Oct 092019
 

We have family visiting for a while, so the writing has slowed a bit.  I’m still getting a few hundred words a day, but like I said, slow…

October 1st saw the first three names drawn in my Payne Before The Storm (PBS) giveaway.  Of the three I drew, only one replied back with their shipping address.  I don’t know if this is going to be a recurring theme, but if so, I suppose I’ll just continue to draw multiple names each month until I get a reply.  And as you can see by the pic to the left, the first books going out will be advanced reader copies, and are stamped with Amazon’s “Not for resale” banner. Some people prefer these, others don’t.  For now, that’s what I have.  ;)

Amber Payne book 3 (AP3) is currently sitting at just under 21000 words, but until I get more of the sections patched together, I still have no way of knowing how much of that will make the final cut.  I’ve decided for now that I’ll simply report the numbers as they fall with the knowledge that on some weeks, they will drop (when I cut sections out), and on others they will climb.  At some point things will level out and they will become a reliable indicator of the actual length of the book once more.

Crazy Larry has stalled again. I’m not sure what the problem is, but the story simply isn’t satisfying to me.  And if I’m not happy with it, I can’t write enthusiastically about it.  And if I’m not enthusiastic about it, the writing comes across as sub-par.  I try not to do sub-par.  So for now, it’s sitting on the back burner while I work on AP3.

Let’s see, what else is going on…

Oh!  I’ve contracted with the amazingly talented Veronica Giguere to do the audio version of PBS.  She’s got a busy schedule, and won’t be able to get to the book for a couple of months, but the estimated completion is mid-December.  More on that as things progress.

And I think that’s about it for now.  I’ll get back to you next time.  Until then, stay safe everyone.  

Sep 182019
 

Yep, it’s been a LOOONNNGGG time since I posted here.  Nine months, in fact.  That’s because I ran into problems with the new Amber Payne novel (lots and LOTS of problems) and I told myself that I was tired of posting excuse after excuse about why it was taking so long to get that particular novel written.  So my solution (misguided or not) was to stop posting on the blog until I could tell you that it was finally finished.

Well, guess what?  It’s finally finished!  Better yet, it’s published and is beginning to sell… at least the kindle version.  The title is Payne Before the Storm, and I hope to have the print version available within the next week or so. Once it’s out, there will also be a bit of work in reworking the cover and formatting on the first novel in the series, Streets of Payne.  It’s necessary from a branding perspective, and it takes time to do it right.  Luckily I’ve got a great cover artist and formatter in Glendon Haddix at Streetlight Graphics.  I can’t say enough about how great he is to work with.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to run a little promotion with the release of this newest title.  If you’re interested in getting a free, signed copy of Payne Before the Storm I’m going to be holding a monthly drawing for the first year after the novel is published.  You can enter one of two ways.

  1. If you haven’t already done so, you can go to “jlbrackett.com” and join my mailing list. Each new sign up will become eligible for the monthly drawing.  OR…
  2. Leave an honest review of the book on Amazon, then email me a copy of your review at jlb.author@gmail.com.

On the first of each month, for twelve months after the publication date, I will draw one name (or perhaps more) at random and email the winner(s) to get shipping information.

Offer ends twelve months after publication date.

So the bad news is that it took so long to get the book written.  You remember me mentioning “lots and LOTS of problems”?  Well, most of those problems were caused by me trying to put too much in one book.  It took forever for me to realize that I was actually telling two separate stories in the same novel.  Once I realized that, I had to dissect the novel, cut the two stories apart, clean up any references to the second story line in the first story line, and shore up the gaps.  The good news in all this is that in doing so, the culled story line gave me a good start on the third Amber Payne novel.  You might notice that the progress meters to the right have changed to reflect that.

At the moment, “Amber Payne #3” (AP3) is untitled.  I honestly have no idea what it will be called.  And the progress meter is currently sitting on 15000 words.  That’s just a guess, because I actually cut closer to 25000 words from the earlier version of Payne Before the Storm, but that’s just raw deletions.  Putting it back into a workable manuscript format is going to take a bit of work.

Personal Life

So what have I been doing on the personal front since my last post?  A lot.  Truthfully, way too much to list here.  But the biggest highlight is…

We have a new granddaughter!!  Say hello to Zaria Brackett.  Her due date was May 4th and everyone was all excited at the prospect of having a Star Wars baby (as in May the “fourth” be with you…).  Evidently Zaria heard about what a wreck Disney has made of the franchise though, and decided to hold out a few more days.  We took a little time and drove down to spend a bit of time with her and  big sister, Zoe.  And oh yeah, their parents were there, too.  

