Just a Quick Update

I thought I’d just give you a quick update. This past week not only have I started writing regularly again, I’ve also renewed tracking my day to day output. I’ve discovered this is a very effective way of exercising the necessary discipline to write.

I’ve taken the remaining four and a half months of the year and divvied them up–giving myself one month per book. For the half month remaining of August (’cause I started about a week ago), I expect to write upwards of 1,070 words per day–every day. This should give me just over 86K words by the end of the month, which should be enough to finally put A More Perfect Union to bed.

September I’m wrapping up The Music of the Spheres, the next Jonathan Munro Adventure. I’ve scheduled only 683 words per day to finish this book, bringing it also to 86K words. October will see the end of The Blood-Eater Coven, the second book in the Dragon’s Eye Cycle, which has been lingering far too long on the shelf. I need 1,059 words per day to wrap it up. November I’m working on Wizard Sky Pirates!, aiming for 1,411 words per day to finish it at 100K words. Or so. Then, finally in December, I’ll finish New World Order: Anarchy, which needs exactly 1,500 words per day to complete it by December 31st.

Given that National November Writing Month trains writers to churn out 1,667 words per day, each of these is attainable. Rather easily, in fact. Okay, maybe not “easily,” but especially given how few words I need to write in September, I have a feeling I’ll be able to get a jump start on these other books to wrap them all up by the end of the year.

So that’s the plan. And I really do believe that daily tracking of my writing goals is the key to completing projects quickly. This is what I’ve attained so far this week:

And I’m not done.

Total words per day
14-Aug 68,225 1,481
15-Aug 69,331 1,106
16-Aug 70,497 1,166
17-Aug 71,930 1,433
18-Aug 72,552 622
19-Aug 73,802 1,250

I reached my target today and then some. I’m already 432 words ahead of where I need to be.

Feels good to be writing again.

Well, here it is mid-March. Ides of March, in fact, and I’m enjoying a few days off from work. As promised, I’m working on the next Jefferson’s Road novel: A More Perfect Union. Yesterday I had a great time learning how to pick handcuffs (oh the joys of research!), and I also spent some time putting down one of the key arguments in the book–not that I’m going to give anything away!

I do confess, however, that this story is stubborn. It refuses to reveal itself to me except in dribs and drabs. Bare trickles of text. My goal was to crank out 5,000 words a day for the four days I have off. Instead, I’m lucky if I can get a thousand out. Only 750 so far today. I need easily another 30K to wrap up this story with the word count I expect.

I think the problem is that I don’t really know where it’s going. Every other JR novel had had a relatively clear destination or obstacle in mind. With this one, its more an aftermath of what’s happened. I do know, however, that it preludes the final, essential conflict that must play out in the last book, a fulfillment of the prophecy or dream Peter has in this one.

I suppose I could share that part, at least. Let you guys know where I think we’re headed. It’s been awhile since I’ve done an excerpt, so certainly we’re due for one. I’ll share it below, and then I’ll share where it came from.

That night when I fell asleep, I had the dream again. Bishop Calhoun came to me—only this time it was in the Capitol’s open lobby, repeating once more the words I’d come to fear.

“A war is coming, Peter. A terrible war, when every life snuffed from the wombs of our daughters shall be paid for in kind by the blood of our sons.”

“But isn’t it enough?” I demanded as he turned to walk away. “We’ve already lost so many to the plague!”

“War. Famine. Pestilence and Death. For all this, His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still.”

Then I stood upon a precipice, with a sniper rifle in my hands, overlooking a massive field of the dead. Bodies lay all around, fallen over on each other. Blood stained the matted earth, turning it to mud. No matter which way I looked, I did not see another living soul. Thunder rumbled from the heavy clouds, laced with lightning.

So anyway, those words that I gave to the Bishop in Peter’s dream came to me while we were traveling south to Washington, D.C. a year ago. Hit me like walking into a door frame. I don’t claim they’re prophetic–at least, I hope they’re not!–but they were compelling. At any rate, that’s where we’ll go in the last book. This one sets it up. And I do know how the series ends, it’s just a matter of finding my way there.

I began this series as a sprint through The Spirit of Resistance. I ran through Patriots and Tyrants, jogged through The Tree of Liberty, and walked through God and Country. Somewhere in the middle of this book I stumbled, and now I’m on my hands and knees crawling through the mud, reaching for the next mile. Sorry it’s taking so long, but I do promise that I won’t give up until we get all the way through the sixth mile of this hideous road. Maybe by then I’ll find someone to carry me.

