09 May

Today I’m celebrating 10 years of being a freelancer

Ten years, man! Ten years! I’ve been freelancer/writer/whatever for 10 years now, sailing my own ship:

Ten years ago I had just published my very first novel. It had been out a few months. But I never got to enjoy or dwell on my first novel experience because I learned just a couple days before my book was to launch that I was going to be out of a job by the end of summer.

I spent that February, March and April:

-finishing the manuscript of my second novel, Ragamuffin, in a panic. I didn’t know if I would be working a McDonald’s or what later in the year. I wanted to have written two novels, so that no matter what mess came next I would have at least done that.

-looking for a new day job. Turned out there were no tech jobs within a decent commute at the time. I was underwater on my mortgage in a house I’d just moved into and had to stretch to afford.

-working freelance gigs that appeared as I announced my availability and impending job loss. I still remember that my boss read my blog post announcing that I was being laid off and ‘encouraged’ me to take it down and I was like ‘I don’t even understand what you mean’ because my focus was on letting the world know I needed to start something new.

By May it had become clear that I had enough lined up that I could take the leap into just working as a freelancer and author.

Ten years. Wow.

There have been a lot of ups and downs. I became a New York Times bestseller thanks to the Halo novel. I went on to write book 3 of what became the Xenowealth series. Agreed to put #4 and #5 on hold after the Halo book and wrote Arctic Rising and Hurricane Fever. The freelance gigs have shifted and churned around a bit in the background. I’ve had some banner years in terms of fiction earnings, but not enough I would stop freelancing.

My wife, Emily, has joined me to help out with the freelancing. So the business has grown. We haven’t killed each other yet being home all the time.

I almost died just a few years into freelancing. Found out I had a heart defect. Spent years recovering and learning how to manage a whole new life.

Had twins. Still trying to figure out this dad thing. Very much a learn as you go.

I have published 9 novels in that 10 years, 2 under a pseudonym. There are two more written as of yet unsold as well. I’ve also done 4 collections, 5 novellas, and sold 36 short stories.

My income streams shift and change, but overall everything is growing.

I’m looking out over the next ten and thinking very hard about how I want it to look. I’m in the middle of a great deal of change right now. But… if there’s one thing I’ve learned from 10 years of being a freelancer you have to be comfortable with a great deal of variability.

Does it ever become normal?

I wouldn’t want it to.

What’s next on the horizon?

I’m hoping to nail all that down here soon. You’ll know as soon as I do.

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03 Feb

Why I did Xenowealth: A Collection as a Kickstarter

Clay Kallam has nice things to say about the collection, and recommends reading the Xenowealth collection in the first regular review of Xenowealth: A Collection.

He does lead off with this:

The brave new world of publishing can affect even the successful, including Tobias Buckell, author of “Xenowealth” and “Arctic Rising” books, who now must resort to crowdfunding to get all of his works into print.

(Via Worlds Beyond: Tobias Buckell revisits his ‘Xenowealth’ world with a new collection of short stories – San Jose Mercury News.)

I’m grateful to Clay for recommending the books.

To dig into why I did the Kickstarter, as opposed to selling it to a publisher: I make more off the Kickstarter. I’d talked to one publisher about it, and they turned it down. And I’ve run the numbers. A mid list author like me, for a short story collection, can expect something like $1,000-$5,000. $5,000 is high for a short story collection. The received wisdom is that short story collections don’t sell. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

And to be fair, readers do seem to prefer longer pieces.

The reason I didn’t shop the project around any further was that I knew I could make more rolling my own. Xenowealth: A Collection got $7,105 on Kickstarter. Yes there were fees, shipping, printing costs, but there were also more preorders via backerkit. There were a lot of eBook preorders once I put that up as well.

When all is said and done, this will be a project that is looking likely to break $10,000, which leaves me quite delighted. Who would have offered me 10K on a short story collection?

The follow up question is: why don’t I do more novels this way?

Well, so far, there have been more advantages doing it the other way. Monetarily. But also growing my reach and audience. The Apocalypse Ocean is not the most I’ve made off a novel in all the publishing methods I’ve tried (crowd funding/direct digital/medium press/NY Publishing), but it’s middle of the pack. But, having roughly tripled what I could expect to have made on the short story collection, crowd funding is a tool in my kit that I can deploy if things ever flag elsewhere. If I have to flip that switch, I am happy to. I’m grateful to my readership for sticking with me in all the ways I publish things.

