as a comment on Patrick Hester's blog about where he was on September 11, but it wouldn't post for some reason. I'd played with writing a post on this anyway, so, instead of wasting the words, I'm putting them here and adding a few more.

It's hard to believe it's been 12 years since the towers came down. Gina teaches sixth grade. The kids she's teaching this year were born after September 11. It's weird. I don't know why, but it is. I guess it's just the passage of time. It seems to have gone so quickly.

Twelve years ago today, I was at home. I was working in newspapers at the time. I was on the production side, and my work day didn't start until 3 p.m. Didn't end until after midnight, so I was asleep. Mom called to tell me that something was going on in New York. I got up and turned on the TV in time to see the second plane crash into the towers.

I watched stunned until about noon when it dawned on me that I was probably needed at the office. I made a call and went in shortly after. The rest of the day is a blur of news and newspapering.

I don't always think I have the same emotional memories of that day that others have. My day wasn't spent watching the coverage and talking to friends and relatives about what was happening, but watching the news wires and working with editors to put out a special edition in the early afternoon then three more regular editions that night.

Once I did get home, though, I didn't go to bed even though I was exhausted. I turned on the TV and watched the overnight coverage. It was mostly just people in New York walking around the dark streets. Still, I couldn't turn it off.

So where were you? What were you doing? What are you memories?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ira Glass on the creative process

I've seen this before, but just came across it again after a long time. It's worth sharing here in case you haven't seen it. Watch it. Take it to heart.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Your most valuable running advice

I don't think I've ever shared this here before, and I'm not sharing it now for sympathy. I'm doing it to explain some of the motivations for what I want to ask about.

I'm a Type 2 diabetic. I know I'm not alone, and I know that a large part of the responsibility for my situation sits squarely on my shoulders. I was dealt a pretty lousy hand by nature -- all the things that help lead to Diabetes run in my family. But I also did myself no favors by eating lousy food at late hours. And a lot of it.

For years I worked in the newspaper industry. That meant late nights at the office and late night stops at the drive thru. And when I ordered at those drive thrus I didn't just order a couple things. No, I ordered another full dinner. Burritos and cheeseburgers at midnight or later do your body no favors. That combined with a sedentary lifestyle led my weight to balloon. I was close to, if not over, 300 pounds for a while.

I don't have any proof, but I suspect that those years of eating four big meals a day -- including one as late as I was eating it -- and gaining a lot of weight accelerated my path down this course. My body became insulin resistant quicker. I got to my diagnoses of diabetic faster than I should have.

But that's where I am now. I have lost a lot of weight over the past few years, thanks in large part to Gina. Still, I take a lot of pills in the mornings. I don't want to take them anymore. So I've been trying to eat like they say I should and also trying to exercise. The food I feel pretty comfortable with. The exercise not as much.

I've chosen to start running. I'm actually enjoying it when I do it, something that's never happened to me before when it comes to running.

Thing is, I don't know anything about form or breathing or any of those things that would make me a better runner. I can search for the answer to those questions. Where you come in, though, I want to know from you runners all of the things that you wish'd you'd known before you started running What's something that someone should have told you? Help me out here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The History of Comic Con

I've never been to Comic Con. Until the last few years, I really had never had any interest. That's where the pop culture world is this week. Apparently, the thing has a long and interesting history. Including Star Wars in 1977. Check it out.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thoughts from 30,000 feet Part One

Left for a very short business trip yesterday morning. Fly back to Dallas today. If you follow me on Twitter you knew that. (You do follow me on Twitter, right? @JarrettRush.) I was tweeting the things I was seeing while I waited at the gate before we left Dallas, but, being a good traveler, I turned off my phone once I got on the plane. That meant no tweets. It didn't, however, mean no observations. Boy, did I have observations. And lucky for you, I had a notebook. That meant I could write these down. What follows is an almost stream-of-consciousness set of things I would have tweeted had the opportunity been there. This is the first half of my flight out of town. I'll post the second half later this week. Come fly with me.

Definition of a jerk: The guy in the exit row who still feels the need to lean his seat back.

Kudos to you, man, for holding firm when the young girl batted her eyes and tried to swap her middle seat for your aisle. Stay strong.

It's a drink cart. Don't get mad at the flight attendant if they don't have your favorite obscure regional soda as an option.

Apple juice is something I only drink away from home. Either at a hotel or on a plane. I don't think I've bought any for home in years.

