Been Awhile…

…with no real excuse, but I have been busy.

Since SoonerCon, I have attended three shows,  released two books, and signed several contracts.

Book Two of The Conn-Mann Chronicles is now available. The Nearly Notorious Nun is on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.

I also have a new poetry chapbook, Overheard in Hell, which is also available on Amazon.

October will be a busy month too. I have two major releases the week of the 23rd. Killing It Softly, available now for pre-order, and my second Steampunk anthology for Mocha Memoirs, Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires will also debut that week. This was fun to put together. It is horror with a Steampunk twist.

Coming up, more Conn-Mann is with the beta-readers, and I will be writing Book Four for NaNoWriMo, as the first three have been. What it will be, is still in question…I thought I knew…but I have been rethinking what I was planning.

I am also working on several other projects, but who knows when they will be finished. 😉

Taking it easy…

Today’s post is just some of my favorite costumes from SoonerCon last weekend. 🙂

 

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Two Belles
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Daenerys Stormborn
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Death and Dream
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Sunny Reaper
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There were real leds in that sky…
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the Teaman
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River Song
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Mary Poppins
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Shaman
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Lovely lady —  Jennene Stanley
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Little Red Riding Hood…the Self-Sufficient
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LOVE those leggings!
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Harley Quinn and friend
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Osgood and the Doctor
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T-Rex

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

So many things spinning in my head. Books to edit, books to write, short stories to finish…I really don’t need anything more on my plate. But there are these pesky bills to pay…and I have been kicking around ideas on how to add an income stream or two.

I’ve been working on this for the last few days: The Conn-Mann Curiosity Shop — and I’ve even made a sale!

I’ve had a few nice writing sales this year as well.

But…my income goal for the year is still not being met. I need to up my game.

So, I want to test the waters on something else…

There are lots of editors out there. I know it is a crowded field, but I am throwing my hat into the ring too.

I have been editing for small presses for several years now, as well as for friends and family. I do things a little differently than some editors I know. I basically do content, polish, and proofing all in one pass. Then I send it back and continue to work with the author until we are both satisfied.

I charge a penny a word based on the word count of the final finished version, no matter how many times we have to go through it.

I try to turn things around in a reasonable time-frame.  I will always be frank about how much time I expect to need for a job. I have a lot of commitments that I can’t neglect because of a freelance commission–but I also hate housework and will put any edit in front of that…

It’s taken me a bit to come to the decision to offer my editing services. Hopefully, it will be worth it. 🙂

If you have something you would like me to work on, drop me an email at riewriter@gmail.com and I will be happy to discuss your project with you.

Stunning Steampunk Cover Reveal!

Heliodor cover

Heliodor, by Shannon Wendtland

Malfric sees through the eyes of the dead – literally reliving their last moments as if they were his own. This ability is highly sought and highly priced, which is why the unscrupulous Captain Finch hires him to find the murderer of a nobleman and the whereabouts of a valuable artifact.

Quantex, the able-bodied first mate of Captain Finch, quickly becomes Malfric’s foil as he demonstrates uncommon intelligence during the investigation. Together the two uncover several clues that lead them to the killer, the artifact, and the frayed end of a mysterious plot that begins to unravel the moment Malfric takes it in hand and gives it a good yank.

Available from Mocha Memoirs March 22, 2016.

I had the privilege to accept and edit this piece, and I am so excited that it will be out soon. It’s a fascinating story, and I highly recommend it!

Author Interview: Eliza Maxwell


Grave Tender cover

 

I had the pleasure several months ago of reading The Grave Tender by Eliza Maxwell, an extremely powerful debut novel. Ms. Maxwell will be joining our Mystery Readers meeting next Saturday in Georgetown, so I asked her if she would mind answering a few questions for me:

 

Eliza Maxwell photo

 

How long have you been writing?

For as long as I can remember, in some form or other.  But if I’m honest, my first true love was reading, not writing.  Reading anything and everything I could get my hands on.  From my Dad’s Louis L’amour and Stephen King paperbacks to my Mom’s dog-eared romance novels, I was hooked from the very beginning.

