I’ve been sharing a new story this month. It’s called Night Aggressions and is a horror story by Trent Becker and me. We’re posting a new chapter each Friday until it’s done. We’re posting it to the Emerald Dragon blog, here’s a link to the page with the chapters posted to-date. Go catch up before Chapter 4 drops this Friday. And be sure to leave us a comment on the chapters to let us know how we’re doing.
When we’re done, I’ll wrap it up neatly into an ebook for ya’ll as well.
Doing some publishing work. Trying to get the 2 books in a collaborative series I’ve worked on over the past (almost) decade ALL OVER THE WEB. The first one has been out for a while, but I’m giving it some love to other platforms in preparation of the release of the second.
I’m trying out some new platforms (Google Play Books, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and more). I also want to have a non-retailer giant friendly version. Something that’s more direct. It’s also something that I want to be able to use with my personal giveaway stories that I do regularly (I’ve crudely been using Dropbox).
I’m finding Gumroad might be the sweet spot. Any Gumroad users on this site? Anyway…
I’m setting it up two ways for my personal usage: one link in the Gumroad store for purchasing, another “discount” link I can use that offers the same book for free.
Here’s how that looks:
$0.99 version of my short story The Experiment: https://gumroad.com/l/experimentnaw
FREE version of my short story The Experiment: https://gumroad.com/l/experimentnaw/naw001
You do not need a Gumroad account to purchase/download. After you purchase, the email address you provided will receive a receipt with a download link. Save that email for yourself. And because I’m nice, there’s no DRM on the ebook. That way you don’t have to worry about “too many” copies locking your file, or it only working in certain apps, or whatever.
Feel free to click the links and use it. Let me know what you think. Is it nice? Is this a process you wouldn’t mind going through if you were purchasing an ebook? And no, you don’t have to give me $0.99, you can use the freebie one. This is a test.
I read this article lately, and it got me thinking about some of my recent decisions about my story sharing. I’m greatly summarizing this article, but basically, giving away free stories is bad for the indie industry overall and it devalues your own work. There’s actually a lot to unpack in the article, and I don’t disagree with all of it, and most of it just makes me think. But it did inspire me to write about what I’ve been doing lately, my free stories, and why I do it.
Over the past few years I began to focus inward on being better at writing with the purpose of publishing/selling. But I also wanted to always put forth stories out there for free. Not because I don’t value my time I put into these stories. No, a part of me looks at the reading landscape, the digital one, and I realize how wonderful it is that we can have stories so quick at our fingertips–in some cases cheaper than a paperback. It’s a different literary landscape than what existed when I was a kid.
But cheap is still money. And for a lot of people, cheap is still not good on the budget. That’s why while I work on stories for publishing/selling, I also work on other stories that I will give out for free. Or like the I Will Kill You for $5 project, one person pays me $5 to write it, but the end result is available for free and for all–so only one person pays for it.
I like to think of it as creating my own personal online library of my work that anyone can access and download the files for free. These are not public domain, you can’t remix or sell them, but you can read them as much as you like. And own as many copies as you like. And email a copy to your friend who you think will like it. They are DRM free.
I’ve also been trying to think of a way to make my next work that will cost money available for free to those who can’t afford it. I don’t know that I’ll want to just drop it in the online library, but I very much want to be accessible to lower-income and poor people as a writer. Because even the less fortunate deserve escapism–an argument could be made that they deserve it most.
I may write more on this, because there is still some stuff bouncing around in my brain after reading the article. But by no means do the words “an urgent warning” come to mind. 🙄
I’ve been meaning to write
about this for some time, but just haven’t made time for it. And since I’ve been
going through some manic and seasonal depressive episodes, making it hard to
stay focused and do ANYTHING of relevance, I figure I might as well just hyper
focus and do some writing. Why the hell not?
This latest novel I’m working on, I tried several new things
to help me press through it all the way to the end. It’s taken me years to try
and figure out how to organize and structure myself to write a novel, and I’m
not sure I’ve ever been better equipped than now for the job. One of my tools,
which was a first, was using Google Keep during the writing process. I want to
talk a bit about how I used it.
(If you don’t use Google Keep, or don’t want to, or are weening off Google apps — I respect that. I will explain the method Keep uses, how I used it, and point you to some similar apps with same feature set.)
I started with Keep.
I started at the beginning using Keep. I wanted it to be with me in the beginning and all the way through the writing journey. I wanted it to be my home for notes, character sketches, photo galleries for inspiration and even a crude outline in the beginning. I’ll try to break these down.
