Bits and Bobs

I spent the better part of my afternoon doing some housekeeping.

I don’t mean I cleaned my entire house (although I did clean! Go me!) — I did some hardcore GNW-ing.

I added some back matter to all five (!) of the series books — along with updated acknowledgements and a brand-spanking-new About the Author page. The back matter is the cool part; it’s got my Also By list, at last, with links to the books’ respective pages on B&N and Amazon. Get Undead and Welcome to the Zomburbs also got new covers and mild title changes (namely dropping the Tales From Camp Elderwood moniker and shuffling them into the main Grave New World series).

Then, because I am a sadist, I went ahead and re-did the Books page on this very website. I’m just waiting on the B&N links for the anthology and the short story and that will be done.

Oh…and there was the small matter of redoing the back cover copy for Get Undead and Welcome to the Zomburbs. I tweaked it a bit for the three main books as well; full rewrites will probably be coming down in the next month.

Damn, I was productive today.

I am, how you say, tired.

But hey! It’s done! And to celebrate I’m setting all the zombie books at 99 cents for the next month. Those of you who wrote to me saying anything more than 99 cents was too much to pay for my work…your prayers have been answered. At least for a month. Hallelujah!


Is it a bit drafty in here?

Finished a book

This is what writing like an insane wildebeest looks like.

I meant to post this glorious little screengrab on the 4th, when I actually typed THE END (or at least slammed the laptop lid and collapsed into a blubbering heap), but…I didn’t.

Anyway, there it is. The rough draft of the creatively titled Grave New World 4, which is currently a hot mess of plot holes, questionable character decisions, and some of the weirdest zombie stuff I’ve ever written.

Needless to say it will undergo some changes in the revision…but there are a few things I can tell you about it.

1. It takes place a year or two after the end of Dead Men Don’t Skip.

2. Things have not improved all that much for Vibeke and her friends, but they haven’t gotten worse…yet.

3. Yes, Evie is still there.

I can’t really explain how I chewed through this story so fast. I started it on February 18, finished it on April 4…that’s like, what, 45 days? Somewhere around there? I can write fast when I put my mind to it — thank you, years of deadline-driven assignments — but this just fell out at insane speed. I’ve been writing Vibeke in some form or another since 2006. That’s twelve years with this character’s voice, with this gal and her friends, and I’ve still never ripped through a yarn at such a pace.

I’d say “It wrote itself!” but I tend to reserve that for stuff that pops out in close to its finished form. This…is not that. All the beats are there, the major plot points, but it is far from finished.

I’ve put it away for the time being to give myself some space before picking up the Red Pen of Revisions and slicing the thing open. In the meantime, I’m updating the blog (still transferring old entries over) and finally updating the GNW series with some much-needed front/back matter and a couple new covers for the short stories. Nothing crazy. Just minor touch-ups.

Catch y’all on the flip side!

Rumors of My Demise, Part II

Coffee cup on a wooden table

This post brought to you by a Nutella latte

Oh, man, it’s dusty in here.

So! Is everybody ready for another round of “Let’s Update the Blog”? It’s a time-honored tradition — every few years I look at this thing and decide I really ought to update it more frequently. I make all sorts of promises to myself and promptly break them all within a month.

But hey, it’s 2018, and the last post on here is from 2014.

You’ll notice the site is looking a bit shabby. I’m messing about with templates and trying to update it one page at a time. Which is totally fun and something I encourage everyone to do.

(Sarcasm, in case it wasn’t obvious.)

Anyway. I’m still here. Poking away at some work. I can’t say Big Things are in the pipeline, but stuff is happening and this place should start looking more like a website and less like a pawn shop soon enough.


I hope.

Fingers crossed, anyway.

Grave New Draft

25.7k/65k (estimated)

Not bad for a week of work.

I’m trying something new with this draft: crank it out as fast as possible and worry about the details later.

Okay, it’s not entirely new. I’ve done it before. Hell, it’s how I wrote the original GNW. But I’ve been taking on various projects over the last few years and the paid work always comes first, which means I tend to work on my own ideas in fits and starts. Some authors work well in that way; I…don’t. I want to get the entire thing out on the page and then finesse it into shape afterward. If I linger too long on anything it starts to go bad. I don’t lose interest — it’s worse than that.

I start to hate it.

I’m pretty sure most authors go through a phase where they hate what they’re working on. I will go through it myself regardless of how fast I write or how good the first draft is. But I have a unique sort of work loathing that pops up when I hang out with characters for longer than I should. Familiarity breeding contempt, I guess.

Anyway, Vibeke and the gang are trying to weasel their way out of the latest situation. I have a general outline I’m following, but leaving myself wriggle room in case exciting ideas spring up. I’ve also had a little help — this will be the second or third iteration of book three, which means I do have a lot of previous material to draw on if it’s suitable. So far, a good amount of it has managed to work. So no, that 27k isn’t entirely new verbiage.

My plan at the moment is bang through the first draft, then set it aside to percolate while I do a heavy revision on another zombie adventure (yes) in the pipeline, as well as put the final edits on a new serial coming out this summer, if all goes well. Then it’s back to Grave3 for the heavy revision, and eventually it would be nice to get the thing out this year.


We’ll see.

As we’ve seen before, I’m quite good at screwing things up. 🙂

Naming a Series

I am not much good at naming things.

Oh, I get occasional flashes of brilliance, usually when I can be funny…but when it comes to something where I can’t use a silly pun like “Grave New World” or “R2-D-Don’t,” I wind up having trouble.

I have a new series I’m working on. If all goes well (i.e. if my writing and/or my life does not implode), book one will be out in June, followed by a new release each month. Each book will be 22,000-25,000 words, give or take a little — it’s essentially a series of novellas. You may have noticed the influx of serial novels in the indie crowd — “Season One” of this, “Season Two” of that. Basically I’m trying that. Frankly, this is what I originally wanted to do with the GNW universe, but at that time I didn’t know what to call it and I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I just released the two books in its ‘verse as a novella and a novel.

I think the key here is to get the bulk of the writing done before publishing. And I’m almost there; about 78,000/100,000 words. The story is there. I need to do some rearranging and cleaning, but getting this thing out on time should not be a problem.

It just needs a name.

It’s got a lot of stuff in it — basically I’ve loaded it up with everything enjoy in books. We’ve got a sci-fi/fantasy post-apocalyptic world (but with some “sweet spots” where things are Just Like Home), aliens, zombie-like creatures, starfighters, action, adventure, a little humor, a battleship, genetic engineering, menacing enemies, warring city-states, California, and all kinds of other stuff. I’m having a lot of fun writing it. The great hope is that folks will have a lot of fun reading it.

You can see why I’m having trouble naming it.

I have some basic ideas scratched out and I’m adding to them. I have badgered my family relentlessly in my efforts to get second opinions. I’m getting there, slowly but surely. Once I’ve got the title down (not to mention titles for the novellas themselves) I’ll get the cover art done and make a nice little announcement here.

But until then I’ll be here chewing my nails.

I’m also about to start work on what I think might be the first proper zombie book I’ve written in awhile, so stay tuned!

Starfall Lives

“It’s weird,” my mother said when she finished reading Starfall. “It’s interesting, but it’s weird.”

Yes, folks, Starfall is out on Amazon and B&N. It’s been out, actually, but things here have been crazy so my official announcements have been awhile in coming.

It’s the first book I’ve released for myself since 2012, and there are no zombies in it. (I figured I’d get that out of the way, since a lot of my readers are into the zombies. I, too, am into the zombies, and hope to return to their glorious rot soon, but for some reason I had to crank this one out first.)

I can’t pinpoint the inspiration beyond a mental image of a woman stuck in some sort of endless maintenance cycle because there was no one to tell her to do otherwise. I knew there was a lighthouse involved, and a lost city, but it was the lighthouse* I kept returning to — and Marina standing there, watching the sea. She’s surrounded by the ghosts and gizmos of a past era, some of which are not very nice. When the bulb in the lighthouse burns out, she must venture into the lost city to find the replacement. Naturally this is not a walk in the park.

So yes, it is a weird little story, and not what I usually serve up. With that said, I think it’s one of my better tales, and I’m pleased with it.

Anyway, it’s out. I’m curious to see how Starfall does, both as the shortest work I’ve produced and maybe the most different. My zombies novels are my most successful works, and I don’t notice a lot of crossover — GNW and DBG have sold fairly consistently over the years, but Echoes has not. Echoes and GNW tend to be my “gateway” books; if a reader of, say, Echoes REALLY digs the story, they might pick up GNW, and vice versa,  but if this was happening consistently then Echoes would have sold much better. I’m pretty sure for the most part the two genres have separate readers.

I hope that made sense. It’s been a long day.

So, will you, Dear Reader, like Starfall? I don’t know. My general feeling is if you enjoyed Echoes or at least did not find it utterly repugnant, you might like Starfall. But if you’re looking for wisecracks and hijinks a la GNW, it might not be your pot of coffee.

*Props to the ever-wonderful Steven Novak, who somehow took my vague mental image of a lighthouse and the stars and put it on paper. What I wouldn’t give for an iota of artistic talent…

Flunking the Test

O book coding, how I hate thee. Let me count the ways.

I currently have four books out under the Blackmore name, available at B&N an Amazon. I decided I might as well try to get them out to a bigger market (iBooks, Kobo, etc) and thus began checking out my options with Smashwords. The last time I looked at Smashwords, you had to run a Word file through their Meatgrinder, which seemed hit or miss as far as what sort of product it generated. Now, despite my ineptitude I’ve managed to generate nicely formatted EPUB and MOBI books, so using Mr. Grinder was out. I’ve recently discovered that Smashwords now allows you to upload a validated EPUB file, which is awesome.

Which brings me to my problem.

Three of my books have been uploaded (or re-uploaded as updates) to my two primary vendors recently. The last has been untouched since 2011, aside from a cover change. I ran all four through the Sigil validator and the Epub checker linked on the SW site. Two cropped up completely clean. Two had some weird error that multiple Google searches could not quite identify, though it obviously sprang out of the Calibre conversion process (I cleverly deduced this by the “calibre” that popped up in the coding).

In the words of Vibeke, “Shit.”

The books all look fine when viewed through Nooks and Kindles — they’ve been tested on multiple devices. But the manuscript coding needs to check out clean if I want them available on these other platforms…which means I need to figure out what this error is and why it insists on sullying my books.

I did notice one variable. The two clean books are Grave New World and Starfall. Both were experiments for me in that I used Scrivener for them. Grave needed a lot of cosmetic changes, and I ended up making a new Scrivener file for it so I could revise in something besides Sigil. Starfall was written entirely in Scrivener. In both cases, I saved them as ebooks and then opened them up in Sigil for final tweaks, before buzzing them through Calibre for the last formatting.

…it looks kind of complicated when I write it out that way.

Anyway, there’s probably easier methods of getting my books to look decent, but Scrivener-Sigil-Calibre worked out well for GNW and Starfall, and they both pass the check, so I guess I did something right. Provided I’m working with a completed manuscript and can keep myself from tinkering (oh, the tinkering!) with it, the entire process might take five minutes.

Except I have four books to my name, not two. Death and Biker Gangs and Echoes both threw errors when I ran them through the validators. Echoes, as stated, has been left alone since 2011. I did revise DBG, but the changes it needed were fairly minor and I made them directly to the Sigil file.


You can see now why I didn’t go into coding or programming or anything exciting like that.

Since the two clean files have Scrivener in common, I guess I’ll just run an experiment on DBG and see if that solves things. I’ll C&P the files into Scrivener and do whatever it is I did with the other two files to see if that cleans it up.

So scientific, right?

But I will do that later, because at the moment I have actual writing to crank out.

And She’s Back

Okay, so…I realize I kind of disappeared for awhile, and then weird things happened with my Nook-published books, and I shall take this space to explain some things.

Where did I go?
I would love to say I spent my summer sunbathing on a beautiful tropical island, but the real story is…I worked. I worked a lot. I had some family issues that came up, some health issues, and while everything is fine now, I was not in a position to sit down and crank out a funny zombie novel.

Or anything else, really. It was just that kind of summer. I didn’t get a lot of good stuff done. I didn’t do much with Facebook, with Twitter, with marketing, with anything.

Bad author, I know.

I honestly didn’t have it in me. But I’m back.

The Nook Business
Barnes & Noble changed their Nook contract and upgraded Pubit to something called NookPress or something like that…which is great because it sounds less like pubic, but came with an entirely new contract to read through. The original contract was not particularly favorable to indie writers. They released an updated version that put most fears to rest, but I was in the middle of a big assignment and did not have the time or brainpower to examine the entire contract. I made the decision to pull my books from the Nook store until then. From what I understand, the books should still be on your Nook device if you have already purchased them.

I’ll try to get them back up as soon as I can.

So…are you working on anything now?
Actually, I started on a rather interesting project that fuses my two favorite genres. I’ve fiddled with bits and pieces of it on and off over the last year or so, and it might turn out to be rather awesome.

More on that later, though.

Did you really start watching Breaking Bad?
Yes, I finally got on board with the rest of humanity and started watching Breaking Bad on Netflix. Partially because I wanted to see Malcolm’s dad cooking meth in his underwear, but mostly because a reader swore up and down that she pictured Tony as played by Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman to those who watch the show). I was curious, so I checked in.

Yeah, I definitely see it.

So. Zombies?
Yes. I’m working on some GNW shorts that I’ll put up on the site by Halloween. They will be free. I don’t know that anyone wants to read them, but they’ll be up for you to check out.

I’ll try to blog here more often, too.

But for now, back to Breaking Bad. =D

Sheepishly Returning

Well, I sure did a bang-up job of maintaining this blog, didn’t I?

Um, sorry, all. If anyone actually reads this. I did try to keep tweeting consistently, even though most of my tweets seem to be centered around coffee. I think the problem with blogging and tweeting is that I just find myself really…really…boring. I’m not a very exciting person, really. Why would anyone want to read my scrawls?

If you think this is bad, you should check out my Facebook page. Or better yet, don’t.


A few things happened between this post and my last one. Namely I decided Atlantis wasn’t working the way it should, so I scrapped that for a while; I also got saddled with some very time-consuming projects, both of which pay me far more than my novels at the moment, so of course they have received the bulk of my attention. I’m actually on the tail end of a huge ghostwriting project and some managerial stuff, so maybe in the next few days everything will settle down.

On the plus side…I have about 1,092 words on GNW3.

But didn’t you start GNW3 like, months ago? And have a lot more words?

Oops. Yes, yes I did. I started it in October, actually. And while I liked the overall plot of the story, it just wasn’t quite working for me. I think in hindsight I needed more of a break after the summer rush to get DBG out.

So the other night I was looking at my calendar and realized I was actually supposed to start work on GNW3 on Monday. (I think I looked at it on Wednesday.) Feeling rather guilty, I sat down and wrote 500 words. Then today I wrote 500 more. That’s about all I can manage at the moment with my workload (I really shouldn’t even be blogging, but I gotta start somewhere). So hey, I’m a week behind and many, many words behind, but…actually I can’t really find the silver lining there.

All my own writing is behind. I am more bummed about this than I thought I’d be.

My original release calendar went something like ATLANTIS I (April), GNW3 (June), BIG INTERSTELLAR ADVENTURE (fall sometime). Oh, I also had three 2013 releases slated for a second pseudonym.

Except then I realized A1 needed reworking, I dropped GNW3, and that interstellar adventure is going to have to wait.

I don’t know if there’s a lesson here, but this is what happens when you treat your writing as a hobby. I still do that. I acknowledge it and I’m mostly okay with it. The three books I have out have done surprisingly well, considering how little I do to promote them (little meaning nothing, in this case), but there’s only the three of them. The “real” authors out there, the ones that keep cranking out the books no matter what…I tip my hat to them. I find I am just not willing to work on my own stuff after I’ve been asked to crank out two novellas in a week. The brain is fried.

(Ghostwriting is deadly work, folks. Maybe there’s a post unto itself…taking on more than I can chew.)

Every now and then I think, Maybe if I take this thing seriously I’ll get better dividends from it. I invariably spend a week or two planning to do just that, and then get distracted by the newest shiny thing (or more likely I’m waylaid by actual paying work) and that’s the end of my planning.

In the end, I don’t know what the answer is. I will get GNW3 out this year. I’ll get a couple of books out under a pseudonym, too. Once this work crush slows down I’ll be able to reassess and see what I need to do to really get the Blackmore brand, so to speak, off the ground.

The ironic thing in all this? I am making a living as a writer. I ghostwrite in many genres and I handle a lot of nonfiction as a freelancer. That’s my words earning me money. When people ask me what I do, I can say I’m a writer and it’s not a lie. I could have business cards made. Then it would be official.

(I do have business cards, by the way. They say many things on them, as I was juggling many trades when I had them made. Writer is on them, but so are other things.)

(Can you tell how much I like parentheses? Also, I really need to sleep. Like now.)

Waiting in the Wings

I’m deep into the main revision for my special project, cleverly code-named ATLANTIS I, which should also give you an indication of what it’s about (I’m not into secret project names…I would never call GNW3 Puppies III, for example, as I’d just end up confusing myself). I was estimating about 20,000 words, but after building out more of the story during the revision, I’m giving it space to expand to 24,000.

It’s got a long way to go, of course. Here’s my typical project process, deadline freelance work notwithstanding:

1. Complete rough draft.
2. Wander off to corrupt the youth/watch How I Met Your Mother/drink more coffee.
3. Return to project a few days to a couple of weeks later and perform BAR (Big Author Revision).
4. Off to editor; she gives it a general proofing but also looks for plot holes, weird stuff, inconsistencies, boringness. My editor saved the ending of DBG.
5. Make whatever changes necessary; send off to beta readers.
6. Make whatever changes necessary. Final author proofread.
7. Off to Le Editrix for a thorough proofreading.
8. Cover art misadventure begins.

This time around, I’m adding another step:

9. Get the bloody thing formatted.

I can and have formatted my own books. They’ve turned out fine (albeit very simple) but it’s a pain in the ass. Since this one is supposed to be short, I may take one crack at it myself, but after that I’m going to hire on someone and happily pay him or her to do it for me.

(I’m told Scrivener formats ebooks, which is part of why I purchased it, but after four months of use, I can’t seem to warm up to the software. Word might be all kinds of evil, but it’s the best processor for me.)

Not much else to report. Had a nice long weekend without other projects – ended up taking Saturday off and then really cracked down on Atlantis I today. Tomorrow I return to other work, and the great juggling act of our time (heh) resumes.