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Updates: Moving, Depression, and Failing to Write

The Bad

I Don't KnowAs a pessimist, I’ll start with the bad first.

Some of you may know from previous posts, and if you follow me on social media, that I recently underwent a major move.  I moved from my hometown of Vacaville, CA to Auburn, Washington.  I’ve rarely left the State of California for vacation.  The farthest I lived from Vacaville was about 5 years in Folsom, CA about an hour away.  So needless to say moving two states away was a big move, and a little bit scary of one too.

To top it off, I’ve gone from a four bedroom house to a three bedroom apartment.  This is another big adjustment.  I am not used to neighbors walking around above me.  Or having to walk forever to the trash.  Or even the smaller size of an apartment.  My family has had to adjust to the smaller spaces and the lack of a yard, or other things we are used to having in a house.

Family is another thing that has changed a bit.  This move was originally planned for the middle of June.  When the kids would be out of school and there would be time for my wife to transfer her job.  But my landlord told us we needed to move right before the holidays.  I had already been fired from my job.  So after a long talk with my wife, we decided that it was practical to move twice.  Once locally and then again six months later in June.  So we had to accelerate the plans.

So Amy and I drove all our belonging up to Washington.  Amy flew back to California and I was left up here alone.  I got really sick (I had already been fighting a cold).  And in the end I didn’t get anything done in the first week.  Things like getting a job didn’t happen.  Then Amy brought our kids up after they finished out the schooling and started winter break.  Then Amy went back to California.  She has to keep working down there until her job transfers, a date that hasn’t been set yet.  So I spent Christmas with the boys.  This is the first Christmas Amy and I haven’t had together in over 10 years.  Even thought one of us always seemed to have to work, we saw each other.

So it has been hard.  I have been suffering form a bit of depression and though I know that is normal, I can’t really slip past it.  I find myself sleeping late, moping around the house.  I force myself to go out, but it isn’t as much fun as it should be.  And the main thing that has suffered is my writing.  I haven’t written anything in almost a month.  I haven’t even opened any of my projects to review.

There have been a lot of delays to add to a already depressed Richard.  For example, I had planned to have responses from beta readers on Broken Trust by December 1.  All but one reader bailed out on me and hasn’t even bothered to respond.  So now I am looking for a new set of readers to look over this.  If you beta read for me, I’ll send you a signed paperback copy of the book when it is released as a Thank You gift (US Residents).  Contact me if you are interested.

Dissolution of Peace CoverThe fixes on Dissolution of Peace are still delayed by the editor.  She is doing the absolute best she can, but delays keep jumping up all over the place.  Hopefully the second edition can be released in January, but I can’t make any more promises on that.

The sequel to Dissolution of Peace is slow going.  Perhaps I should explain why.  Aside from the depression and busy life I’ve had, I am not sure I like how the sequel is progressing.  Originally I wrote the manuscripts for three novels.  The first is now Dissolution of Peace.  The second occurred after a lot of time had passed since the end of the first.  I made a decision that I owed the readers the story that occurred during this time lapse.  So I decided that was what I would write as the sequel.  The problem is, it isn’t progressing the way I thought it would.  I think part of this is my own self being critical of my work.  Depression and a lack of interest in writing anything is probably a huge factor too.

What I really needed to to was to break the slump in my lack of writing.  With all this free time on my hands, I should be writing more not less.  And I should be writing for my own sanity.  Since most of my books are still packed, I need this escape.  As I have mentioned several times over writing is my stress relief.  But honestly, it seems to be the first thing I am distracted from when I get upset.

The Good

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I’ve wanted to move to Washington for over four years.  I’m finally here.  That part I am thrilled about.  This is very beautiful country.  I love the rain, the evergreens, the natural beauty, and the state parks.  Yesterday I discovered Flaming Geyser State Park which is only about 20 minutes from me.  I think I could spend a long time sitting there writing while listening to the rivers and streams.  And I’ll be exploring some more of the State Parks later this week.  My own apartment complex is nestled in the hills surrounded by trees and it is a beautiful setting.  I’ve posted a few pictures here.IMG_20131215_090431_970

The downsizing has also been good.  I’ve managed to purge a lot of stuff I probably should have thrown out years ago.  I made a lot of charitable donations before I left Vacaville with the stuff my family no longer needed.  It has also allowed me to better organize myself since my office has to be shared with my bedroom.  And when Amy does move up here, she won’t want my office clutter everywhere.  There are a few pluses to living in an apartment too.  Things like no yard to maintain, no trash or water bills, and generally lower electric costs.  The lower rent also helps.  Unlike Vacaville, the apartment rents in Auburn are cheaper than the house rents.  And the saved money will be going into our “buy a house” fund.  Something that is on my two years goal list.

There is good news from Broken Trust.  I have cover art for the novel ready.  Mallory Rock, a great cover artist, did this cover for me.  I had a lot of trouble with this cover.  I really wanted to see certain things from it.  But I couldn’t hit the mark.  Mallory managed to hit the mark with this one.  Even thought it didn’t hit all the check boxes I wanted, it did give me what I needed.  A cover that was amazing and reflects the feel of the novel.  Don’t forget, you can get a free signed copy by being a beta reader for this book.  Read an early copy of this book, give me your thoughts and suggestions, and not only will you help shape the book.  I’ll send you a free copy, signed by me.

broken trust

Dissolution of Peace got a very nice shout out on Twitter from @CWVanderReyden.  His rave reviews of my book led to another person buying the book.  This is the first time that I have known of a direct recommendation resulting in the buying of my book.  And it was a simple word of mouth review.  I appreciate those types of reviews and praise a lot.  In many cases they can be more valuable that the professional reviewer.  So please leave  a review of my books on Amazon and Goodreads.  And tell a friend.  They can really make my day when I find out about them.twitter shout out

I forced myself to blog today.  That means I finally wrote something.  I’m hoping that means that when I am done here (and done making my kids lunch), I’ll start writing again on the next novel.  I need to crank that out and get it going for release in 2014.  I had a lofty goal of releasing three novels in 2014.  I think it can be done with how far along Broken Trust is.  But it will be a challenge just the same.  But the only way it will be done it to write.

And though my wife is not here with me, I do have the advantages of Google+ hangout to see her.  And she will be flying up to see us to the end of January.  And we will just keep our fingers crossed that her job transfer comes quickly and we won’t have to wait out too much longer.  There are a lot of couples who have to spend countless time apart, and I just have to remain optimistic that this will all work out in the long run.

And that about summarizes this move for me.  We moved to Washington to make a change that we couldn’t do in California.  And now that we have made the move, I have to remain optimistic that this was the right choice and that it will all fall into place soon enough.

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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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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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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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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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Listen to Your Critics

free-lemonsWait, what? No I didn’t typo the title of this blog.  I really do plan to talk about reasons you should listen to your critics.  Sure there are countless blogs posts about all the reasons you should ignore your critics.  I have even written one (or two).  There are lots of great posts on how bad reviews and the critics of your work should be ignored.  You can’t please everyone and you can’t win them all.  But, after careful consideration, I am not sure that is really the best tip to provide authors, or any artist for that matter.

Working in the art industry, and we can’t forget that writing is an art, attracts all kinds of people.  You have the people who love just about everything.  You have the people who hate just about everything.  Then you have the people who really don’t know what they like or hate.  And finally you have the ones who know what they like and why they like it (and they usually know why they don’t like something too).  One might argue that you can also attract the jealous artist.  The one who wants to do what you do (and probably could) but they never bothered to really work at it.

In the past two years I have written a ton of book reviews.  I realized that reviewing a book on Amazon and Goodreads really helped authors.  Soon I was writing them for Plasma Frequency, and now I am writing them for my own blog.  And in all those reviews, I used to feel guilty when I wrote something critical about a book.  I felt like maybe I was being a jerk.  And I knew how critical reviews bothered me sometimes.  But I’ve realized that I am only sharing my opinion.  Other readers, and the author, can take it or leave it.  It is just my opinion, and I am but one reader.

But over the past few weeks, especially after all the inspiration I got from WorldCon, I have realized that perhaps I am thinking about reviews the wrong way.  That ignoring the bad ones, and basking in the good ones, was not necessarily the best method.

First, we should get this out of the way.  There is one review that you can always ignore.  That is the review that just bashes your book to bash it.  There is no logic to the reviews.  That would be the “This book sucks because I said it sucks but I won’t tell you why it sucks” kind of review.  Any blog reviewer worth your time won’t publish a review like that.  But on Amazon and Goodreads you will see those from time to time.  When I say you should ignore those reviews, I mean just that.  Don’t bother with it.  Don’t waste your time getting it removed or asking all your friends to vote the review as being not helpful.  I just mean ignore it.  It isn’t worth the time you put into it.

Recently I have seen an explosion in sales and reviews for Dissolution of Peace.  I was lucky to sell five copies each month in the past six months.  And I thought five was a great month.  I also seemed stuck at 12 reviews for a long time.  But now, I find myself looking at my 18th review on Amazon.  And 28 text reviews on Goodreads, which is great in my opinion.  I’ve also sold an average of 1.75 books per day (not counting my free promotion earlier this month).

So things are going well right?  Yes, and no.  There are some critical elements in these reviews.

I’m consistently seeing reviewers that love the story line of my book.  There has been a sprinkle or two suggesting better character development, and another sprinkle or two that love the characters.  There have been a few that hate the ending.  There have been a few that love the ending.  But one critical comment has been consistent.  They don’t like the grammar and spelling.  They seem to find errors that I didn’t catch.

Anyone who follows this blog knows that I am very self conciseness when it comes to grammar.  So my first step in dealing with this was to follow the advise we see across the blogging world.  I simply ignored it.  In fact, anything critical, I ignored.  Anything that people loved I relished in, I noted it for the sequel.  I even bragged about it.

But that is a disservice.  Not just to the reviewer, who took time to review the book (which we know many readers do not do), but it is also a disservice to yourself.

Every artist can grow.  And listening to your readers is a great way to learn where you might want to focus your growth.  It also tells you what you can fix to increase your sales.  For example, I’ve hired a new editor to review and fix the mistakes in Dissolution of Peace that I simply can’t catch.  Once she fixes those, I’ll update the book with a new version.

But grammar isn’t the only critique I have got.  I am looking into how I develop my characters and the way I end my novels.  I am looking into what it is that people really enjoy about the way I write stories.  I’m listening to my readers, even the critics.  Because that is how I will grow as a writer.  That is how I will become better.  And once you think you can’t get any better, you’ve become to arrogant and your readers will eventually notice there is no progression in your work and you will fade out.

So while critics are everywhere, they are also extremely helpful to the arts.  You, as the artists, may not take all their tips.  I am not saying you have to.  But I am saying you should at least listen.  You will benefit from that. If the majority of readers have a consistent complaint, I would suggest correcting that aspect of your writing.  Either in your current book, or in future works in progress.  For those more 50-50 splits, the choice is yours as an artist.  It could be something to change, or it could be that your style is not their style.

But if you want reviewers, you have to listen to them.  You can’t bash them and ignore them.  You can’t accept only the good.  You have to listen to your critics.

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News, Updates, and a Few Favors to Ask

I haven’t done an updates blog in a long time, so I thought I would start August with one.

Dissolution of Peace

ob hall of fame finalistFirst, lets talk Dissolution of Peace.  In late July, I noticed a bunch of new reviews on Goodreads for the book.  Based on what I read from those reviews, it was a Book Club that reviewed my book.  It was very nice to see positive reviews come in mass like that.  I think I know which book club it was, but I am not sure.  Either way, I thank them for selecting my book and reviewing it.  None of the reviews were below four stars so I guess they must have liked it.

The sequel for Dissolution of Peace has been a tough time coming.  I know most who have finished the first book are dying to know what happens next.  When I originally wrote Dissolution of Peace, in its infancy, I wrote a second manuscript to go with it.  This manuscript did not take over right when Dissolution of Peace ended. It took over some time later, and the problem is I thought I’d want to write what happened in that time as the second book.

