Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lessons learned in 2010: Finishing

This goes somewhat hand-in-hand with my previous lesson from 2010. But this year, I learned I can finish. I finished a lot of things this year. Well, a lot for me. I'm not as prolific as some other writers. I marvel, literally, at some of the totals I see writers crank out every day. But this year I finished several short stories and flash pieces. And this year I learned that I can finish something longer than a short story.

When I typed the final words on Chasing Filthy Lucre I put the final touches on what is the longest piece I've ever finished. It's not the longest piece I've ever written. I've got a few pieces on my hard drive that are unfinished that are longer. But that's the thing, they are unfinished. And there is something special about finishing. There is something that's encouraging about getting to the end. For me, that's one of the things that made me feel like a real writer. Because real writers finish things. They don't have just a hard drive full of started stories. They get to write the end. They come to the final chapter and put a bow on all the action. It's something I'd not done, and it feels good.

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Is self-publishing the wave of the future? I honestly don't know. But what I do know is the landscape has been changing dramatically for years in every way that we receive and share information, and it's finally starting to change publishing."
 Amanda Hocking at her blog, My Blood Approves.

This is from Amanda's post on her self-publishing journey. She published her first book to Amazon on April and by year's end had sold more than 100,000 books. That's combining all her titles, but still. It's hard to argue that, in this new age of publishing, that doing it yourself isn't really an option.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lessons learned in 2010: Outlines

I thought a few days ago that I should do a wrap up post for 2010. Wrap up my year in a nice neat bow. But, honestly, after thinking about the topic for a few moments, it seemed boring. And if I was bored by the idea, then what would you all think? I lived this stuff, for crying out loud. I should be the most interested.

Instead, I thought I'd do a series of posts on lessons learned this year. Things that I didn't know, or didn't realize, as 2010 started. These are done in no particular order and first up is outlining.

In 2010, I learned that I was an outliner. Up until this year I'd been a pantser. I was convinced that's what I was. Sit in front of a keyboard with a germ of an idea and start. See where it goes and enjoy the ride. Then I had the idea for what became Chasing Filthy Lucre. It was just a little idea about data addiction and plugging directly into some sort of feed. No need for a keyboard. Just a direct line into the brain. I wrote a couple of things all centered around that technology. Then one idea stuck. I went with it for a while, liked where it was going. Then I stopped. The story ran out of steam, but some of the ideas in the story were keepers. That's when I decided to I needed to see if I could plot something out.

The outline I ended up with is far from what you'd see in an English class. It just four sections with four sentences in each section. Just enough info to tell me where I'm going. After that was written all I had to so was write the story from one of those sentences to the next. I still had the excitement of pantsing the story, but having that little outline was tremendous. Knowing where the story was eventually headed freed me up to let my mind wander. Weird, I know, but I knew that even if I went off the rails a bit all I had to do was somehow get my characters to the next part of the outline and we'd be in good shape.

Parts of me kick myself for not getting serious about outlining earlier. This let me finish something longer than a short story for the first time. I know they aren't for everyone, and for a long time I thought they weren't for me. And, if we are talking about the ultra detailed versions lots of writers use, then they still aren't. But, in my own way, in 2010 I learned I'm an outliner. I just wish someone would have sat me down and told me that this is all so much easier if you just have a rudimentary road map to get you to the end.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Since my career broke big when I was already, you know, I was looking at turning 50, I would think maybe never give up hope would be one of the morals you could draw from that. And also I think you just have to enjoy yourself. 

If it pleases you and you can write at all, it’s gonna please somebody else.”
—Charlaine Harris, the author of the books that became HBO's "True Blood"

I don't always comment after the quotes that I post here. I'm making an exception this time because I really liked this quote. It comes from the Writer's Digest blog. You can see the whole post here, although there isn't much more to it. This quote inspires me. Many times I'll read what I've written and think to myself, "Sure, I like it. But I wrote it. Will anyone else like it?" I think most writers do that. But this quote reminds me that, if I like it someone else will too. Thanks, Charlaine.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An unfortunate update

Just a quick note to say that any buzz I was feeling on Tuesday has been sufficiently squashed. Since I posted those numbers I've seen zero more people download Consider Us Even.

That's not what I wanted to see. Obviously. Not sure what happened. I am guessing the initial rush has passed and now we are getting down to the nitty gritty. This is when it's going to take some work to draw interest in my work. It's OK, just was hopeful that it wouldn't come to this. Not so early. I've got more writing to do on the expanded version of the story. Plus final editing on Chasing Filthy Lucre.

So, I'll ask a favor to any of the folks here who may have read Consider Us Even. Go to Smashwords and leave a review. Tell others you know about the free book. Tweet about it. Share it on your blog. On Facebook. Wherever. I know I can't do this alone. I'm going to need your help.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Consider Us Even update

I don't plan on making this place just somewhere I update numbers. But I want to update numbers. I put Consider Us Even up on Smashwords a little over a week ago. A week ago Sunday if you are wanting to get all technical on me.

If you haven't seen it yet, click here.

So far, there are 112 downloads. I don't know about you, but that's a number that impresses me. No reviews yet, and I haven't heard from any readers, so I am hoping people like it. I am hoping that these same readers will be willing to pay $1.99 for the full version of Chasing Filthy Lucre.

I've also noticed looking at the stats Smashwords provides that I am closer to a one to one ratio on page views to downloads. Straighter language? Right now, just about everyone who looks at the page downloads a copy. So either, my description provided is so enticing people can't say no. Or, there is someone out there telling people to go grab a copy and people are without taking the description into account.

I did this next trick once with Scrib'd numbers. Let's play it again. It's called, awkwardly, "How much would Jarrett have made if he was charging for this?"

So, we have 112 downloads in 9 days. That's an average of 12 downloads each day. There are 31 days in December. Staying on that 12/day pace puts us at 372 in the month. If I were to charge 99 cents for this story that would be $368.28. Since this is something that's only available at Smashwords I would get to keep 85 percent of that total. That means I would have made $313 in a month. Extrapolated out over a year and you have $3,756 off this little story.

I know that you can't assume the current download rate will be maintained. At some point things should flat line and the sales will stagnate. But, what I do know, is that an average author, at least from everything I've heard, makes about $5,000 in an advance on their first book. This short story would get me more than halfway to that. That's cool to me.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Consider Us Even up at Smashwords

Remember the plan that I mentioned a month or two ago? The one where I was going to publish a short story to Smashwords with an excerpt of Chasing Filthy Lucre? That plan?

Well this weekend it went from plan to reality. I did it. Formatted the file, sent it through the upload. Now it's there for the whole world to download. That means you, dear reader, could be one of those downloaders. The link the is here.

I uploaded the story on Sunday, and as of now, at 12:30 on Tuesday night, 56 people had grabbed a copy. I like those numbers. I've done a little promotion, but nothing heavy.

I included a mention of this blog in a little foreword I wrote for the beginning of the story. If that's how you found your way here then I speak for all of us when I say, "Hello. Welcome. Make yourself at home."

And if you did download the story and read it I'd love to hear what you thought. And, if you felt so inclined, I'd appreciate a review at Smashwords if you don't mind.

Feeling like a writer

A few weeks ago Gina went to Montreal for the weekend. Her best friend has a business trip up there and the two of them left a little early and saw what they could see up in Canada.

I spent her time away doing a little editing and correcting. Also did a little writing. Then when I went to the airport to pick her up I took my idea notebook with me. I started planning out some ideas for the next story in my series. I actually got a lot done, a lot planned. I like where the story is going. I like the new characters that I sketched out. It could be fun. A little chase story.

Once I saw passengers from Gina's flight come through the door to baggage claim I closed the notebook and moved closer so Gina could see me. It was while I was waiting that I realized for the first time in my life I felt like a real writer.

Don't get me wrong. I thought of myself as a writer. Someone who enjoyed stringing some words together. Someone who enjoyed telling stories. But it wasn't until then that I thought, "You know what? I'm a writer. A legit writer."

I think that what it was that made me feel like that was I had one story I was editing, one story I was writing, and one more story that I was planning. I had something in all three stages of production. That's not something I've had before. Well, not true. I've been editing and writing at the same time, but this was different. All three stories were linked. Required me to plan them. Required me to make sure they all worked together. That's what was different this time. And, I have to admit, it felt really cool.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How people find me

With Blogger's new stats feature I can check and see how many people visited the blog and when they stopped by. I can also see how they got here, including which search terms directed them to me. Here is the oddest I've seen so far.

i wip my hear back and fowad

Now, Gina has deservedly chided me for my spelling in the past, but I am certain that I never wrote that sentence or wrote it that way. I am going to guess that "wip" is what keyed whoever wrote that to my blog.

A proper post is coming, hopefully later today or tonight. I've been busy since we last spoke.

Friday, November 12, 2010

... if you really take a hideous detour from the "right" track, your characters will get more and more uncomfortable. Because if your characters are any good whatsoever, they have unfinished business, and your detour is taking them away from it for no good reason.

