Crumbly Writer: Blog

"A House In Disarray" distraction.

May 20, 2018
Posted at 3:29 pm
 

How do you like that. Just after posting my worries that readers wouldn't respond positively to Em's diversion to the west coast during her investigation, my scores shot up substantially. I guess readers don't see it as a distraction after all, as it strengthens Em's character, gives her more depth, finally makes Amanda a more complete character, and gives time for the case to 'mature' back home.

Seems my instincts have once again been borne out, despite my fears to the contrary.

That's everyone. I appreciate it. Maybe I'll write another mystery or two sometime in the future.

"A House in Disarray" background

May 15, 2018
Posted at 1:50 am
Updated: May 15, 2018 - 10:25 am
 

I'd wanted to explain a little of the history of this story when I first started posting, but much of the detail revolves around how it concludes, and I didn't want to include any spoilers.

The topics: police brutality, the subsequent bad publicity, et al, were already dated when I was finishing up the story. As the number of police shootings mounted over time, the sides congealed between those being shot, and those who didn't want to consider what produced such responses, so it became an 'us' vs. 'them' issue, and while nothing really changed, it made the story feel terribly dated.

And then, deciding to challenge myself. I went and hired a professional content editor, for a significant amount of pocket change, to help me learn how to self-edit my own work, which was the cause of the friction in the story comments with my editor.

Long story short, she disappeared for a couple months, with nary a word, and dumped a radically changed story in my lap (via email), informing me I'd need to hire another editor to 'fix her mistakes', and that I needed to 'accept' her edits as they were, instead of picking and choosing which to implement (like normal editors do). However, instead of raising issues and suggesting fixes, allowing me, the author, to decide how to resolve them, she rewrote whole tracks in her own words, often reducing three to five paragraphs to a single one. (The initial prologue is a sample of her work.)

What she left me with was much easier to read, but she also robbed the characters of ALL of their motivations, gave me flat-out incorrect advice about writing. The worst part was, since she rewrote so much of the story, I couldn't ignore her bad advice without the story sounding schizophrenic, as it would then be told in two 'voices', mine and hers.

As a result, I paid her fee, and dumped the story into the trash as I found it utterly unusable. And there it sat for a couple of years, making it seem even more dated than it was. What eventually saved the day, was my decision to finally throw out ALL her changes, with the obvious exception of the prologue. We then had to re-edit the entire thing for a third time, where we did a much more thorough job. (She wanted to toss out the entire exchange between Becky and Em, the whole 'multiple partners' thing, and focus exclusively on the crime.)

That's why I'm still adverse to hiring expensive editors. I'd done my due diligence, asking for personal recommendations from a variety of authors and sending her a sample edit (the prologue), which we discussed. I'd thought we had a decent working relationship going into the exchange, but I was wrong! Now I'm not sure I can trust any professional. Apparently, she decided my approach to writing wasn't what the traditional publishers were looking for, which I've always acknowledged, and she decided it wasn't 'publishable' without a complete rewrite-by her!

That explains the extensive delay in the story. The story about the plot is a bit more involved. When I started the story, I asked for and received a resource from someone on SOL, Serena Jones, whose father was a policeman and who provided insights into their psyches (most notably the 'sleeping around with multiple partners as a way of keeping their partners from being overwhelmed'). That, in itself, led the story into an entirely new direction.

I thought, making the lead detective a lesbian, would make the story seem less obnoxiously sexist, while also providing an interesting insight into how a single woman might survive in an all-male world of law-enforcement (in its early days, at least). And from there, came the entire section dealing with Em's 'side trip' with Amamda.

As many of you might have guessed, the exchange between them, like the initial 'sex talk' with Becky, is essential to the overall plot, rather than merely diversions from the basic mystery. In short, they address how Em resolves her 'unwinnable' situation of investigating her boss, while also reconciling her womanizing her girlfriends.

Anyway, I thought this extensive history of the story would help you all appreciate a decidedly nontraditional police story a little more.

And please, as always, let me know whether you prefer my approach, or the editor who made such a mess of it. ;-D

Vincent Berg (aka. Crumbly Author)

Book Giveaway Update

May 13, 2018
Posted at 3:10 pm
 

Well, my latest book giveaway if completed. I'm hoping that many of my regular readers—especially those who haven't been able to afford my books before—managed to win a copy.

This particular ebook giveaway was essentially an experiment, one which I'm unlikely to repeat. I don't mind giving away books, but normally, when I give away print books, I typically get between 700 to 1,000 bids. This time, I paid extra for the privilege of giving books away for free, but only get 223 bids. And while it did generate some associated sales (sales of other books besides the one listed), it doesn't appear those were to new readers I wasn't reaching before.

