so many things!

April 17, 2015

Once again I will be taking part in the HorrorFest segment of StarFest — Saturday only, tomorrow!  Signing books, doing panels, shopping for geek stuff.  Maybe I’ll see you there?

Behold, the latest newsletter of the Holy Taco Church, a place devoted entirely to food and words.  YUM.

I’m trying to figure out what else is coming up, but all my calendar says is “dentist appointment.”  Grrrr.  I do know a couple of short stories are going to be wending their way online over the summer, and we’re gearing up for the release of KITTY SAVES THE WORLD.  I haven’t started getting nervous yet, but I’m sure I will at some point very soon.  Yikes!

Here’s a sneak peek from the book’s playlist, Ian Cooke’s “Fortitude”:

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Did I ever talk about the playlist for Paranormal Bromance?  I don’t think I did!  Like other shorter stories from Kitty World, this doesn’t have a playlist, but it does have a song that got stuck on repeat while I was writing it.  This one:

It’s funny, because I’m not a fan of Nirvana.  Never was.  They hit big when I was college and I should have been exactly in the demographic of their fan base.  The thing was, I wasn’t done with the New Wave yet, and the grunge movement was specifically a reaction to the 1980’s electronic pop music that I loved, and it annoyed the hell out of me.  The popularity of Nirvana annoyed the hell out of me.  There were a couple of years there where I couldn’t seem to get away from them.

But the characters in Paranormal Bromance?  They would have been fans.  And while hearing Nirvana turn up on classic rock stations over the last ten years has amused me to no end, it would really bother Sam — as he states in the story.  (For my part, hearing Duran Duran turn up on the local Oldies station — not the classic rock station, mind you, the actual oldies station, the same one that used to play Buddy Holly all the time — led to much wailing and gnashing of teeth.)

So, I listened to Nirvana voluntarily for the first time ever.  And I have to admit, I do like this song.  It belongs with the story.

 

Vaughn-ParanormalBromance - CopyIt’s been a little over a month since I released Paranormal Bromance.  Now, I’m going to talk a little bit about the hows and whys of it.

I think it’s an indication of how far self publishing via e-book has come over the last few years that no one has asked me, “Hey, you self published that thing, why did you — a traditional bestselling author — do that?”  No one from either the self pub camp or the traditional camp is pointing at me yelling “Splitter!” But for the sake of getting a few more data points out there, I thought I’d offer my answers anyway.  Why self publish?  Why now? Why this?

 

 

First, it’s a weird length, about 22,000 words. It’s tough to find markets at that length.

Second, I did a test submission to an established market to get feedback. The story was rejected, but with glowing comments accompanying it. This clarified some thoughts I’d had: the markets I know of that publish novellas are mostly straight-up science fiction and fantasy, and those markets don’t usually go near urban fantasy/paranormal fiction.

Third, and this is the important part, I realized that the audience most likely to want to read Paranormal Bromance doesn’t tend to read those novella-publishing SF&F markets. They do, however, tend to be really plugged in to the world of e-books.

E-publishing then seemed like the best way to get this book to the audience who would actually like to read it. And really, is there a better reason to self publish an e-book?  (I’ve had a few people ask if this is coming out in print — but there’s that length problem. It’s not a full length novel, it’s not a short story. I’ll have to see about opportunities to put this into print.  Maybe with a collection of other things.  We’ll see what I can do.)

This was a bit of an experiment, and I’m happy to say the experiment is a success.  I mostly wanted to see if I could earn back what I spent to produce this book in a reasonable amount of time — and I did, within a couple of weeks.  The novella is selling steadily, at least few copies every day.  I’m encouraged to do more of this kind of thing.  I have dozens of short stories that only saw print in magazines that are no longer available, and I think this would be a good way to get them back in the world and make a little extra money doing it.

Other thoughts about where my brain’s been with this whole thing:

Some five or six years ago, everybody got a Kindle for Christmas and the e-book revolution took off. I remember feeling a great deal of anxiety at the time — not because I thought e-publishing was going to kill off “real” books or my career like so many pundits claimed, but because among various writing communities I’m keyed into there was a sudden, overwhelming pressure to jump on that bandwagon right now. The e-book revolution was going to save the midlist. Get your backlist up on Kindle (I don’t have an out of print backlist of novels), get all your short stories up on Kindle at 99 cents (I have 70+ short stories, many of which are already available online for free. Just no.). Do something, anything, or be left behind. It was a feeding frenzy. As if everyone had to get a piece of the action before it went away. There was a lot of flailing and panic.