 

Writing Projects

I hope to get back into a regular routine with the blog here. But I also intend to really throw myself into some of the writing projects I have lined up.

Crazy Larry is coming along. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a long novella, or a short novel.  Either way, I’m hoping to have it finished in another week or two.  This is the story of the first months after the Doomsday War from Half Past Midnight, but it’s told from the perspective of the antagonist in the first novel.  They say everyone is the hero of their own story.  This is Larry Troutman’s story.

AP3 – I already talked about the third Amber Payne novel, but it’s going to be my next major project after Crazy Larry.

Sekrit Projekt – I keep taking these on… projects that I’m really excited about, but because of their nature, I’m not allowed to discuss them.  And even worse, my track record with them has been absolutely terrible!  This will be the fourth one I’ve taken on.  All three of the previous ones have fallen through.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed this time though.  If things work out, it could be a really fun series, and I’ve already got some ideas about some of the stories that want to be told.  IF it works out, I should start work on it in early 2020.

And that’s it for now.  Time to get back to writing.  Have a great day, and stay safe!  

Nov 042018
 

It’s November, and for my fellow writers participating in National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, as most call it), I wish you all the best of luck.  For those of you who might not know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s a movement wherein aspiring authors dedicate the month of November to the goal of writing an entire novel in a single month.  The goal is writing 50k words in thirty days.  I know a few authors who spend most of October getting ready for NaNo, plotting, planning, writing notes, and when November 1 rolls around, they hit the computer with a fury.

Simple math tells you that 50k words divided by 30 days means NaNo-ers must commit to an average of 1667 words every day.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Except it isn’t.  On days when there are no distractions or interruptions, sure.  Knocking out a few thousand words is no big deal.  But for those people who live in a world with children or a job, or even just the day-to-day minutia of regular living, it can be a challenge to do for thirty days straight.

And while I’ve never participated in NaNo, I know several people who have.  I know many who succeed in their goal every year… and I know many who have never quite made their goal.  Hell, I know a few who finish their 50k in less than a week!  In some of the writing groups I follow, writing 10k in a day is called a “Lowell”.  The term is named after Nathan Lowell, who regularly manages to do this in November.  Nathan is a very successful indie author, one of my favorites, as a matter of fact.  But even he admits that 10k a day knocks him on his tail when he does it.  Of course, there are some who claim to have done even more than that.  I know a couple of writers who claim to have written 20k, 25k, even 40k at a single sitting.  The only one I know personally, who backs his claim under the light of public scrutiny though, is Nathan.

But whether the goal is 50k in a month, or a week, my hat is off to all you NaNo-ers, (or it would be if I was wearing a hat). Go get ’em!  

 

Personal News

A couple of weeks ago, I had the surreal experience that most indie authors live for.  I had given a copy of Pangaea: Exiles to a neighbor.  He had given me permission to use his name in the story, but hadn’t had a chance to read the novel.  So I gave him one of my author copies and he took it on a hiking weekend.  When he got back, he tried to return the novel, thinking I had only loaned it to him, and during the course of convincing him that I had given it to him to keep, he said those golden words… one of his friends had seen the novel, and recognized my name.  He had already read Half Past Midnight, and on my friend’s recommendation, immediately went and downloaded PE1.  Someone recognized my name on a book!  I mean, someone I don’t know.  LOL.  Happy dance!

In other news, the contract job is done.  I finished the project Thursday before last (or at least, as much of it as I could do from a remote location).  Four months of a regular day-to-day (and the steady paycheck that goes with it) helped put life back in perspective.  I was lucky enough to be able to spend lunches with MBH (that was by far the highlight of the job), and work with a great group of people, and that was really great.  But while I really did enjoy the experience, as well as getting the opportunity to dip my toes back into the IT waters again, it really is good to get back to the writing.  I hope I’m not being overly ambitious here, but with the day job behind me for a while, I’m actually hoping to finish the first draft of AP2 by the end of the month. This also means that my Website Wednesday posts will actually go back to Wednesdays.  Which brings me to…

 

Writing News

Yes, I know there are going to be interruptions in the schedule, especially that turkey of a holiday in a few weeks.  But I already have the climactic scenes of AP2 in mind, and I’ve already built the framework to getting Amber Payne and her team to those climactic scenes.  So I really do hope I can stay on track well enough to get it done pretty quickly.

Of course, even if I do, at this point, the chances of actually getting it through beta readers, editing, and formatting, before year’s end are pretty slim.  I’m more likely looking at an early 2019 release date.  I have contacted Streetlight Graphics, the company I use for my covers, to get on their schedule.  We spoke for a bit, discussing cover ideas, and I’m confident that they’re going to have a fantastic cover well before the book is ready to release.  Remember “Cover art lesson #2” from my old “Cover art – from a writer’s perspective” post.

Learn to manage the timing of publication.  There are some tasks that are prerequisite to others.  For instance, the book must be written before it can be edited, and it must be edited before it can be formatted for publication.  However, the cover art can be done as soon as you know your novel’s theme, tone, setting, and characters.  Once you have a feel for what you want on the cover, I recommend that you begin working towards getting your cover done.  This will eliminate the frustration of having your novel written, edited, and files ready for publication while you have to wait on your cover.

At this point, I’m beginning to plan my next projects.  2018 has been a bad year for my writing.  The Year 12 audiobook completely fell through, Crazy Larry stalled at about 90% completion, and AP2, (the Streets of Payne sequel) fought me SO much more than I anticipated, and is turning out to be the longest book I’ve written.  When I look back on the year, I really did a poor job of it.  In fact, the only thing I managed to complete and turn in on time was a short story for an anthology.  And that anthology is currently five months behind on publication.  In short, I haven’t gotten anything published in 2018.  Nothing. 

But that also means I’m poised for multiple titles to be released in 2019.  My goal at this point is to publish three novels, and at least two novellas next year.  I have to contact a few people to hammer out details on what these next projects will be, but I have several options.  If one doesn’t pan out, another will.  My goal remains the same… three novels and two novellas.  As badly as I did in 2018, I plan to make 2019 my most productive year to date.  I’m thinking of it as an early New Year’s Resolution.

With that said, time to get to it.  Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you later.  :bye:

Jan 102018
 

Sure, it’s ten days late. But it’s the first post of 2018, so Happy New Year.  

I going to try to be short and sweet with this one because one of my personal resolutions is to buckle down more with the writing.

I don’t have a lot of time to read these days. If I have time to read, then I have time to write.  That means I feel guilty for reading and not putting more content out there.  But I do still listen to audiobooks, since I can do this when I’m walking the dog, or working in the house.

And there is something I’ve noticed.

Some of the more successful writers I’ve listened to just really aren’t all that good.  Or rather, they aren’t as good as I would expect, based on their financial success as authors.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic indie authors out there.  But there are also some pretty mediocre writers that are still extremely successful.

I know, I know, that sounds like the epitome of vanity for me to say something like that.  And it’s not that they’re actually bad writers.  They just aren’t where I would expect them to be as full-time writers who are making a good living at their craft.

And that got me to thinking… what are they doing that I’m not?

Answer –

  1. They produce more titles than I do.  A LOT more.  Sure, they’re usually shorter books, but there are a lot more of them.
  2. They market better than I do. They keep their name and titles out there so that they always have something in the new releases.  And the more the public sees your name, the more they buy your books.
  3. For better or worse, they don’t worry (obsess?) over the quality of the writing as much as I do. The quality of the prose is secondary to the quantity.  
  4. For the most part, they concentrate on a single series until there are several titles under its umbrella before they ever move on to another series.

In short, they’re better businessmen and businesswomen than I am. Now, I can’t do much about the last two items on my list.  It’s in my nature to worry over the quality of my writing and I’ve made myself a promise that I’ll never intentionally let my quality slide.  That’s not to say that I’ll be producing literary masterpieces, but it’s just not in me to do less than I can reasonably be expected to do.

As for the series, I’m already committed to the four series that I have going.  Two are under contract, and the other two make me more money and have established fan-bases, however small they may be.

But I can address the first two items.  I can get better organized and increase my word production.  I’ve already gotten better since the beginning of the year, simply by employing some of the techniques I’ve read about and heard about in various writing podcasts.  In the last few weeks, I’ve almost doubled my average daily word count.  Not only that, but I think I can see ways to do even more.  Fingers crossed here. 

And I can learn more about the marketing side of things.  The problem here is that the marketing aspect of the business is constantly changing.  What worked in 2012 won’t work in 2018.  The marketing tips and tricks I learned back when I started just won’t cut it.  And I haven’t taken the time to keep up with current trends.  I need to address that.

But part of that whole “produce more content” thing also means I need to spend less time on my blog posts.  I need to stop trying to think about something clever to write about, and put my effort into increasing my catalog.  So from now on, I’m going to limit myself on this blog.  It will be a sort of New Year’s resolution… posts will be either shorter than 1000 words, or I will limit myself to half an hour’s time in which to get them written.  On thousand words or half an hour, whichever comes first.

So moving on to other writing news:

Pangaea: Exiles – Severed Press sent me word last week that PE1 has been selected by their audio partner, Beacon, to produce as an audiobook.  Estimated time to release is about three months.

Payne and Suffering – After a few derailments, P&S is really moving along now.  I had a few plotting issues earlier in the week that forced me to slow down and open up some mind mapping software, but it only took a few hours to get things back on track.

Crazy Larry – I had dropped CL into the virtual file cabinet several months ago when the story went stale for me.  When MBH asked me how it was progressing, I had to admit I was stumped.  She brainstormed with me, and helped me see a way out of the bog.  So I made a bit of progress on it, too.  Man, I love that woman.  

And with that, I’m beginning to approach my self-imposed 1000 word limit, so that’s it for today. Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  :bye:

Nov 012017
 

Remember back in WW93 when I mentioned that the IT contract job I was working on might end up getting extended?  Well, it did.  They’ve been flying me back and forth between home in Claremore, Oklahoma, and another of their locations in Columbus, Georgia.  The routine is a little rougher now, starting on Monday mornings at 3:30 AM so I can make a 6 AM flight that gets me to Atlanta, where I rent a car and drive an hour and a half to Columbus.  Needless to say, I’m pretty wiped by the end of the day on Monday.  Then on Friday, I work until about 1 PM, drive the hour and a half back to Atlanta, fly back to Oklahoma, where MBH picks me up and takes me home so I can spend the weekend with her.

And if Friday’s flight home is delayed by three hours (like last week), then the day goes on even longer. 

Then Monday morning at 3:30 AM, it starts it all over again.  I don’t mind the work, but those Mondays!  

The up side is that the job is paying (at least for a little while) some of the bills that were beginning to pile up.  The down side is that it impacts the writing. Of course, I already discussed this, too, back in WW93. So nothing new there.  But while the writing has been greatly slowed, it hasn’t completely stopped.

Writing –

Payne and Suffering – The new Amber Payne novel is a bit over 7500 words.  Not huge, but it’s moving.  I picked MBH’s brain a couple of weeks ago regarding some of the threads that were stumping me.  Many writers talk about their “muses”.  I don’t need a muse.  Ideas and inspiration aren’t my problem.  I have trouble with the more mundane minutia (wow, talk about your alliteration).  I tend to let the details of a story keep me from progressing… the old “can’t see the forest for the trees” thing.  I get an idea or a scene, and I lock onto it, trying to work it into the story, and when it doesn’t work, I can’t seem to see my way around it.  When that happens… when I find myself banging my head against the same wall, over and over again, I can usually count of MBH to guide me through a doorway that I simply didn’t see.  This time was no exception, and she once more helped me find a new path through a winding and overly convoluted story line.  Yes, once more, I was making things more complex than they needed to be.  Thank you, wife.  

Pangaea Exiles – Nothing new to report here.  Final edits were turned in to the publisher more than two months ago.  As far as I know, cover was approved, edits were done, but no word on an actual publication date.

Year 12 – The audio version of Y12 is also moving very slowly.  In this case, I know what the hold-up is.  When you find someone who is willing to work on a royalty share basis, slow production times are the trade-off.  After all, the voice actor also has bills to pay, and he or she has to give priority to those jobs that come in that offer an up-front payment.

Crazy Larry – No change on this one.  I hit a brick wall, and haven’t opened the manuscript back up in almost two months.  I think I know what needs to be done with it, but the changes entail a LOT of extra work.  And it had already gone from a project I was enjoying, to something that turned into a frustrating chore.  I began to think of it less as a story, and more of a justification.  So for now, it still sits.

So that’s it for writing news.  How about a random pic?

RPotW

The Random Pic of the Week for this week is another of the many sunset pictures I find myself taking.  I don’t know why, but we just seem to get some amazing sunrises and sunsets here in Claremore.  The colors… the texture of the clouds… it all makes for some incredible sights.  As much as I loved living in Texas, I find that I love my new life here in Oklahoma even more.  And as beautiful as the sunrises and sunsets are, the star-filled sky on a clear, crisp night is even more breathtaking.  We never had skies like this around Houston.

Okay, that’s enough gushing.  Time to get back to it.  You guys take care, and stay safe.  I’ll talk to you again soon.  :bye: