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.

King of the Mountain?

Just thought I’d share this. I went to my Amazon.co.uk Author page and pulled up the rankings for the two books that are doing so well over there: The Lost Scrolls and The Elixir of Life.

Sales Rank

Couldn’t find a way to get the dates showing the same, but no matter. Clearly something happened right around the start of the year that shot the book up to number one in its category (Christian Suspense Fiction) where it has remained pretty much at the top ever since. I think there’s been four books that have temporarily dislodged it out of place, but it keeps rebounding back to number one. The second book, consequently, is doing extremely well also.

All this makes me wonder: what do the Brits know that Americans don’t? 🙂

Writing is like working out…

I’ve come to this realization after rather accidentally giving myself a three week hiatus from producing anything on my novels. It began when we went on vacation, and I left my flash drive with all my current WIP’s at home. D’oh! This really put me off stride, though I decided that maybe actually vacationing on my vacation wasn’t such a bad idea.

Shortly after we returned, my computer’s power cord went on the fritz, leaving us down to two computers in a house with five users… and none of the computers was mine. Took a week for the new power cord to finally arrive. And now that it has, we’ve entered April and I’m just now finally sitting down to work on something.  Being that it’s April, I’ve had to move on to yet another WIP, this one The Wizard of the Sky Pirates. I spent part of yesterday familiarizing myself with the story, and today I finally sat down to begin seriously working on it.

And it’s hard.

I find that I’m tired and that it’s difficult to concentrate, that getting into the story makes me want to do a thousand other things (like write a blog post).

In short, it feels almost exactly like what happens when I go too long between work outs. All this fatigue and lack of focus is not anything purely physical (like with working out), or is it purely mental (like dealing with writer’s block). It’s volitional. This is the pain of self-discipline, of overcoming laziness and inertia. I suspect this kind of reaction takes place in almost anything that might require self-discipline, whether it be writing or working out or finances or prayer or cleaning house or anything. We come up with all kinds of labels and definitions and, frankly, excuses for what amounts to the same thing: resistance to self-discipline.

But here’s the thing: I know I can write in huge chunks. Like I know I can exercise. Like I know I can do any number of things. So the trick is to turn aside the excuses and concentrate on my goal.

Right after I finish this blog post and refresh my coffee… 🙂

Oops!

The good news is, I caught it now. I’m only 50K words or so into this story–The Music of the Spheres. I’ve been working on it off and on for a couple years now, and this month is my attempt to finish it. What did I catch? I’m so glad you asked.

I just caught on to the fact that this story takes place in Kiev, Ukraine (and points further east) in the middle of winter. It sorta begins on New Year’s Eve, in fact.

And what do I do for research? I spend my days on Google Earth looking at pictures of the city so I can accurately portray it, along with numerous other photographs available via the internet.

What do all these photographs and Google Earth have in common?

Summer.

Yes, that’s right, I’ve got pages and pages of description for this book giving my best verbal interpretation of this city and countryside as I see it in these images–and I’m supposed to be writing about the bloody winter! Here I am, 50K words in, and I just now realize I’ve been describing the whole thing in the wrong  season! Gaah!

Like I said, it’s a good thing I caught it now. I can’t imagine how stupid I’d feel if I’d actually read this to someone or worse, sent it off to my publisher, with such a glaringly bone-headed error in the entire story. The good news is I’ve got some time off coming up, so I’ll have a few days to go through and pick out all the little tidbits of summer and replace them with winter.

Okay, I feel better. Back to writing.

 

So Here’s the Thing…

I’ve reached what should be the 92% mark on The Blood Eater Coven, the sequel to Eye of Darkness, and I’ve got two days left this month to write. Problem is, that still means about 8K words, and frankly, the story’s gone off the rails. I keep stepping back and glancing at my outline sketch, and it’s nowhere near what I’d originally conceived for the plot. On the one hand, I’m reluctant to hack and slash, but I honestly believe I have to at this point. So this novel won’t be finished this month. Sigh.

What I’ll do is take what I’ve got and set it aside till after August, and then come at it again with a fresh perspective. I just have to copy the prodigal material and put it somewhere out of the way, and then pick pieces of it I can weave back into the narrative once I correct the mistake. It’s not that unlike realizing you missed a stitch while crocheting a blanket, and having to undo all that work so you can correct it. Except in this case, I don’t actually have to “undo” anything so much as cut and remove it till I can find a way to weave it back in. If it fits at all, of course.

It’s a bummer, sure, but I’d rather get the story right than keep going with something that’s just going nowhere.

In the meantime, in two days I’ll be picking up The Music of the Spheres, which is the next installment of the Jonathan Munro Adventures. I’m looking forward to returning to it, especially considering how well the series is doing overseas.

Done!