This was the stretch of time where I had four books coming out a year, had overextended myself, and I just didn’t have time to do anything about e-publishing. Or need, really — did I mention four books a year? So I took a deep breath, sat back, and watched.

I’m really glad I waited.

Things have settled down a bit, and the consensus among writers is moving more toward “hybrid” publishing as being the most viable model. It’s about diversification, which is something writers like John Scalzi have been advocating for years. And for writers like me who have a bunch of old stories sitting around not doing anything, it offers yet another way to reach our audience.  This publication was a success, but I’m going to keep focusing the majority of my efforts on the traditional model, because I’m absolutely certain that Paranormal Bromance would not be doing well at all if I didn’t already have an enthusiastic audience on my side. (Thank you, audience!)

I’m in a weird place — as a NYT bestseller I’m not exactly midlist. But as a consistently mid-teens NYT bestseller I’m not a big dog by any stretch. I’m not free and clear, and I can’t call shots with publishers. I still get book proposals rejected. So, I’m always looking for new opportunities.

The other benefit of waiting: It turns out I have smart, talented friends who jumped into that fray early on, learned a ton about it, and when the time came were happy to help me out. I reached out to E.M. Tippetts and her book design company.  I’ve known Emily for a long time — we used to share a hotel room at MileHi Con when we were in our 20’s and poor and struggling.  She’s very smart about e-books, and she’s in my corner. BTW, this is how networking works — it’s horizontal, not vertical. You meet people, and you all travel the road together, helping each other along the way.

I’d been working on this novella for a long time before publishing it, mostly because I dawdled, because I didn’t know what I was going to do with the thing. Even when I decided to go the e-publishing route, it took a long time to figure out the best way to make that happen.  The best way for me ended up being hiring an editor, a cover artist, and a book designer. This is another reason why waiting was a good thing for me: right now, my time is better spent working on new content, not working to re-invent the wheel to get that content out to others.  I can rely on other peoples’ expertise for that.

Something else I learned: all the sites have day by day, sometimes hour by hour stats on what you’ve sold and how much money you’ve made. This is kind of nuts. It can be super gratifying to log in a couple of times a day and watch those counters tick ever upward. And I also imagine it can be super discouraging if those tickers don’t move at all. As I understand it, this access to statistics has given rise to lots of ways to game the system — promotions, sales, changing the price, trying lots of different things to keep those tickers moving up. It feels a little like rats pushing the button to get the food pellet. At this time I’ve chosen not to engage in a lot of gaming of the system.  I’m lucky in that I feel like I don’t have to. This is a side venture at the moment, and it behooves me not to spend great big chunks of time and money on it.

Once again: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. (This lesson keeps getting demonstrated in new and wonderful ways.) E-publishing is not a zero-sum game. It’s always going to be there, and I can take my time jumping into it thoughtfully, and not in a panic. I’ve spent 10 years building my reputation as an author — my brand, if you like — on the foundation of the Kitty series. Whatever direction I decide to go, as long as I write the best stories I can and keep pushing the envelope of my skill and creativity, it’s going to be okay. I can experiment. I can put stuff out in the world and see what happens.

It’s going to be okay.

 

kitty saves the world MM

 

This is the next Kitty book!  It’s also the last one in the series.

I’ve mentioned it here and there, usually only at signings when the topic comes up.  A few times I’ve said flat out:  When you see Kitty Saves the World, you’ll know it’s the last book.  I’ve been planning this for a long time.  And now it’s here, and it feels like the right decision.  It’s been exciting and satisfying to work on this.  Like graduating.  It’s time.

One of the things that’s happened over the course of writing the series is I would always have too many ideas for each book, and the extra ideas would go into one of the next books.  Right now?  I don’t have an idea for what comes next.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve got lots and lots of ideas:  I want to write about Rick as a Vatican-sponsored warrior against evil, I want to write about him in the Old West, I have at least a couple more novels about Cormac I want to write, and I want to write stories tying the world of “The Beaux Wilde” into the history of the series, and then there’s the witches in Manitou Springs to write about…

But Kitty’s story?  The arc I’ve been working on for the last ten years?  It has an end.  I think it’s a really slam-bang ending that you’ll all love.  At least I hope you will.

I feel incredibly, massively lucky I’ve been able to write this series and Kitty’s story the way I wanted, and that I’m wrapping it up exactly when I want to.  A lot of authors don’t get that chance, especially with a long series like this and the unpredictability of publishing.  Finishing the series is my decision, and I really needed to do it while I still had a chance to do so on my own terms.  And thank you to my readers who’ve come all this way with me.  You made it happen, so thanks.

