Vegas!

So I went to Vegas …

I don’t drink, I’m not huge into gambling, and I’m not one to hit the clubs or into the party scene (yes, I’m boring), so Vegas might seem like an odd place for me to go for vacation. However, I’ve always wanted to go. Well last week I finally went. I joked with some that this trip was ‘research’ for my writing, and in all honesty that was a fairly accurate statement. As some (not as many as I would like to say) know, the main character in my Kat Parker book series, namely Katrina Parker, had something happen to her in Vegas that left her ‘altered’. In the first book you see that she has the ability to talk with comatose people, and in the second that power progresses to talking with the dead. I alluded to Vegas repeatedly in the first book without ever revealing what happened, which I know likely annoyed some people, but the focus of that first book wasn’t Vegas or what had happened to Kat there. If I had tried to tell the story of Vegas and Kat’s time there (which I will freely admit I only knew bits and pieces of) while also telling the story of Mind If I Come In, the book would have been a rambling mess. I’ll go more into this in either another blog post or more likely an Author’s Note, which I should have done originally for Mind If I Come In. Sorry, I’m still finding my way as an author and seem to be making more than a few missteps along the way.

Anyway, I went to Vegas for research/vacation. Why now? Well, I’m getting ready to release the 3rd Kat Parker book, Getting a Head, very soon and I still have several ideas for future books in the series, as well as the desire/need to fulfill my unspoken promise of telling the story of what exactly happened to Kat in Vegas, which likely will be told over two books. (I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to tell the tale as well as work out a few details for myself.) But besides those two possible/probable prequels, the next story for Kat that occurred to me has her going back to Vegas. I’ve a rough idea of the storyline, though scant details. —I just cut a massive chunk out of this blog. I realized I was talking more about the process of my writing, which wasn’t the focus of this blog. Some might have found it interesting (there are plenty of crazy people out there, after all) but it was more suited for an Author’s Note.— Anyway, so since the next book that I was thinking of writing for the Kat Parker series as well as the possible prequels would, at least in part, take place in Vegas, I figured I would go and get a feel for the actual place. I’m glad I did. The reality of Vegas and my preconceived notions of it were quite different. Of course the version of Vegas that will be seen in my books will also be different from reality, however I now have a real frame of reference from which to draw (and mangle).

Paris1

I don’t want to bore you with a full trip log, but I might as well give you a few details of my trip. I was in Vegas for four days. I stayed at Paris, which is a nice hotel in the middle of the strip, directly across from the Bellagio. It had a rather small casino in comparison to the size of the hotel itself, and in comparison to many of the hotels around it. It also had a small number of restaurants and shops when compared to some of the other hotels. Frankly, I was blown away by how many stores and restaurants there are in some of the hotels. 

I walked for what seemed like a million miles. Seriously, by the end of the day my feet were threatening to cut themselves off. I walked up and down the strip multiple times, going as far down as the Luxor in one direction and the Venetian in the other. I wish I’d remembered to pack my Fitbit. I would have loved to have known how many miles I walked, especially since I went all around inside the casinos, and even mistakingly somehow exited the rear of the Venetian and walked all around from the back until I found the entrance again. 

photo 3-2

If I counted correctly, I went into at least 16 different casinos, grabbing a chip from each as a souvenier Most of my exploring was done on foot. I only took a shuttle twice, both times were when I went to see shows. I grabbed a shuttle to take me to the Rio where I saw Penn & Teller, an enjoyable show, but not spectacular. They did a few tricks that were hilarious (Teller is a riot) but they also had a few that were misses. They did an overly long card trick where Penn plays the guitar and sings. It seemed to go on FOREVER, with little payoff IMO. And their final trick while interesting, wasn’t WOW look at that, mostly because it was such an up-close trick that only the two guys that they pulled out of the audience really got the full effect. The other show I saw was David Copperfield, and I took a monorail from Bally’s (which is connected to Paris) down to MGM. I grew up on Copperfield. I remember watching his specials in the 80s when he walked through the Great Wall of China, made the Statue of Liberty disappear, and became the first magician, that I know of, to fly around inside the theater, and even ended that special by saying goodnight to the television audience outside of the theater and then flying off as well! I got tickets, and then got upgraded to front row. As cool as it was being upfront and being able to high-five David at the end of the show, some of his tricks likely looked even more spectacular from further away. David is incredible. He has perfect timing and never misses a beat, even when (or maybe especially when) the people he pulls out of the audience miss their cues. There was never a slow point in his show. If you ever get the chance to see him, DO IT!

photo 2-2

Overall, I have to say it was an extremely enjoyable trip (except for the flights, but that’s another story). Vegas was not exactly what I expected, but I had a great time, and while it wouldn’t be my first choice of vacation spots, you probably wouldn’t have to twist my arm to get me to go back there. During my time trekking around Vegas I saw a lot of interesting characters and overheard some insane stuff, much of which I’m sure will find its way into my books in one form or another. 

Have you been to Vegas? Where have you stayed? What were your favorite parts? Any shows you’d recommend I see if I were to go again? Also, what is your favorite type of vacation/destination?

New Year … Same Me

New Year … Same Me 

Wow! 2015 already? Has another year really gone by? Seriously, I can’t be the only one who thinks that time is speeding up? Has there been some crazy cosmic event that has altered the time-space continuum? Perhaps the universe has been stretched beyond all reason and is now snapping back, collapsing in upon itself. If that happens to be the case then it’s been nice knowing you all. Okay, I doubt that is the case. I’ll just chalk it up to getting older and the weight of my own mortality pressing down upon me. You can come up with you own reasons.

 

A year ago I wrote a blog post about goals vs resolutions. Did I meet them? Exceed them? Fail miserably? Well, I have to say that a smart thing to have done would have been to check in on that post (at least reread it to myself) throughout the year. Did I do that? I’m pretty sure, given that last sentence, you have a fairly good idea what the answer to that question is.  Better late than never I guess. So how about we check in now?

 

In terms of my resolutions … I basically made 6 of them (though I numbered 7 of them).

 1

The first was about better file management. Did I succeed at that? Yes, to a slight degree. I’ve gotten a bit better at keeping my files organized and backed up. Is there still room for improvement? Hell yes! (If I needed to assign myself a grade, I’d slap myself with a solid C)

  2

My second resolution was never to upload a file in the middle of the night while running on next to no sleep. A good lesson and one I definitely took to heart. I’ve still uploaded files in the middle of the night, but I’ve double/triple/quadruple checked that I have had the right files. I’m not claiming I haven’t still made mistakes, but nothing like my initial blunder. (We don’t need to rehash that, thanks!)  (I’ll give myself a B, maybe a B+ on this one)

 3

My third solution was to learn from my mistakes. I definitely believe I have done that. Unfortunately learning from your mistakes does not guarantee that you still won’t accidentally repeat one of those mistakes or, more than likely, make all new mistakes. (I’ll be generous and give myself a B, but also recognize that there is still PLENTY of room for improvement in this area.)

