Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: A Year in Blog

Well. That was quite a year, wasn't it? Was it the worst year ever, as some have asserted? Hell no. One-third of us haven't died of plague, so I suppose we're still doing better than the Middle Ages.

Well, my biggest writing news of the year has to be the benighted anthology which did not happen, but lead to me self-publishing again--this time, a short story called "When Mary Left." In addition, I decided to take Pearl out of Kindle Select and make her release wider. So far, wider release isn't yielding all that many results, but you never know. There's a big ebook world outside of Amazon and I'm keeping Pearl there.

I attempted NaNo, wrote one short story, and decided to pack it in. I'll figure out what to do with that short story come the New Year.

2016 was definitely the year of distraction for me: on the one hand, there were starts and stops of writing and research on my Victorian novel, which is definitely "on" again. On the other hand, there was endless distraction in the form of the Internet, then the election, and just life in general. But after finding some cool series to watch on Netflix (specifically, I mean The Crown, Medici: Masters of Florence, and Versailles), reading a lot this year (more on that below), and taking a lot of creative inspiration (Libbie Hawker and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the composer of Hamilton, to name a few), I think I'm coming back around to feeling more creative again. Maybe I needed to nourish myself creatively for a bit?

I have a vague plan of novellas and short stories to write and edit over the next few months--the ones I wanted to get drafted during NaNo--in addition to finally finishing Victoria's story in 2017, fingers crossed.

I finished my 44 book reading challenge.

There were 4 guest posts on this blog this year, including a college friend's first published novel. I look forward to more in 2017!

Oh, yeah, and I turned 30 this year.

Thanks to Jessica for the t-shirt!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge: Finished!

Well, I have finally reached my 44 book reading challenge goal in 2016.

Next year, I'm thinking I'll go for a lower goal (I have some writing projects on the horizon, after all) but anyway, here is the list from number 34 to 44

34. Lady of Devices (Magnificent Devices #1) by Shelley Adina. Fiction/Fantasy/Steampunk/YA/Historical Fiction/Victorian England. 2 stars.

35. The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones. Nonfiction/History/Medieval/England. 4 stars.

36. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Nonfiction/History/Biography/Science/Medical. 4 stars.

37. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler. Fiction/Science Fiction/Historical Fiction. 4 stars.

38. Forbidden (Old West #1) by Beverley Jenkins. Fiction/Romance/Historical/Western. 3 stars.

39. The Winter Crown (Eleanor of Aquitaine #2) by Elizabeth Chadwick. Fiction/Historical Fiction/Fictional Biography/Medieval/England/France. 4 stars.

40. The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister #0.5) by Courtney Milan. Fiction/Romance/Historical/Novella. 4 stars.

41. Fighting Demons (Hunting Monsters #2) by SL Huang. Fiction/Fantasy/Short Story. 4 stars.

42. Smashwords Book Marketing Guide by Mark Coker. Nonfiction/Writing/Publishing/Marketing. 3 stars.

43. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. Fiction/Historical Fiction/Caribbean. 2 stars.

44. 1984 by George Orwell. Fiction/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Dystopian. 5 stars

So, that's the final list, but below the cut are the stats and breakdown:

Sunday, December 11, 2016

That Time I Put Pearl on Smashwords at 2:30am

Um, yeah.

So this means that I now have three different outlets for my wee novella:

-Kindle Direct
-Draft2Digital for Nook, Apple, and Kobo
-Smashwords for...well, everything else they offer that aren't the above

Here is Pearl's link on Smashwords.

Because I should really be asleep right now.

Also, this all began because I was researching whether there were blogs or newsletters I could advertise in for Kobo, Nook, or Apple readers.

And this is my Smashwords interview.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

IWSG December

Well, it's the last IWSG post of 2016 and what a year it has been. The IWSG posts every first Wednesday of the month. Check us out here. Our co-hosts for December are Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield!

My one insecurity the past month has been: "Where is my writing mojo?" I can't seem to burrow into a project as deep and as much I'd like to. NaNo didn't work out (I came out of it with one complete short story and two beginnings, so it wasn't completely wasted), but yeah, other than short spurts, I'm having a hard time advancing. This happens sometimes, so I'll just work my holiday season and finish reading some books and see how I can get back into my Victorian draft as I plug along.

