Posts Tagged ‘Like Life Itself’

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The dog days of August are officially upon us, so what better way to celebrate than with ten tales of varying darkness?

Wuh?

My thoughts exactly. I realize you have questions, friend. I do too. Here, hopefully, are some answers:

Like Life Itself: Ten Short Stories will be full-on free for Kindle users between the dates of August 5th and August 7th, 2015. The first tale, as always, is available for preview here. Simply click on the aptly-named Look Inside thingie and treat yourself to heapin’ helpin’s of creepy gross stuff.

Things lighten up from there. Sort of. If you don’t mind a workplace massacre, a returning wounded warrior denied by his lover, and a man carefully and efficiently planning his suicide. Good times!

But there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. The last story is tangentially baseball-related.

To reiterate: Like Life Itself will be free between August 5th and 7th. The sale is set to begin at 8am PDT (11am EDT). Set your cellphone alarms accordingly. Personally, I’m partial to the rooster one.

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I really don’t put much thought into the timing of my…well…anything. When it comes to book releases, however, I try to make them coincide with something resembling sense. I released my debut novel, A World Gone Gray,  in mid-November 2013, just ahead of the Christmas feeding frenzy. Since it initially fared well, I released Like Life Itself a week or so later.  I published Signal Fire in March, hoping it might end up on some discerning reader’s post-Winter TBR list. Most recently, I released The Transience of Youth last week. It’s a Summer-y Rom-Com type of thing, and I thought a mid-June release might suit it.

Turns out I’m one-for-four. A World Gone Gray continues to be my most consistent seller. It’s outsold the rest of the bunch about five-to-one. Combined. Which raises the question: Why? Is it the cover? The description? The content? What makes five times as many readers choose AWGG over the rest of my humble offerings?

Here’s the honest answer: I have no friggin’ idea. AWGG is the first book I ever completed. It has its moments, I think, but it ain’t no Faulkner. It’s my baby and I’m oh-so-close to it, but I fail to see why it beasts the rest of my books. The Transience of Youth (working title: Summer. Ha!) is my Number Two novel. Signal Fire came third, and my yet-to-be-released political comedy is number the fourth. Ideally, a writer improves as time marches on; more experience yields better work, and all that. But it seems I blew my load (so to speak) way back in November of 2013. Again, why?

Again, I have no bloody idea. I write stuff, I upload it to the Interwebs, and stuff happens. After that, your guess is as good as mine. If anyone can elaborate, I’ll gladly give you $1 (American), and a high-five.

And since I’m a glutton for punishment, I’m releasing my political comedy, I Like Mike, in September or so, just ahead of the US mid-term elections. I’m sure that’ll work out just fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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T.S. Eliot held that April is the cruelest month. After waking up Tuesday morning (Tax Day and three weeks into Spring) and finding an inch of snow covering the green grass and the budding trees, I’m starting to agree with him. I know “reading clouds” with any accuracy is impossible; it’s just an attempt by the human mind to assign a known shape to the unknown that is Mother Nature. It gives us the false impression that we’re actually in control of something, anything. But still, one of the clouds I saw pass by that morning looked suspiciously like a hand with an extended middle finger. Thanks, Ms. Nature. Message received.

I mentioned in a recent post that I was using some of my ill-earned vacation time to conduct a social media experiment. At Smashwords, I generated a 25% off coupon for my debut novel, A World Gone Gray, then proceeded post-haste to Twitter to shout of savings from the digital mountaintop. My seven days of sporadic advertising (I kept the tweets limited to one per hour-ish, and only when an appropriate topic [and hashtag] was trending; I despise spam just as much as the next guy or gal) yielded a grand total of zero sales. I’d hoped for a couple more. On the plus side, ten readers downloaded the free sample, and I picked up about two dozen new Twitter followers, many of whom are actual human people. So it wasn’t a complete waste of everybody’s time.

