Michael Haskins

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Welcome to the Dark Side

I am a stubborn person. It took two friends to drag me, kicking and screaming, away from my typewriter and force an old Apple computer on me. Since spelling is only one of my many weak points, I learned to appreciate what the computer could do and what it allowed me to do.

Things haven’t changed much – with me being stubborn – and my fellow blogger Mike J spent many Saturday afternoons trying to explain to me the benefits of eBooks, after MWA luncheons.

The thought of giving up holding whatever book I was reading, turned my stomach. I want to turn the pages of my book – and my newspaper and magazine – and not read on a computer screen on a book-sized Kindle. I love my home library and had already lost it once, during Hurricane Georges. It has taken me years to rebuild it.

Well, reality can be horrible to a stubborn person. I remember sitting with Mike and Mary, Jerry Healey and Sandy Balzo after a luncheon and listening to Mike talk about his success on Kindle. Both Sandy and I were on the cusp of joining the dark side. Sandy more honestly interested than I. Either Mike or Jerry then said something that shook my stubbornness.

“No one with a Kindle is going to show up at your signing. If they hear about your signing, or your book, they’re going to the Amazon Kindle store to see if it’s available. If it isn’t, they’ll buy someone else’s book.”

I wasn’t convinced, but thought about what was said on the four-hour ride back to Key West. It was as if Mike was Darth Vader and offering me a place on the ‘dark side.” On the other hand, maybe he was Satan tempting Jesus? (I had to compare me to Jesus ‘cause no one else would! (Sorry about comparing you to Satan, Mike)).

I read some of the websites Mike told me about and soon put my short stories on Kindle for ninety-nine cents. I found a company that would convert “Chasin’ the Wind” for Kindle and bit the bullet and had it done. It was pretty much painless but I had to keep repeating the comments about Kindle owners not buying my writings because they were not available. I was slowly making them available.

I now have three novels on Kindle and Nook. My sales on Kindle have been steady at around 200 sales per month. Not up there with Mike and many others, but I see little changes each month. I am almost done with my next Mick Murphy Mystery – Stairway to the Bottom – and have my website woman working on a cover for me and have an editor willing to go through it when she returns from California the middle of September. My wish is to have it on Kindle and as a trade paperback on Amazon before the winter holidays.

I am still a believer in the hard/paperback book – and paper newspaper and magazine. However, reality, no matter how brutal, tells me to check my bank account. Not that, as my father used to say, “may ship has come in,” but each month there is a deposit or two from eBook sales.

I had a signing in Key West a couple of weeks ago featuring my three trade paperback books – Revenge, Tijuana Weekend and Chasin’ the Wind. To my surprise and the store’s, most of the copies available sold out. Scott, from the bookstore said people were buying two books.

Trade paperback, $15 or hardback for $25. In today’s economy, it isn’t a difficult choice.

I’ll talk about CreateSpace soon and, yes, Mike played a role in that too! Mike ain’t no devil, but he has sure proven to be a Godsend to me. Maybe he’s an angle. I’ll have to check with Mary and get her opinion.

I would like to know what you think of Kindle and giving up holding a real book in your hands. It’s the future, I know, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

This week ends with the beginning of September. Welcome to the Fall.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Zoë Sharp

Enough about me. I thought for a change I would mention writers I share something with, be it Kindle or Nook or mysteries or the Keys. In this case it has to do with short stories on Kindle, but also mystery writing.
Zoë Sharp just released a collection of short stories –Fox Five – on Kindle. She is one of a growing number of authors who have signed onto the e-Book bandwagon. You should check out her website - http://www.zoesharp.com – and you’ll recognize some of the titles if the name doesn’t ring any bells for you. Here is a little bit of information about her character, ‘Charlie’ Fox and look who the character is compared to!
Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox has been described as a female version of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. Like Reacher, Charlie’s background is military. She was a first-class shot who was selected for Special Forces training, but that’s where it all went horribly wrong. Chucked out of the army in disgrace, Charlie drifts through a variety of jobs in the early books, including teaching self-defence, then a chance meeting with Sean Meyer, her old army training instructor (and a big part of the reason she was thrown out of the army in the first place) changes her life yet again.

Introduced into the world of professional close protection, Charlie embarks on a new career as a bodyguard, one that is perfectly suited to someone with her lethal abilities. Whatever the doubts of her family − or her own misgivings − she embraces her new life, even moving to the States to join a prestigious NYC close-protection agency run by Parker Armstrong.