Charlie Jane Anders at io9 on writing out of a dead end. Read the whole thing, it's good. This was the quote I chose to highlight. There could have been dozens others.

Thanks for reading

Just checked my numbers for the new version of Chasing Filthy Lucre on Scrib'd. We are at 108 so far. That's the fastest I've made it to that landmark number. So, if you are one of those 108 then thanks. I appreciate it. If you liked it, tell someone about it. If you didn't like it, you can tell someone too. Who knows, they might like it.

And if you haven't read it, click here. Or click there to read it again.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Complete second draft on Scrib'd.

I posted a completed second draft to Chasing Filthy Lucre on Scrib'd. It's here. Read it. Let me know what you think.

First draft revisions complete

Last night I finally finished the last of the revisions on the first draft of Chasing Filthy Lucre. I think what was holding me up was the fact that I had to add a section that amped up the tension in the third section. When it was all said and done, after all the adding and taking away of words I wound up with just over 21,000 words in length. Translated to actual print pages it comes out to just over 70 printed pages. That's not bad, and if I stick with my pricing plan in the beginning, seems like a fair value at $1.99. Now, consumers could disagree. In that case I'll have to make some adjustments. But that's one of the nice things about doing this on my own. I can make those changes on the fly.

I am getting ready to print the second draft in a little bit and get a jump on the second round of edits. I am eager to keep with my internal deadline of an early December release. Like I'd said previously I'd like to be out before the holiday and possibly get a few nice reviews up before all those people open their e-readers on Christmas morning and go looking for something to populate them with.

I am still working on expanding my Consider Us Even piece. And the plan I mentioned for it earlier involving Smashwords is changing some but still in the works. Hoping I can get that done soon too. Again, a pre-Christmas launch would be great.

So, that's what's happening here. Things are still trucking along.

Oh, and before I go, I mentioned previously some plans I was making for more regular content. That's still bubbling. Still thinking on that. But you have seen one thing I want to do already show up. I am going to try and do writing quotes regularly. I like them, but if you happen to think they are a waste of time let me know. Could change my mind.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Writing full, complete sentences actually slows down your reader. The longer the sentences, the more chance they will skim. All this works against a strong, steady pace.

Good advice on pacing from Ronie Kendig over at Novel Journey.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things. 

Ray Bradbury

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Well, hello, old friend

I have really been ignoring you blog. Too much, I know. I'm sorry. It's just that I've had other things on my mind. I think I mentioned them before. Those friends of mine at the park? Yeah, I told you about them. They are still around. Doing better than I expected, actually, so I may be distracted for a while longer. But I'll come back. I promise I will. This isn't forever, it's just for now. For a week more. Maybe less, even. But when I do come back I have plans. Plans for us to see each other on a more regular basis. Like three or four times a week. Promise.

(The Rangers are in the World Series. It's still hard for me to imagine that. Still hard to believe. It feels weird, honestly. I never expected it and now it's happened. So I'll be away from the blog  for a few more days. But I have been thinking of ways to populate this thing more regularly. And with more than just writing updates from me, hopefully. So stay tuned. And cheer for the Rangers.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"1000 words a day may make you feel like a writer, but a 1000 words of crap just makes you a crap one. Writing isn't just about producing words – it's about creating stories, developing characters, imagining worlds. The words that reveal all that are just the icing on the cake. Prose, no matter how lovely, is just prose – without character and narrative to drive it, people will tire by paragraph 2."

From James Killick's blog. More good advice is here.

My wonderful distraction

Hard to believe it's been more than a week since I posted anything here, but it has. Honestly, I've been busy. Busy with writing. Busy with revising. But, most of all, I've been busy with baseball. Not sure if you're a fan, but I am. A fan in a big way. I grew up loving the game. As a kid from Kansas City who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s and cheering for the Royals it was easy. You were cheering for a winner. You were cheering for a team what was in the World Series in 1980 and won it all in 1985.

The Royals haven't been very good since. But that's OK. I still cheer for them. Plus we moved to Texas as a kid and I became a Rangers fan too. And have you been following the baseball playoffs? The Rangers are playing postseason ball and looking good. That means I am spending most of my time either at playoff games or watching them on TV. So, excuse my absence, please. I've got baseball on the brain even more than I would regularly. My Rangers are playing for a spot in the World Series. I'm a little distracted.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Progress on Consider Us Even

I've taken one thing I'd written previously, altered it a bit, and duct-taped it to the front of what was Consider Us Even. We have a new story now that will, in the end, be much longer. We may be looking at novella length again. I've got an outline started and, since the story is already at 3,000 words, this thing has exploded on me. I will admit to being a little disappointed since I thought Consider Us Even was finished. But I'm also excited because the main character -- a man who I've named Solis -- is becoming a lot more real to me. He's not just a name serving a purpose in the short story anymore. There he was a bum addict. Now, he's actually got a deeper back story. There's more to him. His motivations are a lot clearer to me, and that's cool. So, thanks to my critique group, we may have the second novella in my Wire series of stories. I never saw this one coming.

That doesn't mean I've stopped working on Chasing Filthy Lucre. I've put it aside for a week or two to get a little distance before I go through it again. And I am still thinking on how the next book in that story will play out.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Chasing Filthy Lucre: Excerpt 5

And we keep on rolling. Here's part five. Hope you all are enjoying this. If you missed the previous sections find them here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chasing Filthy Lucre: Excerpt 4

Excerpt the fourth. Tell me what you think, good or bad.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Some great and needed criticism

I joined an online critique group for short crime fiction. I submitted my first story to the bunch yesterday and already have some great feedback. It's the story that I am now calling Consider Us Even, the story that's part of my diabolical plan. Looks like I have some more work to do. A lot more work, actually. The people there liked the writing and that was good, but it appears I am going to have to tear the story apart and see how it comes back together again. A couple of the readers have suggested that the story doesn't start until a few paragraphs in. After looking at the piece again really quickly, I have to agree. Also need to work on the ending. I know that sounds like there is a lot to do. That's because it is, but I'm excited about getting back into the story and playing around with it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chasing Filthy Lucre: Excerpt 3

Here's Part 3 of Chasing Filthy Lucre. Again, if you like it let me know. If you hate it let me know that too. Just do it gently. If you see something that needs to be fixed I also want to know that.

In the past I put up Part 1 here.
And Part 2 here.

"The best advice is the simplest: Write every day even if you think what you’re doing stinks. Fall in love with writing, not with what you’ve written. Put your energies into writing the best things you can, not how to sell them. If it doesn’t say it on the page, it doesn’t say it."

More here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Chasing Filthy Lucre: Excerpt 2

Here's the second excerpt from Chasing Filthy Lucre. Our two heroes get to know a little more about each other.

In case you missed it the previous section is here: Excerpt 1

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chasing Filthy Lucre: Excerpt 1

Wanted to share a bit of the first part of Chasing Filthy Lucre. Thought I'd serialize the first section on the blog while I still try and get things ready to publish. These will be longer than the previous excerpts. I didn't write this in chapters, so the lengths may vary. Here's the first. I'd love to hear what you think, both good and bad.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The start to Book 2

Had a burst of inspiration at the day job the other day. Wrote four quick paragraphs to capture it because I've forgotten too many other bursts. I've learned my lesson.

Anyway, I think it's the beginning of Part Two of the Chasing Filthy Lucre series. It focuses on a minor character from the first story and is written in third person. A little weird since the first story was told in first person. I thought that it might be weird to switch points of view like that. Then I read somewhere that Lee Child has written his Jack Reacher series in both POVs as well.  If he can do it, I can too. I've read a few from that series and I hadn't even noticed that the books were different.

So, we're started. Part Two is underway. Preliminary title: And the Signal Fell Silent. There you go.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Scrib'd numbers update

Thought I'd share my numbers if you haven't been over there in a while. And why would you have been over there? At least to check my numbers. Anyway.

I am at 484 right now on total reads. Approaching 500. I've done no promotion of it other than my wife and sister-in-law linking to the first part from their Facebook pages more than a month ago. Readership really spiked on those days. But other than that and mentioning it here there has been nothing done to let people know about it. That's why it's so odd to me that people find it. No one tells me whether or not they like it, but they find it. Just the last week I've had eight reads. Not a huge number, but one I'm happy with.

I probably won't talk about Scrib'd again until we pass the big 500 mark. That may be soon. It may be later. But I'll late you know when 16 more readers stumble across me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New look. Work for you?

Things look a little different around here. Let me know what you think. I like the organization of it. I'm mainly worried about readability. Is the reverse type too much?

King looks at publishing's future

There's an interesting video on ebooks over at CNN. It features Stephen King talking about the future of publishing. The first question is a throwaway and really unrelated to the rest of the interview. I was going to embed it into the post but it doesn't look like you can do that so click HERE instead.

