Archive for the ‘Jonathan Munro Adventures’ Category

Heard back from my editor yesterday with the final edits for The Lost Scrolls. So, rather than working on Eye of Darkness, I’ve been re-re-re-reading (probably are a lot more “re’s” in there) my manuscript with a pen and a fine tooth comb, looking for little imperfections. An out of place comma. A word that should be capitalized. A missing hyphen. If I can get this done and back to her by Thursday, we’ve got a good shot of getting the book out earlier than the August/September date she’d told me about. Instead, we might be able to make May or even April. I don’t know how much more there’ll be to do once this is done, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless. At any rate, I’ll git ‘er done and back.

There is still something to be said for traditional publishing. For one thing, it feels more “real,” to me than indie pubbing (not that there’s anything wrong with indie pubbing). Just knowing that my book has been accepted and that someone else is willing to invest money into getting it into print is pretty amazing.

Both my friend Linda and my wife think I shouldn’t give up on traditional publication so easily (did I mention this already?). In truth, I haven’t. I’m all for any means necessary to claw my way to the best sellers’ list. There are some books of mine I know I will indie pub – sequels, for example, to works that have already gone through the submission mill and didn’t make it (but which are still selling. Go figure), like the Coppersmith or Jefferson’s Road. Others, like EoD, I might give traditional pubs a shot. If they take it on, great. If not, that’s what indie pubbing is for.

On a related note, I’ve joined the site IndieAuthors.com, so if anyone wants to check it out or chat, give it a go.

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It is mid-October already! I can’t believe how quickly this season is flying by. Of course, it might have something to do with the fact that I’m teaching four courses, working full time, part time, preaching, and just trying to survive. Yeah, that might have something to do with it.

At any rate, the reason I haven’t posted in a while is because I’ve been writing – in addition to the aforementioned thieves of time. But since I had a comment to respond to and a book cover to upload here anyway, thought I’d bring you up to speed.

UPDATES:
Eye of Darkness is nearly complete. I found that I had to go back and add a chapter somewhere in the middle of the book, which is now complete, and I’m plugging away toward the end – which, if I haven’t mentioned just yet, had eluded me for some time. I think I’ve got it figured out now, though.

The Lost Scrolls now has a cover approved, and it is slated to come out in September of 2012. It isn’t the March publication date I’d hoped for, but I’d rather take the time and get it right than rush into market before it’s time. My publisher tells me that the book will be available in March for endorsements, which will then be added probably in the front matter and in marketing efforts.

I haven’t heard anything yet from my friend Linda about The Elixir of Life. She did send a couple of thoughts early on, but nothing since. I can only assume she’s busy, what with her own books coming out and all. It isn’t a high priority at the moment anyway, since it’s another book to offer to Ellechor rather than one I’m releasing on my own.

And for fans of the Jefferson’s Road series, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve restarted work on The Tree of Liberty. I know, I know: I’m only supposed to work on one book at a time. Maybe it’s the Occupy Wall Street protests or the ramping up of the election cycle – or all of the above – but I found that, yet again, I have to write this series. I’ve always enjoyed writing books, and have done so largely for amusement. I’ve never actually felt compelled to write a book until I started this series. At any rate, I guess I can thank the poor little commies in NYC for the protests. I’m sure I can use one of the images in the cover of God and Country or one of the next books. I’d been relying on an image from the Vancouver riots, but now I can pick something a little closer to home, I think.

At any rate, the story is moving forward nicely, and I’ve got enough sense of what happens immediately next to write several chapters ahead of me.

The Coppersmith continues to be my bestseller. I’m not making as much money from it (only $.99 compared to $2.99 for the Jefferson’s Road books), but I’m selling a lot more copies. Roughly half of my sales totals so far.  I’d like to work on Topheth toward that end, but I don’t think I can justify going back to working on three projects at a time again, much as I’m tempted to do so. Of course, I confess I have tinkered with it a little bit. I think, once Eye of Darkness is finished, I’ll be able to give a little more time to it. Priority will be The Tree of Liberty, of course.

And that’s about it. Gotta get back to work now. Peter is about to cause some trouble.

Well, here it is October already, and I haven’t gotten nearly as far on Eye of Darkness as I’ve wanted to. I neglected to calculate in the time I’d be spending writing lessons for our home school co-op classes, but the real reason is that I haven’t come up with an ending.

Until now.

Sometime early this morning, in that marvelously creative “dream state,” I stumbled upon the sufficient twist which will solve the mystery and reveal everything–as well as how to bring it all to a successful conclusion and tie it up with a bow. As it stands, I’m probably at least 10 and 12K words away from that moment. Maybe more. Regardless, I know now that I can finish the book. Usually, when I start a novel, I have a much clearer sense of how it ends than this, and that may be why I got stuck. Oh well. At least now I’ll be able to concentrate on writing toward the finish line.

Speaking of finishing, I received the first draft of the cover for The Lost Scrolls from my publisher today. They’re pretty close to what I was thinking when I pictured it, with a few changes here and there. I expect I’ll be able to show you the cover soon (but not until it’s ready and I get the “okay” to do so.).

We haven’t started editing the text yet, but I think that will be happening shortly. I’m so looking forward to seeing this book out there!

Well, I didn’t get to start back on Eye of Darkness as quickly as I expected, but I did finally get back to work on it. I’m closing in on 60K words, and will break past it today, I expect. The story is progressing nicely, though I think when I’m done I’ll have to go back through and do two things: a) ensure that I’ve dropped appropriate “foreshadowings” for later events early enough, and b) tie up all lose threads. I found I had to do this a bit with The Elixir of Life as it is – in fact, this formed the bulk of my effort to beef up the work. I can’t imagine not having to do it for something I’ve composed so quickly.

I’ve also realized that I want to add an afterward to both The Lost Scrolls and The Elixir of Life: something that will highlight the factual elements in each story and offer readers an opportunity to explore further. It’ll probably be something similar to what I’ve composed on the pages here for the books. I have to discuss this with Ellechor first, of course, but I’ve encountered two authors who do so, and it’s interesting (to me, at least) to read that stuff.

James Rollins, one of my fav’s, does this at the end of his books, as does Terri Blackstock (just finished reading her book Predator the other day).  And I started doing something similar for the Jefferson’s Road series. I think it’ll be a nice tie-in for the Jonathan Munro stories.

Naturally, of course, as soon as I finished Elixir, I started plotting out the next adventure for Jon while in the shower. Meanwhile, I came up with an idea for an urban fantasy based here in Rochester. Basically, the story transforms the Rochester metro into a fantasy world for those who can see it (it involves the geography, history, and architecture of the city). There are two sides (good and evil, naturally), of which the good side is composed mostly of homeless people, and the bad side of those who are attempting to control the average citizens of Rochester, who remain blissfully ignorant of the magical war going on around them. Yes, it’s a total rip-off on Harry Potter’s Muggles, but that’s about as much influence as Rowling has had on the idea so far. The story will touch on the drug-use of the homeless (a device designed to keep the magical ones “burned out” so they can’t rise in defense of the city. Something like that), as well as the history of this city when it comes to spiritualism (The history of the Fox sisters starting the spiritualism craze back in the nineteenth century will give a partial justification as to “why here.”). Oh, and since there’s a large white tower and black tower downtown – that’s kind of important, too.

Of course, I can’t even start to work on it until I wrap up my current projects, so I guess I’d better get cracking. So many stories, so little time (that’s starting to be a theme for me).

Finished!

Took me a lot longer than I thought it would – largely due to my inability to find time to sit down and write (when I actually have energy – er, maybe that’s a discipline issue), but the good news is that I’ve finished The Elixir of Life. I’m quite satisfied by the ending, now. I don’t think I’ve overwritten any passages – even in my attempts to beef up the word count. Overall, I think it’s simply strengthened the story and given me a chance to include some details in the story I’d meant to add at one time, but hadn’t included in the first draft.

Final word count: 74K. It’s still a little shorter than I wanted it to be, but I think I can live with it. Now it moves into the editing phase, but I’m not going to put a lot of time into it until I’m closer to a submission date. Given that I probably need to wait until The Lost Scrolls comes out before offering Ellechor a sequel, this means I can at least move on to Eye of Darkness, which I hope to wrap up before the end of September.

Speaking of September, my sister is asking me when Patriots and Tyrants will be available in paperback. I’ve gotten this question a couple of times now, and I’m beginning to think that I ought to release it sooner than I’d originally planned. They don’t teach you this stuff when you decide to become an independent author (actually, nobody teaches you anything. You have to figure it all out on your own. Hmm… might be a series of valuable blog posts there…), but releasing your book at the right time is as critical to your success as writing a quality manuscript. There are certain periods where readers buy. I’m going to do a little more research on this, but look for Patriots and Tyrants to come out sometime next month.

Given that I’ve got people demanding even The Tree of Liberty, I’m pondering which book to work on after Eye of Darkness. My original plan is to work on Topheth first, and then Tree, but I might reconsider. Regardless, I’ve got some time before that becomes an issue.

Now, I’m gonna help my wife get the house ready for company, and then I’ll disappear back into my man-cave once the guests arrive (’cause they ain’t here to see me!).

Feels pretty good to have this book done, though.

Posted: August 14, 2011 in Jonathan Munro Adventures, The Writing Life

As my friend Linda has pointed out, it’s now about mid August. The good news is that I did indeed finish The Elixir of Life, but I found that my word count is a little low. I’m going through the thin chapters right now and seeing what I can beef up. It’s allowing me to add a little more color and background to the story, I think, without slowing down the action any. We’ll see, I suppose. But that’s where things stand.

Of course, I’ve already broken my rule a bit by taking a look at a novel I started two years ago called Rock of Ages. It’s about an attempt to spark a new war in Israel by destroying the Al Aqsa mosque – also known as the Dome of the Rock. I like the story because it’s letting me tell the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from both sides- which is really fascinating – seeing the history involved in the conflict. I’ve got about 12K words done on it already. No worries, though. I didn’t actually start working on it again. Just looked at it is all. Something this morning was just prompting me to give it a second look. I may put it in the hopper as the next novel to send Ellechor’s way, after Elixir, if only because it is a Christian action-adventure novel.

But as of right now, it’ll have to take a number. I’ll wrap up Elixir probably by the end of next week, all things being equal, and then I can tear into Eye of Darkness again and try to finish it by the end of September. Or better.

So many stories. So little time.

On a positive note, I did hear from Rochelle Carter the other day. They’ve begun working on my cover design (Doing the happy dance – I’m so excited!) I have to send them any images that sort of depict what I’m looking for. I had a few I saw at one time, but I have to try and find them again.

And my sales in August, though rather slumped compared to June, have picked up a little bit, so that’s a relief. I was beginning to think the economy tanking had taken all the wind outta my sales. But I reckon it’s just the summer doldrums.  Once Eye is finished and released, we should see a healthy uptick again.

I’m thinking about employing a new strategy. For a few months now I’ve been struggling to finish some of the projects I’ve been tackling of late, making very little headway on any of them. It’s occurred to me that holding four separate novels in my head simultaneously might not be the best way to accomplish this.

For the record, I have the following projects in various stages of completion:

The Elixir of Life word count = 64,007
Eye of Darkness word count = 56,382
Topheth word count = 25,584
The Tree of Liberty word count = 11,886
Total All Books: 157,859

So you can see, I’ve been plenty busy. It’s just that I haven’t gotten some of these off my plate yet. Perhaps they’re taking up too much room in the fields of my imagination. Better to harvest them and get them out of the way, and then move on to the next with a little more energy.  I only need about 10K more words or so to wrap up Elixir. Eye only needs 20K more or so. Topheth needs 50K. And Tree needs 65K at least. That’s assuming I reach my baseline goal of 75K words per book. Bear in mind, this is a minimum target. I’ll write until the story is finished, naturally, but it does give me a sense of how much more there is to go. I suppose it’s possible that Eye could run for another 50K words, though I doubt it at this point.

Regardless, I think this’ll help break the logjam and get me rolling again. The only downside is that I won’t be able to release Elixir due to contractual obligations (Ellechor gets first crack at any Jon Munro adventure – really, any Christian adventure fiction I write).

After this, I can take a serious look at the other projects languishing in forgotten corners of my mind (like Descent, my story about alien abductions, or The Novem, a sci-fi thriller about children with neural implants that connect them directly to the internet), and that’s not considering the remaining sequels in the series I’ve already begun (Janelle Becker books have two more; Jefferson’s Road has three more after Tree; Jon Munro has at least two more, possibly three; and Lucas may have as many as three more.).

I’m starting today. I’ll let you know how it works out.

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!

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.

Back from vacation, and I’m startled to find that June, so far, has been my best month in sales yet! Of course, it helps to have had the updated sales figures from Smashwords come in, but still! I’m moving almost three times as many e-books as I did in February, and twice what I did in March. Naturally, outside of the hiccup from March’s print release of The Spirit of Resistance, my income is well above the norm, also. Actually, my e-book sales have surpassed March’s numbers, making this June the highest grossing month for my e-books yet. Now that’s something nice to come home to!

Since I’ve done this before, I’ll give the chart again:

Title Copies Earnings
The Spirit of Resistance 95 $209.85
The Coppersmith 42 $17.08
Patriots and Tyrants 7 $14.75
Total all 3 books 144 $241.68

I have to credit it to the fact that I’m releasing multiple books. They seem to be having the desired effect: feeding readers from one into another, and so forth. It’s encouraging me to keep going and get more books ready for release.  To that end, I’m continuing to work up Eye of Darkness, though it isn’t going nearly as fast as when I started. I still hope to have it finished in the next couple weeks (I know, I’m missing my end of June deadline, but what with vacation and putting off Patriots and Tyrants till the first of June, what can I do?).

In the meantime, I’ve begun taking a second look at Topheth, which is the sequel to The Coppersmith. I only have about 26K words on it done so far, and easily 3 to 5K of those will need to be cut out from the start. Probably more. But there’s some good stuff in there that I have to keep. I have a new sense of what to do with Special Agent Janelle Becker now, and especially since giving her the drug addiction. I think this will be my next effort after I finish Eye.

And, of course, I continue to work on The Tree of Liberty when I can – essentially when the mood strikes me. I want to get this one right, and I don’t think I should rush this series (even though I really want to get it out there). My goal with the Jefferson’s Road series is to push out one a year, so I’m not exactly behind the eight ball on this one.

Also, relatively soon, I have to get in touch with the good folks at Ellechor and see whassup with The Lost Scrolls, which ought to be coming out next March. I have the sequel, The Elixir of Life, nearly finished, but contractually, it has to go to Ellechor first (which is just fine with me).

By far, the biggest surprise in the sales figures from Smashwords has been how many came in through Barnes and Noble. I must admit, I was a little taken aback by that. The numbers have nearly caught up with Sony, which was my other big seller. Go figure. I’m not sure what’s happening there, but I like it. I’ll have to see if there’s anything else I can do to assist those sales.

On a side note, I got a rejection letter for Jefferson’s Road: The Spirit of Resistance today. It’s been almost a year since I released it electronically, and it remains my bestseller so far. Oh well. Kinda odd to see that they’re still coming in. Makes me wonder whether or not I’ve got any others floating around out there, waiting to land somewhere. I don’t know what I would have done had she asked for the whole manuscript. I suppose I would have sent it to her, along with an explanation, I reckon. Still, it makes me feel a little weird. C’est la vie!