January 29, 2012 in Dag

The Most Valuable Resource

I start my new job on Wednesday.

It will most likely be a while before I get into a new routine. I’ll be working longer hours as well as probably spending a bit more time getting to and from the office.

Which leads to one pretty big question as far as I’m concerned: How am I going to be able to make time for writing (not to mention blogging and twittering and the various other stuff we’re supposedly meant to do to get the great public to consider buying our books) ?

This got me thinking (I know – it’s a bad habit of mine) about the value of time. I really have come to think that it’s the most valuable resource of all. Certainly more valuable than money – I’d gladly swap a bit of money for a bit more time.

So what can we do to try to bring more time into our lives. I think there needs to be a real “paradigm shift” in the way we look at things. Rather than focusing on how much money is involved, we need to focus on how much time. Maybe, instead of listing prices for things in shops, we should instead be listing times, eg:

  • the time it took to create something
  • the amount of time we’d be prepared to give up for something
  • the amount of time we’re likely to use something before we’ve had enough of it


But why stop there. Maybe someone could invent a time bank, so we could invest our time wisely, rather than wasting it. Instead of exchanging shares in the stock market, we could be exchanging time. We could invest a small amount of time and then see how it grows over the years. Sacrifice a little bit of time now for a lot of time later.
I don’t know how it would work. I don’t know if it would work. I just know that I never seem to have the time to do all the things I want. And every day, time just seems to disappear, faster and faster.
January 25, 2012 in Dag

Guest Post: I’m a scrawler by Coral Russell

Today I’m delighted to welcome another visitor to Dag-Lit Central: The amazing Coral Russell.

Coral is another one of those tireless promoters of other indie authors, as well as an accomplished writer (or should I say scrawler?) in her own right.

So, without any further ado, over to Coral.

I’m a scrawler by Coral Russell

I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve heard stories where people who write become offended when you call them a writer. As in,

“Are you a writer?” an innocent asks.

“No, I’m an author,” says the offended.

I’m not going to profess to be either a writer or an author. I’m a scrawler. I don’t know anything about writing. In fact, I probably know the least about writing than most other writers/authors. If it wasn’t for wonderful people who are so free with their expertise and sharing information, I would still be at square one. My friend complemented me on working my butt off, but it’s more like a stumble around in a blind panic until one of my writing friends points me in the right direction. Then, off I go until the next obstacle.

As a scrawler, I’m all about this Indie movement in writing. I write what I want. It has come to my attention that my favorite reading genre is anti-genre. If you’re an anti-genre fan, join the anti-genre group on Goodreads. It makes sense that I don’t really think too much about genre before I start writing something. If I want to throw something in that goes against the grain, oh yea, I’ll do it. I don’t mind giving away my scrawl because it comes back to me ten-fold. I’m surprised people pick up my stuff. I’m surprised when people buy it. I’m surprised I have fans who say they love what I write. I even created my own personal scrawl font, but I seem to be the only one that likes it.

One of the best experiences I had as a scrawler was when some Brazilian ghost hunters got a copy of two of my short stories and an excerpt from Amador Lockdown and we tweeted back and forth as they started and finished reading the stories. It was so much fun, lasted three hours and got me hooked on Twitter.

Scrawlers can be found anywhere in the world, from all walks of life. All you have to do to be a scrawler is believe in yourself and write.

Coral Russell reads/reviews Indie authors on alchemyofscrawl.wordpress.com  Check out her Stalker Package to connect. She has written The DIY Guide to Social Media Marketing and eBook Publishing, Playing with Fire, Twelve Worlds, Peace on the Peninsula, and Amador Lockdown.

January 22, 2012 in Dag

A New Beginning

I’ve just got a new job.

It’s really exciting. I’m looking forward to moving on. A new beginning. Out with the old and in with the new, and all those other cliches.

It’s a bit like starting a new chapter of a novel. Actually, cancel that – it’s more like finishing a novel and starting a new one.

Of course, being more of a writer than a reader, I can’t help thinking about how this is a metaphor for the writing process (I know, I can make pretty much anything a metaphor for the writing process).

The old job feels a bit like a novel I tried to write but never managed to finish. I started out with high ambitions. I had a really good idea for how I wanted things to work out. Plus a bunch of characters who seemed really promising. But at a certain point, the plot just never quite worked out and I stopped liking some of the major characters. And when I got to that point, it really was best to just put things aside, stop writing, and start thinking about something else.

It might seem like a defeat but it really isn’t. Sometimes it’s best to realise things aren’t working out and move on. Not every idea for a story is going to end up as a great novel.

Now of course, we’re back to square one. Lots of potential. Lots of new ideas about how things will work out. Some new characters who seem really cool. Hopefully this time it will all come together into something great.

But in the meantime, I plan to enjoy a couple of weeks “between jobs”. And maybe, the next idea for a novel will also play itself out.

January 18, 2012 in Dag

Everyone in Publishing is (Slightly) Insane Right Now: Guest Post by JC Andrijeski

Today I’m pleased to have another visitor to Dag-Lit Central. JC Andrijeski has popped in, all the way from the foothills of the Himalayas, with an interesting take on current attitudes to book marketing. Take it away, JC.

Everyone in Publishing is (Slightly) Insane Right Now

People are totally going nuts in the new world of publishing. As my Aussie friends would say (there’s really no good equivalent in American-speak), tons of people have totally lost the plot, and are running around in a near-hysterical panic in the midst of all of these changes.

This truth only sunk in relatively recently for me, as I kept my head down pretty much for the past 12 months, focusing first on getting myself in a position where I could focus more on the writing, and then by actively, well…writing. It’s allowed me to observe some of the craziness without getting too attached. I basically told myself I’d join the melee once I’d built my inventory enough to make it worth my while, and until then I’d watch all of the freaking out from a safe distance.

Then Christmas loomed on the horizon, and I began to feel that pressure like most writers and small publishers I know. Got to GET IT OUT THERE, got to be seen, got to get freebies and specials up on Amazon, Twitter my brains out, network, give things away, come up with a gimmick, drive everyone I know on Facebook totally bat crazy, join in promotions, pay for ads, and, and, and… (can you feel the hysteria building…?)


All of a sudden, I found myself back trying to navigate that same scarcity mindset that sent me packing from corporate culture in the first place. You have your gurus telling you “there’s only one way to do this.” You have the fearful newbies, convinced that they only have this tiny window of time to get famous (always off their first book, or maybe their second). It’s implied of course, that if they miss that window, then it’s all over for them, they might as well go back to flipping hamburgers or mindlessly entering data into spreadsheets for some insurance company in Akron, Ohio. You’ve got people willing to treat their work like it’s a worthless, plastic trinket in the “we’re about to chuck this crap out” sale bin at Wal-Mart. You’ve basically got people reacting, reacting, reacting…and not really stopping to think if all of this fear and the mindless (often lemming-like) activity it produces is really getting them anywhere.

Then you’ve got the old pros in this business watching all of this and shaking their heads in disbelief.

Don’t get me wrong. I totally get the fear. I’ve been suckered in by it more than once myself. I’ve had that nausea-inducing feeling of dread that if I somehow “miss my chance,” I’ll be confined to the annals of obscurity for now and evermore. We’re all susceptible to this, especially at the beginnings of our careers, when we haven’t ridden through enough of these crises to be able to see ourselves or our work clearly.

But the truth is, it’s all an illusion. It’s just not real.

The only thing you can really control as a writer is whether or not you are writing. Sales? Yeah, you can play the Amazon lists lottery, learn all of the algorithms by heart and pump your books up temporarily from a clever gimmick or see them sink like a stone from a misstep. But as Kristine Kathyrn Rusch points out so astutely in this post, playing those games is really short-term thinking, and ultimately will either lead to disappointment or a somewhat deluded sense of “what works” (and likely, eventually, disappointment, when it doesn’t work the next time around)…but not to a realistic approach to building a real career as a fiction writer.

Sadly, I saw this same sort of mentality in the short-term thinking of most corporate environments…grandiose “guru-izing” and “wonder child” status for those who championed whatever flavour of the month happened to bring a bump in sales that made the quarterly earnings sheet look good for five seconds on some CEO’s desk. Having worked at fairly high levels in such environments, I can tell you how utterly meaningless those quarterly statements are in terms of predicting the long-term health of most companies. In fact, you can often get those bumps by actively undermining the long-term health of a company in which you are operating. Kind of like how you can get those bumps by, say, spending a whole month (or 2 or 3) doing nothing but promoting your first book ruthlessly while not writing a single solitary word of new fiction.

The thing is, a bad cover can be fixed pretty easily and quickly. Bad content takes a lot longer, and is only improved by putting in the time and writing more books. You’ll never get that month of writing time back, so you’re probably a lot better off not freaking out about how your stuff looks from the marketing angle, and focusing on writing new stories that people will really want to read. I know for a fact that my marketing presentation needs work. I’m fixing those things as best as I can while I learn the business, but the only time I truly feel I’ve lost the plot is when I realize that all of my creative energy is going into this, rather than writing the next story.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t know your business – of course you should.

But I never want to do what 90% of the failing American corporations I’ve worked for have done, and forget what my actual product is. My product isn’t a snazzy cover. It’s not being a social networking goddess. It’s not how many Amazon lists I can jump on and off and how quickly, or how high I can get my book to rank on the free Kindle rankings.

That stuff for me is all noise, for the most part. I’m experimenting here and there, sure. I’m networking with other writers and getting some great ideas from things they’ve tried, and I’m dipping my toe into areas that seem to align with my strengths, interests, or just business sense and logic. But I never want to buy into the hype that you have to follow some formula involving cheap promo gimmicks to gain a loyal audience.

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is how good I am at telling stories. There are enough bad novels out there that sell a few thousand copies in a month because of clever marketing, either by an individual or a major publishing company. I don’t want to be one of those writers. I want to be around in ten or thirty years because I keep getting better at my craft, and because my career and income built through a real word of mouth fanbase.

Would I love to make a few grand a day in sales? Sure, I would! Any writer who says they don’t care about this is a liar. Even if they don’t need the money, writing is a conversation, and nothing is more boring than a monologue…especially to the one delivering it.

But I honestly don’t think the way to get there, at least for me, will be to do a lot of handwaving and hysterical jumping up and down to get noticed. Maybe that really does work for some people, and more power to them, I mean it. But for me, I need to focus on the writing, and learn the rest of it as I go. For me, all of that stress and fear is counterproductive…in fact, that way lies madness.

So if you’re anything like me…chill.

Don’t believe the hype that there is only one way, and that it requires you to magically transform into Tony Robbins or Suze Orman overnight. Just keep writing. Replace covers and blurbs and marketing packaging as you learn. Don’t live in fear. Seriously.

And have more faith in yourself. Give things time to grow, don’t expect some crazy overnight success or bash your head into your monitor when it doesn’t happen. Those do happen, yes..those are the lottery winners. But you up your chances exponentially for those types of opportunities by writing more and giving more work to the public to possibly fall in love with. It drives me crazy when I see how many people give away their 200K word novel for 99 cents because they’re afraid they will be “missed.”

This is a wonderful time to be a writer – believe that, too. We have options now. We can write what we want and still make a living…especially if we allow ourselves to get any good at it. We can find our niche audiences, no longer forced to find something that a corporate sales head believes will meet that elusive “mass appeal” criteria for all readers, all the time. We can work for ourselves.

To me, that freedom to be able to write the stories I really want to write makes all of this craziness and uncertainty and the fear completely worth it.


JC Andrijeski is a bestselling author who has published novels, novellas, serials, graphic novels and short stories, as well as nonfiction essays and articles. Her short fiction runs from humorous to apocalyptic, and her nonfiction articles cover subjects from graffiti art, meditation, psychology, journalism, politics and history. Her short works have been published in numerous anthologies, online literary, art and fiction magazines as well as print venues such as NY Press newspaper and holistic health magazines. JC currently lives in India, in the foothills of the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh where she writes full time. Please visit JC Andrijeski’s website at: jcandrijeski.com or her blog at jcandrijeski.blogspot.com.

JC Andrijeski’s Links

January 13, 2012 in Dag

12 Days of New Year Blog Hop: Interview with D. Robert Pease

Today, as part of the GIR “12 Days of New Year” blog hop I’m interviewing D. Robert Pease, author of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble.

But before we start, I thought you may like to take a sneak peak at the trailer for this book:


Hi there, Robert, please tell me a bit about yourself.

I’m married with two fantastic kids, and live in the grey-sky world of Northeast Ohio. I’ve finally come to grips with the idea that I’m the least intelligent one in the house, and that includes the dog and cat.

And how about your latest book?

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble is about a twelve-year-old boy from the future who travels through time with his family in an immense spaceship called the ARC. They’re on a mission to rescue two of every animal from Earth’s past and bring them to a post-apocalyptic world that has been wiped clean of all life. Of course it’s not as easy as it sounds and things don’t go according to plan.

Where can people get this book?

Everywhere books are sold online, and the local indie store. Here are some links:
Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Noah-Zarc-D-Robert-Pease/dp/0615524990/
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Noah-Zarc-Mammoth-Trouble-ebook/dp/B005H5GFNE/
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/noah-zarc-mammoth-trouble-d-robert-pease/1104907603
iBooks: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/noah-zarc/id458650226?mt=11

Is it your first book?

It’s my first published book. I’ve got an epic fantasy novel that I wrote before Noah Zarc. But I’m not sure it’ll ever see the light of day.

If so, what motivated you to publish it now?

I’ve been working towards the idea of publishing traditionally for quite a few years. So there has been a lot of work perfecting my query, finding the right agents, researching publishers, etc… but just when I was about to actually start my search for an agent I came to the realization that I no longer wanted to go that route. I’m an entrepreneur by nature, having run my own web design business for the past fifteen years, so the idea of self-publishing really began to appeal to me. I switched my focus to what it would take to do this whole thing on my own. It has been very rewarding, but also a whole lot of work. I discovered that the main thing I could not do myself was the editing. So I worked with the folks at The Editorial Department to get the book in shape. That was about a four-month process. So finally after about two years, Noah Zarc was ready to go. So the short answer is, I decided to publish now because I felt the book was ready, and the market was right for self-published books.

Who is your favourite character?

I guess it’d have to be Noah, simply because I invested so much into figuring out who he was, and what makes him tick. He’s a lot of things I wasn’t as a kid. He’s daring, adventurous and not afraid to get in trouble if he thinks he’s in the right. Of course these are qualities, as a parent now, I’m glad my kids don’t have. I also relate to Noah Zarc, Sr. He was really a representation of who I would be for my kids. I would go to any length at all for their safety and well-being.

What’s your favourite indie book that you’ve read in the past 12 months?

This is a hard one. I’ve read some good ones. But I’m going to have to pick my friend, Susan Kaye Quinn’s novel, Open Hearts. I highly recommend it.

What’s your favourite book of all time?

This is pretty easy. The Lord of the Rings. As a teenager I fell in love with Tolkien’s world, and more specifically, the shire. I have a new dream of going to New Zealand and living in the shire they are building for the new Hobbit movie.

Any advice for new writers?

My main advice for writers is, treat it like a business. Sure it’s fun. Sure writing can be the best experience, but in the end, if you don’t treat it like a business you won’t be able to do it for long. This means treating your book like a product. One that you want to be the absolute best it can be. Get good critique partners. Ones who aren’t afraid to tell you what works. Then, if you are going to self-publish, get a great editor. Not just one who looks for typos, but one who digs into the deep inner workings of the story. Plot, characterization, leaving no stone unturned. I don’t believe anyone should publish a book without professional editing. Finally get a good cover artist. This is your primary tool to sell your book. Don’t skimp.

Also realize that this is a marathon. It can take a very long time to gain traction and begin to see some real sales.

What’s next for you?

I have a sequel to Noah Zarc in progress, called Noah Zarc: Cataclysm. It should be out sometime this year (yikes it’s 2012 already!) I also have another series in progress based on the Biblical story of Joseph and the coat of many colors. It’s a fun fantasy about a boy in New York City who discovers a hidden dream world, which is ruled by a reincarnated pharaoh. I’m really excited about getting back to it after Noah Zarc is complete.

Thanks Robert and all the best for your continued writing.

If you’d like to know more about Robert, you can check out his website at http://www.drobertpease.com/ and his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter.