Oct 202016
 

081215_1754_WW8Publishi1.jpgIt’s been a few weeks since I posted here.  Last you heard, I had just published  the short story, The Burning Land. Since then, I’ve been working like a fiend on my next two releases, Chucklers – Book 1, and Year 12, both of which are very close to being published.

CB1 – I have to admit to a bit of panic when Severed sent me the CB1 ebook file for approval.  See, I had requested a copy of the formatted .mobi file with the cover, table of contents, front matter, back matter, etc.  Basically, I wanted to see exactly what it was going to look like when a reader loaded it onto their Kindle.  I’m one of those readers who reads my Kindle with the nighttime mode on.  I find it easier on  my eyes.

If you don’t already know, night mode is the setting on most Kindles wherein you can invert the standard setting of black text on a white background, to white text on a black background.  There is even a sepia setting for those who prefer black text, but find the white background to tiring on the eyes.  However, I’ve run into documents that have formatting issues that only become visible in night mode.  Things like a bad tag on the text color that makes it black, even when the color of the background changes.  Yeah, try reading black text on a black background sometime.  See how well that works for you.  :dazed:

Another common problem is when certain parts of the work refuse to accept the night setting. You’re reading along, relaxing with your low light, white text/black background setting, when WHAM!  You click to the next page and there is a section that has black or gray text that is “highlighted” with a bright, white background, like in the picture above.

I’ve dealt with those, and other issues, either with my own titles, or in other books I’ve read.  As a result, I’m a little cautious.  I like to make sure my titles are as problem free as I can make them.  So when I opened the file they sent me, only to find no cover, no TOC, no front or back matter at all, and more than two dozen formatting problems, I have to admit, I began to panic.  I contacted the fine folks at Severed with a list of the issues and got a puzzled reply.  They weren’t having the same problems, even after testing on multiple devices.  They sent another copy of the file, and when I opened it, lo and behold, the cover, front matter, back matter… everything that had freaked me out when I found it missing in the first file, was there.  There were four minor problems, one of which was an error I had made in the original manuscript, that I didn’t catch until going over it again for this pass.

I have no idea what happened, but can only assume that the first file was somehow corrupted in transmission.  Whatever it was, Severed responded quickly, and I’m now confident that CB1 is going to come out as a fine product.  Better yet, it’s close enough to being ready, that I think it will probably be out pretty quickly.  So again, if you haven’t signed up for my new release mailing list, please consider doing so here.  I always make my first announcements and cover reveals there, before anyone else gets to see them.

 

Y12 Year 12 is off to Red Adept Editing.  I’ve used RAE for editing almost everything I’ve self-pubbed, and they’ve never disappointed.  They’re the people I always recommend whenever anyone asks for a good editor.  Since this is the beginning of the editing process, I know I probably have another month or so before Y12 is ready to publish, but believe me, I’m going to keep you all up to date as it winds its way through the process.  Besides, I still need to do a blurb, dedication, acknowledgements, and all the other finishing touches that go on a manuscript before it’s published, not to mention the cover.

And speaking of covers… I had a short conversation with Glendon at Streetlight Graphics that leads me to believe they’re already working on cover design for it.  To be perfectly honest, when they contacted me, I was so busy, that I don’t even fully recall the conversation.  But I do remember answering some of the basic questions they always ask before putting a cover together.  By the way, they’re another company I can recommend with the utmost confidence.  They do great covers and formatting if you’re in the market.

So, Y12 is getting close to publication, too.  I feel pretty confident that it will be out before the end of the year.

 

Other projects –

EPPEnd Point Pangaea is back on top as my priority WIP.  I hope to have the first draft done by the end of the year.

TBLThe Burning Land – But wait!  That one is already published, isn’t it?  Well, yes.  But I’m going to use it to try my hand at producing an audiobook.  I’ve already got a few titles out on Audible, but I’ve never taken the time to actually record one, myself.  But TBL, as a short story, is short enough that I hope to learn that process, and so open another income stream.

After those?  Well, I have several titles I plan on doing.  I just don’t know which ones will top the list.  I need to do Chucklers – Book 2, End Point Pangaea 2, the second Amber Payne book, or any one of several other projects.

