Saturday, August 24, 2013

New Release! The Getaway Girl


The Getaway Girl

Janey is a good girl, a nice girl. The kind of girl that always does and says the right thing. So it's only natural that when she sees a young, pretty woman walking along the side of the highway, she should stop and pick her up.
But neither woman is quite what she appears to be, and before the night is out, someone is going to answer for what she's done.

My newest short story is available now on Amazon:

And Smashwords:


Monday, January 7, 2013

Beyond the Path

New Release Alert!!!

My first novella, Beyond the Path, is now available.


Wanna hear the blurb? I bet you do!!


 In the sleepy town of Mont Bocale, a legend lives.
The chilling tale of the Winserly Family and the haunted path is a popular tourist attraction. As the story goes, one night, scorned and rejected for the last time, Bradley Winserly's mistress steals his gun and murders his wife, before turning the gun on herself. By some cruel twist of fate, wife and mistress were put to rest next to each other, separated only by a narrow dirt path. There, the spirits remain, unable to cross the path or cross over; never at rest and never free.
Plagued by writer's block, Jackie Conner thought a romantic weekend getaway was just what she needed to clear her head. After hearing the story of the haunted path, inspiration finally knocks. This could be it; the book that makes her a literary giant. But her boyfriend, David, wants nothing to do with superstitious nonsense or Jackie's new book.
As she digs deeper into the past, a mystery more scandalous than local legend would have her believe unfolds. Between David's apathy and the townspeople's suspicion of outsiders, Jackie must fight to unbury the secrets of the legendary Winserly Family and uncover what really happened that fateful night.

Wanna read the book? I bet you do!!
 Get it at:

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-the-Path-ebook/dp/B00AKD6BDC/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357570769&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=h.l.+baker+beyond+the+pat


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Choice to Self-Publish

When it comes to actually publishing what we've written, there is a new choice that must be made by all writers: to go the traditional route with publishing or to self-publish. I say new but, to be honest, it's not a particularly new idea. Writers have been self publishing since, well, people started putting pen to paper. But the difference is now it's a viable option.

Let me give you a breakdown of the state of publishing in 2012. With the advent of e-books, publishing a novel or short story is easier than ever. If you can write a story, you can publish. Whether or not you can sell is a different matter and depends on a lot of factors.

If you choose to go the indie route, the pros are:

  • you will make a much greater percentage of the profits (35-70%)
  •  you have greater creative control 
  • you don't have to wait around for the supposed gate-keepers of the industry to accept you. 
Now for the cons to self-publishing:

  • you are responsible for everything (editing, cover design, formatting, promoting, writing the blurb...everything!)
  • there is the stigma of being self published working against you. You can't get into bookstores, it can be hard to find professionals to review your work, and some readers refuse to read books that are self-published.


What if you want to go with traditional publishing? Well, the pros are:

  • you can actually get into bookstores 
  • the pride and prestige of being accepted by the industry gate-keepers (something that, frankly is worth less and less with each Stephanie Meyer and E.L. James that comes along) 
  • not having to do all the work yourself so that you can spend more time actually writing. 
As for the cons with traditional publishing:

  • you make a measly amount of the profits (10-15%) 
  • apparently it's common practice to not give authors any data about the amount of sales made so that they don't even know how much they should be earning
  • the enormous amout of time spent waiting. It takes years to find an agent, then years to get a publisher, than possibily another year to actually get published.
  • you don't have control over things like titles, covers, blurbs and, sometimes, even content.

Solid arguments can be made for both routes, but what it really comes down to is what the writer wants. Traditional publishing offers prestige while self-publishing offers money. Personally, prestige means little to me and I've already achieved a life goal by being an author, so traditional publishing hasn't got much to offer me at the moment. Since self-publishing is where the money's at, that's the way I'm going.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Can a writer still enjoy reading?


Yes and No

Let's start off with the "No", shall we? I think writers have less tolerance for a)bullshit, b) poor grammar and or punctuation, and c) shitty writing.
Bullshit would include things like stereotypical, cardboard cut-out characters or lame, non-sensical plots, or super shitty behaviour that is never addressed or condemned, like if you have a racist or sexist character who is never so much as challenged or questioned about it. Grrr.
Shitty writing is head-hopping (when the chapter starts off from one character's point of view and suddenly switches to someone else's, inexplicably.), bad dialogue, or over-writing.
As a relative newbie to this game, I still struggle with these three things, of course, but I've also become an expert at finding them in other people's work. Isn't that the way it goes? Fingding fault in others is ever-so-much easier than finding it in ourselves.