 4

Gratitude was the focus on my next resolution; remembering to thank people more. Like the previous resolution, I made progress but still have plenty of room for improvement in this area. Time is a most precious commodity, especially if that whole universe-imploding theory happens to be true! Time is something we’ll never get more of—not in this life anyway—so if someone spends some of their time on you, remember to thank them. I’ve done better on this, but again still room for improvement. (B-)

 5

The next was to spend more time with friends. I won’t claim this to be an ‘epic fail’ but close. Sure, I saw my friends several times throughout the year, but not nearly as often as I really should have. And even if we didn’t get together as often as we could have, I didn’t keep in touch nearly as much as I SHOULD have. Of course this is a two-way street, so many of my friends failed at this as much as I did! (C- borderline D

 6

The last resolution was to get out more. (Yes, this is different from the above resolution.) Did okay here, but not as well as I would have liked. (C+)

 

My goals … they were kind of all over the place. Some were wildly unrealistic, but it was the start of a new year and so I decided ‘WTF’ shoot for the moon. 

 

My first goal was to put out a book a month! LMAO! Yeah, even as I wrote it last year I knew it wouldn’t happen. It’s not even a matter of creating that much content, editing, rewriting. There are other factors to consider. Covers don’t happen overnight. Well not if you want a decent one, anyway. How did I do? In 2014 I put out three books. Stormy Weathers, Mind If I Come In, Talking with the Dead. If you’ve read any (or all) of them, then you know they have a heavy humor slant. I intend to continue to work in this genre, but have several other genres I will working on in this coming year.  If you happen to be a fan of my Kat Parker character, fear not, you’ll be happy to know I have fairly big plans for her this coming year. (And yes they “likely” include finally letting you in on what happened in Vegas) I don’t foresee hitting one book a month, but I am determined to increase my output this coming year.

 

Another of my goals revolved around getting my feet wet in social media. I set a goal of 100 Facebook fans/ likes/ whatever, and 1000 followers on twitter. I reached the FB goal, but only made it a little better than halfway to my twitter goal. I’m okay with that. I’ll be honest and still say that social media remains a mystery to me. My FB page has more or less become a place I post silly photos I find on the net. I don’t spend a ton of time talking about my writing or books on my page, maybe I should. I just don’t know. Seriously, I’m still clueless about FB, but I manage to have fun on it. I really love twitter. It’s mostly just pure silliness, though I have witnessed more than a bit of ‘drama’ on the platform. It’s amazing the amount of drama that can be squeezed into 140 characters. I don’t know that I have to address this as a goal for the new year. I’ll let each of the platforms grow naturally. If I pick up new followers/fans, great!

 

Another goal was to work on my website. I definitely did not excel here. My visitor counter continues to click up, but my actual interaction is almost nonexistent. Very few responses to anything I write. So I have no clue if people are reading what I put up here, which granted isn’t much, or if I am merely being hit by bots. I could definitely stand to be more consistent with putting up content, but that is whole different kettle of fish (and I hate fish). It’s something I’ll need to continue to work (struggle) with in the new year.

 

Improve my craft! Yeah that was my fancy schmancy goal. Still have room for improvement? HELLS YES! But I do think I’ve made some improvements, and more importantly I think I’ve recognized areas that need more work. Recognizing a problem is, after all, the first step to fixing it.

 

My last goal was one that I said everyone should work on—to be happy. This is a tough one. And like everyone else, I’m a work in progress.

So do you have any goals/ wishes/ resolutions/ delusions for the new year? Please feel free to share them!

What happened in Vegas …

What happened in Vegas, and random thoughts on things to come.  

Since the release of Talking with the Dead, more people have been looking into my Kat Parker series, which thrills me to no end. And for which I say THANK YOU. The feedback I’ve been getting on the series has been extremely positive, for which I again say THANK YOU. I have, however, noticed that of all the questions or comments I get about the series, the most frequent is WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED IN VEGAS?!? 

Paris1

I really should have addressed this issue in an author’s note at the end of Mind If I Come In. Right from the start, even my early readers who enjoyed the book also questioned my references to Vegas and wanted to know what happened. Well I didn’t address it in an author’s note, but through the magic of digital printing I’ll be able to insert one and new readers will never know it wasn’t there!

I’ll give a brief explanation (and a deeper one if I write that author’s note). I might have mentioned this before, but when I wrote Mind If I Come In, the truth was I didn’t know exactly what had happened to Kat. I had a few general ideas, but she was hiding quite a bit. Does that sound strange? Well it’s often the case with me that I don’t entirely know what the story is before I write it. I’m a discovery writer or ‘pantser’ as it is known. I learn as I go along. There are times I write something and have no clue what it references or means on the grander scale. That happened quite a few times in Mind If I Come In, some of it was later revealed toward the end of the book. But a number of those references have been revealed to me to have implications for future Kat Parker adventures. I won’t go into detail, however I will say there is no question (and I always intended ) that at some point I will be writing the adventure that is referenced in that initial book. In fact, it’s not one adventure, but rather two, and as such it will be two different books.

Not only will those two ‘prequel’ books take place in Vegas, I have another story that will take place in Vegas. I’ve had the idea for a while, but recently more stuff has been revealed to me. As is often the case when I’m attempting to go to sleep, my mind goes into overdrive. I never know what is going to come to me at these times. I mentioned the other week about a badass character and a couple of his stories that came to me, and I still intend to work on them at some point. But for the last couple of nights Kat and Co. have been the ones whispering to me in the dark. More specifically, that idea for the Vegas story, which will be rather Damian centric, has been coming through quite clear. Some stuff I already knew, but I had one specific question that was nagging at me. I know I’m being vague (feel free to call me an ass for that), but the ideas are still swirling. This is the closest I come to actually plotting, which sadly is something I fear and dread I’ll be needing to do for the prequels. Once I start writing it, any concept of a plan for the story will likely change. But back to the revelation I had. My question was answered by Damian. He’s introduced me to a new character. I thought fine, she’ll work, so I scribbled myself a note thinking she’d only be around for one scene. An important scene, but only one. Well she had other thoughts on the matter. Now not only do I think she’ll be showing up for that one scene, but she’s been filling me in on her own backstory, and quite honestly I’m thinking she’s making a pitch for not only her own book, but her own series. I sound insane, right? Yeah, I know.

