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Thoughts From a Writer’s Brain, #46

Subconscious: Heya.

Me: Hi.

SC: Sooooo … you’ve been getting kinda whiny on social media about your book sales. You know, nobody likes to be guilted into buying stuff.

Me: *sigh* Yes, I know. I won’t do that anymore. And I wasn’t trying to guilt people. I was just trying to get some word of mouth going.

SC: Really?

Me: Oh, bite me. I already feel bad about it. I’m just going to shut up and write more books. If I can.

SC: Melodramatic cliffhanger much?

Me: God, you’re a bitch.

SC: You should know. Okay, fine, why “if I can?”

Me: Because my damn laptop is over eight years old and my desktop is over nine years old. Both of them are failing, and I really need to buy new ones before they completely die on me.

SC: Tell me you’re backing up.

Me: Religiously and onto multiple devices. But backups aren’t going to be of any use if I don’t have hardware to run them on.

SC: So why didn’t you just say that your computers are crapping out and you need to buy new ones?

Me: Well, hell, Chuck Wendig just did something like that for his vet bills and people jumped all over his ass. And I’m no Chuck Wendig.

SC: Verily, that is true.

Me: Also, it didn’t occur to me.

SC: Jesus. You’re telling me that saying, “Hey, folks, my antique computers are on the verge of joining the choir eternal so please buy my books so that I can get new ones and keep writing” didn’t occur to you, but “Oh, jeez, my books aren’t selling, woe is me” did?

Me: Fuck you.

SC: Not anatomically possible but an amusing suggestion nonetheless. Why are you in such a bad mood, anyway?

Me: Because I’m cleaning. I hate cleaning. I always wind up drenched in sweat and covered in cat hair. But it has to be done.

SC: You could be writing–

Me: YES I KNOW THAT BUT WE LIVE WITH FIVE CATS AND RANDY TREES OUTSIDE AND I HAVE TO VACUUM IF I WANT TO CONTINUE BREATHING, OKAY?

SC: Yeesh. Okay. But you’re going to be taking breaks, right?

Me: Duh.

SC: Okay, then. You can work on one of your WIPs during your breaks. See? That was easy.

Me: I–you– *incoherent with rage*

SC: Do you want a new laptop and desktop?

Me: *grinds teeth and goes back to dusting*

Wednesday musings on writing

It occurred to me earlier today that I’ve been working professionally in the writing dodge (and by professionally I mean people have given me money in exchange for my words) for about twenty-two years, now. My writing career can legally drink, if not rent a car. Which is probably for the best, if you think about it.

So while I may bitch and moan about sales at times, in retrospect I’m actually pretty happy with where I’ve gotten to at this point. Between my SF and romance names (by the way, you all DO know that I write science fiction and urban fantasy as Melanie Fletcher, right?) I have seven full-length novels, three novellas, two novelettes, and twenty-six short stories to my credit. That’s not bad at all, especially since I’ll be bringing out at least another three novels this year as well as more novellas and short stories.

And not only have I been publishing, but I’ve been gifted with a fiercely devoted band of readers (you know who you are, and you are all in the will), plus I’ve been getting critical attention for my work. Night Owl Reviews just did an interview with me, and the lovely and talented Cynthia Sax will also have an interview on Degree of Resistance up on her website soon. So, yeah, I’ve actually done pretty well in my career so far (take that, Imposter Syndrome!).

Fabulous, I hear you say, but why are you babbling at us about this? Well, 1) because I can, and 2) it helps to work out what I’m going to do next. This year I’ve decided to concentrate on leveling up to the next professional step; namely, increasing my readership, shooting for a USA Today bestseller list slot, and maybe even winning an award or two (although I’m reminded of the fact that Sir Terry Pratchett, he of the insanely successful and brilliant Discworld series, never won anything until late in his career. People rarely take humor with the seriousness it deserves. But I digress). And the best way to do all that is to keep writing, keep publishing, and keep entertaining folks, which, yeah, just twist my arm already.

Did I mention that you’re all cruel but beautiful, and I love you oodles for reading my stuff? Because I do.

Lord, it’s Sunday night already

NotEnoughCaffeineI honestly don’t know where this weekend went to. Well, no, I do — it went into sending out copies of Degree of Resistance to my beta readers, finalizing the cover for DoR, setting up pre-sales at Amazon (available here if you’re of a mind to pick it up for 99¢ before it goes up to $3.99 on release day), cleaning my utter sty of an office (whereupon I discovered that one of my furry darlings peed in my office closet, which required me to move everything off the floor so that I could attend the stain with the portable rug cleaner and some Nature’s Miracle, whee…), doing laundry, attending a meeting at the local Democrats office, having coffee with one of my beta readers who reassured me that she was enjoying the story so far (and she will tell me if I’m screwing up), adding DoR here to the Bookshelf, creating ads and doing promo on social media, and formatting the DoR ebook. I’m going to hold off on doing the print version until I have all of the other edits done, but in the meantime I can get the print version of Palace of Scoundrels finally done and published, which would be nice seeing as it was released in, oh, late October.

