Archive for the ‘The Writing Life’ Category

Okay, it’s fairly obvious (since you’re here) that I’ve changed the look of the blog. So what do you think? I’ve got a listing of all the current titles available on the front, with some tantalizing images of future covers that I’ve worked up as well. The navigation should be a little smoother, too.

Soon I’ll be incorporating a few more elements (though I’m doing this at work right now, so I don’t have access to everything on my hard drive), including regular newsletters and polls (yeah, as in, “What would you like to see finished first,” or “What stories do you like best,” etc.), as well as (hopefully, if I can swing it) a chart that shows the progress of my various projects.

I think, by the time we’re done, this is gonna be an awesome site to call home. I hope you come back and check often and chat. Lemme know what you think!

Advertisements

Yikes! I’ve fallen behind! This comes from not checking back with all the sites I’m on frequently enough to realize I made the cut off!

Okay, so here’s the thing. I’m participating in the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers Blog Tour – promoting all the marvelous Christian fiction books that are available now (my own included, of course!)

At any rate, here are the links to the recent posts that I’ve missed, along with their respective dates. I’ll post the next link tomorrow (I promise!)

Wed, Jul 11: Tammy Doherty (CELTIC KNOT, CLADDAUGH, CELTIC CROSS)  http://mystiqueofnaultag.blogspot.com/

Sat, Jul 14: Anita K . May (Red Rover, Red Rover and Amnesia Alibii)  http://anitamay.aegauthorblogs.com/

Mon, Jul 16: Jennifer H. Westall  (LOVE’S PROVIDENCE) http://westallsww.blogspot.com/

Wed, Jul 18: Nike Chillemi (PERILOUS SHADOWS, BURNING HEARTS, GOODBYE NOEL) http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

Sat, July  21: Tina Pinson   (WHEN SHADOWS FALL, IN THE MANOR OF THE GHOST, TOUCHED BY MERCY) http://tinapinson.blogspot.com

So there ya have it! My apologies to those bloggers and authors I’ve ignored for almost two weeks. I promise to faithfully execute the duties of this office from here forward.

It’s been a little over two years since I started publishing my own material, and in that time I’ve sold just over 530 books. Total.

Pathetic.

With that in mind, I’ve secured the assistance of a publicist – someone who comes highly recommended from a friend in my writing community – who has agreed to help me sell my books for a percentage of the sales.

This works much better than an upfront fee, because a) I don’t have any money to pay an upfront fee, and b) I know that it will motivate her to help me sell as many books as we can. I don’t have a whole lot of details just yet, but I have been given some tasks.

We’re starting with the Jefferson’s Road series. She’s asked me to redesign and upload new cover art for the books (which coincides with the interior redesign I’ve been doing anyway for the print books), and to secure some additional reviews for Patriots and Tyrants.

So far, I’ve done what I can – as far as the cover art is concerned. I’m including the new covers below for you to “ooh” and “aah” over. Frankly, I think they look a lot better than my first attempts. I’m actually getting quite good at this, if I do say so myself.

The second part involves asking any of you who’ve read Patriots and Tyrants to please, Please, PLEASE go to Amazon.com and leave me a review. It won’t take much: just a paragraph about what you thought of the book. You don’t have to give it all five stars – unless you think it deserves them, of course. I’m seriously interested in an honest take on the book. I’d like to get as many reviews for Patriots and Tyrants as I have for The Spirit of Resistance.

That being said, here are the covers (and I’d love your feedback on these, too, if you want to share it).

 

Just finished the latest chapter of In the Widening Gyre, and it’s available here for those following along.

I’ve been busy with several projects – no longer writing just one book exclusively. I do believe that particular strategy was effective for a while, but at some point I just got too bogged down in a single story (and too distracted by the others clamoring for attention) for it to remain viable. So now I’m back, plugging away not only at Gyre, but also at Jefferson’s Road: The Tree of Liberty, Topheth, and a UFO novel called Descent that I started a few years ago and never did anything with. I toy with it now and again, and I’ve made real progress on the story. Don’t expect it’ll be finished until some time after the end of the world (ie: 2012), so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Topheth is proceeding well. I’m a little better than half-done at this point, and I think I’ll be entering that phase of “hurtling toward the climax” quite soon. This is the book I’ve been vetting through my Wednesday night Writer’s class. I generally get high marks on the book, so I think we’ll see it finished soon. Janelle Becker has a number of books in her story that are waiting to be told. Hopefully, Topheth will help launch her series in to full gear.

Gyre is a little better than half done. Tonight I wrapped up chapter sixteen out of twenty-seven planned, and we crossed the 50k mark in word count. I may do a little more work on it this evening, but I wanted to get the next installment out to you as soon as it was finished.

Confession Of The Obvious: Anger is driving the inspiration behind Jefferson’s Road.  My own anger at the federal government’s incursions on our liberties, and my own fear of that same anger churning away in me (and in others). Writing is my best outlet for it. I know this, because after the Robert’s decision came down on the Affordable Care Act, I found myself suddenly reinvigorated to finish The Tree of Liberty. I cranked out a chapter and a half on it just this afternoon. Not only that, but now I have a pretty clear sense of what happens in the middle and how to get to the end (as well as how to prep up for the fourth installment).

Thing is, I know I’m not the only one thinking or feeling this way. I read the news articles on it and the comments that follow, and all I can tell you is that people are seriously pissed off by this. John Roberts joked about needing to hide in a concrete bunker. From the comments I’ve seen, that might not be a bad idea. Not that I’m encouraging violence against him or against any of our elected officials. But I’ve said this before: we’re not the ones driving the bus off the cliff. This country’s getting more and more like a powder-keg every day, and if things don’t change soon, the Marxists and Anarchists are going to get their revolution. They just won’t like the way it ends. Of course, no one is gonna like it when everything hits the fan, which is something I want to be sure I express in Tree.

This book does present a challenge to me–one I’ll be addressing in the next part of the book (we’re nearly finished with Act II), and that is that the second revolution/civil war to strike won’t be fought on convenient geographic lines like North/South. It’ll be an ideological free for all, and the country will fragment because the ties of faith, community, and a vision of what it means to be an American are no longer held in common by our people. We’re going to fragment into new tribes who’ll then fight each other. I don’t want to give too much away–but that’s something I know I have to start portraying in this book. It’ll be something that will take the next three books to iron out. I expect I’ll try to describe a way to knit us back together again either in A More Perfect Union or in the final mile of the road, We The People. But that’s farther down the road than I can see right now.

Strategy-wise, I want to make you aware of two developments. One, I’ve learned a lot about “how to publish” since starting this journey, and lately I’ve been reformatting the interior files to my print books and uploading new versions of them to CreateSpace. The new formats look a lot better, and I have made slight modifications to some of the stories – minor tweaks and edits (and maybe a typo or two) that don’t really change the stories but just improve the writing. This should be done in the next couple of weeks. Secondly, I’ve decided that the next books I release will be print first, followed by kindle, then by Smashwords 90 days later. Yes, this means I’ll be taking advantage of the KDP Select program. I took a “wait and see” approach when it first came out, but a number of my author friends have had a lot of success with it that it just makes sense to give it a try. I’ll keep anything currently released via Smashwords still available through those channels, but new material is going to go exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. If this works the way I hope it does, then I’ll keep with that strategy throughout 2013 as well (assuming the Mayans were as wrong as Harold Camping). My hope–and I feel like I’m on the cusp of a major breakthrough here–is that I’ll be able to begin dropping back hours at work as my writing career takes off. Even if I can get to the point where I just work a normal forty hours (sans second job and sans overtime), that’ll be huge. Naturally, I want to do this full time. We’ll see how it plays out, of course.

Goodness, I need to post more often. This was a long one. Sorry! I’ve got to get back to writing now.

So it’s been better than a month, I think, since I’ve posted anything on the blog. I’d like to say I’ve spent all that time writing, but that’s not precisely true. Part of the delay has been dealing with family issues. We recently lost my father-in-law, and things like that can really take the wind out of your sails. I think, for the most part, however, I just ran a little too dry.

I don’t know what it is about reading, but I find that if I don’t do it often enough/frequently enough, I get into these modes where I just lose all passion for writing. That’s kinda what I went through. Not sure it qualifies as genuine writer’s block or not, but what difference does it make? I didn’t do much writing. I did, however, read a lot of Stephen King. Been clawing my way through The Dark Tower series. I’m about to start book six this week.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I didn’t do any writing. In fact, I took a look at an old friend I haven’t touched in a while and started working on a novel that’s been sidelined for a few years. I’ve actually pressed out a couple of chapters on it in the last few days, and I think just spending some time playing with a non-committal book (is there such a thing?) really helped get the kinks out. I’ll tell you more about the book later.

I’ve also managed to finish the fifteenth chapter of In the Widening Gyre while I was at it. I’ve posted it here if you want to take a look. As always, I appreciate any comments or feedback you have. And on top of this, I’ve also started work on a third novel – a Christmas book that’s been churning around in my head for the last three years.

Trying out different stories and playing with new characters is helping me keep going. I mean, if I’m so stuck onGyre orJefferson’s Road that I can’t make any real progress, I might as well make progress somewhere else.

So now I have twelve different novels in various stages of completion. That’s in addition to the seven that I’ve already completed. Between those dozen novels, I have 193,000 words written. Five of those novels are below 10K words. Four are between 11K and 20K words. And the final three are approximately 24K, 40K, and 49K words. What does this mean for finishing anything any time soon? Absolutely nothing. I know, however, that I’ll keep pushing away at all of them (mostly focusing on roughly six or seven of them at any given time) until I can start releasing them to press.

The good news is this: I’m having fun again. I’m enjoying writing once more. I think, honestly, that’s been the biggest problem I faced these past two months. It stopped being fun. And as much as writing should be a business and should be hard work (and it is all those things), it should be fun as well. After all, no one is holding a gun to my head. Not even the fans of Jefferson’s Road (though I’m starting to think some of them might like to!).

I will make this commitment to you and to myself, that these three books will be finished this year: Jefferson’s Road: The Tree of Liberty, Topheth, and In the Widening Gyre. And probably a few more, if I can keep at it.

Well, the good news is that I’ve finally managed to press through my writer’s block. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to stare at a computer screen and just not have any desire or passion to do anything.

It’s not that I didn’t know what was supposed to happen next in the story. I was just as dry as a Texas summer when it came to putting any words down. I think it had a lot to do with not getting enough sleep – that, and the emotional turmoil of my wife’s surgery and recovery. But now we’ve overcome that hurtle (not cancer. Whew!), and I can concentrate on things that, frankly, don’t matter quite as much to me as her health and well-being.

It probably helped that I shoved two of Stephen King’s Dark Tower books down my gullet as well. I’m beginning to suspect that I don’t read nearly enough, and that’s why I sometimes run dry.

Of course, the danger in reading is the inspiration it brings. Not inspiration for one of the six novels I’m currently engaged in. No. Inspiration for a whole new set of stories clamoring for my attention.

Take a number already.

I think, though, what really pushed me over the edge was two things (three, if you count the end to our health scare crisis). One, was getting a contract for The Elixir of Life. As much as I support Indie publishing, there’s still something to be said for the kudos and validation that a formal contract gives. I’ve begun researching for the next Jonathan Munro Adventure, tentatively titled The Music of the Spheres. Takes place in Russia and involves Rasputin, the aforementioned Elixir, and quite possibly some Fabergé eggs (though I need to do a little more homework before including them).

The second thing that has lit a fire under me are the two independent praises I received from readers on Kindleboards and Mobileread–both for the Jefferson’s Road series. I know I’m gonna have to get cracking on The Tree of Liberty real soon, but I still want to finish In the Widening Gyre first.

At any rate, as I write this, it’s about two o’clock in the morning. I’m on my second overnight shift (with nothing else to do but wait for the guys to wake up around five), and it’s pouring rain outside. I don’t face the temptation of TV (I do watch a lot of shows. My current list includes: Once Upon A Time, Missing, Touch, The Killing, Revenge, Criminal Minds, Castle, House, and Fringe. But I’ve already seen all the episodes airing. Meanwhile, the next season of Warehouse 13, Falling Skies, Covert Affairs, Being Human (US), and Breaking Bad haven’t started yet. I don’t know whether or not Hell On Wheels or Terra Nova will be coming back, either (yes, I know Fox cancelled Terra Nova — but they’re still shopping it around to other networks)), and I’ve already played my fair share of Minesweeper, Mahjong Tiles and Solitaire. Oh, and I’ve read the news. This means I’m pretty much outta stuff to do that ain’t writing.

Except, of course, for hurling my thoughts out into the universe like this. All right. ‘Nuff goofing off. I’ve got to get back to writing.

Here’s the link to the next chapter.

