They 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.
Last 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.
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.
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.
I haven’t done an updates blog in a long time, so I thought I would start August with one.
Dissolution of Peace
First, 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 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 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.
I 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.
It is official. Today Volition Agent came out on Amazon.com. Which means, I officially released my second novel! I am so excited for this novel and I hope you guys are too.
Lexia is an ordinary person, with no special training or unique skills. That is until Lance, her handler, jumps in and takes full control of her every action. With Lance, Lexia is one of the deadliest government agents. Without him, she is a useless civilian who is completely disposable. When one of her missions goes wrong quickly, Lexia finds herself scrambling to escape capture. The agency she works for disavows any knowledge of her existence and leaves her for local authorities to arrest her on murder charges. Lexia must fend for herself if she wants to survive. With no clues, minimal training, and an unlikely ally she searches for answers. The agency wants her dead. Can Lexia stop them? Or are they still in control?
BUY THE BOOK:
US Paperback: (ISBN: 978-0615840802) Regular price is $6.49, but at the time of this post Amazon has it at 10% off!
US Kindle: (ASIN: B00DMCLTQM)Regular price is $1.99, you can borrow free if you are on Amazon Prime
UK Paperback: Coming SOON
I will hope that many of you will run over to Amazon.com and at least spare $1.99 for the Kindle copy. The sudden increase in sales would be great for opening week. And $1.99 is very little compared to other things we spend money on. Besides, you will want to read Lexia’s story over and over again.
It is time to have a big part to celebrate my second novel being published! So for the next week I will be playing all types of games, contests, giveaways, and blog posts.
I am going to play a few social media games over the coming days. The other night I played one on Facebook with trivia questions about the book release. To maximize your chances of winning copies of my book, I suggest you follow me on my four social media outlets: My blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Over the next week there will be different games you can play by following these. I’ll be giving away Kindle Copies of the book for prizes (and maybe other prizes).
Watch for more games on my social media sites!
There is currently a Goodreads Giveaway, and by later this afternoon there will be a Rafflecopter giveaway by tomorrow morning. The best way to find both of these is by visiting my website and clicking on the giveaways tab.
Recently cover artist Kristin Irons and cover mode Joy Anna received their paperback copies of the book and sent me some pictures. Below are pictures of each of us with our copies.
These photos got me thinking. To honor Kristin and Joy’s talents in photography, I thought it would be fun to have a photo contest. So here is what I am doing. You can enter between now and August 2nd. Take your picture with your copy of Volition Agent. Once I have all the pictures, I’ll decide which are the best and they will win some prizes (see below). Of course there are contest rules and directions for entering below. Be creative, have fun, and take some great pictures. I’ll be scoring them on their creativity, and fun. Winners will be announced by August 13th.
1st Place – $100 Amazon Gift Card
2nd Place – $75 Amazon Gift Card
3rd Place – $50 Amazon Gift Card
4th Place – $25 Amazon Gift Card
Be submitting a picture you agree to the following Terms:
Submit a picture by posting in on Richard Flores IV Facebook Page timeline, if that does not work you can enter by emailing me the picture to email@example.com. Tagging photos, or other methods of submitting photos will not be accepted.
By submitting the picture, the picture becomes Richard Flores IV’s property and you agree that Richard can use the picture for marketing, and promotional purposes. Some examples, but not limited to, posting on my blog, website, and social media sites.
Pictures must be submitted by 11:59pm pacific time on 8/2/2013 to be considered. Pictures submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
Photos must include the entrant and a copy of Volition Agent (ISBN: 978-0615840802) where the cover can be seen and readily identified as belonging to said book. Those are the only two requirement, the rest is up to you.
Limit two photos per entrant.
Winners are determined solely based on Richard Flores IV’s discretion by methods determined by him.
Prizes will be paid to the entrant only. Richard Flores IV is not responsible for agreements the entrant may have made with other people involved in the photo submitted.
Family of Richard Flores IV, those that work for Plasma Spyglass Press, and those involved in the production of Volition Agent (Editors, Cover Artists, Cover Models) are not eligible for this contest. When there is a doubt on eligibility, Richard Flores IV will be the sole decider of eligibility.
Richard Flores IV reserves the right to exclude photos from the contest if he feels the content is not appropriate for the contest. If said picture is deemed unacceptable, Richard Flores IV will notify the entrant. They will still be allowed to enter to win if they wish to enter another photo. Removed photos will not count against the entrants maximum number of photos.
By submitting a photo for the contest you agree to these terms and conditions. If these terms are violated your entrance will be removed and prizes forfeited.
Several people have agreed to post reviews, author interviews, and book features. If you want to post a review on your blog (I’ll send you a free Kindle copy in return), do an author interview, or feature the book, please feel free to contact me. I will be posting links to various posts as they are posted. I typically post these on Facebook and Twitter.
We have only one more week until Volition Agent releases for public sale. To honor this, and to get you wanting more, I’ve decided to share Chapter Two with all of you. If you haven’t yet, you can read chapter one here. Volition Agent releases on Kindle and Paperback on July 2nd. The Nook release is still TBD.
You can add Volition Agent to your Goodreads here, and please do.
If you are a book blogger or reviewer, you can get an Advance Reader Copy in PDF or Kindle formats. All I ask is for a review on your blog. Contact me and we can discuss this.
If you want to pre-order your paperback copy of Volition Agent, you can do this through Createspace (an Amazon company), the book printer. If you order today, and use standard shipping, it should arrive very close to the release date (or earlier). There are currently no options to pre-order for Kindle. So if you’d like a Kindle copy early, the only way to get it is to be a book blogger/reviewer and get an ARC.
Here is Chapter 2:
Volition Agent: Chapter 2
Copyright Richard Flores IV
Lexia burst through the door into the alley, still cursing at Lance. She shut up when she saw the red and blue lights reflecting off the buildings. Lexia peaked around the corner slowly before pulling her head back.
“Please tell me that isn’t your car out front,” Lance said in her mind.
Lexia just nodded. She ran down the back of the alley. Two cops came around the back of the building.
“You, stop!” One ordered.
Lexia turned around and ran the other way. Two more came around the front of the building. Lexia looked back and forth at the cops. She took a few steps back and then ran her way through the door of the neighboring building.
She sprinted down the hall, ignoring the cops yelling at her. She hit the end of the building and came to a door. It was locked.
“Hurry up, Lance.”
“I didn’t exactly expect you to park right in front of the target.”
“This wasn’t an assassination assignment either,” Lexia said as the door clicked open. She sprinted up the stairs.
“She attacked us.”
“We’d disarmed her,” Lexia yelled.
“Listen, I handled it within regulations.”
“Regulations! She was a mom; that baby has no parents now thanks to your trigger finger.”
“Can we focus on getting out of here?”
They crashed through the last door and onto the roof. Lexia looked around quickly. “Well, how are we getting out of this?”
The building was shorter than the other two next to it. Three floors, if Lexia counted the flights correctly. This building was twice as wide too. She started to run to the back of the building. She could hear the cops coming up the last set of stairs. She looked over the edge. It backed up to the next street over. From down there she would have a better chance of escaping.
“No way,” she said.
“It’s a survivable jump.”
“It’s my broken bones.”
“You want to be arrested?” Lance’s voice rang through her head. “You know the rules.”
The Agency would disavow her in an instant. She looked back at the door. She took three steps back. “I don’t really have a choice.”
Lexia ran forward and jumped from the building. She opened her eyes for the landing just in time to see a cop car coming around the corner. Hitting the ground, Lexia rolled over several times. The cop car slammed on the brakes and swerved as she tumbled in front of it. The car hit a lamp post.
She jumped up in an instant and took off running down the street. Lexia heard more sirens in the distance, each getting closer. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw another cop car round the corner. The sound of the car behind her was close. She thought she could feel the heat of the engine as it barred down on her. At the last moment she cut down another alley.
Lexia heard the car screech to a halt. She looked over her shoulder to see another cop chasing her. She rounded a corner right into another dead end.
“Did you even look at any of the maps?” Lexia’s voice snipped at Lance.
“Shut up.” Lance’s voice chilled her spine.
The cop came around the corner. His gun pointed at Lexia.
“Hands up!” The cop ordered. Lexia was glad Lance listened. “Turn around slowly, in a complete circle.”
Lexia kept turning and turning until she spun one full time around and now faced away from the cop.
“Stop. Down to your knees.”
Lexia followed the instructions and put her arms on the back of her head. She waited nervously as she heard the cop approaching behind her. He was slow and methodical in his steps. She prayed Lance had a plan out of this.
She felt the handcuffs ratchet onto her right wrist. Just as the cop began to pull her wrist, Lexia dropped forward and pulled hard, toppling them both over. Her wrist screamed in pain as she grappled with the officer.
They rolled over and she managed to get a solid punch to his face. He shoved her off of him. Lexia began to topple backwards, but managed to catch her balance and lunged forward. Knocking the cop over again. Grappling with his arm until she finally pinned him to the ground, she pulled his arm behind his back. She used her other hand to flip open the cops handcuff case. She used his cuffs to restrain him. She pulled him up and sat him against the wall.
“I think he’s back here,” Lexia heard a voice yell out.
“I’m here!” The cop yelled.
Lexia knocked him out in one swift blow.
“Was that necessary?” Lexia asked.
“The fire escape,” Lance said.
Lexia looked up. She took a run, jumped up on a dumpster, kicked off the wall and just barely caught the bottom of the fire escape ladder. She pulled herself up quickly to the first landing. She checked the window, locked.
“Up there, on the escape!” A cop called out.
She scaled the next ladder and found an open window. Slipping inside, Lexia quickly made her way for the door. She flung it open and ran for the elevator. After hitting the button twenty times the elevator opened. Lexia pressed the basement button inside and leaned against the back wall trying to catch her breath.
“Now what?” She said between gasps.
“Basement parking garage.” Lance’s voice didn’t sound very reassuring in her head.
“They’re bound to have the building surrounded.”
The elevator opened. A strong odor of urine entered. Lexia peeked out cautiously. She didn’t see anyone among the dimly lit rows of parked cars. She ran until she spotted a sedan and walked around it. Taking the handcuff still hanging from her bleeding wrist, Lexia swung hard at the glass. First time nothing happened, just a loud noise that surely told everyone she was down here. The second time the window shattered.
“Well, they know we’re here now,” Lexia said as she slid into the car. “I don’t know how to hot-wire a car.”
“I do. So just let me work,” Lance said.
Lexia just let Lance have complete control as he went to work. The sound of the orphaned child’s cries rang in her mind. She couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d done. She was sure this wasn’t the first child whose parents she had killed, but she just couldn’t get the crying out of her head.
The engine roared to life. She sat up and put the car in reverse and pulled out slowly. As Lexia drove up the ramp she was kept her speed within reason. She was glad Lance didn’t want to draw attention.
She came out to the street and pulled away slowly. She was careful not to look in the direction of a cop, who was just coming out of the alley. Two more cop cars screamed past her. As she turned on the next street she gunned it.
“Can you get to the safe house from here?” Lance asked.
“I hope so.”
“Don’t go home until I can get things in place with The Agency.”
Crap! They got my car out front. It wouldn’t be long until they figure out who I am. How could I have been so stupid as to park nearby?
“Lexia, you understand?” Lance’s voice interrupted her thoughts. “Go to the safe house, stay there. I’m jumping out.”
Copyright Richard Flores IV
So today is May 13th and that means the Dissolution of Peace blog tour is officially over. The folks over at Orangeberry book tours did an amazing job getting everyday filled with some type of post. There were a few of my followers that even signed up for a day. I was disappointed that none of the Book Reviews came threw, in the end they all wound up being book features. But other than that, the tour was a lot of fun. With the giveaway and the tour I gained some new blog, Facebook, and Twitter followers.
Truthfully, I didn’t sell many books on this tour. So in terms of getting a return on my investment, the tour was not even close to successful. But you can’t always measure these things in dollars and cents. And while I eventually want to write for a career, I never became a writer to make a ton of money. I will likely do a book tour again.
Don’t forget you have another week to enter the Giveaway and a chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift card. So go over the this page and enter to win. Don’t miss out on that chance. You can gain five more entries from checking out this blog, just enter “Orangeberry” as the pass code.
All my blog tour hosts were great, but I did have a few favorite stops. Here are a few of them for you to go back and read:
Here is my stop at Anya Breton’s Blog. I enjoyed my interview with Michael McDuffee on his blog. My guest post at KY Bunnies Blog was a topic I talk about a lot. You can find a excerpt of Dissolution of Peace on Gentleman Reads. Find out why I don’t use an outline on this post at Blog-A-Licious Authors. And last, find out ten things you didn’t know about me at Books are Magic. You can find a full list of all my tour stops here.
As I mentioned, Orangeberry did a great job filling the tour. They did so well, that there are lots of posts still to come. I will post those on Facebook and Twitter as they come along. Please check them out.
As a special thanks to everyone who followed along on the tour, I am going to post at excerpt of my next novel at 3pm pacific time! Other than five beta readers, no one has seen the first chapters of Volition Agent, I am excited to share it all with you! I’ve also never shared an excerpt before, so if this creates a buzz maybe I’ll have a few more sneak peaks. In either case, make sure you come back to see it (I might even add more entries to the giveaway). And if you haven’t yet you can purchase and review Dissolution of Peace on Amazon.
