Friday, November 13, 2015

An update on the next release

If you follow me on Twitter you would might have seen a Tweet from me float through your stream in the early morning on Sunday.

"And that is a first draft, everyone. The third New Eden story is finished."

So that's the big update. I'm excited by this story. I like it a lot.  I think it has some of the best writing I've done. I finished the first editing pass tonight and there are some scenes and phrases that I really like. I'm excited to get this one out there. I need to make some corrections then send this off to some beta readers to get their feedback. But we are close to having third New Eden story in readers' hands.

This one is a little unique. If you've read Chasing Filthy Lucre and Finding Faded Light then you know that the two stories take place two years apart. This new story takes place in between those stories. So, if you were to number it then this story is New Eden//Rexall Cycle 1.2. Why 1.2? Because there are going to be three more after this one that fill in the gaps of what happened in the New Eden between CFL and FFL.

If you haven't read CFL or FFL yet, you might want to get your hands on them now because, for the moment, they are both 99 cents. That's going to change once the new story is released. CFL will be 99 cents still and probably won't change much. Need to make it as easy for people to enter into the series. A low-priced first book is one way to do that. The new story is on the shorter side, about 15,000 words. That's a novellette. It'll likely be 99 cents too. Maybe a bit more, but not more than $2. FFL, though, will go to $2.99. Pricing like that lets me create a tiered structure for pricing. All of that's probably way too inside baseball. The key takeaway from that paragraph is get the first two books now befoer the price goes up.

Think that's it. The story does have a title. It even has a cover. Well, tentatively it has a cover. Those will be revealed later. I have to save something for the push toward the release date.

Wait. Last thing. So, I mentioned beta readers. I have a few lined up, but I'd love more. If you have time in your schedule to read and provide feedback on a 15k word story, let me know in the comments. I'll send a copy your way.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

"We tell stories because they are interesting. 
We offer narrative because narrative is a bone-breaker: 
it snaps the femur of the status quo. It is in fact the sharp, gunshot-loud fracture-break of the expected story 
is what perks our attention. Guy goes to work, works, comes home, has dinner, goes to bed? Not interesting. 
Guy goes to work, has the same troubles with his boss, 
endures the standard problems of the day, goes home, 
eats an unsatisfying dinner, goes to bed and sleeps restlessly 
until the next day of the same thing? Still not interesting
Guy goes to work and gets fired? Okay, maybe, depending 
on if he does something unexpected with it.
 Guy goes to work and gets fired out of a cannon into a warehouse full of ninjas? I’M LISTENING."


Monday, August 17, 2015

What's coming after the current WIP? This. Or these.

I'm just going to leave these here for now. Much more to explain later, but these should be coming soon. Soon, being a relative term, mind you. There are four in the series so far. I've them all loosely outlined, and I'm really excited about getting started on writing them. They all take place in a shared universe. The stories will be related, but able to be read individually.

I've got to get back to writing the third New Eden book. Once I'm done with that, these are next.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

HBO's Sesame Street: "Give Him to the 'Gus"

Word came down today that the next five seasons of Sesame Street will be more than 30 episodes each and make their debut on HBO. They'll eventually make their way to PBS, the shows home for coming up on 50 years.

I'm not the first to make this observation, but this obviously opens the door for life on the Street to make a much darker turn. Here's 500 words dashed off at lunch time imagining what that might look like.

Give Him to the 'Gus

Gordon. He's strung out again. Vowed last time he'd stay clean. Tears-in-his-eyes promises to all the kids. But the Bird and the Grouch knew better. They knew he'd be back, and here he was.

"You don't look good," Oscar tells him. "You're thin."

"I'm fine." He stands up straighter. Pulls at the hem of his shirt, trying to tug it smooth. Runs a hand through his hair. "Is he in?"

Oscar looks around the corner and back into the alley. Bird is sitting in his nest. He gives Oscar a slight nod. "He is. But he's going to say the same thing."

"I'm fine," Gordon says again and walks into the alley. His hesitating shuffle steps betray the confident wide smile. He waves a dirty hand at Big Bird.

Bird puts on a smile and says, "You lose weight?"

"Just been watching what I eat," Gordon says.

"Haven't seen you in a while."

"I've been keeping busy." His eyes — heavy lids on top of dark circles — give away what's been occupying his time.