Chapter 14

Still working on the next chapter installment of In the Widening Gyre, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share the really great news I received from my publisher for The Lost Scrolls. This is what she wrote me this morning:

Now, the great news: We will be offering you a contract for book 2 in your Jonathan Munro series, The Elixir of Life. We will aim for another summer release, and I am optimistic on success because all of our editors love your books! That’s hard to do. Your contract will be the same as for The Lost Scrolls, and I can send you the official offer this week. Let me know your thoughts!

I am so excited! I’ve actually begun the preliminary research for the next Jonathan Munro Adventure, which takes place in Russia and involves the story of Rasputin, among other famous Russian characters. There’s a few characters from The Elixir of Life who’ll reappear in this story. I’m reasonably confident that we’ll see the return of Brother Demetri Antonescu as well, though I’m not sure exactly how. The story is tentatively titled, The Music of The Spheres, and might involve an unfinished Tchaikovsky composition that holds a secret mystery within the notes. I can’t say more, though (and I haven’t really worked everything out yet). At any rate, I’m now reading up on Russian history in preparation for outlining the story.

And have no fear for In the Widening Gyre. I had to take a small break to prime the pump again (that means: read some more fiction. I find it’s important to do this in order to keep generating my own stories. Not really sure why, but if all I do is write all the time, I wear out. Got to read to pour back in, I suspect). I’ll be back to work on it in no time at all. Along with the other series I’m writing.

God is so good!

Here’s the next installment of In The Widening Gyre.

Chapter Ten

My goal was to have chapter ten done as of yesterday, and be finishing chapter eleven today. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Part of it was the family’s insistence on watching a double feature last night, but the biggest reason was, I think, just being tired. The double shift I worked on Tuesday didn’t help matters. The overtime will help, of course, but not as far as the story is concerned.

Some days I just can’t wait till I’m earning QYJM from all this. I don’t really want or need to be rich. I just want to earn enough to do this full-time.

I suppose, in a way, this is a discipline. Paying my dues, that sort of thing. If I can learn to crank out the volume needed to make it as a writer, then I’ll have acquired the discipline needed to make doing it full time a worthwhile investment. It’s not like I’ll ever take a full year to write a novel again. My goal now is one every two months (assuming I can even pull that off!). This way, I’ll be able to progress on all six series I’m currently writing.

My wife pointed out to me the other day that I’ve already released three books this year. True, the sequel to The Lost Scrolls had to be submitted to my editor at Ellechor, but I did finish the edits and release it to her. And, of course, I finished both Spilled Milk and Eye of Darkness this year as well. This means that I only have to complete three more and I’m on target.

If I can wrap up In the Widening Gyre by May (and I hope sooner than that!), then I can take two months to finish Topheth (July), and two more to finish The Tree of Liberty (September), which will give me the last part of the year to start work on the next installments of the Spilled Milk series, The Dragon’s Eye Cycle, and the third Jonathan Munro Adventure. None of them will be due until 2013, either.

I think, once I get the Spilled Milk series done (and I expect only three titles in that set, at most), I’m still gonna resist doing any more series until I wrap up at least two more. I really want to finish off Jefferson’s Road and The Dragon’s Eye Cycle, since both of these series have a clearly defined end point. New World Order (of which In the Widening Gyre is just the first installment) does as well, but the anticipated series is nine books long. That’s a major investment of time, so I can’t really focus all my energies on finishing the series just now. By contrast, both Jonathan Munro Adventures and Janelle Becker Books are somewhat open-ended. I can write as many books in those series as I can think up. And since each novel stands alone, it’s not like I’m gonna have people breathing down my neck like I do for the others.

I think, in the future, I’m might steer away from sequential series. At least, I’ll stay away from this many! Maybe one or two at the most, with some stand alone novels and series thrown in the mix. Still, by the time I’m done with what’s currently on my plate, I’ll have written 33 books.

Don’t think I can complain about that at all, actually.

I finally got around to reexamining the prices for my printed books via Createspace, and the good news is that I’ve been able to lower the prices on just about all of them.

Any lower on these prices and every sale would cost me money. Almost all of this price is printing costs. I make pennies for each one. But, every penny counts!

I’ve worked up some preliminary cover art for the novel. This is the third mock-up I’ve done for the book, and the first one that met with my daughters’ approval. Let me know what you think.