Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A 1,000 Words a Day. You Can Do It!

It's been a while since I've last posted anything to this page, and for that I apologize, but life intervenes and you can't always do what you want to do. And I guess that's why I want to share this post by Hunter Shea, wherein he talks about his writing process. With my work schedule (80 hours a week), I often find it difficult to sit down and write because it just seems too daunting, especially when you're drained from a 16-hour day, but broken down in this way, it seems doable. So for those who are struggling to find the time, I share this post:


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

And then he... TO BE CONTINUED

Okay, it’s time to rant. I originally started this page to showcase projects I am working on with the hopes of getting some feedback, but something has been on my mind the past week or so and I need to vent.


Those three little words drive me fucking crazy. I don’t care where it is. The end of a movie, the end of a television show, at the end of a book, especially at the end of a book. I’m one of those people who, if it’s a favorite author, will buy that book the moment it hits the shelves, and to see those words at the end is enough to make me scream. They mean a whole year–or longer–before I know how the story is resolved. It’s beyond aggravating.

I remember the first time I encountered those three little words. Stephen R. Donaldson, The Mirror of Her Dreams. I had read Donaldson’s The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant  and loved them, so when the first of a new series was announced, I grabbed it and dropped everything to read it. I won’t bore you with the details; I’ll just jump to the end (no spoilers, so don’t worry).  The hero has escaped, but our heroine, for whatever reason, is left behind. The Big Bad breaks through the door, grabs our heroine, and says something along the lines of “Now you are mine.” TO BE CONTINUED What the hell? I mean, seriously, that’s where you’re leaving us? A whole year… a whole fucking year…before I was able to find out what happened. It was enough to make me swear off series books until I knew for a fact I had all the books in my possession, or if I knew ahead of time that each book is wrapped up at the end. I don’t care if there’s a larger story arch that encompasses the series, just so long as the story contained within that particular book is wrapped up by the time I read the last sentence.

So what, you might ask, prompted this little tirade if I have made it a general rule not to read series book unless those previously stated requirements have been met? Well, a couple of weeks ago I read David Bernstein’s Machines of the Dead, Book 1 of a series. If I knew it was part of a series, I can hear you asking, why did I break my own rules and read it without having the rest of the books readily at hand? Because I told the author I would. BUT had I known it was going to end in a cliffhanger, I would have told him, “I’ll pass. Let me know when the other two books are published.” What makes this particular instance even more aggravating is that Book 2 hasn’t even been written yet. I only pray this doesn’t turn into another Chris Snow situation, where Dean Koontz has delivered two books of a trilogy, and 13 years later we’re still waiting for the third and final installment. And just last night, as I was browsing through my Kindle looking for what to read next, I came across a title I couldn’t remember downloading. I looked it up on Amazon, saw it was a book dealing with lycanthropes (my favorite), and decided that would be next on my list. However, something told me to check out the reviews, something I rarely do, but I’m glad I did. Nowhere in the description or on the cover does it mention this book is part of a series, but every review indicated that the book ends with a cliffhanger. So off I go to see if the next book has been released. The author has published other books, but nothing indicating the next installment of the werewolf novel. Well, I created a new Collection on my Kindle for Books Awaiting Sequels, and in it went.

What possesses an author to leave the reader hanging like that? In this age when books are so easily accessible, literally with the click of a button, do you think someone is going to want to wait a year or more to find out what happens next? Hell, after all that time you’ll be lucky if they even remember the characters’ names, let alone care what happens to them. And you as an author? Leave me hanging like that once, you won’t ever get the chance to do it again. You are simply deleted off my radar. Just ask Mr. Koontz (like it matters to him). I haven’t read a Dean Koontz book since Seize the Night, and won’t read anything else of his until I get the third Chris Snow book.

And that book that sitting all by its lonesome in that Kindle folder? To tell the truth, it’s a book that will probably never be read–unless, of course, somebody reminds me sometime in the future that Part 2 of that werewolf novel is out. You remember? The one you put on your Kindle in that folder. By that time it’ll probably be gone, deleted to make room for other books by authors who know how to start a story on page one and finish that story on the last page.

What about you? Do cliffhangers grate on your every last nerve the way they do mine?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Who Will Become Amazon's Next Victim?

In a world where everything is changing so rapidly, the publishing industry has been trying its best to stay the same. They were slow in realizing the impact e-books would have on the market, and even after Amazon showed how easy it is for authors to reach the public without the benefit of a traditional publisher, and how profitable it can potentially be, they are still reluctant to change. Low royalty rates are still the norm, as are the long delays between manuscript acceptance to publication. But as long as there was no real competition, they were content to let things ride. Will they continue to be content now that Amazon has thrown its hat into the ring and now is offering authors better deals than they were receiving with their current publishers to publish under their own imprints? Is this the shake-up the industry needs?

Over at Crime Fiction Collective, Andrew E. Kaufman, best-selling author of While the Savage Sleeps, weighed in on this very issue, and he was kind enough to allow me to re-post his entry here.

It’s been all over the news the past week—this fall, Amazon will publish 122 books in a number of different genres through their own imprint, and reports say this is just the beginning. According to industry insiders, they’ve been aggressively courting some of their top authors, and just last week the company announced they’ll publish actress/director Penny Marshall’s new memoir.

Amazon has already shown authors they no longer need an agent or a big-name publishing company to get their books into readers' hands, thanks to their groundbreaking self-publishing model. However, this next move seems push the notion up a notch and has many wondering if traditional publishers will soon find themselves on the same boat as bookstores did after Amazon singlehandedly brought them to their knees.

Word from industry insiders is that publishers aren't just wondering about that prospect-- they're plenty worried about it, too, and rightly so. There’s history to consider. Amazon revolutionized how we read with their Kindle, and if this publishing endeavor succeeds, they just may influence what we read as well.

Will Amazon one day put publishers out of business? Several years ago, that might have been a preposterous question, but today more than a few feel it's a distinct possibility. The publishing industry hasn’t exactly shown much tenacity when it comes to keeping up with Amazon’s fast-moving forward-thinking business acumen, one that has placed them far ahead of the pack. And in an industry that as of late seems to be reinventing itself practically by the minute, not keeping up could mean falling by the wayside. Historically, we’ve seen this happen repeatedly--will we see it again here?

Amazon has already proven itself as a force to be reckoned with on the technological front as well after its Kindle survived the great iPad invasion. Now they’re raising the stakes by aggressively going after the market share with their new Fire, a smaller, lighter, and most importantly, cheaper tablet that could give Apple a run for their money. But more than just a media device, the Fire may also help push Amazon into the role as publishing giant. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has referred to the device as an "end-to-end service," which can only be interpreted as something that will keep them in the loop every step of the way, from the product's inception to its final destination: the customers' hands.

Of course, opinions vary on the subject, and this is just mine. But what about you? Do you think publishers will become a thing of the past? And if Amazon does manage dominate the book biz on every level, what do you think the implications of that might be?

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Apologies

Just wanted to put up a quick post to let y'all know I haven't forgotten about this little corner of my blog, but health issues and surgery forced me to put this on the back burner. But I'm back and should be putting up a new post within the next few days.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Year, A Clean Slate

Well, in 2010 my first short story was accepted for publication, but it won't be available until February of this year. It might not seem that far away, but to finally see your name in print, it seems like an eternity. That was THE high point of the year.

The year 2010 also saw my return to writing after a long hiatus. During the course of the year, I had started numerous projects—five novel projects, one novella, and over a dozen short stories—very few of which have been completed. They may never see completion. Am I disappointed by that? Not at all. I had to wipe off the cobwebs and grease the hinges on that part of my mind I had closed the door on five years ago. I started two blogs: the one you are currently reading and Woofer's Lair (http://www.wooferslair.blogspot.com/), a site dedicated to book reviews, as well as showcasing some of my own writing. I also stumbled across a completed first draft of my first novel manuscript, Ursa Major, that I thought was forever lost. I have not found the disks, but I do have the hard copy, which is better than nothing.

So what will 2011 hold in store?

My first priority will be polishing up the short stories I have completed and get those circulating. My second priority will be to get a final draft of Ursa Major completed. The second draft is well underway, and once that is completed, I will be sending it out to a group of beta readers. While that is out with readers, I will be working on completing the first draft of a ghost story I started last year. I have a little over 60,000 words towards it already, but I put it aside because I thought of a new beginning for it and was trying to decide to restart it or to keep going until it was done. I've decided to restart it. The good thing is, I will be able to keep a majority of what I already have.