I won’t say there’ll never be another novel about Kitty — never say never and all that.  I actually have another story to tell about her, but it’s something like 20 years after the events of this book and it really needs time to cook before I even dig into it, if it even goes anywhere.  But for now, it’s time for a break.  At least from the series.  Don’t worry, I have plenty of other stories and books to write.  I’m getting started on them RIGHT NOW!

Kitty Saves the World is due out August 4, 2015.  I really hope it knocks your socks off.  Thanks for reading.

NOTE:  I’m on the road right now — I’ll be at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe tonight. Stop by if you can!  But what that means is I may not be around to answer questions right away.  I’ll get to them when I get home in a day or two.  THANK YOU!

 

 

LOW MIDNIGHT is here!

December 31, 2014

Low Midnight - small

Happy Book Birthday to Low Midnight!  This one feels like it’s taken forever to emerge into the light, but it’s here now, and it’s gotten some pretty great reviews from places like Publishers Weekly.  I’m finally letting out a sigh of relief.

A book birthday is a pretty good way to celebrate the turning of the year, all in all!  Happy New Year, everybody!

What else did I do this week?  I finished revising Rise of the Golden Age.  I still need to read it over one more time, and then it’ll be ready to go.  And the beat goes on.

Now to figure out what the heck I’m going to work on next…

 

It’s here!

The Kindle version of Paranormal Bromance is now live!

Vaughn-ParanormalBromance - Copy

This is the story of Sam, who is a vampire, but not a particularly good one.  And now he’s having a midlife crisis. Or is that a mid-unlife crisis?

Nook, iBooks, and Kobo versions are on the way.  I’ll get those links up just as soon as they’re live. (I’m still on a learning curve with this stuff.)  Update:  Kobo version is live!  And here’s the Nook version!  And here’s the iTunes. Only took three days, woot!

I need to thank Emily of E.M. Tippetts Book Design for holding my hand through this whole endeavor, and Maureen McHugh and Paolo Bacigalupi for the pep talks that made me finally get this thing out into the world.

A couple of other notes:

Check out the new Holy Taco Church newsletter.

I’m also in the process of spinning up a newsletter of my own. I had an old e-mail list, but I’m going to phase that out.  Sign up for the new one here.

Oh my gosh, this has been such a busy month. But it’s all coming together…

 

shopping

December 10, 2014

I’m a fan of shopping locally, from independent businesses, whenever I can. I’m doing a pretty good job for my holiday shopping this year, I think.

A couple of local artists/businesses that I like: Ildanach Studios makes jewelry from recycled copper, really unique stuff. They also have SCA medallions and period pieces. Dryad Tea makes some really great tea blends.

Most of the yarn for my knitting projects came from a local yarn shop. I got a bunch of gifts at the Georgetown Christmas Market last weekend. I’ve ordered some books to be picked up at the Tattered Cover Bookstore.  By the way, the Broadway Book Mall may still have some signed copies of my books, and they ship. I even stopped off at our local “paint your own pottery” place last weekend to get all crafty and stuff.

MORE BOOKS! A charity anthology that I’m in, Fantasy for Good, just came out. My story, “Dancing with the Mouse King,” happens to be a holiday story. Good timing there! Can you guess what the story’s about?

Oh, and here’s one more thing. Before I went to Worldcon in London in August, a fan of the Kitty books asked if she could make a T-shirt. Turns out, another fan had already done a logo. The T-shirt was a hit, and everyone who saw it, or pictures of it, wanted one.

So with the permission of Trish, who designed the shirt, and Brittany, who designed the KNOB logo, I’ve recreated the shirt and put it up on Zazzle, along with mugs and bumper stickers, because of course a radio station has to have mugs and bumper stickers.

Here is the link to the Carrie and Kitty Zazzle store!

All proceeds from store sales will go to a couple of charities: the Yellowstone Foundation and the International Wolf Center. Both are concerned with education and conservation of wolves and wilderness, which seems appropriate.

(Note: I’ve ordered the first shirt and it should be here any day. I’m kind of crossing my fingers that they turn out okay in person since we had to futz with the design a bit. I’ll let you know when I see it. But I really wanted to get the link up in time for holiday ordering because OMG gifts!)

So yeah. We have Kitty t-shirts now!

female_knob_t_shirt-r2daa0e6c6b104d52b2b181ade7d95d83_8nax8_324