Dissolution of Peace went through a significant rewrite from the original to the current book.  So now, I feel the time between books might need to be told.  Well, I have sort of stalled on telling that story. And I now find myself wondering if I want to actually start the story in at “some time later” as I had planned all those years ago.  What I think I really need to do is reread Dissolution of Peace and reread the other manuscripts from the past, this way I will find the inspiration of where to go from here.

In other Dissolution of Peace news, and for the first favor: Quality Reads UK Book Club (in partners with Orangeberry) have nominated Dissolution of Peace for their Book Expo Hall of Fame.  They have several categories, and Dissolution of Peace has been named with four other books for the Hall of Fame.  The rest is up to votes.  It seems my book has already traded the lead with another title several times. So if you don’t mind, please head over and give Dissolution of Peace a vote.  You can vote by clicking here.

Volition Agent

Volition Agent - Kindle Cover (Hires jpg)Volition Agent is still trying to pick up some steam.  I am proud of this book, and I am still a bit down about the slow start.  However, we did have a recent giveaway end, and though it didn’t get very many entrants, that will put the book in more readers hands.  I’ve already mailed out the Paperback winners.  And when I am done with this blog, I will be sending out the Kindle winners via email.  I have canceled the photo contest, no one entered or expressed interest in entering. Some marketing ideas just don’t work.

There is still a chance to win a copy of the Volition Agent.  You can do so by entering the Goodreads giveaway.  That runs until the end of this month (if I remember correctly).  So please consider entering and sharing it with your friends.

Current Work in Progress

I do have a work in progress going.  I put a lot of words down quickly on this project (which is still untitled) and I really think it is coming along nicely.  As I get farther along on it, I am realizing that a lot of my heart and soul in going into this work.  There is a lot of my own personal struggles placed in each of these characters.

Once again I find the three characters alternating POV works for me.  There are three main characters in this story: Liam Fisher, the military leader of the City-State of Lagoon Hills.  Talya Brooks, his second in command.  Rachel Tabor who is a person from Liam’s past who he never expected to see again.

The project is my first take at a post apocalyptic story.  I don’t think you can call it a dystopian, the people are rather happy thought the world we know is no longer around. It takes place several years after the government of the United States (and the world) collapsed due to a variety of things including disease, economics, social unrest, and a mass die off of the human race.

Anyway, I am really enjoying writing this book.  Though for the last week time has not permitted me to write as much as I want.

Plasma Frequency

Plasma Frequency recently published Issue 7, our first issue in our second year of publishing.  This is very exciting and we have worked hard to get to this point. We have a lot of plans for our second year.  We plan to switch over to Amazon for our publishing needs, selling both the Kindle and Print issue through them.  This will significantly lower our print costs. We understand that for the amount of fiction we publish, that the $9.99 price point Magcloud forces on us (due to their per page cost) isn’t fair.  We don’t even make money on the print issue.  Amazon will allow us to reduce that significantly and put our price more in line with other print magazines.  We won’t cut ties with Magcloud because of their ability to sell our PDF issue.  I’ve not found another source for that.

I really want to pay authors and artists more. But the current 1 cent per word comes out of my own pockets.  That has made it rough for me, and I can’t even consider paying more unless I have more funds. So after our reader survey, we thought we would try an IndieGoGo campaign.  So far, we are way short of our goal and it doesn’t look like we will be paying anymore in year two.  But that can change if you will help (see another favor).  If everyone who downloaded our issues donated just $25 we’d break our goal in no time flat.  But you don’t have to donate that much.  Even just $5 or $10 helps.

Even if we don’t hit our goal, Plasma Frequency will still be around for many years to come. I just won’t be able to pay anymore just yet.  To donate, or share with others, click here.

So that is what I have going on right now.  Oh, and don’t forget to share (one last favor) the Author Features that I stated on Friday when Jennings Wright came by for an interview. This Friday I have a guest post.  Jump in and get some free publicity.

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Ten Ways Writing and Photography are the Same

camera and writersI thought this would be a fun little post for a Monday.  As many of you know, I have a number of friends in the photography business.  They are at various levels of the business, and I always marvel at how similar their posts are to those of writers.  This morning I saw a post on Facebook from Gustavo Alfaro Photography.  I can’t for the time of me figure out how to embed this post, so I will just quote it: “Photographers are the most insecure people I know. Don’t believe me? Look at one and tell them their work sucks. Part of being an artist I guess… #‎needtostepitup‬ ‪#‎changingmyvision‬”

This post reminded me a lot of myself, I have a few insecurities. And well, it got me back to thinking on how similar the lives of the writer and photographer are.  So her are 10 reasons writing and photography are the same:

1. We both never have time to work on our craft.

It is true.  I’ve never seen a group of people complain about a lack of time more than writers.  That was until I met photographers. We are remarkably similar in this. Our crafts take time, and there isn’t enough time to work on it.  Sure, we have to feed the dog, water the lawn, clean the house, care for the kids, but that isn’t the reason we have no time. The real reason…

2. We both spend far too long on the internet.

And we call this time on the internet, research. Writers are getting character ideas, researching possible locations, getting ideas on character names, learning the difference between than and then.  Photographers call it “getting shoot ideas.” or “buying props”. The truth is simple.  Just look at our Facebook pages. We are too busy sharing cat photos, complaining we don’t have time to work, and writing blog posts about the similarities between… well you get the point.

3. Our friends and family don’t take our craft seriously.

Oh, you write books.  How cute.  It isn’t hard.  HA! Sure.  You take pictures all day.  When will you get a real job.  Hell, my phone takes pictures. See, to them it is a cute hobby.  Your mom might love you, but your best friend is too busy to worry about this little hobby of yours.  Secretly they all hope you will get a real job so that you’ll stop posting links to your work and go back to sending the Candy Crush tickets.  Some even make fun little remarks like: “When will I see a movie about your book?” or “Was that your photo I saw on TIME?” or “So you still play make believe.” or “I bet it is hard to take pictures of beautiful women/men all day.”

No one promotes us. We are left to beg people to click like, or write a review, or vote in the photo contest.  Only about one percent of your friends ever share anything you do.  Not really realizing that that shared photo, or the nice review on a book you write, could be the referral you need. We all just want the acceptance of our communities, but it always seems out of reach.

4. There are tons of people in our craft with real talent who never see the light of day.

We both think our work is not good enough. As Gustavo said, we are insecure.  It takes huge amounts of courage for us to show you what we wrote.  For us to share it, and then for us to hear you say you don’t like it.  There are some excellent talented people in our crafts, but they are just too scared to put their work out there.

5. It is easy to do what we do.

Just ask anyone who doesn’t do it.  People who have never written a word come to me and tell me how easy it must be to be a writer.  You just sit down and your computer and type. It sure looks that way from the outside, but when you try it you see it isn’t that simple.  Photography is the same way.  We all have a camera, all you have to do is point the camera and take the picture.  It is easy.  Being a writer or photographer is easy in the same way that being a brain surgeon is easy.  I am sure I could cut scalps with no medical training, why the hell not.

6. We both spend more time editing than creating.

It is very much the case.  Photographers go out for a three hour shoot and spend the next week editing the photos. Writers may type out a manuscript in one or two months, but then spend then next year promising the release date is around the corner.  Editing takes the most time, and…

7. People have unrealistic expectations from the editing process.

Sorry folks, no amount of touch ups will make my fat ass look like Channing Tatum.  I can spend a year editing a book, I guarantee that it will still be released with an error.  Even the big publishers do it. Instead of focusing on what doesn’t matter, lets be realistic here.  Perhaps I can look like George Clooney instead.

8. People assume we’ll work for free.

Why does your book cost so much? Can you just send me one?  I’d love to buy your book, but I am broke.  I have a great idea for a book.  If you write it for me, I’ll split the earnings with you.

Hey, come to our wedding just bring your camera.  Can you remove the watermark on this photo so I can print it at Walmart?  Would you mind taking our family portrait, you know, for free?

9. We can’t wait to get discovered, just to show you we could.

We fantasize about how we will be discovered and start really bringing in the big bucks. How you will then wish you were nice to us when we were small time.  We imagine you coming to us asking for our time or money, but we are just far too busy.  We couldn’t possible sign anything right now, perhaps you could talk to our PR person.

10. We are both practicing an under appreciated form of art.

The number of active readers are decreasing. People don’t read anymore, that is why they want to see every popular book made into a movie or a TV series. And our print market is dying fast.  Everyone one wants digital. Books no longer line home libraries, but rather stored “in the cloud” or on eReaders making the true value of a book seem somewhat trivial.

In photography, the digital camera has ruined film.  And now that everyone has a camera on their smart phone, few see the point of hiring a photographer for anything anymore.  Homes seem to rarely display photos anymore, instead they sit on the hard drives of computers, never really being appreciated for the art form they really are.

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Getting Back on the Horse.

swearing_3421243Last week I wrote a rather depressing blog post about the ups and down (mostly the downs) of being an independent author.  It was nasty, dark, and true. But is also awoke something in me. Something that I hadn’t really had in a long time.

The writing muse.

Muses are funny is the way they come and go.  They also have a weird way of being awoken at the most interesting of times. But this little muse snuck right in and wacked me over the head with a frying pan.  I’m not sure why a writing muse has a frying pan, but it worked at getting my attention.

My writing days started way back. But the real passionate writing that I enjoyed started in 2003.  I was finding myself stressed out beyond belief.  And escaping to the world I had created, the world that Dissolution of Peace is set in, relaxed me.  It relaxed me to a point that I could sleep well and face the next day ready for those challenges.  I’d put down 2,000 to 4,000 words a day and I loved doing it.  And when I did it, I had a small hope that someone else would read it and find themselves escaping into my world to relax.  But that was never the point, the point was a lot simpler.

I wrote for me.

There was that damn frying pan to the back the head again. That was what the muse had came to lecture me about. I wrote to relax, and now here I was stressing about how to get more book sales.  I’m stressing about the very thing I used to do for fun. And if I was no longer doing it for fun, what’s the point?

Every story teller just wants to be heard (or read in this case).  And I still very much want readers to escape into my worlds and relax.  But I have always written for me first.  And fortunately this muse, and the frying pan, reminded me of that.

So I started a new novel project the next day. I’m sorry to say that it isn’t the next book in the Dissolution of Peace series.  Though I think that will be my first ever NaNoWriMo project.  I digress.

This new project has spoken to me for a while and it touches very deep on some of my own life trials and tribulations.  And, it has had me writing 2,000 or more words a day.  Yesterday alone I put down over 6,000 words. And you know what, it feels good to be writing to relax again.  It feels good to be telling a story that makes me happy, and it feels great to get back on the horse.  If I keep my focus on what I love, my books will eventually sell themselves.  And, eventually readers will find relaxation in the pages of my worlds.

The best part is, I feel better.  I feel like I can take on the world with my keyboard and computer.  And the muse has finally put the frying pan away.

And with my new positive outlook, something did come my way.  Samantha LaFantasie, another author is going to do an Author interview with me in October.  And she got me thinking.  Why can’t I post things on my blog to help out other authors?  So I will. Starting in August.  I will be posting some things for other authors.  If you want to join in, you can contact me here.  Just fill out the form and we will be in touch.

Here is what I am thinking:

1st Friday of every month: Author Interview

2nd Friday of every month: Guest Post

3rd Friday of every month: Book Review/Feature

4th Friday of every month: Author Spotlight (Brief Bio, List of Titles and upcoming releases)

This is free.  I won’t charge anyone for doing this, I just want to help promote others because that is what we should be doing.  So Please sign up to participate.  I’ll do my best to accommodate everyone.  It will likely have to be on a first come, first serve basis.  But we will see how it all goes.  So head on over and contact me.  Won’t cost you anything. It just might be what gets you back on your own horse.

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