Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Lieu of a Check In, a Check In

Even though this is an "off" week for ROW80, I wanted check in anyway. I'll make this a little less formal, though. Just sort of a what I'm up to post.

First, I wanted to plug ROW80. All you need to have is a blog (for reporting progress). You don't need to be a novelist. You could just be writing about underwater basket weaving. As long as you're writing. It's a great group meant simply to encourage, and the challenge understands that you have a life (#tagline). If you're at all interested, I would highly encourage anyone not already involved to check it out.

Second, I'm through the first chapter of The Binder's Husband. I always feel like after you finish the first chapter of a new project, that it's official. You're underway. Fates' Motif has barely cooled, and I'm onto the next project. That's how it should be in the world of the writer. (The author might wish to market more, but the writer is in charge of this operation for another four years still).

I'm pretty excited about several of the scenes in TBH. I have some (I think) cool stuff planned. Writing the second book is a bit daunting. I'm trying to dive right into the story. It feels a bit odd because usually you have to build up a lot of character and background before you can really get moving. (Stellar authors can accomplish this without thinking... getting moving while establishing everything. I'm not sure I'm there yet.) With the second book, there's kind of a quick recap... and then we're off. The characters are already pretty well established from the first novel, so I need to think more along the lines of refreshing the reader, not building from scratch. It's a slightly different sort of approach.

Anyway, that's what's going on. Apart from writing, we're looking into new ways to share my stories. We'd like to get them made into audiobooks eventually, I'm saving pennies for editing, and I'm toying with the idea of releasing what I've done through a site like Wattpad. First and foremost, though, the writing.

And yes, I will be doing ROW80 next round. Fo'shizzle.
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Warbreaker Group Read, Final

The book has been finished, the story wrapped. All that's left now is the final batch of questions. I'll offer my final thanks to Naithin and Amanda for hosting (Amanda did the questions this week). It was a blast.

1. There were a whole bunch of character revelations in this last section of the book. We now know who Warbreaker is, and what Blushweaver's motivations are, and who was behind the war, and the intentions of several characters we suspected. How do you feel, now that everything's out in the open? 

Surprised that Brandon surprised me. Let me elaborate. For this group read I bought the annotated e-book version. Now that I've finished, I'm going back through all of the notes that Brandon has shared about the story. It's very interesting and sort of like a gold mine as a writer (who holds Brandon in very high esteem).

He mentions that he set out to make this book a story of reversals, both for the characters and for him as a writer. I think Sanderson fans can agree that it has Brandon's fingerprints all over it, but it is a bit different for him. I don't usually sit down to read one of his novels and expect so many twists. As such, I was very pleasantly surprised. I thought I saw some of the twists coming, but definitely not all of them.

The most surprising for me? Vasher as a Returned/man of ancient repute. I mean, I knew he was a badass, but I didn't even think about Returned outside of the Hallandren pantheon. I guess I just supposed they all died like in Idris.

Now, I can't help but imagine a society of vampire-like Returned, prowling the darkness for easy prey... Brandon always makes me want to write fan fic.

2. At the beginning of our group read, I asked if you thought the Returned actually were divine. We saw Lightsong change his mind on his own divinity, and learned a bit more about the Returned. Has your answer about divinity changed, then, since the beginning of the book? 

I don't know that my answer has changed. I suppose I still harbor the belief that there is some greater deity sending these folks back. Call them "Gifts of the Creator" or something. Again, they would fit more as angels in my understanding than gods. They possess more of a divine purpose than any inherent divinity. Still, that is something that sets them above the bourgeois.

3. Now that we've seen Nightblood in action, firsthand, and know more about its history, what do you think about it as an object? What are your thoughts about Vasher's relationship with the sword?

As I mentioned above, I may be cheating a bit by reading Brandon's notes (I'm not finished yet, only about halfway). He mentions that his drive behind Nightblood was to attempt to make a sword as an active character in the story, something he hadn't claimed to have seen a lot of. I think he nails it. In fact, I almost wanted to see more of the Nightblood we get at the end. Am I the only one that found myself developing into a Vasher/Viv shipper? Nightblood is like the third wheel there and -- almost -- adorable. In an awesome, I-will-kill-all-the-things kind of way.

The concept of the dark sword swooping in like a knight in shining armor, trying to save his owner was pretty cool. It'd be neat of Vasher/Viv could "teach" the sword (I could see Viv doing this, like a tutor), and it becoming less chaotic in the future. It'd be cool to be able to use it without it killing you, for instance. Like it could moderate it's own breath usage (only drawing for a killing blow or something).

4. Lastly, what are your final thoughts on Warbreaker? How did it compare to other books you've read, and to other Sanderson, if you've read more by him?

Like I said above, it was a lot more twisty than a traditional Sanderson novel, as intended. As I read the notes, I find myself nodding with everything Brandon says. It sounds very fanboyish of me, but I've read a lot about different writers' processes, and I don't always agree with a lot of their decisions (something that set me writing in the first place). Brandon is one of the few I can say I almost always agree with, and even when I don't, generally trust that he knows better. I've seen enough of the output to know that he knows his craft.

The book itself is a wonderful, standalone fantasy novel. It is very self-contained, yet left me wanting more. Thankfully, Brandon has mentioned that he has a bit of a desire to write a sequel at some point (no plans yet). I would recommend this book for someone that, say, is a big mainstream thriller reader but might like to see what fantasy is all about. It moves enough that you don't really get bogged down in description (a common complain about fantasy), and plays with a lot of old tropes in new ways. Something for the initiated and un-initiated, if you will.

I'm going to finish up the notes and then I'm diving into some Rothfuss. The first person is good for me right now (current project is 1st POV), and he's another big name in the fantasy genre. Good stuff.

This group read was great, and I'll be keeping my eyes open for similar things in the future. It was my first time doing something like this, and I found it very enjoyable. Sort of blogging meets book club. Perfect for me.

On a side note, as I was answering these questions, a part of me was transported back to high school English classes. We always had worksheets to fill out along with the book we were reading. You know, the one that everyone found the cliff notes for or rented the movie? Yeah, I read all those, and happily filled out the questions. I may have been the only one in my class that found something positive to say about Madam Bovary. (Not that it's poorly written or anything. Just, well, depressing.)

This was sort of like that, only no one was grading. And probably more fun for the lack of grading. (You all get gold stars in my grade book!). Is it weird that the memories are fond for me?
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

#ROW80 - Round 2 Final

I'm going to do my final check-in today. I know we have one more official day left, but we're going on vacation from tomorrow until Tuesday. Thus, not a whole lot is going to be done, though I do plan to try and right a bit during the long car ride. I'm lucky that I can write pretty much anywhere, and road trips are a lot of down time.

First, let's look at how the goals wrapped up this week:
  • Lesson Learned - I'll call this a reinforcement of a previous lesson. I talked about Word of Mouth this week, and several articles have mentioned how key this is in the world of electronic books. It can be difficult to generate and predict, but it can also be very powerful.
  • WIP Progress - I hammered out 8 pages and finished the first chapter this week. Hooray! Now hopefully it's worth a damn. Or two damns, which, last time I checked damn to dollar conversion rates, is about $3.99.
  • Blogging - Blogging about gaming continues to be rough for me. Not surprising as this is the typical summer slump. I, like most, are doing more outdoorsy things, which limits my play time. Less playtime means less content. I only put up 1 post there, but I offset it a bit with 4 posts here and knocked out my personal post as well. So, really, I still did 6 posts this week.
  • Reading - We're in our final week of the group read. It's been a lot of fun. I'll probably look to get into more in the future. Seems a great way to connect with other folks that enjoy the same books that I do.
That's not bad. This round was a bit all over the place with releasing two works and starting my next project. I did a lot of editing. I got swamped in my Day Job and struggled to put out posts. I wrote while on a week long work trip. But I wrote. There were still words put down, and that's what matters.

I added a reading goal this round. It started as a "not" goal, but I think I'm going to keep it going in the future. Reading is an important part of any writer's process. I should own up to that and set goals for it.

The end of this round coincides with the start of a short vacation for me. I'll celebrate, and then probably write about celebrating. The next round starts on July 2nd, so if you're looking to join a great group of writers (or you're already part of the ROWing crew), see you then!

