Finally. The Scent of Pine in Moonlight is available on Amazon. Free for Kindle for the next three days.
 (7-23-203 trough 7-25-2013)

Janine can’t figure out if her husband, Carson, is an apparition from the fog of alcohol, simply a hallucination born from a life of crushing stress, or a real ghost.

And she’s afraid of what she wants him to be. 
 
This is another story from my Toma Lee pen name and I’m labeling it a romance for beta tag reasons in spite of the story’s possibly supernatural component. I don’t want to toss out any spoilers but I suppose the blurb gives away one plot point: Carson dies somewhere in the story.

By the way, The Scent of Pine in Moonlight started the entire process for the “real” ghost story  I’m working on. The scary kind.

While Janine struggles to determine the truth of her conversations with her husband I tried to create a world where readers hoped
Carson’s ghost was real.

That would be the stronger love story.

 - Chester

 
 
A Stir of Pique is free for Kindle through July 6, 2013.

First some nuts and bolts stuff. I wrote about this stuff for A Stir of Pique a few days ago so I won’t re-bore you with details. Suffice to say I had to upload a corrected version, for a third time, but now everything seems to be working in the eBook.

It’s still free on Amazon for another day so if you want a version with an actual working table of contents, go for it.

Oh yeah, the cover seems awkward. Don’t know why. I always use a 1.6 ratio for my covers but this one looks short and squat. Looks alright on my Amazon author’s page, though.

Now on to the story.

SPOILER ALERT

The working title was The Day the Machines Stopped. I changed it to A Stir of Pique for several reasons.

First, the machines didn’t stop on a day, or for a day, or whatever. Everything builds to a finale so the working title didn’t really fit.

Second, the working title gave away too much of the story.

Second, the working title was too rudimentary. I mean, The Day the Earth Stood Still can get away with it, but that’s a classic science fiction film. (And I’m talking about the 1951 original film, not the 2008 piece-o-shit remake.)

Anyway, the final title has more of a literary bent to it which is good because the story is really literary.

Okay, I lied. It’s not literary, but the final title is way cooler than The Day the Machines Stopped.

This is also the first of my ebooks to offer a bibliography linking to my other stuff. Yes, I’m still working on retro-fitting all my previous stories with bibliographies, and stuff. This crap takes time and there’s a lot of casinos within driving distance that Toma and I have to visit.
 
Also, back on May 22nd I posted on this very web site a discussion of upcoming publications. Forget all that. And I promise to never again predict a publication chronology. You simply would not believe the life events that crop up conspiring to thwart your best laid plans.

Now, all the stories I discussed back in May are still in line. I’m just no longer sure when they’ll hit the Kindle store. I won’t even tell you which story is coming next because…I don’t know. Yet.

The Magic Purse

I don’t remember where I got the idea for The Magic Purse. Every once in a while I wake up in the morning with foggy memories of screaming nightmares from the previous night. That might be where this stuff comes from.

And I do like the story finding something positive about “small magic” instead of my original version which was all gloomy and shit. And nothing good came of it. And then the universe exploded, and everyone died, even the people who hadn’t even been born, yet.

Ready?
Wait for it.
No that didn’t happen in the original. I’m lying, again.
But it was gloomy to the last page and ended on a sour note. (F# I seem to remember.)

Well, that’s all I have to say on the subject(s).   (That (s) thing is a nerdish indication of a possible plural.) 

Now it’s back to work so I can get the next story published. (And I refuse to tell which one. In case my mood changes.)