Editing update

I'm editing slowly. I really should buckle down and get it done. Just finished the second part and I'm kind of excited. I get to move on to the two parts that I haven't edited yet. It's always exciting to edit for me, especially when I've let things sit for a few weeks. I always find stuff I don't remember writing. Little turns of a phrase or a sentence I really like. So I am hoping to surprise myself as I make it through the next two sections.

I am also trying to make corrections to the first section so I can get the plan I mentioned in the previous post under way.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So, about that plan

I suppose it's not so secret if you looked at the cover I posted last week. You read the words on the cover and you get the idea of what I have in mind. I am going to put my story that I used to call Getting Even up for download with a preview of Chasing Filthy Lucre inside.

Obviously, I am calling it Consider Us Even now. I like the way it sounds better. No other reason than that. The plan is that people will read the story and read the excerpt of CFL and be enticed to read more. Whether it works I won't know until I release the novella. I'm hopeful, though.

Originally I'd planned on selling the release, but thought better of it after talking to some folks over at Kindle Boards. I proposed the idea to the writers there who have much more experience at publishing ebooks than I do. They alls aid the idea of a short with a teaser was a good one but that they'd offer it for free. Their arguments were persuasive. So, when I get everything formatted and corrections made to Part One of CFL -- the section I am using as a preview -- then I'll post to Smashwords and we'll see how it goes. I am shooting to have it ready in the next couple of weeks. At Smashwords you can get regular updates on how many folks are downloading your books. I'll keep an eye on those numbers and keep you posted here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A new challenge

I've been wanting to take part in a Flash Fiction Friday since I discovered them. Figured that now is as good a time as any to start since I'm editing Chasing Filthy Lucre. Here's an explainer of what it is and the prompt. Check it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I have a plan

I have a plan. It involves this cover. I'll explain more later. But for now, what do you think of this? And yes, it looks like the other one for a reason.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So what's been happening?

Editing, that's what. Been slowly working my way through the first draft with the help of Gina. It's amazing to me how much I am finding, especially int eh first part. It's been edited the heaviest and I am still finding things I need to tweak. Places that can be tightened. Stuff that needs to be killed altogether.

But, editing. That's what I've been up to since we last talked. Just realized that it had been nearly a week since I checked in and it drives me crazy when author blogs sit silent for weeks and months at a time. Didn't want to be one of those guys.

Also been noodling on how to start the second book. I know what the central conflict is going to be, it's set up at the end of the first book conveniently. Just can't figure out how we get there. I've still got time to figure that out, though. Still have a lot of editing left to do.

Consider yourself caught up on what's going on in 2,000-square-foot part of the world.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another cover

So, I've been playing around tonight with the new Photoshop Elements program Gina got for me. Of course, I had to make a new book cover. I still like my original cover. You can find and early version of that one in the archive or on the Scrib'd versions.

Let me know what you think. This is much simpler than what I'd had before and my name is bigger. Vain, but from all that I've read, and important thing when it comes to Kindle and ebook sales.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A good weekend and a nice surprise

I am sad to say that I'm a newsman but still had no idea about this soaking rain we're in the middle of here in Texas. No idea this tropical storm was coming on shore just below us in northern Mexico or that its remnants were going to spend two days spinning over the top of us, giving us a near constant rain. But a well-executed holiday weekend will do that to you. Gina and I spent two days driving back and forth to one of the Indian casinos in Oklahoma. Same casino two days in a row. On Saturday we went alone and on Sunday we went with my sister- and brother-in-law. Gina cleaned up the first night and we left a few dollars lighter on Sunday. Still, we had a good time.

When we travel Gina and I have taken to reading. She reads out loud and I drive. We finished The Lost Symbol this summer that way. So on the way up to the casino, an hour drive, Gina started reading Chasing Filthy Lucre out loud. And it was weird. I had never heard someone else read my words. I have read them dozens of times. I know what the sentences are supposed to sound like. But Gina didn't, so it was very interesting to hear how she interpreted what I'd written. And does it sound arrogant if I say that I liked it? That my story actually sounded professional.

It was very helpful too. Once Gina got past the part she'd read before she helped me figure out some things that I needed to work out. There are things that need to be fixed and she and I were able to talk through some of those spots. She's very helpful, my Gina.

But that's the nice surprise. Not that Gina is helpful. I learned that about two days after meeting her. But that my story sounded good. It actually sounds like it was written by someone who gets paid to write.

What's next for me

So, on top of editing the first draft of Chasing Filthy Lucre I have been asked to participate in project at A Twist of Noir, the site that published my first two stories. Christopher Grant, the guy who runs the site, is coming up on his 600th story published and he's trying something for story 600 to 700. He's asking writers to write a story that has the same number of words as the story number. For example, story 620 will have 620 words. Story 655 will have 655 words. Well, I am going to be part of the 100 stories. I have number 693 so I'm going to try and tell a taut tale in just under 700 words. Not sure when he needs the story by, but I know I need to get cracking on it. He's just posted story 578 so I have a little time, but that's what's next for me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Can you tell I'm excited?

That's my first draft. I printed it out this morning. All four parts. I brought it with me to work today. I don't know why I thought I'd get a chance to edit at all, but I wanted to have it with me just in case I did.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

CFL first draft finished

That's it. We're done. Told you we were close. I wrote the final words tonight on the first draft of Chasing Filthy Lucre. I already know what needs to be fixed, but I can't tell you how happy I am. And a bit proud, to be honest. This is easily the longest thing I have ever finished. I've done a few things that are about half this long, but nothing like this.

I think I have a good story on my hands and I am ready to get back into it and make it better. But for now, for tonight, I am going to sit and enjoy that my 20,000 word little piece is finished.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

E-reader prices and why I'm aiming for Christmas

Here's an interesting post from John Fitch on the prices of e-readers and how we reached a turning point in pricing today.

Reading that explains one of the reasons that I am shooting to have my book ready to go before Christmas. I think this year and next will be the Christmas of the e-reader. There will be many, many, many of them given as gifts this year and next, and those gift-getters will need to books to put on their new toys. I think if my cover is sharp, my sample is good, and my price is right I think I can get them to give me a chance. Buy my book. Make me some money and we can get this ball rolling. The possibilities of success excite me. Can you tell?

What's next?

I'm getting very, very close to having the first draft of Chasing Filthy Lucre done. Very close. Like we are probably only a few days away. That's not say I am done with it. Far from it. There are a couple of scenes I need to add in previous sections that will beef up a storyline that's underwritten so far. I also need to go back and add some conflict to my climax. Right now it's just too easy for them to get done what they need to get done. I like my characters and they have been through a lot so far, but this needs to be harder for them. Sorry, guys and girl.

Even though there is still work left to do on the first book, I am already thinking about the second one. Have given it a little thought today and think I may know the climax already. So that's exciting. Now I just need to figure out everything that happens up to that. And that's not as exciting.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chasing Filthy Lucre: Part Two on Scribd

I've uploaded the second part of Chasing Filthy Lucre to Scribd. You can read it here. It's the ramp up of the story. There's a big action scene and the tension rises. At least I hope it does. Read it and let me know.

An update on other numbers from Scribd. I am nearing 400 total reads. I am hoping that Part Two will get me past that number by the weekend. It should. Part One is nearing 250 reads. The super short Make it a Double is nearing 150 reads. I am happy with those numbers.

Please read Part Two. Give me feedback. I want this thing to be the best it can be.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The confusing world of writing and money

Ever wonder how much money a writer makes? Here's a great post explaining it. And, to me, it's pretty depressing. It's one of the reasons I chose to publish myself.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another unedited excerpt

Here's a bit of what I've been working on. It's from the beginning of Part Four. I don't think it gives anything away. No specifics, anyway. But some might consider what's included here as a spoiler, so I'll warn you in advance. This may be a bit of a spoiler. And this is unedited writing that's about ten minutes old so be nice if there are typos or grammar mistakes.

The steps to my apartment seemed longer and taller that night. It felt like I was on the top of Everest by the time I made it to my door. I fished in my pocket for keys and, once inside, I collapsed into the chair in the middle of the room and rubbed my arm. It had been a few days since I’d been on the wire. I told myself that I wouldn’t plug in until we’d finished all of our business.

Out the window I could still see the flames coming over the tops of buildings and I could hear the crowds of people gathered down at the docks, either to help or just to watch the destruction.

I plugged the feed into my port and felt the warmth over take me. From my elbow up to my shoulder. From my shoulder down my back and up my neck. Then down to my toes. Everything went fuzzy and the red from the flames became and orange mess as I slowly faded away.

I woke the next morning with a pool of drool on my chest and the sun beating on my face. I tried to pull my left arm up to my face to check my watch, but I couldn’t lift it. I’d over done it and my arm was dead. Not literally, but for a few hours it was useless.

