Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween and an Awesome Cover Reveal

I'm breaking the silence on my blog over the past many many months to bring you an amazing cover from an even more amazing friend, author, and all around good person. Here is the cover for 10 Tales of Steampunk Silliness and Spookery by Emily White.

In the cozy seaside village of Steamville, New Hampshire, an unfaithful zombie, out of control werebots, succubi in corsets, and more wreak havoc in this short story collection.

Look for it on December 22, 2012 with all major online retailers ($.99 for ebook/$2.99 for print)

Seriously, go check Emily and her stuff out. She is supportive, kind, and friendly to everyone she interacts with. I met her through blogging and I am glad to count her as one of my writerly friends. It helps that this collection looks to be hilarious.

Visit the Goodreads Page for the collection.
Find her on Facebook.
Visit her Blog.

Well worth getting to know her and her writing better. Now go, go my pretties!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

FREE Ebooks for You and You!

My books are, once again, free in their wonderful digital format on amazon. Please feel free to go pick one or two up, share them, gift them, borrow them, or ignore them. All good with me.

The Crystal Bridge

Zombies at the Door

My Author Page

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Trick to Quitting Soda

I've gone two months now without drinking soda. I've lost about 16 pounds and I feel great, but the journey has not been without difficulty. I love Dr. Pepper, LOVE it! I also like the occasional Coke or ginger ale. Before I quit, I was drinking at least a gallon of soda a day. I drink mainly water now, with some milk and a glass of healthy green juice now and again. I used to think water tasted disgusting. I'm learning to enjoy it.

I still crave soda though, especially when I go out to eat, drive up to a gas station, see someone else drink one, or walk the aisles of a grocery most of the time.

The trick to resist these cravings is to focus on the times soda has let you down. Here are my soda let-downs:

Withdrawals. I don't get headaches when I quit. I feel like tiny metallic insects are eating every bit of calcium in my body.

Heart Palpitations. For a while, every time I tried to lie down to sleep, my heart would go crazy.

I didn't like it. I'm glad this occurrence is super rare lately.

Fattness. About a year ago, I gained enough weight and could no longer put on my wedding ring.

Nastiness. This is the best way to alleviate my cravings. All I have to do is think back to this incident and my desire to drink one goes away.

A couple years ago I used to stop by a fast food place nearly every morning to buy a sandwich and a soda. I know, horrible for me. No wonder I had heart palpitations and high cholesterol.

One day I sipped my soda and thought it tasted a tab bit funny. I just thought their syrup mixture must have been off. I sipped it again and noticed that the ice against the lid looked weird too. I pulled off the top and the ice did look funny, all clumped together in one big ball.

I reached in to grab a piece, but the whole thing came out, dripping soda and chunks of ice. I stared at the mess in my hands as realization dawned on me and I fought an urge to puke.

I had a large crumpled plastic bag in my hand. Who knows how it got in there or what it had in it before it made its way into the ice. Needless to say, I dumped the whole thing. Now, all I have to do is think about that bag and imagine the places it might have been or contents it might have had to make saying no to soda easier.

Find your ways to resist and quit today.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Free Books are the Best

My novel, The Crystal Bridge, is free today and tomorrow on kindle. That's February 15th and 16th.

Go get it and tell your friends. Short and sweet. That is all today.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Avoid Writer's Block

What is writer's block? Traditionally it's seen as when a writer is unable to produce new work. They stare at a blank screen and nothing happens. It's like a brick wall in the way of one's ability to write.

I don't get writer's block, not in this sense. I'm not bragging. I have plenty of other imperfections in my writing, but I understand what writer's block really is and I avoid it. If only I could do the same with typos, awkward similes, and using the word "little" ironically way too much. I'll learn to avoid those someday.

Here are the reasons I see writers get themselves blocked up and unable to write.

Lack of Passion. Sometimes a writer will start a project that just doesn't appeal to them. This makes it easy to lose focus and your desire to continue with it.

Something is Wrong. If your subconscious knows that something you wrote or are about to write doesn't work, it will shut you down. This can be any number of things. You wrote about a character doing something outside his or her abilities or personality. You may have decided to change a plot line and it destroyed previous lines altogether. You may have written a scene that has no place in the finished book. You are planning to write a scene that doesn't play well with the ones around it. There are so many things to get wrong.

No Idea What Comes Next. Yeah, we've all started something that seemed wondrous and exciting and then our imagination runs out and we feel stuck, unsure what to do next.

Distractions. Facebook, internet, google+, twitter, and all those other things can be great tools. They also can get in the way. Then there's friends, family, jobs, screaming children, dogs, cats, that dripping noise that is driving you crazy, dishes, laundry, food, and so much more to distract you from writing.

Now, here's how I deal with them.

Write What You Love! If something isn't really clicking with you deep down, if you don't care about it, what do you think your readers will do? That's right, they'll feel the lack of passion and lack of soul and set it down unhappy and unsatisfied. Make sure you love your project and you won't find yourself losing a desire to finish it.

Listen to Your Subconscious! If something isn't working, figure out what it is and fix it. I have also found a way to cheat around this type of block. If I come to a scene that just doesn't work and I feel stuck, I skip it. I jump to a scene that is working and write that one. You can always come back to the older scene and mess with it later after inspiration has struck.

Do Your Prewriting! Before I started my first book, I rolled it around in my head for months. I ran conversations and scenes through until I knew what needed to be done. Most of my prewriting is done in bed. I stare at the ceiling, waiting to fall asleep at night, and I think through upcoming scenes. Sometimes something will happen in my brain, puzzle pieces snapping together perfectly, and I have to jump out of bed and write for a couple hours before I lose whatever magic just happened.

Sometimes nothing happens and I fall asleep, but I often wake up hours later with a similar snapping together of ideas and can jump out of bed and go write. I do prewriting in the morning too. I stay in bed for half an hour after I wake up, running my mind through writing drills, preparing for my next scene, or just getting myself psyched to write a conversation that needs to happen.

Prewriting and skipping scenes will also help when you don't know what to write and inspiration fails you. Staring up at the ceiling while imagining your world and characters on that blank canvas will open portals in your mind to cool new places and experiences you thought you could never dream up. Don't let anyone get after you for being lazy, looking dazed, or doing nothing. It is a vital part of writing and loosens up your subconscious. You need your subconscious to fill in those blank pages and missing plot points. You need it active and healthy.

Limit Your Distractions! Lock yourself in a closet with your laptop if you have to. Shut off the router so you can't access the internet. Those social networks can wait a couple hours for you, I promise you won't miss as much as you think. Find the type of music that helps you write. Find the time that you write best. I write best late at night of early in the morning, when my subconscious is most active and wants to be dreaming. Tell your friends and family when your writing time is and that they cannot disturb you for anything short of an apocalyptic emergency. Zombies better be massing in the streets!

Sit Your Butt Down, Put Your Hands on the Keyboard, and Write! I have these moments where the words flow from me like warm honey and crystallize on the screen in perfect patterns that need no revision. I'll reread them months later and tears will form in my eyes as that amazing I'm-a-freaking-writer-feeling fills me once more.

THESE MOMENTS ARE RARE AND FLEETING!! Most of the time, I sit down and write half decent garbage that will need months of revisions, therapy, exercise, cuts, and voice lessons before it will be even half of what I want it to be. That is normal. Don't get in your own way. Don't trash your work or lose hope. Don't go back and try to fix everything. Don't get discouraged and sad. Allow yourself to suck and your writing will prosper and grow. Those golden moments when the writing flows wondrously from your fingertips will come more often, though not as often as you would like.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Tabs are Exciting

Dear Peoples of the Bloggety Blog World,

This is just a quick update to let my followers know that I added a new Works In Progress tab so people can keep up to date with my writing. I'll keep up with the word count there and I'll set release dates as I get closer to finishing them. I'll also use this tab to share excerpts now and again. I have one up now. I hope this is something you're all interested in. If not, feel free to ignore it. Thank you for being awesome readers, followers, and friends.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How to Self Publish Part 2: Revision

Revision is a crucial step in self publishing. Do not assume that your work is perfect. It isn't.

I revised the crap out my novel, but I didn't do as much as I should have.

I recommend AT LEAST EIGHT revision passes, probably more would be better. Each time you will look for errors, typos, and mistakes, cut out things that aren't working, add in better descriptions, remove passive voice and overuse of adverbs, and slash any cliches you find.

You need to revise until you don't want to read another word, until you are sick of your novel, hate it, want it dead. Your eyes will bleed with hours of staring at the computer screen or pages you printed out to mark up.

Are you done at this point? NO!!

Then you need to give it to someone you trust, someone who will be somewhat brutal with you and have them go through it a couple times. This also gives you a break from the manuscript so you can come back to it a few weeks later and go through it several more times.

You will reach a point where you want to take your book out back and set it on fire and then dance on the ashes, screaming at the gray sky in despair and agony. That is when you are close to done.

You should set it aside and wait a few more weeks before doing one final revision to the entire book.

Your next step? Make sure you have a thick skin because people are still going to find typos and mistakes. They will seize these typos like some hard won prize and then shove them in your face.

Why do people do this? I don't know.

Maybe people's expectations are skewed when it comes to books. They expect perfection, demand it, more than it seems any other industry.

I had a podcast review after I had fixed many typos that readers had found and I thought the book was close to perfect. The reviewers talked about how they loved the rich world I'd created, complete with mythology and back histories. They loved that every character felt unique and different as I hopped in and out of a dozen character's heads. They loved the story. Then they had to mention that it had an "unusually high amount of homophone mistakes." They went on to list them, totalling two. TWO!!

My jaw fell open as I listened. Seriously? Two?

All around it was a great review, but I wish they would have emailed me about the two typos they found rather than dump them on the public as some black stain I can never get rid of.

In any other industry with that kind of mistake average, I'd be freaking Employee of the Month!

So, the point of all this ranting is REVISIONS ARE IMPORTANT. Do them, do them until you bleed! You will thank me.

Monday, January 9, 2012

How to Self Publish Part 1: Writing

I'm not going to go into depth on how to write a novel. There are thousands of guides, manuals, books, seminars, software, and trained lemurs out there that can offer you advice on this. I don't think I can do more than they have. In fact, I think less is better.

The problem with telling someone how to write is that everyone writes differently. Some people need a rigid structure with spreadsheets, timelines, and charts. Some would rather just write, surrounded with noise and discarded soda bottles. Some create elaborate webs of yarn that string each idea and character together.

I fall somewhere in the middle of these.

I like to start out writing from the chaos in my head, with little planning. Then, as the novel grows, I have to map it out more and I create an outline. Then I allow my mind to wander, playing with the scaffolding I've made, tinkering it into new shapes. I'll rewrite my outline six or seven times as I continue writing. My characters grow, change, develop, and pop in and out of existence.

I can't tell you how to write, because you may not be able to write this way. But, I still have some universal things I can share, no matter how you write.

1. Find out how you write.

Develop what works best for you. Play with a few different writing styles and locations until you find what works for you. Listen to music. Don't listen to music. Try writing in a quiet room, sealed off from the world, in a library where you can people watch, in a cafe, in the great outdoors. Try making an outline, going without one, making a chart, or any other idea that comes to you. Then, apply what works.

2. Put your butt in a chair and write.

Novels aren't easy. You can't take that wonderful kernel of an idea that you have rolling around your head and turn into a novel overnight. Sorry. This is going to be a long gruelling process. It will be painful at times. You will shed tears over the keyboard as characters die, don't work, and take paths you didn't expect. You will have days where you won't want to write. Do it anyway.

Sit down and write. Nothing gets the words flowing better than writing. Yes, the first few paragraphs may be garbage, but then you warm up and things click together. DO NOT allow discouragement to keep you from writing, EVER! It is a writer's darkest enemy. Ignore it and write. Stick to a schedule where you write every day. Roll the scene you plan to write around in your brain until you are excited to write it. Don't let anything keep you from writing.

3. Allow yourself to suck.

I didn't use the first ten to twelve pages of my novel in the finished product. I also cut another twenty some odd pages from the overall book. There is nothing wrong with this. You can't expect everything to flow as golden drops of awesomeness onto the page every time you sit down. It isn't realistic.

You also can't let yourself edit every sentence or paragraph you just wrote until it is perfect. This will lead to frustration and discouragement as you see very little progress made on your word-count. Ignore that voice in your head that says you need to fix what you just wrote.

You can do that later. Keep writing and allow yourself to write things you are unhappy with. It is the only way you will make it through without pulling your hair out.

That's my advice. The next part will deal with revisions and should be fun. You can go ahead and bookmark this page. I'll add a link to each part as I write them at the top so you can easily flip through the entire series on self publishing.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Beginning of Everything Once Again

I'm not a fan of resolutions. They are weak, flabby, pathetic creatures that do little to improve my year. They have failed me many many times now. I no longer make them.

I make goals. I write them down on paper and put them somewhere to needle me when I am tempted to give up. On the bedroom door, in the corner of the mirror, in a notebook, on my blog. I also make a plan of action, smaller goals that can be met one at a time until the overall goal is done.

Goals with plans are strong enough to push me to be better.

I fulfilled 2 out of 3 of last year's goals.

One of those was to finish my book. Not only did I finish my book, but I finished the little zombie guide too and published them both.

Another was to start a refinishing business. I did. It faltered and failed, but the experience was worthwhile and I do not regret it in the least.

The third was to get back in shape. I did not succeed, but I did manage to loose some weight and bring my cholesterol down from holy-crap-your-heart-may-explode to a much healthier slightly-high-but-okay.

So, what are my goals this year?

1- Finish writing book two, publish it, and begin another book.
The Plan: Write for at least one hour every night during the week. I've told my wife she needs to pretend I'm not home for that hour or more if I'm on a roll. I'll also be trying out some techniques for keeping myself excited to sit down and hammer out scenes that should help improve my writing as well.

2- Get in shape for real this time.

The Plan: Quit soda, cook at home, and do something active three times a week. We went on an eleven mile hike the other day and nearly died. That will change. We'll start with a juice fast for a couple days to clean all the junk out and go from there. I've already thrown out all the leftover Christmas candy and today I'll clean out the fridge.

That's it. I'm not adding a third this time, since I only succeeded with two last year. Wish me luck and I will do the same for all your new goals, plans, and resolutions.

Also, as a present to my readers and the world, I'm going to write a blog series on How to Self Publish that walks through the formatting process. I hope people are interested.
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