So, I'll return to the print book giveaways. After all, the print books is a nicer gift, and a chance to show off the paperback books which don't normally sell as well.

I'm planning to promote another giveaway soon, but I'll give everyone a chance to recover. I'm interested in changing my traditional one-book giveaways, to giving away complete sets, so we'll see how well those work. Hopefully, if I make the prize even more valuable, I'll be able to boost the participation even further.

And for all those who won, please, let me know what you think of the book, and don't be shy about posting reviews, whatever your opinion of it. I'd rather people discuss my books, even if they have reservations, than to meet a wall of silence. :-)

Thanks for everyone who participated. Hope you all had fun.

New (MASSIVE) Book Giveaway

May 7, 2018
Posted at 10:01 pm
Updated: May 7, 2018 - 10:09 pm
 

A couple of items today.

First and foremost, I'm offering a massive book giveaway. I'm giving away 100 copies of "Lost With Nothing to Lose, the second in my "Not-Quite Human" trilogy. Unfortunately, if you wait for the contest to conclude, you'll miss the lower pre-order prices I'm offering.

Since this contest costs a fair amount of money, I was hoping to entice some of the readers who've bid for my books before but had never bought the subsequent books. But ... so far, I don't yet have a full hundred entries, whereas normally I have between 700 and a thousand, so I'm hoping to bolster the numbers to attract as much attention from those unfamiliar with my work as possible.

However, this larger giveaway is primarily a test, to see whether giving those unfamiliar with my writing will purchase more of my books. If the cost isn't offset by some higher sales, I'm unlikely to continue it in the future. :(

Next, there was some confusion on my part about the Not-Quite Human Box Set. It's ONLY available on smashwords, or via my distributors (ex: Apple, B&N, Kobo, etc.) Unfortunately, it's not available on Amazon, since their pricing doesn't support box sets (i.e. I can't adjust their 'single book pricing' to account for the price of each book).

Finally, I'm a little confused by the apparent lack of interest in the new book. While there have been a lot of visits to the sites, no one seems to be reading the included chapters (also available on my site, www.vincentberg.com if you click on 'Not-Quite Human'). That seems to imply that there's something about the book description which is discouraging readers, rather than encouraging them. So if anyone has any clue why, I'd appreciate knowing what the turnoff in the description is.

Note: Forgot the goodreads giveaway contest page: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/279592-lost-with-nothing-to-lose.

New Book

May 1, 2018
Posted at 12:22 am
Updated: May 2, 2018 - 11:02 am
 

It's taken a long time, but I've finally finished the sequel to The Cuckoo's Progeny. While the original was an experiment in a quick action adventure, of a group running from the government, the second book is MUCH larger, with a LOT more character development.

Lost With Nothing to Lose

Unable to find a home and acceptance on Earth, an intrepid band of misplaced youth seek their ancestral home among the stars. Unfortunately, their reception is not quite what they hoped for.

The home they discover is a hostile environment, involved in a huge interstellar war with a hostile alien species. Everyone is on guard, and the newcomers are viewed as untrusted interlopers. They search for a place in a world with no use for them, with no place to turn for assistance.

Faced with an unwinnable situation, they seek to change the rules, risking arrest, trial and even death in hopes of fixing a world they know little about.

Continuing with my tradition of releasing Box Sets with significant discounts, I'm selling the Not-Quite Human Box Set for less than the two books, with a twist, you can also update the box set when the final book, Building a Nest of Our Own is completed.

Not-Quite Human Box Set

Al, his sister Betty, and a group of others who are drawn together by forces beyond their control, come to the realization they simply don't belong on Earth. Learning their heritage lies among the stars, they search for a home which isn't any more welcoming than their home planet. Follow their adventures as they flee from one world, only to face similar situations across the cosmos.

This Box Set contains the entire box set, and is being offered now, at a discount, with the understanding you can upgrade it when the final book is released, gaining instant access to the final book in the series.

Contains the entire Not-Quite Human series, including:

 1) The Cuckoo's Progeny

 2) Lost With Nothing to Lose

 3) Building a New Legacy (you can upgrade when it's completed)

The original book The Cuckoo's Progeny has also been upgraded. The plot hasn't changed, but it was extensively cleaned up with added graphics (full-page section graphics) and epigraphs (for each section.

Book 1 is $4.99 retail, book 2 is $7.99 (because it took so much work to complete and edit) and the Box Set is $11.99. Except, during the pre-release period, both new books are $2 cheaper: $5.99 and $9.99 until May 12th. After which, they return to the full retail price.

These books have it all: first contact, intergalactic war, an Imperial Intergalactic Emperor, a competing Empire of bloodthirsty bugs, and everyone looking to do our heroes in.