I'll conclude this round with a final word count, and we'll look at how it's stacked up against previous rounds. I expect it to be lower, since the bulk of the round was spent editing.
  • Since last check in: 5,507
  • New Fiction: 2,269
  • Round 2 Total: 37,849
Previous rounds:
  •  Round 1 2012 Total: 47,287
  • Round 4 2011 Total: 61,097
  • Round 3 2011 Total: 69,375
  • ROW80 Words Written: 215,608 in 320 days, for a 674 words/day average.
For next round, I'll be in writing mode the whole time. I need to push myself and bring that average back up. I think, overall, I'd like to average 750 words/day. Also, it may look like my word counts are trending down (they are), but these last two rounds didn't have a solid project to carry them. I'd look for Round 3, 2012 to pick it back up. At least, that is the goal... and it's good to have goals.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Warbreaker Group Read, Week Four

Week four. We're closing in on the end now. One more week to go. If you're a fan of the three act theory of storytelling, this week was pretty much the point where we turn the corner in Act 2 and rocket into Act 3. As usual, thanks to Naithin and Amanda for hosting.. Let's check out the questions:

1) So, pretty much everything has been flipped up on its head in this section. Which particular revelation was the greatest shock to you and how has it impacted your view of the book as a whole? 

I said way back in week two that I suspected the mercenaries apparent loyalty would only go so far, so I can't say that revelation surprised me.

Maybe the biggest shock for me was Susebron wanting to take control of his kingdom. I thought it was really neat that he wants to step up and make things right. I also think it could lead to a really awesome conclusion.

2) Vasher is perhaps one of those things who we’ve had flipped over on us. Turns out he may have once been a scholar, even! Vasher and Viveena have quite the conversation about Awakening and Returned and skate across the topic of ‘Type 4’ Awakened Objects, which the story implies to be objects like Nightblood. Vasher is completely unwilling to discuss it any further – any guesses as to why? 

Vasher is a lot deeper as a character than I expected. I suppose I should have seen that coming (looking back, of course). Am I the only one that would like to see Vivenna fall for him? He seems like he needs a good woman. Or do y'all think he's too old? I got the impression that Breaths have kept him young, but that he's just unkempt. Too much of that bachelor lifestyle...

Obviously Nightblood is, to some extent, and example of Awakening gone wrong. That is, I doubt the creator intended to a make a sword that kills All The Things. I would guess that it's sort of like dabbling in the Dark Arts, taboo. Also, likely Vasher had some sort of personal failing... perhaps he created Nightblood? It's his burden and doesn't feel like he wants to share?

3) Siri’s conversation with Treledees perhaps indicated that for all the disregard he shows for Siri, that he may in fact still care for the God King. If true, does this clash with their idea of simply holding onto the Divine Breath until the return of another, or how could you see it being reconciled? 

Yeah, and the power is just a perk. Puh-lease. Dude's a skeeze. He'll show his true colors before the end. Maybe he really believes, but even then he'll turn out to be a fanatic that has bastardized the overall mission of his faith. That's my story and I'm sticking to it (until next week at least when I should know for sure).

4) We’re so far through the book now, and the War has yet to come. Do you (still?) see it as inevitable, or do you think that it may yet be headed off?

I think that the war will be *cough* broken. That is to say, like a giant tidal wave approaching a sandy shore, we see this war coming from a mile away. Someone (or something) is going step in front like a giant seawall and cause the wave to break. Smaller waves may disturb the sand, but the full force will be diverted and scattered.
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Now With Extra Sparkle

In the spirit of Word of Mouth, I wanted to mention a recent development. A freelance editor contacted me after reading Fates' Motif, and wanted to help out. I've been interested in picking up an editor outside my circle for some time now. Not that my current, volunteer editors don't do an amazing job (they really do, especially for what I pay them), more that there is wisdom in involving an editor that doesn't know you very well. It's a whole different viewpoint that can really help you make sure your message is clear. Plus, the more eyes the merrier, says I.

In any case, freelance editing is super-expensive for a fledgling author of modest means (me). I write large stories (well over 100k words), and typical freelance rates can be found here. If you do the math, it works out to about a couple of pennies per word. Average. Basic copyediting. For my 150k word Fates' Motif, we're talking over $2,000. I simply don't have that cash.

Mr. John Albers at Prior to Print Proofreading was the editor that contacted me. If you check out his posted rates, they're pretty reasonable. Perhaps a little below the aforementioned average. More importantly to me, however, was the "project" option. He's willing to work with self-published authors. We discussed a myriad of different plans, but what I settled on was this.

First, I gave him The Only Sparkle. It's shorter, so not as much of an investment. It's also not released in print, so easy to update. He turned it around quickly and I just got a chance to review all the edits he made last weekend. The changes were uploaded today, and I think there is a definite improvement. Plus, we seem to be creatively on the same page.

If you have a first edition of TOS and would like a free second edition (with the edits), simply shoot me an email. I'm more than happy to hand out free updates. It'd be really cool if places like Amazon and B&N would auto-update a previous purchase, but I don't think it works like that.

All of the edits are cosmetic. That is, they make the writing smoother, but don't change anything about the story. That was one of my stipulations going into this, and John was on board with it.

Whenever I finish The Binder's Husband, I'm saving my pennies to hopefully be able to afford a full edit prior to publishing. That's goal number two. I may even look into setting up a Kickstarter project to help fund the editing. It would be simple, we'd shoot to cover the costs and free books to everyone who donates. Probably different tiers for things like electronic, print, and perhaps a special mention in the acknowledgements. Seems like a cool idea, but I'm a ways off from finishing the manuscript.

In the mean time, I'm dumping every penny from sales back into the projects. If one of my books takes off, I'll spend that money to give it a quick polish as well. I've contemplated doing it in increments, have John look at, say, the first 10k words and then do 10k chunks until it's done. He was amenable to that, but it's hardly an ideal way to work. Maybe I'll do an earlier Kickstarter campaign, who knows. These are still things I'm noodling, and heaven knows my beginnings can use all the help they can get.

I think both of my released novels are in good shape, better than some commercially published books I've read, but I don't want to settle. My responsibility to my readers is to continue to improve and learn. The biggest benefit from John's work is the lessons I learn about my own writing. John has a strong creative writing and editing background, and that proved out in his modifications for TOS. He was helpful without being heavy-handed. Supportive without being obsequious. It was a great experience.

If you're a self-publisher looking for a solid freelance editor, shoot John an email. He's a reasonable guy also relying on word of mouth. And I'm hardly keeping him busy.

If you're a reader wanting to support my editing efforts (the cleaner we can make these books, the better my chances of selling more and getting rid of the Day Job), sign up for the newsletter. Any future Kickstarter campaigns will be announced there (as well as here, probably). Or, if you're super rich and want to finance the whole she'bang, email me. I'm sure we can work something out :-).
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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Word of Mouth

There was a focus in several articles over the last few days about the importance of word of mouth among self-publishers. Really, word of mouth is pretty important for any marketing venture, but especially for those of us that are crunched for time and funds. And, as a reader, word of mouth is perhaps the biggest reason for me to pick up a book. That isn't to say I just go for "popular" titles. Instead, I go for the books that my friends and family are reading. A lot of times (especially with my friends and family), we're not exactly reading popular things.

Personally, I think I'm a terrible reviewer. I pretty much like anything with words in it. This isn't to say I can't recognize superb quality when I see it, just that books that I've seen people rate as pretty "average" were fun reads. Also, I guess I sometimes struggle to expand on why I liked a book. If there's something particularly amazing, I can certainly pick it out, but otherwise you'd get something like: "I don't know, it was a fun read." Which is a terrible review. Even so, I try to at least give things stars on different sites when I read. Also, I'm a big fan of Goodreads. It's like a big, public, personal bookshelf, and I like to let my shelf do the talking.

Anyway, here are two articles that caught my eye. The first I found through The Passive Voice from Dave Farland. The other was from self-publishers Derek J Canyon, who is always generous with the advice. The parts that resonated with me, specifically?

From David:
As authors, we ought to be spending more time trying to connect with readers than with writers.
And from Derek:
Posting on forums, updating blogs, sending out emails, trying to get interviews and reviews on big websites, and so on takes a LOT of time. Every hour of promotion is one less precious hour the author has for writing the next book in the series you love.
I've mentioned before that my current marketing plan is to basically do no marketing for five years. Great plan, huh? Certainly it's reflected in my meager sales. Yet, I have two books and a novelette out there. I doubt I would have that much had a spent more time with marketing. I wish I could do both, but if I'm going to keep one thing, it's definitely going to be the writing.

At the very core, here is my rationale. If, ten years from now, I look back and say... man, I have all these books that I wrote and no one ever really purchased, that's not an awful place to be. Hopefully my writing will have improved. Hopefully I don't just suck. At the very least, I've seen projects through to their completion and given myself a chance. There is no shame in that (especially if you love writing anyway).

If I looked back and said... shoot, I wish I had more books. Unless I stumbled upon a magic book that catapults me to instant fame and riches (not likely even if I were chasing this full-time), then how far have I really gotten? I think I have better chance at success if I write more books than if I marketed the hell out of the few I have. At some point, I'll bet there's a gray area where I really should market what I have if I want to write more books. I'm not at that point yet.

Ineffective marketing is wasted time. Ineffective writing can still be a learning experience. At least that's my opinion. In the mean time, I read a whole bunch of blogs daily and am taking notes on what works for people.

My favorite marketing experience so far? Book bloggers. I have just a couple that I have a good relationship with, and I love sending them my books. They don't even have to write about them or hype them up. They're simply cool folks that have been supportive and enjoy reading. I wouldn't otherwise have met them had I not ventured out here. I hope that as the publishing dust settles, book bloggers continue to have an important (and hopefully increased) role.

Until then, support your favorite authors... at least with stars!
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Since starting ROW80, I've been somewhat out of sync with the rounds. That is to say, my projects haven't really aligned perfectly to when rounds are starting/finishing. It's not really a big issue, since you can set whatever goals you'd like AND modify them mid-stream. In fact, I would suggest that this has worked to my benefit.

Let me explain. At the end of a round, I usually find myself in the middle of a project. I can still analyze my goals as having been "mostly met" or "mostly missed" if I look at things in week-by-week increments. I don't usually set goals to "finish" something, since I crave flexibility. I aim to get a certain amount done each week, succeed or fail, and then plan for the next week. Things get finished when they get finished.

Keeping steady on my work has enabled me to estimate my writing process. I know about how long it takes me to write a draft, to edit, and to publish. Maybe I'm off by a week or two, but nothing crazy. And I'm small enough (in terms of readers) that nobody is breathing down my neck. Plus, I guess when you consider the sometimes month-long delays that commercial publishing often suffers from, a couple weeks is pretty mundane.

The benefit comes up when preparing for the next round. I don't have to search for new goals, I just keep on keepin' on. Beginnings are the hardest for me. Once I'm going, it's a lot easier to adapt on the fly and keep moving. By NOT aligning my projects, I've all but eliminated any angst I might feel at beginning a new round; I simply do not start fresh, and I like it that way.

It was an interesting bit of reflection I wanted to share. Perhaps your own projects could use some dis-alignment. Especially if you have trouble getting started... just, well, finish in the middle. Anyway, here's a look at the goals.
  • Lesson Learned - See above. Misalignment is my modus operandi.
  • WIP Progress - Knocked out five pages this week. Just barely on target. Would have liked to do more, but I spent the weekend re-visiting my novelette. More on that in a few days. Point here: goal achieved.
  • Blogging - 3/3 here, but only 2/3 on the gaming blog. Having been gaming a lot lately, so the writing dries up over there. I'm not completely displeased, as it is perhaps the most optional of my current responsibilities. I still owe a personal post this month, too.
  • Reading - I've kept up with the group read. The pace seems just perfect for me. You can see my responses in the post yesterday. It's been a lot of fun so far, even if I haven't been able to comment elsewhere as much as I'd like. I'm a fail social butterfly, but at least I'm trying.
That's all for this week. Things should stay busy for next week. Here are the word counts:
  • Since last check in: 4,205
  • New Fiction: 1,818
  • Round 2 Total: 32,342
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Warbreaker Group Read, Week Three

Week three! It's bigger than week two. Also, we're deep into the story now. Stuff's startin' to get real. So let's get right to the questions. Thanks again to Naithin and Amanda for hosting.

1. Lightsong is beginning to remember his past, or at least, what he thinks is his past. Why do you think this knowledge is coming to him now, after five years as a Returned? 

Well, if you believe in the divinity of the Returned, it's obviously because he's nearing the part where he completes what he was sent back to do.

If not, then it's just because he's coincidentally been roped into something that echoes his former life.

Personally, I think it might be a bit of both.

2. In this section, Vivenna has learned a lot about herself, and not necessarily to her liking. How do you think the new knowledge will change her going forward? 

She seems to be venturing down a dark road. Bitterness is not very princess-like, if you ask me. It's going to be a lot more difficult when she finally does find her sister and realizes Siri is not exactly unhappy. On the flip side, this could motivate her to get really, really badass with her Breaths. I applaud that possibility.

3. From the beginning of the book, both the Idrians and Lightsong have been telling us that the Returned aren't Gods, and that the Hallendren religion is untrue. Now, though, we've had a few other different perspectives: Jewels' vehement faith in the God King, the God King's own belief in his divinity, and finally, Hoid's collection of historical stories. Given the new information, have your ideas about religion in this book changed? How do you view it now? 

Not really. Though the Returned may be more similar to prophets than angels (as I last hypothesized). They still seem rather fragile to be gods. And very human. Though the Greek gods were pretty petty in their own right. I guess what I'm saying is: wouldn't be the first set of gods that I didn't believe in. 

4. Denth says, "Every man is a hero in his own story." What do you make of this, especially given Denth and Vasher's apparent rivalry, and Vivenna and Siri's different perspectives of life in Hallendren and the Gods' court?

First of all, I think it's great social commentary on Brandon Sanderson's part. This is an apt statement not just for the story, but for life in general. This isn't to say that everyone is self-centered, but more that we all can only experience life from our specific point of view. Everyone has their own motivations that aren't always easy for someone else to understand.

I think it's easy to see how this applies to the current story situation. There are a lot of opposing viewpoints, and we've not really been present with one clear villain. In fact, the closest thing we have to a concrete villain so far is the high priests (who cut of the God Kings tongue). Even then, they're not doing a whole lot that is blatantly evil.

Those who traditionally read fantasy will likely agree with me, rarely do we go so far in a book without clearly knowing who the bad guy is. Traditional fantasy almost always has a Big Bad established by now. Heck, we've usually seen some random merciless killings just to cement the evil. Sometimes the monster unseen is the scariest, however. I don't know about you, but I certainly feel a wonderful additional tension of "who the heck am I supposed to want dead?" I mean, someone's gotta fight someone else and die, right? This is fantasy we're talking about!

I suppose I'll just have to read on and see.

That's all for this week. More to come next Tuesday!
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Friday, June 8, 2012

Self-Publishing Imprint, Fake?

I came across an article this week that got me thinking. Is it immoral or "fake" to have your own business entity along with the books you're publishing? To be honest, I didn't even realize this was an issue. I had several thoughts, in no particular order.

First, who even notices the publisher? I've been an avid reader all of my life, and I can name only a few imprints (and I'll be honest, I'm not very loyal. Except when it comes to authors, and then I'm super-loyal). Only when I got into self-publishing did I even acknowledge that those imprints were part of larger entities. The entire system of big publishing is a bit convoluted to begin with. I double many readers can puzzle out who is who. Then again, I have the same problem at the Day Job. Too many levels of management, says I.

Let's say there are readers that do notice the publisher. Enough to be significant. The question in my mind, then, is how do these people react when looking at my books? I'd like to think it's pretty obvious. My name is Matt Hofferth; it is the name on the books. Hofferth Books, LLC is our business entity. Does anyone question that they're related, run by the same people? I don't think there's a lot of smoke and mirrors going on here.

I guess I could see how some of the self-publishers with more cryptic business names might confuse someone. Still, if a reader is very publisher-conscious, how did they find us? Our marketing arms are hardly far-reaching. Not when you compare them to, say, the Avengers. (And which studio was responsible for that movie? I loved it. Was it Universal? Disney? Who else is there?)

I would posture that such a reader might be adventurous, looking for an undiscovered gem. And if there's anything I've learned about adventuring through writing fantasy, it's always to beware of thieves on the road. That is to say, I would expect such a reader to have a skeptical eye, and it doesn't take much to see through my mirage (or lack thereof).

