So Today This Happened…

I’m not exactly sure why or what it might mean. At the moment, it could just be an odd spike. But it’s startling to say the least. So far, I’ve given away almost 100 books today alone. That’s about five times what I’ve been giving away in a month!

The only thing I can think of that might’ve made a difference is the Amazon Marketing Ads I’ve been running. Perhaps the algorithms have kicked in? I don’t know. What I do know is that currently, The Spirit of Resistance is at #983 of all FREE books on Amazon. This is the highest rank the book has attained in over two years. I’m hopeful this means the book will continue to do well and will draw readers into the rest of the series.

In the meantime, just know that I’ve outlined the last book, and I hope to finish it during NaNoWriMo next month.

It’s Good to Be Back

So it’s not only been awhile since I posted anything, I must also confess it’s been awhile since I’ve really written anything.

Okay, so that’s not exactly true. I have made some progress on book six of Jefferson’s Road, but not like I wanted to. The loss of the flash drive in March put me back on my heels, and it took a bit to recover my mojo.

Along with that, I experienced some major life changes – though the good kind this time. One, my two youngest children graduated high school, so my wife and I are on the cusp of the “empty nest” (although two of them haven’t quite left yet.). On top of that, my youngest child went on the mission field in Guatemala with Potter’s Field Ministries. I’m so proud of her.

Then in June, I was promoted at work with a whole host of new responsibilities. This has taken some getting used to. But the best part is that just a week ago, I was able to go to Guatemala for a week and a half long mission’s trip (and see my daughter near the end. Way cool).

While I was there, I determined that I would get to work on The Music of the Spheres, because it’s been lingering for awhile on my to do list, and I really want to get it done. Knowing I was stuck, I decided to download the book onto my kindle so I could re-read it and see where I left off, and then spend some time outlining where the book needed to go. I was able to knock out the outline in a single night, and the next few nights (with nothing else to do after a hard day’s work building houses or distributing clothes), I wrote (in long hand) two and a half chapters! I’m so happy to be writing again. I spent the last few days since returning transcribing the text into my file, and now I’m ready to crank out the rest so the novel is finished. I’m pretty confident it’ll be done in a few weeks at the most.

This Jon Munro Adventure will be a bit longer than the previous two, but I think you’ll like it. At least one beloved character from the first book is back — though I’ll keep it a secret who.

At any rate, I just wanted to let you know the good news. I’m hoping to get a couple of these books done before the end of the year. Ta for now!

What I have done lately…

Yes, it’s been awhile since I published anything on this site (or on Amazon, actually), so I thought I’d bring you up to speed on what I’ve been up to these past few months.

Firstly, there was the holiday season, including NaNoWriMo, which I participated in again this year (and won! Yay!), and then Christmas of course. Always keeps me on my toes.

Got a new computer. Still learning how to make it work well for writing. It didn’t come with Microsoft Office, and since Microsoft is being stoopid and not letting people buy a package including only the programs they want instead of stuff they don’t while charging an arm and a leg for the privilege of using a software product they don’t actually get to own–or better yet, requiring a monthly subscription (buwahahahaha!)!–I decided to ditch Microsoft and go with a freebie company. Why pay for the cow, right?

Still, it’s a new software package and it’ll take some getting used to.

Nevertheless, I am writing. I’ve produced over 80K words since October. And yes, once more, I have wa-ay too many irons in the fire. It involves the creation of two entirely new series.

But wait! Before you scream AAUUGGHH! at me, lemme ‘splain: For about a year now, I’ve been toying with a new approach to story telling. Rather than writing a full length novel (and of course I’m still doing those!), I want to try writing a set of smaller stories in serial format. I began with a rather dark retelling of Gilligan’s Island (it involves each of the castaways as representative of one of the seven deadly sins with Gilligan as the devil–oh never mind!), and then got inspired by Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle and came up with a Christian adventure story set in the Republic of the Pacific States (which I imagined long before they started threatening to break away from the U.S. due to the Trump victory, I promise!), where Christianity is illegal and the government is run according to the rules of political correctness. As I got into the story, however, I quickly realized that I didn’t know how to write a story in serial format. It kept coming out as a rather long-winded novel. Not what I was after.

I shelved it, and for NaNoWriMo this year, began work on a different story called Elementals, dealing with four characters who each possess some ability to control an element or have some kind of superpower (think Heroes or The Flash, but a little less outlandish), and who come together to try to make life work. At any rate, the important thing is that I’m figuring out how to write in serial form, where each episode is self-contained, and yet also advances a major story arc. I plan to take this approach and reapply it to the Christian story, because I think that concept is a little bit better and more in line with my kind of fiction. I’ll still finish Elementals and put it out there, but it’s just written for fun and on my end, to learn. I’ve planned on at least six episodes for this one. The Christian story is far more involved, with at least three seasons of seven episodes each in consideration. I don’t know yet how well I’ll be able to get it done, but I aim to try.

In the meantime, I still have to finish up Jefferson’s Road along with many of my other projects. But I’m writing much more rapidly now than before, and I can often crank out 2K words in about an hour and a half. I hope to keep writing at least this much every day. True, I haven’t exactly done it every day yet this month (wow! Is it really the 9th already?), but its better to set a high goal and miss it than to set a low goal and miss that one too.

I Need Your Help

Announcement!

So I am very excited to announce that Jefferson’s Road – Book Five: A More Perfect Union is now available for review, and if you would like a copy to look over, all you have to do is send me an email and say, “Send Me Book Five!” in the description. Of course, it’d really help if you were on my mailing list, so if you’re not, please consider signing up here.

But Wait, There’s More!

If you do ask for a review copy, it also means saying “Yes!” to some particular responsibilities which are time-sensitive. Because I’m launching this book on October 3rd (Yes, I know. I had to push it back a week), I must have all edits completed by September 23rd – and that means I’ll need your notes and unvarnished thoughts by September 20th.

Yikes! That’s Not Much Time!

True, but I really am looking for some visceral feedback, and a little time pressure kinda ensures that. If interested, I’ll send you details with the book.

The second thing I’ll need is a commitment from you to do two things: to buy the book, and to write the review. Now, why buy the book if I’ve already given it to you free? Good question – I’m glad you asked! Amazon weights reviews from readers more highly than from those who’ve received a free copy. They put a little orange flag at the top that says, “Verified Purchase” which tells future readers they’re getting honest feedback, and not something an author has paid for (yes, some authors are unscrupulous enough to buy reviews!).

To facilitate this, I’m going to set the book’s price artificially low on Saturday, October 1st through Sunday, October 2nd. The lowest price for which I’m allowed to sell the book is $.99. Please pick up a copy during this time, and then leave your review at Amazon here. If you’re up for it, you can also leave reviews on these sites as well (B&N, iTunes, GooglePlay, Goodreads, Kobo, and Smashwords), but Amazon’s the whale. I’ll put in these links as they become available.

Don’t run your review by me first. I want to keep this process honest. On October 3rd, as I’ve said, the book will go live, and I will be raising it to its correct price of $2.99. I’ll also be announcing it via social media and other networks. I’d love to have this book go live with a dozen reviews from paid sales right out of the gate.

Truly, I can’t do this without your help. Thanks so much. I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards,
Michael J. Scott

DONE!

Wrapped up book five of Jefferson’s Road tonight. 87,616 words long. Now comes the long dark path of editing it and getting it ready. I’ll be putting together the pre-order info on this title later this week (not tomorrow, probably, ’cause I’m bushed and booked already), and I’ll be asking those of you on my Advance Reader’s Team to take a look and give me your feed back. I’ll send out an email to that effect soon.

In the meantime, I’m going to relax and watch a show. I’ve earned it. 🙂

Steaming Right Along…

So a quick update: I’ve now added almost 12K words to A More Perfect Union, and I’m on target for a completion date by August 31st, and a release sometime in September. The book is now about 91% done.

I’ll be making this title available for pre-order September 1st. This will also correspond to a promotional push I’ll be doing that month for The Spirit of Resistance. I’ll also be looking for beta-readers/reviewers to help me get this book out before the month’s end.