I made a lot of mistakes while doing this Kickstarter last. I’ve made due note of every single one. I was originally going to write a post called ‘All the ways I crashed and burned on my 3rd Kickstarter’ but that’s no positive learning and moving forward, it’s me feeling bad for myself. And the truth is, I don’t need more negativity. Mark what failed, avoid in future, learn. Always learn. The biggest error was a messed up print run using the wrong paper for the collection. After I sorted that out, I used the extra copies as advanced reader copies, sending them out to reviewers.

The fact that Xenowealth: A Collection is being reviewed by the San Jose Mercury News shows that there is a lot of potential, and the experience is ending up positive.

Forward!

Xenowealth: A Collection

Xenowealth: A Collection

Series: Short Story Collections, Book 5
High concept, adventurous science fiction stories featuring the beloved characters and settings from Tobias S. Buckell’s popular Xenowealth novels. More info →
Buy now!

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01 Dec

How do I know when to trunk my story or novel?

Today, while waiting for my new office chair to be delivered I asked twitter to send me some questions. Mike Douton on twitter asked:

This is a tricky one to answer. The thing is writers have a variety of approaches and the trick to knowing this is to actually figure out how you work best. I have a pseudo-framework for thinking about this:

I have several writer friends who are what I would call Tinkerers. They write via a method of creating something, then they continue to tinker it into perfection. It’s amazing to watch, and as a result they often have skills for rewriting that are hard to match.

Some, like me, are more Serial Iterators. They do better writing something new, incorporating the lessons of a previous work. They depend on a lifetime of practice and learning. They lean more toward abandoning a project that hasn’t worked to move on.

So to know whether you’re going to abandon a draft, you’ll need to Know Thyself, Writer!

If you’re going to be a Tinkerer, it’s useful to know that about yourself. That means you shouldn’t be frustrated if you sit on manuscripts and keep tinkering. I’d recommend Tinkerers not send stuff in over early until they feel very good about what they have in hand. That’s subjective, but part of an Tinkerer’s genius is that knowing something isn’t working is a huge part of their process. The decision to trunk something isn’t actually something an Tinkerer does, they just park things for different lengths of times.

Serial Iterators are more likely to use the market, or reader feedback, to make this call. They might have a sense something is not quite right, but if they can’t identify it quickly for a fix, will send it out to see if they are possibly wrong or to have something or some one external explain the issue. Serial Iterators will use a workshop (so do Tinkerers) or beta readers or a trusted reader to check their instinct. If that filter deems the story bad, the Serial Iterator will trunk it and move on from the project forever, investing time and effort into something new. If the Serial Iterator thinks the project is not obviously trunk-worthy, they’ll send it in.

Which way is right? I don’t know. There are pros and cons to each.

Let’s say this. Tinkerers will often write a story, tinker until it is amazing, and send it out. A Serial Iterator will write ten stories and the ninth or tenth one might be amazing. Each will sell that amazing story. Who did it right? I couldn’t say.

Cons? Tinkerers can get caught up in Zeno’s Paradox, each draft moving the story 50% closer to perfection like a turtle trying to reach the other side. Serial Iterators can skimp on quality and not learn because they’re iterating too shallowly. I’ve met Tinkerers who stop sending stuff out because they become too critical or obsessed with the perfection of that One Project. I’ve met Serial Iterators who are writing the same basic shit they wrote 10 years ago with just a few tweaks. For iteration to be successful, you do have to learn something each time.

Smart writers of either side steal from the other. I have learned a lot from Tinkerers. But because I really try to not get lose in rewrite hell, I hope I’ve been able to pass on a few tricks about preparation, structure, and swerving flaws into cool things as you go.

When I wrote 150 short stories at the start of my career, I abandoned over 100 of them to the trunk. I did this by knowing I was interested in iteration and not interested in trying to rescue them. I had an intuitive sense of how long it would take for me in hours, manpower, to try and rescue a story, versus how many it would take to make a new one. That came with practice, trusted readers opinions being compared to my own impressions of the writing, and editorial feedback. But I am very aware of the fact that I’m not a Tinkerer.