So have I annoyed you with my non-answer answer? Bottom line, I do intend to tell Kat’s ‘origin’ story somewhere down the road. However I make no promises about how soon that will be. I actually want to take a trip to Vegas before I write these three books. I’d like to get a feel for the city, even though I’ll be taking massive liberties when I write them.

Now some other characters have been … well not talking to me, but talking in general. Now this might interest people or it might not. If you’ve read my book Stormy Weathers then you met a quartet of moronic bikers. I started that book with only a notion of having a reporter covering an approaching hurricane and a robbery going wrong. As I worked on the book, Snake and his idiot friends appeared. I thought they were only going to be bit characters, but that isn’t how it turned out. More than a few people have remarked that they thought the Angry Armadillos totally stole the show. I admit, I loved writing the scenes they were in. When I finished Stormy Weathers, I figured my time with those four was over. Well, that might not be the case. As I said, I’ve heard those idiots talking — on a number of subjects, but I won’t say what — and now I’m thinking there might be more to tell. I don’t know in what form they’ll show up. Perhaps as bit players in a different novel, maybe in a short story or two, or who knows, they might be starring in a book of their own. Once more, I don’t want to make any promises, but all I can say (and writers out there will know what I mean by this) is that they are still very much alive for me. As long as the characters keep ‘talking’ to me, I’ll keep trying to tell their stories. 

Questions? Feedback? I’d love to hear from you!

NaNoWriMo update

So today is day #9 of NaNoWriMo. (It may be day 10 by the time I post this.) To be on target to ‘win’ my word could should be 15K. Current word count is 16,330. So as you can see I’m a bit ahead of schedule if my aim was to only reach the 50K NaNo goal. However, I’m hoping to reach the end of the story by time November rolls to a close. So what is my word goal? I haven’t a clue. I never have a clue how long a piece is going to be. Quite frankly, I’m amazed at people who do. To me writing a book isn’t like running a race. I don’t have a mapped out route so I’ll only know how far I’ve come when I reach the finish line.

 

I must say I’m a bit disappointed with my progress. I freely admit I’ve been a bit of slacker this week. On the plus side I did see Big Hero 6, which is a fun movie. Also, aside from everything I mentioned in the last blog post, I had a new character whispering in my ear. First a couple of days he just creeped around at the edge of my consciousness, whispering to me. Since I already had plenty of stuff to focus on, I ignored him. He didn’t seem to take too kindly to that, so finally late one evening he charged forward delivering me a mental bitch-slap. Throwing so much information at me, that not only do I know his incredible backstory, but I also have more than enough plots for at least three different books. He hasn’t revealed his name to me yet, which is odd given me how much he’s told me. Why would he hide that little nugget of info? I’m sure he’ll tell me when he’s ready. But I can tell you that he is rude, crude, and a major badass. I don’t know when I’ll find the time to write his story, though he’s threatened me that it better be soon! So if I happen to disappear or something happens to me, you now have your prime suspect! (Do I sound like a raving lunatic?? Probably!) I also hope that when I get around to writing his story, it turns out even half as brilliant as it seems in my mind, and that people like this semi-obnoxious SOB as much as I do. 

So back to my NaNo journey. As I told you last time, the book is aimed toward a younger audience than my other works and the opening seemed somewhat dark. I’m still in the ‘opening’ portion, though I believe it’s drawing to a close. Have written a few light moments, but overall the feel has remained on the dark side. I’m not too concerned, though I’ll likely seek some opinions before I get into the editing process later on down the road. I also began to wonder if the opening/set up was too long, so I pulled up the first Harry Potter on my iPad and checked it out. Please do not take my repeated references to HP make you in any way think I’m attempting to equate my books to Rowling’s. However, I did recall that it seemed a while for the main story of The Sorcerer’s Stone story to kick in. You got introduced to Harry and J.K. laid the foundations for Harry’s world. It’s only at around the 28% mark or so that Harry even first meets Ron and Hermione, so I don’t feel too bad about where I am in my story. Again, it’s something I’ll more fully consider when the editing process begins, but for now my focus is on just getting the story down.

When I started this book, I only had vague notion/vision of what I was in for. The more time I’ve spent with the characters, the more I’ve learned, and more I see my initial belief of where this book was going was wrong, which isn’t really that much of a revelation. If you’ll recall, I’m a pantser, so I’m used to the stories not going where I think they will. My characters often zig when I think they’re going to zag. And on more than one occasion they will throw a monkey wrench at me. Sometimes they throw an entire boatload of monkey wrenches. I will say that I like the characters I’ve been working with so far. And let me say that is quite important. I’ve had story ideas that I’ve started but partway in I discover I hate the character and the project dies. I don’t foresee that happening. In the next couple of chapters I know (or at least I think I know, but who knows) I’ll be introducing quite a few characters, a couple of them have been living with for a while, patiently waiting for me to get around to writing them. I take it as a good sign that they’ve stuck around and not gotten bored, wandering off in search of someone else to tell their story. 

Well that’s the update for the week. If you’ve managed to make it all the way to bottom of this post without falling asleep … WOW! Feel free to shoot me and questions or comments. I might not have any answers, but I’m sure I can make something up!

NaNoWriMo Ramblings

So I’m doing this thing this month called NaNoWriMo. Maybe you’ve heard of it and maybe you haven’t. Sounds an awful lot like something Mork from Ork would say. (If you don’t get that reference than you’re likely a young whippersnapper … in which case, ‘GET A HAIRCUT AND GET OFF MY LAWN, YOU DAMN HIPPIE!!!’) 

nano1

NaNoWhatO? NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month.

SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM WIKIPEDIA:

“National Novel Writing Month, shortened as NaNoWriMo, is an annual internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel from November 1 until the deadline at 11:59PM on November 30. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to get people writing and keep them motivated throughout the process. To ensure this, the website provides participants with tips for writer’s block, local places writers participating in NaNoWriMo are meeting, and an online community of support. The idea is to focus on completion instead of perfection. NaNoWriMo focuses on the length of a work rather than the quality, encouraging writers to finish their first draft so that it can later be edited at the author’s discretion. NaNoWriMo’s main goal is to encourage creativity worldwide.”

 

I’ve known about NaNo for years but never attempted it. Why? Honestly I don’t really have a reason. It’s a novel idea. (Pun only partially intended.) Tons of people want to write, or at least claim to want to write, but many have trouble completing anything. Some can’t complete an entire book, some can’t complete even a single chapter, and some people have trouble getting through the opening line. The blank page/screen can be terrifying for many.

