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Why I NaNoWriMo Failed

frustrated_writer_200They say excuses are like assholes; everybody has one and they usually stink.  But not everybody has a blog where they can wallow in their own stench.  So for my first blog is a little while, let me ask you all to sniff my… no wait…  Let me ask you all to listed to my excuses for not succeeding at NaNoWriMo.

‘Excuse’ is not necessarily the right word though.  That implies that what happened will make it okay that I didn’t complete NaNoWriMo.  But it doesn’t make it okay.  Or maybe it does.  ‘Reasons’ is a better word to use.  So these are the reasons I didn’t complete a novel during National Novel Writing Month.

I not only didn’t complete a novel, I didn’t even come close.  I completed 15643 words on Dereliction of Duty, which is not even close to giving it the old college try.  In fact, I stopped writing after the 11th.  And the days before that were not consistent.  All in all, I flat out failed to even try to do this.

I stated off with a commitment to do it.  I was eager by the middle of October.  I had the drive to do it and expected that I could.  This was going to be my NaNo year.  Then on October 28th my job calls me very late in the day and tells me not to come to work the next day.  No explanation given, just simply that they’d be in touch.  So I spent that whole night, and the remainder of the week, wondering what I had done wrong.  I had done nothing wrong and could think of nothing I had done wrong.  I still maintain that I’ve done nothing wrong.

It wasn’t until the 1st of November that they finally contacted me.  They needed me to come out and interview with them.  I did.  Their entire case against me was flimsy, falsified, and inadequate.  But they knew if they didn’t blame me for something they’d have to pay me for all my time off.  That wasn’t going to happen.  And since I anticipated I was going to be fired, I began looking for work.

When I am out of work, I can’t sit back and collect unemployment checks (which I still haven’t received any of those).  I have to spend those hours when I would have been working, out looking for work.  When I am doing anything other than looking for work I feel like I am not doing my best to find work.  So every time I started writing my novel, I felt I needed to be looking for work.  My mind just wasn’t in it.  Not to mention my mind running though the what ifs of the on going investigation.  I thought these coworkers were my friends, or at least that we got along, and a number of them back-stabbed me hard.  Finally on November 19th, over three weeks later, the company fired me.  By that point I knew it was coming.  That doesn’t mean it was any easier.  I absolutely loved that job, my recent promotion made it even better, and to lose it was a heart breaking moment.  I had expected to work there for a long time to come.  But, this is one reason I couldn’t focus on NaNoWriMo.

Rewind to the start of October.  There was a discussion of a coworker who wanted to move to Asheville, North Carolina.  He is very talented with music, and he said the music scene was strong there.  He also told me the writing scene is strong there.  But, North Carolina is too far from my family and though I once wanted to move out of state, as I mentioned above, I just got this promotion and I loved my job.

My wife and I have contemplated moving out of California for a number of years.  I’d say five or more now.  My personal choice has always been Washington State.  I have been up there several times and I absolutely love it.  But every time we started to plan a move up there, we backed out for one reason or another.  The most recent time being because I got the promotion at work.  But anytime someone talked about moving to another state, I’d always get to thinking about Washington.  I finally said to myself, or God, or whomever was listening to my thoughts at that time, that I needed some sign that I had made the right choice to stay in California and work for the company I was with.  A week later I was suspended out of nowhere (did I mention I’d never been in trouble there before).

Well as far as signs from a higher power, I think this was the slap in the face I needed.  So I began to discuss the idea with my wife again.  The family and I drove up to Spokane (which I had never been to) on the 5th.  Then we drove across the state to Seattle on the 6th.  Then we drove down to Vancouver (Washington) on the 7th.  And home on the 8th.  From my house that is a lengthy car ride, and a lot of miles covered.  But I wanted my wife to see the state that I wanted to go to.  Plus, I had a friend to visit, family to visit, and a job to test for. So you can see, there wasn’t much time for writing those four days.

At that point we decided we would make this change.  We would try to make this move up there in June or July when the kids finished this school year.  Then we’d move to either Spokane or Seattle depending on where I could get work and my wife could transfer her job.

Fast forward to the 15th of November (my Birthday).  My landlord shows up at my house with a 30 day notice to move out.  Now keep in mind, I’m paying the rent.  But there was a little mix up where someone stole his mail and the rent check got cashed by someone else.  But my bank cleared it up and he got paid.  I guess that was enough for him, because he wanted us out by the 15th of December.

So, my wife and I had numerous long talks.  And the decision was made to accelerate our plans to move.  We didn’t see the point in moving, just to do it again in six or so months.  So, I had to go back up to Seattle for a job interview on the 20th, 21st, and 22nd.  I also looked at several places to live.  And, we did find a place that would take us in on my wife’s income.

So now, I’ve been packing and planning a long distance move (something close to 900 miles) up to Washington State.  And trying to pack this house up.  And downsize it a bit so I don’t have to haul as much.

All this while still working to get Issue 9 of Plasma Frequency out on the deadline of December 5th.

Losing a job, and now moving plans, meant I just simply haven’t had my mind on the story I need to write.

But there is some good news too.  My next novel to be released, Broken Trust, is in the hands of beta readers.  Also, the great artist Mallory Rock designed the cover art of it.  I’ll do a formal reveal very soon (though you can already see it if you follow me on Facebook).  And, I’m told the second edition of Dissolution of Peace is very close to being ready.