Writing came about as an experiment, almost.  A little like an alcoholic that decides to try out home brewing.  Because, why not, right?  I was, and still am, looking for just the right concoction.  The one I can’t put down.  Then I share, and hope there may be a few fellow readers out there that like it too.

What was your reaction when you made your first sale?

As a decades long smoker, I finally managed quitting for what I hope was the last time this past summer.  The first two weeks was rough.  I was antsy, irritable, agitated, and I couldn’t keep my hands occupied enough.  I wasn’t fun to be around, to say the least.  At one point I overheard my husband mumbling about a rabies shot for women, but when I called him out, his only response was, “I said your hair looks nice, babe.”  Smart guy.

Making the first sale?  Awesome.  No doubt.  The time between making the first sale and the point when the reviews start to trickle in?  That part felt pretty much the same as nicotine withdrawal.  It’s a wonder my husband still speaks to me.

Where you do get your inspiration?

Inspiration… Hmm.  That’s a tricky one.  To me, drama and story come from secrets.  From mood.  From the dark, deep parts of the heart that we all know are there, but most don’t care to look at too closely.  And somewhere in my head, all of that is intertwined with east Texas and pine trees and riverbanks meant for bare feet.  Trying to separate those, for me, is like trying to unwhisk the eggs from the milk.  It can’t be done.

Whatever takes me to those places is inspiration.  Certain music.  Bluegrass, zydeco.  A spring afternoon in the sun, listening to the birds.  But especially the stories.  You know the ones.  The weird ones that you hear over iced tea on a wraparound porch.  Like the one about the abandoned cabin down the road with iron bars on the windows.  How the old man just couldn’t face the place after that tragedy with his son… Bless his heart.

Those stories, the ones that seem to pepper small towns and quiet places like the seasoning in a good stew, those are the purest form of inspiration for me.  I can’t seem to help dwelling on things that are probably best left alone.

Have you found it difficult to market your work? Any tips for things that worked?

Marketing.  The dreaded, despised mystery of marketing.  All I can speak to is what I’ve tried myself.  Upon launch, I did a blog tour, and connected with some amazing book bloggers.  The tour did little for sales, but I did get a nice boost in reviews.  Some good, some bad, and that was just fine with me.  Expecting everyone to like your book is a bit like expecting the holidays at the in-laws to be drama free.  It ain’t gonna happen.

But the boost in reviews helped to land a Bookbub ad.  And Bookbub knows how to sell some books.

Do you enjoy interacting with fans, or are you an introvert? Do you get much fan mail?

I absolutely love interacting with fans on a personal basis like email, or a book club meeting.  I am, however, a down-to-the-bone introvert.  Social media is an amazing tool that I’ve seen many use masterfully, and though I’ve tried it out, it’ll  never be something I do well.  And that’s a shame.

In spite of that, I really do adore hearing from readers.  There’s nothing that quite compares to it.

What has been your most challenging project to date?

My biggest challenge was, and still is, book number 2.  The first time around, I had no expectations.  Not of myself, and not of the characters.  Number 2 is proving to be my problem child.

What are your other hobbies and interests?

I love anything that involves creating something with my hands.  Within that framework, it’s all fair game.  I paint, I cook, I occasionally build things, and I put more enthusiasm than skill into all sorts of home improvement projects.  I try, sometimes more successfully than others, to keep my family clean and fed.  And in between it all, I read as much as I possibly can.

What does the future hold for you?

My hope is that the future holds all the hours one could need to turn two small children into functioning human-ish creatures, rather than sociopathic cat burglars.  When I’m not setting aside funds for future bail money, my hope is to be able to sink into another character’s secrets and fears as they unfold on the page in front of me.

Not asking too much… I hope.

What advice do you have for new writers…or just those of us not as accomplished as you are? 😉

It feels presumptuous to give advice when I still have so much to learn.  But I don’t mind passing along some words of wisdom from those more successful and talented than myself that I’ve found helpful.

To paraphrase the imitable Chuck Wendig, writers write.  So do it.  I take that to mean, for better or worse, show up and write something.  Anything.  You can always fix it later.

And my favorite piece of advice, from Elmore Leonard: Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Where can readers find you?