On a somewhat-but-not-quite-related side note, my short story collection, Like Life Itself, is starting to creep its way up the best-seller list on Amazon. Over the past week I’ve noticed that the terminal red down-arrow that normally accompanies the tome on its southward slide has been replaced by a green up-arrow and a really, really small number. But it seems Kermit the Frog was right after all; it truly isn’t easy being green. Apparently, the bottomless pit that is the Amazon Author Ranking has a bottom. It’s around 1.2 million or so. Also, apparently, ebooks can bounce. I can now take comfort in the fact that Like Life Itself is the Baby Jessica of self-published books, waiting patiently for someone to rescue it from the bottom of the well.

On a more encouraging note, I just came up with an excellent idea for a novella—T.S. Eliot and Kermit D. Frog walk into the DMV. Practically writes itself, doesn’t it?

 

 

 

 

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As evidenced by the blog post title you just read, one of my many weak points as a self-publishing writer is my inability to come up with clever, original, pithy strings of letters that make people want to buy my books. Exhibits A through C? All of my book titles suck. A World Gone Gray sounds utterly pretentious, but it winked into existence in my brain at the same time 75% of the novel did seven years ago. So it stuck. Signal Fire? I called it Beacons for four years, then decided a week before I published it that it looked too much like Bacon. So I opened my handy-dandy thesaurus to “beacon,” closed my eyes, and pointed. I’ll have to consult with my team of lawyers, but I’m pretty sure I owe the Roget estate half the royalties. I pulled Like Life Itself completely out of my ass. Obviously.

Well, the internal saber-rattling between my suckitude at marketing and my desire to sell books escalated into all-out war the other night. I happened to log onto Twitter, and #Kindle happened to be the top-trending topic (still is, last time I checked). Naturally, I thought, this is a golden opportunity to have my promotional tweets be lost among the millions of other ones being sent out by other self-publishers doing the same thing I’m doing. In a word (well, two): Mission Accomplished. Okay, it wasn’t a total loss. I picked up a few followers, some of whom seem to be actual existing humans. Some of them may even be readers.

Before I dove into the gladiatorial arena that is Twitter-trending-Kindle, I had a game plan. Don’t be that over-eager spambot douche who Tweets every nanosecond, I told myself. People see right through that. But even if I had wanted to be a spamming douchebot, I couldn’t have. It turns out that my desire to compose an original, compelling 140-character self-advertisement trumps the ol’ copy-and-spam method every time. And it takes (me, anyway) ten or fifteen minutes to obsessively edit one of those bad boys into something suitable for cyberspace. But I also figure a ten- or fifteen-minute break between tweets gives any potential readers time aplenty to discover my awesomeness, so I’m golden. And that’s the story I’m sticking to.

To make a long post short, I think this bodes well for my writing. If I can obsessively edit throw-away Twitter posts at 3am on a Tuesday, odds are the rest of my work will be pretty well-scrutinized. For now, however, I’m off to peddle my wares on Twitter. Excelsior!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My short story collection, Like Life Itself: Ten Short Stories went live today in Amazon Kindle format. Since I have the attention span and organizational skills of a meth-addled adolescent squirrel, the collection’s pretty eclectic. I felt like I had to arrange the stories under some kind of theme, so I went with: Horror, Purgatory, and Hope. I figure everybody’s life is approximately three parts pain and despair, four parts waiting around at the DMV, and another three parts squinting at the light at the end of the tunnel. That works out to 30/40/30, or, as I see it, the Balance Bar of Existence™.  I’m sure there are some genuine good times mixed in there, too. But hey. It’s Black Friday. Only dark stories need apply.

I went with a cover from the same company that supplied the A World Gone Gray cover. I wish there was some deep meaning behind it, but there really isn’t. I just thought it looked cool. Although, the lonely chair in the corner fits in nicely with the limbo/purgatory/DMV theme of the middle four stories.

As always, you can check the book out by searching Amazon or clicking the link above. And, as always, a more detailed description and the first 10% (in this case, the entire first story) of the book is a free preview. Decide for yourself whether or not it sucks, then proceed accordingly.

By the way, the first story features a guy who thinks centipedes are living inside his head. So I guess I’m trying to say it’s not for the kids. But c’mon, adults. You know you wanna look.