"Look at me," Bird says and waits for Gordon to meet his gaze. It happens slowly, but it happens. "Who have you been seeing because you clearly haven't kept clean. You look as strung out as ever, but this is the first time you've come to see me since you've been back on the Street."

Gordon looks away.

"Up here," Bird snaps. Gordon slowly lifts his eyes.

There's commotion out on the street. Oscar shouts something then drops into his can. The lid rattles as it settles into place.

Big Bird waits for whoever is coming to pass. "Hey, kids," he says and waves a wing at them. They smile and wave back.

"Who have you been going to?" Bird asks asks again when the kids have gone.

"No, one," Gordon says. "I swear."

Bird reaches out and slaps Gordon, his cheek left red. "Don't lie to me. You're bad at it."

Gordon hesitates then admits "I met a guy while I was away. He said he knew a guy a couple blocks over if I wanted to score somewhere away from the Street."

Bird nodded. "At last you were honest. Eventually." A pause. "His stuff any good?"

Gordon shakes his head. "Not like yours."

"Nobody has stuff like mine."

"No, Big Bird. They don't." Gordon pushes his hands into his pockets and rocks on his heels.

Big Bird nods. "How long've we known each other? Years? Decades?"

Gordon nods.

"Then you know me. You know I value friendship. You know I consider you a friend."

Gordon nods.

"But you know what I value more than friendship?" Gordon shakes his head.

"Loyalty." Big Bird pauses. "Now, as friends I can overlook your dalliance with someone else. But, as a business man, there's a penance that I'm going to have to ask you to pay to make good. Now, a guy like me I can't get my hands dirty with that kind of work." Then he flaps his wings and says, "Besides, I don't have hands!"

Bird enjoys his own joke. Gordon forces a smile and laugh. Both stop when they hear the shuffling coming from the shadows behind the nest. Gordon squints into the dark. His mouth drops open when he finally sees him, a thousand pounds of brown fur and a trunk.

"He's real," Gordon whispers to no one.

"Good," Bird says, "you've heard of my friend Gus."

Friday, August 7, 2015

Two short videos for your Friday

Hello, folks. Happy Friday. Two videos for you today. Both are short, but both are great. The first, a feisty Buzz Aldrin. Somehow this video has been views almost 1.5 million times but I'd never seen it.

This second is robot bloopers, and who doesn't like robot bloopers?

That's it from here. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Question: Has an author ever lost you because of unexpected choices?

I'm reading a series of stories by a well-known author. It's good. The installments are cheap. At less than a dollar a piece, they are worth the half hour or hour of time it takes me to read them. So far I'm happy. There were a few moments, though, when I wasn't. I was angry because the story took a turn in the second installment that I didn't expect and wasn't, at all, happy with.

I won't go into a lot of detail on the stories or the author. This person is fairly popular, and it doesn't really matter who it is anyway. I stuck with the story and the turn wound up not being what I thought it was, and I was a happy reader at the end of this installment. But I was ready to give up this series of stories, keep my 99 cents in my pocket, and quietly move on.

All of  this did make me wonder this, though,: Has an author ever lost you as a reader because of unexpected choices? If so, what was it about that choice that put the brakes on your reading experience?

Please, share with the class.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

An excerpt from the current work in progress

Here's a bit of something from the current work in progress. Digi City is its tentative title. That will probably change. This is the next story in the New Eden series. Next meaning it's the third book and will come after the second that was released earlier this year. It is not, however, the third book in the timeline. If you've read the first two then you know there is a gap between where the first ended and the second begins. This story falls in the gap. I think there will be three or four in there. I'm calling them the "Stories from the In Between." I like the way that sounds, and it will fill in the holes for the reader and set up the ending of this part of the New Eden series.

This story focuses on Miller, the antagonist from the second Rexall book. I've always liked him. He deserves his own story. He's an interesting guy.

Anyway, the bit I mentioned. Here it is. Hope you like it. It's just a few paragraphs, but maybe it will whet your appetite.


Miller stepped out onto the tenth floor, the area of Tallboy given to the older addicts. These were the guys who’d been on the wire for a long time. They weren’t plugging in for thrills. They were plugging in to forget, soldiers who’d seen things and done things that they couldn’t let go of.

These were the guys that Miller would be laying beside if he gave into the draw of digital.

Wires fell in bunches from the ceiling, bundles thick as tree trunks breaking up what was mostly open space. Guys were along the walls, most of them plugged in and passed out. Miller quickly studied faces as he passed. His port itched, and he pushed the desire to plug in farther down.

These guys all looked the same. They’d fallen under the spell of digital. Any chance of respectability was burned away in a fire of bits and bytes that they couldn’t do without. Miller had seen it before. Soldiers he’d respected would crack the governor on their port just as an experiment after they get their discharge. None of them planned to end up in a place like this, laid against some wall with drool wetting their shirts and pooling on the floor in front of them. Worse, none of them expected to die. But some did, and those who didn’t were here or someplace like it. Those were the two endings to this story. No one just experimented with digital once or twice. You didn’t get to try a sample then say “No, thank you.” Digital sunk its claws fast and deep. Miller didn’t want to get sucked in. That’s why he’d taught himself to push the desire farther and farther down. So far down now that it was coming out of his toes, seeping out from under the nails and gathering in his shoes.

The faces were starting to blend together. Miller stopped and closed his eyes. He pictured the face in the photo that Cruz had shown him. The high forehead. The short hair. The pronounced nose and deep-set eyes.

He started walking the walls again, and that’s when he saw him. He was the loner, plugged in to a wire far from everyone else. He was laid out on the floor, his head resting on an outstretched arm. Passed out. Mouth fallen open.

Miller went over and sat beside him, leaning against the wall. Miller watched him for a minute. The man was still. Miller put a finger under his nose. Just to check. Then he waited.

He watched the junkies — the data freaks who had given themselves to the pull — slowly wake. Watched them try to stand. Stumble to their unsteady feet like a calf just from the womb. They’d grab for the wall. They’d fall to a knee. They’d find their footing then slowly shuffle from the room, likely collapsing somewhere in the stairwell on the way down. They’d wet themselves at some point before mustering the energy and stability to make it to the bottom. It’d be hours before they’d be back to themselves.

Miller grabbed one of the loose wires that had spilled out of the bundle in front of him. He licked his thumb and ran it across the end and felt the jolt of digital dance up his arm. He flinched instinctively then licked the palm of his hand. He rubbed the arm of the man next to him and left a smear of spit across his bicep. He grabbed a handful of wires from the floor and jammed them into the man’s arm. His body tensed, and his eyes shot open.

Miller smiled. “Wakey wakey,” he said.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Welcome, Haddie

About two weeks ago, our family of three became a family of four when we welcomed Haddie into the fold. She's completely amazing and playing with her and her sister has completely consumed all of my free time since she's made her debut. That's why I haven't introduced her here until now. So, everyone, meet Haddie.

Mom is doing great. It takes a lot to knock my girl down, so I'm not at all surprised that she's fantastic. That seems to be how she spends most of her time.

Ellie absolutely adores Haddie. Every morning when we get her up the first thing she wants to do is check on Haddie to make sure she's OK. And she always marvels at how little everything is on her. Her little hands. Her "little, stinky toes."

The labor was long, but worth it. Of course, I say that and my real role was observer and moral support. But I feel fairly confident that Gina would agree. Haddie is a really chill baby. Not a lot of crying. Seems to be perpetually hungry. And she's a pretty good sleeper so far. Less than two weeks old and we can actually get four uninterrupted hours on a good night.

So, that's the big update from Texas. I've got other writerly things that I want to write about and share with you all, but those will have to wait for now. At the moment, I'm completely occupied by a new girl and squishy cheeks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Get Chasing Filthy Lucre free this week

Promise I don't come here just to tell you when stuff is free, although after this quick post that's what you're going to claim.

Chasing Filthy Lucre is free though Friday over at Amazon. If you haven't already grabbed your copy yet, go get one.

If you need to know more about the story, read this.

New Eden was big, beautiful, and bustling. That’s all a memory. A failed political power grab has left New Eden with no government but plenty of crumbling buildings, out-of-work drifters, and strung out data addicts.

A former cop and former soldier, Weber Rexall has spent his life taking orders. But after the government collapses, it’s every man for himself, and Rexall is on his own.

He realizes quickly that in New Eden cash is now king. That's why, whether it's throwing fights in a basement fight club or doing security work for a friend, he'll take whatever job he can. When one of those security jobs goes violently wrong, and a rising corporate power threatens his status quo, Rexall finds a cause to believe in. It won't pay him anything, but it might change his life. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Reunion is free all this week

We get about one good week of winter here in Dallas. Things get cold, for sure. As for precipitation
though, we get it about once a winter. Last week we got it. That's part of why things were quiet around here last week. I was working from home. I was having to play with Ellie when I could since a 2-year-old doesn't get why daddy can't play if he's home. So there was no Mini Movie Monday. There won't be one this week either. I like to watch the videos before I post them, just to make sure there isn't anything that's offensive. I haven't had a chance to watch the next video. But we do have a fairly big announcement.