 Writing tends to be a solitary pursuit, and doing things alone can be scary. NaNo changes that. You jump into NaNo and you have an instant support group, both online and offline. You suddenly have someone(s) to be accountable to and for, as well as people to encourage you to keep it up. It’s like an exercise buddy. You might not want to go to the gym, but if your buddy is counting on you, then you’re more likely to get that workout in … unless they are also a slacker, in which case you’ll find yourself on the couch watching Judge Judy and fighting over who gets the last slice of pizza. Which, by the way, is mine!

NaNo’s focus being on length rather than quality may seem counter to everything you ever worked at, but with writing it makes sense. There is a saying that ‘writing is rewriting’. Someone said it, but don’t ask me who, but whoever it was had it correct. Sparkling prose doesn’t just flow out of a pen or appear on a screen the first time you try. Hell, it might not ever appear. What comes out that first time may be one giant turd. However, it can be edited, rewritten, and polished. The end result may just be a polished turd, but it may also turn out to be something damn entertaining. So NaNo, by giving a time limit and word goal, forces some writers (or those wishing to be writers) to accept something they normally wouldn’t. It forces them to accept permission to write complete crap. What? Yes, you heard me. IMO if you are undertaking this task you should not allow yourself to do any real editing. Sure you can fix a typo you spot, but no reading your first chapter and deciding you should rewrite it from a different character’s point of view or alter the setting a bit. NO. Make yourself a note if you must, but otherwise the rule should be: BUTT IN CHAIR, WORDS ON PAGE(SCREEN). You want to edit? Then get to the part where you type THE END. Only then can you go ahead and edit.

November seems an odd month to me. You have Thanksgiving hitting, plus people gearing up for Christmas. But I suppose there would be drawbacks to every month, and a truly devoted slacker can always find an excuse. Damn it, that’s the month I clean the lint out of my belly button!

Anyway, that’s a brief (brief for me anyway) overview on what NaNoWriMo is and a few of my thoughts on it.

 

My NaNoWriMo … thus far anyway.

So I decided I would attempt it this year. The 50K word goal didn’t frighten me. I’ve written more in less time on a number of occasions. I am however somewhat undisciplined. Something I need to work on, and perhaps this is my subconscious’s way of easing me into the idea of having an more orderly work process. (Just typing that makes me cringe. Work process and work flow are two phrases that cause me horrible flashbacks, which I won’t bore you with … well anymore than I already have.)  

Where was I? Oh yes! I decided to do NaNo. As a pantser (a writer who basically makes things up as they go along, hoping and praying things eventually go somewhere and end up making sense) the idea of ‘planning’ a NaNo project was foreign. I wasn’t lacking for ideas. Far from it. Knock on wood, I’m afflicted with reverse-writers block. I have an overabundance of story ideas. Deciding on what to work on is usually my problem, as was the case here. The hour of NaNo arrived and I had narrowed it down to 3 ideas. Around 1 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 1st I picked one, actually jotting down some ideas for the opening chapters. Which, let me tell you, is an amazing amount of planning for me. 

As I write this it’s around 11PM on Nov. 2 and I’ve completed the first 4 chapters. Word count is at just shy of 4K words, so I’m on target pace. Yeah, go me! (I’m my own cheerleader!) I’m not going to go into detail on what the project is about. However, starting out I had an idea of what the audience might be. I had believed it would be for the assumed audience of the Harry Potter or Percy Jackson novels. I say ‘assumed audience’ because while both series have attracted audiences of all ages, they were original aimed/marketed for a somewhat young audience, preteen/early teens. While I hope my current audience might find it entertaining, I will say at the very least, this new project of mine might appeal to a younger audience than would likely be reading my other novels. (Which begs the question I raised in my last blog about the potential need for a pen name) However, having completed the first 4 chapters, I am struck by how dark and emotional the opening is. If you’ve read my Kimberly Weathers book or either of my Kat Parker novels then you know I like to use humor, and I had intended—and still intend—for this book to be humor focused as well. I may just need to rework the opening a bit. (Editing it only after having come to the end, of course.) Though thanks to J.K. Rowling I’m well aware that kids can handle a fair bit of darkness in their literature. I also intend for this to be the opening book in a series. And just in case one specific friend is actually reading this post, NO this is not the series you’re thinking about. You’ve already read the first book in that series, remember? I still need to get around to reworking that monstrosity. This is an all new series.

Speaking of series, allow me to fill you in on what else I’m working on in addition to this NaNo project. 

1) I’m currently editing the 3rd Kat Parker novel. I’d love to tell you it will be out by the end of the year. However, that would be a lie. The reason behind that has to do with what I told you about myself earlier, me being somewhat unfocused and undisciplined. I was slow to contact the brilliant artist I want to make my cover, and thus he has other commitments to complete first.

2) I’m currently working on the second Kimberly Weathers novel. For those who haven’t read the first, Stormy Weathers, the series revolves around a news reporter, Kim Weathers, and the craziness that ensues while she is out trying to cover various news events. The series is humor focused, and I’ve categorized it as cozy adventure. (a category that I don’t believe actually exists.)

3) I have another idea I may begin work on (likely a stand alone novel, though with the potential for perhaps a sequel depending on where it actually goes … remember I’m a pantser so I don’t honestly know) that is somewhat set within the same world as my NaNo project, though the target audience would be more adult. (Aimed more at people who enjoy my Kat Parker series.)

4) I also have one or two (okay maybe three or four) other projects in various states that I chip away at in bits and pieces, whenever the characters in those works call out and demand my attention or let slip details of their stories. (Just writing that makes me sound like a total psycho, doesn’t it? )  

Well that’s my rambling for the night. Anyone else partaking in NaNoWriMo? Questions? Comments? I’ll try and update my progress in the comment section or as another post in the future.

Pondering the Pen Name!

Hello all. I know it’s been a while since I posted anything. I’d say sorry, but I don’t honestly believe there have likely been too many people clicking the refresh key hoping for a new post. No, I’m not feeling sorry for myself, just being honest. I don’t get a ton of feedback on my posts, but—as is likely painfully obvious—I don’t honestly have a clue what I’m doing. I barely have a clue what I’m doing when it comes to putting out books—though I feel I’m starting to get a feel for it…not claiming to be good at it yet, mind you. This having my own website and blog thing is a total mystery. And don’t even get me started on Facebook or Twitter. So as I said, I don’t get a lot of feedback, but I would sincerely love to hear back on this one. Hell, I’d love to hear from you on just about any subject. No, that’s a bit of a lie. The current replies to my posts have mostly been auto-replies trying to direct people to porn, video game cheats, and other random crap. I haven’t ‘okayed’ those replies for public viewing because frankly I don’t believe that anyone coming to this site is looking for porn, video games cheats, or is searching for a screaming deal on sunglasses. I guess I could be wrong.

