Sunday, February 27

A Very Special Sample Sunday #7

So last night I hit the first major milestone in Book Two. I finished the outline. This is actually a big deal for me, because when I started in on Spiral X, I had a rough idea of what I wanted to happen. In my head. That didn't work out so well, as it took me about a year to get through the first half of the book, and then it fizzled out. It was only when I had an outline in place for the back half of the book that I was able to push through to the end. The best part? It only took me a month. See the difference? So when I came around to doing Book Two, I resolved to make sure I had an outline in place before I started writing. That goal is now accomplished.

So for today's Sample Sunday, I thought I would commemorate the occasion by releasing what might be the very first line of the book. I say "might" because I can't even be sure it'll make it to the release copy, but I like it, it's been in my head for a few weeks now, and I think it'll be enough to get people to read through. Hit the break to check it out.

Friday, February 25

Follow Friday #2

  1. (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Host {} and any one else you want to follow on the list
  2. (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers -
  3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments
  5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "HI"
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
  7. If you're new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!

Q. Share your current fav television show! Tell us a bit about it...

Archer on FX. Absolutely hilarious and wrong in all the right ways.

Sunday, February 20

Accolades and PubIt! Button

I have added two more things to this blog. The first is a new menu item called "Accolades". This is partially for me to keep a single repository of all the blog reviews I have received, but also largely for visitors to see what people are saying about Spiral X and Split. Mayhaps a quote or two will sway them to give either story a shot.

The second addition is a button for PubIt!, which is Barnes & Noble ebook publishing platform. It's a direct link to Spiral X's B&N page. So anyone looking for a link to get Spiral X for the Nook need look no further.

Sample Sunday #6

Before I get into today's Sample Sunday, I want to link Black Lagoon Reviews, who is currently conducting a giveaway of Spiral X. It's very simple to enter, and the competition is light, so there's a good chance you might win. Best of luck!

One of the things I've been praised on in Spiral X is how each of the characters feel real and complete, something that isn't an easy feat to pull off. For the most part, all the characters are in my head, but as the series goes on, it will become impossible to keep track of them all (since more are always being added), so with Book Two I've taken to keeping a character file. Today I peel back the curtain and give you a preview of a minor character who's sole purpose in life is to make Cheryl's corporate life as difficult as possible. I also give a glimpse into one or two things that have happened since the events of Spiral X.

Hit the break to meet Joseph Redmond.

Wednesday, February 16

Wednesday Musings

Saw Tron: Legacy last night. I thought it was pretty good, and the more I think about it, the more I like it. I don't think it's Oscar material, and I don't think it's anything more than escapism, but it was worth the time and was a good date night movie for the wife and I. I've read the complaints about how nothing really happens or that there isn't very much plot, and I say that the first was almost exactly the same way. The only reason the first gets a pass on this is because it was original and fresh and it was 1982 when it came out. It was also a self contained story whereas Legacy is blatantly one of at least two films. So obviously anything made in 1982 isn't going to be original and fresh in 2010, and we've become numb to special effects and pretty pictures so the visual style isn't anything new either, and a lot of people are turned off by anything that is so blatant in terms of creating a series. It doesn't take away from the experience for me though, and Legacy just might end up being a future collection buy.

I've been saying that February was going to be a good month for me, and that has so far remained true. I won't get into how certain things have gone, since they're personal in nature, but it has been a huge month of growth for me in terms of the number of people who have seen and read Spiral X and have genuinely enjoyed it in the process. One of the worst things an author can feel is ambivalence towards their writing, the question of whether or not it's worth the monumental effort it takes to put a book together. Every time I see a comment that asks whether a second book is coming, or how they don't normally take to that particular genre and that it didn't matter in this case, or just people I know saying they didn't know how good a writer I was, it gives me fuel. Incentive to make it through the blocks, the slow downs, the questions so that I can provide a compelling tale that almost everyone can read and feel like they got good use of their time. Every author needs validation, and February has been a good month for that.

At any rate, that's actually about it for today. I'll see you guys later, and may the day see you well.

Sunday, February 13

Sample Sunday #5

Is it number five? I think it's number five. Oh well, we're starting to number them at five.

I'll get to the sample here in a moment, but for now I wanted to send out a quick congratulations to indie author Victorine Lieske, who just surpassed her 50,000th book sold yesterday. Vicki deserves the success she is experiencing and one can only hope that follow-up books sell as many or more. Me? I'm still waiting to pass 100 books sold but it will happen sooner, rather than later. To make it easier to reach that goal, I've permanently lowered the price of Spiral X to $2.99. This is purely a business move and one that I've battled over making for a lot longer than it possibly seems, especially since I first brought it up here just the other day. Lowering the price isn't something that I really want to do, because I firmly believe it's worth $3.99, but the established norm for indie books is $2.99 and I feel my ultimate goal, getting the book in the hands of readers, is hurt by setting it at a non-established price point. And I've done my research, helped in fact by Kindle Nation Daily, who keeps track of how well their sponsorships sell starting from the moment it's put up until 48 hours later. The evidence is clear, $3.99 isn't a normal price point, and it's difficult for a new author to establish himself there. So, in light of this and other findings, the price has been lowered. The main three platforms, Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords, have all been updated, and one can assume that Apple, Sony, and Kobo will be updated near the end of the month.

And now, for the sample. I said last week that I had a very special sample lined up today, and I'm sticking to it. After the break, you will be able to read Chapter Two of Spiral X. I'm not entirely sure if it'll help sales, but I don't think it can hurt. The main issue is that this book is a bit of a slow burn up until the middle portions, and it's something I will admit to doing purposely. However, there isn't anything in the early portions of the book that doesn't have some sort of payoff later on, so I didn't do it just because. Besides, for every person who has said it starts off slow, I have just as many people saying it's action packed from page one. So your mileage may vary. Anyhoo, hit the break and read Chapter Two!

Friday, February 11

Follow Friday!

Decided to start taking part in this and getting my name out there. I know this isn't a review blog but it is an author blog so I figure some people might enjoy a peek behind the curtain.

Hosted by Parajunkee:

1. Follow Parajunkee's View
2. Follow this week's feature:
3. Sign the Linky
4. Follow, Follow Follow!

This week's question: What is your favorite romance hero-type? Stereotype wise. Do you like the strong silent type or the brute macho man?

Not big into romance, but I like leader-type heroes. The guys who seem to know what they're doing, even if they really don't. I guess that qualifies as a brute macho man.

Twitter is @moontayle for those who like that sort of thing. ;)

Thursday, February 10

The Importance of Letting Go

One of the hardest problems I have faced as an author is the concept of letting go. For some reason I have had the hardest time saying good-bye to Spiral X and letting it stand, or fall, on its own. I have done my best to build it up, I've given it a couple of facelifts, and even given it one last go around the editing pool in order to clear up some lingering blemishes. You'd think I'd be done, right? Wrong. See, now I'm wondering if $3.99 is the right price point. I've maintained for a while now that it's worth at least half of what you would pay for a paperback in a book store. I still maintain that thought. However, I also realize that Spiral X just happens to be priced about $1 more than the accepted norm of $2.99. I still have some musing to do on this, but I do see the price lowering in the future. In a business sense, it probably makes the most sense. I've done most of my changing with that in mind, and this would be no different.

I also bring up letting go because there's a controversy swirling around the blogosphere over an author who ripped into a reviewer based upon a negative review she received. I won't dignify the whole issue by naming names, but I will say that the author should have let it go. Hey, I have issues with a couple of the reviews I've received, but I'm certainly not going to tell you about them. Why? Because it doesn't matter. It's been said, it's been written, it's been posted. Nothing I say will change their opinion. That's the gist of the matter here. The reviewer posted her opinion of the book. She didn't rip into the author, she simply posted why she didn't like the book in question. To go after the reviewer like that was not cool. Some people aren't going to love your writing, and sometimes they'll even let the world around them know. It's okay though. Life goes on and there's more books to be written. So let the book go, and write damn you!

Book Two of the Eternal War is currently on chapter eighteen of the index card outline. I'm hoping to have it completely done by the end of the weekend so I can get started on expanding things out. The overriding emotion  for Cheryl so far has been frustration, and she's crossing different personal boundaries than in Spiral X. I have a pretty good idea of how I want everything to keep going, but it'll be interesting to see what eventually makes it into the book. I'm not throwing ideas against the wall or anything, but there's a couple of things in here that touch on Cheryl herself but don't necessarily impact the overall plot. So we'll see.

Talk to you guys on Sunday.

Sunday, February 6

The Process of Writing

I'm skipping Sample Sunday today because I really don't have anything new to show you. I do have a special one lined up for next week, so be sure to check back in then. But for today, I thought I would talk about my writing process.

This is a question that occasionally pops up, and it's not one easily answered. See, up until I finished Spiral X, I didn't have a writing process. I discovered it along the way, gradually transitioning from what I had been doing into something that works a whole lot better, and which will ultimately allow me to produce more works over a shorter period of time. This doesn't mean I'll venture into 3-4 books a year territory, but 2 a year isn't out of the question, even with a full-time job, a family, and school. But, for now, one works and since I'm currently in the beginning stages of my process for the follow-up to Spiral X, I'll relay to you all how it's likely to go over the next few months.

First, I have to have an idea. I know, sounds simple right? Not so much really. For me, and I imagine for a lot of people, an idea is like a seed. You get the initial idea and you let it sit for a while in your subconscious. At least that's how it works for me. Then, I build on the idea every time it comes to the forefront of my mind. For example, with Spiral X it was, "What if vampires in Dallas were dealing drugs?" Then, I slowly built on that basic premise to include the why, the how, the who. See, all those English classes aren't useless after all, because this is basic stuff. However, the basics are always the most powerful way of expanding and exploring an idea. Keep in mind that even after you've worked over the idea for a while, there's always room to expand on it.

Next, once I feel I have the overall gist of the idea down, I start working on an outline. I've added a new wrinkle to this process, which I've detailed on Facebook and (I think) a few posts ago, but my head is fuzzy and I'm somewhat lazy so I'll reiterate here in case I didn't. Essentially, I pulled out thirty index cards, labeled them Chapters One through Thirty, and am writing down a super-summary of each chapter on each card. Why thirty chapters? That's sort of what I shoot for in terms of chapter count, though it can go up and down depending on how things work out, but it's a goal. As far as the super-summary goes, each card holds the characters involved, the gist of what takes place, relevance to the overall plot and any subplots it hits on. Once I finish the card outline, the intent is to go back over the cards and make sure both the overall plot (the reason the book exists) is resolved, and there are no dangling subplots left open. Now, both of these are separate from overarching plotlines. The intent is to make this into a long series with a definitive end, so I want to make sure there's something added to the overarching issue with each book, while also making each book itself a singular whole. I've gotten dinged on some reviews for tying things up too neatly, but those comments also could describe about the first half-dozen books in the Dresden Series or the Anita Blake series. Besides, if you thought I tied things up too neatly, then you weren't paying attention. And you'll find out why I'm saying that in the next book.

Okay, with the card outline done, it's time to hit the summary outline. What's the difference? Glad you asked. The summary outline is similar to the super-summary outline, but greatly expanded. In this one I write a complete summary of everything that happens in each chapter down in a spiral-bound notebook I lug around with me. Yes, you heard that right. I still write stuff down. The reason I do that is because every time I sit at a computer to write about a book, I want to write the damn book. So this keeps me from doing more than I want to. With the expanded outline, I sometimes even write out dialog I think up. It's also where I finalize where the settings are and who exactly is going to be in that chapter.

Once the summary outline is done, I now can sit down at a computer and write the book. I write both the rough draft and the first draft in a single go through, and no they are not the same thing to me. The rough draft is a straight through typing exercise. I don't correct mistakes, I don't tweak things, I just write. This tends to burn me out though, as I'm a constant tweaker (as evidenced by me still tweaking Spiral X three months after "release"). So after I get a three chapter cushion, I go back and do an edit/revision of the first chapter. Once that's done, I write chapter four, then edit/revide chapter two, then write chapter five, etc. and ad nauseum until I am done.