I had sat down here today to write a ranting blog about how disappointed I was with certain things that had happened recently in regards to my writing. But as I got ready to write the post, I kept staring at the screen. I didn’t want to come off whiny, or complaining, or even like I was ranting. That was when I realized that no matter how I wrote that post, I would be writing a whiny complaining rant. So I scrapped it.
What was I going to rant about? I was going to rant about how the people closest to me seemed to treat my choice to be a writer as a joke. As if I was just doing a cute little hobby. About how I have family and friends who ignore everything I post about my writing, who never share it with their friends and followers, and on and on and on. See, I am already starting to rant again.
But as I sat there looking at the blank Ranting Blog I was about to write, I wondered to myself, Why do I care? Why do I let these people bring me down? The answer is pretty simple. It is the same answer to why rejection bothers writers. It is human nature to care about what others think of you. You may not like it. You may even deny it. But we all care about what others think. We care even more when it is family and friends.
But in reality you are just letting those people drag you down into the depths. There are many reasons why people belittle artists. I am well aware that writing is not the only art form that suffers from the “that is a cute little hobby” remarks. I think every art does.
Art isn’t the Focus
We don’t live in an art based world anymore. Wait, that is not entirely true. Art is all around us. We don’t live in an art focused society. At least not here in the United States. We cut art from schools, we close museums, we cut music performances, and we close the local theaters. When money is tight, we cut from the arts first. Because our society see’s it as more important to get “real jobs” in the corporate world. If you like to write, perhaps you should get a job writing training documents for a major HR company. If you like art, perhaps you should get a job designing advertising. If you have a glorious imagination, you should be an inventor. Better yet, just learn Math and get a job as an executive that will never use those math computations. Schools, here is my idea. Just cut math, give every kid a calculator, and bring back art.
No teacher, that I have seen, has told my oldest son, who has a very active imagination, that he should consider a career in writing, acting, or art. Instead they tell me he has ADD. Or they have the nerve to say, “If he would focus that energy on math he could be a great scientist or inventor some day.” I say, how about you… Teacher… realize your personality won’t match every student. How about you foster his imagination and recommend he find an outlet for it? They didn’t make those recommendations. Instead my wife and I are seeking out art and acting classes for him. How about the fact that you admit he knows the material, so clearly he must have paid some type of attention. And if he knows the material, put your pride aside and stop worrying about if he paid attention to you.
Wait… breath…. I am ranting again.
The point is this. Our world see’s art, music, writing, and all other art forms, as hobbies. They are something to be done when you have time around your 60 hour work week. Writing is not a career. Photography, never. You want to draw pictures all day? You’re lazy. You want to be a painter, no way. You want to act? This isn’t Hollywood. This is one reason people bring you down as an artist. They just don’t see the arts as a realistic career.
There is a lot of talent in all of the arts. And well, we don’t all have that talent. I can hardly color within the lines, let along draw a realistic human form. The best photographer I can ever be is with my Android phone and I don’t pretend to even know how to use that.
Could I learn any of those things? I think so. There is an amount of natural talent needed to do any of the arts. Some are just not that into art. Others, they simply wish to do what you do. They are jealous of the fact that you are doing what they want to do. Why don’t they do it? Well they either don’t think they can, or they don’t make the time to do it. Others still, are simply jealous that you’re reaching for a dream while they accepted they’d never reach theirs.
We all get jealous from time to time. The same is true with artists. You are making a dream of yours come true, and to others that is a symbol of dreams they never accomplished. I’d argue that Jealousy is one of the most powerful human emotions.
The last of the three main reasons people bring you down, is misunderstanding. This is a two way street folks.
They misunderstand what you are trying to do with your life. They may not think that your writing is anything more than a hobby to you. They may think that writing is an easy, leisurely activity. They may not understand just how important a “share” or a “like” from them is to you and your career. They may not understand that adding their Amazon review would mean the world to you and your career. They don’t know that for a writer, their recommendation to their friends is the life blood of your success. They could think they don’t have the time to help you out, not realizing that the simple two second share on social media means a lot. This list can go on and on.
But you could also misunderstand. You could assume that they don’t share your stuff because they think you are just “messing around.” But it could really be that they don’t read. Or it could be that they didn’t see your post. You could assume they hate your writing, but they have just been too busy to read one line. Even though they have been dying to read it and write you a review, they just haven’t had a chance. Or you could be assuming they never pay attention, but in actuality they are reading everyone of your blog posts, publications, and social media posts. They just never said so.
So, Stop letting them drag you down.
This sounds easier than it really is. When you find out someone you care about, and follow their career closely, doesn’t do the same for you. Well it is soul crushing. But it is also a downer when you find that others just don’t care about what you do. Naturally you will get a little down. And the critics. Those that bash you just to bash you. Or, those that simply don’t understand what you want to do for a living. They are the hardest to deal with.
But you can’t let them pull you all the way down to depths. These people have had me doubt myself more than I can admit. These people have made me give up on a number of my dreams in life. I can’t let them win this round. I have to rise above them and achieve my dream for a change.
Prove them Wrong
This is a powerful motivator for many people. It is the old, I’ll show them. It works for me in many ways. I’ll be honest I even fantasize about becoming famous and snubbing those people when they come calling for something. Sure, that sounds cruel. But when I am really ready to quit, the idea of being able to shove someone’s nose into their own… well let’s just say it works. I feel a burst of motivation. It is also perfectly natural to want to show someone you did what they said you can’t do.
But more so, you have to realize that in many cases they are wrong. So show them they are wrong. If they say you can’t do it because you’re too old, show them you are never too old to learn. If they tell you you can’t because you’re not the right “type of person”, show them that art takes all types of people. If they tell you that there are too many other people out there trying to do the same thing, show them that there is room for you. As I have aged, I have quickly learned that nine times out of ten, the people telling you you can’t do something are wrong. So don’t let them be right. Show them you can, you will, and you have.
Make them Jealous
While I had said Jealously is the reason so many hate, or say you can’t, you can use it to help you too. If they are jealous, well that means you are doing something right. You are succeeding someway to warrant their jealousy. Rather then let that work against you, let that be something that raises you up. People envy that you can make time for your art. They envy that you can work forty hours, run a business, have a family, and still tell great stories.
Get Rid of the Negative
Rid yourself of the negative people. This may not always be something that can be done. I’m not about to cut off my family over something simple like, they won’t share my books with others. But if they are trashing me, perhaps I will be done with them.
But friends are a different thing. With sites like Facebook, we throw the word friend around a little too much. My wife has some 300 plus “friends” on Facebook, but I bet she really only knows about 15-25% of them. The same is true of me. Though I only have a 150 or so. Even fewer are actually my friends. I doubt again that I would get rid of any of them because they don’t actively support my writing. Though I actively seek their approval, I’ve also come to realize they likely won’t give it. By recognizing that and trying to move on from it, I lose the negative without getting rid of the person. Same is true of family.
But those that are actually dragging you down are a different story. The ones that don’t support you are one thing. But the ones that drag you down, bash you, and down right don’t care. Get rid of them. You don’t need them around you. I don’t care if they are friends or family. If they are dragging me down, they are not really good at being a friend or family.
The artists of the world are what have kept books around, entrain us with movies, provide us with stunning photographs, and mesmerize the world with their drawings. You need to ignore that fact that society seems to shun artists, because in fact they need us. If the artist disappeared tomorrow, there would be nothing on TV. There would be nothing to read. Music would fall silent. The corporate world would have no one to design their ads, write their jingles, and they wouldn’t be able to sell. All the people would have is sleep and the corporate life. And the corporate world wouldn’t last long. The world needs us, even if they don’t see it.
Take a moment to remember that. Take a moment to see the art that is all around you and such a instrumental part of your lives. Look deeper and you will see the arts all around you. That means someone else ignored what everyone had to say and rose up. They succeeded and so can you. When the negative seems to eat you up, focus on the positive.
I’m a pessimist at heart. I always see the negative first. But I can’t let people drag me down. You can’t either. Sometimes all it takes is a slight adjustment of how you view the world to set you back on track.
I’ve mentioned this several times, but my work goes through a process before I set it up for publication. A quick summary:
I write it.
I self edit it.
I send it to Beta Readers.
I self edit it (again).
I send it to a professional editor.
I fix it.
I have it published.
When I list it all out like this it seems very simple. But anyone who has ever put words on paper knows it isn’t so simple. Most writers understand the first part. Write it. And most writers are capable of sending it to a professional editor and changing what they mark up. But many writers miss the middle parts. And, like a sandwich, the meaty parts are in the middle.
If you’re going to send this off to professional editor, why is self editing so important? Well, two things. Editors are humans too, they won’t catch everything. Especially if your manuscript is error plagued. Second, you will quickly find that you discover a lot about what doesn’t work in your story’s plot by doing a self edit.
When I self edit, I find that I still miss a lot. So I learned a little trick, and tried it out for the first time with the Volition Agent manuscript. I printed the entire manuscript and went over it, using a red pen to mark up what changes I needed. I use the red pen because it stands out. So when I went back to make changes, I could find them quickly and fix them quickly. I print it out because it gives me a chance to read my words in a different way than I did on a computer screen. When you look at your words in a different way, things stick out that you would otherwise miss.
When I self edit, I look for the following things:
Grammar mistakes. This is the first thing I look for, though I am also the first to admit I am very bad at catching them. Though I did find that having the manuscript printed in front of me (versus on my computer screen) was much easier at seeing these things. But still, I recognize that grammar is not my strong suit so I do my best with checking for this stuff.
Punctuation errors. For me, this is most often missing punctuation. No period. Using a period when I meant for a question mark. The other thing that I have a habit of doing is putting a quotation mark at the end of the paragraphs during multiple paragraph dialogue (by one speaker). So I have to remove those.
Typos. I type at 60 words a minute with no errors. But when I write my stories, I typed at 80-90 words per minute with a lot of errors. Some have told me to just slow down. But when I type from my mind, my mind goes much faster then 60 words a minute. Probably much faster then 90 words per minute. So I often find a lot of typos, missing words, or added words. Easy to fix, and really easy to spot when you read it.
Plot Errors. I’m not an outline writer, so I ofter find things in the early chapters that I missed or didn’t need to continue the story for the later chapters. I’d say 90% of my red marks on my manuscript this time around were for plot and prose issues. Either to remove something or to add something. In fact, I reworked the entire ending and will be going back to add 5 new chapters throughout the book. Some will say this is why outlines work. But I also know many outline writers. They too say the bulk of their self editing goes to the plot. The most important part of your story is the plot, followed by how you tell it. Remember this doesn’t just include missing or extra plot points. This includes all aspects of your story not related to the above topics.
Said Tag. English teachers love to tell you about the 1,000 different way to say ‘said’ or now I think they want to make it a million ways. It is all a bunch of bull. It is made up by English teachers (just like the author’s message). Said is the simplest (and most over looked) word to describe dialogue. Since I write a lot of official reports at work, I am am trained to write “stated” on most dialogue in my reports. So I often find my stories are loaded with “stated” instead of “said”. So I have to fix those. But the best way to break up dialogue is not with “said” but with some type of action. For example: “I’m writing my blog,” Richard didn’t even look away from what he was doing. His fingers still clicked on the keyboard. “I’ll take care of the garbage when I am done.” So where applicable, I avoid using any dialogue tag and use action.
Repeated words. My characters like to look at each other a lot. They also love to smile. So I often over use those two words. Repeated words are not always bad, sometimes it is required to make a point. But overuse of any word will be noticed by a reader and can become jarring. So I look for those. I also look for repeated phrases and dialogue points through out my story.
What are Beta Readers?
I’m having a heck of a time finding beta readers for Volition Agent. I think this is largely because people don’t understand what a beta reader is. If you know video games, beta testers get their hands on an early copy (not finished) of a game. They get to play it and in return they provide feedback to the game developer. They let them know about glitches in the game, issues with game play, story elements that seem out of place, and an overall opinion of the game. The developers take that information consider it all and then make changes where they think they should.
Beta readers do the same thing. They get an early copy of the book. They read over it, point out mistakes, things that confused them, story issues, grammar mistakes, and provide an overall opinion of the story. The writer takes all this information and uses it to make the book better. Just as a developer won’t change everything the testers complain about, an author won’t change everything. But they will make the story better as a result of the Beta Readers’ input.
Authors need a cross section of beta readers. I recommend you get a few who don’t read your genre. I recommend a few that are writers. Also a few that are editors. And then a few that are just readers of your genre. Can you have too many beta readers? Yes. If you get overloaded with information it won’t do you any good. But if you have too few readers, then you won’t get a good sampling for your book. The number is up to you. Somewhere between not enough and too much is what I recommend.
Beta Reading shouldn’t be confused with Advanced Reader Copies (ARC). Typically ARCs are finished. They are handed out to reviewers in exchange to get review quotes to hopefully use on the book itself. That’s how all those review quotes wind up on the book the day it is published. Sometimes review quotes are gathered from Beta copies, but that isn’t the purpose of a beta reader. The beta reader is there to improve the work so the author can put out the best story possible. Advanced Readers are there so the author can better market their work.
Why self edit again?
If you took all the information from beta readers, and did nothing with it. Well that would be a complete waste of everyone’s time. While you might not change everything the beta readers point out. If the majority of them say that a certain scene doesn’t work. It would be best if you made it work. Once you make significant changes you need to review those changes for yourself, the same way you did the first time. That will involve a whole rereading. But it is worth it to put out the best book you can.
Once you’ve got the meat together in you sandwich, it’s time for the top piece of bread. Get a professional editor and have them review it. Then your sandwich, um I mean story, will be ready for the masses.
I’ve talked a lot about getting used to rejection. But, most of the time I am referring to the rejection letters from editors who don’t want to publish your work. I’ve always found that rejection from editors is easy to accept. That is a personal thing. I just have always braced myself to hear “No” from an editor.
Rejection from readers, well I hadn’t really prepared myself for that. Sure, I had heard about it from other authors. Sometimes readers won’t like what you do. They won’t like what you write. They just won’t enjoy the stories you have to tell. Rejection makes it sound harsher than that. I’m certain people have read my stories and not liked them.
But the other day I got my first real hate email. I use the term hate, because it wasn’t my story they hated, it was one aspect. A small part of the story really. Truthfully, I hadn’t even given much thought to the element of the story. It was just there.
This person wrote me an email, roughly three pages long, insulting me because one of the main characters in Dissolution of Peace is a homosexual. If you haven’t read the book, you might not know what I am talking about. But one of the main characters discovers she is a lesbian through the course of the novel. The email writer went on to call me the “devil” and that I was a “demon” at several points. She clearly read the whole book, as she referenced parts from throughout the novel, but she just wasn’t happy it included a lesbian couple. She told me, “I can’t believe you ruined this excellent story by putting homosexuals into it.” and “You could have just as easily made one of those characters male and kept the book clean.” and “You just used this story to push your pro gay agenda.”
Frankly, the email shocked me. It shocked me for several reasons. First, I never gave a second thought to Janice’s relationship with Willard. Second, I just never had anyone so upset with something I had wrote. And the best part, she never even mentioned the scene in which Carlson walked in on Willard and Janice during sex.
Typically I don’t respond to negative comments about my work, but since many will see this blog as a form of response, I must say a few things. First, I am very happy to hear that this person thought my story was “excellent”. Several times she told me how great the book was, in between the other points she had to make. I have no “pro gay agenda”. I am not opposed to homosexual relationships, and I am not opposed to gay marriage. But, Dissolution of Peace is not about that. If you only find a “pro gay” message in that book, well each reader will see the message that calls to them. Finally, I couldn’t have made Willard or Janice a male character, because that is not who they are. Writer’s know that their characters become real people. Janice became who she became, regardless of what I wanted (or didn’t want) her to be. I couldn’t have changed her any more than I could change the person who emailed me’s mind.
As a writer, you may never want to put a homosexual person in your stories simply to play it safe. But where do you draw the line? Will you never have any discussion or mention of politics? What about feminism, social commentary, or even humor? If you sterilize your writing to try to keep everyone happy, you will wind up with a story that few will want to read. Even if you can write an excellent story that walks the line and avoids hot button issues, someone won’t like it because of your style, plot, or for no real reason at all. We are a vast and diverse world. It is a beautiful thing. But is also means that eventually someone will read something written and simply not like it.
Should you go out of your way to offend? No. Shock value rarely works either. Write the story you want to write with the characters, world, and plot that you want. Writers want people to enjoy their stories. But not everyone will. You just can’t please everyone. Don’t try to. Just write the story you want to tell and let the chips fall where they may.
And for the readers out there, please understand something about writers. To build worlds and create believable elements we must include people of all types regardless of our personal beliefs. Writers have to include murders, corrupt people, evil people, and bigots in our worlds. Why? These people exist and will likely exist for all time. I don’t condone murder, but the antagonist of Dissolution of Peace is a murder. A writer might write a racist character, that doesn’t mean the writer has an “agenda” against a particular race. Most readers know this, and see a story for what it means to them.
I appreciate the readers, and the feedback. Even the negative feedback helps me as a writer (even the feedback I don’t agree with).
I’ve not been around much. And those of you on Twitter, Facebook and here have probably started to wonder where I have been. I assure you I am fine. I have just been very busy. And a bit sidetracked with other things to get my weekly posts done. As far as Facebook and Twitter go. I guess I have just been quiet. So here is what I have been doing:
Oh how I love and hate my day job at the same time. The last two weeks I worked sixteen hours of overtime. They have decided to unveil a new system at work, and I was chosen to be one of the trainers on this new system. While the system will make one aspect of our job so much easier, it takes time to teach everyone. Work already takes over 40 hours a week of my life. It would be great to make my writing and editing my day job.
Now here is one project I love to do. But let me tell you how much work it takes. Issue 4 has been one of our best and most highly read issues to date. That is great news. But the talent submitting to us has become so good that picking just eight to ten stories every two months has become very difficult. Even my earlier reading editors are finding it harder to reject stories. I think it is great to see so much talent coming to our magazine. As a writer, I love to see other writers succeed. As a business man, I love to see some of these big names seeing my publication as worthy of their work. As an editor, well my work has become a lot harder. For issue five I had to narrow down 25 great stories to just the eight that would fit in our issue. That is hard work, and very time consuming. I debated for a long time on many of those stories.
Speaking of Business.
I had two magazines approach my company, Plasma Spyglass, and ask if we would be interested in taking over their magazine’s production. I won’t name the magazines, but I will say I think they are great publications. So I had to make some tough business choices over the last few weeks. While Plasma Spyglass does have every intention of putting out more magazines, I had not expected to do it so soon. Plasma Frequency is not even one year old yet. And for the time being we are going to focus on growing that publication first. We still have the goal of advancing our pay rates to pro-rates, and I want to follow through on that. Plus we have our year one anthology coming soon. And we will be announcing more about that in Issue 5. So much is going on, or about to go on, with Plasma Frequency that I had to pass on these other two great offers. But don’t count us out. I think Plasma Spyglass will be publishing a number of different publications by 2014. And by 2018, I suspect we will be doing very well in the short fiction market place.
We do have plans for a charitable anthology coming soon. Once I have heard back from the charitable organization, more details will come. We are also considering many other great things. So, needless to say business has taken up a lot of my time outside of work.
Just last week I finally got more written into my next novel. I plan to make an announcement on that one very soon. The first draft should be completed by next week (fingers crossed). After which I will begin rereading and editing. And, I plan to contact a cover artist soon. So I am thinking that I will announce the release date with the cover art in April. Get ready for this one, it promises to be a great one.
Speaking of great books, the sales for Dissolution of Peace have faltered a bit. I think this is because all of my great followers now own a copy. So it is time I branch out and reach some new followers. I am planning on doing a blog tour. Perhaps in May? Maybe sooner. I would really love one in April. But scheduling these things takes time (as I am am learning). So I plan to get that underway soon. Watch for more details on that. Make sure to share some love with those blogs that host my tour.
I thought I was a grown up now and work was my chore. Well the front and back lawns seem to disagree. There is a ton of yard work to do around here, and I get stuck doing it. Some people love that stuff. Time in the yard pulling weeds, mowing the grass, that is fun for them. For me, not so much. I’d much prefer to hire a landscaper and just admire how great it looks when they are done. But writers can’t afford landscapers, and besides my wife would insist we got a maid first.
My family and I don’t see each other much right now. My wife works on the days I am off, and I work when she is off. My hours don’t lend well to having school age kids, as I am at work all afternoon and evening when they are home. When I get home, they are in bed. So I have been trying to make some extra time for them around all this other madness. I took my kids to their first professional hockey game, actually their first ever hockey game. My middle child was so overly excited, it was a great thing to see. Besides that, I try to make some time for TV, movies, and other activities with them. Family is important. More important than everything else I’ve listed here. So I make time for them and I hope someday my kids will really appreciate the fact that their dad pursued his dream to publish novels. I also hope that one day, I’ll make just enough money on my dream that I don’t have to “work” any more. Ah, the good life.
Many of you may not have heard, but February is apparently Letter Writing Month. I had not heard of it until this year when a writer colleague on Google+ mentioned it. I know what you are thinking; finally Google+ has a purpose.
But in all seriousness, I loved the idea. First, supporting our post office and keeping them sending letters is important. Those are jobs that could be lost if we continue down the path we are on. I like the post office. I use them for all my package shipping, and besides it would be nice to get something in my mailbox other than a bill and pizza coupons.
But there really is more to this for me. I am a fan of the letter. I have been since back in high school when I would write them on sheets of binder paper, fold them up into all different crazy types of shapes and then write SECRET on it. There was something about the written correspondence back then, and the waiting for a response was even better. Nothing was cooler then knowing someone took time to write to you, most likely when they should have been doing something else.
I’m not some old man either. Though I have been out of High School for nearly fourteen years, we had email and instant messenger back then. What we didn’t have was texts, we used pager code. And email, we actually used that to send letters. We used instant messenger back then to meet people, I met my only two serious loves via the internet.
Let’s face it; messenger wasn’t a substitute for the letter back then. We still mailed letters, we still sent birthday cards, we even hand wrote things back then. Slowly we stopped sending letters and began sending emails. But emails were still long, and talked about everything going on with us that week. At first, email was simply letters we could get faster.
And now, well now we don’t email anyone. We don’t have time to email anyone, let alone write a letter and send it in the “snail mail”. We’ve resorted to texts, Facebook statuses, Tweets, and private messages.
Yet, as we are able to instantly communicate with each other so easily, we seem to be drifting farther and farther apart. I hardly talk to my closest friends anymore. One tells me; sorry I haven’t emailed you back I’ve been too busy. I can’t even get a text from her. The other sends me a few texts once a month when I have to contact her about something else. Three live in the same city as me, yet we never seem to catch up. And another one is in another country so chatting sometimes doesn’t work out so well.
And there is the beauty of the letter. You can write it at three am when you can’t sleep, and I can read it at four pm when I have a free minute at work. You can tell me some of the best things about you, and I can share them with you. We can go back to writing questions like: What kind of food to do you like? What is our favorite color? What sports do you like? And much more. You can really find out something about someone. So much more than the fact that they like to post mad cat pictures.
In a time where I can find out so much about a person simply from a Facebook page or a blog, the art of conversation is really becoming lost, the written word even more so. But there is more to it than that.
There is no greater feeling in the world then seeing that I got some letters from a friend, even an email from friend. There is a little bit of excitement when you open the mailbox and there is something there other than junk. You feel like you mattered to someone. Someone cared enough to take the time to really connect with you. I’m a social person, and I am a person that needs to be appreciated. I need to know that people care about me. Letters, even emails, show that.
So that is why I was excited about Letter Writing month, or LetterMo as others say. It means that I get to send out 28 letters and hopefully they will send me something back. Who knows, maybe I will even meet a few more people and we can exchange letters year round.
I miss the days of long letters and emails. I miss really connecting with people and learning more about them. I don’t want to see letters go the way of so many other things. We live in an age where we have each other literally at our fingertips, yet we are so distant from each other in any real way.
It is only the fourth of the month. So go over to LetterMo.com and join the challenge. Fill a few mailboxes with affection and make a real connection with someone. You will probably find you like it a little bit better than the text message.
One of the number one compliments that Dissolution of Peace has received, has to do with the characters. I even started receiving emails through this page from people asking how I made my characters so enjoyable. That was a really tough question for me to answer, I just created them. I didn’t set out to have excellent characters. Let me rephrase that. Every writer wants believable characters with a strong presence in their story. Not all stories are character driven, but without believable characters the story always seem to fall flat. So when I say I didn’t set out to have excellent characters, I simply mean that I didn’t actively sit down and think about how to make people love and/or hate my characters. I just developed them into “real” people and told their story.
You essentially have three types of character types in story. There are the protagonists, in most stories this would be your Main Character (often abbreviated MC). Next you have your antagonists, these are the adversary to your MC. Finally you have you ancillary characters. These are the other characters that support your MC quest. Some might argue that you have a forth group her, the background character, the extras if you will. But, if a character is not in support of the story, I find it best to eliminate them. If you have a bustling market in a movie, there needs to be extras. But if you describe the market in your novel, the reader’s brain provides the background characters.
Antagonist and Protagonist
The Antagonist and Protagonist are often confused with villain and hero respectively. But this is not true. In some stories, your protagonist is the bad guy (though they may not think so). And his adversary, or antagonist, would be the man in the cape. And in some stories, the label of good and evil is not so cut and dry. In this case your MC (protagonist) might be a poor, underprivileged track star who must overcome a leg amputation to win a race again his rich, well to do, rival (antagonist).
It is better to think of your Protagonist as the main star of the show. The person whom we might spend most of our time with. The person who is trying to overcome some obstacle and achieve the goal that is your story. Essentially your novel is the protagonist’s story. You can certainly have more than one protagonist in a novel. I feel my novel has three, and perhaps four, protagonists. But they are also all trying to overcome different obstacles. Ask yourself whose story you are telling. The character you choose is your protagonist.
Think of the antagonist as the person in the way. The person who must be “defeated” in order for the protagonist to advance. In Dissolution of Peace, there is one clear cut antagonist, but I would argue there are at least two more. But in many stories, there is no clear cut bad guy. I’ve read some great stories where the antagonist is a faceless group. Ask yourself who stands in the way of my protagonist and his/her goals. The answer is your antagonist.
These are the people that help tell the story. They could be the protagonist’s friends, family, and allies. They can be related to the antagonists desire to stop the protagonist. Or, they can be other characters that provide help, inspiration, or motivation for the MC. They can also provide despair, discouragement, and other negative emotional impacts for the MC. These are the characters your MC meets along his journey one way or another, and propel the story further in some way.
So you know what the characters are, now what? Well now it is time to make them real. Real characters are what people want. Readers enjoy character they can relate too, are comfortable with, and feel like the are real people. That is where the real challenge comes. Anyone can take a character, plop him into a story, and name him George. But real characters are a lot harder to craft. And they do take some work. That is where character development comes into play.
You may be an outline writer, where you need to outline the specific structure of a story on paper. Or you could be like me, and just let the story take on a life through your fingers on the keyboard. But no matter what way you plan a story out, you need to develop the characters. You can do that in your head or on paper but always put some thought into your characters.
What does your character look like? You may not write out this description in your story, but I find it helps to have a mental picture of my character in place before I start working with the character. Of course, many argue that leaving your character’s description vague in a story allows to a reader to better relate with a character. The logic is that they can imagine a person who fits within their comfort zone. Again, you may not describe the character outright in the text, but you should have some idea of the basics of your character. If you have trouble with getting a mental picture, look at ads and other images and see if you find a picture that suits your characters just fine. (Note: I do not suggest using that image as anything more that a mental building block. Using the image for promotional purposes such as book covers can get you into trouble.)
Name: It may seem obvious that your character needs a name, but this is often the hardest part. I find I like more unique names, and I always struggle with male character names. Just imagine the struggle my wife and I had naming our three boys. Find a name that works for you. I disagree with the idea that it is okay to put any name in place and then change it when you think of one. This is because I believe a name is an identity. And a character with no identity is lost. I suggest Behind the Name to search for all types of fist names for your character.
Descriptors: Think how the police describe a subject: Ethnicity, gender, age. Those are a great start. How about height, weight, build, and clothing they like to wear. Are they even human? These are all important attributes for you to understand your character better. Again, you might not write these out in a text of the story, but they are important. Besides a name, this is the second way we recognize someone. Think of it this way, you ask a friend if they know Greg and they say they’re not sure. What is the next thing you might say? “You know Greg, the really tall white guy. He always wears a tank top. You know, with the really big arms.”
You character has to have a personality. Everyone in real life does. They may be outgoing, they may be a fitness nut, they may be afraid of confrontation. Even someone who seemingly has no personality, does. You just have to know them better. So get to know your characters better.
Likes and Dislikes: What does your character like? What does s/he hate? Do they have a fear of spiders? Do they love to work out? If your character wasn’t stuck in the story you gave them, what might they do for fun? What activities would they avoid? Not only does this build a character’s personality, but it might give you an idea to create a little tension for them at some point down the line. Put me in a room full of spiders and tell me to go get the million dollars on the other side, and I might well wonder how important money is.
Traits: Does your character love to talk? Are they just chatty or very charismatic? Would your character prefer to be left alone? Are they well spoken or more the type to drop an f-bomb? These are all traits readers of one type or another can relate to. Figure out what it is about your character that makes them far more unique than every other five-eleven woman, who likes to work out, but loves chocolate more. Dig deeper and deeper until you’ve created a monster, or a hero, or even better… an unlikely hero.
Now it is time to really make this character into someone. Make them more than just a person in a book. Make them someone real. Give them a bio.
Friends: Who does the character hang out with? What are their friends like? Why would your character choose these people as friends?
Partner: Romance may not be a theme in your story. Though my editor of Dissolution of Peace pointed out that he felt it was the romantic tension in my novel that would sell copies. But not every story needs it. But I do think it is important to take a moment to think about who your character would choose for a mate. It may even be determined that your character has no interest in romance of any type. But why? If they wouldn’t choose a partner, then explain to yourself why.
Family: Where where they born? Who are their parents? Where is their family now? Siblings? Cousins? I know some authors that have an entire family tree for their characters. But also think about how this character relates to his/her family. Remember you can choose your friends and your spouse, but not your family. Your character might be the black sheep of the family, or they could be the family matriarch. Regardless of how we feel about our families, our relationship with our family relates to how we are as a person. The same will be true of your character’s family.
The Past: Consider your character’s past. Where have they worked? Schooling? Did your character witness something that changed them forever? Did they always want a certain job, but they could never have it because of some reason or another? To know where your character is going, you have to know where they came from.
The setting: Consider where your story is taking place. Military and police are all unique individuals, but there are common traits among these people. Same with regions of the world. Where this character is at now is just as important as the past.
Growth: Your characters, especially the MC, need to grow as the story progresses. We all grow as our own lives progress and major events sculpt who we are. They same should be true of your characters. They should grow as they go through the life changing event you have set out to tell. The growth of a your character through the story is just as important as the development you do before the story.
Tips and Tricks:
Walking Cliche: Avoid making your character a walking cliche. The villain who was never loved by his family. The hero who was born to be one. The tall, dark, and handsome MC. They nerd in glasses and a lab coat. I could go on forever with this. There is a world of cliche characters. And I would dare to say there is a bit of cliche in all of us. But, the walking cliche is not going to relate with readers.
Find Examples: Take a look and some of the books you’ve read. What are some characters you really enjoyed? For me, more recently, I love Kara in S. M. Boyce’s Lichgates, Sonata in Beyond the Cell by Sara Tribble, Guile and Kip in Brent Weeks’s The Black Prism, Katnis in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Hank in Robert S. Wilson’s Shining in Crimson are all very strong characters for me (I could list so many more). I rooted for them, felt for them, prayed for them, and wanted desperately to see them succeed. These are the kinds of characters that I enjoy and so when I write characters they are likely to possess some of the same traits as the characters I mentioned. Please don’t take a Gandalf and drop him into you novel, but only call him Ron instead. People will notice that. But if there was something about Gandalf that you really held on to, a character trait of his you admire, then you might put that is Ron the wizard.
These examples don’t have to just come from fiction either. I have an old supervisor of mine that has always stuck in my head. There are traits about him that I think are great, and I use them in my characters. When I look to create romantic chemistry between characters, I draw from real life romantic situations I have seen or been in. In fact, I bet most of our larger than life characters came from traits real people have shown an author.
Characters Talk: One of the big benefits, in my opinion, of not being an outline writer is that I simply let my characters tell the story. I know where the end game is, but I let the character take over the keyboard for me. I let them tell their story through my fingers. I know that sounds like a multiple personality disorder, or at the least the rambling cliches of a writer. But the truth is, when I am writing in a character’s viewpoint, I simply have to become that character. I have to let them talk. I am telling their story, if I don’t listen to them they won’t talk to me anymore. The bottom line here is that if you want to have a believable character you have to treat them like a real person.
Even if you do write outlines. Don’t be so rigid with it. If your characters tell you they want to go on a side quest, perhaps you should let them. I have often found that my characters know a lot more about where my stories are going than I do. And they teach me something new about themselves all the time.
Overly Evil: We often associate the antagonist with evil. This is because if many stories they are the bad guy. But don’t over do it. I’ve heard it said many times, in a variety of ways, so I’ll repeat it: Readers should love to hate your antagonist. They should be able to connect with him on some level. S/he has to be a believable character. They may even be convinced they are doing the right thing. If evil is an element in your antagonist, keep it in line. An overly evil antagonist can be believable, after all there are some incredibly evil people in real life, but too much will turn off a reader. Use the same advice above for creating an antagonist and you will find you can create one with just as much “punch” and the diehard villain, and they will be better for it.
When you go through all these steps you will get great characters. Add some great story telling and you will have characters that are memorable, and worth every moment of the readers time. Each character is different, and their roll in the story will determine just how deep you go into the development of them. But the more you make them real before you start writing, the stronger they will be in the readers head.
If you are looking for more on the topic of character, I strongly suggest you check out Elements of Fiction Writing – Characters and View Point by Orson Scott Card. I learned a lot from that book and reread it often.
Head over to this page and check it out. I think they are still building the page to include descriptions ect. But feel free to leave a review if you have already read it. If it does well on Nook, I’ll start releasing all my titles on Nook on release day. Happy reading.
Don’t forget the Paperback is also available at Amazon.com for $7.99. That is a Trade Paperback at mass market price!
Deep down I think we all seek some type of validation. It could be with a loved one, in our careers, and in our friendship. It can also be with parking. We all need it. I have a confession though, I self doubt a lot. That is to say that I am constantly needing validation that my choices are the right ones. This is true of my writing career as well.
But I think writers are a group that need a special type of validation. There are a lot of people out there that want to be writers. There are even a lot of people out there who say they are writers and really don’t know what they mean when they say that. But deep down we writers want to be validated as authors. Unfortunately validation doesn’t always come.
So at what point are you valid in claiming you are an author. Well, that is a bar that we set for ourselves. Some set the bar really high, claiming they can only be an author when they get that first professional sale. Some claim that they can be called an author simply because they say they are.
But what really validates the claim to that title of author? Well for me it is the recognition of my peers, my readers, and friends.
Last year I felt really good when I took 2nd place in the science fiction and fantasy short story category of the 2011 Preditors and Editors readers poll for “Death Watch”. I felt even better at all the nice comments I received. I even felt validated as a short story author. The sale of my first two short stories in a matter of months helped a lot, but being recognized in that poll was special to me.
But what I really wanted to do was sell novels. So in 2012, I didn’t work on many short story projects. I put my work towards publishing my first novel, and I did it. My goal was to get a lot of new readers, and I did that. My goal was to get a lot of reviews and praise, but that has not really happened. I’ve had 8 reviews on Amazon US and 2 on UK. Don’t get me wrong, I am very pleased with those reviews. But one of my roll models, the person that inspired me to get Dissolution of Peace out, seemed to get a lot of reviews very quickly. Even a lot of editorial reviews (of which I’ve only had two). It is my opinion that he made a big splash in the Horror scene, while I seem to have made only a slight ripple (like a pebble dropped into the ocean) in the Sci-Fi scene.
So, I started to question the validity of my claim to be a novelist. Some of my role models in the independent scene, including the person above, have not even shared (to my knowledge) the work I have done. I think perhaps I expected too much from those I thought would return the favor. But the point is that I began to question if I was any good at what I was setting out to do. This is that self doubt I was talking about.
The problem not feeling validated, is that you tend to slump. And I did a significant slump. But then the readers poll came around again. I was nominated for best Science Fiction and Fantasy novel. There were also 85 other novels nominated. In the end I took another top ten finish, coming in 5th for the 2012 poll.
There were some great comments in there too. I take great pride in how much people love my work and my characters. I was ecstatic to see some of these things, they mean a lot to me.
I think the important thing that this post should point out. If you are a reader, like I am, you need to set out to review ALL the books you read but especially the ones you enjoyed. You need to make sure to share that with everyone. Because if you want to see writers continue to write, they need to feel validated. And for many of us, your reviews, purchases, and kind comments validates our purpose. I think this is more important than a professional sale, and or even a large book deal, though those all help. After all, it isn’t about who publishes what we write, but about who enjoys what we write.
So to those who continue to buy my books, vote for my books, comment on my books, review my books, and share my stories: I thank you. You fuel my my writing career and make it that much more likely that I will someday reach all my writing goals.
As for the parking, I think I will just pay for it. That is a validation that can be impossible to get.
I rarely do two blog posts in a week, let alone in a day. But I was just extremely excited that I couldn’t wait to share this with you.
I have made it no secret that I didn’t like how Duotrope handled their new business plan. It seems there is a new alternative that arrived today.
The folks over at Diabolical Plots made an announcement today:
We have been actively working on creating a Duotrope replacement for which we will never require a subscription fee. Anthony Sullivan has been our technical expert, as our resident web guru. I have been the monkey with the wrench that hits things to see if I can break them, as well as market data entry. The Submissions Grinder is already running and ready to go, though we have some work to do yet updating the market listings.
I was really excited to hear this. I knew someone would put forth the effort to try to replace the void that Duotrope has left. David Steffen appears to have had some of the same frustrations I had. And a lot of his came from the same places mine did. I just didn’t like how it was being handled. And while many of us took to the blogging world to say we didn’t like it. Steffen and his colleague Anthony Sullivan have put together The Submission Grinder.
I’ve already registered because I liked the idea and I know the folks at Diabolical Plots put out quality product. And I will tell you what, I absolutely love it. It is simple. But what do you really need? There is a market search, a submission tracker, and pieces manager. In fact, those of us who are used to Duotrope will find the user interface and information to be virtually identical in most ways.
If you downloaded your Duotrope data from the site, you can upload that Excel CSV file right into their site. I did that today and now all my submission data is saved right onto The Grinder’s “my submissions” section. Best of all, your submissions will create a rapidly growing market listing on that site. I’ve already pledged my support to these folks, if nothing else for the fact that they have proven that they care about writers. Plasma Frequency will also happily do what it can to support these guys.
So please go check out the hard work these guys put into this. Be patient with the bugs, as any new (and even veteran site) has them. But I think you will see that this will quickly become everything you needed when Duotrope went paid.