This engaged couple next to me seems very nice. And she seems VERY excited about planning her wedding.

If you have to stand up to allow someone to get back in their seat there are other directions you can face so that your crotch isn't at my eye level, dude.

I've decided I like the young business man across the aisle from me. We haven't said a word to each other, but I think outside of here we could be friends. He's been incredibly patient with the spiky-haired kid next to him.

America, we have a weight problem. Entirely too many of you are hitting me with your bellies as you pass me to get to the restroom.

Speaking of restrooms. Do bladders shrink in flight? Is that something scientific? It's the only explanation for the number of people getting up to pee.

OK, I kind of have to pee.

The flight attendants take no guff. Now do you understand that they have no snacks? "You can keep asking me each time I pass, but that doesn't change the situation." Boom.

The lengths I will go to to contort my body so you can't lean you seat back surprises even me. I had no idea I was this flexible.

As long as we have an airline industry we'll have USA Today. The other regional newspapers may die, but there will always be a captive audience for McPaper.

OK, I think young businessman is using he on-board wifi to check his profile on the company website.

I once read something that said we take twice as long to leave a parking space as we take to pull in. Something about ownership and how we  feel it once we are in the spot and that makes us hesitant to give it up. That rule is double for airplane restrooms.

And, yes, I just had to use the restroom. So ashamed.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Six Million Dollar Horse

How do you make the world's coolest -- and creepiest -- robot better? You give it a throwing arm that actually looks like a head and mouth. The guys at Boston Dynamics have built the Six Million Dollar Horse. Happy Friday, everyone.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Americans on FX. Watch it. It's good.

(Pleas watch this. I like it, and that usually means a new show isn't long for this world.)
I don't know what to say beyond the headline. I just finished FX's new show The Americans. It's a 1980s-set spy drama told from the perspective of a pair of married KGB agents in Washington D.C. The first episode set up the rest of the series very well, and the show uses Fleetwood Mac's Tusk perfectly. Apparently I'm not the only one who thought so. The commenters on the YouTube video below say the same thing.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Unanimated animation

Unanimated isn't the write word, but I can't figure out a better way to describe this, but I had to share this very cool video.  I love unique storytelling. This is unique storytelling. It's part comic book and part animated movie, except there's no animation.
UPDATE: We are hearing reports that this is called a motion comic. That's so painfully obvious I should have just been able to guess it.

Productivity update
My small writer's group met last weekend, and we each set some goals. For two of us it was all about the writing. For me, it was about finishing the first part of the the second Chasing Filthy Lucre book by the next time we meet. I don't see that being a problem. I've got another week to do it and have written roughly 1,000 words this week. Not my goal, but I'm happy with anything.

I've got the fist part of the story outlined and it's made writing it so much easier. I added a wrinkle of subplot after I created the initial outline, but I think it makes the story better. It puts a little meat on the bones.

The other guy with a productivity goal was shooting for a page a day. I'm hoping he makes it. I'm going to try and send emails to everyone to encourage them to keep working. Productivity has never been a strong point for any of us. Hopefully, some between-meeting encouragement will help.

That's it for today. This one's short. See you on Monday.

Monday, January 21, 2013

My notebook sickness

I'm a writer, so it should be no surprise that I have a bit of an addiction to notebooks. I love paper and pens, always have. A clean sheet of paper and a smooth-writing pen. Two of my favorite things.

I love buying notebooks. Love cool covers. Love heavy paper. While Gina and I were out celebrating the anniversary of our first date we saw these notebooks with covers of classic harboiled novels on them. We bought one of each.

Then a few weeks later I found this one while looking for something for Gina.
(I carry this with me every day, but I haven't written one word in it.)

But here's the thing. As much as I like notebooks, I don't like writing in them. There's something about putting pen to those pages that jams me up. I feel some obligation to fill these cool notebooks with quality material.

I don't know if it's that they are a little more expensive than something that's spiral-bound that makes me feel like I can't just put random thoughts in them or what.

Am I the only one with this affliction? Please, someone else admit it so I don't feel alone.

Friday, January 18, 2013

What sci fi books do you recommend?

There are times as an author that I don't fee very well read. It's kind of embarrassing the number of books, both classic and otherwise, that I haven't read. I'm thinking more about the science fiction genre here rather than crime, but it really applies to both.

I want to be better read. I want to be able to have conversations about classic works with other readers and writers, but I don't feel like I can.

It was this article at io9 that made me think of this. If they were to ask me what great sci fi novel I wished I'd written I wouldn't really have an answer for them.

So, I'm turning to you, my loyal readers (You are there, aren't you? I'm not just shouting into the darkness here, am I?).  What science fiction books would you recommend? I'm thinking classics here, but they don't have to be. Just recommend something you liked.

Productivity Update
This isn't the best week to ask about this. I don't have an exact figure, because that would probably depress me. But I know I missed my goal. I did get some writing done one night, but not enough. So, let's just move on, shall we?

More help with Reunion and Scouts
Even though I didn't get a lot of writing done, I did do a lot of thinking about Reunion and Scouts. They just aren't selling. I've changed the covers. I've changed the blurbs. I don't know what to do with them, honestly. Right now -- and this may be the best idea -- I am thinking that I should pull them down, give them some rewrites, new titles, and then post them again when I have the other episodes in the serial story written and ready to publish. There are four other stories to tell in this "season." That's how I've always thought about these. And since serials are becoming kind of a thing right now, I'd like to get these fixed and back out there.

As for edits, I think the stories need to be a little bit crazier. I think more may need to happen in Reunion. I think it does a good job of setting up the characters and the world, but it may need to have the crazy turned up some. Honestly, it may need more dead bodies. Same thing can be said for Scouts.

I'm also playing with new titles. Reunion may become Lincoln Lady. And Scouts may become Three Dog Night. The one word titles obviously aren't working even if I liked them.

To help me figure out if I'm on the right track, I'd like your help. If you'd be willing to read either or both Reunion and Scouts and let me know what you think, I'd be glad to give you a free copy. These stories went through several drafts and multiple beta readers, but maybe they all missed something. I'd love to know what others think. So, if you'd want a free copy of either story, leave a comment letting me know that. Or email me and let me know. My email address is under the Contact Me tab at the top. I'll send you whatever electronic format plays nicest with whatever equipment you have. And my thanks in advance.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The inspiration of underground bacon

I know that I promised we'd talk about notebooks today, but I've changed my mind. If you've come here with the expectation of notebook talk, I truly apologize. We will get to it some day, maybe next Monday. But it is coming. I've already written the post, and I'm not one to waste my words. However, I stumbled across this video of a guy in Chicago who makes underground bacon and thought it was something that needed to be shared.

Wait. What? Underground bacon? Yes. There are rules and regulations that prohibit him from selling his craft bacon commercially, so he doesn't. He does it underground, hand selling to friends and family.

Anyway, there was something about his spirit of going it alone and doing it yourself that I really identified with. The video is only a few minutes long, but it's worth watching.

You can read the little lead in that the folks at Alternative Apparel's Common Thread blog wrote by clicking here. They also have some pretty screen captures of the bacon cooking process if you're into that kind of thing.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The sanctity of media

(Please, don't go.)
Something that caught my eye this week while bouncing around the Internet in my spare moments.

In a post on the Melville House blog, Dennis Johnson explains why indie authors and small presses shouldn't be celebrating what looks like the slow demise of  Barnes and Noble. Honestly, I can't say the demise is surprising. Media isn't sacred. It never has been. I saw it from the inside as I watched newspapers change and evolve.

It's the telling of the story that's important. The media the story is told on, not so much. So we can want things to stay the same, but that won't make it happen. In college I worked on the newspaper staff full time and in the summers and over holidays I sold CDs at a couple of different Blockbuster music stores. Today, both newspapers and record stores are either dying or dead. And if you'd have told me back then that's what was going to happen I'd have said you were crazy. But that's exactly what happened. But people still consume information, they just get it from a different place now. And they still buy music, new and old, they just buy it from a different place.

Johnson makes a good point about why we need bookstores. This chunk struck me.

Surveys say “showrooming” — seeing a thing before buying it — is an integral part of buying books online. One survey I wrote about a year ago posited that 40% of the people who buy books online looked at them in a bookstore first.


A New York Times report by David Streitfeld two weeks ago took the notion a step further. Noting that “the triumph of e-books over their physical brethren is not happening quite as fast as forecast,” Streitfeld floated the idea that this may be due to the “counterintuitive possibility … that the 2011 demise of Borders, the second-biggest chain, dealt a surprising blow to the e-book industry. Readers could no longer see what they wanted to go home and order.”

