Weekly Update – September 12, 2017

This week’s big(ish) announcement: this Saturday is my guest author day at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire. Jump down to the events section for details.

WRITING PROJECTS

Well Behaved Women: I always seem to hit a creative lull right before I plunge into the climax of a book, and this project is no different. I’ve been pushing through some small transitional scenes all week, so progress has been a bit slow.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: In the editing phase. Cover art is in process.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book four: I’ve started mentally plotting the next installation and jotted down a few key scenes. I expect I might jump back and forth between this and Well Behaved Women for a while.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Fourth draft finished, ready for editing.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: Third draft finished! I’m glad I have extra time to work on this one. It’s mostly where I want it to be but there are a few scenes that aren’t quite up to snuff, so I will at some point over the next year do another draft and focus on strengthening the weak points.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins (audiobook): I’ve listened to several chapters so far and sent back a few notes to my narrator, Jen — most of them pointing out minor technical issues. The reading itself has been great, and it’s definitely a weird but cool experience hearing someone else read my material.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC

Something I forgot to mention last week: I’ve stepped down as a correspondent for the Worcester Telegram after a year in that role. My schedule for my new part-time job changed, making me unavailable to cover the evening meetings I’ve been attending, so I resigned as an active freelancer.

I’m honestly not that upset by it. The work was fine but I was remembering more and more why I left journalism in the first place, so I’m happy to be putting this phase of my career behind me (again).

Finally, if you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.

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Weekly Update – August 9, 2016

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00056]Earlier this year I released Cheap Thrills Digest to sell exclusively at live events and through this website, and I’ve been debating whether to make it available through Amazon as well.

I’ve decided to go ahead and do it in the interest of enhancing my Amazon catalog and perhaps goosing my income a little.

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Assassins Brawl: With my editor, still on-track for a September release.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War and Action Figures – Issue Eight: I got some work done on both books, which is good, because last weekend was my last writing weekend for the rest of the month. I’m busy helping my wife out with shows until September, when I’ll be diving back into Assassins Brawl to get that prepped for its release.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins:  Audiobook recording in process.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

This week I officially dove back into the world of journalism after nearly three years away. I’ve started doing a little light freelancing for the Worcester Telegram, covering Auburn Board of Selectmen — nothing too glamorous, but it keeps me busy and brings a little extra money in.

 

Weekly Update – July 5, 2016

Ad SquareI’m going to open with a quick reminder that, in celebration of the book reaching #1 best-seller status on Amazon, the Kindle edition of Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins will be going on sale for 99 cents in two weeks. Grab a copy for yourself, gift a copy to a friend, or just spread the word to fellow readers.

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Assassins Brawl: AF book 2 is off to my editor Julie! She expects to be done by the end of August, so barring the unforeseen — which is always a possibility in the indie author world — the second book should be out in late September.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Almost time to get back to work on this in earnest!

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Jennifer MacPherson is doing a read-through on the audiobook manuscript and should start formal recording sessions any day.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

There’s some behind-the-scenes stuff going on at home that have cleared the way for me to pick up some freelance work with the Worcester Telegram. It’ll just be a pick-up job here and there for the immediate future, but it’ll keep me active and bring some extra money in.

Finally, I have finally joined Instagram, so if you aren’t already sick of me on other social media outlets, check me out there at michaelbaileywriter.

And Now The Real Work Begins

Action Figures has been out for a little less than a week now, and I certainly can’t complain about the response. More than a dozen copies sold in the first few days, and a lot of friends shared the launch announcement, which I hope will generate future sales.

Ah, but this is where the real work begins for me. Writing and prepping the book was the easy part, comparatively; now I need to push it so people outside of my circle of friends buy the thing.

In doing my research on self-publishing, I learned that the publicity phase is where a lot of self-pub authors fall down. Their business plan amounts to: Step One: publish book; Step Two: (mumble mumble); Step Three: profit. Maybe they’ll set up a Facebook page, send some e-mails to their friends and family, but too often indie authors’ attitude is, “If I write it, they will come.”

Fortunately, I have an edge: my experiences in the newspaper industry and in publicity for the renaissance faires at which I’ve worked have prepared me well for the task of publicizing my book, and that effort is now underway.

The first things I did were to create author pages on Amazon.com and Goodreads, which are a bit more passive publicity tools; aside from blog posts that auto-share on those pages, these will sit on the Internet, largely untouched, and show up on searches.

The next step: write up and send out a press release. My former place of employment, the Falmouth Enterprise, got the first one, and as soon as something runs there, I’ll be sending the release out to other news outlets covering my home town.

The more ambitious phase of the publicity campaign is coming up. I took advantage of CreateSpace’s expanded distribution service, which makes my book available to book stores, but how can they order it unless they know about it? That’s where this comes into play:

Buy me!
Buy me!

I plan to print up copies of this mailer in small batches, as finances allow, and send it out to indie bookstores to let them know this book exists and hey, maybe they want to carry it.

All these things have one end result in common, besides selling copies: generating word-of-mouth buzz, which can be as effective, if not more so, than any sort of formal advertising/publicity campaign. Thankfully, my friends are both very literate and very talkative.

Ending One Story, Starting Another

The title of this blog post is a semi-poetic way of announcing that I am leaving my job as a reporter for the Enterprise Newspapers. My last day is one week from today.

This is a huge deal on several levels. I’ve held this job for more than 15 years, my longest stretch with a single employer, so to leave behind what has been a significant part of my life is a little jarring, even though it’s both desirable and necessary.

It’s desirable because, honestly, I’ve been rather unhappy here for a while. I hate to say that, because I loved my job for most of the time I was here, but in recent years my sense of discontent has grown. I realized I was spending so much more time writing the stuff I had to (news) instead of the stuff I wanted to (stories), and that became a considerable source of frustration.

I guess that also covers some of the necessary part, since it’s tough to pursue my passion when the need for a paycheck is eating up so much of my potential writing time.

The other necessity is not my own, but my wife’s. Veronica’s business, Storied Threads, has grown considerably over the past year, and she’s hit the point where she cannot grow the business working almost completely by herself. Hiring her friend Kate would be the ideal solution, but that’s impractical due to distance, so the next most logical choice was me.

So yeah, I will be working for my wife, doing whatever I can to free her up to sew. It seems like I’m just trading one job that isn’t what I want to do for another, but I will be getting back some lost writing time, and the fact that I will not be blowing my creative energy all on work should help boost my output.

I don’t want any of this to come off as bitter, because I’m not. If anything, I’m grateful for the opportunity I got 15 years ago when my now-retired editor decided to hire a guy with no formal higher education or previous experience in journalism — or writing in general, except for a very recent freelance sale. I learned how to write faster without sacrificing accuracy. I learned how important choosing the right word can be and how it can significantly affect how the reader interprets a sentence. I learned when to expound and when to summarize.

I also learned a lot of interesting bits of knowledge that I’ve worked into my writing, most of that coming from covering local police departments — which was always the most fun I ever had at my job.

So in the end, it was to my benefit to have my soon-to-be-former job, but its time is at an end. I need to move on if I’m going to grow, creatively and professionally.

Action Figures – A Non-Progress Report

It’s coming up on one month since I re-submitted my manuscript and — not that this is a surprise — there’s been no word yet. I’m honestly not expecting to hear anything for quite a while yet, but I’m starting to get into that twitchy checking-e-mail-constantly phase.

That’s not as bad this time around, in good part because I’m otherwise occupied with my day job and my various responsibilities with the Connecticut Renaissance Faire (I’m in the cast, I’m serving as fight captain for the stage combat work, I’m writing Mandrake’s Mysteries again, and I’m helping the online publicity effort).

I’m also casually fleshing out the next story in the series, in part to keep those rare free moments occupied with something productive, and perhaps as a bit of positive affirmation. “The manuscript is going to sell, which means I should outline the rest of the series,” I’m telling myself.

Watch Words

Although working at a newspaper is not my ideal writing job, it’s good work, and over the years it has contributed to my writing career in some unexpected ways. One thing it’s done is it’s shown me how important — and sometimes tricky — it is to choose the right word in a given circumstance.

I got to thinking about this after Dick Cheney appeared on the Today show yesterday to pimp his new book, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir.” Jamie Gangel asked Cheney about a passage in the book in which Cheney claims Condi Rice “tearfully” admitted to him she’d been wrong in urging then-President Bush to apologize for inaccurate claims regarding Iraq’s attempts to boost its nuclear weapons capacity. Cheney denied that this meant Rice had been crying, only that she was “tearful.” He insisted that he chose that word very deliberately.

Gangel rightfully pointed out that “tearful” was a loaded word, which is a gentle way of telling Cheney that it’s very hard to use “tearful” in a way that does not immediately make the reader think the subject of said adjective was crying.

Without getting into Cheney’s head, its impossible to say whether this was indeed a deliberate choice by a skilled writer — an effort to portray a situation accurately but, through the slipperiness of language, avoid making an explicit accusation that Rice was crying — or a semi-skilled writer choosing a word that does not quite match what he really meant to say. I’m inclined to go with the latter; even well-schooled writers are sometimes unaware of how certain words are likely to be interpreted by the reader. Granted,  a word like “tearful” does not grant the writer or reader a lot of leeway in interpretation…

And yet, I’ve personally seen how readers, especially (to be frank about it) less literate readers can read into a word in unexpected ways — or, to be fair, when I use a word that has a less well-known definition.

The incident that really made me aware of how word choices affect the meaning of a sentence occurred a few years back, when I wrote in an otherwise standard police log write-up that an officer “scored” his third arrest in a week. In my head, “scored” meant “achieved” or “attained” (as per definition 4B). The reader? She chewed me out for suggesting that police were in some sort of competition to see who could rack up the most arrests; she interpreted “score” in the more commonplace sense of scoring a point in a game.

I suspect this woman was in fact related to the suspect and was venting her embarrassment at me, since I was a convenient target, but it nevertheless opened my eyes in a big way to the power a single word can have in coloring a sentence. That’s a great tool, because it allows a storyteller to convey ideas in less direct and more colorful, yet equally effective ways. If I were, say, writing a police drama and wanted to suggest that two cops had an ongoing rivalry, I could write “Officer Smith scored three arrests in one day, two more than Officer Jones” to subtly enhance that idea.

Careful word selection is something that gets lost in the hurlyburly of writing a first draft, at least for me, but it’s something to bear in mind during the re-writes. Anything that enhances the story is worth the extra effort.