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 252019
 

Hey folks.  Yes, it looks like I’m back.  I’m going to keep it short, though.  I’m still plugging away at Crazy Larry.  What I had planned to write as a novella of maybe 18 to 20k words, is quickly approaching the length of a short novel of around 40 to 45k.  I’m not certain, but I think I’ll probably put it together with The Road to Rejas (aka R2R), and bind them together as another novel in the Half Past Midnight universe.  The two of them combined would actually be large enough to even do a print version.

I think that’s probably a good idea anyway, since I contacted Amazon last week to see about getting them to set up a couple of series pages for me… one for the Amber Payne series, and one for the Half Past Midnight series.  When they asked me for the names of the titles in each of the series, they had no problem with the Payne titles.  But when I mentioned The Road to Rejas, they informed me that they were unable to list novellas as part of a series.  So if I combine R2R and Crazy Larry into a single volume and call it something like “Doomsday Tales” or some such, then I should be able to get them all together under a series page, after all.  And later, when I finally get around to writing the short story, “Silent Night“, that’s been rattling around in my brain, I can add it to the same volume.  In fact, it would likely make a great loss leader for the mailing list.  Things to think about for the future. 

Speaking of the future, I can’t seem to shake the ideas for the Sekrit Projekt.  I talked to the IP owner about a couple of ideas, and got a tentative green light.  That green light opened up some other ideas, and I think I have firm paths for at least half a dozen books in the series.  I hate when I see shiny new ideas on the horizon, while I still have work to do in the queue.  

On a final note, I recently found a some comments that got caught in the spam filter.  I’ve approved them now, but figured I would address them here…

One was from “Vikki”, who was extremely complimentary, and said “This is one of my all time favorites! Keep reading it over and over…”.  So thanks Vikki.  I really appreciate the kind words.  Unfortunately, your comment was attached to the Newsletter Signup, so I’m not sure which book you mean.  Regardless, I REALLY like hearing from people who’ve read my work, and enjoyed it.  Thank you.  :)

Two more were referencing Pangaea Exiles.  One of them also was attached to the Newsletter Signup page, and the other was attached to last December’s WW120 post.  Both comments wanted to know when the next Pangaea book was coming out.  Unfortunately, I don’t have anything definite to tell you guys about that.  The reality of trying to make it as a writer is that you have to write where the money is, and as much fun as I had with Pangaea, I have to concentrate my time on those projects that have the best chance of helping me pay the bills.  I’m not saying I won’t come back to it, because I’m sure I probably will.  I just don’t know when.  And it’s honestly going to be a lower priority than some of my other series.  I’m sure that’s not what you were hoping to hear, but I have to be honest with you.

So that’s it. Time to get back to work. Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you again soon.  

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!  

Dec 202018
 

WARNINGTHIS POST HAS MANY MORE PICTURES THAN NORMAL!  AND THEY’RE AWESOME! 

First of all, yes, I missed last week’s blog post.  But I have an excellent excuse this time.  I flew to New Mexico to help Baby Bird move from Santa Fe to her new apartment in Albuquerque.  Of course, flying during the holidays can be all sorts of fun, as you can see in the picture here.  That was the scene at a bit before 5 AM last Thursday at Tulsa International.  I can only imagine how wild it was later in the day, and TIA is a small airport compared to some of the larger cities.  Places like Houston, Chicago, or New York must be truly nightmarish during the holidays.

But it all went smoothly, and I arrived the morning after the first snow of the season in Albuquerque.  And while the snow was beautiful, the ice on the roads was most definitely not.  Still, we made it all right, and there’s that whole, “all’s well that ends well” thing, right?  ;)   And the view was really nice once we were safely at the apartment.  I mean, isn’t that beautimous?  (Well, other than the chain-link fence, that is.)

She had a few friends to help, so I got to meet some of her cohorts.  They were really nice… wow, I almost called them kids.  And when I think about it, they’re all around the age MBH & I were when we got married.  (And here’s where I insert the obligatory “where did the time go?” comment… Oy!)  

Over the next few days, we finished packing her life into boxes, (though she had honestly already done most of the packing), got one of those big, orange, moving trucks, packed it up, moved her from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, unpacked her life at the new location, and organized things in such a manner that she could function in the new apartment.  And for an artist, that includes setting up the improvised painting studio in the breakfast nook, and hanging lots of artwork.