The idea of there being no more Barnes and Noble saddens me. When I was single and working nights, I was in a Barnes and Noble that looked a lot like the one above four or five times a week.  I bought something almost every time I was there. I loved it. Of course, this was before Kindles and Nooks and before the rise of Amazon. Now, I go to a Barnes and Noble a couple times a year. And I love books. So, if you are looking for someone to blame for the demise feel free to point a finger at me.

Productivity Update
Roughly 1,500 words. That's what I wrote this week. It's about 500 off the pace I want to keep, which is a just under 2,000 words a week. A good day this weekend and I'll be able to make that up. In a previous post I mentioned starting up a word count tracker int eh right column over there. I still might, but I think for now I'll just tack this little bit onto the end of the Friday post.

That's it from me. Have a great weekend, folks. And come back on Monday. We're talking notebooks. It's very exciting.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Give me your movie recommendations

(The Hobbit, the first movie we saw in 5 months.)

It's not an original complaint from new parents, and, honestly, it's not a complaint at all. Ever since Ellie came along Gina and I haven't been able to see movies like we used to. We weren't every-weekend moviegoers when it was just the two of us, but we did go pretty regularly. But before we went on a movie binge and saw The Hobbit, Jack Reacher, and Lincoln in the last couple weeks, we hadn't been to a movie since The Dark Knight Rises in July.

We know we've missed stuff, and we've gone back to the list of releases month by month for the last half of 2012. We have our list of stuff we still want to see, but we also want your recommendations. What did you see the second part of 2012 that we should also see? Keep in mind that we are blockbuster people. We don't go in much for the character studies, or the relationship dramas. We like things like The Hobbit and The Dark Knight Rises. Big budgets, big sets, big action

So, let's hear it. What do you recommend?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Writing goals for 2013

It's something I have to tell myself over and over again, especially when thinking about this writing thing. You can only control the things you can control. You can't make someone buy your book. You can't control someone's reaction to your work. The only think you can control is your output. So, with that in mind, here's the plan for 2013.

The second book in the CHASING FILTHY LUCRE series. Two false starts and roughly 50,000 words later, this attempt feels like it's going in the right direction. It's the logical next step for the story. I had an overarching four-book plot planned when I started CFL, and every time I've started to write the second book I've stuck to that plan. I think that's what the problem was. It was a great plan for the overarching story, but where book 2 was supposed to start didn't make sense. Now, it does.  
And when I'm finished: This is one I'll self publish.

The third and fourth JACKSON CANE stories. This is another case where I know the overarching story. I also know what needs to happen in each of the next four stories. The next two in the series should be easy to write. The trick with these stories is getting people to read them. I've said this before, but I like these stories. I like them a lot. They are fun to write, they are fun to read, at least I hope that second part is true. I just can't seem to find them an audience. That's another project for the New Year.
And when I'm finished: Self publishing these too. 

Pirates short story from my phone. I was playing with a plain text editor on my phone and got to writing a pirate story I'd been thinking about for a few weeks. I wrote about 700 words while I was waiting to get my haircut, and then I wrote another 1,000 words while killing time elsewhere. It's a good story with the possibility of more stories in the same world. I'm tentatively titling it Captain on the Sultan's Sea, but that's just for now.
And when I'm finished: I haven't decided what I'm going to do with it just yet, but I'm thinking it'll be something I send out to see if I can't find it a home in an anthology or magazine. Like I said, I think this world has the potential for many stories to come from it. That's what has me hesitating about sending it out. I don't know that I want to give up control of the series opener. But this also feels like something that could be sold. So that's where I'm leaning right now.

IN THE HOLLOWS. This is something that I started while I was laid off. I got about 5,000 words into it before I put it aside so I could focus on finishing the second CHASING FILTHY LUCRE book. And you can tell from the earlier paragraph how well that turned out. But this story i'\s something that I like and think has some potential. And, apparently, I only write stuff that can be made into series.
And when I'm finished: This one I'm pretty sure that I'll send out. Same reservations with the pirate story, but, again, I'm leaning to submitting this one.

So that's it. Those are my writing goals for 2013. The stuff I can control. Five stories/books in 365 days. Totally doable.

Addendum: A little peak behind the curtain. I wrote this post a week ago. Since then, I've decided to add another goal to the list. I want to write 100,000 words in 2013. Doing the math, that's just 275 words a day. That's a very manageable number. I'm playing with  adding a counter over there in some of that space on the right, but not sure yet. They can be a pain to update, or I'll forget and it will be stuck at some embarrassingly small total for the entire year.

But, there you go. One more goal. That's really it this time.