Whassup!

Hi Everyone,

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything to the blog, and also since I’ve actually published anything new, aside from Nicholas, of course. My expectation is that this is soon going to change.

To begin with, you will doubtless notice there have been some significant changes to the website. I’ve been studying my little tushie off on how to the third leg of authoring correctly (the legs are: writing, publishing, and marketing) – hence the website change.

Do you like the new look? Is it a little more user-friendly (ie: easier to navigate, etc.)? I hope so. You’ll notice there’s some free stuff being offered. I’m giving away two of my novels – The Coppersmith and Topheth – to anyone willing to tell me where I can send them. All I need is an email address. Along with that, you’ll be added to my mailing list to receive notice on other cool stuff as well as have an opportunity to join my Advance Reader Team and help me out significantly.

The Advance Reader Team will get early copies of my book and will be specifically invited to give honest feedback – anything from character and plot development to typos – before the book goes live! I confess I’ve been doing this a little backwards, not quite knowing how to get my book into the hands of readers who care until after it’s been published. It seems stupid, but when you’re building in the dark, things don’t always come out right the first time.

I’ve connected with Mailchimp – an email service – to assist me in coordinating these emails with everyone, and I’m crossing my fingers that it all works correctly.

The second thing I’ll be doing is beginning a twin outreach to Facebook users beginning in January. First, I want to invite all those people who have liked my works in the past – particularly Jefferson’s Road – to join my Advance Reader Team mailing list. I’ll be sending some posts to your feeds via Facebook advertising to invite you to join. I have a sign up list on my Jefferson’s Road Facebook page already if you want to get an early start. The second part of this outreach is finding readers on Facebook who might also like Jefferson’s Road and offering them an omnibus edition. I’ve already uploaded this to Amazon, and it will go live in January.

Naturally, the omnibus edition won’t have any reviews when it goes up, so you could really help me by downloading a copy and leaving a review. I’m going to make the omnibus edition available for $.99 for a limited time to give you a chance to get a hold of it on the cheap. I’d do it for free, but Amazon gives weight to reviews from actual purchases rather than just friends and family (as if my friends and family don’t give honest, critical reviews! Go figure.).

In the meantime, I’ve uploaded new editions of all my books which have the new links to the mailing list, reviews, and other ways to stay connected in them (except the Jonathan Munro Adventures, which are managed under Ellechor Publishing House).

And before anyone says something along the lines of “Why doesn’t he quit all this marketing stuff and just get back to writing! C’mon, we’ve been waiting for the next Jefferson’s Road for over a year now!”, please note that I hear and share your concerns, and I commit that I will get the next Jefferson’s Road novel completed soon, ideally by March. Think of it as a New Year’s Resolution.

And yes, I’ll get Wizard Sky Pirates and Anarchy done soon as well (my daughter Rachel is pestering me.). Truth is, I have a number of works nearly complete, and I hope to be sharing them with you all quite soon.

And just to keep you on the edge of your seats… there’s a new story thread in the works along the same lines as Jefferson’s Road. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ve been inspired a little bit by Amazon’s rendition of Philip Dick’s The Man in the High Castle as well as the Political Correctness movements around various campuses – especially Missouri State. It’ll be a spy thriller kind of thing taking place in the future, after the United States has fragmented apart. I’m essentially putting it in “the same universe” as Jefferson’s Road.

Just to recap: if you haven’t done so already, sign up for the mailing list today, get your free books, and join my Advance Reader Team. It’s about to get interesting.

Last Day of Vacation

Okay, so this post is a little late. We were on the road, and access to the computer was a tad limited. At any rate, I wanted to share the highlight of this particular day, which, of course, was going to the Old Post Office Pavilion and into the bell tower.

Tower

Here’s a pic of me in the tower, and behind me you can see the line of sight from the tower to the Capitol Building itself. No spoilers for those who haven’t read The Spirit of Resistance yet. Those lines are wires, beyond which is the open air.

I have to admit, it gave me chills to step in there, especially after how significant a role this building played in the series. All in all, the whole trip was amazing.

 

Jefferson’s Road: A More Perfect Union

Well, the cover is mostly ready, at least. I chose an “angry sky at morn,” along with a Cover reconstructed Capitol building ensconced in shadow to signify some of the challenges that yet lie ahead for Peter Baird and the nation. It may receive some “tinkering” before the book is finally published, of course.

But for those of you eagerly awaiting the next “mile,” be assured that I have started the book. I haven’t gotten very far, sad to say, but it is begun at least. I do plan to work on it a bit this evening, so we’ll see whether or not I can get chapter one finished.