This is a different type of blog post. As I said, I’m actually begging for legitimate feedback. I’m curious to know about your reading habits and thoughts on pen names. Quite often a writer gets known for a certain genre. Agatha Christie. Stephen King. Nicholas Sparks. Did a genre just jump into your head? More than likely the answer to that is yes. (you don’t need to really leave me feedback on that question, unless you really want to.) Some writers pick a single genre and stick to it. Perhaps it is the only genre they have any desire to write in, or perhaps they feel stuck in that genre in the sense that their name is forever ingrained to mean a certain genre. You hear the name J.K. Rowling and you think Harry Potter. Sure she put out another book under that name, but since has decided she will put out her adult mystery series under the name Robert Galbraith. I believe she wanted to keep that a secret, but it wasn’t long before that cat was out of the bag. At my local B&N they went as far as to slap J.K. Rowling stickers on the covers of the last Galbraith book. Other authors have or continue to use pen names, but don’t try to hide it. Most people know that Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb are the same writer. 

 There are many reasons why writers might use pen names, but my focus today isn’t to discuss the merits or drawbacks that come from using them. I understand the use of pen names from a branding standpoint. Many readers stick to a single genre, sometimes branching out to a sub genre, but not much beyond that. I have to say that has always struck me as odd. These same people will watch all different types of TV shows or movies, but when it comes to books they stick very close to a single genre. I’m not saying it is right or wrong, it just happens to be, and I see it even in my circle of friends and family. For some reason, while they are willing to watch a show or movie about all manner of things, they only read a certain genre. Perhaps it’s because the time investment for a book is much greater than that of a TV show or movie. I don’t honestly know. I’m not sure if the ‘why’ really matters. People just do it, and even if they understood why, I doubt many would alter that habit.

 

It has, however, come to be a bit of a concern that I’ve been giving more and more thought to as I attempt to continue on with my writing career. I’m a reader who enjoys the heck out of multiple genres. I have no problem reading a mystery, switching to a fantasy, then a sci-fi, followed by a military thriller, and even read the occasional nonfiction. As a writer I have the same ‘problem’. I currently have 4 books out. Second Chances (romantic suspense), Stormy Weathers (humor, I personally call the genre cozy adventure), Mind If I Come In & Talking with the Dead (paranormal cozy mysteries). Now when I think of the books I have out, I can see where fans of Stormy Weathers might enjoy the Kat Parker books, and vice versa. Both the Kat Parker books (3rd coming soon) and the Kimberly Weathers books(2nd currently being written) share humor and a lighthearted adventure feel. Second Chances is a more serious book. Will it appeal to fans of my other lighthearted books? Several fans have answered that question with a yes. But as I’ve been considering future projects I’m honestly left confused on the idea of using a pen name or two. As I scan my idea list of potential books I want to write, the genres include: Horror, Sci-fi, YA, Middle grade, Fantasy. Seriously, aside from Romance/Erotica, there are few genres I don’t have a story or two I want to write. Given the voracious appetites of readers of romance/erotica perhaps I should reconsider that. :p

 

My conundrum is whether or not to use a pen name. Not a secret one. Nora Roberts doesn’t try to hide that she also publishes under the name J.D. Robb. J.A. Konrath publishes most of his work under that name, the exception being his horror novels, which he publishes under J.A. Kilborn. There are a few others I could name, but you get the point. I had originally thought to publish only under K.L. Phelps, but recently what I’ve been reading and hearing has had me questioning that decision. Sean Platt, who writes some pretty adult things with his writing partners also publishes children’s books under the name Guy Incognito. The thinking there is that kids who enjoy the books written under the Incognito name might be interested in reading more of his work, but should not do so until they are older. Just off the top of my head I can think of one of his characters from the Yesterday’s Gone series that is definitely not kid friendly. And yet there are some writers who use a single name and publish across multi-genres. James Patterson (who puts out a book every 13.5 days) does mystery/ thriller/ YA/ middle grade. Carl Hiaasen does adult humor and also manages to publish award winning middle grade books. It all just leaves me scratching my head and wondering what I should do. Well perhaps it’s bed bugs that has me scratching, but either way I’m still left wondering what I should do.

 

So I’d like to know what you think about the issue.

 

1. Are you the type of reader who tends to stick to a single genre or do you read a wide variety of genres? 

 

2. Do you like having a general notion of what type of book you’re in for when you see a certain name? (Granted I’m going to assume you read the book description before you begin, but do you like knowing that if you pick up a book with Author X’s name on it that you are in for a romance, or a mystery, etc?) 

 

3. Or would you rather a writer use multiple names for each genre they write in? Such as you know you’re getting Romance from the Nora Roberts name and Mystery/Suspense with the J.D. Robb moniker.

 

4. And lastly, would you be willing to try a new genre if it was written by an author you already enjoyed?

 

It’s not a huge issue I have to deal with at this very moment. As I stated above, I’m currently working on the 2nd Kim Weathers novel as well as editing the 3rd Kat Parker novel. I feel that both series have a similar feel and appeal. Not to mention, I’ve already branded both series with my name, but I’ll need to come to a decision in the not-too-distant future concerning other books I have that I’ll either begin writing or editing soon. Do you have any thoughts on the issue that you’d care to share? I’d love to hear them.

My view of the review!

Book reviews: insanely important or completely irrelevant?

This is kind of a companion piece to my previous blog: My Why

Captain! There off the port bow, I think it’s a review!

My experience is somewhat limited, but I must say that it seems to me for many indie authors (myself included) book reviews are like the white whale. We’re all looking for them, but we seem to have no clue how to find them.

Seriously, how do you get reviews? There’s a lot of advice floating out there. Some people put their books out for free and promo the heck out of them, getting massive numbers of downloads. Others search out reviewers and bloggers, offering free copies and requesting (sometimes begging) for a review. Then there are those that pester friends and family. Some people even PAY for them! (I’ve even seen places that want you to pay for the review AND write the review yourself. Please don’t do this. You’re better than that … I hope.) Most people do a combo of these things.

Do these methods work? Yes and no. Only a small percentage of people who read books ever leave a review, which is a shame. So even if you make your book available for free and get a massive number of downloads, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get any reviews. There are tons of people who grab books for free simply because they’re free. Often they never get around to reading them, never mind reviewing them. Buying reviews works in the sense that reviews get posted, but IMO that sucks and makes you a bit of a fraud. (Of course, desperate people will continue to do it.) Offering free copies to interested readers/bloggers/reviewers works to a degree, and in my opinion is one of the better ways to start getting reviews. Of course, realize that the person you give your book to is under no obligation to actually read your book or even leave a review if they do. They have busy lives and their time is valuable. If they aren’t enjoying your book, why should they spend their time on it? I see nothing wrong with shooting them a note a month or so after you’ve sent them a copy as a follow up, but don’t pester them. They may let you know they haven’t read it, decided it wasn’t for them, haven’t had time to write the review yet, or even that they didn’t like it and would rather not leave you a negative review. If you sent them a physical copy, it’s even possible the dog ate it.

