I just typed “The End” on my 40th book in 43 months of self-publishing.
It felt pretty good. And I think it reads better than the first book I wrote, but that’s debatable, because that first one (Fatal Exchange) still sells well when I promote it, and still garners great reviews. It would suck if I’ve gotten worse, but that’s also possible. Guess I’ll have to wait to see how the reviews come out on JET – Escape to know for sure.
I’m taking a month off in April to recharge my batteries, and then will be knocking out another couple of novels in May and June.
A buddy of mine asked me how it feels to have written a solid 4 million words in about four years, not counting blog posts or message board missives, which probably easily brings it to 5 million.
I responded honestly that it feels like I’m starting to get the hang of it.
For those who’ve missed my prior posts on process, here’s a quick reminder of the habits I follow to write an awful lot of books in a relatively short period of time (BTW, there’s plenty of historical precedent for this output – look at some of the pulp greats, or even authors like Asimov, Cartland, Bloom, Inoue, Roberts, etc. There have always been, and always will be, prolific authors who can sustain reasonable quality at a rapid pace.). And before we get into the usual debate about quality dropping with speed, I’ll share this observation: Most who believe this are aspiring authors who can’t or won’t produce regularly, and who sneer at commercially successful genre fiction, or who can’t do it themselves and so assume everyone’s abilities must be similar.
Here’s the truth: If it takes you 250 hours to pen 120K novel first draft, it doesn’t matter whether you spread that 250 hours over 25 days of 10 hour writing days, or two years of navel gazing with a few words dashed out here or there. It still takes the same number of hours. So the quality shouldn’t suffer, unless it’s a function of fatigue, or lack of craft.
So my advice, from a message board post yesterday:
1) Plan on writing a lot, every day, whether your muse is working or not. I shoot for 7K a day, and on a lousy day force myself to write 4K. The reason I force myself is because, as with all jobs, I go to work whether I “feel” like it or not. I don’t go to work, I don’t get paid. Just as a Hollywood writer working on a series writes every day regardless of their mood. If you aspire to be a pro, behave like one, not like a teen girl on a shopping spree trying to decide which shoes to buy. Your job, should you decide to accept it, is to write well, and write a lot, and demand more out of yourself, regardless of your “inspiration” or your mood or your biorhythms or whatever. You want to be a writer? Then get to it, and stop whining about life getting in the way. Life will happen whether or not your write, and nobody’s holding a gun to your head, so you need to be your own motivation, and be unrelenting in your demands on yourself.
2) Outline. If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s going to take a lot longer to figure out how to get there. Couple days of serious thinking and knocking out a chapter by chapter single-sentence summary goes a long way, and speeds the writing along.
3) Turn off the internet when writing. Turn off the phone. The text messaging. All of it. It’s a distraction you can’t afford. Research after you’re done, or before, but when it’s writing time, write, don’t screw around.
4) Write as though your life depends on it. You only get one life, you’ve decided this is how you want to spend a few hundred hours of it, so do it like you mean it, or find something you can muster that zest for, and don’t bother trying to write. Life’s too short to do shit you don’t have passion for, and I guarantee you when you’re looking back at your existence all the soul sucking BS you spent time on won’t give you any satisfaction. If you’re going to do anything, keep it real, do it with 110% of yourself, and take no prisoners, or you’re letting yourself down, failing your obligation to yourself to be the best you can be.
5) Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. It’s a first draft. Lots of it will probably suck. That’s fine. Fix it on rewrite. Don’t try to edit as you go along, or you’ll lose your momentum. Edit on second draft, and then edit that on third. If you fixate on trying to get it perfect on first draft, you’ll kill your muse deader than Elvis before you’re at chapter two.
There’s more – a lot more – but these are the basics.
In closing, pretend you are working on a TV show, where every week you have to turn out polished product at a high quality level. Because that’s what pro writers in Hollywood do, day in and day out. If you’re busy rationalizing why you can’t or don’t work that way, or are unwilling to, or feel you shouldn’t have to because it’ll hamper your creativity or voice or whatnot, fine, but don’t complain when you aren’t able to compete in the marketplace with those who do. Because like it or not, in the new world of self-publishing, being able to hit the HNR lists with regular releases is a game changer for many authors, and to ignore that phenom is dangerous to any career aspirations beyond that of hobbyist.