What can you do?

a) sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t done so already. You get two free books when you do. And there’s more free stuff, insider thingies, and discounts for subscribers.

b) like my page on Facebook. The more “likes” I have on this page, the better able I’ll be to reach a new audience who may never have heard of Jefferson’s Road.

c) offer to be a part of my Advance Reader Team. This group I’ll be managing through my email list (so you do need to be signed up to receive the early draft), and I’ll be looking for edits and feedback on the story before it goes live. This is deep insider stuff, allowing you, as a reader, an opportunity to have some input on how this story develops. I’ve been working on A More Perfect Union for almost two years now, so making certain I maintain consistency is a key. That’s one of the things I’ll be asking the ARTists to look for, along with typos, grammar inconsistencies, plot holes, dangling plot threads, and general “believability.” It’s a lot.

d) be willing to offer a review on the book. I’ll be promoting it shortly after it goes up, but I’m hoping to land some reviews before we “launch.” I’ll fill you in on that as we get closer to the date.

e) tell your friends. 🙂 Word of mouth is the best way any book sells. I’ve received so many glowing reviews already on this series, I’d hate to see anyone miss out.

Thanks so much!

Michael

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.

Four Mountains…

In my Webster Writer’s group the other day, one of our newer members commented on all that was involved in becoming an independent author – especially a successful independent author. This led me to observe there are four mountains every aspiring indie author must climb, and I thought I might share this thought with you.

Mountain #1 – Write a Good Story

This is the first mountain, and it is definitely a hard climb. For someone who may have never written a novel before, it is one of the hardest. There are two aspects to writing a good story. One is writing, and the other is story. A good story can be poorly written, and sometimes amazing writing is wasted on a poor story. I think both can be taught, though story seems to be a far more intuitive process than writing. Anyone, I maintain, can learn the mechanics of writing. It’s a craft. But story is art, and you can either do it or you can’t. Maybe you only have one story in you. If that’s the case, you might do okay with that one novel (Harper Lee, anyone?), but you’ve a far better chance of making it as an independent author if you have a knack for coming up with stories, and then choosing the ones readers are most likely to enjoy.

Mountain #2 – Publishing

Since indie authors are also independent publishers, this is another whole mountain. It involves learning how to edit, how to format a book for print and digital, and may well include book cover design as well. True, many authors choose to farm out their book covers to graphic artists. Those of us who are poorer have to learn to do it ourselves. Some choose to do it themselves any way. Either way, learning to format the book covers is nearly another mountain in and of itself, but I suppose it belongs on the same general peak as publishing.

Mountain #3 – Marketing

This is the mountain I’m currently climbing. Not only does it include identifying the various stores where books are likely to sell (and Amazon is the 800lb gorilla in that regard), it also includes learning how to create various electronic versions (epub, mobi, pdf, rtf, etc.), how to price competitively, how to set up affiliate marketing links, how to create reader magnets, setting up an effective mailing list, learning where and when to promote, and learning to do both paid and free ads – as well as tracking each to discern which sales channels, advertisers, and ad sets are most effective. I wish I knew back in 2010 what was involved in all this, or even that I’d had the foresight to ask better questions to gain answers I’ve had to get the hard way. But there’s no sense bemoaning time lost. All we have is the day before us, to start and grow from wherever we’re at.

Mountain #4 – Creating and Running Writing as a Small Business

This is a mountain I can see in the distance. I know, largely for tax reasons, that I will have to do this once my writing begins generating a little more revenue than a mere hobby, but I have yet to really start climbing it. I do know that it likely means setting up an LLC, tracking business expenses, and a lot more accounting than I currently have time for. I also know that I’ll be asking for help when it comes to this side of things.

At any rate, those are my random thoughts on the matter. My goal is, once I learn and implement the necessary changes as far as marketing goes, that it’ll free me up to do more actual writing. And maybe even a little more living, too. 🙂

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.

Happy Monday!

Hi Everyone,

I’m writing this from somewhere outside of Jackson, TN. Yesterday we drove from Rochester all the way here, and we’re about halfway to my parent’s house in Texas. Long drive.

I just wanted to give you a quick update. The sale has ended for the Jefferson’s Road Omnibus. I hope you were able to grab a copy on the cheap. If you missed it and would really like to leave a review (based on you reading the series so far, of course), please email me and I’ll send you a copy as soon as we land somewhere. WiFi’s a bit iffy here, and I haven’t been able to access Facebook to start the campaign, which launches tomorrow. I’ll try again when we land.

At any rate, we’re off and running. God speed!

Michael