Notes. Pretty simple, really. But whenever I had an idea, or a line of dialogue, or whatevs pop into my head — I dropped it into a small note in Keep using the Label I had created for my book. This worked great as the phone app is perfect for this sort of documentation.
Character sketches. When I was creating a new character, I found jotting down notes concerning that character was super important. I call these character sketches. A little bio paragraph, little snippets about the character, little snippets of dialogue that the character will deliver at some point to get a flavor for how they talk. I’d often include a gallery of pictures for inspiration on the character as well. Thankfully Keep allows you to attach a plethora of pictures to a note.
Cast list. I even used the to-do list feature for making a cast of characters list, so I could keep track of who was who and what names I was using. I sometimes forget what names I used for minor characters, if I don’t have a cheat sheet.
Visual inspiration (think Pinterest). Sometimes I use Pinterest for finding good character and visual inspiration for locations and such. And sometimes just moods. I found that Keep works relatively nicely for making small pin-boards, if you will. On my character sketches, I would include one or more images for inspiration. Above is a gallery of photos for my Mercedes character and below is what it looks like when you scroll through the gallery of photos. It’s not as pretty as a Pinterest board, but it gets the job done and keeps all the photos in one place with notes and so on – which is a nice touch, and something you can’t do on Pinterest.
This was a new way for me to pull all of my thoughts and ideas together during the writing process. Since I was mostly writing without an outline at first, I created a to-do list style outline in Keep and would add chapters in as I went. Eventually, I had enough in my head to flesh out the rest of the outline and do an outline justice. I used Microsoft Excel for the outline, which just works really well and helps keep track of wordcount and everything nicely. But even in the beginning Google Keep was helping with tracking progress of my story. I must say, I was not sure I’d like using Google Keep in the beginning, but I committed to it and said I would just deal with it and write about it later. And here I am. Is it perfect? No. It has its flaws.
For example, it’s a scroll fest. Notes just pile on top of each other with the only thing separating notes is 3 categories (Pinned notes, Others, and Archived). And they scroll in that order, too. So archived stuff is at the bottom, pinned at the top, and everything else in the middle. In the past, years ago, you could drag around and organize the notes the way you wanted on top of those 3 categorizations. But they removed the ability to drag and organize notes the way you want at some point. The colors can be categorized however you want in your head, or if you don’t want to remember just make a color key note and pin it up top.
The other thing I miss in Google Keep is the lack of any text formatting. There is zero rich text formatting or markdown. With some simple rich text editing, the character sketches could be better fleshed out and organized. They would feel more like documents, and less like a dump of paragraphs.
Exporting or backing up Keep notes is likely a clustertruck. I wouldn’t have thought much about this had it not been for what I’ve been going through with Google+ in its closure. Google Takeout exports Keep notes to HTML. Which means, it’s probably gonna be a hot mess of HTML pages or something. Maybe I’ll test it and report back on that in a future post. I suppose an alternative to this would be to individually share each note from a phone to another app of choice — I shutter a the thought. I put this in color for emphasize.
I’ll leave you with one more screenshot, this one shows off how links are treated in Keep. They do have a minor preview, which is nice and makes them easily clickable.
Alternatives to Google Keep:
Zoho Notes (the best similar alternative, has rich text editing too!).
Microsoft OneNote (designed more like a 5-section notebook, has many features Keep doesn’t, even works for drafting — one of the best note taking apps ever!).
Hey fellow writer types… do you have any big, lofty goals for 2019? If not, you probably should. In the very least, plan to keep at it.
But I really wanna hear what you have planned. And how you plan to accomplish those goals. So sound off in the comments. Maybe we can all learn a little something from each other’s lofty goals and how to achieve them.
This is a really good, simple approach to building your author platform. Something I myself am having to rethink and start over at doing, because mine was on Google+. Please read the full post, it’s solid and short and sweet.
There are some truly wonderful and very comprehensive articles out there that discuss ‘how to build a successful author platform’ and also the many reasons why you should do so ASAP. But I’m just gonna keep it simple for you (and short), because simple and short has worked for me.
When building your author platform, the four most important things you need to do are:
1) choose ONE social media account to focus on
2) enjoy it
3) consistently use it and;
4) grow it.
In my opinion, if you try to develop multiple accounts at the same time, you’ll:
a) get stretched too thin trying to manage everything and;
b) your author platform/s will therefore suffer.
It’s like catching a train. You don’t stand on the platform waiting to board 10 trains do you? No, you’re waitng for one train and one train only. And once you catch that…