On the flip side of this argument, there are a whole bunch of business reasons that make sense for self-publishers to go to the trouble of forming a business entity. I'm not sure I'm aware of all them. The simplest, and biggest, is probably for tax liability. I employed a wonderful tax prep consultant this year, and she helped me find a whole bunch of business-related items that I could write off. Tax time is perhaps the only time of year when it's a good thing that you're not profitable yet.

At the end of the day, I'm worried about the reader, though. I don't want any readers of mine to feel duped or misled. I've taken care to present myself as genuinely as I possibly can. I'm not in this business to fleece people. I love stories. I want to tell and share them. I'd like to do it more than just a few hours a night. That's where readers and money come in. It's win-win for everyone as far as I can see. If it stops being that, I'd probably stop doing this. I'd still write, but I don't want to swindle anyone.

I know, I was probably way too concerned about a simple article. I guess it just kind of caught me off guard. Have a significant portion of people really been fooled by this? Or, more succinctly, been fooled and regretted it? (If they were fooled into trying a self-pub book and really enjoyed it, that's a good fooling right? Sort of like when you find $20 in your winter jacket pocket.)

So, I guess, if someone notices my publisher, and then notices that the last names match, and then thinks: "hey, this isn't a real publisher..." Well, I'm not sure what else I could have done. It's my goal that you won't be able to tell the difference. At least, once you get between the covers.
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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

#ROW80 - A Word Soak

Nothing too exciting today. Busy at the Day Job, so I'll be quick. The short story is that I'm settling back into writing mode. I think writing is like a drug for me. I'm a whole lot more calm when I'm working on a story. This isn't really a surprise--writing has always been a soothing balm--but emotionally, it feels like I'm taking that first dip into a hot tub. You know, when everything feels all tingly and you just can't help but let out an "ahhhh."

Am I being productive, though? Let's look at the goals:
  • Lesson Learned - Beginnings are hard. Second books in a series are no different (maybe more so).
  • WIP - Back in writing mode, my goal is 5 pages per week. I hit 7 this week. 5 is a pretty conservative goal, but I'm going to leave it that way until next round. Summer can be unpredictable.
  • Blogging - Hit 3/3 on both blogs. As June just started, I'm on the hook for a personal post, but have plenty of time.
  • Reading - Posted the second batch of group read questions yesterday. That's been a blast so far. If you want to see a horribly nerdy comment from me, check out the comments after Naithin's (one of the hosts) post. I was doing some fantasy napkin math. I wanted to know the population needed to support Sanderson's gods.
Pretty good week. The word count should be up, too, since I'm back in writing mode. There are still a few things to do on Fates' Motif, but nothing critical. My wife got the print edition to go live last night. We fixed everything we found in the proof and got a digital proof this time (instead of a hardcopy). Everything looked good, so we put it up. Still, we ordered an author copy right away and I won't feel satisfied until I hold it and flip through it. We'll probably send out a newsletter then in case anyone was waiting for print.

For any curious readers, a reminder: I do have several deals with print books. They're all up there on the Special Offers page. I am more than happy to do signed books, and I offer the e-book (in any format) free with a print purchase. I wish my favorite authors did this (hint hint, Brandon Sanderson... not that he reads here or has that kind of control). I love having his books on my shelf, but also love the convenience of my e-reader. Anything that'd let me have my cake and eat it... 

Anyway, hope everyone else is having a good week. Here's what my word count looks like:
  • Since last check in: 6,163
  • New Fiction: 2,695
  • Round 2 Total: 28,137
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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Warbreaker Group Read, Week Two

It's time again. Tuesday, that is. Time for part two of the Warbreaker Group Read. This week was chapters 13-23. Thanks again to Naithin and Amanda for playing hosts. So, without further ado, let's dive right in.

1) We’ve seen more of Vasher and Nightblood in action and heard perhaps quite a different perspective from the mercenaries. Any thoughts on what Vasher and Nightblood’s nature or motivations may ultimately be?

I think Vasher has a problem with the religion of the Returned, and wants to see it brought low. He obviously does not revere the Returned as deities, even going so far as to disrespect them (with the break-in). His reaction to Vivenna is puzzling, but I don't think he wanted to kill her. Whatever his goals are, I believe they're much bigger than we've been led to believe by the conversations of the mercenaries. Nightblood, I think, is just along for the ride (and the killing).