Anyway, those are my assholes, er.. I mean excuses, for why I didn’t win at NaNoWriMo.

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Author Interview: Amber Skye Forbes

943333_174661926027606_2038503183_nJoining me this month for an Interview is Amber Skye Forbes, author of When Stars Die.  Rather than let me do all the talking, we’ll dive right into the questions:

Tell us about yourself.

I consider myself a dancing writer because I do both ballet and write—not at the same time. I am also a student at August State University majoring in English with middle education, but I plan to drop that in favor of online courses and doing a degree in creative writing, as I have the opportunity to do two English internships in this degree. I am also engaged, have a cat I love, and parents, too, of course; play video games; read as much as I can; and I also love nature.

Tell us a little bit about your book.

When Amelia Gareth finds out her younger brother is a witch, she joins a convent to cleanse this taint form her family since witches are hated in her world and aren’t allowed the chance at Paradise, which is there version of heaven, when they die. However, she soon realizes there is no redemption for a witch, but is determined to find that redemption anyway. A dangerous attractive priest named Oliver Cromwell decides to help her with this conquest, and they are both determined to find a way into Paradise.

Where did you come up with this idea?

I just knew I wanted to write about witches and convents. I had an obsession with witches as a child, so I always knew I wanted to write about them, but I also knew I wanted to mine unique. I wanted my witches to exist as a punishment for the Seven Deadly Sins. I wanted my witches to be a blight upon mankind for the sins of those who are not witches. I also added the convent element because Amelia is a witch wanting to be a nun—she doesn’t find out she is a witch until a few chapters into the book. So the whole idea of a witch being in a convent fascinated me because it’s pure blasphemy.

Who did the cover art for your book?

Viola Estrella

Did you learn anything about yourself or your writing while working on this book?

Well, I learned that I am a very dark writer. I once tried to write a fantasy comedy, but that didn’t go over too well because I started to add some dark elements to it, so I just began to accept that I am a dark writer. I struggle with mental illness, so my mental illness often affects what I write.

When did you start writing and what made you start?

I started writing at the age of eight. It was during journal time that I found my love for writing. I just liked being able to put words on paper, and I suddenly had this fervent desire to start writing stories. It just sprang from nowhere. I suppose it was an innate thing that suddenly arose at that age, like I was born to do it.

What are you reading right now?

I am reading The Scriptlings by Sorin Suciu. It is a comedic contemporary fantasy. While I am not that far into it due to school and my own book release, it is an enjoyable read.

Besides the genre you write, what genres do you like to read?

I have been on a YA contemporary lit kick lately. I think it’s my favorite genre to read right now because it’s so real. I’ve been reading a lot of books about teens struggling with mental illness, and since I struggle with mental illness, it’s very relatable.

What is the most embarrassing mistake you’ve made as a writer?

The most embarrassing mistake as a writer was believing I was publishable ready at the age of 13. I desperately wanted to query this Harry Potter rip-off, but luckily I never did. I also never re-wrote it, thinking I didn’t need to. I thought that if I put all the work into a novel, why would I want to re-write it when I already worked so hard on it?

When you are not writing, what are you doing?

I attend school and play video games and watch anime. I’m also promoting my book as well by doing interviews and guest posts. I work a part-time job as well with Southern Siding as a Marketing Trainee. It’s a glorified title that basically means I try to get people to enter drawings and make appointments with homeowners. I also do ballet, which is probably the best thing I’ve ever started.

What is one thing about you most people find interesting (or unusual etc.)?

Most people seem to like the idea that I do ballet. Adults who wanted to do ballet are too embarrassed to do it because they’re afraid they’ll be bad at it, but I don’t care. I’m semi-descent and am going up in levels. I also do pointe work, so I don’t feel embarrassed about doing ballet, and I dance with kids.

Are there any more projects you are currently working on? Do you know when we might get to see those?

I am working on the sequel to When Stars Die titled Stars Will Rise. There will be a new protagonist in it, and you’ll hopefully be able to read it by next year. I am also working on a contemporary fantasy that I hope you’ll also be able to read next year. I am also outlining a YA contemporary literary novel that I hope to query to an agent or at least to a small press that can really work with this book.

What secrets would you share with aspiring authors?

Use your experiences in your writing. Having experiences in life often creates the best writing.

Name one author you’d love to meet and tell us why.

John Green. He is my favorite author right now. He’s the first author whose books I’m now on the look out for. I can’t wait to see what book he writes next.

You’re throwing a fiction character party.  What fictional characters would you like to invite (name and where they are from (book/TV/Movie/etc.) and why?

Gemma Doyle from A Great and Terrible Beauty. I love her character because her and I are alike. I would also like to invite Hazel Grace from The Fault in Our Stars because she’s real. She doesn’t gloss over her cancer and doesn’t make herself some poster child for it. Also, and this might be a little embarrassing, I’d like to invite Simba from The Lion King. The Lion King is my favorite book of all time, and I love that little character. I love how he is able to gain strength at the end of the movie in order to bring his kingdom back to how it was in the beginning.whenstarsdie-3-1

Thank you so much to Amber for stopping by today.  If you want to know more about her, please find her on Facebook or Twitter.  She also has a blog.  Her book, When Stars Die, is also available now on Amazon.

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Author Spotlight: Greg McCabe

About the Author:

Greg McCabe is a proud Texan. He was born and raised in Midland, Texas, received a degree in Speech Communication from Texas A&M University, and currently resides in the Lone Star State. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Mandy, his daughter, Annabelle, and his dog, Walter, as well as traveling, sports, movies, reading, and writing. He enjoys all genres of fiction, but seems to gravitate towards horror and science fiction. The Undying Love is Greg’s first book.

 About the Book:

Final Front works

The Undying Love

Book Description:

For Diane and Jackson, life is just about perfect. They’re healthy, happy, and madly in love with one another. Unknown to them, a virus is sweeping across the globe that instantly kills the infected and turns their corpses into mindless, murdering cannibals. In short: zombies have taken over the planet.

Diane and Jackson find out about the epidemic the hard way when their wedding is crashed by friends and family who have succumbed to the virus. Now, fighting for survival, they’re faced with unthinkable decisions.

Follow their story across Southeast Texas as they meet unforgettable characters and face challenges that will put their love, and lives to the ultimate test.

Amazon Link

Facebook Link

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Ten Reasons Why This is my NaNoWriMo Year

book signingLast year I wrote a humorous blog post on the ten reasons I would not be doing NaNoWriMo.  For those that don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month.  And I am fully ready for November to start so that I can begin, and finish a novel in one month.  So I thought that I would do a 180 on last year’s post and tell you the reasons why I chose this year to start.

1. You can only say NaNoWriMo so many times.

It is a lot of fun to say.  And you can only say it so many times before you wonder why you aren’t doing it.  I’ve been saying NaNoWriMo for about three years now, and I’ve yet to do it.  So the way I see it, I’ve used up my free chances to say it, and now I either have to participate or stop saying it.  I’d rather participate.

2. This is the year I am accomplishing writing goals I put off.

For two years I kept stalling on going to a WorldCon.  I missed Reno, I missed Chicago, and I almost passed on San Antonio.  But, something made me say I needed to do it this year, and I finally attended my first WorldCon.  I had such a blast that I can’t wait to get to more conventions.  It really kick started my writing in a way I had never imagined.

So, if I had such a blast with that.  Why not keep up the good work?  I’ve been putting off NaNoWriMo with so many excuses, and well this is the year.  So I am going to try it.  And I may very well like it.  And it is just the kick in the pants I need to work on some other projects.

3. The timing is right this year.

I just finished the second draft on Broken Trust and it is off to Beta Readers.  That means I currently have no writing projects that are going on for the month of November.  So it is the perfect time for me to start a new project and work on something fun.

4. Dissolution of Peace needs the sequel.

Reader feedback tells me that if I don’t get a sequel to Dissolution of Peace out soon, I’ll be strung up by my toes.  So the sequel in my NaNoWriMo project, and that could mean an early 2014 release.  Maybe…

5. I have too much stress going on right now.

On the face value, that may seem like a reason not to participate.  But, for me writing started as a stress reliever.  That was how the original manuscript for Dissolution of Peace was written.  So taking a break from some of the stress factors in my life may be exactly what I need to relax for the holiday season.

6. I have to justify the purchase of my Tablet.

I recently purchased the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3.  I got it for a variety of reasons, the main being use for the business and my writing.  Right now I write in my office, which eliminates a lot of writing time.  Now that I can write virtually anywhere, I can finally accomplish a lot of writing.  So I am excited about using it.  Plus, I have to justify the expense to my wife.

7. I have more staff to help me with Plasma Frequency.

November is still a production month.  Issue 9 will be released on December 5th.  But I know have much large staff to assist me, and I am recruiting more staff members.  So that means that I can better divide my attention between my writing and my magazine.

8. It is time I connect with more Writers

I need to connect with more writers, I enjoy their company and I really want to connect with more.  I missed out on a lot of chances to network when I was in San Antonio.  But, NaNoWriMo is a chance to network with all kinds of writers from all different genres and locations.  They even have regional connections so I can find a few writers in my area.  You can find my profile too and I can connect with you.

9. I plan to be a writer by career.

In order to make money as a fiction writer, you have to publish fiction.  I write novels now, though I may tackle a few shorts later, so that means writing novels.  If I can tackle a novel in one month, like I plan to do with NaNoWriMo, than maybe I can do it again in say February.  And maybe again in May, July, September, and then I am back at NaNoWriMo again.  That may seem a bit ambitious.  But if I write the first draft in one month, I figure that once editing and beta reading is done, I can publish three novels a year.  And if I can do that, then I hope that someday I can get enough books out there to be recognized.  And with that comes  a little bit of money.  And who knows in five more years, I can just focus on being what I always wanted to be… a writer!

10. I have the perfect outfit.

Last year I just simply could not figure out what I would wear to NaNoWriMo.  I didn’t know the dress code.  But this year I learned that I can come dressed whatever way I want.  They even have a store if I want to wear NaNoWriMo gear.  I’ve also lost a few pounds so maybe it won’t be so bad if I attended naked… on second thought I’ll bring pants.