I just put on the last finishing touches to Nicholas, my origin story of Santa Claus. Naturally, it won’t come out until we get closer to the holiday this year – probably some time around September. But I had a lot of fun writing it, and I’m relieved to have it off my plate. One of eight WIP’s I’m hoping to wrap up this year! Off to a good start, I think.

I have at least one beta reader all lined up, but if anyone would like to give it a read-through and lend me their thoughts, I’ll be happy to send you an advance reader copy. Sorry, though, I can only do electronic versions (pdf, epub or mobi for kindle). I’ve also got a day off tomorrow from writing, so I can prep up for the next installment of The Dragon’s Eye Cycle.

Oh, and just because it makes me happy, I checked and saw that I’ve regained my number 1 spot on Amazon.co.uk for The Lost Scrolls. The Elixir of Life isn’t doing too bad, either. I think I’d dropped down to number 2 for a day, but after that I went right back to numero uno. Very cool. 🙂

Still going…

Okay, not much to comment today except to give an update on my progress so far. Nicholas is continuing to evolve. The story has now passed the 70%, and so far I’ve hit my word count goal for eleven days straight. I have real hopes now that I’ll be able to stick with this ambitious plan and get these novels finished in a timely way.

Sales have slogged for the first week of the year, but I hope to remedy that soon by assembling a long-term marketing plan that may generate some short term results. Getting more books out there is, of course, a big part of the plan. 🙂

So there it is. Ten days in (’cause it’s morning and I haven’t written yet today) and already +11k words. It is shaping up to be a very productive year.

Pipework

Stephen King once said “Writing is laying pipe.” I’ve found that to be true. Four days into the new plan, and I confess I’m chafing a bit. That’s the nature of discipline, of course, and I’ll push my way through it. But it’s still laying pipe. My goal this month is to finish Nicholas, for which I have to crank out 1,158 words a day. Every day. It’s not that bad, of course, and I’ve met my objective for the past three days (three days?! You’re whining after three days?!), but it’s still laying pipe.

No matter, I’ll push through and have it done. Next month is The Blood-Eater Coven, for which I only need 1,140 words per day. After that, it starts getting harder. 🙂

So Here’s The Plan

Hi guys,

Been awhile since I’ve posted anything, and I wanted to bring you up to speed on the plan for 2015. There’ve been a couple of developments lately that bear in on what the plan is, so I’m going to mention them first.

To begin with, my daughter Rachel prevailed upon me to start a novel (series – ’cause I just can’t avoid them!) inspired by her shared love of Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean. Thus, I promised in November that I would begin The Wizard of The Sky Pirates for her. My son David and I both competed in NaNoWriMo this year, and we both won (largely, I think, to our mutual accountability and late night writing sessions here in the den).

And so, two things were accomplished. A new story world that has surpassed 50k words in length, and once more I proved to myself that I could churn out a lot of content in a short amount of time.

Which brings me to the painful point that I now have eight works in progress all in various stages of completion.

Additionally, I’ve also been enjoying The Indie Author Power Pack which is chock full of advice on how to write, publish, and market your work. One of the best bits is about creating “funnels,” or series of products that lead naturally from one into the other. The idea is to make it super easy to purchase the first product (the top of the funnel), and then gradually require more down the line. In the back of each book, you include a call to action – to join a subscriber list as well as a clickable link to the next book in the series. With my Jefferson’s Road series, I’m already doing that. The first title is free (easy to purchase), and the remaining books are at cost. To be successful, I’ll need several product lines which do the same thing.

Alas! I have several series started, and only one funnel actually functioning! This brings us full circle to the eight WIPs currently out there – and the observation that I can write 50k words in a single month. For most of these books, I don’t need anywhere near 50k words to wrap them up. I just need the discipline to finish them.

Thus, the strategy: beginning in January through August, I will work on only one book per month, with a view toward finishing that book by the end of the month. I’ve calculated out the words needed per day to pull this off, and it doesn’t even get tough until July, where I’ve got a novel that needs 60k words. Naturally, I’ll need to say “Bye” to some of my favorite TV shows (though I can still watch once the words are done), and I’ll need to concentrate my efforts so I don’t fall behind, but this will at least help me clear my plate of the clutter. And, I’ll be this much closer to completing the funnels that I’ll need to drive sales and maybe make a living doing this.

I have a mentor who is going to meet with me monthly to discuss marketing strategies as well. Her first word of advice was to stop writing and concentrate on learning how to sell. I’m going to politely ignore that, of course. 🙂 But I’ll still learn everything I can from her coaching sessions and apply as much as I am able in the meantime. I really do want 2015 to be the year we break through to the 1k sales a month club, which is why I need to focus on getting all this done.

Besides, David and I want to collaborate on a story concept. Wizards vs. Aliens. That’s all I’m gonna say about it. We hope to start in September, which is when I should finally be free enough to work on something. Whew!

At any rate, that’s the plan. Happy New Year!