Archive for April, 2011

That’s how much I’ve written on this latest novel. It’s called Eye of Darkness, and it’s a fantasy novel. Picture something along the lines of J.R.R. Tolkien meets Thomas Harris.

The story is told of Lucas Veritatus, an ex-Sheriff of the North Country with only one eye (one human eye, that is). He has been asked to investigate a series of  missing children in the Outlands, a no-man’s land of thieves and swindlers outside the jurisdiction of his former province. He doesn’t rely on magick, but he is surrounded by magical creatures (witches, faeries, werewolves, dragons, etc.), and he must use what we would consider normal investigative techniques to solve the abductions and the murders associated with them.

Anyway, I started this story twenty days ago, and I just haven’t been able to stop since. I’m averaging about 1,200 words a day, which isn’t much, but it’s a lot faster than what I’m used to. At this pace, I should have it done by the end of May. June at the latest. It’s an absolute blast to write. I haven’t simply enjoyed writing in a while, but now I’m having fun again.

I read the first chapter to my writer’s group the other day. They loved it. A nice break from the dystopia of Jefferson’s Road.

On that note, I do expect to have Patriots and Tyrants ready to release in May. I have that chapter to rewrite, but I’m satisfied enough with the rest of it, that once I get it done, I’m going to go ahead and put it out there. Look for it at the end of May (and perhaps Eye of Darkness by the end of June?). I’m on such a roll!


Here’s the back cover blurb for  The Coppersmith:

He calls himself the Coppersmith…

A religious fanatic bent on murder, he begins systematically eliminating pastors in Upstate New York. From small towns to large cities he selects his victims, seemingly at random, and subjects them to a torturous death.

Janelle Becker is the agent with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit charged with solving the crimes. But even with the Bureau’s resources, she finds herself ill-prepared to unravel the Coppersmith’s message. Why do his methods keep changing? How can they know where he’ll strike next? And can she escape her own dark past before it’s too late?

As she and her fellow agents track down the clues of the Coppersmith, they find themselves following an ancient itinerary that hearkens back to the steps of the apostle Paul. It becomes a race against this faceless killer as they struggle to predict his movements and get ahead of his deadly message of judgment. Can they stop him in time?

The Coppersmith is finally available through Smashwords, and coming soon to Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Sony, Apple, I-Tunes, Diesel, and any other e-reader I can think of. Also, I’ll have the paperback version available through Createspace just as soon as I can afford the $39 it takes to buy the premium purchase.

Anyway, it feels good to have it out there. I’ve made an update on Mobile reads, and I’ll do the same on Kindleboards just as soon as it appears on Amazon. Still waiting for the final approval on that one, though.

And now, on to bigger and better things!

Oh, here’s the link to find it!

The Coppersmith

Real tough critique of Patriots and Tyrants today at my writer’s group. I’m grateful for it. Still reeling, of course, but grateful. Thing is, I knew this going in. I knew this chapter was an info dump, but rather than do something about it, I delayed and chose to let the critique group tear into it.

In all fairness, I’ve received nothing but praise from this group for the last fifty to sixty chapters. I’m deliberately including the chapters from Spirit of Resistance because they were loving the story that far back. So I’m certainly due for a criticism.

Of course, all that previous praise went to my head, and now I’ve got the emotional gunk that comes with a tough review. Not a big problem, though. I’m a big boy. I can handle it (cries into coffee).

The real problem, of course, is figuring out how to fix this chapter. It’s integral to the whole narrative of Jefferson’s Road. Naturally, it’s the chapter on Cultural Marxism, the one that explains the whole justification for the coming war. It’s central to the entire series – if readers don’t understand Cultural Marxism, they won’t understand why the Civil War is necessary (I’m speaking fictionally, of course).  But now I have to find a new way to tell the story of Cultural Marxism without resorting to an annoying info dump.

I’m toying with a prolonged dialogue between Peter Baird and the members of the militia campground he’s just met, which means that not only do I have to rewrite the chapter, I also have to expand  and probably add a new one as well. That’s okay, of course. Patriots and Tyrants feels a little lean right now anyway.

My natural instinct is to cut away what doesn’t work, but this time I genuinely can’t do that. I want this information out there. And the story isn’t quite long enough as it is. So adding is the solution, not cutting. Changing the lecture Peter gives to a dialogue will do that, certainly, but I also have the arduous task of keeping it interesting and active-less cerebral than it is now.

I can do this, but I do feel a little depressed about it right now. Oh well. I’ve got two weeks before the next group. That’s time enough to fix it and print out a new set of chapters.

On a related note, I finished the edits to The Coppersmith yesterday, and I spent the bulk of my morning typing them in. I’d hoped to get the rest of the changes in before the end of today, but it doesn’t look like I’ll make it. Frustrating. Once I finally get all the changes in, I have to find someone willing to give it a read and give me honest feedback. ‘Course, I need the same thing for Patriots and Tyrants, and I can only take two chapters at a time to my crit group. Just not sure who I can go to.

And in my heart, I really just want to spend more time exploring this new world I’ve created and the characters who inhabit it. Editing and rewriting is boring! Oh well. I’ll man up and get it done.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written fantasy – a couple of decades, to be precise – and I’ve forgotten how much I love it. This new series I’m working on is a bit of a psychological breather for me from the darkness of Jefferson’s Road, which is kinda crazy because it’s got a darkness all its own.

I came up with the idea about a month ago, driving back to the house I work at after dropping off one of my guys at his parents’ house. I took Lake Road back, and was treated to a beautiful full moon glistening on the water. I have to say again how marvelous it is to live where I do. Just being able to see the incredible blues and greens and whitecaps on the water from my front window is a daily blessing. Anyway, as I enjoyed this scenic respite, I began thinking of the different kinds of stories I’d developed over the years. Writing a psychothriller like The Coppersmith is very different from writing fantasies about elves and wizards and dragons, etc.

That’s when it hit me: why not combine the two? Imagine a Sheriff in some fantasy land (think “Sheriff of Nottingham” type Sheriff) who uses a skill set resembling forensics to solve crimes while being surrounded by magical creatures. His forensic skills would be a magic all their own to those used to relying on incantations and spells.

So I’ve started the book – as yet untitled – and my lead character, Lucas, is an ex-Sheriff with one eye. His other eye he keeps hidden behind a patch, because it has been enchanted. He can scry with it, but only if he uses the blood of a victim. Moreover, he is no longer Sheriff because of it, for the king in the land issued an edict banning all sorcery from the realm (for political reasons, etc.). He still serves his king, and has to resist the urge to use an ability others might crave, because of the personal cost to his soul every time he does so.

Now imagine this Sheriff is tasked to finding a serial killer in this magic land, while all around him the townsfolk are blaming the magical creatures, such as faeries or witches or what-not. That’ll give you an idea of what I’m putting together.

I’ll post a suitable excerpt as soon as I come up with one. At the moment, I’m near the end of chapter three and still loving it.

And, of course, I’m still editing Patriots and Tyrants as well as preparing The Coppersmith for release this month. And writing The Tree of Liberty, too. And finishing The Elixir of Life. Yes, I really do intend to get all this done!

Posted: April 6, 2011 in Jefferson's Road

And just like that, Patriots and Tyrants is finished! I’m actually quite surprised and rather pleased with the ending. It’s a nice, solid hook into the third installment, The Tree of Liberty, which I will start shortly.

I do, however, have at least one scene left to write. However, it’s something that has to happen earlier in the book–commentary on the actions of the Federal government related to the crackdown on civil liberties. I’m taking something along the lines of the infamous Janet Napolitano memo to watch out for right-wing terrorists and applying it to this situation.

In doing so, I can once again point out that Jefferson’s Road is a caricature, of a sorts. I am deliberately magnifying and diminishing aspects of our political climate–both to tell a compelling story as well as to highlight the rampant fear-mongering which has so overwhelmed the nation.

To that point, I’m especially grateful to Christopher Truscott’s excellent review of the first book on his blog. I guess the only thing I’d take issue with are the four stars. Four stars, Chris? Really? You didn’t think maybe it deserved one more? (I’m half-kidding, of course! He called it “Frightful,” which is kinda the same reaction I got from Gordon Ryan on his Amazon review. He called it “A Furtive Read,” and said, “I write political thrillers myself, and have considered creating a scenario where killing a president might be justified, but I have refrained on the basis that such discussion is tantamount to insurrection, or, at the very least, ill-considered. Jefferson Road has not absolved me of that trepidation.”

I suppose that’s a good thing, because I don’t intend to resolve anyone of such trepidation. I fully intended Jefferson’s Road to be frightful and furtive, because I don’t want it to fall into the same category as something like The Turner Diaries, which were read by Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and used as justification for his terrorism.

I am not endorsing nor recommending terrorism. Far from it! What I am doing is laying the case that heated political rhetoric causes terrorism, and may indeed cause terrorism in the future.  However, it isn’t the rhetoric of the Left that causes leftists to be terrorists, nor is it the rhetoric of the Right that leads right-wingers to contemplate terrorism (and yes, that statement is very carefully phrased). Rather, it is the rhetoric of the right that motivates the Left to action, and it is the rhetoric and policies of the Left which may eventually cause the right to push back. Jefferson’s Road is the story of that push-back.

I’ll give a more succinct explanation in the Author’s foreword for Patriots and Tyrants, and I hope you enjoy reading the novel.

So here are the numbers for March, the first month that Spirit of Resistance is available in print: 11 e-books and 12 p-books. Total, so far: 71 books since last July. This is 57 electronic and 14 print, and does not include the 61 sample downloads from Smashwords where people did not pay.

Admittedly, the sales aren’t nearly as good as what I’d hoped for. Broken down by sales channel, this is what it looks like:

Amazon 42 $93.16
Barnes & Noble 1 $1.28
Sony 9 $14.64
Kobo 3 $4.97
Apple 4 $7.24
Smashwords 2 $4.61
e-store 10 $50.12

The Amazon number includes four paperback sales as well. If, however, we look at the aggregate sales since the beginning, we see this:

Plotting this on a trendline gives me this hope:

Still, the solution to earning decent money from this is going to come from more books driving more sales to each other. And I’ve already got the strategies in place to pull that off. In summary, it’s not as good as I’d hoped, but certainly better than it’s been. And it’s going to be a long climb before we reach the tipping point.