There are a lot of myths about how to Be a Writer. Sometimes we internalize things. For a long time I hated my approach. I thought I was a shitty writer because I preferred to nail a draft, or hit a story on landing (or within a few drafts thereof, I’m not in any way advocating not rewriting or making drafts better, mind you), rather than go back in and sweat over 7 or more drafts until PERFECTION as I was sort of taught by various lovers of literature in my schooling days.

Once I understood my process, I started becoming a lot more honest. I focused harder on iterating, but while also making sure I learned something so that I didn’t iterate shallowly. I abandoned things rapidly that didn’t work as they gave me no joy. I sent things out as quickly as I could to get feedback and I welcomed rejection as part of the process of iteration (telling me whether I’d done well or not).

It’s harder with novels, the feedback cycle is vastly slower and I’ve had to fold in some Tinkerer practices (can’t toss out a whole novel that doesn’t work), but I’ve learned to iterate chapters and scenes and I’ve learned how I work.

So figuring out when to trunk something is intensely personal, and it depends on your approach and style. Figure out your goals, your working system first, then you can create your own rubric for ‘should I submit this just yet or work on it some more.’

I hope that helps…

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05 Oct

Process neepery: my all new morning schedule for writing (did he say morning?)

I’m somewhat known for being a night owl. In the past my productive hours have been from 11pm or thereabouts until 3am. No one bothers me, nothing interesting is happening, I just put my head down and write.

Well, now I’m a morning writer.

Welp.

This doesn’t mean I get up with birds chirping and wide eyes and enthusiastically tackle what I’m up to with a grin and a cup of coffee.

First off, I’m not allowed to have any stimulants due to my heart. It’s a drag, but my last bottle of caffeine happened in November 2008. I’ve been clean since then. It kinda sucks.

Secondly, I still hate mornings. This morning while eating breakfast outside the local coffeeshop Emily looked at me and laughed. “You’re not enjoying the beautiful morning at all, are you?”

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Okay, so let’s back it up. A year ago I started tracking my sleep patterns with an app on the phone, and then when I got a new FitBit Charge HR, it started giving me intel automatically.

At the time, Emily was teaching at a school that was a fifteen to twenty minute drive away and had a very early start time. The twins were going to Kindergarten. So I was writing from roughly midnight to three, then they were getting up at five thirty or sixish. I would wake up at noon. But I was struggling with being tired a lot still.

What I found out after studying my sleep was that the whole family getting ready for an hour would wake me up just enough to disrupt sleep patterns for an hour or two, then I’d fall back asleep after everyone was out of the house. I was actually losing 1-2 hours a day to this. So I was getting 7 hours a day, maybe less if I stayed up later to really jam on writing. My app and FitBit were guessing that I was averaging 5.6 hours a night.

I would crash on weekends and basically sleep all day.

Emily recently changed careers to come join me running the various things I do. I guess I haven’t mentioned it before. But so far, six weeks in, it’s been great to have her pitching in. There are so many projects I could use her help on. This means that we were able to enroll the twins locally, to the school just a couple blocks away. A germ of an idea occurred to me over the summer: a whole new schedule change.

Knowing that I was losing a couple hours a day had been bugging me. So I decided to pivot everything into a morning schedule. I’d tried on in the first few months of 2014. I went to bed at 12-1am, I got up at 9-9:30 and I wrote until noon. It had been very effective until it fell apart due to exhaustion. I now know that’s due to those ghost 2 hours of little sleep.

I decided to wake up with everyone.

So, starting on the first day of school I set my alarm to get up with the kids. Because, walking them to school on the first day, how could I not? We got ready, shared the bathroom, ate breakfast, all together.

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They were excited to be able to hoof it.

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Like an alcoholic taking a last drink before their first AA meeting, I’d stayed up late the night before.

After walking the twins to school, Emily and I took the poodle out for a continuing walk, swinging through town near the local coffee shop and then back home for a full mile’s walk.

Once home I sat down at the computer and got to business. I worked until noon, then took a break for lunch and touching base with Emily about the day. After lunch, I turned to my freelance work.

My first day of that was August 31st. It’s been rather effective.

For one, I begin every day with a one mile walk. So I’m getting my exercise in right away and getting the cobwebs out of my head. No matter what else happens, I’ve seen my kids off to school, gotten a hug, gotten a walk. There are worse ways to start a day.

Secondly, by writing when I get home right away I get the other really important part of my day out of the way: writing fiction. Usually by 10am, I feel like if the rest of the day exploded into uselessness, I’d still have walked and written. Thus: I win.

Combined with my social media break and GTD approach to email I’ve been more productive than I ever have been. And importantly, consistency productive.

But is it sustainable?

I don’t know. I’ve been aiming for 7 hours 20 minutes of sleep a night minimum. I’ve been failing that here and there, but last week I had a string of 8 days in a row of 7.5 hours of sleep minimum, which is really good. I’ve been getting into bed between 11-midnight. I have fallen down a few times. Twice when company was over (I’m social, I can talk all night), one of those times I stayed up until 3am. I was a mess the next day and felt hungover for 48 hours after. My FitBit helps, it vibrates on my arm at 11, reminding me I need to turn in. If it wasn’t for that, I’d never realize. I do feel very tired around midnight now, which is new, but I’ll still accidentally power through that easily if I don’t have alarms to remind me to go to bed.

The hardest thing has been to fight my desire to ‘stay up and push on getting things caught up on.’ I’m juggling more work in my professional life than I ever have. Fitting it all in has been challenging. But with this schedule, I feel like I’m starting to get caught up (I’m certainly right on track for this current novel deadline) finally. But I still, each night, have this old instinct to want to just stay up and power on.

But I am forcing myself to leave things undone and just trust that the schedule will catch me up.

The morning schedule also solved a problem I’ve always had in the past: working while traveling. While in Baltimore I was up each morning before eight and getting my writing done before I was scheduled to be speaking. If I keep protecting my mornings I expect a boost there. I’m also getting up early on the weekends and not sleeping in, then working on projects for a couple hours.

This is week 6 of the new schedule.

In the past, I was never able to make mornings work at all. I spent six years trying to make this happen when at a day job. I spent my mornings unable to get my brain to speed, and I scheduled all important work and focused on getting things accomplished in the afternoons knowing that I’d barely be able to answer emails.

But we change sometimes. I often experiment with changes and track the results just to make sure I don’t follow old habits blindly. In this case, my morning routine seems to be lending itself toward better results, while my productivity in the late hours was falling off (I have records and charts that show this). How productive? A 60% boost in daily average word count and a 40% boost in rewrites and copy edits.

I still find the late hours conducive to creativity and take notes and drum up ideas in the hours just before bed.

So, crossing fingers this holds for the whole year…

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02 Oct

New review of The Apocalypse Ocean

Hey, cool, a new review of The Apocalypse Ocean via SFF World:

Having just finished a read-through of all four Xenowealth novels I can recommend them in a heartbeat. This is science fiction at its most enjoyable, offering plenty to marvel at, while still giving food for thought.

(Via The Apocalypse Ocean by Tobias Buckell – Official Reviews – Science Fiction and Fantasy World | SFFWorld.)

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26 Aug

Some thoughts on the herding of POC writers into diversity panels

Kate Elliott writes:

In the wake of 2009’s #Racefail discussion, LJ blogger delux-vivens (much lamented since her passing) asked for a wild unicorn herd check in to show that people frequently told they don’t read SFF and aren’t present in SFF circles do in fact exist. In some ways I personally think of this as the first unofficial “diversity panel.”

I seem to recall the token diversity panel goes back further than that. I sat on a panel at Conjose in 2002 called “Ebony Age of Science Fiction?” with Wanda Haight, Steven Barnes, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Bill Taylor. And it was incredible seeing a (slightly) more diverse audience than normal Worldcons come to that.

It was, in 2002, packed, by the way. People have been hungry for diversity for a long while, even as others shouted ‘no no no’ and put their fingers in their ears.

