Wednesday, November 30, 2011

#ROW80 - Pre-Holiday Pep Talk

The holidays were already a busy time for me, as they are for most folks. This is really my first holiday season as an author, though, and it adds a new dimension to the chaos.  Honestly, and I'm sure other authors will back me up, this is the busiest season of the year.  There are so many giveaways and chances for exposure, and, if you're like me, you're probably trying to squeeze out your latest project, too.  It's a prime time to be a reader, I tell you.  There's so much to pay attention to.

But before I get into that too deeply, let's take a look at the goals:
  • Lesson Learned - I'm dreaming of a write Christmas.  Get it?  It's better if you sing it, trust me.  The lesson?  Christmas time is a time of writerly dreams.  A good Christmas season can totally make your year.  It's a great time for interviews and giveaways.  It all generates good Christmas cheer, which can get you readers in the long run.  It's a gift that goes both ways.  You readers get free books, free chances to know you better, or a free introduction... and you get more readers.  So best of luck, my fellow writers, at making the most of this Christmas season.  Try to look at it as an opportunity (and not just stressful... I know it's hard).
  • WIP Editing - 12/14 chapters.  For the editing goal, I'm not really giving myself my customary 1 day per week off.  Two chapters a day, 7 days, means 14 chapters.  Considering the holiday weekend, I'm thrilled about 12.  I only did one chapter two of those days (so it was sort of two half days), but that's still pretty good.  I'm chugging along and I should have my first past done well before I start getting feedback from betas/editors, which is the real goal.
  • Blogging - 3/3 at the gaming blog.  This makes 3/3 here.  I even drafted my monthly personal post this morning, so that'll go up tonight.  I'm not writing as much fiction (I've paused the story here), but I find it tough to write fiction when I'm in "editor" mode.  The important thing is to keep writing, even if it's not fiction, and I nailed that.
A good week, all things considered.  Typtophan ain't got $#!+ on me.  It may have been a bit of a struggle (especially with the video gaming I mentioned yesterday), but I'm keeping up with things.

I have several neat events coming up this week, as well.  Tomorrow, I plan to post my Christmas memory for fellow ROWer Nadja Notariani's 12 Days of Christmas Reading List.  There'll be a giveaway of a whole host of books through her site, so check it out.  Also, I have a review and interview slated to go up really soon on Once Upon A Time, a book blog run by a gaming friend.  She'll be doing a giveaway involving my book as well.  That's two chances for a free copy!  (Or, you could take advantage of any of my  Special Offers, which can almost be boiled down to: email me and I'll probably give you a free ebook.)  

Finally, I've got a partnership going with another author, Isaac McBeth.  He's a friend of a friend (best man at my wedding hooked us up), and we've had the pleasure of chatting via email and on the phone a few times.  Great guy, and he has a book (epic fantasy, so right up my alley, though I've not had a chance to read it yet) coming out just in time for Christmas, and wanted to offer my book free with his (and visa versa)!  Sounded like a great idea to me, so we're getting that set up as well.  Look for more info to follow.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm in a bit of a Christmas giving kind of mood.  I love giving away free ebooks!  I guess you could say that I'm simply confident you'll enjoy what I've written enough to come back and support me.  Plus, I would hate to have money be the hurdle keeping you from good stories.  I mean, we authors want to make a living at this, and supporting us really is in your best interest (I could write so much more if I could ditch the day job), but I don't want to bankrupt anyone, either.  There are plenty of ways to support an author that aren't monetary (spread the word!), so really, don't let stories just be about the $$ this  Christmas.  Sharing is caring, they say.

And to my ROW friends out there reading this, I'm more than happy to partner with any of you as well (just shoot me an email).  In fact, my brain child (had I the time and talent to make it a reality) would be a bookstore that worked sort of like Google+, where we could add each other to partner "circles" that simply allow people to "buy one get one free" with any of our books.  Just imagine the choices!  Plus, we're all in this boat together.  I don't look at any of you as competitors, but rather as co-ROWers (both metaphorically and, uh, acronymically?): if we all pull as hard as we can, the whole boat can take us to some pretty cool places.  And there's room for plenty of success stories on this ship.

So, I guess that's my little pre-holiday pep talk.  We'll close with the ever-popular glance at the word counts:
  • Project Fiction: 0 (Editing Mode)
  • Since last check in: 4,147
  • Grand Total for Round 4: 47,302
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gaming and Writing

Some of you may have seen on my personal Facebook or various other outlets that I got into a beta test for an upcoming online video game: Star Wars - The Old Republic.  If you've peeked at my bio, you may have read that I consider myself an avid video gamer.  I'm mentioned the gaming blog that I run a few times here, but generally I've not addressed it directly.