 - Chester 


 
 
Adventures in Self-Publishing
 
Wrote A Stir of Pique.
Revised.
Sent in for line edit.
Small revise to editorial suggestion.
Formatted content for publication.
Designed and built cover.
Wrote blurbs.
Built bibliography.
Loaded into Kindle Direct Publishing.
Activated the previewer to check formatting.
Looked good.
Clicked “Save and Publish”.
Book went live about eight hours later. (Faster than normal.)
Checked everything on the Amazon listing page.
Clicked “Look Inside”.
Contents page messed up. (My fault, damn.)
Made corrections to master file.
Re-uploaded.
E-mailed KDP.
"Can I set the free promo while book is reconverting?"
"No, wait until it resets."
"Okay."
Book goes “live” for the second time.
Contents page looks okay.
Set free promo for July 4, 5, and 6. (Starts at 12:01 AM on the fourth.)
Go back to A Stir of Pique Amazon listing page for paranoid recheck.
Cover looks awkward.
Hey, cover’s not in 6 X 9 ratio. Looks fat and short.
Open cover jpeg and crop to proper ratio.
Now topography is screwed up. (Am I an idiot?)
Open Microsoft Publisher.
Redo entire cover.
Save as MS Publisher file and jpeg file.
Reload cover into KDP.
Click “Save and Publish”.
Now I have a free promo scheduled while book goes through conversion again.
Don’t know if that’s going to work.
Oh yeah. Had trouble building links on the master file for table of contents and bibliography.
Can’t check functionality of links until book goes live again and I load into my Kindle Fire.

This self-publishing crap is the coolest job I’ve ever  had.
 
  - Chester 
 


 
 
Decades ago I started submitting my original stories to the major science fiction magazines.

You know how you experience something painful in your life but over time the painful memories fade?

Well, four times in the last few days I’ve relived the crushing, 1980s style, degradation of receiving rejection slips for my fiction
submissions.

And I don’t even submit to magazines anymore.

Way back then I used to clown around, trying to hide the pain with the following: “Hey, I’m a great writer. I’ve received
rejection slips from some of America’s finest magazines.”

And now to that age old admonition I can add…Kindles Singles.

Four times, four submissions, four short stories, all submitted, by me, to that special facet of the Amazon marketing, algorithm, juggernaut, Kindles Singles.

I’d already picked out the new Jaguar I intended to buy when the sales commissions started rolling in.

Not to be. Because all I got for my time, trouble, effort, toil, blood, sweat…well, you get the picture. All I got was an e-mail from a Kindles Singles editorial assistant screaming, “YOUR FUCKING STORY SUCKS!”

Actually, that’s not quite true. This is what the e-mail said.

Hello,

Our editors have carefully reviewed your recent submission, and it has not been selected for inclusion in the Kindle Singles store. Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to consider it.

You're welcome to publish your work via Kindle Direct Publishing at kdp.amazon.com. For information on how to do this, visit:
kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help.

If you already have done so, your work will remain for sale in the Kindle Store.

Again, thank you for your interest in Kindle Singles.

Best,
Associate Editor, Kindle Singles


Some people might discern major differences between the text of the Kindles Singles e-mail and my earlier paraphrase of said. But honestly, I’m not a twenty-something, anymore. I know how to read between the lines. I think.

The thing is, my first submission to Kindles Singles took more than three weeks to be rejected. My most recent submission took three days to achieve the same result.

And the question remains. Am I getting better or am I getting worse?

So what does a writer do when hit over the head with a skull cracking, ego destroying, depression inducing reject slip?
The writer gets back to work on another story. Because a rejection slip from an editor is like a rejection for dinner and a movie from the Homecoming Queen.
You just keep asking until you wear her down and get a, “If I say yes, will you stop pestering me?” acceptance.

All those decades ago my great mission was to break through the plaster walls surrounding the editorial desks of the Ben Bovas and Stanley Schmidts of the magazine world.

Now my great mission is to break through the electron wall surrounding the editorial desk of David Blum.

Because...
Hey, I’m a great writer. I’ve received rejection slips from some of America’s finest magazines. And Kindles Singles, too…bitch!

- Chester
 
 
This morning I put two stories in line for formatting. “Stir of Pique” is a cautionary tale of our human relationships with machines.
 “The Magic Purse” is a short story about the different perceptions people have about life. The story stars a young girl who might just understand.