But life is never simple for Charlie − either professionally or in her relationship with Sean. She will be faced with danger from all sides, both connected to the clients she’s sworn to protect with her life, and on a much more personal level.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back up and then back up again . . .

(I had a book signing last week at Key West Island Books for the 'lost manuscripts' that went well. On top is a photo of the mayor, Craig Cates, and his wife, Cheryl, at the book signing. If you would like a signed or inscribed copy of either of my books, call and order from the bookstore, 305-294-2904.)

In 1996, I moved for Los Angeles to Key West. My dog Phouka (pooka) in the front seat of my Chevy Celebrity and everything else I owned in the backseat, the trunk or on the roof. We didn't have flash drives or external hard drives then. On my computer were two completed Mick Murphy Mysteries – REVENGE and Tijuana Weekend – and a half-finished story, unnamed and my attempt at thriller writing.

In September 1998, Hurricane Georges blew through the Keys and took my floating home with it, while Phouka and I evacuated Naples, Florida, something I haven’t done since. I lost most everything, my personal library, my computer and most everything I owned. Gone were my novels. One of them, my thriller, There Are No Good Guys Only Terrorists, was told in the third person and dealt with renegade Israeli Mossad officers, posing as Arabs, arranging the training of Palestinians for attacks on hotels in Las Vegas. The Mossad officers believed if the US had a taste of what the people of Israel were going through the American government would let them fight the terrorists the way they wanted.

I recalled all this at Key West Island Books last Friday night at a book signing I called “The Lost Manuscripts.” I have put both books on Kindle and Nook and on Amazon as trade paperbacks. Today, I have two external hard drives and a few flash drives as backups and thought I was safe from ever losing a manuscript again.

Ah, but few of us are as smart as we think! Mid-week I finished a few new chapters on Car Wash Blues, and was ready to put them into my “one document” copy that I consider my finished chapters – ready for a long read and rewrite.

Imagine my surprise when I opened chapter 48 and it was chapter 52. I somehow saved chapter 52 to ALL my backup copies. I couldn't even remember what the chapter was about, I was long past it. I read 47 and 49 and drew a blank. I went into my Norton back up program but it only had copies from the last back up date and by then chapter 48 had the chapter 52 document in it!

Well, it was a hair puller. I tried and tried, but kept coming up with chapter 52. I cussed myself like a drunken sailor for being so stupid as not to look at where I was saving my current work. Too late, to do any good and it didn't make me feel better.

What I eventually thought of doing was restore my computer to an earlier date. I found out I could do that to a document and not my whole C drive. I went back about two weeks and found chapter 48. I wanted to kiss the computer, I was so happy.

However, that didn't mean I wouldn't do something stupid again and all the backups in the world weren't gonna do me any good if they held the wrong document. I have promised myself to look at where I was saving my documents. Have you ever lied to yourself? Yeah, me too.

I have decided the only safe was is to make a hard copy and, if necessary, I can scan it in later.

So, what have I learned for this? Well, yeah, that I can be stupid, but I knew that long before this. I think I’d say I’d learned that you can never be safe enough in saving and protecting your writing. As of right now, the hard copy is my last defense.

If you have a secret that would help me, let me know and I won’t tell a soul, promise.

Oh yeah, if I had “lost manuscripts” how’d I publish the books. Well somehow, God takes care of drunks, fools and Irishmen and I’m batting a thousand. Before leaving for Key West, I gave my sister a floppy disc, just in case I got in an accident in my drive across country. Of course, There Are No Good Guys . . . wasn't one of the stories on the floppy. But, I had three of the four, a moment of sanity in another wise insane life when I made that floppy copy! And, I am thankful that I have a sister that keeps the things I leave behind.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hemingway Days in Key West

I am a little behind in my writing this week because of my involvement with Hemingway Days here in Key West. I was one of four guest speakers at last week’s literary event and that was a great honor.

Lorian Hemingway, Ernest’s granddaughter, tracked me down in California earlier in the year and asked me to participate. I agreed but warned her I was no a good reader. She brought that up at last week’s event – after I read – and assured me I had done well and shouldn’t shy away from reading. She also mentioned how I’d first come to Key West because I wanted to see where her grandfather lived and wrote. She thanked me and dedicated a piece she read about her grandfather’s fishing to me. It was some evening for me.

Back to the point, I fell back on my writing and am trying to catch up and have tried to write longer than usual. I am hoping to get Stairway to the Bottom done by mid November and have it available on Kindle and Nook – and as a trade paperback on Amazon – in time for the holidays.

Authors Tom Corcoran, Michael, Lorian Hemingway, Mark Childress

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Map