2) How about the mercenaries themselves? Denth seems to be spectacularly dangerous; more than we may have suspected. Then, there is Tonk Fah and the recently introduced Jewels. Are they playing it level with Vivenna, do you think?

No. People with spectacular talents are rarely simple mercenaries. Obviously, they have an agenda of their own. So long as Vivenna's does not cross theirs, I assume they'll continue to aid her. I suspect, before the end, those paths will be put at odds, and we'll see the mercenaries true colors.

3) We – and Siri – were let in on (some of) the secrets surrounding the God King as well, and what has been done to him to keep him in check. Or at least; we’ve seen Siri’s thoughts on why it was done. Do you think she was right? What consequences do you perhaps see arising from her teaching the Godking?

I do think she was right, mostly. I'm sure the priests that perpetrated the act on the God King believe they were doing it in the best interests of the people. That is, someone with that much power could not be allowed to rule unchecked.

If she succeeds in secretly teaching the God King, he may begin to assert himself more. I wonder if, perhaps, he is more like Lightsong than the other gods. That is, I wonder if he believes in his own religion. How could he, with what's been done to him? He may just want to be let out of the garden (and perhaps give up some breath). I could definitely see someone like him wishing for a "normal" life.

4) Blushweaver seems to be working toward some end goal we’re not yet privy to, but we know she is after anyone with Lifeless commands. Any ideas what/who/where her target may be once control of the Lifeless is gained?

I think she wants power, plain and simple. Perhaps she wants to be the new God King. She could be plotting a coup. Or maybe has some sort of specific vendetta against the Royals. At the end of the day, I think she just wants to win, whatever the costs. Which, I believe, is why Lightsong infuriates her so. He seems to win despite himself (even when playing crazy orb-style lawn darts, or whatever).

That's all. More chapters coming next Tuesday. (And if you still would like to jump in, head over to the host sites and sign up. No harm in jumping in late if you'd like!)
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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Second Book in a Series

Day Job has been so busy that I've not really been able to keep up with my self-imposed posting schedule. This Friday was especially busy, and I had even planned some fiction out the night before. After work hasn't been a whole lot more calm, but I figured I'd hammer out a quick post on Saturday to keep things rolling.

I'm just about to spend an hour or so doing my writing for the day. I knocked out two pages on Thursday, but took a nap instead of writing on Friday. Thus, today is a make-up day. Also, perhaps a get ahead day.

It's been a bit more difficult than expected to start off the new novel. This is the first time I've attempted to write the second book in a series. I'd heard that it can be difficult, but seeing is believing, as they say. For the Spirit Binder Series, I wanted to keep the books mostly self-contained. Fans of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files will know what I mean. He does a wonderful job of keeping a series going, but making the books standalone to some extent. That's what I'm shooting for.

I'm trying to take a page out of his book as far as the beginning goes. Basically, he hits the ground running. He'll remind you of some important details about the characters, reference their past adventures, but doesn't get bogged down in retelling. He gives just enough that, had you picked up the book out of order, you'd be in good shape, but it also brings a knowing smile to those of us that have read the previous novels.

This is surprisingly difficult to do. On one hand, it's necessary. The reminders are as much for myself as for the readers. I need to re-establish characters that I've not written about in a year. Fortunately, I take notes, so I can consult those to make sure I get the details right. The tricky part comes when you want to make the first part move, but have a whole bunch of info to dump.

There are several tools I've picked up over the years that I think can be employed in this situation. The first, and perhaps my favorite, is to have much of the background related through character dialog. The bonus here is that it can make characters seem more real. Of course they'd still be talking about that crazy time last year, when yadda yadda.

I have to get the viewpoint character to a dialog before I can do that. So I've been digging deeper into the toolbox for some of the backups. One is to intersperse musings with travel. This seems natural to me. A lot of times we reflect on things when we're driving, walking, or whatever. Just when you're getting neck deep in reflections... oh, I shoot I missed my turn. Or something.

What I probably should do it simply throw in an explosion. A good gun fight always spices things up, right? I'm not really doing guns, though.

So we'll see how this goes. Beginnings are always challenging, and the second in a series seems to add a bit extra. This is only a first draft, so if I don't the nail on the head, I have plenty of time to fiddle with it.
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