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2019-01-20

January 20, 2019 - Snow!

Last night, we had our first major snowstorm for this winter. The weather forecast had predicted 8 to 12 inches and people flocked to the store to buy milk, cereal, bread, and other supplies. Last night when I went to bed, we had received only about 2 inches. This morning, the story is different. I can look out my window and see a drift at least knee-deep. The plow has been up our street and the end of my driveway is blocked off by a wall of snow. Soon, when the sun begins to make an appearance, I will begin the process of clearing off the driveway. I also do our neighbors, especially because one is in her 80's and recently lost her husband.

I grew up in Minnesota and I can easily recall enjoying the winter. We would go outside in our snowsuits and build snow forts, tunnels in the snow, snowmen, and something we invented -- snow mazes. When I turned 14, I got my snowmobile license and then I could go snowmobiling. Those days are now gone as the amount of snowfall in recent decades has not even come close to what I remember as a child. Can people these days imagine snow deep enough to dig tunnels through! I don't know how much we actually got so far because of the drifting but even after last night's major snowstorm, it's not deep enough for even a child to build a tunnel.

This sudden shift in weather reminds me about a world-building tip that every author needs to be aware of. If you have a planet that can support life, then you most likely can't have a 'water planet' or a 'desert world' or a 'forest moon'. Planets (and moons large enough to retain an atmosphere) will always have a variable climate. Earth's climate is caused by its axial tilt. Tip it to far and you have a world of harsh extremes. Tip it closer to being upright and now you have a world with a more even climate but one that changes with latitude. The equator would be burning up and the poles would be a frozen wasteland.

The point is, if you need to set your story in a forest, chose a location on a planet that is close to an ocean and near the planet's equator. If you need to be in a frozen landscape, your choices are to chose winter in a location where the climate changes, the poles of a planet, or a world that is too far away from its sun to keep it warm. In the later case, only a thin band near the equator would be warm enough to support much life. If the equators are cold, imagine how cold the poles would be!

I've been doing some writing and the next Peacekeeper book is about 1/4 of the way done. I'm going to get some more written this morning until the sun starts to show itself and then I will be out in the snow playing with my snowblower and shoveling.

2019-01-13

January 13,2019 - Writing

I made pretty good progress on my next novel over the holiday vacation. As of right now, the new book has just under 18,000 words which puts me roughly 1/4 of the way done. Of course, that's just the first draft. I am, once again, wondering if spending my time writing is worth it. My weekend mornings are the only time I have to myself to do what I want and for years I've spent the vast majority of that time writing. It was worthwhile when sales were doing good. Recently, sales have been abysmal and I'm finding myself questioning my choice of what to do in the mornings.

Don't get me wrong--I love to write. But writing for a tiny audience with the prospect of not making enough royalty from the book to cover the cost of the artwork and the copyright fee does not make much business sense. I've always treated my writing as a business. I pulled out of Smashwords and went exclusively KDP based on an analysis of sales and a three-month long trial period. If a retail store does not make enough in sales to cover their expenses, the store closes. For a self-published author, if the sales don't make enough to cover expenses and don't provide enough financial compensation to warrant giving up the time to write, then the business should be closed. I'm close to pulling the plug.

I will finish the book I'm working on now. I'm not sure when that will happen because the incentive is not really there. But, this novel could very well be the last of the Peacekeeper series and it could be the last book I write for a long time.

Why are sales slumping? It's hard to say. I think it might be the explosion of self-published authors out there. I do think that if people would provide an honest review after reading a book authors would get more readers. Over the years, I've sold about 10,000 copies of Translight. I have 66 reviews. That's pathetic. I haven't checked, but I've heard many other authors complain about how many times they've found their books on a pirate site. One romance writer found her book on a pirate site before it was even published! So, part of the reason has to be the fact that people don't think they should pay for things. Authors spend a lot of time working on their books and they want to be paid for their effort. Most aren't expecting to get rich. But every author out there wants to be compensated for the time it takes to produce a novel.

It's Sunday. I sort of feel like writing, but I have some other things I want to do as well. I will be forced to decide how to spend my valuable time as soon as I post this. My decision will be based on how much I want to write, what I think I will gain from spending my time doing so, and how much I want to do the other things on my list. This morning, it's a tough choice and I'm still undecided.