Don't get me wrong, I love to talk about video games. I just try to keep things in their own spheres.  (Though I'm more than happy to chat about whatever in comments, Twitter, of Facebook... doesn't even have to be my books or writing in general.  In fact, I added the links to my other blogs in the bio just for the curious.)

In practice, though, things rarely remain rigidly segmented.  One activity often bleeds into another.  Gaming and writing are no exceptions.

I listen religiously to the Writing Excuses podcast.  I'm a big fan.  They offer great writing advice, and I appreciate the brevity.  15 minutes is easy to squeeze into a day, whereas some of the other, longer podcasts I'm aware of end up going unheard because I can't complete them in one sitting (it's a personal thing).  Several of the hosts on Writings Excuses are self-described former gamers.  That is, they used to play a lot of video games but gave them up in order to pursue writing.

All due respect to those stellar writers, but I don't think one need completely give up gaming in order to write.  Now, I suspect that they've not really gone "cold turkey," either, but rather the point is to moderate playing like anything else so that it doesn't eat up all of your writing time.  I tend to be pretty good in that regard.  I follow the mantra instilled in me by my mother: "No games until your homework is done!"  In this case, my homework is writing.

In fact, I also believe in the "all work and no play" saying as well.  I think playing video games can directly feed creative endeavors.  Depending on the games you play, they are often a creative venture.  Generally games revolve around somehow solving a problem or achieving a goal in a creative or fantastical manner.  And, something else, all games generally have some sort of story.  Sometimes it's a thin veneer, other times it's deeper and more developed, but usually there's some kind of story involved.

Personally, I go for games with a lot of story.  I stick mostly with RPGs (Role-Playing Games).  I even dabble in tabletop D&D (Dungeons and Dragons, which is really like live, audience-participation story-telling if you ask me).  I have to believe that I've learned a lot about plot and character through these activities.  One of the best ways to write a character is to put yourself in their shoes, to role-play, and video games provide a convenient mechanism for this.

So, yes, I'm a gamer and proud of it.  I absolutely do not plan to give up on gaming.  It recharges me and gives me ideas.  It teaches me how to be a better writer without me even realizing it.  Sometimes, observing familiar tools being used in a different environment can really drive a lesson home.  Story development and game development really have a lot in common.  They both hope to deliver an emotional, entertaining experience to the end user.  So why not play video games as a writer?  So long as you take care to properly divide your time, that is.

Also, I'm really excited about the new Star Wars game.  They had me at Lightsabers...
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Real Quick

Hope everyone had a fun turkey day that celebrates it. I'm equal parts still full and tired. How long before the tryptophan gets out of our system?  I think mine might be pitching a tent and planning to stay until Christmas.

I mentioned on my Facebook page, but I wanted to reiterate here: got my first proofs of Fates' Motif in.  I showed them off at the family Thanksgiving gathering, and have my mom helping me get them in the hands of my editors.  I'm hoping to have the edits back by Christmas and then go through the revision gauntlet once again.  I've taken that whole week off, so I'm hoping I can squeeze it all in before New Years Eve.  More than likely, we're looking at a release date somewhere around my birthday (January 17th).  I'm going to try hard to beat that, though.

We've got some good ideas for the cover, so I'll share that as soon as my wife gets a good first hack done.  Also, I've got a review and interview going up this week over at the Once Upon A Time blog.  I'll throw up some links and an announcement when it goes live.  Hannah is a friend that I met through my WoW blogging, actually, so I'm excited to see what she has to say.  I'll let her scoop it, but I think I'll re-post the interview over here maybe next week or something.  I like to have those sorts of things in my archive for folks in the future.

Well, I need to jet outta here.  First Mondays back from a holiday are always hectic, are they not?
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

#ROW80 - Switching Gears

Having finished my first draft of my WIP last week, I'm finding it a bit difficult to switch gears into editing mode.  Now, I'm really trying to rush things to get this book out.  Generally, I'd give myself some time off, reflect, recharge, that sort of thing.  Also, there are these whole holiday things coming up.  No rest for the indie, however.  Not if you want to try and get a good book out by the end of the year.

When in the midst of a writing project, I operate a bit like a factory.  I clock in, write some words, clock out.  There's no question each day what I'm doing.  It's easy, I'm applying butt to chair and writing.  After the first draft, though, there's a whole world of options that open up.  Editing is the obvious one, but you can start seriously looking at covers, marketing strategies, and, dare I say it, the next project.  (Always looking forward, this one is.  So sayeth my inner Yoda voice).  Point is, it can be easy to let indecision paralyze you (or at least me).