I’ll publish these two stories in a single Kindle eBook. While the eBook cover depicts “Stir of Pique” I won’t go so far as to label “The Magic Purse” a bonus story.

Let’s just say I preferred the cover for Stir over the cover for Purse. Case closed.

Right after that, I’ve got two more short stories coming out.

“Asphalt Styx” is a weird way, boy meets girl tale that pushes the boundaries of love and affection. 
 Okay, maybe it doesn’t push those boundaries, but it questions them.
It’s one of my “experimental stories” that so many people have come to know and say, “What the hell was that?”

The “Asphalt Styx” eBook will include a piece of flash fiction called, “Defining Moments”.
“Defining Moments” is under three hundred words, but I really think these two stories belong together. Because, when you have two pieces of work that readers might misconstrue as misogynist, male chauvinist pig, bull shit, well, you might as well publish them together to get it all out of the way.

I won’t summarize “Defining Moments” because it’s only three hundred words. The summary might run longer than the story.

Finally, I’ve got three novellas done, and lined up for edit. The first one is a Toma Lee story, followed by a D. C. Chester story.
And then, finally, if the editor doesn’t chew my ass for writing crap, the first ever Dillon Chase story. That’s Dillon Chase, the pen name, not Dillon Chase, a protagonist. If you don’t recognize Dillon Chase check out the BIOs page on the
website you’re reading, right now.

That’s all I’ll say on those books, because it’s just not time, yet. 
 
Oh, yeah, I’m working on adding new clickable bibliographies for all the older stuff. Clickable to all the newer stuff, that is. 
(The stories aren’t changing.)

Lightly touching on future stuff.

Two series coming up. One each for the D. C. Chester, and Danny Essex pen names.

Paperback books by…Me! Cool. Hopefully, we’re not just for Kindle, anymore.

An anthology.

Plus, well, maybe I’m pushing too far out. Like I said, not enough hours in the day. Not enough years left in my life.
Enough news for now.

  - Chester   


 
 
Yesterday I finally got fed up with the cover of House with a View. I’ve written before on the trouble I had locating a suitable image for that eBook, and how an old artist friend of mine was going to paint a new, original cover.

It looks as if my artist friend probably won’t be able to work on it. He’s just too busy with other projects.

I’d heard too many publishing experts detail the importance of book covers in attracting potential readers. I had to do something because, as I’ve stated before, I hated the old cover. It was thrown together just to get the book up on Amazon in a hurry.

So, I changed the title. “Wait,” I hear you claim. “I thought we were talking about covers.” We were. But I hated the title, too. And
the new title let me alter my search for a cover image.

Now, “House with a View” is titled, “Rearranged”. Rearranged fits better. The home is being rearranged, the rehab work is being rearranged by the potential buyer, and the buyer is rearranging her life. And the cover is a young woman pondering the
rearranging of her life. Plus, she’s looking out a window…with a view. (Unless she’s a mime. Which she isn’t. Trust me.)

Everything works on so many levels I’m ashamed I didn’t think of it earlier. Like maybe when I was publishing it.

I will point out one caveat here. The face of the model in the cover image is clearly visible. I don’t like to do that. I’d rather have readers build their own images of the story characters based on the limited details I offer in the story.

I had to change the title page and copyright page to reflect the new title. And that necessitated uploading an adjusted, filtered web page to Amazon. I also had to change the book blurb on the book’s Amazon landing page, alerting people to the changes. Didn’t want any confusion with people thinking it was new book. And, of course, I had to upload the new cover.

The total time to affect all this work…about an hour.

So now you can recommend the book to all your friends without the embarrassment caused by that old,
stupid cover.

As Dean Wesley Smith asserts, we’re living in the New World of Publishing.

I love the new age of publishing and Amazon is leading the way.

Now if I could just finagle my way on to Kindle Singles.