But for now, I need to go fix dinner.  Sausage-stuffed portobello caps and salad.  Yum!   :-))  So stay safe, everyone.  I’ll talk to you next time.   :bye:

 

Mar 022016
 

A couple of new things in the works – one is definitely happening, and one is actually pretty unlikely…

WW34EFirst the easy one. The event that’s definitely happening is an upcoming brainstorming session on The Roundtable Podcast.  The RTP is a podcast for writers in which the host and guest hosts help a guest writer to brainstorm a story that (s)he is working on.  They bring in a writing professional, and a guest writer (in this instance, the guest writer role will be filled by yours truly), and brainstorm a story idea the writer wants to flesh out.

In my instance, I’m pitching the basic synopsis for Warrior Clan.  We will discuss it, pick it apart, find the holes in it, and put the pieces back together in such a way that those holes get filled in and (hopefully) improve the story.  I’m really looking forward to the process.  There is a problem I have at the beginning of the plot and I could really use more metaphorical eyes on the issue.

Anyway, the test run is tomorrow at noon.  Recording the actual brainstorming session is supposed to take place this coming Saturday.  We don’t have a firm time yet, but I imagine I’ll find that our during the dry run tomorrow.

I’m incredibly stoked about this, and just know I’ll get some great ideas from it.

Now, in the “highly unlikely” category… I’ve applied for a writing fellowship with the Tulsa Artists Foundation.  A friend sent me a link last week, saying she thought it might be something I would be interested in (thanks Betty!   :waving: ).  At first, I didn’t think I would apply.  As I said, the chances of my being selected are pretty slim.

But the more I thought about it, the more I began to question myself.  Was I once again playing the role of my own worst enemy?  Was I pulling the warm and comfortable blanket of imposter syndrome around my shoulders, as I so often do? I wrote about it in “WW29 – Moving, Writing, and Paranoia“.  (Ironically enough, The Dead Robots’ Society podcast discussed the same thing just a few weeks later.)

So setting doubt aside, I said to myself, “Self, why not apply anyway?  What’s the worst that can happen?  They tell you ‘no’ and you move on about your business.”  Besides, as slim as my chances are for winning the fellowship, they’re infinitely worse if I don’t apply at all.  So I applied.

And I’m glad I did.  The application process was enlightening.  It’s not that it was actually difficult, but it forced me to review my reasons for why I write some of what I write.  For instance, besides the normal requests for references and contact information, there was “What would an opportunity like this mean to your career now? How would you hope to engage with the Tulsa community?”  (Oh, and by the way… please answer with 100 words or less, and 600 characters or less…)

That one stumped me for a while.  I mean, what do I have to offer the local community?  Specifically, the local writing community.

Ad the “Artistic Statement” that asked for my “Explanation and vision relating to (my) writing overall and the work samples provided.” (And don’t forget that 100 word, 600 character limitation…)

But they made me reflect for a bit, and that’s a good thing.  Especially the request for an Artistic Statement.  But after the initial deer in the headlights reaction, I realized that I had already answered this question in earlier posts here on the blog.  I just had to condense my response to the 100 words or less format.

Interested?  (I’m going to assume so, or you wouldn’t still be reading. So here goes…)

I want my readers to question themselves and the world around them. My characters are often non-traditional. I eschew the typical damsel in distress in favor of women of strength. I want my readers to understand that people of all ethnicities and sexual orientations are seldom defined solely by those traits, and that strength is more than a physical attribute. I want readers to relate to the weaknesses that we all have within – to show them that we can be flawed, yet still have the strength of character that will allow us to persevere in the face of adversity.

That’s it.  When I think about my main characters, (Leeland Dawcett from Half Past Midnight, Kenni Anderson and Mark Roesch from The Road to Rejas, Amber Payne from Streets of Payne, Sima in Ghost Story, Layla Golden from The Burning Land…) all of them embody various characteristics of that statement.  And I have to say, that makes me happy.

So whether I get the fellowship or not, applying for it has been an eye opener.

And that about covers the “unlikely” side of things.