And it wouldn’t be a Russell Blake blog without exhortations to buy my crap. If you’re looking for my newest, it’s JET – Ops Files, Terror Alert, which is moving a few copies. And Ramsey’s Gold, the first book in my new series, is also shifting a copy or two on pre-order. As is JET – Escape.
I’m thrilled to announce that the exciting sequel to JET – Ops Files has just gone live! JET – Ops Files, Terror Alert, chronicles Jet’s early years in the Mossad as she races to stop a terrorist attack of epic proportions that would claim thousands of innocent lives.
It’s everything you’ve come to expect of Jet, with a racing plot, twists, reversals, evil villains, conflicted good guys, and an ending that will leave you breathless.
Hope you enjoy the book. It was a blast to write and moves like a freight train!
The ninth, and possibly final, installment of the JET series, JET – Escape, is now available for pre-order on Amazon, and soon, on B&N, iTunes, and Smashwords.
Believe me when I say that this one is a juggernaut of a book. It picks up from where JET 8 left off, and follows our hero from Colombia, to Venezuela, to Cuba, as she and the family dodge villainous hit men out for blood.
JET is always a hoot to write, and this one has been no different. I hope you enjoy it.
Here’s a cover reveal. I liked the woman from the old JET 6 cover, so used her for this with the new background treatment.
I read a post by Hugh on his blog, and felt compelled to add my spin on KB – my first post in a year.
I’m linking it because it states my view of the author/self-publisher duality that self-pubbed authors face, and addresses complaints from those who are finding it to be barren economic soil.
Rather than repeating it, here’s the post (scroll down): http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,211162.150.html
Much has changed in the market over the last year, but my view of the best approach for authors to take, that of two separate disciplines recognized as such, hasn’t. Like a student attending a bilingual curriculum, part of your studies will be in one language, the rest in the other. They are different languages, so excelling in one is unlikely to do much for your success in the other.
Many authors dislike my take. That’s fine. There are many ways to skin a cat.
Every author I know who is operating a financially successful self-publishing venture does so as both author, and publisher, and they’ve all developed the business skills to make the book selling business work for them, while honing the book writing skills necessary to create compelling, and more importantly, commercially successful, content.
Anyone who believes this is an easy way to make any kind of a living knows little or nothing about it. Those entering into it with the idea they’re going to earn money at it would be best advised to consider my post, and the merits of my argument, and prepare for a butt-load of thankless hard work in one of the most competitive endeavors I know of.
On the new release front, I have the second JET – Ops Files novel going live at the end of March, and my first installment in my new series, Ramsey’s Gold, at the end of May. I’m currently writing the final JET novel, JET – Escape, which will go out in June, and will be available for pre-order shortly.
Next up you can expect the second installment in the Drake Ramsey series around Sept, the final Assassin in Oct, a BLACK in Nov, and TBD in December. Maybe another Ops Files. Dunno.
Now back to work for me. Damned books don’t write themselves…
I have a new series that will launch at the end of May. The first installment, titled Ramsey’s Gold, is a rollicking adventure yarn that fans of Raiders of the Lost Ark are sure to enjoy.
The story chronicles the adventures of twenty-something Drake, who decides to follow his deceased father’s footsteps into the Amazon rainforest when a journal comes to light that describes his father Ford Ramsey’s search for the lost jungle metropolis of Paititi – the legendary Inca city of gold.
It’s a fun action romp that moves like a freight train, and features wheels within wheels, villainous baddies, morally ambiguous good guys, a love interest that scorches the page, and a denouement that is one of my favorites to date. I foresee it as episodic, one or two installments per year, with the gang embarking on a new adventure in exotic locales whenever the call of the wild sounds.
It’s available right now for pre-order through Amazon, and within a few more days, on B&N and Apple.
Here’s the cover. I’m super excited over this new series, and already have the second one outlined and scheduled for Fall release. Tell me this cover doesn’t say action adventure in a big, big way!
And for a sneak preview of what the book reads like, well, look no further than here. I’ve posted a few sample chapters for your amusement.