Reunion is free this week!

Starting today, you can get my first Jackson Cane story for free at Amazon. Just go here and hit download.
 Pretty simple. If you need to know more, here's the blurb.

Play cops and monsters with Jackson Cane and the rest of the Freak Police.
They’re cops, sort of. Cane and his coworkers chase certain undesirables back to where they belong. Back through the portal in a dark alleyway. Back to their own dimension. Back home. Cane's the best of the bunch, but his next cases are going to bring him face to face with someone he's not sure he wants to see again, with creatures he’s never seen before, and something he’d only heard stories about.

In this first adventure, Jackson Cane is called to a gruesome crime scene that looks like the handiwork of someone he knows all too well. He hopes he’s wrong, because, if he’s not, he’s headed for a reunion he never wanted to happen. 

And, yes, if you are familiar with Reunion at all, you know that's a new cover. I needed to do something a little bit different with it. I had never been overly happy with old covers, and they hadn't performed well for me in a couple of years. I just dragged my feet in making the switch. But with the free days coming, it seemed as good a time as any to pull the trigger. I've redone Scouts too to keep with the branded look. I've also designed the third cover in the series. I like them a lot, but that's not really saying anything. I made them. Of course I'll like them. What I need is for others to like them well enough that they buy the books.

OK. That's it. No more news. Now, go out and spread the good word about Reunion.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Gospel as High Concept

A few years ago I went to a writers conference here in Dallas. One of the sessions, an incredibly popular one, was about the idea of something being high concept. You know, a story where the essence can be boiled down into a few words. Often it's done as a "What if ..." concept. Or it can be something like "X meets Y." For example, one reviewer has described Chasing Filthy Lucre as a "cyberpunk Fight Club." That, at least to me, is a high-concept way to describe that book.

High concept is something that's a little bit criticized. Mainly, at least from what I can tell, because what's high concept to one person isn't high concept to the another. That's one thing that I do remember from the class at the writers conference. People would throw out high concept pitches and the rest of the participants were asked to vote as a group if what was just pitched was high concept. It was the rare pitch that got approval. Most were getting mixed reviews.

That actually is good for me and this post. I ran across this tweet today and thought, "Wow. The gospel as high concept." Now, you may or may not agree on whether or not it's high concept. I still like it.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mini Movie Monday: Cloud Rise

It's a cold Monday here in Dallas. I know this will get me no sympathy from my East Coast friends, but we are getting our first winter weather event of the season. It's mostly been a mild winter. Temperatures have regularly been in the 60 and 70s. We have, a couple of times, gotten close to 80. We are still going to the park across the street in little more than jackets.

Today, though, we have sleet and freezing rain coming down. It's coating the streets, making my commute basically impossible. I decided last night that I'd probably work from home. My decision was confirmed this morning when I looked at the backyard and it was covered in sleet. Gina's school is closed. Ellie's daycare is too. So I'm going to be working from here with a house full of family. There are worse ways to spend a chilly Monday.

If you are caught in any of this kind of weather, we have another selection for Mini Movie Monday. This one is an animated piece called Cloud Rise. Hope this can help you stave off even just a few minutes of boredom.

Cloudrise from Denver Jackson on Vimeo.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Mini Movie Monday: Yellow

This week my worlds collide. Our Mini Movie Monday feature is something called Yellow. It was made by Neill Blomkamp, the guy behind District 9, Elysium, and the coming Chappie.

Yellow was created as part of Addidas' Adicolor campaign. So, essentially, it's a marketing piece. And that's how my worlds are colliding. I market by day, and I fiction by night.This is a much, much cooler version of what I do everyday.

And, after seeing the trailers for Chappie, this reminds me a bit of what movie seems to be.



Carl (Feb. 9, 2015)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Mini Movie Monday: Carl

Something I never thought I'd learn with a 2-year-old: YouTube is a vast and deep wasteland.

We have an iPad that Ellie likes to use sometimes, and what she likes to do on the iPad is watch YoutTube videos. Some of them are educational, things about colors, numbers, etc. But a lot of it is just dumb. Now, she's 2. I don't expect her to have an incredibly refined taste. Still. There's so much junk on YouTube.

Ellie seems to really enjoy three types of videos. The first are of adults opening surprise eggs. Some of the eggs are home made. These adults will take the plastic eggs many of us use at Easter and will fill them with cheap little toys and figurines. Then they film themselves opening the eggs. Thrilling. Other eggs are chocolate. They are wrapped in foil and come with toys inside.

The second type of video she likes are adults opening toys out of the box. That is exactly what it sounds like.

The third video type is the weirdest. Adults will play with toys, creating elaborate stories with all the different characters. And they don't care if they mix characters from different shows. Peppa Pig will play at Daniel Tiger's treehouse. And what really gets me is that these videos ore popular. Some have tens of millions of views. It's baffling.

So, to prove to myself that there are things worth watching on YouTube, I went looking for stuff I'd like. On Mondays for the foreseeable future I'm going to share what I find here. We'll call it Mini Movie Monday, because alliteration. First up is a short animated film called Carl. Hope you like it.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Finding Faded Light now available

Finding Faded Light is now available at Amazon.
Click here to get your copy.

The government has collapsed, RomaCorp is rising in its place, and Weber Rexall threw the first punch in a fight with Roma that he and his friends weren't ready to finish. With Roma looking for him, he's fled New Eden for the Outer West, hoping to give his friends time to prepare for an inevitable second round. He just never expected that to take two years.

Scratching out a new life far from home, Rexall thought he had longer to stay out of Roma's reach. But with a hefty reward on his head, desperate thugs are eager to turn him in, and a relentless Roma security agent he knows all too well has come to bring him back.

Rexall could run again, but RomaCorp won't stop unless he can finish the fight he started. Yet to do that, he needs more help and resources than the Outer West can offer--and if he fails a second time, there won't be a third.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Finding Faded Light: Tomorrow and how you can help

So this is it. Tomorrow Finding Faded Light comes out, and you can finally stop hearing me talk about it. Well, talking about it so frequently.

I am putting final touches on the file I will upload to Amazon this evening, and, if all goes well, you'll be able to purchase it tomorrow morning.

I'm excited about this book. I think it's a good story. I think it moves Rexall in a good direction, the direction I need him to go for what I have planned for Book 3. It also introduces two new characters that you'll see more of in future books, including one that could support a whole series of stories on his own. (Full disclosure, I'm already planning a stand alone for this guy.)

But after I hit the publish button on this, the heavy lifting on my end is done. The writing and production is the only part of the publishing process that I have any real control over. Once a book is out in the world, the best I can hope to do is influence someone's buying decision, I can't make that person actually click the buy button. And this is where I need help from all of you. I want to ask you to do three things for me tomorrow, if I can.

Buy the book

This is fairly obvious. I write books because I love doing it, but I also do it to sell books. But there's more than pure greed as a motivation here. I also want to try and beat Amazon's algorithm, and the only way to do that is with strong and sustained sales.

A bit of an explanation: There is something at Amazon that authors call the 30 Day Cliff. It's something built into Amazon's algorithm that gives more weight to a book in the first 30 days of its release. On Day 31, a book that had been selling steadily will suddenly start to drop. For some books it's dramatic, like falling off a cliff. For others it's more gradual. But for all books it's real.

So how do you beat this bit of math? Honestly, I don't know. But I'd imagine that a book getting out of the gate strong and then maintaing something close to that level of sales for a sustained period would go a long way. That's why I need everyone to log in to Amazon tomorrow and buy a copy of Finding Faded Light. Let's get Amazon's attention.  Books that get their attention get promotion. Books that get promotion get sales. Sales help you avoid the cliff. At least that's the theory. Help me prove it.

Review the book

While I'll be thrilled if you buy Finding Faded Light, I'll be doubly thrilled if you actually read and review it. This is also part of beating the Amazon algorithm. Amazon likes reviews (A secret, authors do too). The more reviews a book has, good or bad, the more notice it gets from Amazon. That book is more likely to find its way into Amazon's engine and get a lift from promotion.

But other readers like reviews too. I know that I've bought a book that I was skeptical about simply on the strength of reviews. Or lack of strength. I've bought some cheap books simply because I thought "There's no way it can be that bad." It usually was. But, the point is that readers like reviews. They have real power to influence a purchase decision.

So, if you've taken the time to read the story then I'm hoping I can get a couple more minutes of your time and get a review.

Tell others about the book

If you follow me on any sort of social media then you know I haven't been shy about promoting this book. The cover has been everywhere. So have countdown graphics. I've been posting blogs pretty regularly. I feel like I've built up some good traction, but tomorrow is the key day. I will take all the visibility I can get. That's why I'm asking for your help. If you see a Facebook post coming from my author page, would you mind sharing it with your friends? If you see a tweet from me, would you mind retweeting it?

They say that someone needs to see a product multiple times before they buy it. The more I can get Finding Faded Light in front of people the better the chances of converting them to readers and then to fans.

OK, that's it. I never intended this post to be this long. If you made it this far, thanks for reading. And thanks, in advance, for any help you can provide tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Finding Faded Light: What's It About?

Can I thank you for something before we dive in to this blog post? Thanks for putting up with me while I've talked about nothing else but Finding Faded Light the last couple of weeks. I've tried to keep the posts limited so as not to wear out my welcome. But if I failed to do that, thanks for bearing with me. Just a couple of days left and I'll get back to posting about other things.

But first a couple more posts focused on Finding Faded Light. Today's post, we finally talk about what this book is actually about. I realized that I'd shown you a cover, I'd told you when it was going to be available for purchase, but I'd never actually given you any idea of what actually happens in this story. Well, here's the blurb. It gives you a very high-level view of the plot. Hopefully, it's enough to whet your appetite.

The government has collapsed, RomaCorp is rising to take its place, and Weber Rexall threw the first punch in a fight with Roma that he and his friends weren't ready to finish. With Roma looking for him, he's fled New Eden for the Outer West, hoping to give his friends time to prepare themselves for an inevitable second round. He just never expected that to take two years.

Now Rexall is trying to scratch out a life in a place that isn't home, but it is just out of the reach of Roma, for now. As he begins to find a little bit of normalcy, trouble finds him, both in the form of desperate thugs eager to earn a hefty reward and a Roma security agent who Rexall knows all too well and is tasked with bringing him back home. This leaves him with two choices: He can keep running farther away or go back to New Eden and finish the fight with Roma that he started. 
UPDATE: I'll be honest, this blurb gave me fits. It took a lot of work to get it to what you see above. I was bouncing ideas off of the good folks at KBoards. A couple people kept giving me suggestions on what was missing and what language needed to be changed. We worked together even after I posted this blurb and came up with another version that I think I like better. Would love to hear your thoughts.

The government has collapsed, RomaCorp is rising in its place, and Weber Rexall threw the first punch in a fight with Roma that he and his friends weren't ready to finish. With Roma looking for him, he's fled New Eden for the Outer West, hoping to give his friends time to prepare for an inevitable second round. He just never expected that to take two years. 
Scratching out a new life far from home, Rexall thought he had longer to stay out of Roma's reach. But with a hefty reward on his head, desperate thugs are eager to turn him in, and a relentless Roma security agent he knows all too well has come to bring him back. 
Rexall could run again, but RomaCorp won't stop unless he can finish the fight he started. Yet to do that, he needs more help and resources than the Outer West can offer--and if he fails a second time, there won't be a third.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Finding Faded Light: The Second False Start

I've been working on FINDING FADED LIGHT for a long time. I've told you that a couple of times now. At least it's a couple of times recently. I'm sure I've bemoaned the struggles before now. But these false starts -- the second of which you'll see part of in this post -- weren't without their lessons.

The biggest thing I learned is how important it is for me to have a strong outline. Both of my false starts had them. That's why I think that even though I haven't used those 40,000 words yet, I will. The structures of these stories are good. They are solid little tales. Just because they didn't work here doesn't mean we can't pick them up, switch the settings, then be off and running again.

I think that's especially true for this second false start. Actually, what I think is most likely is that a lot of what I wrote on this version of FINDING FADED LIGHT will find its way into the third book in the series. Mostly, that's because in this version of Book 2 I started it back in New Eden. I skipped all of the time Berger and Rexall are gone. It starts, as you'll see, right away with action, but we don't tell you anything about what happened while they were gone. I got a certain distance into this story and thought that them being outside of New Eden and how they get back is too important to this overarching story. I couldn't gloss over it with a few words or a flashback.

So this version got ditched. But you'll likely see some of this again. Again, it's lightly edited so please cut me a little slack for a couple of grammar problems.



"Let me see your face!" Miller was shouting from down the hall.

Berger and I were tucked inside the door of an office. Berger'd kicked it open just before the shooting started. He dragged me in after him once we saw Miller pull a gun, a semi-automatic from what I could tell.

"Let me see your face!" Miller shouted again.

"Not gonna happen," Berger yelled back down the hall.

"You're on The Signal," Miller said. "Give up now. Make this easy."

"Can't do it," Berger leaned out of the door and stuck an eye around the corner.

Miller shot twice. Quick succession. BangBang.  Wood splintered by Berger's head, and he spun back into the doorway.

"We'll need cover," Berger said. "I'll provide that. You head for the exit door at the end of the hall. I'll be right behind you."

I nodded and quickly got myself set. I counted to three in my head and took off for the door. I heard Berger fire five shots at Miller. I stayed low and hit the door with a shoulder. It swung open, and I stumbled into the alley. I looked back for Berger. He was running toward me, his upper body turned and facing down the hall, still shooting at Miller. Miller had pushed himself tight to the wall. Berger brought his big body through the door and we passed the two guards we'd knocked out earlier as we turned out onto the street . They were both still unconscious.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Finding Faded Light : The False Starts

We are less than two weeks out from the release of Finding Faded Light, and I mentioned in the post
announcing the release date that I'd wasted about 40,000 words just finding the thread for this book.

Most of those wasted words came from false starts. If you haven't read Chasing Filthy Lucre -- or if you read it so long ago that you forgot how it ended (understandable, since it was 3 years ago that it published) -- at the end of the book our two main characters have to leave town. I don't think I give away anything saying that. It's how the book ends, but most of the main action has already happened before that.

I like the ending of Chasing Filthy Lucre a lot. It feels very satisfying, at least to me, but still sets up a second story, and that was the goal. I wanted someone to be able to read the book and feel that sense of closure you get from a good ending, but also be intrigued enough to want to read the second installment. I never expected the second installment to take three years, but what are you going to do?

So, I liked my ending a lot. What I couldn't figure out though was how to start the second book.

I think the problem was I doubted my plan. I'd had all four books of this series planned for a while. Yes, it was four at one time. It's three now. And when I started writing what I'd planned as book two something just felt off. So I stopped writing what was a pretty good story because it just didn't feel right. I was about 20,000 words into that version. Started a new version that fast forwarded the story and that felt wrong too, like I was glossing over too much. So I went back to the original idea and tried again. Another couple of false starts, I finally found it -- the thread I needed to get the story started. I knew that I was going in the right direction when I wrote about five pages in less than an hour, a great speed for me.

As we head toward pub day, I thought I'd share a couple of those false starts, at least a couple excerpts from them. Here's the first go at writing Book 2. It's presented with only light editing, so if it looks a little rough that's because it is. It'll give you some idea of setting in Finding Faded Light, but there shouldn't be any spoilers. And don't be surprised if you see this in another story/book. I like a lot of it, and it's still a story with legs, just not as the book after Chasing Filthy Lucre.



Everyone ignored the explosions.

We all heard them. I know because the conversations stopped. But when the echoes of the blasts quit repeating off the brick walls of the downtown buildings, we all went back to celebrating. It was Saturday, and Saturdays in the Outer West were for celebrating.

The crowd around me was laughing and drinking and the smell of alcohol and cigarettes was in the air. I pulled a reader from my pocket and tapped its screen. The thing blinked to life. A photo of a girl came up. I held the screen out in front of me so the guy standing next to me could see it.

"Look at her," I said.

The man kept his eyes down, focused on the bit of drink that was left in his plastic cup.

"Look at her," I said again.

Head down.

I pushed the reader into his face and put my hand behind his head. I pushed his face forward until his nose touched the screen.

"Have you seen her?" I asked, my voice forceful, but not so loud that I'd draw attention.

"I don't know where she is," the man said and squirmed free from my grip. "Not anymore."

"What do you mean not anymore?" I asked.

"That's all I can tell you," he said. He finished off what was left of the homebrew in his cup then crushed it in his fist. "Even if I had seen her recently, I don't know where she is anymore."

The grill that was next to us was full of steaks. The people working that grill had stepped a few feet away when I raised my voice.

"Look," I said. "I don't care about you." I pointed toward Berger, he'd been watching the whole time from across the street. "He doesn't care about you. All we want is the girl. Help us find the girl."

A woman's laugh cut through the commotion all around us. Voices filled the silence. Conversations and celebrating.

"I can't help you find the girl," the man said. He pulled a hand through his shag of hair. "I don't know where she is. Honest."

"But you know who has her."

He shifted on his feet, his hands behind him and resting on the brick wall.

"I know who had her," he said. "She's probably changed hands by now."

"Don't tell me that," I said.  "What did they want with the girl?"

"I don't know," he said and reached into his pocket and pulled out a leather pouch. He shook it a few times then pulled open the drawstring closure. He sat it on the ground in front of him and reached back into his pocket. This time he grabbed a rolling paper. He bent over and reached into the bag. He came back up with a pinch of tobacco and placed it in the paper. He rolled it tight and stuck it between his lips. He went into his pocket again and pulled a match that he struck on the brick behind him.  He held the flame to the end of the cigarette he'd just rolled and took a deep breath in.

"Why do you keep calling her a girl?" he asked. "She can't be less than 25."

"Because the guy who's paying me calls her his little girl."

Monday, January 12, 2015

Finding Faded Light: The cover and the pub date

We finally have a date. January 30. That's when you'll be able to buy a copy of Finding Faded Light at Amazon.

It's been a long time coming. Too long. But after a few false starts that resulted in more than 45,000 words sitting unused on my computer, I finally found the thread of what the second story in the Rexall Cycle should be.

Finding Faded Light opens two years after the events at the end of Chasing Filthy Lucre. Rexall and Berger have had to leave New Eden. They are hoping to wait out Roma in a place called the Outer West, but trouble seems to have found them.

I'm really happy with this book. I think it's a great follow up to Chasing Filthy Lucre. When I started writing these it was never about the technology, the settings, or the data addictions. It was about the  people, and I feel that this second book gives us a peek into parts of Rexall that we never saw in Chasing Filthy Lucre.

I'll have more leading up to the release, including a bit more about those 45,000 words that I abandoned. But if you've been waiting for the followup to Chasing Filthy Lucre, it's finally here.

Also, if you're interested in reading Chasing Filthy Lucre before the sequel is available, you can get a copy from Amazon here.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Plans for 2015: More books, more blog posts, a newsletter

I've been working in marketing for a few years now. It'll be four this year if you're counting, but you shouldn't be. I'm not.

In that time, I've learned a lot of things about connecting with markets, getting products in front of people, and raising your profile among your potential audience. I do a pretty good job of putting those tactics into practice for clients at the day job, but I've never really done it for myself. Exhibit A: I haven't posted here since September. That's not blogging/marketing best practices. Hopefully that all changes in 2015. I've got a few plans in place to increase my marketing efforts that shouldn't put a lot of stress on my day job or my writing time.

The new cover for Chasing Filthy Lucre.
The rest of the books in the series
will have a similar look. Branding!

Most of my plans are pretty basic, sort of must-dos for anyone who wants to say they are taking this
author/publisher thing seriously. First is release more books and stories. There's nothing that sells books like other books, especially when you write in series like I do. I've got the follow up to Chasing Filthy Lucre coming out in the next few weeks. The cover is ready. I've just got to make some last corrections to the story, and it'll be ready for some light formatting then publishing. I've also got four other novellas planned for this year in a new series that I'm excited about writing. Two short stories are planned for that series as well. And, hopefully Book 3 and another novella in the Chasing Filthy Lucre world.

As mentioned, I've got to update the blog more often. I know how to do this for clients at work. It's all about planning posts and standing features. But, I suppose it's easy to do for someone else, not as easy to do it for yourself. Like I said, I've got blog posts planned. I've got some standing features that I'm working on. This place should be more interesting to visit in 2015.

I also need to create an author website to better my web presence. A site is table stakes at this point, and without one I'm not really in the game. I'm working on that now, so that should change some time soon. If I can get past me perfectionism, that is. I have a vision in my head, and I'm reluctant to change from that.

But the first thing I'm doing -- and the one that is most important -- is creating a mailing list so I can update people about new releases and other fun stuff. This is one of the first things we recommend clients do when we bring them on at work. I know what a good list can do, but I've never tried to build one for myself. Well, I am now. I don't plan on sending out message after message, just information about new releases. Maybe a quarterly update. And, for sure, free stories and other stuff as a thanks for being part of the list. If you're interested in signing up, click this link.

So that's it: my plan. Not very sophisticated, but, honestly, nothing about marketing is all that complicated. A lot of it comes down to consistency and common sense. I think I have the second part down, now to master the first.