- Chester

 

NOW

05/02/2013

8 Comments

 
This morning I happened across a book review of The Martian by Andy Weir. (I won’t go into a synopsis here. You’ll understand why in a  moment.)

The review seemed interesting and I Amazoned the book’s listing page and saw No Price Available. After a little research I discovered Mr. Weir had sold some publishing rights to Random House. Don’t know which rights, don’t care. Still, I hope Andy got a
really good deal because everyone knows all the big, New Yawk City publishing houses are run by…well, never mind.

The review listed the eBook originally priced at $.99. I don’t care about that, either. If a Kindle eBook is under five bucks I’m okay with it. But, I’ll be curious to see The Martian eBook price once pricing is under the control of Random House. I’m a betting man – I’ll wager $9.99 Kindle, $8.99 paperback.
 
Whenever the paperback comes out, of course.

Because Random House is releasing a hardcover first. That’s no big deal.
In February 2014. Now it’s a big deal.

I want to read The  Martian now. Not in February. But I can’t unless I pirate it. (I’m not interested in the aubiobook format still available on Amazon.)

This reminds me of J.A. Konrath, a thriller, horror writer I like who blogs about writing and publishing. Konrath says this about
pirating, and I paraphrase. Make your books easy and cheap enough to purchase and you won’t have to worry about piracy.

And even if they do pirate you, so what? That just means more sales down the road sparked by pirates telling everyone about
your great book. And don’t worry, it’s not pirates all the way down.

So, Random House has not made it difficult to purchase The Martian. They’ve made it impossible. Until next February.
And who knows when they’ll finally release it in paperback?

Here’s my point. Andy Weir wrote a popular book that was selling well enough to pique the interest of a major publisher. And
Random House can’t figure out how to strike while the iron is hot.

But don’t fret, Andy. I’m not interested in pirating The Martian. Actually, I’m not interested at all, anymore. I don’t have time to wait. I mean, really, can you imagine how much new Konrath stuff I’ll have to read by next freakin’ February?

Now, I  wish Andy Weir all the success in the world. I really do. I want writers to win this publishing game. And honestly, neither Andy, nor Random House, will miss my single purchase of The Martian.

It just pissed me off because I want it all. And I want it now. That’s the whole point of Kindle. I get it now. And if you can’t give it to me now, another writer will.

And even if all the other writers were kidnapped by space aliens and couldn’t write new stuff, well, you should see their backlists. 

  - Chester
 
 
It’s 6:41 PM on Tuesday, April 30, 2013. I’m done working for the day so I tallied the month end numbers.

I averaged 1448 new words a day for April 2013, putting up a grand total of 43,451 new words for the month.

Yippee!

So far for 2013 I’ve put up 102,555 words. I’m about 10,000 words short for year-to-date goals. 
 
My dad died December 15th and I spent January and parts of February away from the keyboard. Hence the short word count for the year.

My dad got pneumonia and was hospitalized October 4th, (he never got back home). He’d been fading away for longer than that, and I don’t think he ever got a chance to read my stuff. He just wasn’t strong enough anymore to relax with a book. Or in my case, a Kindle.

I don’t think he was aware of the tech changes in publishing that gave me the power to do what I’d dreamt about for some thirty five years. Write.

Thirty five years. Yeow.

I bought my first Writer’s Market in 1975. The cover blurb declares it contained 5,202 paying markets for novels, articles, poetry, poems, plays, gags, short stories, photos, and more. 

Wondering how I remember what was on the cover of a book I bought decades ago? I just pulled it out of my library to check. Yeah, I still own it. There’s a couple notations on the inside cover from a twenty one year old kid, but I won’t discuss that here. Still, in my world, that book is historic.

As for Mom, she does read my stuff. Then she calls and tells me to stop swearing so much. But it’s not me, it’s the characters.
They pretty much say and do what they want.

Oh yeah, Mom used to tell Dad to stop swearing, too. Guess it runs on the paternal side of the family.
Dammit.

 - Chester

 
 
Words, Words, Words

(With a melody borrowed from Motley Crue.)

I sit at a laptop all day making shit up. And then I build complicated Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to track all the shit I’m making
up. So much for the dominant right brain, left brain crap.

But I understand everyone is dying to know what’s being tracked with those spreadsheets. So, here it is. It’s productivity, and in
my universe, productivity means word counts.

I’ve got a system in place where I ‘create’ a minimum of one thousand new words a day. Now, I don’t actually create new words. Get serious. Tolkien did that, but I’m not going there. I have enough trouble with the words already created by other people.

So what’s my definition of a ‘new’ word? New words are new parts of a story. A new paragraph, a new chapter, a new scene. One
thousand new words a day. Seven days a week. Three hundred and sixty-five days a year. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?

Well, my fancy MS Excel tracking spreadsheet says that while my goal is one thousand new words a day, I actually put down about fourteen hundred new words a day. Every day. Weekends and holidays included.

But wait, there’s more. What about old words? Old words are revisions of existing work. Or editorial changes suggested by the two editors I actually pay to tell me how much my stories suck.

I don’t track old words with a word count. I just schedule work to be done. Story XWZ needs minor revision and I’ll have it done
and published by next Tuesday at 4:00 PM. Something like that.

If I tracked old words with a word count I could scratch my ego with bigger productivity numbers, but who cares. At one thousand
new words a day I’m putting down three hundred and sixty-five thousand words a year.

That’s three novels weighing in at seventy thousand words each and nineteen short stories, each about eight thousand words. Every year.

Oh yeah, remember, my spread sheet says I’m actually putting down fourteen hundred words a day. That’s five novels of seventy
thousands each and some twenty short stories each about eight thousand words long. (Or short, your choice.)
Every year. 

Holy Crap, in terms of productivity I’m Isaac Asimov or Julian Simon. Okay, maybe not so much, but you get the word picture.

I’ve got another spread sheet that tracks story production stages. For example, stories done and published, stories I’m working
on, story outlines done, story summaries completed, etc. I’ve also got another spread sheet that doesn’t really track anything. It just reminds me of story ideas or bits and scenes that I might work in to some story already in progress.

All this data I collect on myself says I don’t have enough years left in my life to finish everything I’ve started. And that doesn’t Include the astoundingly brilliant, new story ideas that jump into my head every morning during eggs and toast.

Now, if I could disappear into a well stocked cabin, on lake front property, in central Wisconsin with no interruptions except an occasional splashing bass…hell, my word count might go to three or four thousand a day. But even that wouldn’t let me finish everything.

(I did do the “Zoe Winters, 10,000 Word Day”, on a Saturday last fall. It was exhausting and I’ll probably never do it again.)

And there you have it. Three novels a year. And  if I cut out short stories (which I won’t because I love writing shorts) it would be maybe four novels a year. MINIMUM!

So, the next time some ‘author’ says he’s been writing a novel for five years…tell that author he’s not working hard enough.
And then give him a spreadsheet. 

 - Chester

 

HIPPIES

04/10/2013

6 Comments

 
Hippies, the latest publication from my D. C. Chester pen name, is active on Amazon and will be available as a FREE Kindle download from 4-11-2013 through 4-13-2013.

From the eBook story description:

Two worlds collide as the sinister side of society invades a daydream of peace and love.

Jerry, Daisy, Pete, and Lucy, aging hippies from a wistful past, become ensnared by the violence and evil of a neighborhood in decay.

Maybe they never truly accepted the Age of Aquarius but they certainly wanted to cherish the memories of the age of Woodstock.

But Woodstock was a lot less then it always pretended to be. Plagued by random acts of unbelievable stupidity, drug overdoses, and scattered violence.

Now DaMar, Esto, and Damon will introduce the hipsters to a new age of degradation. As if the aging flower children have been
living in a bubble all through the years.

It’s time for those hidden agendas to come home to roost…with love and pieces.

  - Chester