Yeah, well, we were kind of busy around that time.

Anyhoo, yeah, the weekend kinda got away from me and I still need to put all the laundry away, pay bills, and finish cleaning the office (aren’t you envious of my glamorous life?). But by God I’m going to hit the ground running tomorrow, especially since I don’t have to start Round Three of edits on DoR until Wednesday (I swear to God I actually have a schedule this time), and that means I can continue to edit the alternate history mystery starring Edgar Allan Poe and Lewis Carroll that’s been languishing on my hard drive for the last three years and get it ready for release on 2/28.

Two books released in one month. Yeah, I like the sound of that.

It’s GOOD to have writer friends

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This is Jeremy, looking at me and wondering when I’m going to put this warm silver thing down and feed him. He’s one of five cats who do this to me on a regular basis. I’m amazed I ever manage to finish a book.

So I’m working on Palace of Scoundrels (Two Thrones #2) and Matthias is not having a good time. His ally Tomas Villiers, Duke of Kelles and fearsome guardian of the Ypresian North Border, has fallen in love with and kindasorta kidnapped Lady Sibeal LeClerq, daughter of Henrietta LeClerq, Countess of Lierde (also a powerful Terra magistra and owner of the most fertile farmlands in Ypres).

Un petit problem — Sibeal has already been betrothed to Lord Clement Reynard, heir of the Earl of Leuwen (a rather recently ennobled family, and filthy rich). Clement was originally betrothed to Sibeal’s older sister Amelie, but they had a dreadful argument and Amelie broke the betrothal and refuses to take him back. The countess offered the Reynards Sibeal instead, and she was accepted. But Sibeal is in love with Villiers and doesn’t want to marry Reynard. Unfortunately, her mother laid a sterility spell on her and refuses to lift it unless Sibeal marries Reynard, and both Villiers and Sibeal really want children.

So they toss this in Matthias’s lap to sort out, which gives both him and me a headache (there’s a reason why I don’t usually write political intrigue). I was complaining to the brilliant and talented Michelle Muenzler that I had no idea why the Countess was so all-fired to marry one of her daughters off to the Reynards but it had to be important. Glorious woman that she is, she promptly said, “It’s not her pushing this. The Earl has something on the Countess, something major that could ruin her reputation and endanger her lands, and he wants to marry his son into her (major noble) family or he spills the beans.”

Et voila, the clouds parted, the sun shone, and I knew the Earl of Leuwen’s motivation and how this whole mess got started. More importantly, I think I know how to resolve it entertainingly. Now I just have to add a touch more flesh to the problem in Hellas (there’s a reason why I’m calling this Palace of Scoundrels, you know), and I have a complete book. Whee!

Oh, while I’m on the topic of political intrigue and thrones, something has recently come to my attention and I need to swear on the head of Barbara Cartland that I had never seen NOR read Game of Thrones until this July. I’m saying this now because I’m currently on book three and thinking, “Fuck, they have a young queen called Dany and I have a young queen called Danaë. And the Hound calls Sansa “little bird.” And there’s a divine entity called Lys — FUCK. They’re going to think I’m ripping off GoT.” All I can say in my defense is that European history, language, and terminology are being called upon lavishly by both myself and George R.R. Martin, and sometimes there’s going to be overlap. But from this point onward I will do my utmost to stay as far away from the terms of Westeros as possible.

Nicola’s Progress Reports

NotEnoughCaffeineSince I was poked by my buddy Peter on this:

Palace of Scoundrels (Empress sequel) – 1,645 words since I spent a fair amount of time outlining the thing. Nonetheless I’m hoping to have this done by RT — I would like to have it out and available, but that may not be possible. We’ll see.

Behind the Iron Cross – 76,039 words and I’m storming into Act Three as we speak. This one is gonna take mega editing, though.

Cross Current (Olympic Cove #4) – 3,538 words, and I came up with a refinement for my main character that is extremely organic and effective AND makes the story more diverse.