So back to work.  You guys stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next week. :bye:

Aug 172011
 

Just a short post tonight.  I’ve been working on the rewrites on Half Past Midnight for some time now.  No matter how many times I thought I would finish “any day now”, it always seemed to take longer than I anticipated. Well, as of this evening, this round of edits is complete!

Woohoo!!!:party:

I sent my revisions back to Lynn, and she will be going over them in the next week or so.  If I understand the process, what happens next depends on what she finds during her examination.  I believe the possible options are:

1. She reads it, finds something that I flubbed, and sends it back to me for more revision.

OR

2. She reads it, finds it at least close to acceptable, and passes it on to her primary proofreader.

Then they make notes and send it back to me.  I go over their notes, accept or reject any remaining suggestions, and either go with another optional round of proofreading, or move on to the formatting stage of the process.

In the meantime, I have also contacted a graphic artist to begin exploring the costs of getting the cover done.  I have something very specific in mind for the cover, and will need someone with decent PhotoShop skills to do it.  My dad actually gave me the idea, and I’m pretty excited about it.  It is both simple, and iconic in design, and I need to get a few quotes and sample from some artists.  Once done, I anticipate that it will be a pretty unique cover that will be easily recognized.  It also presents an opportunity for me to develop a visual “style” for my covers.

So in looking at my “checklist” , here’s what I have –

  • First draft of the manuscript – Done.
  • First editing round of manuscript – Done
  • Cover for novel – In discovery phase
  • Formatting for publication – vendor chosen, waiting on cover art
  • Recording of novel for podcasting – process worked out, promo recorded, first episode recorded (but will likely redo, now that process has been refined and manuscript is through initial edits).

(Sigh)   Yeah, I still have a way to go.  But every day is a little more progress.  And as long as I keep moving forward, it is sure to eventually be completed.

Jul 262011
 

Yep.  I’m still at it. :?  This post could easily turn into a litany of reasons I haven’t finished the editing, but I will resist that particular temptation.  If there is anything that I’ve learned over the last fifty years, it’s that life will always give you excuses not to finish important projects.  There will always be outings with the family, overtime needed at work, or that great new book or movie to distract you.  And after enough of these distractions, you look back and realize that the progress meter on whatever project you’re tracking isn’t moving all that quickly.

It can get depressing, and there are times when you look in the mirror and ask yourself, “who do you really think you’re kidding?”

Anyone who knows me, knows I go through occasional bouts with this feeling of malaise.  But this time I find its grip is weaker.  I’ve come to accept that it’s up to me whether or not I allow life to dissuade me from completion of my chosen task.  And I choose “not”.

So while my progress has been slow, it has nevertheless been steady.  I finished the last of my repetitive word/phrase edits this morning and I think I’m on the home stretch overall.  I’m currently working on some character enhancements, which is the last major part of my edits. (Yay me!) :)   After that, all that’s left are minor little tweaks (like adding another Century at the beginning of a chapter, where I broke a long chapter into two smaller ones).

I’m almost afraid to say anything for fear that I’ll jinx myself, but I hope to finish the last of my edits this coming weekend.  In other words, by this time next week, I should be working on the podcast version of the book – at least until Lynn goes through it again and points out everything I’ve missed.  :)   Then the next round of editing begins.

In other news…

Reading – I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a huge fan of Nathan Lowell‘s work, both audio and written.  I’ve listened to the podiobook version of all his Solar Clipper books (twice), the Tanyth Fairport novel – Ravenwood, and South Coast.  Additionally, I’ve purchased and read the three Solar Clipper books that are currently out for Kindle, and even got my wife hooked on them.  We’re both chomping at the bit, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Double Share.  I’ve even become one of his rabid fans who listens to his daily musings on his “Talking On My Morning Walk” podcast (though I’m just now up to the early June podcasts).  I don’t necessarily recommend them to everyone, unless you want a little insight into his thoughts on writing (which I definitely do).

So imagine how tickled I was to find that he has released the first of a series of novellas set in the universe of the “Golden Age of the Solar Clipper”.  It’s called “A Light In The Dark (Tales of the Deep Dark)“, and is available for 99 cents as a Kindle download (and probably B&N or iOS as well, though I don’t know for sure).  It took me all of five seconds to click the button for that one, and I’m currently just under halfway through it.  The man is a great storyteller and writer, and an inspiration to me.  Basically, he personifies the type of writer I would like to be.  I dare you to read his stuff and not be impressed.  :)

Work – Things are exciting at work these days (think of the ancient Chinese curse when I say exciting).  We just rolled out a new ERP system to our division of the company, and as IT support supervisor for a good portion of our North and South American sites, I got to be on the front lines for problem resolution – and there have been plenty of them.  Now that the dust is beginning to settle, the company is undergoing a major re-org, and my team and I are being rolled into a new division.  Coincidentally, this new division is the next on the list to undergo the new ERP rollout. AARRRGGGHHHHH!! 

So we will once more be on the front lines, for the next phase of what (if the latest experience is any indication) will likely be another two or three-month long rollout – during which time all our other tasks will be shoved to the back burner.  The thing is – even on the back burner, some things are bound to boil over.  At this rate, we’ll NEVER get caught up.  (sigh)

Home – Baby bird is about ready to leave the nest.  Just a few more weeks, and we’ll be moving the youngest to her dorm for her first year in college.  It’s a strange feeling, actually.  All the stories you hear about how “it’s different with the youngest” appear to be true.  While the eldest daughter never went to college, neither did she let any grass grow under her feet when she graduated high school.  Within a few weeks after graduation, she had moved out and was looking for greener pastures.  Middle son spent two years in a special program for the military, attempting to get into a combat aviation program.  During his second year of college, the Navy changed their vision requirements for pilots, and he was suddenly ineligible.  He then tried for a spot in a Marine Officer candidate training program and was doing well when his recruiter was found to be falsifying records.  She was court marshalled, and since there was no way to determine what records had been tampered with, and which ones hadn’t, all records of all candidates were thrown out, and he was right back to square one.  He’s now working on a plain enlistment, but on his own terms.  On the one hand, I REALLY sympathize with his situation.  On the other, he REALLY needs to get out on his own.  :)

I guess the point I was trying to make was that both of the older kids were ready to get out on their own, and we were ready to help them do so.  Baby bird is actually a bit more difficult.  While academically she is the most well-rounded of the kids, she is also the only one that seems to be almost afraid to leave the nest.  That makes it harder for us, too.  Still, she’s an amazingly talented artist (spoken as a proud parent – no prejudice here at all :) ) and is pursuing her dream, going for her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.  As a matter of fact, I am hoping to get her to do the artwork for my book cover.

So that’s it for now.  Time to get back to work.

Ack!  On second thought it looks like it’s time to get to bed.  I’ll work on the edits again tomorrow.

Wish me luck.

Jun 222011
 

As mentioned in my previous post, the second round of editing is done.  That means the progress bar is now reset, and it looks depressingly empty.  I suppose it’s time to do something about that.  :)

Since this round is more subjective, and not something that I can quantify quite as easily as just listing the number of pages edited, I have decided to go with an approximation.  My editor, Lynn O’Dell, left about seventy-five additional comments and a few pages of notes that I still need to go over to see if I’ve addressed them properly, and to do something about if I haven’t.  I figure that between those two sources of editing notes, a simple zero to 100 progress meter should help keep me on track with how I’m doing.  Obviously, some of those tasks will go easier and quicker than others, so the progress is likely to be sporadic, but please be patient with me (as I will have to be patient with myself) as I wind my way through new ground.

I’ve come to realize now that, while I’ve always been a writing enthusiast, it’s only within the last few months that I’ve truly decided to become a writing professional, and breaking into any new career is scary as hell.  The “business” of writing is considerably more complex than simply following the old adage of “ass in chair, hands to keyboard”.  It’s a lot of work… make that a LOT of work :) , but it’s also a LOT of fun.  And while I know that just now I’m flailing around a bit because I don’t really know what all I need to get done at any given time (branding, networking, marketing, editing, writing, podcasting – which I suppose is part of branding and marketing but seems like a whole art unto itself) all of these things are tasks that I have set myself as part of being a modern “professional” writer.

Matthew Wayne Selznick posted a guest blog on The Dead Robots’ Society entitled “What Every Modern Writer Needs To Know”, and I was gratified to see that his views for the most part echo mine.  I suppose it’s more apropos to say that my views echo his, but what the hell, this is my blog. :lol:  Seriously though, Selznick posits that “writing” is no longer a viable term for what I am doing.  The word no longer conveys what we now go through to get our stories to our audiences, and he proposes that we are no longer just writers, but are instead some kind of multi-media bards.  He uses the old term “storyteller” but the multi-media bard is an analogy that I’ve had rattling around in my head since I began to see just how much the writing business has changed. 

You see these days, getting a “book” out to an audience isn’t just a matter of typing away and sending off to an agent or publisher.  First of all, just what is a book anymore?  Gone are the days when the word automatically referred to a bound set of paper pages.  Now a book can be in print, electronic, or audio format.  It’s the same story, but the media changes to fit the needs of your audience.  The old process of sitting and writing is just the first step now.  After that, you have to work on what format you want to present.  For those going the traditional route, the path is still pretty well established; send your manuscript off to an agent, and hope they can find a publisher to take you on.  Unfortunately, that’s a tedious and time-consuming process that usually takes anywhere from several months to a year or more for a single manuscript.  Now, I know  that any writer worth his or her salt isn’t simply sitting around by the phone, hoping for the phone call that will announce their sudden rise to stardom.  They’re busily working on the next manuscript so they can start that whole process all over again with another story.

But the game is changing.  A tough economy and new technologies are changing it, and traditional publishing is struggling to keep up.  What used to be a pretty monopolized industry, geared mostly at making the big six bigger, has busted wide open.  Now, an author has a choice.  He can either try for a small piece of the very large pies offered by traditional publishing, or he can go for larger pieces of the many smaller pies now available through self- and indie- publishing, small press publishing, e-book publishing, and audio publishing.  And the thing is, the large pies of traditional publishers seem to be getting smaller as the big six cut back on their mid-list authors, instead concentrating their efforts and money on the established big-name authors in hopes of staying afloat.  At the same time, entrepreneurs have recognized the advantages that new technologies such as e-book readers, print on demand, audiobooks, and social networking have made available, and they have embraced them.  And in so doing, they have greatly increased the size of the various indie- and self-publishing pies.  Not only that, but those pies are available to anyone willing to put forth the work necessary to get to them.

Getting your stories out to an audience used to be akin to winning the literary lottery.  Now, it’s a more realistic goal attainable by those who are willing to put forth the hard work and sweat equity to get there.  I guess for me it’s more attractive because it now seems that success or failure is more in the individual’s hands, rather than in the hands of agents and/or publishers who are so overworked, underpaid, and buried under so many manuscripts that there is absolutely no way they can ever read them all.  The new model is more akin to free market enterprise, and anyone willing to invest the time and effort in creating a good product, and marketing it properly, has a decent shot at becoming a success.

So I’m trying to learn about this new business of writing.  There is a thirty to forty-five minute commute to and from work each weekday that used to be wasted time.  My choices used to be to either listen to the same songs on the radio over and over again (along with the inane babblings of DJs that seem to talk down to the least educated people in their demographic), or listen to the talking heads irritate the hell out of me over the sad state of affairs in government.  Now I either listen to a “podiobook” from Podiobooks.com or (more likely these days) a podcast on writing from either the Dead Robots’ Society, Podcasting for Dummies, or Mur Lafferty’s “I Should be Writing”.  Between those, I hope I’m learning what’s working and what isn’t.  Even when I listen to a podiobook, I now listen to it with an ear to how the intros and outtros are put together, what the level of background production seems to be, and what the author and/or narrator did on the reading.

So for now, it’s back to work – back to editing – back to learning about this newly emerging reimaging of an old industry.  And I’m finding that I love it.  I’m invigorated, enjoying the fun new world that is a multi-media bard’s playground. 

Yeah, it’s fun.  :)   So let the games begin.