I have another bundle going on that’s a no-brainer buy – it features six outstanding novels for .99, and is in Kindle Unlimited, so can be read basically for free. The books include novels by not only yours truly (BLACK), but NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors like Diane Capri, Cheryl Bradshaw, Jack Patterson, Mark Dawson, and Emma Jameson.
The bundle’s called Six Feet Under, and should be on everyone’s must-read list.
Download it if you’re in Kindle Unlimited, and read the books for free. A deal like this only comes along about once a century, which may be a slight exaggeration, but only a slight one. It’s an incredible deal. If you love your country, care about puppies, kitties, or the warm smiles of newborns, want to deal a body blow to those who would crush our way of life beneath their sandals or boots or whatnot, you’ll download it without hesitation. If you have any sort of faith or belief in a higher power, whatever it might be, you will download this bundle. If you want to change the world in small increments and build a better future for everyone, you’ll download it – a portion of its earnings goes toward my bar tab, which should be reason enough to read at least 10%, as though any more reasons were necessary.
Just do it. You’ll be glad you did.
Just a quick note. My breakout novel, Fatal Exchange, is part of an awesome action/adventure bundle with some top notch authors at StoryBundle. The way it works is you can get the bundle for amazingly cheap, and if you elect to step up and pay a few bucks more, get even more amazing reads from the likes of Lawrence Block, CJ Lyons, J. Carson Black, and Vincent Zandri.
Go check it out. Part of the money goes to charity, part to the organizers, and a sliver to paying my bar tab.
Would that sliver were larger, but hey, can’t have everything.
You can find out all about the bundle here. It makes the perfect anytime gift for in-laws, that relative you kind of despise but have to be nice to, the co-worker you wish would choke on his/her own tongue and asphyxiate while you chortle with glee…virtually anyone you want to give something to and seem wildly generous while in reality doing so on a shoestring.
My YA/NA coming-of-age romance, Less Than Nothing, is free for a limited time. I use the pseudonym R.E. Blake for this genre, so my action/conspiracy readers won’t think it’s my latest breakneck thrill ride when I release a romance.
Why am I making what is arguably a damned fine book, free?
Because I love you all so much I just want to give back?
No. That’s probably not it.
Because I hate money and have adopted a vow of poverty, in addition to my vow of celibacy?
Mmm, not so much.
No, it’s for two reasons. First, because I’ve been told by several readers that they were surprised by how much they enjoyed the trilogy, even though it’s unabashedly gooey and not at all the same as my conventional fare, and I figure some of my readership who might be reluctant to try it if they had to shell actual money out to read it, might appreciate it. Second, because I’m delighted with the way it turned out, and want as many folks to read it as possible.
So I figure, make it free, and then the reader has nothing to lose but a few hours of their time. If you’ve ever felt incomplete because you haven’t read me writing as a 17 year old female teenage runaway, well, now’s your big chance to correct that and fill the gaping hole in your life. At no cost.
It doesn’t get much better than free. And tell a friend!
A reader of my blog and FB page asked me the other day why I say the markets are all rigged, and a lie.
I began explaining, and thought some might find interesting how the markets actually work. So here’s a quick summary, which will then lead into a disturbing set of conclusions about the geo-political environment (which is longer due to the ground covered). But first, markets.
Take gold, silver, copper, platinum, wheat, coffee, oil, etc.
Commodities. Real items in the real world. Ostensibly with easily determined values based on supply, and demand.
The idea of commodities exchanges was twofold: to give producers a place to sell their goods in a central location, and to enable them to hedge their future production and lock in a price for it so they eliminated their risk of price fluctuations (and to enable purchasers of raw materials to buy in advance and lock in their supply). Supply and demand in this case is supposed to establish the price of the commodity. All good. The producer issues a contract good for, say, 100 ounces of gold, or 100 bushels of wheat, or whatever, and come time that the contract expires, is expected to deliver the product.
But that’s not how the modern commodities markets work. Instead, you have investment banks, speculators, and market makers, all of whom create a price for the asset based purely on the number of contracts they print up, knowing that 99 out of 100 contracts won’t be asked to deliver anything – speculators play the differences in the prices of the options contracts over time, and never want delivery, choosing instead to close out the contract or let it expire without exercising it.
Anyone see the immediate moral hazard here? Now, JP Morgan can write options contracts for 100 times more gold than is available in the entire world and those contracts will have the effect on the price of the commodity the same as though production increased 100 fold. Because you’ve increased apparent supply by 100. Or 1000. Or a million.
Markets work on a basic principle: that they are honest (that price discovery is a true reflection of supply and demand), and can’t be rigged. That’s not the case with the U.S. commodities markets. Price is purely a function of how many pieces of paper a bank wants to print, knowing it won’t ever deliver anything, which radically distorts the supply/demand outlook, and hence the price. And worse yet, if the bank is called upon to deliver the commodity by a buyer who really actually wanted the commodity and not cash, it can simply say, sorry, don’t have it, here’s the cash equivalent – the price of the contract, which as we just saw, is completely artificially controlled based on pieces of paper, not the actual supply and demand of the asset.
Same thing happens with stocks. In naked short selling, unscrupulous players sell IOUs for stock they then don’t deliver (because they don’t have it, can’t get it, and never intended to deliver it), but those IOUs are treated as legitimate supply by the system, again, badly skewing the supply/demand curve. Say company A issues 10 shares of stock. Theoretically the price of the stock would be whatever someone is willing to pay for 10 shares. If eleven people each want one, then the tenth person has to be offered sufficient money so they are inclined to sell. Supply, demand. But what the system does is sells the eleventh person an IOU it treats exactly like the real thing, and never tells the person they didn’t get a share, they got an IOU. What happens to supply and demand at that point? The price likely stays the same, because a synthetic share has been created out of thin air by the system. Or maybe even goes down, if the seller of the IOU has a reason to offer the price lower than the real shares trade at, thereby bringing all prices down to the new, artificially manipulated price. That, in a nutshell, is how unscrupulous manipulators crater the price of stocks, making fortunes on the price decline – they flood the market with IOUs, which badly distorts supply, causing their bets on a price decline to become big money makers (it’s far easier to get folks in a theater to panic by screaming fire than to get them to buy, so this is how the real money’s made on Wall Street).
Now multiply that by millions of shares and you start to see the problem in the markets. Of course, the regulators and the media claimed that never happened, and then grudgingly agreed it could but didn’t happen often, and then during the financial crisis had to pass laws barring the practice for ONLY the financial stocks (who were the groups doing it in the first place) because it was crashing the financial system. Of course, the baddies simply ignored the law and kept doing it, because they knew the regulators were toothless and they could get away with it. But that’s a whole nother story.
So next time you see all the articles in the media about why oil is X price or gold is that price, citing supply, demand, shortages, gluts, trends, understand that’s pure bullshit that simply ignores the effect of paper oil or paper gold on the price of the physical assets. Until the market gets so out of whack that the producers refuse to sell their commodity for the price listed on the exchanges, that price, which is established by these paper contracts and not physical supply and demand at all, is treated as the legit price – it’s a confidence game, and only falls apart when confidence in the price’s veracity is in doubt.
At those times, the physical disconnects from the paper price. In the gold market, for instance, in China and India and Malaysia, there is often a premium paid over the paper price, because there’s simply nobody willing to sell for the paper price. That’s an example of the market breaking down – the buyers and sellers concede there’s no real basis for the artificial paper price, and so add on cash until someone’s willing to sell. We’ve seen that increasingly of late, and it’s a sign that the legitimacy of the paper exchanges is no longer assumed by actual buyers and sellers of the physical commodity. Of course that’s rarely reported by the media, which is concerned with ensuring that the status quo is maintained, and that the majority of rubes, er, I mean, investors, believe the published prices.
But back to commodities and stocks. The ability to game the supply curve with paper instead of legitimate supply is why the markets are complete BS. The owners of the exchanges are the same big banks that distort the prices with paper prices, and they’ve created rules that allow them to do so with impunity. The game works until enough folks discover they can’t actually get the asset they bought at the price they paid for it, and then the legitimacy of the exchange collapses. In the silver market, there were six to eight week waits for silver coins at a time when the price was especially low. Now, in a working market, increased demand would drive prices up. But in the commodity markets it worked the other way – low prices bought out hordes of buyers, but supply simply didn’t exist, so they had to start handing out IOUs for the metal, delivery to occur at some point in the future. Sound odd?