Future Classics, a fannish history site it seems, has a lot of panels from Worldcons up. I still remember catching a small piece of Vandana Singh’s Imaginative Fiction: A Third World Perspective panel in 2003 Noreascon. If I recall right, there were some corridor discussions there.

In 2009 I was on a panel at a Worldcon called Writing Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Geographic Terms. You can see a good write up here. If I recall correctly there was much angry aftermath when the panel was over by some people you’ll recognize as ‘sad puppies‘ today (that shit ain’t new).

So while I’m not sure there weren’t token panels before 2009, I do think Kate’s right that around 2009 due to Race Fail there started being more dedicated panels.

Oddly enough, it was about that time I started refusing to be on them due to a reason Kate points out:

Now, however, without in any way suggesting that the need for discussion is over or that we have solved the problems, I am wondering to what degree the “diversity panel” may be beginning to become less effective and perhaps even to exacerbate the problem.

I have begun to agitate, among those who will listen to me, to propose panels with large numbers of PoCs that have nothing to do with diversity. At a couple of cons, I’ve conspired to suggest putting PoCs on futurism or science panels and shock the audience by then proceeding to not talk about race but all the cool shit the PoCs are interested in about said topic.

The one place we managed to get this done I heard was a success, and while some people in the audience were a bit confused, it was a lot of fun.

When I went to Det Con recently I took myself off of diversity panels and their like and asked for hard sciences and futurism. I was on almost no panels with any people of color. At *Detroit Con.* When appropriate, I represented PoC books and media about the future and science to the audience, which I doubt would have been done had I not been explicit about making sure I was on those non specialty panels.

And then, when I was out walking around, several times, people asked ‘oh, hey, I was surprised I didn’t see you an [diversity-related panel X].’

Which is why I did it that way.

I’m not lecturing PoC panelists, by the way, to start spreading around. No, the diversity panels are great. But some day, at a Worldcon, or any other con, I hope to be on a panel of with a large number of people of color that talks about Developments in Near Space Access.

Mainly because I’m trying, in small ways, to fight back against the ‘diverse books book displays’ issue, where a bunch of diverse books are stacked together in a specialty display that… people ignore as they come in.

I think there is a place for that. But I also think honestly representing that diversity means including it not just in cordoned off spaces. Yes, we need diversity panels, and suggestions for diverse books for those of us looking for that. But if that’s the only place we’re showing up, or that a panel-creation committee automatically thinks to stick us… then we’re always going to be in an echo chamber.

So I myself, while championing what others are doing and supporting the diversity panels and sometimes being on them, am trying to more and more to get some PoC friends on a panel with me to talk about other topics, to make those panels diverse just by who is on them.

I haven’t gotten very far with it, it’s still all nascent, but there you go.

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06 Aug

Four Hacks I’ve Used to Focus Harder While Writing with a Computer, Plus One that Rules Them All (For Me)

I’m ADHD, which means for most of my life I’ve been dealing with distractions and interruptions that constantly thread through life on what can be sometimes a minute by minute basis. I was not diagnosed until I was an adult, by a psychologist who was at a very long practice ceremony next me that I’d been told ‘would be quick’ and ended up being hours. Usually I would have taken a book or notepad with me. Because I hadn’t, I started acting out. They were surprised I was unmedicated.

I remain so.

Over the last three decades or so, I’ve developed habits and coping mechanisms that help me create islands of focus to get things done.

What is interesting about modern life to me is that, over the last 15 years, everyone else has become exposed to ADHD life in a way. Whenever I read articles lamenting the devastating impact of continuous partial interruption, like this one at Entrepreneur Magazine:

It is very easy to lose track of whom you have just followed up with — you end up sending your follow-up email twice or reference something you were discussing with someone else or, worse yet, send an email to the wrong person entirely. (Who hasn’t done that?) Continuous partial attention keeps you from being alert, attentive and focused and can hamper your post-event follow up not to mention your day to day activities.

We have supercomputers in our pockets connected to satellites connected to a universe of instant information. But people are getting swamped with it all.

Well, that’s pretty much what I feel like most days with just the world around me. Only, you can turn off Facebook pings, email dings, etc. I cannot turn off the world. It’s always there, always interesting, and always tapping me on the shoulder. Continuous partial interruption may be new to many of you, but it’s nothing new to me.

