Archive for July, 2011

Nearing the end of July, now, and my big plans for writing Eye of Darkness in a single month have, of course, failed to pan out. Nevertheless, I’m still pleased with the experiment so far. I’ve composed almost 60K words as of tonight, and probably in excess of that by the time August 8th rolls around, which will represent four months since starting the book. It’s been difficult, and I don’t know whether or not I’ll be able to improve on this pace with a different work or not. Admittedly, I’m both out of my genre and out of my depth, but I’m still getting more done and more quickly than if I weren’t shooting for the moon on it.

I’ve gotten bogged down here and there on the story, and many times lost any interest whatsoever in writing it. Sometimes, just to keep going has been a major effort. Naturally, I’ve taken time off to work on The Tree of Liberty, or fiddled around with Topeth a bit.  And the thing is: I don’t think it’ll be ready to publish as soon as I finish it, either. This thing is gonna need some editing and a little rewriting before I dare release it to the public. I want to put forth my best work, of course.

I was doing pretty well for the first 40K words, but that’s when the trouble started, and I got bogged down. I don’ t know if this would’ve happened had a) I stayed in a more familiar genre, or b) had I let the story be a little more “formed” before trying to put it down on paper. There’s a very real sense in which a story doesn’t really take shape until you write it (to paraphrase Nancy Pelosi (of all people!), “We have to write the story to find out what’s in the story.”).

But like I said, I have to be pleased. I’ve gotten a lot done, and this pace at least allows me to triple my story output (three books in a year as opposed to just one), even if I’m not all the way where I want to be just yet. Rest assured, I’m going to keep trying to get more books done in less time, because the sheer number of stories I have to tell has not diminished at all.

On a positive note, I’ve edited Topheth to the point where I’ve been able to start work on it again, and just as soon as Eye is done, I’ll be tearing into it big time. With only 50K words or so left to write on it (or more, of course), I don’t know that it will take me that much longer to release another one.

And as August is right around the corner, I’ll be in touch with Ellechor soon to talk about The Lost Scrolls, due in March. We’ll begin the editing process on that one shortly (at which time I’ll want to put the finishing touches on the sequel, tentatively called The Elixir of Life. Meanwhile, I continue plugging away at The Tree of Liberty, even though I’m not looking to have it finished until next April.

Busy, busy, busy!

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Posted: July 25, 2011 in Jefferson's Road

In view of the recent shootings and bombing in Norway, I composed the following as the Author’s Note to Jefferson’s Road: The Tree of Liberty, but it speaks to the rationale behind the whole series.

Author’s Note

As I write this, I’ve been reading about yet another terror event. This one took place in Oslo, Norway, at the behest of Anders Behring Breivik, a self-described Christian ‘Culturalist’ Knight. He set a fertilizer bomb to explode at the offices of the Norwegian Prime Minister, killing seven people, before attacking a Labour Party youth wing summer camp on Utoya island and shooting to death at least seventy-six more.

Most of them were students.

Jefferson’s Road is not written advocating this kind of violence. What I am attempting to do, fictitiously, is explore how and why incidents like this occur. Pundits on the Left decry the Radicalized Right for promoting “Hate.” Pundits on the Right assert that the madmen alone are responsible for their actions, as if nothing had incited them. And while individuals such as Breivik and McVeigh are indeed responsible for their own actions, it answers nothing to ignore what might have incited them to violence as the only acceptable alternative. In answering the questions of “How?” and “Why?” this happened, I lay the blame for these kinds of incidents squarely at the feet of the Cultural Marxists and the forces of radical Islam.

That war makes strange bedfellows may be the only explanation for the curious union between the Left and Islam. Both appear to believe they are using the other to successfully dismantle the Christian West. Who’ll wind up on top remains to be seen—though I’ve little doubt that the Islamists will prevail.

If the Right is radicalized, it is so because of the insidious attacks from this curious union. This is the whole point behind the stories. It is not my attempt to justify Breivik or McVeigh—but to explain them. The rifts in our culture—and the wider tears in Europe—are there because Cultural Marxism and Islamism are shredding the moral and social fabric that holds everything together. Such things cannot be destroyed without violence erupting, if only because it is the same moral and social fabric which restrains humanity’s more violent passions to begin with. And if you think it’s only going to occur in isolated instances, think again.

The violence is going to get worse.

Then again, this is precisely what the Cultural Marxist wants. The increase in violence is seen as a precursor to the Proletarian Revolution that will finally dispel the old age and usher in the new, Communist Utopia. Marx himself taught that violence is an acceptable and necessary means to an end. Toward that objective, it really doesn’t matter if the violence is perpetrated by the Left or by the Right, so long as it serves to destabilize the society and further the aims of the Cultural Marxist.

The Islamists, of course, fully embrace violence in service to their god. Anyone who believes differently is obfuscating the facts and ignoring the newspapers.

Andrew Bard Schmookler wrote in The Parable of the Tribes that once one group of human beings begin to exercise power over another, the ways of power inexorably dominate all the other groups (in his terminology, tribes). It is an irresistible force that eventually overwhelms even the most peaceful people.

It may well be that violent revolution is in our future, whether we want it or not. But the outcome of such a revolution is not predetermined. Perhaps neither the Marxists nor the Islamists will find themselves on the winning side.

Anyway, those are my (recent) thoughts on the matter. Jefferson’s Road isn’t light reading. I just pray I can tackle the issues in our culture honestly without inspiring the likes of Breivik or McVeigh.

Just got in some of the updated sales figures from Smashwords. Looks like The Coppersmith is taking off in the Apple I-books store. In June I sold 38 copies there (and 4 Spirit of Resistance). Wow!

This means that in a single year, coming from behind, I sold almost 200 books. If I lay it out by quarters, it looks something like this:

Q1 –  15, Q2 – 18, Q3 – 45, Q4 – 118.

I observed this phenomenon in an earlier post, that my third quarter numbers are more than twice my first two, and my fourth quarter numbers are more than the first three combined. Exponential growth, baby!

This still doesn’t reflect the full sales figures, as I haven’t seen updates yet for Kobo and Sony books, and I only have the first two weeks from Barnes and Noble.

Ahem. Therefore, I am more determined than ever – just as soon as I finish Eye of Darkness – to get cracking on Topheth and try to finish it as quickly as possible. It also reconfirms that releasing more books is definitely a key to success in Indie publishing.

Gets me outta my funk from yesterday, that’s for sure!

Posted: July 19, 2011 in The Writing Life

There is a downside to indie publishing – and it’s not just that the books don’t sell as well as traditionally published books (supposedly). The downside is that in all the efforts at marketing and self-promoting and editing and book cover design and everything else, something gets lost.

Of course, it probably gets lost in any publication endeavor, so perhaps it’s not so much a downside to indie publishing as it’s a downside to publishing and selling books at all. The downside? Writing for the sheer love of it gets lost.

Not that I’ve lost my love of writing, just temporarily misplaced it. I’m sure it’s here somewhere, buried under a stack of income statements and marketing efforts and reports (and even blogging). I swear I spend more time these days thinking about how well my writing is selling–or about how well I’m writing–than I do actually writing.

And the real frustration is that so much time is spent trying to sell what I’m writing with so little return for the effort, that I have to wonder whether or not it’s worth it.

My friend Linda Yezak has encouraged me to not give up on traditional publication (and indeed, I haven’t, as The Lost Scrolls is still to come out next March), because there’s still a stigma attached to indie publishing. A glance at Smashwords earlier confirms this, as the top novels are all basically pornography (I think one had something to do with sex between a step-father and his daughter. Not on my “buy” list, that’s for sure.). This confirms what a lot of people have been saying for a while, that e-books are becoming a slush pile of garbage books that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day, or would swiftly fall from an acquisition editor’s desk into the circular file, with a cursory form letter respectfully declining the offer. Trying to climb on top of that heap is difficult at best, if only because the pile keeps growing as more and more books are added (and some of them are good, many are adequate, and many, many others are crap).

In the face of this, I know I want to recover my sheer love of the story itself. I still want to write, and I have so many stories to tell, but I long for the day when I no longer have to thrust myself into the world of commerce because my time is better spent producing material for others to sell. Sadly, that day may never come. I suppose we’ll see.

But as Joe Konrath has pointed out: this is  a marathon, not a sprint. And though “the woods are lovely, dark and deep… I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep.” (Frost, Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening).

The good news is that I’ve finally broken through the log-jam I’ve been experiencing with Eye of Darkness. I admit that I was stuck right around 50K words or so for a few weeks there. I suppose we could chalk it up to vacation or my folks visiting (not that I’m complaining), but I think the reality is that I ran out of steam sometime around the end of May. Regardless, I’ve broken through, and we’re steaming ahead toward the finish line.

In the meantime, I’ve released The Coppersmith in paperback form through Createspace. It’s a dollar more than The Spirit of Resistance because of it’s size. I priced it as low as possible, and I haven’t paid the $39 charge to get it listed in the premium catalog – which I probably won’t do unless it starts selling like hotcakes or something. But it’s there if anyone wants to snag a physical copy.

I’ve almost got the sales figures in to wrap up my first year. Three days more will represent a full year of selling books, and I’ll report the final tally once I have it. The good news is that Smashwords updates their sales figures on the fifteenth, so I’ll be able to incorporate those numbers as well.

I received a very nice note from a reader the other day. I’ve asked her to post a review on Amazon, but this is what she had to say:

Finished Jefferson’s Road last night….wow!  Can’t wait til the next installment!

Now if that isn’t short and to the point, I don’t know what is. But now, I’ve got to get a shower in (yes, I’m writing this in my bathrobe. Sigh.).

In less than two weeks we will hit the one year anniversary of releasing Jefferson’s Road: The Spirit of Resistance on Kindle. It’s been quite a ride, I must admit. I can look back on a year ago in amazement at how little I understood about independent publishing, and that only draws me to realize just how much more I’ve yet to learn. In fact, I think it safe to say that I only really began to understand what I was attempting to do in the last six months. I’ve got a much clearer sense of it now–though who knows where I’ll be or what I’ll think of it all in another year.

We’ll probably have sold a hundred copies of The Spirit of Resistance by then. That’s not much, but when you consider I’ve sold more copies of this book in the last six months than I did in the first, and when you combine that with the fact that I’ve sold easily twice as many books total in the last six months as in the first, it gives you a sense of perspective on what we’ve learned here. Especially when considering that, in the last six months, I’ve nearly doubled my sales from the last quarter compared to the first quarter. This suggests that my marketing success has increased exponentially, which is why I’m hopeful for my future as an author.

Last night I spent a couple hours going over Eye of Darkness, realizing that I had a problem with the timing of events. Basically, everything was happening way too fast. I had to insert days into the events (making them break for camp and then resume the next day, that sort of thing), so that the events of the story stretch out over a matter of weeks rather than days.

The night before, I worked on Topheth. I rewrote the second chapter completely, and now I think the book is ready to be edited – just to bring it up to snuff before continuing. I have about a third of it done, so once I wrap up Eye of Darkness, I’ll begin working on it in earnest, getting it finished to release some time over the summer.

So, look for new releases soon, and I anticipate that we’ll have five books selling by the end of August as opposed to just three right now. And, of course, I’m still plugging away at The Tree of Liberty. Next month, I’ll be contacting the good folks at Ellechor, and we’ll begin getting The Lost Scrolls ready for release as well (and yes, that means I have to put the finishing touches on the sequel before long.).

All in all, this is shaping up to be a very productive year.