Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Author Resolutions

Okay. I'm way behind on this blogging stuff. If I actually thought I had anything of VALUE to say, I'd be happy to write more. But I'm not a philosophical sort. I'm more the down-to-earth-the-horses-need-shoeing type.

But, I'll give it a try here for my publisher, Moonlight Mesa Associates.

My book is sitting on my publisher's computer, about 1/4 of the way finished. At least I know where I'm going with it, though. I just haven't felt the urge to write. I am pleased that my other three books seem to be selling pretty respectably. Saving Tom Black and Apache are pretty consistent. The big surprise came when I saw that Canyon of Death was the top-selling Moonlight Mesa book for the Ingram distributor last month. I have to admit that encouraged me to keep on keeping on. I'll resume the book after the first of the year, but only on rainy, windy days. Since I live in Arizona, that won't be overworking me any.

I've quit the Facebook thing. Might as well quit Twitter, too. This is about as social as I seem to be able to get. The problem with Facebook is that literally every person on the Western Reader site is trying to SELL their books. It's like a bunch of cheap advertising and it's annoying as hell. And it's the same people, over and over and over. So, one of my New Year resolutions is to stay away from social media and the nasty snide comments that sometimes go on with it. I think I have a tendency to be a face-to-face person, not a media type. Any friends I have know where I live and can call or email. Period.

Another thing that annoys me is people plastering their photos all over the web for the world to see. That seems somehow over-the-top, like indecent exposure. I suppose if someone had just a handful of friends, it'd be fine. But it seems most people have hundreds , and I'm betting that most are probably total strangers.

Anyway, back to the resolutions...besides having resolved to quit social media, I'm going to make a bunch of resolutions this year. Mostly they're going to involve "slowing down" and "savoring" the day. In fact, I may do a private retreat to get me started off right. I spent time in Mexico in November and it was great. No socializing. No blah-blah-blah. Just swimming. Snorkeling. Sittin' in the sun and thinking. It's been hard to get back into the swing of things...not sure I want to. I could take a laptop down there and finish the new book in record time, if I could afford to be gone again.

So, when I finalize all my resolutions, I'll think about sharing them here on this blog. I figure if you're reading this, then you might actually be interested in them.

Everyone who reads this, I want you all to have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Let me know what some of your resolutions are. You might inspire me!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Swapping Fiction for Nonfiction

I've given this a lot of thought, and I've pretty much made up my mind. High Country Killers, the Western historical fiction book I've started on, may be my last piece of fiction writing.

And I bet you're wondering why.

The market.

Suspense and mystery writers are a dime a dozen, and it's come to my attention that so are Western writers. But that's not the real reason, because my books do sell, and often sell well. The problem is, the effort involved in selling them is far greater than the money I make from all that expenditure of time and energy.

I'll be even more honest, I've seen nonfiction titles fly out of my publisher's warehouse. That would primarily include Rusty Richards' Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride and Becky Coffield's Life Was A Cabaret. Now there are two books that are total opposites. One is a biography of a rodeo star, and the other is a sailing memoir, yet both books sell extremely well. There are probably 10 vendors who sell the Casey Tibbs book, and there used to be that many who sold the sailing book. Both titles sell extremely well as ebooks, also.

Now, I will be the first to acknowledge that my titles sell pretty darn well, especially on amazon and kindle. And when my publisher does a book event we rack up great sales, especially with Saving Tom Black and Apache. But
other than amazon, there are only two small vendors who stock and sell my books.

My publisher has assured me it has nothing to do with the books. The problem is the price of the books, which have all been published POD. POD is expensive unless a ton of copies are ordered, therefore the price has to be high, and the books simply cannot compete with the mass market Westerns. Consumers don't seem to care that much about paper quality, cover design, etc. Can't say as I blame them in today's economy.

Nonfiction, however, can command it's fair price and get it!

The problem arises because I don't see anything in nonfiction that I'm willing to commit a mountain of time to researching. Patience is not my forte, and research requires patience and time. I know this just from the research I've had to do with my own titles. The enticing Western subjects have been written into the grave: Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Kit Carson, etc. etc. etc. You see what I'm saying.

I have a three book contract with Moonlight Mesa. I'll finish High Country Killers, but I'm not sure I'll do any more Westerns. My contract with Moonlight Mesa does not specify Westerns...I'll just have to think on this some more. I'll just have to see if anything inspires me!

Meanwhile, hope to see someone over at Cave Creek Western Days the first weekend in November. Stop by and say hello...and buy a book while you're there, too!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Joining Writing Organizations

This is a can of worms if there ever was one.

The fact is, a barrel of folks join writing groups or organizations. I, for the life of me, fail to see why. It's like people who join critique groups. I suppose some are okay, but most seem to be groups of amateurs critiquing other amateurs. I'm not sure how productive or helpful that is. I have a professional editor who often cuts my work to ribbons but helps me deliver a top-notch, errorless book. My historical editor catches me on a big mistake now and then, too.

I'm not a joiner, and despite what she says otherwise, neither is my publisher, Becky Coffield at Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc. I think both of us are too independent-minded to belong to a "larger whole." Neither of us seems to need membership, and for certain neither of us likes joining organizations or attending meetings. We're both very busy as it is...sometimes it's monkey business, especially on my part, but that's critical for my writing.

I won't speak for my publisher, because she's going to address this issue in an upcoming blog. www.moonlightmesa.blogspot.com When we sat over a few margaritas and chips the other afternoon and talked about it, however, it got me to thinking on the subject. I think my reasons for being a non-joiner are probably a bit different than hers.

I don't join groups because it really means I should make an attempt to participate in them, and that's something I can't commit to. I'm gone a lot. I don't like the yakety yak of social meetings. I have other things I'd rather spend my time on, quite frankly. I also wonder if an organization isn't really formed mostly to promote the organizer of the organization. Afterall, who's name is always out there when it comes to newsreleases or other items dealing with the group: the head organizer or leader of the group, that's who. You can bet that the person who benefits the most in these groups is the head of the group.

Besides the time investment, I really don't have an interest in most of the activities that groups do to promote their authors, etc. I'm fortunate in that my publisher does a lot of events where I can go and sign my books. She's GREAT about introduing me and pushing my books, even at the expense of her own titles, which are fantastic, by the way. Why would I want to go to a group activity and be one of 15 authors there begging people to buy my books when I can garner ALL THE ATTENTION by attending my publisher's events?

Maybe some people see group membership as a form of support and find them confidence building. I certainly don't. I find them filled with pettiness. When the president of a large group wins an award for his book, that smacks of cronyism. But, guess what? Involvement in the organization paid off for him. So, it's like you buy your awards by being involved. Not all groups are like this, I hasten to add. But some of the big ones most certainly are. They're like a good ol' boys club. And if you're not a dues paying, active member in the organization, forget about any consideration for reviews or awards. Pretty phony, really.

Well, those are my thoughts. I invite anyone to disagree. I'd like to see someone explain the benefits of belonging to a writer/author group. Maybe you can convince me otherwise.

And now, I've done my October blog...early even. I'm home free. Mission accomplished. I hope this isn't habit forming!

I'm heading back to the high country before the snow falls and resuming work on my next book, High Country Killers. This is making my publisher very happy. Catch you all later.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Writer's Block or Just Lazy?


Okay, so now I'm two months late on my blog duty. But, for my defense I can now say I do, at least, have a website. FINALLY. I did this website out of great duress from my publisher, but it's done! Check it out and give me any opinions or ideas. This is a new area for me, and I'm like blind me leading blind me.

www.jerejameswesternauthor.com I think I just put a link here. Hope it works.

Now, for the business at hand. I'm trying to decide if I have a writer's block or am just being lazy. I keep telling myself that I've put out three books in three years, so I deserve a break, and it's not like I won't have the book (High Country Killers) finished by late 2012 as promised...I hope, anyway.

So what is the real trouble here? Well, to tell you the truth, the new book is very different from the other three I've written. It's more complex, for one thing. There are multiple subplots, and it's also kind of a mystery. As a former mystery writer (under yet another name) I can tell you, mysteries aren't an easy genre for me. Suspense is a piece of cake - not so for mysteries. I even know "who-dun-it" in this new book, but putting it all together is taxing. Then I kind of have carte blanche on this book as far as language and sex go. I've decided to keep the language acceptable, but finally being able to add sex is causing me to hesitate. Although I will say, Apache, the second of my books is a bit risque.

But perhaps the biggest decision is, how much do I include Betsy in the new book? Or do I include her at all? She's been an integral part of the first three books. I was thinking I'd drop her so Jake could move on to other women, but I keep getting the feeling she needs to be in this book. I guess he could have other women, anyway, considering how Book III (Canyon of Death) ended. So, I'm taking a break.

In fact, I plan on taking a break almost all winter. You see, winter here in Arizona is better than summer in most places I've been. The only trouble is, I can't ride up in the high country where I really need to be to get my "research" and "feel" for the area because it does indeed snow up there. But, I can certainly hang out in the rest of the state and have a good time.

I'll be attending all of my publisher's book events this fall/winter. She's got some good ones lined up. I'm also going to show up in Mexico at her and her husband's timeshare for a few days while they're there. I haven't told her yet...it'll be a BIG surprise! Well, it worked out great last year! Senoritas, tequila, and deep sea fishing sound pretty good right now. By November they'll sound irresistible.

So, maybe I have a case of both writer's block and laziness. I just need a vacation to sort it all out, don't I? Maybe some place in Mexico?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bad Review - Good Review - Much Ado

Okay. I know I'm about a month late for my monthly blog, but it wasn't until my publisher (Becky Coffield) at Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc. called me today ranting about a review she came across on the internet, that I felt compelled to write a blog again.

The review in question was apparently written by a man I don't know but my publisher does, and was written about my first Western, Saving Tom Black. Guess the guy didn't like it. Not everybody's going to like everything, I assured Becky. But that wasn't the issue with her.

Her issue was that he seemed like he went out of his way to degrade my first book. Her position is that good critics/reviewers pass on the books they don't like instead of trashing them. Especially when the reviews are on the web, she reminded me, where billions of people have access to them. How much did this review cost my publisher's fledgling publishing business? Maybe nothing. Maybe a substantial amount. How much did I lose in royalties? I don't really care. I don't do this for the money.

Between the rants and raves, I found myself feeling proud that I had a publisher who really showed her support for me and was willing to "go to the mats." Or whatever that expression is. I tried to remind her that we'd had tremendous reviews from a senior reviewer at MidWest Book Review and from Steve Myall at Western Fiction Review. Marshall Trimble liked the book so well he was disappointed when he didn't get asked to review the second book. None of this seemed to make my publisher feel any better.

I'm probably thicker skinned than Becky, but I see the reviewer as probably a flawed character who feels superior by making others (or their works) look bad. Nevertheless, I now know I've got a publisher who, as Stoney Bowers says, "has my back." It's good to have someone on your side, whether you think you need them or not. I never doubted this anyway. I admit Saving Tom Black is far from perfect, but people have sure liked it!

Becky claims that most critics are just parasites who live off the creativity of others. Not sure I'd go so far as to say that, or agree with that, but there you have it.


I'd personally like to thank Steve Myall at Western Fiction Review for his great review of Canyon of Death. Steve pointed out things in my book that even I wasn't aware of when I wrote the dang thing! Thank you, Steve. I have a feeling you'd pass on a review before you'd trash someone's work. I appreciate you professionalism and your interest in my titles!


High Country Killer, my fourth Jake Silver book, is coming along. I'd say I'm about 1/4 into it. It's becoming a much more complex book than I'd originally planned on. That's the fun part of writing, though, is when the characters and story take over and take the writer in their direction.
I hope to have the book finished by mid to late 2012. Promised my publisher I'd do that.


I hope folks will stop by Moonlight Mesa's vendor booth in Pinetop over Labor Day Weekend. I'll be there and will enjoy signing a book for you or just talking with you.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mule Days Celebration Coming Up

Jere D. James will be attending this year's Mule Days Celebration as a guest author in Moonlight Mesa's vendor booth. Although his newest title, Canyon of Death, is still a month or so away from being in print, Jere will sign his other two Western books, Saving Tom Black and Apache.

"I'm disappointed that Canyon of Death won't be with the other two books, but the publisher assures me it'll be present for the Pinetop event over Labor Day," Jere said. "I plan to attend that event also since I'll be in the high country most of the summer getting ideas and the setting for my next novel, High Country Killers."

"The next book will be a difficult one as I'm really striving to make it much more historical than the first two. Saving Tom Black was somewhat historical, and Apache was 'socially historical,' but the next one I'd like to make much more factual, yet still keep a good fiction tale in it. I'll be writing a Western mystery, so it'll be a challenge," the author said. "The publisher told me she didn't care, as long as the project is completed on time."

Jere will be heading to the high country at the end of June most likely, and will start off once again in the Prescott area before moving on to Pinetop. "I need to do some terrain to get my mule and horse back into shape. In fact, my horse may not be able to do much this summer in terms of long, rugged rides. He's in a bad way right now. He's older and his knees aren't what they should be. Might just be the mule on this adventure," Jere said.

Jere won't give any hints as to what may occur in the next book, but he does say that people will be surprised about the main character's womanizing ways. "I'm trying to keep it respectable, but spicey. The publisher and editor will keep me from going off the fun, deep end," Jere said, laughing.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Western Author Jere D. James Signs Three Book Deal


Jere D. James, author of the Jake Silver Adventure Series (Saving Tom Black, Apache, and the forthcoming Canyon of Death has just signed another three book contract with Moonlight Mesa Associates, Western Book Publisher.

The contract is for three books in three years, however there is a bit of latitude in the understanding between the publisher, Becky Coffield, and Jere D. James. The author does not have to necessarily continue the Jake Silver series, although the publisher would like to see him do so. However, she left that decision to the author.

"It's pretty hard to demand an author write something if his heart just isn't in it," Coffield said. "The Jake Silver books are very popular though, and I think they'll continue to be if Jere keeps writing them."

The author has already stated there will be at least one more Jake Silver book, and perhaps more. He's even thinking of going back in time to when Silver was younger. "It's a possibility, that's all," James said.


Just like he did with his other books, James will be spending some time in the saddle this summer. Last year saw him in the Chiricahuas quite often, which is where Canyon of Death is set (Canyon of Death will be released by July of this year). This summer he'll be riding the high country getting a feel for the setting of his next book, High Country Killer. "I'll be riding in the Prescott National Forest area, and also in the Apache Sitgreaves Forest, and especially places around Pine Top," he said. "I'll be taking my horse and mule. Dog too. And of course, boxes of books. It'll be very different than riding in the Chiricahuas where I had to be especially alert to illegal immigration traffic."

The author will also be traveling to Colorado for some setting information. "The book could take place there, but I don't think it will. I live in Arizona, so it's easier for me to return to an area here if I need to verify things than to run all the way to Colorado," James said. "Besides, with the cost of diesel, I doubt I'd be able to fuel up the beast that pulls my trailer. And I'm not downsizing. That horse trailer is nicer than some apartments I've lived in!"

James will also try to pick up a few rodeos this summer.