As a result, I do not have this loathing of connectivity and all it’s distractions. It’s just another environment that needs careful engagement, much like I have to be careful about how I engage the rest of the world.

Many people around me seem to view connectivity as something that masters them and not an appliance that needs controlled. Which, as someone with ADHD, I inherently view it as.

I’m starting to see this realization spreading as people begin to control their computing environment to get more writing (or any other kind of work) done. They’re realizing they need to turn off email pings and try to create focused spaces. There are four approaches I’ve seen. I’ve tried them all, and so far my favorite is #5.

I’ll walk through them.

1) Shut Off Notifications

This is the most common advice given in taking steps to control your working virtual environs. Turn off text announcements, email pings, pop up notifications and so on.

It’s not a bad first step. But sometimes different work setups require things to be setup to interrupt you. With a work setup, personal communications set up, social media layer, and other functions all stacked up in one workspace, the different functions step over each other.

If you can get away with it, sure. We should all cut back on notifications. But it doesn’t work for me due to the varying ways I use the same computer. I do freelance consulting, eBook design, social media and business and personal communication, browsing, research, and finally writing fiction…

2) Use Virtual Workspaces

I found the use of virtual workspaces a bit more helpful in separating out the various functions I used. Using Spaces in OS X meant I could stick all my writing app windows in one Space, all my comms in another, and so on.

However, notifications from different worlds could still pop up.

Also, it was easy to slide over from one space to another when I was losing steam. Stop writing, just pop over to my communications window and check email… just for a second.

Nope, not a long term solution for me. But it could work for someone who was able to focus easily if notifications were all silent (from tip #1).

3) Disconnect from the Internet

A lot of writers struggling with focus get apps, like Freedom, which disconnect the computer from the internet for a set period of time. That’s usually a fantastic hack for focus. Prevents you from getting incoming notifications. Eliminates the ability to get online and check social media.

I used Freedom back when it first came out and rather liked the focusing effect.

Downside, I do have to do some work online for my freelancing gigs. Also, as someone who has ADHD, I use noise canceling headphones and music to create focus. I stream music. Without internet, I’m out of luck.

Also, I’m obsessive about backing up. I use dropbox to constantly get a backup of my writing, including the ability to revert documents. Hours offline make me nervous.

4) Use a dedicated, disconnected computer to write on

I know some writers who use dedicated devices to write on. I liked the idea of creating a custom environment dedicated to the task at hand. But the expense of an extra computer?

Also, the issues in the last paragraph of tip #3 still stand. I want to be backing up my files.

5) Use Multiple Log Ins

This is the productivity hack I settled on over the last couple months, which has really saved my sanity. I stole the idea from watching a fantastic Python programmer and close friend, Brandon Rhodes. While working with me on a piece of code, I realized he had a login for work for his employer, a login for work on his own custom code, and a login for email and other communications-type work. Each login had a different workspace and set up aimed at the focus it had.

Up until then, I’d been using virtual desktops and clamped down notifications, with internet disconnecting apps during crunch times. Now I sat down and created 4 different logins for the different focuses I had.

One login, my default, opens to a desktop where I do email, browse the internet, do social media, blog, balance the checkbook, get texts, etc etc. This is a chaotic and interruptive place, but that’s okay. That’s what it is.

The next login is my freelance consulting gig. There, my email client logs in to just the email for that job, as well as a to do list… just for that gig. The browser autoloads tabs for the places I need to go for it, and all the apps on the dock are… only for that gig. When I log in, the last opened apps all open up, and last loaded tabs all open up. This login can be interruptive, which it is supposed to be when I’m engaged in it. But when I log out… it is all shut down. If I have to jump back over to my general comms login, for something briefly, I can moved between logins. But the friction of having to log over, type in a password, and wait a second for that place to resume, it’s just enough friction that I don’t do it unless I really have a compelling reason.

My eBook design login is set up to focus similarly on just doing that. All my scripts and templates and software are easy to reach on the dock. The focus again means when I’m there, I’m doing just that.

My Just Write! login contains nothing but writing software and a desktop with access to my Dropbox writing files. In this case, I have elected to leave it connected to the internet so that files are backed up, I have my preferred music streamed, and I can look up facts on Wikipedia.