“Do No Harm” (Dark Captive antho entry for Evernight) – 1,520 words. This is the one I really have to focus on since the deadline is March 15th. It’s also the most difficult of the bunch because, well, here’s the antho description:

Dark Captive will be a collection of dark erotic romance stories featuring alpha men with fierce sexual appetites. They’ll stop at nothing to get what they want. And they have their sights on one man. Possessive and bold, these heroes give their conquests exactly what they crave—to be taken … to be owned. Any resistance offered will be tested, but in the end love rules.  

So, dubcon with a romance and HEA/HFN. Kinda hard to do that effectively in less than 25K words, but I think I found a way to make it work.

I’m also trying to catch up on some desperately needed housework in my spare time, but I think I’m breaking down and paying for a professional spring cleaning of the place after I get back from RT. My blue collar South Side soul is screaming blue murder at this, but my professional writer brain is saying, “You can spend time cleaning or you can spend time writing. Which is more productive and satisfying to you? Plus if you hire a service you’re pumping money into the economy, and you can give them mega tips to shut up that screeching soul of yours.” Works for me.

Who Am I, And What Did I Do With Myself?

YouShouldBeWriting

Because DAMN, I woke up productive today. Got the car safety inspection knocked out at the same time as the oil change, stopped off at Sprouts and got healthy stuff for lunch and dinner, came home and balanced my checkbook, filed all unfiled personal and business receipts in preparation for tax work this week, paid all the bills including the mortgage, filed THAT paperwork, and put away all the swag bag makings and cleaned off my design desk (granted, my office still needs to be cleaned, dusted, and vacuumed, but I figure I can do that tomorrow). I even have laundry from Wild Wicked Weekend churning through the machines and posted a thank you in the FB group for the awesome organizers and attendees.

In other words, it’s amazing what happens when your perimenopausal uterus eventually gets its shit in gear and generates a period, which means that all the excess water you’ve been storing like a good little camel finally, FINALLY begins to drain away. And yes, that’s TMI, but I’ve had serious-ass cankles going on since the 21st, look like Ms. Michelin Man in all the pics from the weekend, and had to keep taking naps so that I didn’t wind up snoozing on one of the ballroom tables. The human uterus is proof positive that there is no Divine Engineer because no tech worth their salt would come up with an organ that wreaks this much havoc on the rest of the body.

Anyway, yeah, feeling better and am working up a plan of attack for the rest of the week which will include much writing, getting the taxes ready for our lovely accountant, and as much cleaning as I can handle without falling over and crying. Onward to March!

(Oh, and yes, I watched the Oscars last night. Stunning wins by Mark Rylance and Brie Larson, mystifying win by Sam Smith, and I absolutely loved all the snarking going on.)

Happy anniversary to me!

storm-season_webFacebook’s Memories function has just been kind enough to remind me that three years ago today I got my acceptance from Evernight on Storm Season. My exact post on the topic was:

So, yeah, uh, I just sold my first standalone novel, Storm Season, to Evernight Publishing. Um…I’m a novelist. So what do I do now?

The answer is, write another novel, of course. Which I did, and I thank each and every one of you out there who has been buying them and chivvying me to write more. Y’all rock.

Speaking of books, writing continues apace in the Cameron manse. I’ve started on Palace of Scoundrels (the Empress sequel) and I’m flipping back and forth between that, Iron Cross, and Cross Current depending on my mood. Hey, it works for a lot of bestselling authors so why not me? But three books (plus a short story, plus another project that I’ll announce here in due time) apparently isn’t enough for my sozzled slavedriver of a muse, since she’s been prodding me to write a MF contemporary standalone like you would not believe. Thing is, it has some really deep, relevant hooks for me so I think it’s got to go on the To Be Written list (which is now stretching to 2020 and beyond).

At least it means you have lots of reading material to look forward to, right? That’s what I keep telling myself.

In other news, I’ll be at Wild Wicked Weekend this weekend in San Antonio and I’ll have print copies of Storm Season, HIS: Manlove Edition, and Empress of Storms with me, so if you’re coming and want a copy please hunt me down. This is my first romance convention where I’m a signing author, so I’m both excited and a little nervous. I’m putting together a gift basket and bringing swag, but I still have to learn the lay of the land and what’s expected from an author at such events (e.g. this ISN’T a science fiction convention so the graphic t-shirts will probably be left at home).

And yes, there will be pictures. And I’ll give you a full report on our outing to the Lair (San Antonio’s premier BDSM club). Pity I can’t wear what I wore to the Rubber Ball in London, muwahahahahaha…

Money Making Methods for the Modern Erotic Romance Author

Or me, in other words. I love writing, love my books, ADORE my readers to bits, and I’m very glad that my income is going up every year. But it’s still not what I would call a living wage, and so I subsidize my writing income with my other love — making stuff. Usually jewelry, but that also includes knitted and crocheted items, character dolls, and pretty much anything else that comes together on my workbench.

