I'm a writer. There, I've admitted it. I wonder if there's a 12-Step program for folks like me...

Most of this blog will be about writing for a living. Or maybe about trying to earn a living as a writer. Or maybe about trying to have a life while you write.

And maybe I'll be able to avoid the driving temptation to write about politics. But I'm not very good around temptation, so all I can promise is that I'll try to avoid writing about politics.

But I will write about the software I use, and the software I try out, and what I think about it. I actually spent lots of years in software testing - as a tester and as a manager of testing departments. I actually started work in software development in 1971, so I have a bit of experience with computers to back up what I have to say on this subject.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tropical Storm #16 VS Me


Nothing says dedication like driving in the rain all day. Or maybe not. But I’ve got to do it,  so I might as well have a nice slogan. I’ve got an appointment with my eye doc in Gainesville in the early afternoon, and then I’ll head for Ocala to meet with my editor, Eve Bell. After that it’s off to Silver Springs to meet with my good friends Mickey and Rayne Summers and Walt and Trudy Carroll. All four helped tremendously in the writing of “The Big Bend” and “Hog Valley”. I couldn’t have accomplished half as much without them.

Then I get to to drive back to Orange Park.

And because of Tropical Storm #16, I’ll be doing all of that driving in heavy rain and blowing wind. Golly gee, that’s beginning to sound exciting. Not.

I normally get up at 4:30 in the morning. I used to have a perfectly good reason for that. I can’t remember what it was, but I’m confident that I did once have a perfectly good reason. Knowing myself as well as I do, I’m positive I never would have gotten up so damn early if I didn’t.

The point behind that little rant is that when I checked my email this morning (technically, it wasn’t morning yet) is that the Voice Talent I have been in touch with about recording “The Big Bend” sent me an email saying he was ready and willing to do the job. I contacted the producer with that bit of happy news and told him to ship out the contracts.

So “The Big Bend” – and later “Hog Valley” - will both be available as audio books, probably some time early next year.

I’m just about halfway convinced that traditional publishing is in its waning days. Brick and mortar bookstores will always be with us, I am happy to say, but the rising costs of keeping such retail stores open and well stocked will force them into the realm of specialty stores, and their prices will rise accordingly.

POD – Print On Demand – makes sense today. It eliminates the need to maintain inventory, which means no warehousing, no stocking fees, no warehouse staff. Traditional publishing has always been a labor intensive affair, and the print industry even more so. The cost of paper and ink and the skilled labor to run the presses, create the graphics and print and bind the books, coupled with the costs of warehousing, distributing and shipping books all over the world has climbed exponentially throughout the last several decades.

Nowadays, most book sales – I think it’s about 60% on a yearly basis – are sold on-line. The sales of eBooks and audio books are rising steadily.

My goal is to make a good living from my novels. As much as it pains me to do it, I have to become a businessman about this. That means getting into as many revenue streams as I can, and market and promote as wisely and expeditiously as I can.

Being a good writer is a good beginning. Becoming a good businessman is the only way to get ahead.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It’s Sunday morning

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My first book signing of the Fall was supposed to be at the Historic Grounds Bookstore in Green Cove Springs on 11 September, but I was way to sick with an upper respiratory infection to even think about it. I do apologize.

Yesterday I was at Flagler College in St. Augustine for a group signing for the Florida heritage Book Festival. It was held in the Rodhaver Student Union building. There were about fifteen authors and a very nice crowd throughout the day.

Frankly, I wasn’t feeling very well, but I did manage to finish out the day. Unfortunately for me, I had not yet received a single copy of “Hog Valley”, so my table looked a bit empty. But I did have “The Big Bend”, and sold several copies.

Unfortunately for all of the other authors in the room, Carl Hiaasen was there, with lots of copies of lots of his books, and he sold bunches. The poor guy spent the entire day autographing his books. His hand must have been really, really sore by the end. It must be tough being him.

The rest of us just sat and watched, for the most part (we’ll ignore the all of the hissing and catty remarks from the other authors in the room). The line of people clasping copies of his books stood patiently (it was a very long line) until they could get their copy signed. A few people bought several of his books and he had to sign each and every one of them.

But he’s earned it. Carl Hiaasen is a damn fine author.

My thanks to the folks at the Florida Heritage Book Festival for putting on on such a  great event!

You can find a list of events I’ll be attending this Fall on my web site. I’m pretty sure Carl Hiaasen won’t be at any of them, but you never know who will be…

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

“Hog Valley” is out the door


My second novel, “Hog Valley”, is now available through my web site, www.garyshowalter.com. It will also be available through www.amazon.com within ten days and other on-line retailers will pick up some time later.

In order to mark the release of “Hog Valley”, the prices on both novels have been reduced from $18.99 to $15.00. Please do not hesitate to purchase multiple copies for presents…

Truth to tell, if I had a day job, I wouldn’t quit it to be a writer.

But what the heck; you gotta make do with what you’ve been given, and make the best of it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I’m suffering from a burst of optimism


Hi, Folks:

I expect the printed Proof copy of “Hog Valley” to be in my hands very close to the end of this month. The novel should be available for purchase on Amazon and my web site within another ten days. Or so.

I've placed a thumbnail of the cover art for "Hog Valley" on my web site www.garyshowalter.com. It's worth a look.

I’ll let you know the day it becomes available.

“Twisted Key” is lagging. I haven’t written a word in the manuscript in a few months. Life has gotten in my way in a very big way. Health issues, mostly, and moving apartments, and more health issues. But I can see the end of the proverbial rainbow from where I’m sitting, so there is great cause for optimism.

I may not have done any writing, but I have done a lot of thinking about “Twisted Key”. And no plot I ever met suffered from an overabundance of thinking.

The moving is finished, though we are still unpacking . For another, the retinal surgery is behind me and the eye is doing very well, thank you very much. I recently had a nasty bout with an Upper Respiratory Infection, and the antibiotics are well on the way to clearing that up (all of the dust from packing up an apartment and unpacking may be the cause of the URI).

And I am now working on a 22” wide-screen monitor, which is truly a miracle of modern technology. I don’t have to squint at a small CRT screen, and any headaches I suffer will NOT be due to my monitor, ever again.

It’s been hinted at on my web site, but I’ll give you a bit more information. As much as I can at this time, anyway. There will be a major price break offered to folks who purchase “The Big Bend” and/or “Hog Valley” in the next few months. I’m doing this both to mark the publication of my second novel and to encourage folks to pick up a few Christmas and Hanukah presents.

I’ll drop the prices as low as I can, and try to keep them in place at least through the first of January, 2011.

But tomorrow I go for a blood test.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Waiting on “Hog Valley” and other stuff


I’m waiting on the Proof Copy of “Hog Valley”. The interior work and the Cover work are complete. As soon as I receive the proof copy in the mail

I’ll check it thoroughly and, hopefully, give my final approval. This week, I hope and pray.

In spite of my best efforts, I have not written a single word in “Twisted Key” in several weeks. Health issues – torn retina, gout (nasty, nasty stuff), moving between apartments, final edits and wrangling with the production teams on “Hog Valley” and most recently a really bad upper respiratory infection have gotten in the way of any writing.  That’s life, I guess.

But that does not mean I’m not thinking about the plot. I am, and when I can I’m running down leads and making contacts for information to flesh out the story.

The recovery from the URI is slow, unfortunately. Getting back to some semblance of normalcy from something like that takes time, especially when you’re not nineteen. Heaven knows I haven’t been nineteen in a couple of years. Heaven knows that – I’m just getting around to realizing it, myself.

I hope you have a really good week.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

“Hog Valley” vs. Moving

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It’s a tie, on several levels. Both projects have together drained me dry, where either project alone would merely have left me exhausted. As far as pure anxiety is concerned, “Hog Valley” wins with sleepless nights and nightmares of covers glued on upside down and interior text in Ukrainian or only half the pages have type in any language. I’ve just this afternoon seen the final proof for the cover. It is gorgeous. The final interior proof should be here in the next day or so.

But Moving has it over “Hog Valley” in physical strain, shortness of breath and just plain exhaustion.

All of us – my sister, her husband and yours truly, are now living in the new apartment in Orange Park, along with the furniture and all of the odd bits still in boxes or simply dropped in an empty spot. Which boxes are stacked in the middle of the rooms and along the walls. Meaning, of course, that you simply can’t get there from here. If you are stout of heart and willing to plot a very will he - nill he course (or no course at all) you can forge your way into the kitchen, but it is very unlikely you will ever be able to return to whatever civilization you left behind.

I was in the living room watching television yesterday afternoon, when I recalled a reference book I needed for “Twisted Key”. So I headed for the library room just behind the kitchen (I think that’s where it is, or at least was), looking for a particular box of books, and somehow wound up walking on Edgewater Drive in Orlando, carrying my dirty laundry bag. I turned around very quickly and found myself back in the apartment, this time in the laundry room, with the reference book in hand.

That was a very close call, I tell you. I didn’t have any change for the Laundromat.

Neither Richard nor myself have seen my sister in three days, though we can hear her cries. We can also hear the trumpeting and roaring of some large and hungry beast, hard on her trail.

Before you snort in derision, remember this is Florida, where anything is possible. In fact, in Florida, anything is very likely.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I can’t believe it’s Friday already


What a week this has been. Never mind all of the mess surrounding the move from one place to another (It’s not over yet. The movers only show up tomorrow). “Hog Valley” is in production, and I’m spending so much time in ‘Meaningful Discussion’ with the production teams that I don’t have any time or energy to work on “Twisted Key”.

First off, I stipulated a font sixe for the body text, but the proof came back two sizes smaller. I told them to use the font size I’d given them, and their response was to tell me it was going to cost $200.00 of my dollars to affect the change. I said ‘No’. More on this later.

That same day the cover art proof arrive in an email and it was suggested to me to get a better quality digital photo for them to work with, because the photo I’d initially provided was way too weak on detail. So I had to drive to the artists home a few hours away, re-photograph the artwork and come back, clean up the image and let them know I had it.

When I did that I found out that the publisher had ‘waived’ the charge for the font size change. I was thoroughly wiped out by the drive, and very relieved by the change in position of the publisher.

Now I’m praying the book cover design folks won’t try to bill me for the new artwork. They didn’t screw this one up – I did…

Well, it’s Labor Day weekend. Maybe nobody will notice that little fact…


Have a great Labor Day weekend!