I stumbled out of the chair and went through my morning routine one-handed. Toothpaste on the toothbrush. Shampoo in my hair. Making toast. All of it just a little more difficult. But that was OK because we’d taken care of our business. We’d made what happened to Carroll right. Made it all square.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A warm reaction

Got the first feedback from some in my writers group and it was good. Got a nice reception and people want to know what's next in the story. That's always nice. Also got told that my story and writing was better than someone who is a professional, NY-accepted author who has a bit of buzz right now. That was nice to hear. Nope, not going to say who it is since people can Google themselves. I'd hate for that to happen and have that author see that I was told they were better than them. Not like that would matter to this person, but just don't want to make any enemies or anything like that.

Have started Part Four and like where it's gone. As I was wrapping up Part Three I decided to expand a subplot. I'll have to go back to add to the previous sections, but in Part Four I've written it in. It's going to make the main protag -- Weber Rexall, in case you've forgotten -- a little more of an unsympathetic character, and that's what I wanted. The reader is supposed to root for the guy but easily see his flaws. He's not the virtuous leading man. But he doesn't live in a very virtuous world.

That's it for now. Wanted to check in since it's been a few days.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Part Three done

Today I put the finishing touches on Part Three of Chasing Filthy Lucre, my four part novella destined for Kindle and other e book retailers. One more section to go. Four more rungs on the ladder. I am happy with it. The story climaxes in this section and it closes out at the story's peak. Coming up next is the come down. The denouement. Yes, I just dropped a French literary term on you. Essentially, we wrap up the story next. We have to resolve what's just happened then put a bow on the whole thing and we are done. Done with the writing at least. Next comes the editing and the critiques and the revisions. Should be fun, though, polishing this thing up. I am afraid that unless I buckle down, we will miss our self-imposed September deadline.

I sent out a couple of copies of the first section of the story out to interested members of my writers group. They are already giving me feedback, some of it I was expecting. I am too familiar with my workd and I have a tendency to gloss over some details that I am familiar with, not wanting to slow the story down. One of the critiques was that the reader didn't have enough info to understand how something worked. I'll have to go in and add that.

There is also a subplot that I had been playing with expanding, and now I think that if I do it could really open the story up and give a little more depth to the main character.

So, that's where we're at. Making progress. Getting things accomplished slowly but surely.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm a big winner

No, not a winner at the casinos. In our house, at least this weekend, that was Gina. She cleaned up at the casinos. Thank you, Oklahoma. If you follow me on Facebook you already know this, but she put $5 into a slot machine on Friday night and quickly turned it into $100. She had similar luck on Saturday at another casino. Overall she was up about $150 for the weekend. Me, not so much. I lost and lost and lost. But I had fun, and that's what was important.

So licking my wounds, at least a little bit, last night, I checked my email and saw this message.

Congratulations Jarrett!

You've won an autographed copy of Travis Thrasher's Solitary. If you enjoy the book please leave a review on Amazon to help spread the word. Your copy should arrive in the next few weeks. Thanks for visiting FictionAddict.com!

No, FictionAddict.com, thank you.

I'll be honest, I don't know much about Travis Thrasher. I've checked his web site and read an interview with him at FictionAddict. I know he's a Christian author.

The books sounded good, though, and that's why I entered the contest for the free book. Here's a description.

When Chris Buckley moves to Solitary, North Carolina, he faces the reality of his parents’ divorce, a school full of nameless faces—and Jocelyn Evans. Jocelyn is beautiful and mysterious enough to leave Chris speechless. But the more Jocelyn resists him, the more the two are drawn together.

Chris soon learns that Jocelyn has secrets as deep as the town itself. Secrets more terrifying than the bullies he faces in the locker room or his mother’s unexplained nightmares. He slowly begins to understand the horrific answers. The question is whether he can save Jocelyn in time.

This first book in the Solitary Tales series will take you from the cold halls of high school to the dark rooms of an abandoned cabin—and remind you what it means to believe in what you cannot see.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Our summer on the road

Gina and I drove up to Oklahoma yesterday to play a bit at one of the casinos that's just across the border. We're hitting the other one today. She's a teacher and this is the last weekend of her summer break. We are trying to make the best of it but also stay at home since we don't want to have to find a place to stash our dog for the second weekend in a row. What? I haven't mentioned a dog? Or that we went out of town last weekend? Well we do have a dog and we did go out of town. I'll have to tell you about those things later.

Anyway, we were talking about our summer travels on the way to Oklahoma yesterday. Here is the list we put together. Pretty impressive, I think.

Oregon (Gina only)
New Jersey
New York
Washington D.C. (I know it's not a state but this is the best place to put it)

Pacific (Gina only)

Comal (not technically in the river, but the untreated water of the Comal is used to power the slides and rides at the Schlitterbahn water park in New Braunfels, TX)

roughly 1,000


Atlantic City

Caesar's Palace
Trump Taj Mahal
Trump Plaza

Winstar World Casino
Choctaw Casino

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A milestone passed and starting an edit

Not sure if you noticed the little gadget on the side, but I passed the 15k word marker this morning on Chasing Filthy Lucre. We are getting closer to the halfway mark of Part 3. Our team that will move the story forward is assembled now. All that's left is the climax of this section. Not sure how many words that will take, but I'm ready to write it. Should be fun.

I introduced a character named Simmer Jones. She's what I am calling a Serve-O. She is essentially an android. I have a good reason for introducing her and it makes total sense why she is part of the team. But she is the most obvious sci-fi element of the story. And she is why I have a hard time putting this book into a genre. If I could make up my own genre I would call it sci-fi noir. And maybe there is a genre like that, who knows. But that's something I am still thinking about.

I also printed out the second section of the book last night so I can start making some edits and revisions. I know everyone says not to do that. Finish the piece first then worry about editing after that. But I can't. My inner editor is bored. Besides, my process is my process and if it works for me then it works for me. I'll do it however I need to to get it done.

An excerpt

I have been making steady progress on Chasing Filthy Lucre. We are about 3,500 words into the third section of the story. This won't make any sense, but Rexall and Berger are building their team and getting things in place to carry out the plan that they are about to develop. I have a couple more steps to write and Rung 10 will be done. I've already started setting up Rung 11.

Since I haven't done this in a while, here's an excerpt of something I just wrote. Literally wrote it today so it hasn't been edited or polished. If you like it let me know. If not, let me know that too.

The crowd that gathered on Fortson could only be described, if we’re being charitable, as rough. If we weren’t being charitable it was a bunch of liars and thieves. But they were smart liars and thieves. What had begun along Fortson Street as a place for people to trade services for goods had turned into something else. It evolved into a black market that was populated by the under class of New Eden, the desperate and the crooked.

Berger and I arrived just before the sun went down. I had the description of an explosives guy an Army buddy told me he knew. Said that our guy was also a former soldier, trained by the government in how to make big things into bunches of small things. He had dark hair, unshaven face with a medium build and average height. If I hadn’t known better I’d have thought he was describing me.

I was told that he’d be waiting near the shutdown drugstore two shops from the corner of Fortson and Fifth. When Berger and I arrived the only person there was an old man trying to bum a few dollars for a hit from the hothouse that was only a few blocks from our location. It was a small hothouse. The air here was still and there was no crowd gathered, no people coming or going.

Berger fished a dollar from his pocket and put it in the man’s eager hands. We waited in front of the drugstore for a few minutes and our guy never showed, but someone else did.

She put her hand on her hip and said everyone called her Simmer. Simmer Jones, full name. She twirled her gun on an index finger like some gunfighter from a western movie and smiled.

I shook my head. This one was good. Couldn’t see a seam or anything on the skin. Her eyes blinked slow, but not unnatural. And she had more curves than a typical Serve-O. Put crudely, this one was built with birthing hips. She had short chopped hair and olive skin. They had dressed her in green cargo pants and a white tank top.

“Keep moving, Simmer,” I said. “Not interested.”

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Scrib'd and some WIP progress

We are at 69 percent completed on Chasing Filthy Lucre. I am in an in-between stage right now. We've passed Rung Nine on the outline but aren't quite to Rung Ten. We are in a bit of a transition phase. I think the next time I write I will definitely be writing what is supposed to take place in Rung Ten, but it's taken longer to get there than I thought it would. I had an idea on how to bring an earlier character back into the story and have him play a crucial role. That somewhat extended Rung Nine and added about 1000 words to the story. Not going to complain about that. Still making progress, so that's good. And the longer I can make this the better.

I still check my Scrib'd numbers every day. Sorry to report that they've stalled a bit. Haven't seen any movement for a couple of days. I know I should promote the story in other places, but I have some self-confidence issues when it comes to my writing. I have a hard time sharing it with people I know. Strangers, no problem. But I always worry about what people I know will think. That's why I haven't linked to the Scrib'd stuff from my Facebook page. Gina has and that's the day I got the highest number of reads. I also saw a spike when my sister-in-law linked to Make it a Double. I know that pointing people to it would help get people interested in my work, but I'm just not ready yet to put it out there like that. And I wish I was.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Something to read

I have mentioned in the past that I attend a writer's group a couple of times a month. One of the writers has started posting stuff on Scrib'd. Her name's Elaine and she's good. Her style is very different than mine but she's very readable.

Check out the two stories she's posted here.

Rung nine

So we made it to rung nine this morning. It's still a little bony and there is room to flesh things out, but we're there. And Chasing Filthy Lucre just passed the 12,000 word mark, so that's cool. Still have no idea how long this will be, but I don't have a problem selling it for 99 cents now.

A little conflict should be coming up in the next scene as our two main characters struggle to decide if they are going to stick together or not. Should be fun to write. Some cards are going to be laid on the table. I am looking forward to getting back into my world. If you've read it on Scrib'd then you know that the place I've created is a little messy, but I've gotten comfortable there.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Part Two finished

I wrapped up the second part of my now four part story this morning. I need to print it out and read it again, but that can wait. I am going to spend the rest of today enjoying the fact that we are halfway done, at least according to the outline.

I introduced a new character who I may be able to explore a little more in another story. He doesn't have a name here and, I think, has only one line of dialogue. Shouldn't I remember that? I literally finished writing him five minutes ago.

Next up, rung nine on my sixteen rung ladder. This is fun.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How do you decide a book's genre?

First, I am typing this down one finger due to a softball injury. It's nothing serious, but I may be down one fingernail for a little while. It hurts, but nothing that wont heal. Hopefully quickly.

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law went to church with us Sunday and then to lunch. We had a discussion on the way home about my WIP that's up on Scrib'd. Got some good feedback then we talked about how it was classified as sci-fi over there. My sister-in-law said that if she hadn't been told it was sci-fi then she wouldn't have known that's what it was.

Honestly, while the story has some technology elements that are a little futuristic, there is nothing explicitly sci-fi about the story. It's not a space opera that features ships and aliens and different planets. If anything, it's a near-future sci fi story.

So, this is my dilemma, at least it will be once the WIP is finished, how do I classify this thing? I know that this is putting the cart before the horse. Just finish the story, right? Classification won't matter if there is no story to classify. But still, would I be better off classifying this thing as a thriller? Honestly, it's more of a hard-boiled, noir story. But those aren't classifications available most places. My worry is that I don't want to stick this someplace that the people who would enjoy it, recommend it to friends, would never find it.

Just something I am thinking about.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I now have an outline

So I took a couple minutes today and put the outline that was in my head down on paper. Gina knows me well. She went to buy school supplies the other day and she picked up a journal and some new pens for me. I am using the journal as an idea book for my series of stories in the Filthy Lucre universe.

First thing in there is the outline to Chasing Filthy Lucre. It's exciting to see where I am going and that we have an ending. But it's also a little disheartening to have so much left to go. I've broken the story into four parts. And each of those parts has four parts. So, of the 16 total parts to the story only seven are done. We are about to move into the eighth part tonight and, I suppose, that makes me feel a little better. Halfway home.

Like I said, it's exciting to have the map to follow now, and I may need to use a light outline from now on. But it's also disappointing to see how far I have left to go since the original story in my head was nearly complete. I know I have a much better story to tell now. It's more involved with more at stake for the characters. And it will make the big break at the end that much more believable, but still. Nine more bits to write. Ugh.

Self publishing and editing

I've been in a bit of an editing mode lately, ever since the lightbulb moment actually. Now that I know the bigger story here I wanted to make sure that what I'd written was going to line up with what I am going to write.

I am trying to be very diligent with the editing. I want this thing to be squeaky clean before it gets put up for sale. I know that some errors may, and probably will, get through. But it won't be because I'm lazy. Unfortunatley lazy editing is one of the things that has given self publishing a bad name over the years. I was reminded of that reading a thread on the Kindleboards web site the other day. Some writers there took offense to another author saying most self published books were amateurish and unprofessional. Problem is that he was right. One of the reasons self published books have a reputation for being of lesser quality is a lack of proper editing. That's why I want Filthy Lucre to be a tight, well-told story that doesn't have any distracting errors that pull the reader from the tale.

You can read a little more on editing at Self Publishing Review. That's right here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chasing Filthy Lucre progress

So I mentioned the lightbulb moment the other day. Well, today I started working on making those fixes. Added more than 1,000 words to the first part. I think my main character is going to be much better developed. His name is Weber Rexall, by the way. If you've read Part One on Scrib'd you know he isn't named there. Along with giving the reader more insight into what makes him tick I'm also going to work out a way to have his name mentioned.

The big chunk that I added today was from an earlier work. I just lifted it and dropped it in. I'll need to adjust some of the verb tenses, but it's in pretty good shape already. It's set in Rexall's apartment and we get to see him alone since all of the action so far is him with other people. He's proving to be the good guy with some serious flaws that I want him to be. I'm making him worse so that Berger -- the secondary character he works with most of the book -- will look better in the end.

On top of giving the reader a look into Rexall's personal life, this new section also helps explain some of the technology that is a big part of the story. I'm solving problems left and right over here.

So, you'll notice in the counter on the right that we've moved past the halfway mark. We are at 51 percent complete if it stays at 20k words.

Monday, July 19, 2010

End of day Scrib'd update

Well, best day at Scrib'd so far. A whopping 57 reads total. Now if that means 57 readers I'm not sure. I know Gina said that when she read it there she saw the numbers increase by three so it may be a bit off. But it doesn't matter to me. I ended the day with 112 reads on Part One and 233 reads overall. Happy about that. Hoping the momentum keeps going tomorrow. We'll see.

First lines

I love a great opening line. If it hooks me from the first word and I'll read your book. Make me work to get into it and there is a good chance I won't make it three pages in. There are exceptions, but, in general, that's one of the Rules of Jarrett.*

There is an article on first lines at the Self-Publishing Review website. Here is one that I'd never read but liked enough to share it.

The same, yet more dramatic, applies to the intro of Run Maggie Run by John Ivor, which has been compared to a Dickens tale: A finger of sunshine poked through the grime of courtroom windows, polished the dock’s varnished panels and created a halo for the prisoner, she who was known as Maggie, age nine. The charge was murder.

I'll be honest, that doesn't start well for me. Fingers of sunshine poking through grime has me worried that this is going to be too flowery for me. Then it gets good when we introduce Maggie. I wasn't hooked until the "age nine" part. That's what got me, especially after I read the charge was murder.

* Rules of Jarrett. I just made that up but it's not a bad idea to run with. Expect more of those. So many it may get annoying. Here's a freebie that I may have mentioned before. If I lose interest in a book it's OK to put it down. There is no obligation to finish a book once it's started.

Scrib'd numbers heading in the right direction

UPDATE: It's 12:48 here and I have passed the 200 reader mark. The count is at 208 right now. We have 87 reads on Part One.

Thanks to a little Facebook promotion from my wife, and I am choosing to believe a good story, Part One of my WIP is very quickly approaching 100 readers. And if current trends hold and I get about 10 readers today then I should pass 200 overall readers sometime this afternoon. That means I'll have had 200 reads on all the pieces I have up over there.

I'm happy. Maybe I should be hoping for more, but for right now I'm happy. In my head I have done some quick calculations and if those 75 readers would have paid $1 for the completed piece I would have made roughly $26 through Amazon's Kindle store. That's since last Wednesday, only six days. If the pace holds and I get to about 90 reads by end of the day tomorrow that'd be $31.50 in a week.

The one dollar price is the one I was going to use if this stayed a novella. With the additions I am going to make this could spin closer to 50k words. At that point I'd feel OK pricing it at the $2 to $2.99 range. Here's the breakdown with those prices.

90 sales at $2 each would equal $63.

90 sales at$2.99 each would equal $188. The jump here is that when things get priced $2.99 or above at Amazon they royalty rate cranks up to 70%. Everything under that is 35%. I'd be happy with anything, but if I were to get this story long enough to feel comfortable pricing it at $2.99 then in a month I could make $750.

I know, before anyone says anything, that these are big assumptions. I don't know how well I'd sell. Or if I'd sell at all. But it's fun to speculate and think about it anyway. Because I'm encouraged by the numbers I see on Scrib'd.

If you've read it, thanks. Appreciate that. You're helping me a lot. If you haven't read it, why wait?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Scrib'd success

I have to say that I am much happier with the results on the new upload at Scrib'd. It's been up less than a week and there are already at 43 reads. The first piece that's posted there has about a month and a half head start and it has 111 reads. So it's not quite half of the first piece yet, but it's close. And it's only been up for three days. Not bad. So if you're one of the people whose clicked and read Part One of my WIP, thanks. If you haven't, click the link on the right. Just keep in mind that with my lightbulb moment the other day things are going to change a bit. I'll be adding a scene that should give a little more depth to my main character. And I'll be adding a bit of a reveal near the end. But the guts of the story will remain the same.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A lightbulb moment

I know I've mentioned here in the past that I am a seat-of-the-pants writer. I know my beginning, I know a bit of the middle, and I know my ending. Other than that I don't have all the details on my story fleshed out. I'll either find the details while I'm writing or they'll come to me while I'm doing other things.

