Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. The turkey is in the oven, and my guests are on the way over. In a few hours I'll have to get to work on the side dishes. But for the next hour, I think I'm just gonna veg and maybe play No Man's Sky.

Have a good day everyone, and know that I'm thankful for all of you.

-John Van Stry

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mirror Post: Started Writing 'When It Falls' today

This is a copy of the post to the Jan Stryvant Blog, because I realize a lot of you probably don't even know it exists. I thought you might find this interesting, so here it is:

So today marks the beginning of my writing 'When It Falls.'
I'd actually hoped to be about a quarter of the way into it by now, but Head Down took longer than expected, due to life intruding. My goal is to have this book done and out before Christmas.

We'll just have to see how that goes! :-)

A few notes here, because apparently a couple of folks missed a few things that weren't gone over all that clearly perhaps? Sean's phone is off almost all of the time. He only occasionally turns it on, because he doesn't want to be tracked via it. Also, he accidentally fried it in book 3 and didn't realize for a couple of weeks.
For calling the girls (and for them calling him) they have burner phones. John has messed with all of the phones to make them harder to track, but only by keeping those numbers private, can that be truly successful.
Sean's mom only left the one message, because it was his birthday. Otherwise, since she left, if he doesn't answer, she doesn't leave a message. As that phone is on only some of the time, that makes getting hold of him a rather chancy proposition.

It's been less than two months between the start of Black Friday, and the end of Head Down. Gradatim is very cut-throat in its intra-council politics. Asking for help never occurred to them, too early in the game, and they were planning on taking out the main leadership remember. So yeah, they're not gonna ask for help. The Ascendants just went through an attempted coup among the leadership. Asking for outside help wouldn't look good right about now, when you've just purged a bunch of people.

And Reno IS a 'small town' (Biggest Little City in the World, after all).

But now, now that's all going to start changing, because the Vesti's are the big boys. Sapientia is a big player too (Number Two World Wide), and didn't we hear Arthur Troy mention how he'd been talking to the other council leaders across the country? Oh, yeah, we did, didn't we? ;-) But Sapientia isn't in conflict. So they don't need to ask for help.

Morgan on the other hand, well, we don't know what Morgan's game is, yet. All we know is that he tried to frame the lycans (and right now, doesn't know that he may not have succeeded), and that he is obviously one very tough customer, who is perhaps a lot nastier than we thought Roger and Harkins were.

Guess you're all gonna have to wait until I get 'When It Falls' out to find out, huh? :-D

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Friday, October 20, 2017

The next Jan Stryvant book is now on sale on Amazon

I have to admit, I'm a bit overwhelmed by the response. I just can't thank people enough.  This whole bit about 'branding' has worked out really well. I can separate these two things I enjoy writing, without having to worry about people getting confused over which book has what in it.

Plus I have the greatest fans!

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

POI #3 is now in Audiobook format!

Portals of Infinity, #3, Of Temples and Trials, is now on Sale on Audible, Amazon, and (supposedly) iTunes / Apple. So, for those of you waiting, have at it!

Monday, October 02, 2017

A typical writing day

For a number of reasons, I thought I would share what my typical (Monday thru Friday) workday is like.

I get up about 7:30. I try to sleep in to 8am, but I rarely do that, even on weekends. Truth is I'm often up before 7.
I go into the 'computer room' or den, where our gaming machines are. I have nice desk there and a fairly up to date system, though honestly I haven't gamed in months. My SO (Significant Other) has their systems (multiple) set up there as well. I spend the next hour or so dealing with business issues, checking my accounts, paying bills, checking sales, email, any issues with adverts, narrators, Amazon, etc. Check social media, the news, and maybe touch bases with some other writers, all while eating breakfast.
About 9 the SO heads off to work, so I go to my office.

My office is the smallest room in the house, the server is in there, and a few odds and ends. My work desk is a small corner desk with almost no space on it. I have my laptop on it with a monitor connected to it, a stereo on the shelf above, and not much else (well, a guitar rack on my left, I take a break and practice my bass once or twice a day). I put on some tunes (EDM, Electronica, Metal, Jazz, Fusion, depends on what I'm writing and my mood) and I get to writing.
I only leave my office to: get water, get caffeine, use the bathroom, nuke lunch, or let the dog in/out. I do that until about 6:45 when the SO gets home. We talk anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, usually while I make dinner. Sometimes we eat together and I go back to writing. Other times I just eat as I write in my office.
I work until about 10pm. Though it things are going good, or I feel like I'm behind, I might work until 12:30 am or so.

Weekends vary, depending on if we're going out with friends, or entertaining people. Or if there are chores around the house that need dealing with. I usually don't start working until about 10am most weekends, and it's not uncommon to take some breaks to do family type things. If we go out, when we get back I'll often do some writing until it's time to go to bed. But I usually spend one day on the weekend pretty much writing, though I rarely do more than 12 hours on a Saturday or Sunday.

Yes, I do try to not write on one of the days of the weekend, and I often get away with it. But I often end up bouncing plot ideas or character ideas off of one of my friends or my SO. When I go to bed at night I'm usually thinking about characters and plot points. It's not something you really get away from much. Now I don't always work this hard at my writing, there are periods where I make a point of knocking off at 6:30. But with the current series, in order to keep up with the goals I've set, pretty much if I'm awake, I'm working.
Because I know you all want to read the next book, and I really want it to be on time, and I want it to be good.
Now off to bed. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Much Wow...

So, Perfect Strangers hit last night, and it took one of the #1 best seller tags away from Black Friday.
I now have -two- #1 best sellers on Amazon.

AND.... Perfect Strangers is #58! I've -never- had a book in the top 100 before, I'm actually closing in on Steven King's IT!

Heady times, I tell ya. I really need to get my head back in the game and finish book #3, which I was planning on finishing the first draft for, today.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Just Wow

After all of these years, I finally got one. Sure, it's under my pen name, but I don't care! I finally got one!

Monday, September 25, 2017

So, got my second '#1 new release' tag today!

Apparently the new Jan Stryvant novel is still doing rather well. Today it just earned its second '#1 New Release' tag on Amazon, this time in a second category, than the one it earned a week ago.
It's even climbed into the top 200 overall ranking on Amazon. I'm pretty amazed and happy to see that.
Book two, the sequel to 'Black Friday' comes out this Friday, it's already got quite a few people signed up to buy it, which has also made me pretty happy. Book three is underway, I'm about a third through it and hope to be mostly done with the first draft by Friday.  I'll set it's release date sometime after 'Perfect Strangers' goes out.

Now, if only I can get past Steven King and his book about bad I.T. organizations to get that coveted #1 spot!! :-)

(what? you say it's not about I.T., but about evil clowns? Hey, haven't you ever worked with I.T.? Evil clowns sounds about right... )

(apologies to all you IT folks, but hey, I live with one. So if I'm murdered in my sleep tonight, now you know why...)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

It's Always Something, or the Difficulty of Making a Living in this Business

One of the problems with working in the Entertainment business, and trust me, writing is Entertainment. Is that it's always a moving target. People change, trends change, tastes change and what sells change. So dealing with that can be a headache at times, there's no doubt about that.

But when what you get paid for your work changes, well that ads a layer of complication that makes things even more frustrating at times.

You see, back when I started out I realized that in order to do 'okay' (and by 'okay' I mean make what I consider to be a decent living as a writer) I needed to sell an average of one hundred books a day. This was a daunting task for someone who felt lucky if they sold a hundred books in a month! But, I set out to achieve that goal, by trying to write stuff people would enjoy, and by increasing my 'catalog' of books, so I'd have a steady level of income off of that 'backlog'.

Which I do. With every new book I see a sales bump as I pick up a few new readers who work their way through my backlog, on top of the sales of the new book of course. And after several years of hard work I'm now to the spot where I actually do sell, on average, about one hundred books a day.


(and it's a big BUT, hence the size of it)

But Amazon came out with kindle unlimited and two thirds of my customers moved over to it. Add to that Amazon's dropping of the price per page that they pay, and I'm making a third of my normal sale price on those books (about a dollar). So, do the math: I'm making 1/3rd what I used to on 2/3rds of my sales. Which works about to about a fifty percent decrease in take home pay.

So now I need to aim for two hundred sales a day! If you think aiming for one hundred is a daunting task, aiming for twice that is even more so. Add in the fear that the rules of the game will change again if I get there (or should I say when I get there, always pays to think positive) and sometimes I wonder if I'm really in the right business. But this is why I've thought of ditching kindle unlimited, yes I get two-thirds of my sales through it, which is huge. But how many of those people would still buy my books if I wasn't in the program? Would it be enough that I'd make more money, or less? Also being in the KU program means my books climb up faster through the ranks because of all the borrows and page reads I get.

Yes, I've lost sleep over this, because making any changes that could lead to financial hardship are what you want to avoid as a writer. So honestly I think my only choice is to try and increase my sales. The only way to do that is to write more, and try new things (hence the new pen name and the new 'brand' - I can't afford to alienate any of my readers because I started writing stories with sex in them, which apparently is still a touchy subject for a lot of people, hell, a simple F-bomb in a book can lose you percentage points!)

And of course, as always, you'd think book companies would be interested in an author who sells over 30K books a year without an advertising budget. But you'd be wrong.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Back from the Reno Air Races

So, I'm back from my one vacation a year, now it's time to get back to work (not like I wasn't working in the hotel each night after a day on the tarmac of course). So I got lots to do on book three, book two is going through a last re-write then out to my Beta readers today.

Here's a few pics from the weekend.