However, there are no bookmarks to social media or email. To get online, I have to go to my applications folder, select Safari. It defaults to Wikipedia on open. A hint to myself. This Safari has none of my passwords memorized for online services like Facebook, or Twitter (those are long, random strings that are kept in a password manager in the communications area). In other words, I CAN get to those places via that login, but it’s a hassle.

When writing, I tend to be logged out of everything but writing.

The hassle of having to log in and start up the other areas creates friction to the ‘oh, I’ll just quickly jump over and check…’ and makes the brain go ‘eh, that sounds like work. Let’s just stay here.’

There’s a last hack with multiple logins, for those not worried about constantly backing up. You can create a login with child protection safety guards on the writing account to block yourself from getting online, or control where you go.

On each of these logins, I use Dropbox to manage my files. Yes, setting up Dropbox 4 times for 4 logins was a bit slow. And setting it up if I move to a new laptop down the road will be slow as well. But it’s worth the productivity gain.

There are a number of creative things you can do with tailoring environments to your needs, I’m not exactly cutting edge here. But over the last couple months a lot of writers I’ve talked to have lit up when I’ve mentioned doing this and a few have said it has been a big help to them, so I figured this was worth blogging.

Your mileage, of course, may vary.

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18 Mar

I’m honored to announce I’ll be in Trinidad to be a part of the Bocas Lit Fest

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For a long time I’ve been aware of the amazing Bocas Lit Fest, a gathering of amazing authors and speakers that celebrate books, writers and writing from the Caribbean.

This year I’ve been invited to be one of them.

I’ll be in the company of amazing people. You can see them all here.

Nalo Hopkinson, Karen Lord, and Rhonda S. Garcia will all be attending for a special focus on speculative fiction at Bocas Lit Fest.

There’s a speculative fiction masterclass that we will be hosting (with a meet the authors session), a panel hosted by the four of us, and readings.

I’m looking forward to coming home with many new books and setting foot on Trinidad for the first time. I grew up in Grenada, so there’s a strong triangle of media and people who were Trini, or Bajan. We couldn’t afford to get to Trinidad when I was younger, so now I get a chance to go there.

I’m very lucky.

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08 Dec

More on Kindle Unlimited

When I said half the stuff indie writers are now saying in the comments here about Amazon I was called some heinous names and ‘legacy’ writer, a ‘trad pub house slave’ and many other objectionable things. All I’ve done is note in the past that putting all your eggs in the Amazon basket will one day lead to sorrow.

Porter Anderson has a pretty thorough roundup over at theBookSeller.com:

Odd how those squeals of “this is the best time to be an author!” start to fade when you hear about a major self-publishing author’s struggles to pay a child’s medical bills because 75 percent of her Amazon income evaporated in the advent of KU, isn’t it?

Trial and so much error, obviously by Amazon’s folks — who are good people inventing a new  wheel — as well as by authors.

What comes next? We don’t know. As usual. 

That’s the bottom line: the way, the truth, and the lightheadedness of it all.. We just don’t know.

(Via Is the honeymoon over? KU comes between Amazon and its self-publishers | The Bookseller.)

There’s still a lot of sorting and settling out.

But we are the little insects under conglomerate giant’s feet. It’s not that I’m going to say other corporations are better. Just that I have a cynical eye toward them all! The idea peddled a few years ago that Amazon cared about writers and nothing but writers was silly then, and we’re starting to realize it.

Amazon cares about customers first, and gaining more of them… also first. Giving them free books for signing up to their service is a win for Amazon, even if it’s not a win for writers.

If that means at the writer’s cost, so be it. I warned about this with the cuts that were made in audio royalties, and the cuts made in certain foreign markets if you didn’t go Kindle Select. And even though I sold as a hybrid author, I was consistently attacked for pointing these moves out.

eBooks are a great option. I’m happy to see more arrows in the quiver.

But now we’re seeing the reality set in. There’s lots of work ahead of us. And the gold-rush mentality is fading. Which is a relief.

I’m not giving up on being a hybrid author, but I sure am making sure my books are for sale in multiple areas and in multiple ways.

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