The IWSG question this month is a big one: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

My instinct is to give a long sarcastic laugh, because five years ago, my answer would've been "write something, get an agent, get published." Also, because I hate questions like this. What's the phrase, 
"People make plans and God laughs"?

I'd still like to get an agent and be trade published, because frankly, the connections, pay, and exposure are still bigger in the trad publishing realm more so than the self publishing realm, particularly for my genre.

But...there's also the Libbie Hawker method. She writes indie historical fiction in a variety of time periods and subgenres; some of them are published through an Amazon arm, Lake Union Publishing. In my case, while I finish a complete novel, I'm going to keep writing and releasing novellas and short stories on my own. And we'll see if I can stop being tired for a second in order to finish this ridiculous novel. 

In the meantime, I decided to stop limiting myself to just Amazon--Pearl is now available on Kobo, B&N, and iBooks, so if you're so inclined, do check it out or spread the word if you know someone who might be interested. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Pearl is on B&N, Apple and Kobo!

Hey everyone,

After some thinking, I have decided to expand Pearl's reach beyond the Kindle Select program and put the novella up on other retailers! So if you know anybody who buys their books from Apple or Kobo or B&N (pending), do let them know.

Pearl is still on Amazon, too. But she's wider now and wider she will stay.

Thanks for your support!

On Kobo:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Hamilton Mixtape

Sometimes a song will come out of a Broadway show and become a hit or a standard on its own--think of most of the songs in "The Sound of Music" or some of the songs from "Les Mis." But as far as I know, The Hamilton Mixtape, which came out yesterday, is the first "mixtape" of a Broadway show. As in, different artists have reinterpreted, recorded, in some cases have written songs inspired by the show and its music.

When Lin-Manuel Miranda originally thought "ah-ha! I'll write a musical out of this book!" when he read Ron Chernow's biography on Alexander Hamilton, he wasn't thinking of writing a straight-up musical but writing and recording a concept album. Well, fast foward a few years and a megahit musical and Grammys, Pulitzers, Tonys, and various other awards and that "concept album" idea has spawned The Hamilton Mixtape, which was great company on my way to and from work yesterday.

There are demos that never made it into the show: Cabinet Battle #3 (which is about the Slavery Question), Valley Forge (some of that is in "Stay Alive"), and An Open Letter (which is a rap about Hamilton's screed on President John Adams). Lin-Manuel Miranda says it's one of the best things he's ever written and they cut it from the show. He did it once with some cast members in the video below.

Then there's "Congratulations," which was an Angelica Schuyler song from the off-Broadway version that got cut before they moved the show to Broadway. Some of it is still in "The Reynolds Pamphlet."

You gotta love any song that begins, "Congratulations, you've invented a new kind of stupid."

Of the songs in the show that are covered on Mixtape, there's Alicia Keys on "That Would Be Enough," John Legend on "History Has Its Eyes On You," "Helpless" with Ashanti and Ja Rule (yup, 1999 is back again), two versions of "Dear Theodosia," and "Burn" by Andra Day, and "Wait For It" by Usher. It's really easy to think of Mixtape as not versions of the show tunes but as its own separate entity when the cover versions are so different than the show versions. 

Take, for example, Kelly Clarkson's version of "It's Quiet Uptown" versus the show version

Sia also covers "Satisfied" with Miguel and Queen Latifah and it's fun and amazing. Jimmy Fallon covers "You'll Be Back," which is...unexpected.

As for the "inspired by the show" songs, "Immigrants (We Get The Job Done)" is undoubtedly the most powerful, but "Wrote My Way Out" has a special meaning for me, the little writer. "My Shot" is part show version and part original verses.

The first track is "No John Trumbull" by The Roots, which I think was in the off-Broadway version of the show. 

You ever see a painting by John Trumbull?
Founding fathers in a line, looking all humble
Patiently waiting to sign a declaration and start a nation
No sign of disagreement, not one grumble
The reality is messier and richer, kids
The reality is not a pretty picture, kids
Every cabinet meeting is a full on rumble
What you're about to witness is no John Trumbull