Reviews are so important!

For indie authors reviews are insanely important. I don’t pretend to understand how Amazon works, but everyone claims that reviews are important. Somehow reviews get factored into Amazon’s complex algorithm and may help with how often your book gets recommended from them, how soon it appears in search results, etc etc. As I said, I don’t pretend to understand it, but I’ve seen it written about again and again, so it must be true, right? There’s also the obvious perception that if you have a ton of reviews, people must be reading your book. (Which is likely what attracts people to the notion of buying reviews.)

As a writer, I check two things when I first get up in the morning (and before I go to bed as well). First, my overnight sales data (or lack thereof), and second, I check for any new reviews. Reviews can be especially important for indie authors who want to advertise. Many of the more successful advertising opportunities require that a book have a certain number of reviews or a certain review average. Here’s a bit of a catch-22. You need sales to get reviews, but often you also need reviews to get sales.

Reviews, they don’t mean a thing!

Wait, what? Didn’t I just say they were important? No, I’m not drunk. However, I do hear/read this quite a bit.(that they aren’t important, not that I’m drunk) Quite often when I see someone online lamenting the fact that they’ve received a 1 star review, others will chime in and say to take it as a badge of honor, that it marks them as a real writer, and repeat the line that ‘everyone isn’t going to like your book.’ That little nugget is indeed true. And sometimes the reason for low reviews can be humorous and confusing. This book had too much sex! You downloaded a book from the erotica section of Amazon and there is a half naked woman on the cover, what were you expecting? This book didn’t have any wizards in it! Which part of the cover or blurb gave you the crazy notion that there would be wizards? Was it the picture of the tank on the cover or the title Behind Enemy Lines? There are even people who will write a bad review when the book ends without a resolution, when the cover/blurb clearly states the book is PART 1 of a serial.  You can’t do anything about these types of reviews, other than roll your eyes and move on.

One important thing to remember is that all reviews are simply one person’s opinion. 99% of us may agree that the person expecting a wizard to show up in a book about WW II is an idiot, but even that is only an opinion.

Now my personal opinion is that leaving a review, good or bad, is one of the coolest things you can do for an author. Especially those that seem to come out of nowhere. What a review says to me is that I elicited an emotional response strong enough that you felt the need/desire to share it. You enjoyed my work so much you wanted to let people know about it. You hated my work so much you wanted to warn people about it. Either way, it evoked a strong enough response to get you to take action. Of course, like any author, I’m hoping for more positive responses than negative.

It’s feedback!

Reviews are feedback. At least that’s how I view them. And while one of the taboos in the publishing world is that an author never comments on a review (good or bad), I do often wish I could discuss them with the reviewer. Not to try to change their mind, but to clarify in my own mind what they might have meant by something in their review. However, reviews are meant for other readers. That isn’t to say we authors can’t and shouldn’t consider them. (Always remembering that the review is merely an opinion, but the opinion of someone who took the time to share their reaction. So we should respect it, but the author needs to decide what it actually means to them.) Negative feedback can help us get better. Well as long as the review isn’t just ‘it sucked’. If you want to let us know you didn’t like our book, could you at least point out what about it sucked? Unless you simply mean you thought the entire thing sucked, in which case you might find us curled up in the fetal position crying.

Yeah, I took the long way home!

This kind of brings me back to my previous blog. “My why”. As I said in that blog, my goal when I sit down to write is to entertain. I want to give a person a break from reality for a little while, and with my last several books I’ve been hoping to bring smiles and laughter as well. Did you figure out who the bad guy was halfway through? Or did one of my ‘facts’ not check out. Sorry, but I’m okay with that, because, after all, my goal was to entertain. You’ll never hear me making the claim that I’m the next Agatha Christie. (Especially since mystery is hardly my only genre.)

I set out to create entertainment, not high art. Two of my favorite shows were Seinfeld and House. Seinfeld was literally a show about nothing. And House … well a medical show which (1) had a new mystery disease to cure every week. A mystery that in no way a viewer could ever solve since they pulled the answer out of their butts every week, and (2) a show which never seemed too worried about getting the details right.

What do I mean? Even though I was a nurse for 17 years, it’s rare for me to get into most medical shows. For years people kept telling me how great House was. Finally I tuned in to see what it was all about. The very first episode I saw blew my mind. Not with how good it was, but how WRONG it was. It was toward the end of the third season, an episode entitled FAMILY, and centered around a kid needing a bone marrow transplant. Wow, right up my alley. I’d worked bone marrow transplant for years. The medical depiction of the process had me rolling. The one brother who was to donate had an unknown infection so the brother received a partial match transplant. Within four hours of receiving the transplant, the kid was suffering grade four graft-versus-host disease. Then they discovered the source of the brother’s infection and gave the kid a single dose of amphotericin. In case you hadn’t guessed, neither of those things is even close to being accurate. As wrong as that was, as well as other things they got wrong over the years, I still love the show.  (Seriously, did the show even have any medical advisors?)

The point of the show was clearly to entertain, not educate. And that’s my goal as well. So if I don’t have the most complex mystery, and you figure it out quickly (or God forbid my ‘solution’ comes out of nowhere, like a couple of wonderful series I love to read but shall not name) or if I get a fact wrong (or a dreaded grammar error), I hope I at least entertain you. Because as I’ve said repeatedly, that is my goal. If you feel the need to point it out in your review, I won’t be offended in the least. It’s your opinion, and I’ll respect it. Heck, I’ll be flattered that you took the time to write a review longer than just “I liked it” or “I hated it”.

Enough rambling!

Sorry, I tend to ramble on at times. My final thoughts on reviews. I love them. And like all authors, I would dearly love to receive more. It’s really a simple process to leave one. Just jot down a few things about what you liked or didn’t like about the book. Your review just might be the thing that gets another reader to take a chance on a new author. Plus, you’ve no idea how much we love to hear from our readers. So please leave a review, send an email, respond to a blog post, or drop a letter. Let us know if we’ve entertained you or not.

My WHY

It’s odd how the mind works and the way the universe sometimes seems to talk to you. A couple weeks ago my phone chirped, informing me I had a text message. It was one of my friends telling me she was giving notice at her job. Why? She’d just had enough, was burnt out. I understood all too well, I’d left the very same place a year and a half ago.