Now you understand why I say they’re all bent.
Let’s look at oil prices, since those are in the news. I believe that the U.S. government, aided by their allies, the Saudis, are deliberately using low oil to punish the Russians for blocking U.S. attempts to go to war in Syria, predicated on a lie (last year’s sarin gas falsehoods propagated by the western media as truth, and later exposed as false). The U.S. really wants to go to war in Syria, in spite of the claims it doesn’t, because Syria is key to oil flow to Russia, and if the U.S. controls it, they own the Russians. Russia obviously doesn’t want them to do what they did in Libya, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, which is destabilize the region and create complete anarchy. So Russia blocked the U.S. war machine, the sarin gas reports were discovered to be as false as WMDs in Iraq were, and the U.S. looked like a bunch of liars trying to start yet another undeclared war in the Middle East.
I believe that the U.S. decided to retaliate against the Russians by doing two things: Sponsoring and supporting a conflagration in the Ukraine, wherein the democratically elected government was overthrown by a pro-U.S. de facto dictatorship, plunging Russia into a war on its border (note the media doesn’t discuss the hundreds of U.S. mercenaries on the ground in Ukraine hired by the puppet Ukraine government or the fact that most Ukrainians don’t honor the puppet government as being legit), and placing some calls to Goldman and JP Morgan and the Saudis and telling them to turn on the Xerox machine and drive the price of oil to $40. Because at that price, Russia’s currency falls apart.
Which would be the completely illegal and immoral manipulation of commodity markets to achieve political agendas of unbridled aggression.
Lest anyone believe that can’t happen, of course it can. Just as the NY Fed can steal Germany’s gold, sell it into the market to keep the price low, and then when Germany demands 10% of it back, be unable to return it. It supposedly can’t happen, and yet does, all the time. When banks and governments decide they are above the law, and aren’t accountable for fraud, theft, murder, etc. etc. anything goes, and that’s the world we live in.
For another bit of cheer you’ll never hear in the mainstream media, witness a recent DOJ push called Operation Chokepoint, which is where the administration bypasses Congress and the Judicial system, and effectively attempts to shut down a whole host of industries it simply doesn’t like, exactly as it tried to use the IRS to punish enemies of the administration. Coin dealers, gun dealers, fireworks dealers, payday loan places, pawn shops, all are targeted as being of heightened risk for money laundering, and the word went out to their banks that they shouldn’t really be supplying them accounts for that reason. So all of a sudden legitimate, law-abiding enterprises are finding themselves out of business without access to the banking system, and without any hearing or due process, their demise decided by un-elected bureaucrats – illegally, I might add. This is still going on, in spite of a bogus Wiki article saying it’s over. It’s not over. That is disinformation designed to mislead. In other words, a lie to cover up an illegal witch hunt the government knows it has to legitimate authority to conduct. Now, why would the government want to do away with shops where you can buy gold and silver, or guns and ammunition, or get an advance on your paycheck outside of the banking system? Hmm. A couple of troubling notions come to mind. Mainly, it’s an attack on alternatives to the dollar, and the second amendment, and alternatives to the mainstream banking cartel, that it knows would be shot down if attempted legally.
Google it. I have a friend who’s business almost went under because of it. That isn’t supposed to happen. And yet it does, every day. Because the U.S. government is increasingly behaving like a totalitarian state, and not like the constitutional republic it supposedly is. Witness that it is going back into Iraq for the third time, even though it says it wants nothing to do with the place after destabilizing it (when Hussein announced he wanted to get off OPEC and start trading oil for gold) and inserting a pro-west puppet government (sound familiar?) the population refuses to honor as legit, it’s going into Libya for the second time (same thing – doesn’t want anything to do with it after sponsoring an uprising when Qaddafi proposed trading oil in gold instead of the dollar), wants to go into Syria and is asking for war powers to do so.
Which brings me to ISIS – the new boogieman. Isn’t it funny that ISIS, instead of unifying the Muslim world, is basically destabilizing it, with Muslim battling Muslim. And isn’t it odd that it really came to power (it was basically a zero before then) immediately after the U.S. got bitch slapped by Russia about Syria? Of course, the first place it went to ground was…Syria. Demanding U.S. response. If you look at a map of places it’s now “entrenched,” it’s basically a map of every resource rich area of the Middle East. And of course, the U.S. must root it out wherever it is. Which means endless U.S. wars and presence in the Middle East’s most oil rich or strategically important places.
ISIS, as far as I could tell, was about 100 guys with a camera crew instructed to carry out horrific executions in the most inflammatory manner possible. And which just so happened to align 100% with the U.S.’ desire to invade or destabilize a host of Middle Eastern countries that were either proposing trading using a gold back dinar instead of the U.S. dollar for oil, or are strategically important to China and Russia’s oil flow from Africa.
Believe what you like, I just find it awfully interesting that the new boogieman pops up when the public is no longer buying fake WMDs or spurious sarin gassing of civilians. But now we have a whole new reason to crank up the war machine – because the ISIS threat never sleeps and will get us if we don’t reluctantly invade all the countries that have anything worth taking!
Sorry. I’m just a tad cynical these days. Seen a little too much. Know a little too much. My take is that the military/industrial complex sees that the U.S./anglo alliance is slowly losing most of the world, with the BRICS nations now settling their trades without using the dollar, and with increasing oil producing nations unwilling to trade in dollars, and with China and Russia leading the charge away from the dollar, and has decided to do a series of false flag-based land grabs of strategic locations while it thinks it can still summon support.
Geo-politically, though, it’s backfiring, because Europe is seeing that it’s not in their best interests to support sanctions against one of its largest trading partners (Russia), and because most of the world outside of the sway of the U.S. media doesn’t for a second believe that ISIS is anything but a CIA-funded group designed to stoke the flames of outrage and give the U.S. an excuse to go to endless war in the Middle East, at least per a lot of the folks I talk to around the world.
The problem is that everything is basically a lie, designed to advance the agendas of those who want more power and more money at your expense. The markets reflect that truth – they lie early and often. We know the U.S. manipulates the stock market – it has a “plunge protection team” to do precisely that. Again, Google it. So in a world where nothing is actually the truth, the only sensible response is to be skeptical of everything – but that’s considered treasonous by a certain faction in the U.S., which have mistaken being patriotic for being unquestioning about the actions of its government, or the absurd official explanations it floats.
I don’t get it. I mean, I do, but I fail to understand how thinking people can buy fairy tales as though they’re truth. Usually, as is the case with the markets, by choosing to remain ignorant of how things actually work. Because ignorance is comforting, until a big boot steps on you, at which point I suppose it doesn’t matter.
I’ve found there are two basic types of people: those who want to understand reality as it actually exists in their limited time on the planet, and believe reason trumps all, and those who are anxiously awaiting the release of a new iPhone because it’ll be like totally even more bitchin’ and shit.
As a final bit of fun, today, the Baltic Dry Index, a measurement of supply and demand for container ships (higher and stronger means the better the economy is, due to increased commerce) put in yet another new historical low, lower than at any point in 30 years, signaling a worsening of the world economy even as Yahoo trumpets conditions improving!
Now back to writing. Have to finish up JET – Ops Files, Terror Alert, and then outline my next one!
Fight tyranny. Stand up for truth, puppies, and Grandma’s apple pie.
Buy. My. Crap.
I’m trying an experiment. No, not six months in a Turkish prison. Although after a certain age…
Rather, it’s specially priced bundles of my first six JET novels. To save the cheapskates a few bucks and make it twice as easy to enjoy our favorite ass-kicking female super spy in delicious bite-sized chunks!
For this laughably low price, you receive twenty to thirty hours of entertainment in each installment, and don’t damage your lungs or liver or contract an embarrassing or potentially fatal disease. It’s the bargain of the century! It’s the perfect companion – one that won’t file restraining orders or expect half the house and car!
So what are you waiting for? Act now!!!
Not to oversell it or anything…
Click on the covers for the Amazon links. Also available on Smashwords and wherever ebooks are sold.