On the other hand, when a story is really good, I'm that much more impressed because I know how hard it can be to write something that is just right. I have pages of my journal filled with lines from books that just floored me with how succinct yet complex they were. Two years ago, I might have read a really good book and thought "Well, that was nice.", while now, it's a joy.
I have a much great appreciation for world-building as well, whereas before, I never really noticed it. Take The Wheel of Time series for instance. I hate these books with a fiery passion (well, maybe not the first, but each subsequent book I read just made me angrier, until I finally gave up after book 5).
Now, I can really appreciate the magnitude of the task Jordan took on in creating Middle-Aglaesia...whatever the world was called. It really is amazing, even if he did steal heavily from Tolkien. That being said, he really took it to a whole other level. I'm pretty sure you could have asked him any question about the world and he would've known the answer, that's how thorough he was. Mind you, everything else sucked. He couldn't write a decent female character for shit, he was long winded as hell, and had the plot moving like molasses.
That being said though, you never really know if your tastes have changed until you go back and re-read some stuff. I re-read Christopher Moore's Bite Me and still liked it, although the spelling mistakes and head hopping was a bit distracting. I think, if the book is good, I'll over look little things like that. BUT, if the book is badly written, I'll toss it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Buried and The Forgotten


This is another writing prompt I heard on another writing site I frequent. The prompt is this: write a short story (or whatever) about returning to a childhood home only to find it is condemned. Maybe it's the fact that I'm slightly macabre* in what I write, but this totally feels like the beginning to a horror story or something. So, here it is, for your reading enjoyment:

*Speaking of "macabre", don't you hate it when you only ever use/see a word is in it's written form so you have no idea how to pronounce it? I love this word but I never use it in conversation because either way I try to say it, sounds wrong. Actually, they both just sound pretentious as f@#k, so I try to avoid them.


The Buried and The Forgotten

                "Condemned DO NOT ENTER"

                The words were written across a paper and taped to the heavy wooden door. The sign bulged in the middle, where the brass knocker sat beneath it.
                “Shit,” Penny said, looking over the door. “It’s not that old.”
                “Maybe it’s asbestos or something,” Gerald said and took  a step back.
                Penny darted down the porch steps and looked up at the house. Her short, black hair blew against her hand that shielded her eyes from the sun. “Do you think the cellar’s locked up?”
                “I don’t know. Probably. Can we just get out of here?” It wasn’t his idea to come in the first place.  
                “Where’s your sense of nostalgia?”
                “Nostalgia isn't even a sense, Penny...it’s a feeling,” Gerald said, stomping down the steps. He stopped on the last one and kicked it a few times with his heel. “Hear that? Termites. Place is falling apart.”
                “It hasn’t come down in the last 20 years. I think it’ll last a couple more minutes,” she said. She looked down either side of the street. The coast was clear.  “You coming or not?” she asked before disappearing behind the side of the house.
                Gerald cursed and kicked a divot into the brown grass but followed her.
                Penny knelt over the cellar doors, examining the lock. It was a cheap padlock fixed around a loosely held slide lock. She turned and greeted Gerald with an Oh please look.
                “Heads up,” he said, tossing her a broken chunk of cement.  If you can't beat 'em..., he thought.
                Penny took off her pink cardigan and wrapped it around the cement block. A dull clang echoed through the air and the lock was discarded. Penny held up her cardigan to reveal a gaping hole in the middle and made a face.
                “I thought you hated that sweater,” Gerald said.
                “I do. It’s just...now I have to go buy a new one.” She tied the sweater around her waist and pulled the particle board doors open. They fell to the sides with a thud.
                “Pen,” he said, grabbing her by the arm before she could descend the stairs. “Are you sure about this?”
                “It’s what Mom wanted, Ger.”
                “Yeah but what if someone sees us, recognizes us?”
                “That won’t happen once we’re inside, now will it?” Penny turned back to the black filled hole before her and stepped down the cement steps. “Pass me a flashlight.”
                Gerald shrugged the knapsack off his shoulder, letting it fall into his hand. He threw her the larger of the two flashlights.
                Like a submarine exploring the inky depths of the sea, she descended into the dark cellar.
                Gerald  walked up to the steps. The warm, humid air seeped out like vaporous mildew. He crinkled his nose and followed behind, flashlight poised in front.  His hands followed the cement wall as he took each step. There are some things that stay with you no matter how far away or long ago they were. The feel of course cement, the taste of moist air laden with cement chalk, the sound of a sledge hammer against...
                He was back on level ground, at the bottom of the stairs. Penny was already ahead, searching the cellar. Was she still feeling...nostalgic?
                “It hasn’t changed. Seems smaller now, though,” she said, flashlight searching the room.
                “You were a kid when we left here. I’m surprised you remember it at all.”
                “I wasn’t that young, Ger.”
                “No. But people have a way of forgetting...some things.” 
                Penny shone the light in his eyes, blinding him. “I remember.”
                He threw a hand over his eyes. “Yeah."
                She turned away and went back to looking around.
                Gerald followed her with the flashlight. The stairs were only a few feet away. They were steep and wooden, probably rotted through by now.  Luckily for them, what was under the stairs was what they were here for.
                Penny stood by a wall, examining  the tools and pictures fixed to the wall. The old  man’s things. Gerald had no interest in revisiting them. He went straight for the stairs. Crouching beneath them, he scanned the floor with his flashlight. The outline of the hole was as obvious as ever. A thin layer of newer, course cement spread over a thick layer of plaster of paris. He shook his head at his mother’s amateur notion of masonary.  “Found it,” he called to Penny.
                “There you are,” she said, looking down at the floor. “Think he’s just bones by now?”
                “I don’t know. Probably.”
                “If we bust this up we can’t fill it back in, can we? Not now, like this.”
                “No, we can’t. But they’d find him anyway, if they ever got around to tearing this place down,” Gerald said, knowing that it was never going to stay hidden forever. 
                “So it doesn’t matter?”
                “I didn’t say that. But you’re right. It’s what Mom wanted. Go close the doors,” he said, opening the knapsack again. Finding the rubber mallet and railroad spike was easy. They were two of three things left in the bag.
The little light filtering into the cellar from the hanging doors was snuffed out with a bang as Penny closed up.  The teeth-jarring sound of iron chipping away cement resounded through the dark cellar.
Gerald and Penny would never understand why it meant so much to their mother to be buried along with their father but, like it or not, it was her last wish. And the sooner it was finished, the sooner they could go back to their own anonymous lives and never see the other again.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Guess who's gonna be a punctuation expert!!!