So last week I headed out to dinner to meet with her and several others from the old job, to celebrate her escape. Another of my old coworkers came up to me and asked me how I was doing, was I making a living with my writing? I couldn’t stop myself, I laughed in her face. Sorry about that. Another person told me I could come back to work. I didn’t laugh in her face, but I did tell her I was never going back. Not just there, but I was never going back to being a nurse.

I didn’t hate being a nurse. Well I didn’t hate every minute of being a nurse. But as I’ve written in previous blogs, it was never what I wanted or felt I should be doing. But that night did get me thinking, or rather thinking even more than usual about the choice I’d made. The truth is, I’m always pondering the wisdom of that choice. Second guessing? Yes and No. 

The next day, something I’d either read or heard long ago kept echoing in my head. It might have come from Tony Robbins. I’m sure I’m not going to get this right, but it was something to the effect of “know your outcomes”. In whatever you’re doing, know what the goal is you’re trying to achieve. Even in the case of going out with some friends, I should have an outcome in mind. My outcome there would be to relax and have a good time. (I’ll tell you I’m more stressed now than I ever was when I worked as a nurse, which will likely shock many.)

Then the other day I am listening to the radio. Talk radio (yes somehow without ever intending to I have become my father. Well he listened to sports talk radio, but I’m in the same general ballpark.) The guy talking was a man name Simon Sinek, some sort of inspirational speaker, apparently well known for a TED talk (I had to look that up and am still confused). I’d never heard of it before, but it’s been viewed over 18 million times, so I downloaded it to my ipod and will give it a listen soon. That is all beside the point and honestly I was only half listening. But he was saying that you need to know your WHY. To me it sounded like needing to know your outcome (as I’d already been pondering). 

If you’ve read my previous blogs, or noticed it above in this one, I have always wanted to be a writer. As a kid I saved an insane amount of cash to spend on a word processor. Yeah, not many kids in my day were doing that. I loved that thing. Why? I won’t lie to you. I had insane dreams of being a rich and famous author. I don’t have the same dream today. Fame? People following you, snapping your picture, not being left alone. Seriously, only idiots crave that. It’s probably not even a possibility for 99% of the authors out there. Sure I’d recognize Stephen King if I saw him (Joe Hill for that matter, too, simply because he looks so much like his father) but not the vast majority of other writers I read. Heck, why should anyone recognize the writer. It’s the stories, not the picture on the back cover you spend time with. Rich? Yeah, I’m not sure I’d turn down being rich, but I also don’t think it is that important. The old saying that money can’t buy you happiness, is true. Money won’t make you happy, but it may make you more comfortable in your misery. So I don’t care if I am rich or not, though I would dearly love to be able to say I am making a living with my writing. Hopefully one day.

So even back when I had those dreams of fame and fortune, those two things were never my why. Writing is one of the few things that makes me feel alive. When I’m writing, lost in a work, in the zone (whatever you want to call it) time ceases to exist. I’ll look up and see hours have blown by. I’ll be drained, but euphoric. Yes writing is a drug for me. (Editing, now that’s another story.)

So I guess my why is that I want to be happy. And writing makes me happy. I love making up crazy stories. And ever since I’ve embraced writing again, my brain is constantly spitting out new ideas. ALL THE FREAKING TIME. Seriously, my iphone notepad app has pages and pages of ideas. As well as my scribblings I have on papers all over the place. A couple weeks ago I was at the movies, and in the middle of it I had to pull out my iphone and tap down a story idea that hit me out of the blue. Just the other night I ran out to get something for dinner. I came home with a pizza and an idea for a new book series. 

My why, my ultimate outcome when I sit down at my computer is to entertain. I want to weave a story, to take people on a trip, to make people forget about reality for a little while. I want them to laugh out loud, cringe in fear, cry. Is it as worthy a goal as nursing? Perhaps not. But I feel entertainment, escapism if you will, is important. My why is to make the world around you disappear for a while. Whether it’s going along a journey with Nathan as he tries to discover the true identity of the woman who is the spitting image of his dead wife, or traveling along with the idiot biker gang The Angry Armadillos as they try to pull off a robbery in the middle of a hurricane, or just hanging out with Kat Parker and her pet turtle Snappy, I want you to get lost in their adventures, to revel in their triumphs, and laugh at their follies.

Whether or not I’m ever able to make a living via my writing remains to be seen, but it’s what I love to do. It’s what I will always attempt to do, even if at some point I need to return to the world of ‘get a real job’. I think I know my why, and I hope you enjoy it. I also hope you are able to discover your own why.

  

Watch, I’ll download and read Simon’s book and find out I am completely wrong about what he was trying to say! 

Happy? Birthday to me!

So it’s my birthday. It’s been nearly a year and a half since I made a radical change in my life. I left behind a job I hated and people I loved to pursue what I always wanted to do, what I always felt I was supposed to do. I don’t miss the job, but I definitely miss the people. I’ve fallen out of touch with many of them. Some of that is my fault. I freely admit I have a pattern of leaving my previous life behind. Heading off to college, I let a great many of my high school friendships fall to the wayside. After college it was the same, for about the first year I kept in contact and then … well. And now almost a year and a half since leaving my previous job many of those friendships seemed to have faltered. I’ll take responsibility for some of it, but like tangoing, friendship requires two participants. Some of it is just life going on as normal, but this was never meant to be the focus of this post. So back to …

 As I said, it’s my birthday! Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday! Two words make up that sentiment. Happy and Birthday. For me it’s been a bit of a misnomer. It’s the worst day of the year for me, or so it had been for a very long time. No, I don’t suffer from self-loathing (well no more than most people, anyway :p ) However for years, decades really, my birthday was my reminder that another year had gone by and I wasn’t any closer to being where I wanted to be in my life. If anything the old roadmap of life showed that I’d taken a wrong turn and was moving further away from my desired destination. 

For years I took vacation for the week or so around my birthday. Not so I could celebrate, but because I knew I wasn’t a pleasant person to be around at that time. I’ll be kind to myself and say I was moody or irritable. Okay fine, I was an ill tempered SOB.

Well this year that’s not exactly the case. (I’ll be honest and tell you I can’t recall how I felt last year).  So am I saying I am happy this year? Would I sound like a total douchebag if I were to say that I don’t know? Happiness is a loaded subject IMO and I’m not going to go in depth on that right now.  