That jewelry that I usually offer on release days and FB parties? The stuff from Belaurient Arts? Yeah, that’s mine, and rather proud of it I am, too. And to ward off any complaints of, “Why are you making jewelry or knitting stuff when you should be writing?” be aware that doing this other stuff is actually part of my writing practice because while I’m beading a necklace or wire wrapping a cabochon or knitting a shawl I’m also telling myself stories to keep myself entertained, which then gets used when I sit at the keyboard.

Alhambra05Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh, yeah — a few days ago a friend of mine sent me a large wodge of jewelry odds and ends from his late mother’s belongings. (I love it when people do that. So far I’ve have three friends say, “I’ve got a buttload of beads and stuff that I’ll never use — you want them?” Why, yes, yes I do, thank you very much.) This particular treasure trove delivered some adorably kitschy items, one graduated bead necklace that I think is jade (it passes most of the surface tests but I’ll need to do a density test for sure), some nice 70’s style vintage earrings, and a bunch of odds and ends that have been tucked away in my racks of jewelry bits for future use. I was really, REALLY happy when I found these silver filigree clip-on earrings. Their rhinestones were long gone, but luckily my favorite rock and gem store have a very nice selection of rhinestones and I was able to reset them with capri blue square stones that look fabulous against the silver.

Cernunnos01The other set that I was very pleased with was a pair of horn Celtic knots. They’d been wired with dull goldish beads through the knotholes, but the wire was steel and didn’t go with the warm tones of the horn at all. So I cut those off, drilled four holes in each necklace for gold eye pins (let me take a moment to thank Dremel for their awesome products which make this jewelry designer’s life a lot easier), wired up six 6mm tiger’s eye beads with fancy head pins and gold spacer beads, added those to the eye pins, hung everything on gold French ear wires, et voila — awesome earrings for people who like Celtic or tribal jewelry, natural materials, tiger’s eye, or any combination thereof. These would be perfect for someone who goes to Burning Man, I suspect.

So after putting a bunch of new pretties up at the Etsy site, I was rewarded with two sales of a combined five items, the payment for which goes into my How Nicola Is Going To Pay For RT Fund. And I still have to put a sterling silver and 14K gold tree of life pendant and a really nifty blue and bronze beaded necklace up tomorrow, as well. And then figure out where I’m going to get the stuff I need for a density test. And work on Cross Current, of course.

Speaking of the HNIGTPFRT Fund, Empress of Storms racked up a total of $514 dollars as of this evening, and if the current pattern holds true I may make $1K on it by the end of its first quarter. Not too shabby for a self-pubbed book in a genre I’d never tackled before, eh? Now if I could only sell the movie rights to Peter Jackson…

No, really, Deep Water is finished

And I’m editing it, honest, and I’m also working on Behind the Iron Cross. It’s just that I’m also writing a short story for Evernight’s latest anthology call (bad boy alpha shifters, woohoo!), and it’s requiring a bit of research because, erm, it takes place in Victorian London. And ties into that VicLondon series I wanted to do with the cop, the vampire, and the werewolf. And is going to take up every word of the 10K word limit.

Or as Ramón puts it, I enjoy creating rods for my own back. I just wanted to do something a little different from Olympic Cove, and I’d already had a vaguely defined couple in mind so when I read the antho guidelines they popped into my head and announced that they lived in 1878 London and, oh, by the way, they’re part of The Other London (the paranormal one) that’s been floating around in the back of my head for eighteen months or so and that won’t be a problem, will it?

*sigh* Short story has a working title of “Bully Boys” and I should have it finished by Wednesday, with luck and a strong south wind.

Okay, back to work

getlitThis week is the first official work week of 2015, and I’m happy to report that I did 3,000 words on Deep Water today with a goal of turning it in this month to Evernight. Granted, I have no idea if anything I wrote today is useful, seeing as  the local flora are having enthusiastic sex despite the low temps and my eyes are actively trying to crawl out of my head and hide until all the pollen settles. But hey, that’s life in the clavicle of Texas. Achoo!

I also picked two winners for my Evernight Holiday Hangover Blog Hop Contest — Kaylyn D won an Amazon gift certificate and my Planet Alpha book Assassin, and Kev won my Dougal the merman doll (which works out very well as he’s quite the merman figurine collector). Thanks to everyone who participated in the hop, and best of luck with the grand prize!

As for me, I’m off to start an antihistamine IV. Whee…