In order to get this done, I have done something I resolved to never again do—I made a New Years Resolution. I have committed myself to a five day writing schedule, with a minimum requirement of 1,000 words per day. If I get more done, so much the better, but I am committing to a minimum of 1,000 words.

Have you made any writing-related resolutions? Feel free to share them with us.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Writing. . . It's a Job

Sorry for the prolonged absence, folks, but when NaNo comes around, I'm scarce all around. Even my family doesn't see much of me. And for those who are not familiar with the term NaNo, it's short for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The idea is to write a 50,000 word first draft in 30 days. Which is what inspired this posting.

As October draws to a close, I start seeing postings on Twitter and Facebook about people gearing up for NaNo. I see some published writers stating that they will be participating, while other published authors knock NaNo and see it as some sort of joke. When I questioned one of these authors who spoke negatively of the month-long activity, he said to me that if you are serious about your writing, you should be doing it on a daily basis, not saving all up for a one-month exercise.

He has a point. But to make snide comments and to treat the efforts of those participation with such derision shows a lack of professionalism. And maybe just a little bit if jealousy. But back to his comment: If you are serious about your writing, you should be doing it on a daily basis. Is he right?

Most of the books on writing written by writers state that you should write on a daily basis. Set yourself a daily word goal, set aside a block of time, and write until you meet that goal, even if your don't feel up to it. It sounds like good advice, if you can find a couple of hours in your day in which to meet that goal. Other writers have told me it doesn't matter how much you write, as long as you write every day--again, even if your don't feel up to it. Some days you may only get a couple hundred words down, but there are other days when you just might get a couple thousand down. This also seems like sound advice. But the best advice I ever got was from Hal Bodner, author of Bite Club, In Flesh and Stone, and For Love of the Dead. He told me writing is a job, and just like any job, you are entitled to your weekend, you are entitled to your sick days, your personal days, your holidays, and your vacation. However, if you decide you are going to take a weekend, make sure you only take two days off, then get write back to work. If you decide you are taking a vacation, decide if it's going to be a week, two weeks, etc., and at the end of that time frame, get back to writing. This is what you do; this is your job.

I've tried all of the above, and I find Hal's advice works the best for me. By allowing myself my two days off every week, I find I can approach my writing fresh. If I don't feel like sitting down in front of the computer on a day that I found particularly stressful, I don't feel like I have to add to that stress by forcing out a set word goal, most of which will get deleted the next day because it sounds exactly like what it was -- forced. And I have found that by allowing myself this time, and knowing that there's a scheduled vacation at such and such time, I don't feel like I'm suffering the burnout that I did when I spent months on end writing without a break, even when I didn't feel up to it.

Which ever way you decide to approach your writing sessions is up to you, as long as you keep in mind the goal is the same no matter how you look at it -- to get the words down because writing is, after all, just another job.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Inspiration: Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

The recent acceptance of my short story, "Forgive Me, Father, For I Have. . . Burp!", started me thinking about the places I find inspiration for stories. This particular story had its seed in a Yahoo! group dedicated to Urban Fantasy author Mark Henry. For those of you not familiar with Mark's work, he writes, by his own admission, "zombie smut for the masses." If you would like to check out him out, please visit his website, www.markhenry.us.

Anyway, awhile back, Mark made a comment about being the Father Confessor and we should come forward to confess our sins. Since he writes about zombies, I made a comment about literally eating my girlfriend and wanted to know if I would be going to Hell for it. That comment wouldn't leave me alone. It stuck in my head for about a month before I sat down and starting weaving it into something with some dark comic overtones. Never did I think it would see the light of day, let alone print -- I just needed to get it out of my head. Never did I dream it would be the piece that would get me published.

My completed novel manuscript, working title Ursa Major, which is currently in the editing and revising stage, started out as a bizarre dream that haunted my sleep for a couple of months. I kept playing with it, trying to figure out what I could do with it, and finally things just fell into place.

My second novel manuscript, which is just about at the half-way point, was inspired by Reba McEntire's version of the song Maggie Creek Road. While there is nothing supernatural about the song, the minute I heard it, the story was born. Other projects I have waiting in the wings have been inspired by questions posed in Facebook, snippets of overheard conversations at different locations, tabloids, the nightly News, etc. The sources of inspiration are endless; you just have to be open to them.

Where did you get the inspiration for your current work in progress?