At that point, I let the book sit for a bit. How long? A minimum of a week, preferably two, or until I get the itch to go back in, whichever is longer. I took a month off for Spiral X. Then I go back in to do the comprehensive edit, which has two phases. The first phase is a read through to make sure all the plot lines add up, there's no holes to speak of, and no subplots disappear inexplicably. Once I take care of that, I enact phase two. This is when I turn to the last page in the novel and edit each paragraph in a backwards succession. Why do I do this? Because reading backwards allows me to disconnect each paragraph from the overall flow of the novel. This way, it's easy to spot problems with structure and take a more clinical approach to the editing process. This is a very time consuming way to edit, but I guarantee it will have positive results.

Once the backwards edit is done, I put all the changes into the manuscript and step back for another break. During this time I'll contact some beta readers and have them go through the story itself to point out mistakes. Nothing mechanical since those will be handled next, but anything that could make the plot stronger, shore of weak areas, that type of stuff. Because once I start on the next step, I don't want to have to go back and add more content.

Once the beta readers are done and have come back with their thoughts, I run the manuscript through Serenity Editor, which is a program designed to catch many of the major mistakes a writer can make in a mechanical sense. Improper hyphenations, conjunctions, homonyms, overused/cliche words and phrases, stuff like that. Not all corrections are taken, of course, because some things that are wrong are actually intentional, but it's a great way to spot some oops that your eyes might glaze over. Then, with that out of the way, I do one final read through edit to catch the last of any mistakes I can find.

That's pretty much it. That's my writing process. I hope you all enjoyed this peek behind the curtain and I'll see you later this week.

Thursday, February 3

The Tender Age of Thirty-Three

Thirty-three years ago today, I was born in a hospital in Houston, Texas. With each year that has passed, I have learned a little more, grown up a little more, and done my best to become a productive member of society. I could not have done this without the people around me all my life. The final message I relay to readers of Spiral X is that the people you lose are still there with you. Your world view, your favorite foods, your work ethic, all those things and more are impressed upon you by the people you interact with most in your life. So as much as today is a reflection of my life, it's also a reflection of those who have shaped my life. Thank you all.

Work has begun on the follow-up to Spiral X. For those who follow my Facebook Page, this is old hat, but I've decided to add one more step to my writing process. When I first started writing Spiral X, I wrote by the seat of my pants. I had some direction since I was following a rough outline from a previous project (which anyone who has read an interview of me knows about), but the problem was I only had half an outline. So of course I stalled. I was only able to get going again once I actually sat down to create an outline to take me through to the end. Once I did things went pretty quickly. So that's part of the process now but since with this book I'm not working with even a partial outline, I have to drum up the idea from scratch. To help with this I'm going to first outline each chapter on index cards so that it'll be easier to pick out which ideas just aren't going to work. Once I get that outline done, a more in depth outline will follow, which will make the first draft go a lot smoother than it would otherwise. So far I have six chapters "carded" and at least the next two or three sitting in my head. The overall plot is coming together and I have some interesting ideas on what needs to happen to bring the book to a satisfying conclusion.

For anyone that visits the blog, you may have noticed a change in the cover for Spiral X. With the release of Split, the decision was made to tie the cover of Spiral X in with that one so that anyone who looked me up at Amazon, or any of the other places my books are sold, would immediately see a connection. This isn't a new concept, as series will typically take this approach. However, the way I went about getting this new cover was something of a humbling experience for me. See, the previous red and black cover was done by a work friend named James who has made a hobby out of doing 3D modeling. About middle of December he showed me some art he had done based on Spiral X, and somewhere along the line it was agreed that we would work together to make a new cover. In the end, he gave me what I wanted, and sales were slow enough on Spiral X with the original blue and red cover that I didn't see an issue with making the switch. In the end though, I was one of few who liked it, and sales proved it to be a lateral move. I made the wrong decision.

That's not the humbling part though. When we decided to go with a new cover by the same guy who did Split, I didn't bother telling James about the decision. I wanted to tell him in person, and for a few days the only option available to me was through IM or email. So I held off on making the change until the last possible moment, the night before the "official" release of Split, thinking that the next day I would be able to talk to James about it then. Unfortunately, the switch at all the websites happened faster than I thought it would, and James found out. I ended up explaining myself to him the next day over IM, a reactive move that I would never have had to do if I had told him when the decision was first made. So, to James, I am sorry you had to find out after the fact. That was not my intention, and never was. I hope this does not preclude us from working together in the future.

So that's it for today. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. Go Packers!