Create, Pitch, Sell

Year End Review

Looking Backward:

January: We tried to prepare the RV for travel, but one snowstorm after another hit the Midwest. I'm anxious to get on the road. Meet new people. Discover new places. Perhaps pitch my stories along the way, while soaking up inspiration for many more.

February: Packed and ready to go. A big storm moved in. Snowplows came through and blocked the end of the driveway with a three-foot high wall. Whiteout conditions.

March: (1) Finally on the road! Traveling all across the US, exploring the country one state at a time. It's going to be a great adventure. I'm especially enjoying not having to shovel the driveway anymore. (2) SMOKE ON THE WATER made the Ten Most Popular Frugal Finds list on The Frugal eReader.

April: (1) Completed and uploaded FIRE FLICKS. (2) I've been on the road for around six weeks. I really love this lifestyle. The ordinary life is not for me. (3) We spent Easter bike riding in the warm sunshine on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Peddled right on in to the next town. Stopped to rest on a bench along the shoreline. I found a rubber fishing lure with a deadly three-pronged hook. While looking for a safe place to put the lure a seagull spotted it. Nose-dived toward my hand. Seconds later, several gulls arrived. They must've thought it was a real fish. We tried to hide the lure in the tall grass but the gulls were watching. We ended up walking all over the area until we found a trashcan ... with a lid! I wish anglers would be more careful.

May: (1) Researched Corpus Christi, Texas for the sequel to SERIAL QUILLER. (2) I decided to use a couple of slices of bread to find out what kinds of fish are lurking beneath a nearby pier. I pitched a piece of bread to the water. A seagull swooped in so fast the bread never hit the water. I ignored him and tried to feed the fish. Within seconds, I heard the incessant yackhammer squawk of many seagulls. I went ahead and threw handfuls of bread up in the air for them to catch. A blue heron flew down to the pier. I was out of bread now. The gulls seemed to realize the party was over. They lined up across the railing on one side of the pier. Suddenly, the heron jumped down off the railing and landed in the middle of the walkway. He honked once at the gulls. No kiddin'. I'm sure it was some sort of a quack, but it came out like a honk. Some of the gulls took off. The heron strutted his stuff along the walkway toward the shoreline, looking back at me every once in a while. Eventually, he grew bored with his little game and flew away. I never did find out what kinds of fish are lurking below the pier. Maybe the heron was trying to warn me that I was better off not knowing.

June: On a particularly lazy, hazy day – the kind where you might find yourself whistling Linda Ronstadt's Blue Bayou while walking barefoot in the sand – we slowly peddled our Schwinns back to the RV after a nice outing. I happened to look at the side of the road in time to see a baby tarantula emerging from under a pile of leaves. It was on the move. I steered around it, rushed home (RV) to shut all of the windows. Tarantulas are carnivores, y'know. I didn't just shut them I locked them, as well. I was sure it was still out there. Close by. Lurking in the shadow of a fallen leaf or limb. Just waiting for me to kick off my sneakers before I go walking in the sand. Will I hear his little toes scratch the canvas when he climbs inside one of my shoes? If I peer over my shoulder will I find him burrowing underground like the Graboid in the movie, Tremors? Do I holler STAMPEDE? Send out a distress signal? Or kick back and enjoy a cocktail called The Blue Bayou, and let the spider go wherever it wants to find a new home?

July: (1) Finished and uploaded ASHES OF VENGEANCE, the last book in the Hellfire Trilogy. (2) A bad storm was headed our way. We decided to stroll across the pier while we still had the chance. Two dark fins broke the surface of the water. Sharks? We hurried across the wooden planks swinging our heads shoulder to shoulder, not sure which direction to focus our attention. Three others went under the pier and came out on the opposite side. We were finally close enough to see them. Dolphins! No more than forty feet from the shore. What a magnificent sight. I'd never seen them in the wild. I couldn't stop smiling for the longest time.

August: (1) Up until now, I've only had my titles for sale on Amazon. This month I also made them available on Smashwords, Apple, Diesel, Sony, Kobo and Nook. It's taking quite a while, though, for most of these eRetailers to upload them to their site. (2) An amazing thing happened one afternoon. I was able to rescue a bird, similar to a seagull, that had a three-pronged fishing lure stuck in its neck. I held the bird with both hands until someone from the Parks and Wildlife Service arrived. I've always been a champion of the underdog, which made it easy for me to fight for the life of the bird like I did. What surprises me, though, is how easily I wrapped my bare hands around it without being scared or squeamish, even after it bit my hand hard enough to make a bruise. Three hours later I sold two books. Thanks, little bird. :)

September: Wrote and uploaded three short stories to all venues: BONNIE PARKER SMILE, NIGHT OF THE DARK, and SHRINKING VIOLETTE.

October: Wrote and uploaded GAR, a short story.

November: Completed and uploaded KILLING SUMMER, a mystery novel that was "inspired by" a true crime. I researched this story a couple of years ago with the intention of writing a nonfiction story. (2) I wanted to have eleven titles for sale by the eleventh day of this eleventh month. I planned to finish four short stories, already works-in-progress, in order to reach my goal. This novel got in the way.

December: (1) I'm still on the road. Have met a lot of interesting people. I love being one of over a million RVer's rolling across America. (2) Wrote and uploaded STAY WITH ME and A BURNING DESIRE. (3) Made a rough draft of my RVing adventures. I'm either going to submit individual nonfiction short stories to travel magazines, or I'm making a collection and putting it online.

My thoughts on self-publishing:

December 2010 – After twelve long and miserable years of querying agents and small press publishers, I shut it all down. Put my first novel on Amazon in October, and the second one in November.
December 2011 – I put up nine titles this year. I am very happy I did what was best for me. I'll never regret choosing to become an indie author. It has changed my life. Instead of spending, er, wasting time sending out queries I've gotten quite a bit of writing done. I've also had a lot of fun making my own book covers. So. If I hadn't taken the initiative and moved forward I'd still be checking mail for a response to my query letters. Many of those responses were never even sent out. Had I ever found representation, though, I'd have to wait at least eighteen months just for ONE title to be released. I'm guessing it would take almost twenty years to put eleven titles out there. Why would I want to go through that? Other writers have found great success in ebooks. Who's to say I can't?

Thank you, to everyone who reads this blog. Thank you, to everyone who bought one or more of my stories. Thank you, to everyone who offered words of encouragement.

Looking Forward:

I have several new and exciting projects lined up for 2012. I'll tell you all about them in January. In the meantime, I am (finally) taking the rest of the month off. Going bike riding and sightseeing, and thoroughly enjoy not having to shovel the driveway. Cheers!