After over a year of waiting, at long last, the fifth in the BLACK series makes its way into bookstores. Or at least Amazon, for now.
In this latest opus, we find our hero broke, beat, and with Xmas only days away, scrambling for some holiday cheer. When he gets a call to investigate a grisly murder at a big box store in suburban hell, it sounds like easy money and the solution to his short term problems.
As with all BLACK novels, nothing’s ever that easy.
This installment differs from earlier efforts in that it’s more of a locked room mystery, where Black must unmask a vicious killer in a compressed time frame with little cooperation and even fewer clues. Add a portly feline gone missing and an ever-truculent Roxie, and you have the worst 12 hours in our hero’s life.
For a live audio interview with yours truly about BLACK In The Box, try this brand new one from Stephen Campbell!
Here’s the cover. At the giveaway price of only $4.99, makes the perfect holiday gift. Including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Xmas, or Hanukkah. Hint, hint.
I bowed to the collective will of my awesome readership and have penned a new JET novel, now on pre-order and scheduled for release on Xmas day, as seems fitting. The title is JET – Incarceration, and is a different approach than the last couple were, in that it is self-contained with a full story arc between the covers.
Don’t get me wrong about thinking I’d wind down the series – I love writing JET novels. But I was fearful that she might have worn out her welcome with readers and it was time to move on. Judging by the hundreds of outraged emails and PMs demanding more JET, that was, er, mistaken, as are many of my bright ideas.
JET – Incarceration picks up with Jet and company nine months after the last JET left off, in the relative tranquility of Kosovo, which unfortunately, doesn’t stay calm for long. Then again, if it did, I could title it “JET – Goes Shopping!” or “JET – Mocha Frappuchino!” and then there wouldn’t be much runway for the series moving forward. Likewise, the folks who leave concerned reviews because they’re outraged that Hannah is in peril should realize that, A) It’s fiction, and B) If she was safe, it would be all about playdates or whatever, not action and adventure.
Here’s the cover. Available now wherever fine ebooks are sold. Tell me the kids’ little eyes won’t light up when they get a pre-order of the latest JET epic on their Kindle Christmas morning! “Mom, she just killed another pony, and it’s only page three!” Some things are priceless, n’est ce pas?
Four years, four months into this, and I’ve learned a lot.
Someone asked the other day what the number one thing I would pass on to myself as a newbie. It may surprise you. After much thought, what I came up with was this:
If you’re successful, you’ve bought yourself a job. Just like buying a liquor store, or a clothing outlet. A job can be rewarding, both economically and emotionally, but it’s very different than a lottery win, in that you are signing up for a long haul of showing up every day and doing the work.
That’s different than I thought when I started out. I kind of hoped that the old canard that you wrote a great novel, sold it to NY, and then sat back and got rich, was true. That you only needed to produce a little work over the years, and could devote lots of time to thinking great thoughts, traveling the world, observing, etc.
Maybe for a few of the very top earners who’ve been doing this for decades and can command seven and eight figure advances. Of which there are fewer than 100, by my estimation. But for the rest, and certainly for the self-published, it’s a job, just like showing up to work at Pixar or Disney and creating content is a job. If you don’t put in the time, your slot goes to someone else, and the world keeps turning, only without you getting paid as a writer.
That’s a harsh truth, because it basically says that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is not the equivalent of an annuity that pays out year after year, but more like a nice business where you still have to work nine to whenever, five to six days a week. Don’t punch your time card, your sales fade, you’re forgotten by all but a few die-hards, and someone steps in to fill the gap.
Which all implies that you’re successful. Your odds of being successful are lousy. Better than trad pub, but still, terrible. Just as your odds of being a pro musician are terrible if that’s what you aspire to, or a pro dancer, or a pro anything in the arts. Which brings me to another point: while it’s important to have a positive support group, delusion doesn’t help you succeed. Cheerleaders, assurances that you can do it, all that nonsense, doesn’t improve your odds. What does is no-nonsense counsel from those who have taken some bullets and learned lessons that might translate, and your own inner ability to motivate yourself – because like all jobs, there are plenty of days where you just don’t want to get out of bed to do the work.
Knowing all this, would I have done anything differently? Probably not. I’d already learned these harsh truths in other businesses. Those past experiences might have actually been one of the reasons I was able to break at the time I did. I didn’t bemoan the fact that I needed to create a compelling backlist to be taken seriously. I didn’t resent that it would take 12-14 hours a day. I didn’t insist that I was doing the best I could, as though that should earn me some reward. I come from a school of hard knocks where just showing up doesn’t get you a treat – nobody hands out A’s for effort in the real world. That shit stops at high school.
But it would have been nice to hear it going in. Would have confirmed I was approaching things correctly.
I got an email last night that made me think about this. An author bud of mine who has been struggling to get a toehold in his/her preferred genre took my advice and wrote a couple of books in a different genre, and saw his/her first four figure day yesterday. He/she asked me whether there was any secret that could take it to the next level. I responded that the secret was to put out a new volume every sixty days so your name appears on the hot new releases list with regularity and momentum is built with readers, and never forget that you’re there to entertain your readership – not to get too clever, or if you’re bored, change things up for your amusement. It’s a job. Do the work, do it well, and maybe you get paid for a while. That’s the secret.
I’ve given that advice to plenty of authors: pick a genre that can support your aspirations, write to reasonable quality for the genre’s expectations and publish with astonishing regularity, put forth a pro package, and pay attention to what’s working. Some now earn seven figures. That’s gratifying. Many don’t. That’s life.
So those are my ruminations on the biz. My new one, Emerald Buddha, is selling briskly, which is all good. Later this month BLACK in the Box releases, and next month, Rage of the Assassin, so a busy Fall for me.
Oh, and in the spirit of writing what your audience wants, I’ve caved in and am penning another in the JET series, tentatively titled JET – Incarcerated, which with any luck will be available by the end of the year. We’ll see. So far it’s a good one. But then again, I say that about all of ’em, so I can’t be trusted.