Last night I finally wrapped up Turning, the first installment of my teen dystopian New World Order series. I hope you’ll take a chance and read the book. You can find the main page here, and if you open all subsequent pages in a new window, you’ll be able to return to it to find the next chapters rather easily.

I’ll be releasing the book on Amazon and Createspace soon, and I hope that I can count on you to leave me honest reviews when I do.

The book will continue to be available for free here on the website through at least the month of May while I await your reactions, though you’ll be able to buy it for download on your Kindle or a paperback copy as soon as I have it up.

If I receive comments before releasing the book, I’ll be happy to include those in the front matter (hey! You’ll get your name in print!). If you’d rather I didn’t, just let me know and I’ll keep them out of the final copy.

Thanks for everyone for your patience as I composed this project. I know it took me a lot longer than I initially wanted it to, but writing is like that. Churning out a book in less than a year is very difficult, if only because sometimes it takes that long for the story and characters to mature. The process is very organic, and some things just cannot be rushed without getting poor results.

As soon as I’m able, I’ll get back to work on the other five projects (might be later today, though I might just take a break, too). I did crank out 6,383 words yesterday to pull this off. Getting to the finish line of a book is often like the final sprint in a marathon. Once you cross the line, you really don’t want to keep running, you know?

At any rate, there it is. Ten novels are now completed, and I hope to have two or three more done by the end of the year.

New Cover Art for Turning

Okay gang, so now I need your feedback on the new cover art for Turning. Changing the name of the book also means making some slight adjustments (and, I hope, improvements) in the cover art as well. So here it is, tell me what you think:

Cover 4I still need to change the font at the bottom, but it’s the art work I’m most concerned about.

Additionally, I’ve resized the book to a 6 x 9, rather than a 5.25 x 8. This is based on observations of similar books on the shelves at stores. 6 x 9 seems to be the average size. At any rate, I was able to kick up the font size a couple notches, so it won’t be too hard on the eyes.

Oh, and there’s a new chapter up. Chapter 25. You can access it here.

I do confess that I’m a little concerned about the word count. Preliminary research on similar titles suggests that books in this genre number around 125k words. I’ve got 75k. Now, I’m not done yet, but I’m pretty close. I estimate that I’ll have about 13K to 14k words to go, which will put me a little less than 90k words. I have to confess, the smaller size does worry me a bit. I want to be sure I’m not cheating my readers any. On the other hand, of course, I ought only write the words the story actually requires. Anything more would be unnecessary padding–which feels a little too much like busy-work for my taste.

At any rate, I’m on a roll, so I’m gonna sign off now and get back to work. Later!


Back from Break, Hard at Work

Been a while since I put any posts up, and a friend recently queried as to what I’m working on. Granted, he’s primarily concerned with what happens to Peter in the next Jefferson’s Road book (don’tcha just love those cliffhanger endings?!), but it did put me in the mood of letting you all know what I’ve been doing in the past several weeks.

I brought my “hiatus” to an end around the beginning of February. It was a little difficult to get back into it. I found myself only able to generate a couple hundred words every few days at best. But I stuck at it, and around mid-February started tracking my progress again. Since then, I’ve been much more consistent in cranking out words, though you’ll note that I’m not working steadily on any one project.

No, in classic “Michael J. Scott” style (which is to say, utterly scatter-brained), I’m working on six different novels all at the same time. So here they are, with the word counts as of February 15th and the words generated since then:

In The
Widening Gyre
God And Country The Blood-Eater Coven The Music of
The Spheres
A Glass Half-Empty Nicholas
65,117 4,923 3,625 6,134 9,546 1,197 7,286 1,300 4,237 3,254 5,170 2,240

So you can see, all these books are getting at least a little love. I still need to do a little more on MOTS and BEC, just to bring them up to the 2K range, but I’ve made consistent progress over all. I’ve added almost 20K words in a month’s time. Not exactly as much as NaNoWriMo numbers, but fairly respectable nonetheless.

Dad wants me to hurry up and finish Gyre, and all I can say is that I am working on it. I’ve broken 70K words, and we’re nearing the climax of the tale. In the meantime, I also know that God And Country is a high priority, and so is MOTS, frankly. My second Jonathan Munro Adventure “The Elixir of Life” is coming out this summer. I’d like to have a manuscript to send to Rochelle before it comes time to put together 2014’s catalog. But I’m a long way from that, and the outline isn’t even finished.

Frankly, I don’t know to what degree a hiatus worked for me or not. I know I’m not “burned out” like I was, but I also noticed the struggle I had to restart after taking a month off. I’m starting to think that maintaining a regular pace would be better than burning the candle at both ends like I did. I guess we’ll see how it turns out this year. I do hope to get at least four of these books finished this year, if not all of them. And I’ll keep at it until they’re done.

This morning I wrote an epilogue to the Jefferson’s Road series. Yeah, I know the series isn’t done. In fact, it’s only half done. But there are some developments within the third book that I wanted to follow up on, that can only be resolved at the end. Thus, the epilogue. It seems strange, writing those pages. I know exactly how this story ends. I always have, actually. What blows me away is how its developed over the course of three books now, and yet still is on target to reach the final pages–and I’m not even talking about the epilogue. I’m talking about the last chapter. Strange to have that already in my mind. Unchanged. The story moving unerringly towards it.

I’ve never written anything like this before. I have other books – other series, but nothing quite like this.

Anyway, I’ve heard back from one of my BETA readers already. No major edits just yet. I’ve got two more out there I’m waiting on, and then we’ll go forward toward releasing the next book. In the meantime, I’m plugging away at In the Widening Gyre. We’ve passed 60K words on it. It’s slow going, for some reason. I have to push myself to get any words written. I had a brief spate of creativity with the story after getting over one hump, so I’m sure I’ll have more.  But this is where the self-discipline I’ve been learning comes in.  This is where I stick my BIC, and make it happen, cause it won’t write itself. I’ll get there.

And Just Like That…

Topheth is done. I wrapped up the final two chapters tonight (more accurately, this morning). The final tally for the book: 81,045 words. Not too shabby, frankly.

I’ll still be vetting it with my writer’s group on Wednesdays, letting them assist me in editing it and getting it ready for publication, which will happen sometime early next year. I still have to go back and be sure I incorporate all the previous edits I’ve already received on it. And I’m curious to see what they think of the ending, and the consistency of the characters, plot line, and so forth.

But since the overwhelming response has been positive so far, I’m not worried in the least.

This means that all I have left to wrap up this year is The Tree of Liberty and In the Widening Gyre. Yes, I’m finally getting back to that story. Probably not tonight, but this week for sure. I have to reread the whole thing to remember where I left off and recover the voice I was writing with. At present, I have a little better than 55K words written on it, so there’s no reason I can’t finish it sometime in the next twelve to fifteen days. And then I’ll be free to advance onto another project.

After the Storm…

Well, we survived my sister’s wrath (inside joke. Gotta know my family), and the kids and I spent this morning cleaning up debris along our street – especially helping the neighbors who had some downed trees in their yard. Nothing too big to handle. It always kills me when people act shocked that neighbors help each other out. My God. What kind of society have we become that such is so unusual. Neighbors are supposed to help each other out. That’s why we live in communities.

Proverbs 27:10 says, “Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family, and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you— better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away.”

At any rate, we’re fine and so is everyone else on our street, too. Power’s still out, though RG&E’s website says it was restored at 11 am. It’s a waiting game, I reckon. In the meantime, we’ve got propane to cook with, and a gas water heater for showers and such. Freezer on the back porch will keep the milk cold till things start working again.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers.

In the meantime, I’m still gearing up for NaNoWriMo, and I’ve picked up a new reader for In the Widening Gyre, so I really do need to wrap that book up in December. I’m at the library right now, using the local internet (wireless is out), just trying to wrap things up before the session times out. I’ll be going in to work an overtime shift tonight (called in “sick” last night ’cause we were under evacuation orders. Had go-bags packed and everything, but turns out we didn’t need to leave.). Hopefully, I’ll get some progress done.

I’ve gotten most of Tree of Liberty outlined now, and I think I see where the problem is. I’m gonna try to use the rest of today to finish outlining the story. Maybe then I can actually get this sucker done.

Planning Ahead…

So I’ve agreed (in principle, at least) to use this year’s NaNoWriMo to finish The Tree of Liberty and Topheth… and if I have any time left in December, to wrap up In The Widening Gyre as well.

The Tree of Liberty has been giving me particular fits. I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say the whole thing feels like I’ve been swimming through mud. It just doesn’t have that particular urgency to it that I expect it to have. Thing is, I know exactly where this story is going and how the whole series ends, but I’m just sorta stuck right now.

There are two things I’m going to try, beyond just plowing through it in November. One, I want to strip the whole thing back down to outline (and I’ve never outlined a Jefferson’s Road story before), and see if I can’t figure out how to speed things up. The second is an insight my son gave me last night (And I don’t know how he recognized this). In the first two books, my main character, Peter Baird, is primarily reacting to what’s going on around him. He does act and make choices, of course, but he’s essentially a reactive character. In this book, I’ve been using him more as an actor, less as a re-actor (there’s a nuclear joke in there somewhere. Like, maybe that’s why the book has no energy? Guffaw.). So maybe the character himself has been resisting what I’ve been trying to do with him. It’s something to consider, at least.

Topheth is steaming along fine. I should have no real problems finishing it… so long as I can keep the heat on (shameless pun).

In the meantime, I’ve finally started successfully outlining the next Jonathan Munro Adventure. I’ve been wanting to do a story that takes place in Russia called The Music of The Spheres, but until this morning, I just didn’t have a good sense of what happens. But I picked up my pen and paper around 10:00 this morning, and now I’ve got almost six handwritten pages of outline done, with lots and lots of stuff happening that’ll keep it going right on till the end, I expect. This is good, because the second Jonathan Munro book comes out next Spring, and I wanted to have a third one ready to send off to my editor as soon as it does. This will give me a head start for the new year, and I should be able to get the whole thing finished in plenty of time.

So for the rest of the day, I’ll be writing up the outline for The Music of The Spheres, and then tearing into The Tree of Liberty.

As an aside, in a few weeks I’ll be teaching a class on Tuesday nights at the Webster Public Library for how to publish independently. We’ll be meeting in the common area on November 13th and November 20th from 6:30 on. The cost is $20 apiece if you want to attend, but I’ll basically be teaching how to design covers, publish, and promote online. It’s the same material I’m presenting in our homeschooling co-op, just taught in two, two hour sessions instead of eight thirty-five minute classes.

The latest from my over-caffeinated head

Just finished the latest chapter of In the Widening Gyre, and it’s available here for those following along.

I’ve been busy with several projects – no longer writing just one book exclusively. I do believe that particular strategy was effective for a while, but at some point I just got too bogged down in a single story (and too distracted by the others clamoring for attention) for it to remain viable. So now I’m back, plugging away not only at Gyre, but also at Jefferson’s Road: The Tree of Liberty, Topheth, and a UFO novel called Descent that I started a few years ago and never did anything with. I toy with it now and again, and I’ve made real progress on the story. Don’t expect it’ll be finished until some time after the end of the world (ie: 2012), so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Topheth is proceeding well. I’m a little better than half-done at this point, and I think I’ll be entering that phase of “hurtling toward the climax” quite soon. This is the book I’ve been vetting through my Wednesday night Writer’s class. I generally get high marks on the book, so I think we’ll see it finished soon. Janelle Becker has a number of books in her story that are waiting to be told. Hopefully, Topheth will help launch her series in to full gear.

Gyre is a little better than half done. Tonight I wrapped up chapter sixteen out of twenty-seven planned, and we crossed the 50k mark in word count. I may do a little more work on it this evening, but I wanted to get the next installment out to you as soon as it was finished.

Confession Of The Obvious: Anger is driving the inspiration behind Jefferson’s Road.  My own anger at the federal government’s incursions on our liberties, and my own fear of that same anger churning away in me (and in others). Writing is my best outlet for it. I know this, because after the Robert’s decision came down on the Affordable Care Act, I found myself suddenly reinvigorated to finish The Tree of Liberty. I cranked out a chapter and a half on it just this afternoon. Not only that, but now I have a pretty clear sense of what happens in the middle and how to get to the end (as well as how to prep up for the fourth installment).

Thing is, I know I’m not the only one thinking or feeling this way. I read the news articles on it and the comments that follow, and all I can tell you is that people are seriously pissed off by this. John Roberts joked about needing to hide in a concrete bunker. From the comments I’ve seen, that might not be a bad idea. Not that I’m encouraging violence against him or against any of our elected officials. But I’ve said this before: we’re not the ones driving the bus off the cliff. This country’s getting more and more like a powder-keg every day, and if things don’t change soon, the Marxists and Anarchists are going to get their revolution. They just won’t like the way it ends. Of course, no one is gonna like it when everything hits the fan, which is something I want to be sure I express in Tree.

This book does present a challenge to me–one I’ll be addressing in the next part of the book (we’re nearly finished with Act II), and that is that the second revolution/civil war to strike won’t be fought on convenient geographic lines like North/South. It’ll be an ideological free for all, and the country will fragment because the ties of faith, community, and a vision of what it means to be an American are no longer held in common by our people. We’re going to fragment into new tribes who’ll then fight each other. I don’t want to give too much away–but that’s something I know I have to start portraying in this book. It’ll be something that will take the next three books to iron out. I expect I’ll try to describe a way to knit us back together again either in A More Perfect Union or in the final mile of the road, We The People. But that’s farther down the road than I can see right now.

Strategy-wise, I want to make you aware of two developments. One, I’ve learned a lot about “how to publish” since starting this journey, and lately I’ve been reformatting the interior files to my print books and uploading new versions of them to CreateSpace. The new formats look a lot better, and I have made slight modifications to some of the stories – minor tweaks and edits (and maybe a typo or two) that don’t really change the stories but just improve the writing. This should be done in the next couple of weeks. Secondly, I’ve decided that the next books I release will be print first, followed by kindle, then by Smashwords 90 days later. Yes, this means I’ll be taking advantage of the KDP Select program. I took a “wait and see” approach when it first came out, but a number of my author friends have had a lot of success with it that it just makes sense to give it a try. I’ll keep anything currently released via Smashwords still available through those channels, but new material is going to go exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. If this works the way I hope it does, then I’ll keep with that strategy throughout 2013 as well (assuming the Mayans were as wrong as Harold Camping). My hope–and I feel like I’m on the cusp of a major breakthrough here–is that I’ll be able to begin dropping back hours at work as my writing career takes off. Even if I can get to the point where I just work a normal forty hours (sans second job and sans overtime), that’ll be huge. Naturally, I want to do this full time. We’ll see how it plays out, of course.

Goodness, I need to post more often. This was a long one. Sorry! I’ve got to get back to writing now.

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Back in the Saddle…

So it’s been better than a month, I think, since I’ve posted anything on the blog. I’d like to say I’ve spent all that time writing, but that’s not precisely true. Part of the delay has been dealing with family issues. We recently lost my father-in-law, and things like that can really take the wind out of your sails. I think, for the most part, however, I just ran a little too dry.

I don’t know what it is about reading, but I find that if I don’t do it often enough/frequently enough, I get into these modes where I just lose all passion for writing. That’s kinda what I went through. Not sure it qualifies as genuine writer’s block or not, but what difference does it make? I didn’t do much writing. I did, however, read a lot of Stephen King. Been clawing my way through The Dark Tower series. I’m about to start book six this week.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I didn’t do any writing. In fact, I took a look at an old friend I haven’t touched in a while and started working on a novel that’s been sidelined for a few years. I’ve actually pressed out a couple of chapters on it in the last few days, and I think just spending some time playing with a non-committal book (is there such a thing?) really helped get the kinks out. I’ll tell you more about the book later.

I’ve also managed to finish the fifteenth chapter of In the Widening Gyre while I was at it. I’ve posted it here if you want to take a look. As always, I appreciate any comments or feedback you have. And on top of this, I’ve also started work on a third novel – a Christmas book that’s been churning around in my head for the last three years.

Trying out different stories and playing with new characters is helping me keep going. I mean, if I’m so stuck onGyre orJefferson’s Road that I can’t make any real progress, I might as well make progress somewhere else.

So now I have twelve different novels in various stages of completion. That’s in addition to the seven that I’ve already completed. Between those dozen novels, I have 193,000 words written. Five of those novels are below 10K words. Four are between 11K and 20K words. And the final three are approximately 24K, 40K, and 49K words. What does this mean for finishing anything any time soon? Absolutely nothing. I know, however, that I’ll keep pushing away at all of them (mostly focusing on roughly six or seven of them at any given time) until I can start releasing them to press.

The good news is this: I’m having fun again. I’m enjoying writing once more. I think, honestly, that’s been the biggest problem I faced these past two months. It stopped being fun. And as much as writing should be a business and should be hard work (and it is all those things), it should be fun as well. After all, no one is holding a gun to my head. Not even the fans of Jefferson’s Road (though I’m starting to think some of them might like to!).

I will make this commitment to you and to myself, that these three books will be finished this year: Jefferson’s Road: The Tree of Liberty, Topheth, and In the Widening Gyre. And probably a few more, if I can keep at it.

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In The Widening Gyre, Chapter 14

Well, the good news is that I’ve finally managed to press through my writer’s block. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to stare at a computer screen and just not have any desire or passion to do anything.

It’s not that I didn’t know what was supposed to happen next in the story. I was just as dry as a Texas summer when it came to putting any words down. I think it had a lot to do with not getting enough sleep – that, and the emotional turmoil of my wife’s surgery and recovery. But now we’ve overcome that hurtle (not cancer. Whew!), and I can concentrate on things that, frankly, don’t matter quite as much to me as her health and well-being.

It probably helped that I shoved two of Stephen King’s Dark Tower books down my gullet as well. I’m beginning to suspect that I don’t read nearly enough, and that’s why I sometimes run dry.

Of course, the danger in reading is the inspiration it brings. Not inspiration for one of the six novels I’m currently engaged in. No. Inspiration for a whole new set of stories clamoring for my attention.

Take a number already.

I think, though, what really pushed me over the edge was two things (three, if you count the end to our health scare crisis). One, was getting a contract for The Elixir of Life. As much as I support Indie publishing, there’s still something to be said for the kudos and validation that a formal contract gives. I’ve begun researching for the next Jonathan Munro Adventure, tentatively titled The Music of the Spheres. Takes place in Russia and involves Rasputin, the aforementioned Elixir, and quite possibly some Fabergé eggs (though I need to do a little more homework before including them).

The second thing that has lit a fire under me are the two independent praises I received from readers on Kindleboards and Mobileread–both for the Jefferson’s Road series. I know I’m gonna have to get cracking on The Tree of Liberty real soon, but I still want to finish In the Widening Gyre first.

At any rate, as I write this, it’s about two o’clock in the morning. I’m on my second overnight shift (with nothing else to do but wait for the guys to wake up around five), and it’s pouring rain outside. I don’t face the temptation of TV (I do watch a lot of shows. My current list includes: Once Upon A Time, Missing, Touch, The Killing, Revenge, Criminal Minds, Castle, House, and Fringe. But I’ve already seen all the episodes airing. Meanwhile, the next season of Warehouse 13, Falling Skies, Covert Affairs, Being Human (US), and Breaking Bad haven’t started yet. I don’t know whether or not Hell On Wheels or Terra Nova will be coming back, either (yes, I know Fox cancelled Terra Nova — but they’re still shopping it around to other networks)), and I’ve already played my fair share of Minesweeper, Mahjong Tiles and Solitaire. Oh, and I’ve read the news. This means I’m pretty much outta stuff to do that ain’t writing.

Except, of course, for hurling my thoughts out into the universe like this. All right. ‘Nuff goofing off. I’ve got to get back to writing.

Here’s the link to the next chapter.

Chapter 14