With all that's going on, it was tough to stay on schedule.  I suppose that's exactly the reason we set these goals, right?  So that at least we know there IS a schedule.  Well, let's have a look at how I did.

  • Lesson Learned - My personal editing limit is somewhere around 1.5 hours.  After that I need at least a 10 minute break to stand up, switch the mind off, and come back fresh.  I've found that if I don't give myself these breaks, I start rushing through things just to get it done, and you don't want to do that with editing.  You want to make sure you're tasting each word on your tongue, not licking the page in the hopes that you catch the sour spots.
  • WIP Editing - This goal switched to spending at least an hour editing per day.  I've modified it with a length goal (I prefer length to time, to reward myself if I'm more efficient).  I'm shooting for two chapters edited each day.  I have 34 chapters to edit.  Two a day will put me at just over two weeks for my second read through.  That should be about the time I start getting feedback back from betas and editors.  Then I can jump right in to notes.  After finishing I took the weekend off to heal from illness and reassess my goals.  I started back in on this on Monday, and have stuck to it so far.
  • Blogging - 3/3 on the other blog.  One short here.  I meant to write a fiction post, but I'm sort of stuck on that story right now.  When I'm in writing mode, it's easier to, well, write.  In editing mode, the idea flow just seems turned off.  I'm focused on different things.  I wonder if that's normal.  So I may take a break from that for a bit, just because I like the story and don't want to botch it.  I've also started writing yet another blog.  This one is for the high school football team I volunteer for.  It's in its infancy and I'm more of a compiling editor there, but it's yet another helping of stuffing on my plate.  I owe a personal post too for this month.
All in all, in pretty good shape I think.  The word count is going to go down a bit as I switch to editing mode, especially with regards to fiction, but this is to be expected.  Also, I'll still be posting, and I'm of the mind that every word is practice.  The more you squeeze ideas into strings of words, the easier it gets.  With that being said, here's the word count:
  • Project Fiction: 0 (Editing Mode)
  • Since last check in: 2,788
  • Grand Total for Round 4: 43,155
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Monday, November 21, 2011

On Steaminess

I was going to try to write some fiction late last week, but then I got pretty ill. I say pretty ill, because it was the sort of ill that snuck up on me and saw me vomiting while driving. A new life experience. Not one I'm in a hurry to repeat. (Okay, so I claim it was sneaky, but I probably could tell I was going to throw up and probably should have pulled over, but I was so close to home. I just wanted MY toilet. You know?)

In any case, I bedded down and pailed up (love carrying a bucket with you around the house... just in case).  I'm feeling mostly better today, though still a little weak from not eating anything for two-ish days (yay weight loss).  Also, I didn't get anything done, which of course leaves me stressed.  The good news is that, since I'd just finished, it was "okay" to fit a "break" in there.  The boss (me) is a bit peeved at the employee (also me) in this little business (mine), but otherwise, we're good.

This is a terrible intro for a post titled "On Steaminess."  What's hotter than puke, right?  Yahoo.

What I really wanted to respond to today was a wonderful little review I got from fellow author/ROWer Lauralynn Elliot.  (It was on Goodreads, and I think that link will work, but I can't check it at work.  Blocked.) Now, I'm not sure what exactly the rules of etiquette are for reviews and author replies and such.  Obviously, for super-professional reviews in super-important publications you probably should super-keep-your-mouth-shut.  At least, that's the traditional prevailing wisdom.

In these technological times, however, I can't help but question the mantra a bit.  Reviews on Goodreads are more informal, a little more conversational than something in, say, Publisher's Weekly.  As such, I feel like it may be a little more "okay" to want to reply.  Still, I don't want to do more than "like" it on Goodreads.  The last thing you want is to have some newbie author replying to all his reviews.  If you say "thanks," then it kind of sounds like you asked for the review.  If you reply some other way, you run the risk of sounding like you're arguing with the review or something.  It's a touchy situation, you see?

So I decided I'll reply, in general, on here.  This is my space.  If you're here, you're hopefully interested in what I have to say, and it leaves any reviews intact wherever they originate from.  Untouched, and unsullied by authorial presence, if you will.  In particular, I wanted to respond to the following completely fair and spot-on criticism:
The only thing lacking to me was the "heat" between the main characters
Reason being, I've heard this from several sources.  Lauralynn is just the latest.  And I'll be the first to caution romance readers... there's no sex in my book.  In fact, compared to what little I know of the romance genre, I probably gave the relationship aspect very short shrift. (I wasn't writing for a particular genre, though if I were, it was more action/adventure/fantasy than romance.  Part of why this novel likely would never had made it in traditional publishing.)  I was shooting for "sweet" and not "hot."  A big reason: I wasn't sure I knew how to write "hot."  Also, as I've said on here before, I wrote the novel with a very specific audience in mind: my wife and my little sister.  I'd hope my wife could handle any steaminess, but my 13 year old sister?  I steered clear of super-heat for obvious reasons.

Still, I'm not sure I may have done her and all future readers a disservice.  My sister has three older brothers.  She's not sheltered.  Point being, I probably could have added more steaminess, and been completely "safe."  It's something to keep in mind for future installments in the series.  I may just have to ratchet it up.  (Especially with Matthias... as I've been told he may be bit of a favorite).

Now, can you see how this might have come off like I'm hedging or making excuses?  I want to be clear... that's not the intention here.  If something is missing from my story, it's because of a deliberate decision not to include it, which may very well have been a mistake.  Also, it may perhaps be due to a lack of talent/experience with steaminess.  I'm not sure.  But it presents a great challenge for the next book.  And that's the point I wanted to relate.

I figured it was good to share this all here (and not directly with any one review).  That's sort of what this blog is for: a glimpse behind the curtain.  The underlying theme here at OTJW is one of learning.  I always want to be learning, improving, and challenging myself.  This is exactly why reviews and feedback (even if not in PW) are super-helpful.  It gives me things to work and focus on in the next books.  It's also a big reason I'm going back and forth between my two series; it gives time for feedback to percolate in.

If, perhaps, there's one question I could level at my readers here, it would be this.  How much do genre-induced preconceptions effect your expectations of steaminess in a novel?  Would you say a "cool" romance novel with adventure is a "hot" adventure novel with romance?  Obviously each reader is different, and heaven knows I'll be the first to toss out genre labels (a good book is a good book), but I think expectations are a key part of a reader enjoying (or not) your book.  If you sit down to a movie expecting Michael Bay and instead get M. Night Shyamalan... well, you might explode angrily.  Or, in a twist, not.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

#ROW80 - Confetti Check-in

Few phrases are a joy-filled in an author's life as "rough draft complete!" Sure, the editing fairy is looming on the horizon with her black wings and red pen-wand, but for that moment - the briefest to be sure - we have earned a happy respite.  As much as I like to downplay the gift, stringing together ~150 thousand more or less coherent words on any one topic is most definitely an accomplishment.  One that it would be fair to say not everyone will reach in their lifetime.  Non-writers look at you with something between abject horror and rapt fascination.  Other writers know, though.  You know.

I've now reached that minor pinnacle in a writer's life that is another manuscript (first draft) completed.  What's more, this is the second time for me.  At least for novel-sized work.  So, it's officially a trend.  *Confetti.*

Let's look at the goals:
  • Lesson Learned - I touched on it late last week, but Amazon now offers Kindle subscription services for all blogs.  They set the monthly price based on a content, but I figure it's a nice option to offer, if only for convenience.  And, hey, it's another revenue stream (even if a small one).
  • WIP - Draft complete!  I think I wrote like 11 pages in the last week.  The ending always comes in a rush for me.  It becomes "wow only three scenes, left... then two... then... done!"  I've even gotten some initial feedback and gone back for a bit of cleanup.  We plan to order proofs tonight or tomorrow so I can personally deliver them to betas (and show them off) over Thanksgiving.  I'll get my editors going, and I'll start my own editing this week.  The goal here morphs to editing for an hour a day.
  • Blogging - Squeezed out 3/3 here.  Got 3/3 at the other blog, too.  Don't know how I squeezed those out, though several posts were a bit on the short side.  They still count!  I have a personal post still to do this month...
Truly a great week.  I've been super-busy and super-productive.  Not only in the writing world, but also in my volunteer position as a football coach.  I've taken on the task of being our team's "social networking" guy.  I suggested it'd be a great idea for us to have a facebook page, a twitter, a blog... places where we can share team news and announcements and stuff.  A lot of college programs have this, but not all high schools do.  It's something special for the kids.  (In case you're curious, the team is here on facebook, though I'm just getting started in the other realms).

Applying the things I've learned through blogging and running my own writing business to a completely different realm (high school sports) was a lot easier than you might think.  These days, social networking is social network... it's more about how you tag things and what content you put up.  The actual mechanisms for getting the word out and sharing information are really the same.  So, for me, it was a no-brainer to do all this.  Still, it's kept me busy.

I'm actually looking forward to digging into edits.  At first I was worried about my ending (as evidenced by my post Monday), but with the response I got and some minor changes... I'm really psyched about it now.  The book turned out well.  I'm simply anxious to get it out and then get to work on the next project.  

Have I mentioned before how much I love this indie writer lifestyle?  Yeah, you have to pick up a whole bunch of technical and business knowledge, but you don't have to deal with months/years of rejections and queries.  The actual work of writing and editing is pretty much the same (depending on your editor/agent/contract of course)... but the ability to do the best you can, and then move on to the next project is priceless.  I imagine it's how established authors feel in the traditional system.  Indie writing just allows you to get there right away and focus on your craft earlier instead of learning to navigate an archaic system.  

That's my soap box, though.  You can certainly get a benefit out of the traditional route.  I just think it's a lot harder to do at this point in time.  That should change, but for now... it's a great time to be an indie!

Anyway, here are the word counts:
  • Project Fiction: 3,992
  • Since last check in: 7,811
  • Grand Total for Round 4: 40,367
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Monday, November 14, 2011

QotD: To Be Continued?

From time to time, you'll see me use the Question of the Day tag. Basically, this is a simple solution for a quick post where I try to generate a reader response.  I have only a small readership here, but you guys have been generally talkative (and for that I'm thankful).  I do these because the topics are things I'm genuinely curious about.  I'll lay out my opinion, but it's something I hardly am decided on, as you'll see.

Today, I want to know how y'all feel about "to be continued" endings.  The best example I can currently give is just about every epic fantasy series out there.  Martin's Song of Fire and Ice is the first one that comes to mind. He generally wraps up some of the story arcs, but a lot of them remain unresolved.  The endings tend to just sort of happen.  A lot of times, he leaves us on a cliffhanger.  (The HBO series is the same way, in typical HBO fashion.  True Blood does the same thing as well.)

I'm of two minds about this.  In the stories I write, I feel like I want to have more resolution and less hanging.  To some extent, as a reader, I think I appreciate that.  I'm really frustrated to get to the end and have it, well, not ended.  But it's sort of a good kind of frustration, is it not?

In The Binder's Daughter (my first novel), I made sure that, though it was part of a series, it contained a pretty rounded story.  I think it ties up nicely at the end.  There's not really a "to be continued" even though I most definitely have plans for another book.  The urban fantasy genre lends itself well to self-contained stories in a greater arc, I think.  The second book, then, is just the next logical step deeper down the rabbit hole, if you will.

Epic fantasy, on the other hand, is a bit longer.  When I pick up a series in this genre, I expect the story arc to be, you know, epic.  Long, involved, certainly not contained in one book.  Lord of the Rings is another well known example.  The Hobbit is contained (as a prequel, we should hope so), but the other books are definitely "to be continued" (with the exception of Return of the King, of course).  How well do you think Martin and Tolkien wrapped things up from book to book?  Sure, there was a major arc that ended before our heroes took the next step, but there was also a whole lot of unresolved plot points.

I just finished up Fates' Motif, my second novel (first in my other series).  My first two books are in different sub-genres (as intended).  Writing the ending for each was a totally different experience.  In the latest one, I feel like it's basically a huge "to be continued."  I resolve the major conflict, but there are a lot of untied-up plot points.  When compared to Martin and Tolkien, I think it's on par (with the cliffhanging, not so much the writing, as they're the masters and I'm but a student).  Is this a dangerous ploy for a young writer?

As readers, what do you look for?  If you're picking up something billed as epic fantasy, the first in a series, do you expect a cliffhanger.  What about urban fantasy?  Or thrillers?  Do the expectations change even though they all have serial novels?  I would say definitely.  I might be upset with a cliffhanger in a thriller, but with fantasy I expect it.  But still... I wonder what you think.
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quick Commercial Break

I wasn't planning to write anything the rest of this week (owing to being busy finishing up the ole WIP), but I gotta do a quick promo post.  Recently, Amazon opened up their Kindle monthly subscription platform to all blogs.  (Previously I guess it had been limited).  We here at OTJW decided to go ahead and jump on that bandwagon. 

If you have a Kindle, you can now subscribe to this blog for the low monthly fee of $0.99.  (There isn't a free option, and Amazon sets the price, not me).  We don't expect a whole lot of people to pay for the convenience, but wanted to let you know that the option is there.  The blog author only gets 30% of the sub (I think), so it's not really even a great support mechanism.  I mean, I'd much rather you just buy my book, get something extra out of it (you know, the book), and give away multiples.  Then keep reading here for free.

However, the convenience may be worth it to some, and an extra revenue stream is nothing to sniff at in my position.  I'll certainly appreciate anyone who is willing to shell out a buck a month to read this stuff.  It is sort of a vote of confidence. 

Alas, it's only available for Kindles.

Just wanted to let y'all know.  'Cuz the more you know... *jingle*  Back to your regularly scheduled programming.
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

#ROW80 - Bring On The Turkey

Well, I've kept at it. So far this round has had a rough start. And, as the Starks say: winter is coming. In this hemisphere, that means the holidays, travel, and other interruptions to a normal schedule.  Fortunately, laptops exist.  I actually generally get a lot done when we travel.  There aren't a whole lot of distractions in the car.  I'm pretty much either reading, writing, or driving.  So I guess you could say I'm looking forward to the holidays, then, because my normal schedule has already been shot to hell.

Let's look at the goals, first:

  • Lesson Learned - Ranting is helpful.  In several ways.  I got some great comments, and (I think) provided some good commiseration.  Also, it got it off my chest, and pulled a few fanfriends out of the woodwork.  (Any writer that doesn't smile when someone says simply: "I enjoyed your book," is an alien without a mouth.  Even if they've not been able to write a review or do anything "proper," the simple comment helps.)  It may even have netted me a pity-buy.  I'll be quite honest, I'm not "too cool" to take pity-buys at this point.  Obscurity is my biggest foe, and while I'm not really on my knees begging yet, I'm not above that.  I just want people to give my story a chance.  I have no problem handing out free copies either, all you need to do is contact me.  Money helps, but I don't want it to be the hurdle. 
  • WIP - I think I was 8/6.  I wrote the final, climactic scene in my WIP on Saturday.  I polished off the chapter on Sunday and Monday.  I need to write an epilogue/tie-up chapter, and then I'm done with draft one.  It'll go to betas and editors.  Depending on their schedules, I may be able to have it out by Christmas yet...
  • Blogging - This took a hit.  When you're dialed in on the ending of a longish story, it tends to push other writing from your mind, I've found.  Also, the day job perked up and demanded my attention, so I begrudgingly gave it.  Blogging is the first to suffer, sadly.  This will likely be my only post here this week, making me 2/3, and I'm one short on the other blog as well.  Not terrible, but I'll be behind the eight-ball for next week too.
The good news is that the main project, the novel, is almost done.  That's obviously a huge goal of this round, and really the highest priority in my writing world.  Blogging is suffering a bit as my schedule gets tossed around, but I supposed that's to be expected.  My new side goal here is to get a second draft proof hardcopy that I can bring with me to Thanksgiving.  Never hurts to have a new book to pass around the family.  (Second draft would be my first read through and edits, plus some beta comments... pre-editor stuff).

After I finish writing the last few scenes, my WIP goal changes to spending an hour per day editing.  I may actually increase that to something more ambitious like 5 chapters a day.  Then, it'd take me about a week to finish the first pass edits.  We'll see, but that would get me done by next Friday and give me a shot to hit TG.  I think I need to hit Thursday in order to have the hardcopy in time, though.

Anyway, that's enough blabber for today.  I'll close with the word count glimpse:
  • Project Fiction: 2,808
  • Since last check in: 4,797
  • Grand Total for Round 4: 32,556
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

On The Heels Of Failure

Inspiration often comes right on the heels of failure. Or so I've found.  It was good to get that business off my chest yesterday, and I got some great comments from some very supportive folks.  I think the potential for support and commiseration definitely outweighed the whining.  Plus, I hope it was at least a little funny.

Even so, I didn't want to let that stand for long as my latest post.  Wallowing in failure never did anyone any good.  It's what you do in the face of adversity that makes you who you are.  (I know, I sound like I went to the inspiration poster store last night or something, right?)

Side Note: I'm a believer in God.  It's okay if you're not.  Judging is not up to me, and I wouldn't want that job in any case.  As one of my favorite Priests once told me: "Matt, there are many ways to get from here to Chicago, I65 to 90/94 is just the most well known.  That doesn't always make it the best, and it's not always about who arrives first in any case.  Who are we to say that the scenic route isn't just as good of a choice?"

He was talking, of course, about getting into heaven.  That's sort of the ultimate goal.  I mean, even if you don't believe, it'd be nice to go to this magical utopia where there's no pain and everyone's happy, right?  I know it can sound nutty, but the concept is a nice one at the very least.  And the point is that there a likely a whole bunch of ways to get in.  More than we even realize.

Sorry, that's a bit of an aside.  What I wanted to get at is that I believe God provides answers and support all of the time.  He puts people and opportunities in your life to pick you up when you're down and hopefully lead you in the right direction.  What you may like to call coincidence, I prefer to look at as providence.  It makes life more fun for me.

To that end, one of my muses came through.  Nathan Bransford keeps a solid blog going.  Right on the heels of my little rant, a guest post went up over there talking about success and motivation.  In particular, I love this quotation:
Presently, I am reminded that one of my own personal motivations for writing is, on one level, a desire to uniquely do for others what has been done for me by other authors. And on an even more fundamental level, it is to connect—not only with my readers, but also with that mysterious source within where the stories themselves seem to come from. To experience the magic firsthand!
Great timing, Mr. Shawn Thomas!  This is exactly what I needed to hear.  The dream is to be able to make a living doing what we do.  The motivation, though, is something else entirely.  Motivation by money is an empty highway to the town of discontent, I think.  It's great that, now more than another time in history, there's a window for writers to make a real living, but that's not why we do this.

Shawn's motivations very closely mirror my own.  I want to share the magic.  That's really the best part about this whole gig.

Low sales can deal a blow to your confidence, surely.  But I've already shared just a little bit of magic with a very small number of readers.  I've already accomplished far more in my writing career than I dared dream five years ago.  It's good not to lose sight of the underlying motivation.  I think this is what they call re-centering yourself.

So thanks again to the commenters and Nathan's guest poster, Shawn... you guys helped me return to me, which is the road I've always wanted to take anyway.
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

#ROW80 - Hi, My Name is FailAuthor

I'm in a bad mood today. This whole writing this can be rough on the self-confidence sometimes.  I've made a habit of trying to relay my sales data since I started.  I look at it as sort of a monthly report card for my "public" company.  (That isn't to say there's stock or anything, just that I'm out there for people to see).  A lot of it stems from wanting to commiserate with others, I guess.  We're all sort of in this boat together, and y'all may be able to learn from what I'm doing right/wrong (today is one of those days when it feels I'm all "wrong"). I know I'm certainly learning from you.

With that firmly ensconced in my mind, here's the skinny: I sold one book the entire month of October.  One.  Uno.  Eins.  (And I've exhausted my languages).  I feel like that's just awful.  Ironically (or not, I don't know), that one sale came through Smashwords through the iBookstore.  Didn't really expect to sell much there, but, woot, it's keeping me afloat.

I sold zero through Amazon.  Zero.  It's freaking Amazon.  I think they sell copies of Ode To Horse Manure each month.  (Seriously, I hope that's not a book).  Talk about a hit to the confidence.  What sort of shit am I shoveling?

This is where rational thought should intrude and assert itself.  I'm basically not promoting.  I'm trying hard to write more, because one book is really a pitiful offering.  No one reads/follows an author with one book.  Even if it was hitting huge, then I'd be the literary equivalent of Right Said Fred.  (I'm too sexy for my second book?)  That's not the kind of success I'm looking for.  It's a marathon, not a sprint.  [Insert other unhelpful platitudes here.]

I probably need to do things like tweak the cover and work on my description.  That bugs me though.  Then it feels like I'm trying to "pull one over" on people.  I don't want to be a Tupperware salesman.  I want my books to sell magically.  (Where did that rational thought go?)  Plus, doing these things takes away from my meager writing time.  This whole doing a 9-5 day job AND trying to successfully navigate the Wild West of indie publishing is freaking hard.  There's so much you could be doing, and so little time to do it.

I know, I know.  I'm just whining.  Better writers than me have struggled and surmounted far larger odds.  Many of you handle a whole bunch of stuff gracefully day in and day out.  I just wanted to bitch today.  Likely, we all have those days where we sit down with ourselves and think: "What we were thinking... we suck, Selves.  There are so many of them, and they're so much better than us.  And you know next to nobody in this big mixed up world.  Go back to your farm and milk cows.  The big city is no place for you."

Now, I know there will be people out there reading this and thinking: "Well no shit.  What did you think it would be easy?  Put on your big boy businessman pants.  Writing is about $$, not about <3."  It's true, this is a business.  There really aren't shortcuts, and it does take some luck no matter what you do.  Perseverance is the name of the game.  You have to be like Rocky and take a whole bunch of punches to tire the other guy out and then, maybe, you get yours.

I'm okay with that.  I knew what I was getting into when embarking on this whole journey.  I just wanted to rant.  Writing is cathartic.  It's who I am, it's what I'll keep doing even if no one pays me a dime to do it and everyone everywhere says I suck and pulps every hard drive that ever stored my ebook in order to print more copies of the hugely successful, aforementioned diatribe on equine dung.  (I realize you can't pulp hard drives to make print books.  That would be the ultimate slap in the eface, though, wouldn't it?)

Bah.  Okay.  That's it.  Sorry for the rant, but it's going to happen sometimes.  Like I said, I'm in a bad mood.  Hopefully you got a chuckle out of my misery.  That's okay, yuck it up.  I laugh at myself too.  If you can't laugh at yourself... and all that.  Laugh, get it out, move on., work harder, keep your eye on the goals:

  • Lesson Learned - Ode to Horse Manure is a cowboy poem.  Manly Poetry Man is a hilarious idea.  Kudos.  Also, a bag of manure exceeds my Amazon sales rank.  I knew it.  (Now, the comparison is unfair, I'm sure, because the manure market is less niche... or something.  Also, fortunately, B&N doesn't sell manure.)
  • WIP Pages - 7/6.  Can I finish this book already?  So. Many. Words.  I'm sure at least half of them are unnecessary.  (I'm FailAuthor today, remember?  Everything I touch is doomed to fail... want a courtesy read?)  
  • Blogging - 4/3 there and 3/3 here.  If consistency were book sales, I wouldn't be in this predicament.  Not sure what the conversion factor would be, though.  Oh, I knocked out the monthly personal post as well.  Great bit about how making a sandwich can be hard when you're depressed.
Some words happened:
  • Project Fiction: 2,611
  • Since last check in: 6,478
  • Grand Total for Round 4: 27,756
That is all.
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Who's In Your Vamp Five?

The question is simple: If you had to choose five vampires to have on your speed dial, who would they be? Now, I'll be the first to admit that my list is going to be a bit male-biased.  I'm going to go with it, though.  That is to say, I'm trying to frame this as a personal choice, and not a debate on the coolest/baddest vampire ever.

With that in mind, here's my five:
  1. Angel - From the TV show of the same named, played by David Boreanaz.  During my late teenage years, I always felt a bit guilty for enjoying Angel so much.  Joss Whedon made me feel a bit better when he compared the show to it's parent (Buffy) saying: "It's a little bit more straightforward action show and a little bit more of a guys' show.  So, it wasn't just that David Boreanaz is a badass. (Incidentally, I love Bones, too). Angel is high on my list, especially if I were having any paranormal problem. Also, I'd bet he'd hang out for Sunday Night Football.
  2. Selene - From the Underworld movies, played by Kate Beckinsale.  Is there a sexier (bloodsucking) heroine? Not only would she be great to call if you need someone to watch your back - with twin automatic pistols - but I'd let her put me on my back any day of the week.
  3. Louis de Pointe du Lac - From the movie based on the Anne Rice books, played by Brad Pitt.  Everyone needs a mentor, and I would choose Louis.  He embodies my favorite definition of the conflicted vampire.  You can see the good in him, but the evil is right there as well.  I'm sure he could give a lot of good pointers on how not to waste eternity.
  4. Jessica Hamby - From HBO's True Blood series, based on the Charlaine Harris books, played by Deborah Ann Wohl.  Jess is my nod to the modern class of vampires. What can I say? I'm a sucker for redheads. Plus, she'd totally geek out with me. You know she would. I definitely wouldn't kick her out of bed for eating humans. 
  5. Count von Count -  Yes, from Sesame Street.  People always overlook this vamp, but he was probably my very first exposure to vampires. Think about that for a minute. Then, take a look at my other four picks. I've got most of my bases covered. What I need is someone smart, and the Count sure does know his numbers. Everyone needs to have a numbers guy in their back pocket.  Right?
I could argue that those five have been the biggest influences on how I conceptualize vampires. The Count, obviously, being my earliest exposure of what a Vampire actually was. They never really got into the bloodsucking, but he turned into a bat and wore capes, which seemed really awesome as a kid.

After that, my formative years were spent in the "conflicted protagonist" phase of vampires. Relationships weren't very high on the priority list here. Angel fit the bill. It was more about action and deciding to walk the line of good, or give into evil. Teen angst much? 

Then, I scooted right into the romantic era. Obviously, it's all the rage right now, and I came to the party in a somewhat odd way. I've always had a thing for vampires, but have generally been a movie guy as far as they were concerned (I was reading a lot of other things).  There have been some great visualizations out there, a lot of solid adaptations of novels.  That, combined with a love for HBO's True Blood series, has brought me firmly up to date.

Honorable Mention
Before I open it up for your top 5, I have one honorable mention.  It was tough for me to leave this one off the list, but I thought the Count was totally worth it.  He just doesn't get enough respect.  This guy does though...

Blade - From the film, played by Wesley Snipes.  The Daywalker himself. Giving Blade a shout out strikes me as a good move. I certainly don't want the guy to have a vendetta against me. We've all seen what he does in that case. Plus, that sword of his is pretty epic. Think he could get me a deal on a long, black leather trenchcoat? Red liner, please.

What about you?  Who would you have in your five?

(Note: This is a re-post of the guest spot I did for Katie Salidas's Vampire Awareness Month - last month - and can be originally found here.  I wanted to put it up here for those that may not have seen it.)
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