Who would want to be an expert in punctuation you ask? A writer, that’s who. A masochistic, self-hating writer, who never bothers to think things through before making grand proclamations. That’s who.
Trouble is....punctuation is f-ing hard. Seriously. I had to look through pages and pages of information before I found a good reference site that had all the shit I needed. And even then, I was left with questions that I’m, currently, too spent to even write out right now.
So, new handy-dandy punctuation site in hand (on screen?), I set to combing a 3000-word story, looking for punctuation mistakes. It took awhile. There were highs and lows, commas and semi colons, eye twitches and moments of catatonia, but I did it. My head still hurts.

P.S. For the love of god, please do not point out the irony of any possible mistakes I made in this post. My brain is tender at the moment and couldn’t handle it.
P.P.S. Please do not point out any improper uses of the word “irony”. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

When the Doorbell Rings, I Hide in the Bathroom For Five Minutes

The truth of this statement is hilarious to me. I honestly do hide in the bathroom everytime someone rings the buzzer downstairs. When I eventually come out again, I creep timidly back into the livingroom and look around before getting back to what I was doing. Even then though, it’s too late and I’m super paranoid that the doorbell is going to ring again.
I know what you’re wondering and no, I’m not a hermit or an agoraphobe. There are several completely rational explanations that in no way suggest that I am crazy or maladjusted.
     Here is the simplest: My apartment is freaking tiny and my buzzer is super loud. No matter where I am in my place, if the buzzer goes off, I jump.  High. And then I swear. A lot. I admit, I’m a naturally jumpy person. If anyone wants to scare me in any given moment, they probably could. But this is too much.
 I hate this buzzer more than I’ve ever hated anything in my entire life.  I haven’t the foggiest idea why the buzzer needs to be loud enough to hear downstairs in the street (true story) but it is. Maybe extra loud buzzers were on sale due to an overwhelming amount of heart attack complaints so my landlord thought he’d save a buck.
As a result of this buzzer from the lowest depths of hell, I flee to the bathroom (the farthest point in my apartment from the door, which is sadly still only like 15 paces away) so that if the person downstairs rings again,  maybe....maaaaybe I won’t jump again. This never works, but I’m an eternal optimist.
Now, you’re probably wondering why I don’t just answer the door. Well, there’s another good reason for that which again, is totally (maybe semi) rational.
Reason #1- Failure to Communicate
     I live in Spain and my Spanish is still...imperfect. But I’m working on it, and I can get by in most conversations. However, people who come to the door don’t know that I'm spanish-challenged and usually talk really quickly, dropping syllables like it’s hot. Plus, my speaker is awful (really crackly) so that I can never understand WTF they’re saying. Even when it’s something really simple like “I have a package”, I can’t get it so then I’m left asking over and over again who they are and who they’re looking for before they finally get fed up and leave.  This is not a fun situation for me. Probably not for them either but hey, my house.
Reason #2- It’s never for me
It’s almost always a guy selling something, a friend of the guy downstairs (this is particularly infuriating since there are only two apartments) or homeless people asking for money (that happens a lot here). 
So after living here for 3 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that answering the door is for suckers and not foreigners.