 

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The Difficulty of Turning a Hobby into a Career

There are a lot of careers out there that can be hobbies too.  Painter, Photographer, gaming, sports, blogger, and of course writer, these are all examples of careers that are also hobbies.  There is nothing wrong with being a hobbyists, and you might even make a few bucks on a hobby.  Some hobbyists work very hard on their hobby, and I am not saying this is a bad thing.  But some of us take a hobby, and decide to make it a career.  But there are a ton of stumbling blocks a long the way.

As a writer you take on being in business for yourself.  You have to have the drive to work even when no one set deadlines, or when there is no boss telling you to get something done.  This can be difficult for writers.  We tend to be day dreamers and get distracted with ideas and fun little thoughts.  We can also be distracted by a shiny new book that we just have to read.   All off these things make working for yourself a challenge, which often ends in a lack of time to complete tasks.

The financials of turning a hobby into a career are another matter to consider.  If you plan to publish your own books, then you have to pay for a lot of things.  You’ll need a freelance editor, a cover artist, an ISBN, and order proof copies a long the way.  Even if you don’t self publish, you will have the cost of marketing (don’t count on publishers to do it all).  Also include travel expenses for conventions and workshops to improve your skills.

Oh, and you cannot forget the Tax man.  I am not a tax professional, so I don’t have many tips on this.  I can say that you should keep track of all your expenses and income related to your career.  And though you may not make any money at first, your ultimate goal is to start making a profit and that means you’ll eventually be paying taxes.  As a business owner, I do recommend you find a trusted tax professional and get some tips and tricks from them.

You will likely need to keep a “day job” in order to make ends meet.  They truth is that starting any business, including the one that used to be a hobby, means that you need money.  Not just to start-up your business venture, but you need to plan on financing your self for the next 5 years.  And, you probably have a few bills of your own to deal with (or probably tons of bills).  This all means that you will likely need a real job at first.  You will need some way to help pay everything that needs to get paid.  You may be lucky and have a spouse that can work full-time and support the whole family.  Unfortunately, especially here in California, that seems to be getting rare.

The major downside to having to get a day job is that it means a significant cut into your time to focus on writing and being a writer.  If you really want to make this happen, then your work hours get extended signficantly.  In my case, I work 40 hours a week.   So that is a big cut into my time.  The sad thing is most people don’t understand either.

You will need to improve your skills and start networking with others.  This means you need to attend workshops, conferences, and conventions.  This is one area that I missed out on until this year.  There are a lot of online ways to network.  Of course there is Facebook, Twitter, and the like.  But there are also online writer groups, which allow you to network and improve your skills.  There is also NaNoWriMo.  You can also find many other online conferences and workshops to attend.

But there also in person ways to network that you can’t miss out on.  Conventions and writing conferences are held for various genres and range in size.  Some are free, some will cost.  There are travel expenses to consider in this.  But if you want to be good at your hobby turned career you need to attend these things.  You need these things to propel yourself to the next level.  Even if you just want a hobby, you can’t go wrong with learning more.

But traveling to all these conference to network and market gets costly.  It also gets a bit tiring.  But the cost is the biggest stumbling block for me.  And, as I will touch on below, family doesn’t always understand.  There could be fights over the cost, or the fact that you can only afford to go by yourself.  There will be some you are dying to go to (for me it in LonCon3) but you just simply can’t go.  At least not without causing a divide in your personal life.  But, make the best effort to go to any conference you can.  Make the effort to learn.  When you are not writing, editing, or marketing, you should be learning about how to get better.

Now here is where your dedication of taking this to the career level is tested.  Most of your friends and family don’t understand what you are trying to do.  They see the “hobby” as just that.  They can’t understand that you want to make this a career and that means you have to dedicate your time to this and sacrifice a lot of other things.  You work a day job, you need to work on your writing, and eventually you need to sleep.  That means that you miss a lot of other things.  You might not watch much TV.  You might spend a lot of time locked in your office.  And you might not get to the dishes that day.  And, in the case of my wife, she doesn’t understand that.  It is hard to make them understand that you are essentially working two jobs.

Since I enjoy writing, it only embellishes the hobby mentality.  Since I am having fun, I clearly can’t be working.  But that isn’t the case.  There are a few parts of writing that I really love.  Writing the story, developing the characters, and seeing the cover art are all things I love.  Editing, marketing, and coming up with titles all stress me out.  I dread that part of the job.  But I also know that when it all comes down to it, it is worth it.  In any case, because you love to write it can often give the appearance that you are having fun and choosing writing over your friends and family.  In some cases you are, but you are also doing this for them.  It is important that your family, especially your kids, see that you are trying for your goals so that they can put hard work into their own goals.

The success rate it low.  That is the one major problem with turning a hobby into a career.  There is a low success rate.  How many aspiring authors fail?  How many give up?  It takes a ton of work, and there is no guarantee of making anything of it.

I don’t think people understand the amount of work that goes into this.  It could be that you ran out of money.  It could be that your family nagged you too much and you quit.  It could be that you become impatient waiting for success.  It could be that you simply ran out of time to accomplish anything.  Or it could be that you just didn’t think it was worth it anymore.  It is hard to work for yourself, and it is hard to make people see your own vision of your future.  But you need to decide what your vision is and make a goal of it.  If you can hold out for just a little bit longer, you just might make it.  You just have to find people who trust that you are not just a hobbyist, and there is a career to be had.  Good Luck.  Now go set those goals.

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Guest Post: The Horror of London by Aiden Truss

London figures large in my life. It is where I was born, it is where I have always worked and even though I now live in Kent, I live close enough that I can be back in the heart of the city within twenty minutes. Some of my favourite authors such as Peter Ackroyd, Neil Gaiman and Ben Aaronovitch have all written books that have engaged me primarily because they were set in London. While embracing the present, they have been able to pierce the veil and see into the city beneath the surface with its almost forgotten ghosts, and gods who struggle to maintain a foothold in the modern world.

So when it came to writing my first novel Gape, there was nowhere else that I could really think of setting it. Of course large parts are set in Hell and in other supernatural settings, but my home city had to play the biggest part. Like all major cities, London is magnificent, beautiful and endearing while at the same time managing to be terrifying, ugly and unwelcoming. And with the endless possibilities of its subterranean world, it’s the perfect backdrop for a horror story.

Starting off in the unremarkable suburb of Bromley (the birthplace of HG Wells), the story moves through the metropolis but for the most part avoids the usual tourist landmarks with which many authors love to colour their stories. Other than setting sections of the action on the roof of one of the capital’s most infamously ugly constructions, the specific locations weren’t important. I just needed to impart the feel of the city and the cold distractedness of its denizens. Indeed, the story had to be set in a place where the citizens were so used to the extraordinary that for the most part they are only interested in capturing the strange events that befall them, through the screens of their mobile phones. Walking around London, one does get the impression that if a demon appeared in the middle of the West End, people would fumble for their phones before they even thought about screaming in panic.

The city has been the scene of so many awesome (in the literal sense) events. It has seen several cataclysmic conflagrations, riots on its streets and explosions beneath them, and it has had repeated visits from various forms of pestilence and plague. In fact stories persist to this day that several sections of the Tube system had to be diverted during construction in order not to disturb any of the many ‘plague pits’ or mass graves beneath the city. And, if you are at a loose end in the East End, on most nights you can take part in one of the many walks that follow in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper.

London is the perfect home for a horror story and also a powerful metaphor for the human condition itself, with all of its contradictions and dichotomies, with its lovers and killers, heroes and villains and its angels and demons – any of whom might be sitting next to you on the next commute into town.

Perhaps this is why Londoners are known for their aloofness and lack of eye-contact. They just never know who or what they might be sharing a bus ride with. And, in this regard, perhaps Gape might serve more as a tourist guide than as a pure work of fiction…

 

AidenAuthor Aiden Truss:Gape_Front_Cover_Only_Final

Aiden Truss is a forty one year-old geek who still thinks that he’s twenty-one. Despite never having grown up, he’s now been married for twenty four years and has two sons who have grown up against all odds to be strangely well adjusted.

Aiden spends his time flitting between high and low culture: he holds an MA in Cultural and Critical Studies and can often be seen stalking the galleries and museums of London, but also likes watching WWE, listening to heavy metal music, collecting comic books and playing classic video games.

Aiden lives in Kent, England and Gape is his first novel.

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Project Announcements

As always, I have several projects going on in my life.  There are some things that I can’t wait to share with you, so I am going to give you a few updates on some projects.  I’ll ask for a little bit of your on input on some of these.  So please feel free to leave a few comments with your thoughts.  I’d love the feedback.

Dissolution of Peace Second Edition

Dissolution of Peace CoverAs most of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know, I have hired another editor to do over the manuscript of Dissolution of Peace and fix the mistakes that were missed by me despite my first editor’s best efforts.  I am a difficult person to be an editor for because I simply don’t get it.  There are many grammar and spelling rules that I simply don’t understand.  And even when they are explained to me a thousand times, I just don’t get it.  So even though my first editor was amazing, I still missed a lot of stuff.

I hired a new editor for Volition Agent, and I have since hired her to look over Dissolution of Peace again.  The main reason I felt compelled to get this done right away is that I got a big explosion of reviews. And, while all the reviews seem to love the story, a lot pointed out distracting grammar mistakes.  And, I listed to my readers and feel that fixing those will be a simple thing to do.  My new editor Tiffany Carrera is a great match for my books.  She is patient with me and my lack of knowledge, she deals with me constantly asking “how much longer”, and she has a passion for assisting writers with getting their work to be as perfect as possible.  Tiffany is also a prior member of the military, which is handy since I write a lot of stories with a Military and/or Police element to them.

At last update from Tiffany, she was a little over halfway through it.  My hope was to get it out by the one year anniversary of the book, but that doesn’t look likely.  Maybe by my birthday in November (feel free to send gifts) I will have it out.  I am going to ask Amazon to notify all of those who bought the kindle edition, so that they can download the updated version.  Hopefully that won’t be a problem.  But that will be up to Amazon.  Of course I will update on Twitter, Facebook, and here.

The Next Novel

I am really excited about my next novel.  I recently asked my social media followers to give their ideas on a few titles for the next book.  I am terrible with titles and I always will be.  I originally billed this as being a Post Apocalyptic/ Dystopian novel.  But I think I will cross off the Dystopian part.  In fact, it has more to do with rebuilding than any dystopia.  There are two titles out of the list that I really like.  Broken Trust and The Council’s Mistake.  I am leaning more towards Broken Trust because it plays on several levels of the story and in several different story lines.  Though the story is also propelled by several of the Council’s mistakes, the title doesn’t work for me is some way.  I would like to know what you think of the titles, let me know.

I have also put together a blurb for the book.  Tell me what you think:

Liam Fisher never wanted to be a leader.  But after finding the survivors, protecting them, and founding the city-state of Lagoon Hills; the people demanded he be their leader.  Instead, Liam agreed to sit on a Council with four other leaders, each of them with a specialty.

Together with Talya Brooks, the person who saved his life after the collapse, Liam runs the militia of Lagoon Hills.  And though it was tough early on, the people of the city now live in relative comfort and safety.

But Liam is fighting his own personal demons: The loss of his wife and unborn son. Rachel, his long lost love has suddenly arrived in the city. And a neighboring city-state is threatening war.

The people of Lagoon Hills are counting on Liam for their safety.  Can he keep himself together and be the leader everyone wants him to be? Or will the people closest to him be the greatest threat of all?

I feel like it captures a lot of the essence of this book.

So what is the next step for this book?  Well I am currently about 25% of the way through the second draft.  I don’t waste time of creating a second draft.  I mentioned before that I don’t find much use for a “cooling off period” and so I tend to dive right in.

Once completed with the second draft I will be asking for beta readers.  If you are interested please let me know.  Beta readers are a very important part of the writing process.  All too ofter I have trouble finding Beta readers, and even more trouble getting them to respond in a timely manner.  I am hoping to have it ready for Beta reading by the middle to end of the month.  All of November I will be working on NaNoWriMo, but I would like to work on Beta edits for this book in December.  I hope to get it to Tiffany in January and maybe see a release by March.  Maybe…  Anyway, if you want to Beta Read, please let me know, just make sure a November reading works for you.

Also I am looking for cover art.  Either premade or custom made.  So feel free to leave your artist suggestions too.

NaNoWriMo

I am going to make a first time honest effort to do NaNoWriMo this November.  I already know what I am going to write and I am already working on the plot points in my head.  I will be writing the sequel to Dissolution of Peace and I am excited to get this project started.  I’ve talked before about why NaNoWriMo is so tough for me.  But I really want to do it this year, so here is hoping I am up for the challenge.  I know I am excited about it.  I may actually have a title for the sequel too.  But, I am not sure what to call this series.  I need to give it a series name for the sake of my own sanity.  I have been tossing around ideas for some time now.  If you have some ideas, please let me know.  You can probably expect some other NaNo updates as November comes along.

Author Features

I’ve had a few successful author feature posts over the last two months.  I am really enjoying doing these.  You should sign up if you’d like me to assist you in promoting your works.  I have dates in November and December open for all of the feature types.  You can find out more about those by going to the Author Feature page (under contact me).

Plasma Frequency Anthology

Kindle Cover

After so much work, the Plasma Frequency Anthology has been released and is available on Amazon for your Kindle or in Paperback.  The cover art is amazing and was done by Laura Givens, who has done number of art works for our magazine.  Please consider checking it out.  The money raised from selling the anthology goes right back to the magazine.

On the topic of the magazine, Issue 8 released earlier this month.  We made some major changes to Plasma Frequency after all the knowledge I picked up at WorldCon.  We revamped the website, we revamped the magazine, and we changed how we distribute the magazine.  Working with Amazon and Weightless Books should prove to be a good thing for our publication.

We are also looking for good people to help us with our magazine.  Namely in the marketing and social media and in the need for additional readers.  If you are interested, you can find out more on our website.

WorldCon 2014

I had such a blast at WorldCon this year that I really wanted to go to London.  But, the deck has been stacked against me.  The final straw was when I found out that LonCon 3 will take place right at the same time by kids start school.  And 2014 will be my youngest first day of school ever.  Somethings are more important than conventions, and family is one of those.  So I won’t be going to London, unless something changes, but it is unlikely.

I will however be going to the NaSFIC in Detroit this year.  I am excited about going to this and have already upgraded to an attending membership.  I’ve also already submitted my participant ideas and suggestions.  The odds of me being chosen to speak on any panels is probably slim, but I wanted to try.  As many of my regular blog followers know, I have no problem sharing my opinion and giving tips and tricks that I learned along the way.

I wonder what other conventions would some of you suggest I attend?  I am knew the convention scene and only really know of WorldCon/NaSFIC.  I don’t really know of many others.  What others are great for writers like myself?  What about conventions that would be good for my to attend as an Editor for a magazine?  Let me know what you suggest.  I think I could get used to attending a few convention a year.

Other Events

What other events can you think of?  When Dissolution of Peace is ready for the second edition, I plan to contact a few local book stores for a book signing.  We have a small shop in downtown here.  I think there are some other small town bookstores around.  I don’t know how much interest a Barnes and Noble would have in me.  Any suggestions on that?  What other places might be a good spot for a book signing?  As I release more books, (maybe I will even have four out by the time I go to Detroit) I hope to attend more signings and events.  So I would love to hear your suggestions.

Narrowing Down my Ambitions

I wrote a post a little bit ago about getting focused on what I want.  And besides being so busy with all the stuff above, I have tried to limit all the other distractions.  There are people in my family who don’t seem to understand that I am working to a goal and therefore may spend a lot of time in my office.  And I think next week I will write a blog on the difficulties of choosing a “hobby” as a career. That should be an interesting post.  See you next week.

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Author Interview: Lane Kareska

LaneKareska_AuthorPhotoLane Kareska comes by the Flores Factor blog for an interview.  We have a lot to talk about so I will get right down to it.

We should start with the basic questions all interviews seem start with; tell us about yourself.

I’m a deeply and incurably nerdy Chicagoan, by way of Texas, who loves adventure fiction, thrillers, and all pulp material. I was born in 1983 right between the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I remember watching Raiders on VHS as a six or seven year old and somehow kind of being aware that it was changing me. Because of that and other art I’ve read, watched or absorbed over the years, I have a deep affinity for fiction (in any form) that has a plot. I like books where something happens, characters have goals, obstacles are faced, enemies destroy and are often themselves destroyed, etc.

My hope is that anyone who reads North Dark identifies the same sense of adventure, of enterprise, of momentum, that I responded to so strongly in Raiders.

Since you touched on it already, tell us a bit about your book.

North Dark is a straight up Dark Fantasy Adventure. What does that mean? I’m not really sure but there’s plenty of knife play and apocalyptic imagery. I would describe it as a revenge tale set in an arctic wasteland.

The central character is a young lawman named Two Crows who basically has his whole life stolen from him by a passing fugitive. Because of some pretty damaging violence enacted by himself and the fugitive, Two Crows finds himself totally dedicated to hunting the fugitive down and achieving his revenge.

The main thrust of the story is the hunt. But, as it goes in dark adventures, all things may not necessarily be as they seem.

So where did this idea come from?

This is kind of dark: It was a long-ass winter in Chicago and my dog, Charlie (whom I deeply loved), was slowly dying of kidney disease. Over the course of about six months (the length of that particular winter) I took Charlie and drove out to my dad’s secluded house in northwest Indiana every weekend. I took Charlie on walks through the frozen woods or iced-over beach, administered his dialysis, drank dark beer and wrote North Dark.

Looking back on it now, it is very clear to me that I was dealing with the fact that I knew my dog and best friend was going to die soon. As a result, the book—like that experience—is a swift and brutal venture towards the inevitable. It’s dark, violent, and pretty horrific, BUT: there is also the glimmer of love reflected throughout; the love of an animal who was so pure, so intelligent and so adventurous that he was above and beyond the silly little device of language.

Where are your favorite places to write?

I can’t write at home. I have to go out into the world. I write in bars, coffee shops, libraries, etc. I’m that guy camping out at Starbucks, nursing a single cup of coffee, occupying the electrical outlet.

What is the most embarrassing mistake you’ve made as a writer?

When I was sixteen, I somehow got it in my head that I would publish a novel, and that no other goal of mine could ever be more important. Sixteen. Unfortunately, deciding to be a writer, means having to write a lot of garbage to get to where you think you’re going.

As a sixteen year old, I wrote a novel about sixteen year olds. That probably qualifies as an enormous mistake. But a necessary one. What’s that Thomas Edison quote? “I haven’t failed; I’ve discovered a hundred ways that don’t work.” Or something like that. That’s a pretty good summation of trying to write fiction. You do your best, even though you know it sucks, and you just slog through it. It probably takes about ten years of shoveling excrement, but eventually you’ll get to something that works, something that speaks to you and maybe even others.

If I hadn’t written that book about sixteen years old, I wouldn’t have gotten to the next thing, and the next thing, on and on down the line, and eventually: North Dark.

When and why did you start writing?

Story has always been central to my life. Anyone who knows me will tell you I can’t perform basic math, so I think my brain tried to overcompensate by focusing wholly on the qualitative. It sounds kind of corny but it’s the absolute truth: my earliest memories are of being read to by my mom, and not just books for infants or whatever, but also The Hardy Boys, The Boxcar Children, etc.

Because of that, story has just always been the way in which I process life. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

I probably started writing in kindergarten or first grade. I was recently digging through some old boxes and found little picture books and comic books I’d written as a five and six year old. They’re kind of incoherent but I’m pretty sure I was trying to write detective and spy fiction; stuff all informed by Alfred Hitchcock Presents reruns that my parents let me watch for some reason.

Besides Fantasy, what do you like to read?

I love spy fiction for the same reasons I love fantasy. There’s a plot, something happens, characters venture, people die, succeed, lie, ensnare, outsmart, defeat, are defeated and more. I do read naturalistic lit, but I’m just not drawn to that genre as much as I am work that features a blade or a gun. If I’m reading something without physical stakes, I’m probably not as engaged as I have been by X-Men cartoons or Resident Evil videogames. And maybe that’s really adolescent of me, but that’s okay. Adolescence is maybe a good thing to try to hold onto. That’s an age where you’re just on fire all the time, and everything is really important, and you actually feel actively engaged with life and art. At that age, art—in any form—really matters, it matters more than your life at home, or your extracurricular activities, it certainly matters more than your school life. Or it did for me.

Besides writing, how do you fill your time?

I work too much. I have a day job that is pretty consuming. I remember being on a plane one time with a coworker, we were making small talk and he asked what I do in my free time, I said that I wrote. He said that he used to love to read and write fiction but had to give it up as he got older. He asked how I had the time. The answer is that I don’t.

I really don’t have the time to write. But I still do it. As a result, things get cut out. My social life ebbs and flows depending on what I’m working on. My girlfriend is incredibly tolerant of my weird schedule. If it’s important, you’ll find a way to be defensive of the time that is required.