I’m on Facebook, and you can follow me on Bookbub for updates on when the next book will be ready to go, but if you really want to reach out, email me at theelizamaxwell@gmail.com.  I’d sincerely love to hear from you.

———————————————————————————–

Here is the book blurb if you are interested in seeing more:

 

Hadley Dixon was ten years old when her life changed forever.  Since those few tragic weeks, she’s tried to keep the past buried, but old bones have a way of rising up. Grown now, Hadley can’t hide any longer.

 

And if anyone is going to be in or near Georgetown, Texas Saturday March 12th at 2:00 pm, the Mystery Readers will be meeting upstairs at the Library. You are welcome to join us to hear Eliza speak about her book and her career in general. 🙂

Getting the Most from Your Promotional Dollar: Part 1– Writing Implements

As writers, we soon learn that as hard as the actual writing seems to be at times, it is the easy part. Once you finish the manuscript, find a publisher–or decide to go it alone–and have the final product in your hands, THEN the hard part really begins.

You have to promote the book.

Promotion is by far the hardest, and potentially most expensive part of the writing process. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new book and go hog-wild trying to get the word out.

That enthusiasm can lead to this:

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That’s not all the promo stuff I have…and haven’t used.

I get great ideas. I get caught up in the moment. I am SURE I have found the next best thing that will make my books fly off the shelves. But let’s examine some of these things in more detail:

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See that bottom box? It is 2/3’s full of pens like this:

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The pen says in total:

Visit Rie Sheridan’s website
www.riewriter.com
Come share the fantasy!

 

Nice sentiment…though you can’t read it all at once. And…I bought those pens in…2002 maybe? What are the chances that they still all write?

Most of my recent work is Steampunk or horror. It isn’t that I don’t HAVE fantasy, but most of my canon can’t be effectively promoted that way.

A more useful promotional device would just have the first two lines.

Are these pens still useful? Maybe, but if I put them out, it should be after checking EACH one to make sure it still writes. What a time sink!

Three lessons learned here:

    1. Buy the smallest quantity you think you might use. Sure, you might get a price break if you buy 1000 pens. But if you still have them almost 15 years later, you bought too many.
    2. USE the promo items you buy. You don’t have to be sold on your work. OTHER people do. So don’t keep them hanging around.
    3. Be generic in your message if you are a multi-tasking author. Don’t pigeon-hole your work.

 

It gets worse when you get fancier with the pens. The Highlighter pens aren’t quite that old, but I doubt that all the highlighters still work, and the batteries for the flashlights go dead VERY quickly. If you aren’t going to use something like that almost immediately, there isn’t any point in them.

Of all the types of pens to buy, I recommend the plain stick pens. People will almost always pick up a pen–you can never have too many pens. A simple stick pen, or one of the plain click pens like my friend Kathryn Sullivan uses will keep your message in front of people on a daily basis.

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I use Kathy’s pens all the time. They write well and have a good ink.

For my Steampunk series, The Conn-Mann Chronicles, I decided to go even more old school, because it fits the period (1874). My promo for Jo and her friends is classic and practically indestructible. They will have an unlimited shelf-life…as long as the series does well.

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But, can anyone spot the flaw I just saw?

These are a great, long-lasting promotional item…that promotes the main website and not the series specific one that now exists, but didn’t when they were ordered… Ah, well.

When you are looking for writing utensils as promo items–and these are always a practical choice, as long as you keep the number down, because you can always use them around the house if nothing else…here are some websites to consider:

National Pen — this is where I got the stick pens.

Oriental Trading Company — great for pencils.

4imprint — where I got the Conn-Mann pencils.

All of these sites have other items available besides writing implements. We will get into the paper products next week. 🙂

 

 

 

Making the Big Sale

Ghosts on Drugs

My first submission of the year has been accepted and paid for. It has been a really unique experience for  me, and I wanted to share it. 🙂

I saw the call for Ghosts on Drugs, and it sounded really fun. The premise is a simple one — each story must include at least one ghost on at least one drug.

I came up with a flash piece about 1400 words long that I really liked and sent it in.