I will say this year feels different. Am I where I want to be? No. However, I hope I’m at least moving in the right direction. Since December I’ve put out three books and am currently in the process of editing my fourth. Those who read my New Years post will note I’ve failed at some of my goals, but I’m okay with that. I still feel like I’m making forward progress. Are my books flying off the shelves? Well they’re digital, so that’s not even a possibility. Are they being downloaded like crazy? No. Should they be? Do they deserve to be? No clue. I don’t know about other authors, but I find it hard to be objective about my own work. The real question then might be: Am I making a living via my writing? That’s a question I can easily answer. HELL NO. The business/marketing side of writing is still more than a bit of a mystery to me. From reading the blogs of much more successful writers I’ve learn that it’s a constantly changing puzzle. Great news, right? So once I figure out the solution, my answer will no longer be valid! 

The truth is most days I feel like I don’t have a clue what the hell I’m doing. But you know what? I’m okay with that. The old saying life is a journey not a destination, while cliché also happens to be true. And so far it’s been an interesting journey. I’ve made several friendships online with other writers, discovered some valuable resources, made more than a few mistakes (some I’ve either recognized or had pointed out to me, others are likely lurking in the shadows ready to pounce on me when I least expect it), I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover the indie publishing community to be for the most part incredibly supportive, and been shocked to discover I’ve even picked up a fan or two along the way. While a negative review can be soul crushing, a positive review or comment can totally make your day. 

I might still be a million miles from where I want to be, but I’m hiking down the road in the right direction, and my thumb is out, hoping for a lift to get me to the next town along the path. Who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll get lucky (or unlucky) and one of the numerous haunted cars from Stephen King’s garage will roll to a stop and offer me a ride. (if that’s the case I hope you’ll understand why you never hear from me again.) 

Happy Birthday? So am I happy this year? Well I’m not unhappy, and more importantly I am hopeful. Hopeful that when another candle gets added to the cake next year — well since I’ve already invoked King, allow me to bastardize him a bit more and simply say that I hope by this time next year  — my Tower will be closer.

Nobody puts Baby in the corner!

Generally speaking, the entertainment world is an odd place. But there is something unique about the literary world. Pigeonholing. What do I mean? There seems to be a well establish belief (maybe I’m imagining it, but I don’t think so) that a writer should pick a genre and stick to it. Especially if you are successful. You hear the name Nicholas Sparks and instantly you think Romance/ Contemporary fiction. Sue Grafton means mystery, and Tom Clancy brings military thriller instantly to mind. I could list more, but I’m quite sure you get the picture.

Now many, likely all, love the genre they’ve chosen. But should they be tied exclusively too it? Actors take on many roles. Sandra Bullock is a ditzy FBI agent in Miss Congeniality, a serious mother in The Blind Side, a … well I don’t know what her job was in Speed, but she was a doctor/astronaut in Gravity. Kevin Costner was a baseball player in Bull Durham, a baseball player in For The Love of The Game, and loved baseball in Field of Dreams. Okay, so perhaps Costner isn’t the best example, but he was a guy with vaginas behind his ears in Waterworld. The point is, that while occasionally an actor/actress might get typecast, generally speaking they are free to take on numerous roles, tell all sorts of stories. The music industry is similar. Many artist stick to a single genre, but some branch out and find success in other genres. Many pop artists cross into dance or country and vice versa. I don’t know the music industry, hell I barely know the publishing industry. But I’ve seen a piece of advice repeated over and over. Pick a genre and stick with it!

Well I don’t listen to just one type of music. I don’t watch just one type of movie or TV show. Sure, I almost only eat one type of food—seriously do you need more than pizza? And I don’t read just one genre of book. So why should I be forced to write in just one genre? I’ve put out 3 books so far. Second Chances I consider a suspense, though I’ve had others tell me they think it’s a love story or a thriller. Stormy Weathers is, I’ll admit, a hard one to classify. It’s humor, but I’d personally call it cozy adventure, which I don’t think is an actual classification listed anywhere. My newest release, Mind If I Come In is a cozy mystery, with a sub genre of paranormal. It too is on the humorous side, and I’ve decided I really enjoy writing humor. Much to my dismay, I’ve read repeatedly that humor is one of the hardest genres to sell. (Yeah, I never do anything the easy way.) I plan to focus on the cozy mystery genre for now. I’ve several sequels to Mind If I Come In already written that I need to edit, along with ideas for several more adventures for Kat Parker and her friends. I also have ideas for more Kimberly Weathers adventures. I get that idea of building a brand, but personally I am going to try like hell to avoid being stuck in only one. Humor is likely going to be a mainstay in the vast majority of what I write in the future. As I said, I’ve discovered I really enjoy writing it. And more importantly, I’m constantly having crazy ideas pop into my head (or beamed there by aliens, not sure which). However, they don’t all fit into the cozy mystery genre. They really are all over the place. I have a romantic comedy idea that’s been with me for a while. (originally envisioned as a screenplay) And just recently the idea for an insane Sci-fi series popped into my head. It continues to scream at me at the oddest of times. I’ve written quite a few notes for scenes and characters. As the ideas continue to swirl in my head, I’m not sure quite what form it will take. It’ll be written of course, but in what form. I know serials are popular, and honestly I could totally see this idea being done in such a format. However, there is more than humor hiding inside of me. Thrillers, horror, fantasy, YA, even ideas for a children’s book or two are rattling around in my head.

The question is, how do I go about this? I’m sure you can think of an author or two that has written outside of their chosen genre. The truth is that there may be many, but often they use a pen name. Dave Wolverton writes science fiction under that name and uses the pseudonym Dave Farland for his fantasy work. JK Rowling decided to invent the persona of Robert Gaibraith for her journey into the adult mystery genre. Dean Koontz used like 10 or 11 different names over the years. I understand in the past, it was unusual for a writer to put out more than one book a year. Sure some of the big boys might have put out two a year. Then along came Patterson and it seemed like he put out a book every 13 days. Then along came ebooks, and many began putting out multiple titles a year. For some publishing monthly became a legitimate model. I’m not up to monthly releases yet, though it was and still remains a goal I am shooting for. And as I’ve said, I’d like to publish not only in the genres I already have but in many more. So how do I do this? I’ve toyed with the idea of multiple pen names. Perhaps different variations. KL Phelps. Kevin L Phelps, etc. Personally I prefer to keep publishing under a single name, but I know that not everyone of my readers might be interested in all the genres I wish to publish in. And while I know readers are intelligent enough to read the book description and tell the difference between a horror book and a comedy novel, I’m also toying with the idea of some kind of mark or symbol I could place on the covers to identify the genre/tone of the book. One to let the reader know that no matter what the genre a book with symbol (A) has a humorous slant, while books with symbol (B) are serious.

What do you think? Should authors be pigeonholed into a specific genre? Would you read a romance by your favorite horror writer? How do you think authors should handle branching out into different genres? Should they use their own names or create an alternate pen name? What do you think of my idea for branding the covers with different symbols? I’d really love to hear some feedback on what you think. So please leave a comment!