But also, I love to travel (and travel always counts as prewriting). I’ve been to Europe, South America, Central America, the Middle East. My next trip is to Budapest and Vienna. I’ll be doing a lot of prewriting there, even though it will only look like drinking beer and walking around.

You’re throwing a fictional character party.  Who would you like to invite, and why?NorthDark_Cover_Final

Cool question! James Bond (from the novels, not any particular screen iteration), Darryl from The Walking Dead, Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit, Tony Soprano from The Sopranos, and Vesper Lynd from Casino Royale (as played by Eva Greene).

Bond because he’d be the life of the party. Darryl because I’m a redneck at heart, and he and I would probably get along. Bilbo because he’s exactly the kind of spry, winking storyteller that would just enchant a room. Tony because he knows how to have a good time. And Vesper Lynd for reasons unnecessary to articulate.

 

I’d like to thank Lane for coming by for the interview.  You can find Lane on Twitter @LankeKareska and you can check out his book North Dark.

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The “Cooling Off” Period

So I finished yet another first draft for a novel.  I’ve come to the part of creating that many writers suggest, the cooling off period.  Some call it “letting the manuscript rest” or “getting away from the story for a bit.” This is the time after completing that first draft that you walk away from the manuscript and let it rest for an extended amount of time.  This is supposed to disconnect you from the story and give you a chance to see it “fresh” eyes.

File this under: Reasons Your Book Isn’t Published Yet.

I’ve tried this cooling off period before and I don’t see any point in it. I find it as nothing more than wasting time when you could be getting that book ready for market by starting the second draft.  Instead you waste a month, two months, or even six months waiting for some magic to make you forget the story.  If you are really passionate about what you write you won’t forget the story.  I think this is just a stall tactic for writers to avoid something they hate… editing.  It is also a great way to avoid the even scarier prospect of publishing your work.

Editing is important, and it is necessary to get your work published.  This paranoia that you will miss something if you don’t let it rest is irrational.  You will have beta readers to catch what you miss, you will have an editor to catch anything else that slips through.  So why do we need to waste time with this cooling off period?

I wanted to try this cooling off period.  I really did.  As I finished this manuscript I told myself to give it a rest, wait a month and dive back in.  But come on. A whole month?  There is no way I can do that.  It has barely been a week and I am shaking with the need to reread and edit it.  It is driving me nuts.  I can’t focus on any other projects because all I can think of is Liam, Rachel and Talya waiting for me to share their story with the world.  So all this cooling off crap is going out the window.

I say that you should throw it out too.  Get your book out there.

But a lack of patience isn’t the only reason to skip this.  I’ve talked about those writers stuck in the revision cycle.  They are stuck revising their story again, and again, and again.  The story never goes anywhere.  And I have to say that this cooling off period plays right into this.  As you go back and check over the manuscript and you wait again.  Then you find more.  Then you want to change this.  Now let it cool off again.  Oh, and now I need to change this.  Oh, great now another author has come out with something similar so let me change that.  And now, let it rest again. And, ah hell it has been three years since I wrote this, I know so much more now.

Guess what? You’re still not published.

I don’t think that people realize just how much time they waste on this tactic.  I’ve heard the argument that you can write something else while you wait.  Which I understand.  But if a story is yelling for you to work on it, why hide it in the closet? And even if you do write another manuscript, unless you get past the cooling off period, all you have is a collection of manuscripts with no readers.

Personally I think you should go with what works for you, so long as you keep pumping out fiction.  But I think the cooling off period does little more than waste time and give writers a false belief that they can fully edit their own work.

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Author Spotlight: d.k.snape

About d.k.snape:

dksnape_PhotoI grew up in a small town just north of Toronto. I always had a vivid imagination. Ask my mother. It’s not that I don’t like to tell the truth. But isn’t the world a brighter place when fairies and aliens populate the local neighborhood? Being an intelligent, non-girlie girl, I didn’t fit in well with my peers. Instead I found books! I read everything I got my hands on. And I mean everything. I contracted some ugly balance-affecting disease at twelve. Stuck in bed for months, my family and neighbours rallied, bringing me books of all kinds once I finished the encyclopedia and dictionary, cover to cover. They just wanted me happy. And quiet. But boredom struck. You can’t just read all the time, I tried copying some of my favorite stories, embellishing them as I saw fit. And one day, I wrote one of my own, all by myself. Personally thought I’d done a good job. When it didn’t receive rave reviews from my family, I decided to try harder, not give up and leave it to the experts like my parents wanted. I’m finally ready for the world to decide.

 The Book:

Book Description:

We believe in life on other planets. We believe they visit us from time to time. What if life also evolves in the vast empty space between galaxies, among the very stars themselves? What would it look like? What would you do if it showed up in our skies?

Marnie is your average teenager. She goes to school every day, hangs out with her friends, and tries to stay out of trouble. One morning, while suffering through another boring class, her world is turned upside down when two intergalactic strangers come to collect her.

And it’s not just Marnie’s world, but her whole family’s too. It seems that random kids and their moms and dads have also been scooped up and taken to the hidden mountain valley far from their homes. No one knows why they’ve been selected or what’s really going on…

KinShip_Front_FINAL

Buy now on Amazon.com

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