Today was a day when something came to me. Was working at the day job and thinking about the current WIP. In my head the ending of this story is fuzzy. Well, not anymore. Now I know how it ends. And I know more of the middle. And I know that it's going to take me much longer to write than I had expected. I have an entire new plot twist I have to write, but, honestly, it's going to be such a so much better story. I also have some small scenes I need to add to the first two parts of the story that I thought were done. But that's OK. It's going to be a better story. Much more complete. And closer to the 20,000 words that I thought this thing should/could be.

So, more work, but work that should be worth it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The WIP is up on Scrib'd

I've posted the first part of my current WIP on Scrib'd. I'd love to hear what everyone thinks. Like I mentioned last night, the second part is also done. Well, the writing is. Is till need to give it a hard edit and make those fixes. Then get it in the hands of some beta readers to look at it. Ugh, every time I think I am close to getting this thing done and uploaded for sale I think about all of the steps that are left.

Nothing I can do about it, though, other than to keep moving forward. And it would help me move forward if others could give part one a read and let me know what they think. It's 6,00 words and ends on a cliffhanger. So, if you are so inclined you can click the Scrib'd link on the right side and take a look.

Thanks in advance.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Two parts of three --- done

Have I mentioned yet that my WIP is told in three parts? I thought I had, but if not I meant to. My current WIP is told in three parts.

Tonight I finished a transition piece that I needed to get my main characters from Point A to Point B. It added about 226 words to the second section, but somehow my word count dropped by about 20 words. Not entirely sure how that happened. I did read through it again and took a few words out here and there to tighten, but I know I didn't take out 250 of them. I am going to chalk the difference up to a calculation error. I was never good at math anyway.

No matter the count I now have two of the three sections done. We can see the finish line now. Coming down the home stretch. I am getting excited.

P.S. Well the first section is ready for Beta readers. Have one lined up for sure and am going to check with him just to make sure he is still up for it. It's only 6,000 words so it's not that long. I am hoping to get that out to him by this weekend and then get the first part posted on Scrib'd. I have had many people read the other piece that's up there, but I'm hoping things will be difference with this one.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A productive weekend all around

Spent the end of last week editing and adding to the first part of my current WIP. Made all the changes to get my verbs into past tense. Made other changes I'd marked when I read through the print out a few weeks ago. Then I read through it again and found more things to fix. Always amazing to me how much I miss. Made those changes, including adding some background info that rounds things out, I think. Will help the reader understand this world I've created.

I think I can be too vague, hoping that the reader will stick with me through all my subtleties. I get caught up too much in knowing my world and knowing what certain terms mean. I forget that not everyone reader is going to know what it means. So that's what I added. Just some background and explainer info. I did it quick so I need to go back and make sure it all makes sense. I think I added three or four paragraphs in all, but it did push my word count over 9,000.

Still thinking that I may not make my 20,000 word count I was shooting for. It'll probably be more in the 12,500 to 15,000 range. Still a long piece, but I was hoping for more.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

He nodded

Doing these corrections I am noticing that I have a default reaction for my characters. They nod. A lot. Maybe I should change a few of these to some other type of action.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Scrib'd success

I'll say that I have been a little disappointed in the number of people who've seen my story I have up over at Scrib'd. I see that other writers have had several thousand views. And those aren't the novel excerpts from NY publishing houses. These are the writers like me who are just trying to make a go of it. There are a few with 10,000-plus reads so I have hope. Right now I am just over 70 reads, and I know most of them are from me. But I haven't given up yet since I am going to try and promote the novella there. Anyway, here is the piece I have up on Scrib'd now if you wanted to take a look but haven't yet.

Make it a Double

Scrib'd, Smashwords, and a freebie

I've been thinking lately about getting my work out in front of people and ways to do that. I have come up with something I'm going to give a shot. Well, thanks to Gina, a couple of somethings.

First, I am in the middle of corrections on the first section of the WIP. I'd made the paper corrections a few weeks ago. Noe I am adding them to the Word file. They are going slowly, but that was expected. I wrote more than half of these 22 pages in present tense. It didn't work very well in the beginning but I stuck with it. I didn't abandoned present tense until about 10 pages in. I never went back and fixed the beginning, preferring to keep the momentum going and moving the story forward.

Once the corrections are done I am going to make another pass through Part 1 and then send it to some others to read. After I get those notes back and make proper fixes I am going to post it to Scrib'd and Smashwords and see if I can't drum up a little interest in the whole thing. Part 1 ends on a nice cliffhanger and if I were reading it I'd want to know what comes next. I'd love to post to Kindle but I can't put up something for free there.

So that's my first idea. Offer a freebie look at the novella and hope to get people wanting to pay for the full thing. I'll also offer a free .pdf on here for those who don't have any way to read an ebook.

The second idea is one I had been thinking about but then abandoned. Podcasts. Gina took a class yesterday on Garageband and it got her thinking about way to get my work out there and this was her suggestion. Think we are going to try it. A podcast of the first part of the story, again to drum up some interest. I've got a brother who has some music production skills so we could make a nice theme song I am sure. And now Gina has the ability to record me reading the story.

So there are the developments. We'll see how they work and if I can't become a big a successful indie author. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy birthday, USA

We are back from the east coast and, let me tell you, we gave it the what-for. In five days we did drove nearly 1,000 miles in the rental car, passed through four states and one district, saw more American icons than I can count, counted 23 out of the country's 50 license plates, and had more fun than I can even tell you about.

We swam in the Atlantic Ocean, played the slots, and ate pastries made at a famous bakery.

When I get the pictures off the camera I'll post them here. But for now, It's back to work on the WIP and getting it ready for it's Amazon debut.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Things may be quiet around here for a few days

Gina and I are leaving tomorrow on a vacation to the east coast. Heading to Atlantic City for a little beach time and relaxation. We are also going to see Philadelphia while we are out that way. New York City, too. And going to Washington D.C. So maybe it won't be as relaxing as I am claiming, but it should be fun. Gina is, by far, the best traveling partner I've ever had. She's up for anything and she's always excited.

Taking the computer with us so hoping to get some writing done early while Gina is still sleeping. And if we have free wifi in the hotel then I may check in here, but no guarantees. I'll give a report when we get back, but I may be away from the blog for a few days. Vacation is the reason why.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Why I changed my stance on self publishing

I mentioned earlier that I was going to try and explain my reasons for deciding to self publish my work. This is the first of what is probably going to be multiple posts on the subject. Get yourself something to eat and get comfortable. This is a long one.


I joined the writers group I am currently with a year ago. When we started, one of the members said she was considering publishing some of her work herself. I told her that she was free to do whatever she wanted to do, but that self publishing wasn't something I was interested in. For me the only way to be a "real" writer was to write and polish a manuscript, send it off to agents hoping one of them will like it, hoping that agent can find an editor interested in taking on your book, then hoping that editor can convince his publishing company to buy the book. Once you get that far there is still another 18 month to two year wait before the book hits the shelves at a store nearest you. That's a lot of hoping and a lot of waiting. But that's how I thought it had to be done.

Besides, there was/is a stigma attached to those who self publish. They are considered, at least in some circles, as not being good enough. Self publishing was the route an author took when he or she couldn't get a book published through traditional channels.

Another thing. In nearly every case self-publishing meant your work wouldn't be available in book stores. The only place someone was going to find you was online. And when they did find you they were going to be asked to pay more than they would for a normal book.

So, on top of the stigma behind it, it just wasn't something that was going to make an author any money. If you were OK with that and just wanted to see your words on a bound page then self-publishing may have been a good way to go. But that's not the only thing I wanted. I wanted to make a living at writing. I wanted to have author be my job.

Then something changed within the last year. I went to my first writers conference. I went to sessions that were nearly all led by authors. In almost every session someone asked how the authors got their start, how they landed and agent. Every answer started with "Well don't use me as an example. I got lucky and ..." Every time they said that. For me that was incredibly discouraging. It told me that this business was a lot of luck. And I knew that, but it was discouraging that everyone who the organizers put in front of us didn't find their agent through the typical route. They didn't find them pitching to an agent at a conference. They didn't find their agents by sending query letters. They did it by getting lucky. I came away from the conference with a ton of great ideas and I learned so much about technique. But still, I was discouraged. Having author be my job seemed to be a farther off dream than I had realized.

So I came home and kept writing. I also started reading some blogs and poking around the internet and realized there was another option. There were people making money -- real money -- by self-publishing e-books. People like Joe Konrath and Zoe Winters, who I link to on the right side*. And I thought that if they could do it, then I could too. At least I could give it a shot. Self-publishing was a real possibility now because it was an opportunity to make my dream of being an author come true. I could make money doing this, something I couldn't do with self-publishing in the past. Well, at least the chances of doing it before e-book readers took off was smaller.