The response was quick, friendly, and positive. And, in a very unique twist for me, the editor, Hy Bender, liked my story, but asked for edits BEFORE acceptance. It was intriguing.

We went back and forth three times before he sent it on to his co-editor, Will Paoletto, to look at.

Then, the waiting…luckily, not TOO long a wait. 😉

To get that email saying “We want it, where do we pay you?” was AMAZING!

I think this was the first time I’ve been paid on acceptance. 15 cents a word. Making this my biggest sale yet.

This is a great start for my goal of $5000 this year!

If you are a writer looking for a great place to submit–I highly recommend Ghosts on Drugs.

What Do I Talk About Now…?

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The end of the insanity has left me a bit at odds. Yes, some days it was almost impossible to come up with a submission. But in the end, it always worked out, and I did it.

There were For the Love submissions, like the Haiku Universe offerings. (Great place to submit, by the way–even better place for your daily haiku fix.)

There were the “for the long haul” royalty submissions to Horrified Press.

Several flat fee submissions, like “Leaving the Tower” in Hides the Dark Tower.

My first editing foray into the world of anthologies with Avast Ye Airships!

Branching out on my songwriting with a sale to GriffinEd.

It was a great year.

But now, it is over. And I am a little at a loss for direction. It isn’t as if I don’t have many project irons in the fire… (Did you see the call for my next anthology Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires?)

Still, I am feeling a little lost. My house is getting more organized. I actually cooked dinner the other night. I am trying to walk 30 minutes a day. But missing that extra frenzied urgency is weird…

Ah well, I am sure I will find some sort of mischief to get up to. 😉

Ending and Beginning: The State of the Resolution Address

Those of you who read this blog regularly (Thank you!) have been following my saga of submittals for the past year. Some days, we weren’t any of us sure that I could meet my goal–but I did. Over 400 submissions for 2015. At least one a day. Those submissions ranged from haikus to a novel. Some were submitted multiple times before they found a home–I never said it would be a new submission every day–but most of them did eventually find their niche.

Total Stats:

Month Rejected Accepted Subs
Jan 11 7 33
Feb 9 3 29
Mar 20 23 39
Apr 13 11 32
May 17 15 38
Jun 20 13 31
Jul 16 18 38
Aug 20 19 37
Sep 17 9 30
Oct 13 19 34
Nov 11 16 30
Dec 14 3 32
Total 181 156 403

 

It took some searching to find numbers I had missed posting to the proper columns, but this now works out correctly, with 66 subs still out and not finalized carried over to the 2016 page for follow-ups in the coming week.

I don’t know if you are impressed, but I am…lol.

 

It was exhausting. And, though i saw an uptick in the income page, not particularly profitable. My greatest income by far came from CD royalties and editing.

This year, my husband has provided me with a new goal–$5,000 income. Steep, but I am now of the opinion that if I try hard enough, i can do anything. 🙂

I will be cutting my submission goal to one a week, so I can concentrate on writing more polished pieces of greater length for markets that stretch me as a writer. (I won’t neglect my favorites, but that is the official goal.)

I will consider taking on more freelance work, and doing more paid editing.

Plus, I am in the process of re-releasing my Conn-Mann Chronicles books, and finalizing guidelines for a new Steampunk anthology with Mocha Memoirs.

The year ahead should be exciting, and busy, but not as terrifying as trying to come up with that sub for the day. 😉

Happy Holidays!

It’s Friday, so I am blogging, but it won’t be anything extensive, or witty today. Just a heart-felt wish that your upcoming year is filled with everything you wish for, and that I learn how to schedule posts next year. 😉

It would be awesome to have it post for me on days when it is hard to get to the keys on the correct day. You ever have that problem?

Still the To-Do list is working. Some days I look at all those check boxes and sigh, but they are all done by the end of the day. And I am NEVER that organized. 🙂

If you have an Android phone (apparently, it isn’t available for Apple) I highly recommend the Splend Apps To-Do List. Not saying it couldn’t be improved, but definitely the best one I’ve tried.

Anyway, that’s enough for me to check this off the list today. I hope you have a great day with your family and friends. I plan to.

 

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