In the meantime, I’m still giving some attention to Anarchy, moving toward the completion of chapter four, as well as The Blood-Eater Coven, advancing through chapter 18.

Sad to say, I’m at an impasse with both A Glass Half-Empty and Descent, so I don’t know how long it will be until I can get those books done. I hope to make some progress on them, because I do want to work on other projects as well in 2014, and I’d like to avoid leaving them to languish for so long when they’re both easily half-done.

Nevertheless, I’m at the mercy of inspiration. Perspiration will get projects done to a certain point, but it still requires that little spark to fan something into flame when the heat of it has begun to wane.

Other than that, have a happy Christmas!

 

New books before the end of the year?

So I’ve got about twenty-six days left before the end of the year, and I’m sitting on about 53K words on A Glass Half-Empty and a little more than 47K words on Descent. If I work daily to get to 2K words a day, that’s about 52K words to divvy up between the two of them. Given the difficulty in writing EVERY STINKING DAY INCLUDING CHRISTMAS, it’s unlikely I’ll get both of them finished. That being said, it’s more than likely that I’ll get at least one of them done. Probably A Glass Half-Empty, all things being equal.

That is, of course, if I can keep my hands of writing Anarchy. My youngest daughter, of course, is pushing for it. I’ve composed a chapter and a half on it so far, about 5K words, give or take. Naturally, it’s more fun to start a story than it is to stick with it long enough to finish one. That’s how I wind up with so many works in progress.

At any rate, I’ve put together a pair of new covers (visible on the front page, of course) for both A Glass Half-Empty and Anarchy. Love to get your thoughts on them!

And yes, I will be starting book five of Jefferson’s Road before too long. I know many of you are anxious to find out what happens to Peter (so am I, actually!).

Here are the covers:

A Glass Half-Empty   Anarchy Cover

Cheers!

… And Published!

Yes, Jefferson’s Road: God And Country is now available on the Amazon Kindle (the paperback version is also available through Createspace).

From the back cover:

“It is important you learn this,” Haytham oozed. “You must learn the ways of Allah. His justice is perfect.”

A City Under Siege 

Abandoned in Detroit, Peter Baird finds himself in a city no longer recognizably American. He is soon captured by the jihadist forces of the evil Caliph who rules with an Islamic iron fist. Horrified by what he finds, Peter engineers his escape and begins a resistance movement.

“It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” – Patrick Henry 
 
A Clash of Biblical Proportions 

Can Peter convince the citizens of this besieged city to reclaim their rightful inheritance? Or will the new god hold greater sway?

Enjoy!

Done!

Thank you, NaNoWriMo. Today, I finally wrapped up Jefferson’s Road: God And Country. I have to admit, the ending didn’t quite go down the way I thought it would. I’m a little concerned that it might be too anticlimactic, at least in its present iteration. That being said, I’m done for the night, at least.

I’ll let it simmer a day or two and then take a look. Maybe I’ll spy some other way to conclude this particular chapter. I know so many of you are so invested and hooked onto the story, I don’t want to disappoint!

There are only two books left after this (yes, I know exactly how the series ends), and I’m reasonably confident I can get there in time. But for whatever reason, this book just feels… done.  I don’t know how else to describe it. The major conflict of the story is resolved, even though there are some loose ends that will carry over into the next book – and even form the heart of the plot line there.

At present, however, it’s the first book in the series not to end with a major hook. I haven’t decided if that’s good or bad. In the meantime, though, I’m going to bed. I have work in the morning, and then a lovely weekend home with the fam.

Later!

Recovering From Some Changes…

So after a major life change in my family, I’m back to writing again. Two pretty large events totally threw me off pace this past September. Even mentioning them in the context of writing feels a little out of place, and I don’t want you to think that I don’t regard these events as highly significant. The first was the passing of my mother-in-law. It was expected and yet unexpected. She’d been suffering from a debilitating disease, and yet when the time came, it took us all by surprise.

Naturally, I didn’t do any real writing during this time. Just a couple hundred words or so when things settled in the evenings, and there wasn’t anything better to do.

The second event was a new job, which I am just now starting to settle into. I’ve been promoted to an assistant manager of a new house. Actually, it’s a new house with new guys and new staff: Yikes! My company rarely does this, but this was a special opportunity. Nevertheless, it’s been marvelously chaotic as we learn to adapt to new responsibilities and new routines. Finally, this week, my work schedule seems to have settled down to a dull roar, and we’ve grown more comfortable with the new guys to not be quite so stressed out as before.

Still, this morning met the third day when I have successfully reached my 2k word goal. I’ve had to let go of two projects–Nicholas and the next Jonathan Munro Adventure, both of which were falling behind as it is. Nicholas, being a Christmas story, is better released next October. And since the second Jon Munro book, The Elixir of Life, hasn’t come out yet (November!), it’s okay to hold on to it until we reach the new year. This does put me back a bit on those projects, however.

On a positive note, however, this does mean I should be able to finish the remaining four books in plenty of time, even going over my typical word count if need be. Jefferson’s Road: God and Country, Descent, A Glass Half-Empty, and The Blood-Eater Coven are all past 40k words and still climbing. I have hope that, maintaining the 2k word goal, I’ll have these books done, perhaps in time for Christmas.

Of Cliffhangers, Free Books, and Cheap B*stards…

I posted this earlier on AuthorCulture, and thought it worth reposting here:

This isn’t at all the post I imagined I’d be writing, but it’s weighed on my mind for the past two days so heavily I haven’t thought of much else in my spare time.

Recently, I made the first book in my Jefferson’s Road series permanently free. I am told by many on kboards.com and other kindle-centered sites that this is a particularly effective marketing strategy employed by many authors to entice readers into trying a series. And indeed, nothing sells quite like free. Since going free, my book has been downloaded almost six hundred times (not just Amazon), and I’ve seen an uptick in sales of the other books in the series. And everything was going along swimmingly, until I received the following review:

I get it. Authors write books to sell and make money from their sale. This author can not be blamed for his effort, his writing abilities, or his product. I very much enjoyed the partial book I just finished but his total overt intention was for the readers to buy the next partial book, the next partial book and the next and so on. Most writers do this but Kindle editions are becoming less than desired due to this process. This partial book would have received 4-5 stars except for the presentation of the alleged ending. Sadly, the author’s interest was more in selling his next book than providing enjoyment. I will not fall for it by buying the entire story.

He left me 1 star.

1 star?!! On a book he so clearly believes deserves a 4 or 5?

What really incensed me is this term “partial book,” as if somehow, I did not bring Jefferson’s Road: The Spirit of Resistance (shameless marketing plug and link inserted) to a full, complete, and satisfying ending.

Which is simply not true. Now, this is what I wrote in response:

Partial book? Seriously? You get a book for free, and then complain because why, the rest of the story isn’t free as well? I tell you what: go to my website and contact me directly through the contact form. I will GIVE you the next two book in the series. But don’t call these partials. It’d be like calling the first season of a TV show incomplete because they wanted to make a second season. Book one can and does stand on its own, but the story can and does continue on from there.

The thing is, the Jefferson’s Road books are cliffhangers. Each one is designed to end on a massive plot hook that carries you into the next installment. That’s the point of the cliffhanger. It is a completely legitimate and rather ancient art form, dating at least as far back as Scheherazade in 1001 Arabian Nights. Now, in Scheherazade’s case, she wasn’t employing a marketing strategy or trying to sell anything. She was simply trying to stay alive one more night. Her goal was to live one more day, and over time, to make the all-powerful sultan fall in love with her.

Frankly, as a writer, I’m doing the same thing. I’m trying to survive one more day in the cutthroat world of fiction, and hoping to make the all-powerful reader fall in love with me. I don’t want the reader’s money (per se: because let’s be honest, I am trying to earn some dough) as much as I want the reader’s heart.

My goal is simply to make the reader say, “I read all six books practically in one sitting, and I simply could not put them down!” as has happened a few times already.

I believe this reviewer would not have given me 1 star if I made the rest of the series free as well. The books each run well over 300 pages, and they take some time to write. That’s why I haven’t released it as one single, massively long narrative (who am I? George R.R. Martin?). If I had, I seriously doubt I’d have as many readers as I do. Think it has something to do with short attention spans, or people not wanting to give that much time commitment to a new, unheard of author.

Which means, to me at least, this reviewer’s chief complaint is that I dared ask him for a couple of bucks, as if selling books is somehow distasteful. Actually, that’s not right, either. I didn’t ask him for anything. I made a book available for free, which he chose to pick up of his own free will. And he liked it, too. But now he wants the rest free as well? Maybe some day, when I don’t need book sales of a single series to help me make my grocery bill, I can offer the entire thing for free and just let the readers enjoy. But for now, I just want to scream,

“Hey buddy! Amazon is a BOOK STORE, not a LIBRARY!”