Now that e-readers like the Kindle, the Nook, and the iPad are gaining in popularity, more and more readers are having access to the online stores where e-books are sold. They can buy some books for as little as 99 cents, meaning they can take a chance on a author they don't know. And they get that book loaded onto their device instantly. No more inflated price for a book. No more having to wait days for it to come in the mail. You can sacrifice very little cash and have your new book in your hands in minutes. That's a game changer in self publishing, at least in my estimation.

I think as more people have success at this type of publishing the stigma that's associated with self-publishing will start to fall away. I think it already is in some ways. More writers are deciding that they'd like to go the independent route and control their own career, write what they want to when they want to, and, honestly, keep more of their money for themselves.

There are specific reasons (quicker to market, total control over my career, etc...) that I'll go into in other posts.
But that's an explanation of why I've decided to self-publish. It's an opportunity to make real money at writing. I don't expect to have the success that Joe and Zoe and others right away. And it may never happen for me. But I have to try.

* I'd suggest giving their blogs a read. They're both very honest about how well they are doing and how much money they are making self-publishing to Kindle. They're also honest about how much work it is. Going this route isn't easy. It takes a lot of time and effort to make it work.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Closing in on 8,000

About to pass 8,000 words on the WIP and it's seeming like my 20,000 word estimate may have been a little too long. Although, who knows. Once I get done with the editing and rewriting I could be past that. My concern, though, is that this will be too short. I need to do more research, but I don't know how long the average Kindle title is. I know some people sell short stories on there, but I'd feel more comfortable selling a novella. I kind of think that if you give the reader a choice between buying a short story or novella and they are the same price, they will pick the longer novella every time. But maybe that's just me and the need I seem to have for getting the most for my money. I want the maximum word count my dollar can buy.

I have been feeling that the story needs a bit of amping up. I need to turn up the heat in the second act that I'm writing now. I'd like the action to ride right up to the edge of unbelievable, but not fall off. I am trying something that I have heard others suggest working for them when they need to turn up the tension, and that's write yourself into a corner. I am about to do that, if I haven't already. We are about to have a two on five gunfight that my two main characters have to come out on the good side of. We'll see how I get them out of this. Could be fun and give me a great story, or it could be the last time I try this.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ahead of the game

So, I mentioned my plans to self-publish the current WIP and others through Kindle. In the interest of putting the cart before the horse, I've already got the book cover started. It's also a WIP, but I wanted to post an early version here to see what people thought. If I was headed in the right direction. Give me your opinions. I like it myself, but I made it so that's kind of a given. How well it works as a book cover, especially an ebook cover, remains to be seen. That's why I am putting it up here. There is a movie poster feel to it that really appeals to me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Some progress and a little taste

Made some progress on the WIP. About 500 words, I think. Would have liked to have done more, but had a few day job related things to take care of before I started writing. Once I got to writing, though, the words came pretty easy. And 500 words is progress so I can't complain about that.

Figured I'd post another excerpt. It had been so long since I'd posted one I had to go back and see what I'd put up. Turns out that if you read all the excerpts you get a decent idea of what the story is and where it's going. If you do that, know that the present tense thing seen in earlier excerpts and a little here is gone. I started writing it that way, but it was presenting too many problems. I have a printout of the first part of the WIP that is dripping red ink from all the verbs I marked that need changing.

Anyway, here's the unedited excerpt.

The ships along the south bay were loaded with mismatched boxes and shipping containers. Men worked through the night getting cargo ready to drop on to the overstuffed decks. Cranes groaned over our heads, pulling full boxes up to the decks. Men called out instructions and the ships fought against the ropes holding them close to the docks.

Berger watched the action and shook his head.

“Horrible job,” he said. “I don’t care how much you paid me, I wouldn’t do it again.”

Spray from the bay was coming up and catching the men around the ships. Most wore long pants and t-shirts that were dripping wet.

“I don’t know,” said the runner, his jacket now off and thrown over one shoulder. “It can’t be as bad as what we’re doing now.” I nodded my agreement.

“Nah,” said Berger. “That work is worse. You know how much I’d have to work to make what I am going to make tonight?”

“Yeah, but it’s risk and reward thing,” I said.

“How many guys you know died doing that job?” the runner asked.

“You mean physically or otherwise? ‘Cause I’m not sure there is a difference.”

The runner shook his head. “Then you’re an idiot.” Berger popped him in the back and the runner stumbled forward.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Making plans and self-publishing

Gina and I were in Washington state this weekend for our nephew's wedding. It was a great time and nice to get away, even if I only missed one day's work. Gina was gone for longer, ten days if my counting is correct. She went up a week earlier than me for the nieces' high school graduation. She then went to the Oregon coast for a couple of days while I worked and wrote here in Texas.

The area up there is very pretty, and, considering the heat we have here in Dallas, the weather was a nice break for me. I know everyone else who had spent more than a week in the 60 and 70 degrees temperatures was ready to get back to the heat.

On our plane ride back I pulled out a little notebook Gina got me for the writers conference I went to. I opened it and wrote out my plans for my series of stories I have been writing. I plotted out when I could be done with the current WIP and how long it would take to finish another piece that's started and sitting on my desktop. I figured that by September I could have the current WIP written and edited. I have a friend who has agreed to be a Beta reader. And I need to know what Gina thinks. She's nothing if not honest with me, so I know she'll me when something isn't working. So, by September I could have that one done. After that it's up to me to format it and get it into the Kindle store and on Smashwords. And with my plan I'd release one story each month September through December to have at least four titles available by the end of year.

I am shooting for December since I am suspecting that there will be several iPad and other e-readers given as gifts for Christmas and I want to have stories out the for purchase for anyone looking to fill their e-shelves.

So that's the plan for now. Self-publishing my own stuff. Building an audience and maybe supplementing my day job with income from writing. I'm excited about this plan. Wish me well.

And, by the way, I'll have more thoughts on self-publishing in a coming post. Just a year or so ago I was against the idea, but I've had a change of heart. I'll explain what did that.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Adventure tale vs. character study

At a recent writers' group meeting we had an author come speak to us. He talked about characters and the importance of knowing what kind of personalities they had. It was very interesting and eye-opening for me. The speaker handed out a sheet showing what I am going to call a personality wheel. On this wheel one of the pieces of personality pie was labeled "leader." Across the wheel in the opposite piece of pie was a slice labeled "follower." The speaker said that you should be able to place your characters in one of these slices. And for a story to work well it's best to have characters opposite each other on the wheel.

As he was talking I was thinking about my WIP. I hadn't written any of it yet, but was thinking about it at the time. I knew who my main character would be. He was going to be a broken leader. Someone who'd given up long ago on doing the right thing. He had accepted the changes to the world he lived in and had made the decision to do whatever it was he had to do to make ends meet to take care of himself. He's a former cop who, in the deepest part of his gut, wants to do the right thing but is able, now, to justify doing things that he knows aren't right. It's for survival.

The secondary character -- a guy I've named Berger -- is a follower. He's the opposite of my protagonist. He's still principled, wanting to do the good thing, not the bad thing. Notice, that I didn't say right thing. I think there is a difference and it all comes down to interpretation. It comes down to what you consider good. It's more subjective than right and wrong. I think most all of us can agree on what's right and wrong. For Berger it's not about that, it's about good and bad. He wants to be a good guy and he's having trouble coming to grips with the idea that life in his changing world may make it hard, if not impossible, to do the good thing all the time. But he joins up with the protagonist -- a guy I've named Rexall, although he hasn't been named so far in the story. The protagonist is Berger's leader. Joining with Rexall gives Berger someone to follow, someone to listen to. He likes Rexall and can see that Rexall is essentially a good guy, someone who has allowed himself to do what he has to to get by, but at his core is a good guy. And listening and taking orders from Berger lets him justify some of his bad actions. He was just following orders, and that's a good thing.

So, even though there are guns, a little sci-fi technology and a fallen government, the story I'm working on is essentially a study of these two guys and one man's struggle with holding on to his principles while also needing to survive.

Thanks for letting me ramble on about that. It's something I was thinking about as I did a first edit on part one yesterday. I needed to get it written down somewhere and this seemed like as good a place as any. I've got one more thing I've been noodling on -- the difference between doing good and doing right. I covered it a bit here but there is more to it. I've worked it out in my head and it makes sense to me, but I'd like to share it with you all to see if I'm thinking straight.

A fun and productive weekend

We're back from San Antonio all in one piece. It was a great time. I've been there a few times, but this time we saw things I'd never seen before. We did the Riverwalk and did make it over to the Alamo, but spent most of the day Sunday in an area called the King William District. It's a historical district with old homes and restaurants. It's an arty area of the city and we kept seeing groups of people drive by on Vespas. Like eco-friendly biker gangs. And we found a restaurant that I am going to have to go to each time I'm there. Thanks, Tito's, for some awesome Mexican food.

When we weren't out and walking -- and we did a lot of walking -- we were back in the hotel room relaxing and cooling off. It's getting hot in Texas everyone. They are forecasting highs of 103 degrees for the coming weekend. It wasn't that hot this weekend, only in the 9os. But while we were relaxing I pulled the computer our and wrote. Got about 1,000 words out and finished part one of the current work in progress. The ending sets up part two really well. It doesn't stand on its own so well, but it's not meant to I don't suppose.

I haven't uploaded my pictures from San Antonio yet. Gina hasn't either. But once we do I'll upload a few images so those of you elsewhere can see the city and those of you who care can see us.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Scrib'd. I'm there.

I started poking around Scrib'd the other day and decided to create a profile. I even posted a flash piece over there. If you are so inclined you can find me here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thought about setting

Read this post over at Nathan Bransford's blog and it hit home for me since I have been thinking a lot about setting lately.

Pretty sure I have mentioned here in the past that I have a series of stories that I've been writing that are all set in one place over a period of time. The stories all take place over several decades in the same setting except the setting evolves. There are constants, however, that the reader can get comfortable with. Anyway, that's a horrible job of explaining my setting, but read the post. It's a good one. It made me feel like i am doing something right.

An update in two parts

Sorry I haven't checked in for a week. I suppose telling you all that the week has been busy would be a good excuse, but it's not entirely true. I have been busy, but not so busy that I couldn't post something. I just haven't had much to say. Been reading a lot of blogs and commenting there, but not had too much to say here. I do owe you an update, though, and more regular posts. So I'll try to do that.

Update Part One
A few weeks ago I submitted a query to the guys at Crime Factory. It's for their Kung Fu Factory special edition. I hadn't heard anything from them and figured they just weren't interested, but since the deadline for queries was August I thought I'd give them until then -- or at least closer to that date -- before I moved it elsewhere.

Yesterday I heard from them apologizing for the delay and asking me to send the story through. This is what I said in the query. They seemed to like it, but I'd like to know what everyone else thinks. Let me know if this would get you to read my story. It's the first time I've written a query and I'd love to get some feedback so I can work on that skill. And keep in mind that this was for an issue that focuses on fighting, so I tried to highlight that in the query.

[The story] takes place in a grimy future where data is a drug, and our protagonist, Solis, is an addict. He's willing to do whatever it takes to get his fix, even if that's knocking around a few heads of guys he considers friends.

I'll let you know if they liked it or if they pass.

Update Part Two
I know I haven't been posting as often as usual, but if you have the keen eye you may have noticed that I've been updating things here. My WIP bug has been updated twice in the last week. Not been as productive as I wanted but we are at 25 percent completed. I've been writing in the morning. I've only had about 20 minutes to write, but have been getting out about 350 words when I can get my fingers on the keys.

I said in a previous post, and as you can tell from the WIP bug, I am shooting for 20,000 words on the current piece, at least for now. Could grow, could shrink, but that's my goal. Using my 350 word pace I can write a little over 1,000 words in an hour. If I can write for one hour a day I could be done with this thing in about three weeks. I'd love to have it done sooner, but that gives me a time frame. And if I am really cranking I can write faster than 1,000 words/hour. So hopefully this will be done soon.

And, on an unrelated note, we are going out of town for the weekend so I may not be around much after Saturday. But when I come back I'll bring you pictures of us in San Antonio.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A needed reminder

I think all writers have a problem of thinking thirty steps ahead. I know I do. I am really enjoying writing my current WIP even if I am not making as much headway as I'd like. I really like what the story could be, what I've mapped out. I'll admit to being guilty of thinking about what to do with it once it's done. How to get it out in front of an audience. Thinking about that and it's not even finished.

That's why Dave White's post over at Do Some Damage kind of slapped me in the face today. So I link it here as something every writer should read and as a reminder to myself. Just finish, Jarrett. Just finish.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Weekend recap

I wasn't terribly productive this weekend, but that's OK, because we had a bit of a celebration at our house. Gina graduated with her master's degree. On Saturday we drove out to her college campus about an hour east of us and a group of nine of us cheered as she crossed the stage. Her immediate family made it out and so did mine. Went to eat afterward with everyone and had some really good Mexican/El Salvadorian food. It was a lot of fun. We haven't had all of those people together since the wedding almost two years ago.

After dinner we met some friends for drinks and to toast my lovely wife on her big accomplishment. This degree is something she had started working on just before we met so I got to see her bust her butt to keep her A average and finally finish the thing. I am incredibly proud of her. So, not a productive weekend, but that's OK. I have a great excuse.

Friday, May 14, 2010

My WIP bug

I've added the WIP bug I mentioned in the previous post. I put a word goal of 20,000 for starters but I may come to the end of the story sooner than that. May get there later than that too. But the bug is up, and that's good.

Moving forward on my WIP

I added about another thousand words to the work in progress last night. Then about 350 more this morning.

It's a three part story* and I solidified the path to the end of part one. I knew where I needed to go but didn't know how I would get there. I figured that out last night. I also figured out how to work in a bit of characterization I needed to work in with my main supporting character. I wrote that part before work this morning but I'm afraid it needs to be amped up. There are guns drawn and shots fired. It should be more exciting that it seems to be right now. I need to reread what I wrote, but it seems flat.

I am thinking that I will add one of those WIP bugs on the right side over there in the next few days. To keep me accountable.

Here's another sample from it, with a bit of an explanation of the idea of data running that I'm playing with. Let me know if it doesn't make sense. And keep inmind that these are all first drafts.

As we walk back to Raul’s to get ready for that night’s action we try and stay on the streets that are well lit. The sun in going down and casting long shadows down the asphalt. The buildings are getting taller as we head into downtown and I am explaining what it is that Carroll does.

“It’s called data running,” I say, waiting at a corner for a man pulling a small cart on the back of his bicycle to pass, the orange flag attached to the seat is popping in the breeze. Berger nods like he knows what I am talking about but I know he doesn’t, he can’t.

I lift my left sleeve and show him the port in my arm, just below my elbow.

“You’re on the wire?” Berger asks.

I nod and tell him that I could be. “I’ve got the equipment, but I don’t use it. Not often anyway.”

“So, what does that have to do with Carroll and this job?”

“It’s how they run data.” We turn the corner and pass the restaurant we ate at a few nights before. We hear generators rumble to life. Shop keepers are starting to turn on the lights outside their front doors and little pools of light are beginning to litter the sidewalk. I continue. “They sit a guy in a chair, hook him up to a feed. They dump whatever info that needs to travel securely into a part of the brain that’s not being used and send him off with an address on a page and name of someone to ask for. Once they get to wherever it is they are supposed to go they get hooked back up and the data is pulled out of their heads. All we have to do is make sure they get there.”

* Possibly a novella since we are at 4,000 words now and not done with the first of three parts. We are looking at probably 25,000 to 30,000 words when all is said and done. Plus, it being a novella plays well into something I have been kicking around in the back of my head. More on that if something comes of it. **

** Thanks to Joe Posnanski for this little aside device. SO much easier than trying to work that info into the main post.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A look at the future

There's an interesting discussion going on over at The Kill Zone. It's about ebooks and book books. The most interesting part of it all is going on in the comments. All of the folks who post there are published writers and they are sharing how much their ebook sales have grown. Check it out.

The rise of ereaders and ebooks is incredibly fascinating to me. With the iPad being launched I think you are going to see a huge rise in ebook sales with in the next few years. I'd even predict and almost 50-50 split when it comes to sales. Half of all book sales will be ebooks. That's how fast this thing is changing. I have no data to back that up, but as iPad competitors come out you'll see the numbers just continue to rise. I think there are a huge number of people out there who contemplated buying an ereader of some sort -- Kindle, Nook, etc ... -- but decided against one since they didn't serve any other purpose. But with these tablet computers coming out that's changed/changing.

Anyway, go check out he discussion at The Kill Zone. Interesting stuff.

An update

I wrote a paragraph this morning and that's the first new thing I've written in probably a week. Been busy with the non-writing part of my life.

Still thinking about the Needle Flash Fiction Challenge. The original idea I had been playing with isn't really panning out. It's a few bits of tasty dialogue but not much more than that. Not really a story that goes anywhere. I have another idea -- really an idea for a setting -- that I am going to think about and see if I can't make it go anywhere.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A busy weekend

We spent the weekend working around the house so I didn't get much done on the writing front. I thought some about the Needle contest. I have an idea that hopefully can contain itself to the 1000 word limit. Not sure yet.

The WIP is just sitting there. I have been thinking about where it's at and I am afraid that I have written my characters into a situation that does nothing to advance the story. They are walking some place and will have to walk back to where they came from before anything happens that pushes the story forward. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense if you don't really know the story, but it doesn't matter really. All you have to know is that I realize I need to delete about 300 words that I've already written. Not a big deal, really. There is one little bit that I like that I'll keep and work in somewhere else. All I am losing, really, is a little world building and atmosphere. I am feeling pretty comfortable with the atmosphere of the piece. The reader gets a dystopian feel and that's what I want. So losing these few words isn't a killer. Just disappointing that I wrote myself into a hole. But better to realize it now, I guess, than 1,000 words from now.