And I LOVED being able to see how she does that, and to help with it.  There is painter’s canvas on the floor, plastic sheeting on the walls, flaps cut in the plastic for air vents and thermostats… it was a pretty intricate setup.  But it’s necessary for a college student who would like to one day get back her security deposit.  LOL

MBH and I worry about her commute now.  She’ll have classes in Santa Fe, so there’s about an hour commute each way.  But in truth, it’s not the distance or the time that concerns us.  It’s the fact that there’s the potential for her to be driving it in snowy, icy conditions.  And for someone used to living in Houston and San Antonio, those are some seriously different driving conditions than she’s used to.

But Baby Bird isn’t really a baby anymore, so we’ll just have to worry in relative silence.  RELATIVE silence…

The Ladies – six panels, oil on canvas

Now, I’m going to move on to my writing progress synopsis, but since we’re talking about Baby Bird and her art work (yeah, I’m a proud papa, so sue me ), I’ll be sprinkling some pictures of some of her paintings throughout the rest of this post.

 

 

Writing Progress

Animorph – Acrylic on paper

AP2 – .  Between the holidays and travel, I haven’t made a whole lot of progress on The Payne Before The Storm.  It’s currently sitting at just over 99k words after the third major revision, but that isn’t counting about 20k that I excised as part of the beginning of AP3, the third in the series.  So once this one is finished, I’ll already have a decent start on yet another Amber Payne novel.  No promises on when it will be finished, because I have other books I also need to be writing.  Nevertheless, it’s a little bit of a head start.

TBL – I haven’t spoken about The Burning Land in quite some time, have I?  The only reason I’m mentioning it now is that I’ve decided to use it as practice for recording my own audiobooks.

Owl – Watercolor on paper

After the problems I ran into with my narrator for Year 12, I’m leaning more and more toward starting to do my own narrations. I think I have a decent enough voice, and I’ve done some minor readings and sound editing for a few podcasts, so I’m familiar with the basics of the process.

But none of that is a guarantee that I can really do what I think I can do.  With that in mind, I decided that it made sense to start with something small.  And since The Burning Land is the shortest work I’ve published, what could be better?

So I set up and recorded it the day before I left for New Mexico.  It’s a 5k word short story, and it took me right at an hour to do a master take.  Next step is to make a copy for backup, and then begin the editing process.  After that, I hope to be able to submit it to ACX for release on Audible, iTunes, and of course, Amazon. So if things go well with the production of the TBL audiobook, then I can make a more informed decision on whether or not there’s an ROI to doing the audiobook for Y12.

 

Untitled – Oil on Canvas

Learning to Write

And finally, in the writing “business” category… the flights back from New Mexico gave me a little time to read.  I didn’t get time to read on the way out because I ended up in a fun conversation with a very pleasant gentleman across the aisle on the flight to Albuquerque, and we were back on the ground before I knew it.  By the way… Nate, if you actually read this, here’s me saying hello.  ;)

Untitled – Oil on Canvas

However, on the way home, I was able to finally make quite a bit of progress on the book I mentioned in WW115, way back in August… (Newsletter Ninja: How to Become an Author Mailing List Expert).  I’m about 90% through it now, and am amazed at just how much sense the book is making… and in just how badly I’ve missed the mark in what I should be trying to do with my mailing list.  In fact, a LOT of what I always considered “conventional wisdom” with mailing lists and newsletters really doesn’t make sense when you examine it closely.  So yeah, another project to tackle at some point in the future.  What’s more, some of what I’ve read might actually affect this blog, as well.  But more on that whenever the changes get closer.  For now, there are too many other irons in the fire.

Don’t Be an Ass – Watercolor on paper

And finally, I’ve been studying a bit on Amazon ads, keywords, book categories, and the like, in an effort to (hopefully) learn how to gain more visibility for my books.  The more I learn, the more I’m reminded that writing is a business… and that business is always shifting.  When you try to settle on a working model, the industry has a tendency to shift and leave you in the dust.  I need to be more vigilant on that side of things.

All right, I suppose I’ve meandered on for long enough.  However, in reading back through this post I realized that with all of Baby Bird’s paintings, I didn’t show anything to give the scale.  She doesn’t do much in the way of small paintings, so these last few pictures will give you an idea of what kind of size we’re looking at.  Enjoy, and stay safe.  :bye:

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: