ARCs are going out!

Hey everyone!

I’m just surfacing for some air. Then I’m going back under.

But really, that is kind of how it feels. Happily is finally through the editing process (which has kept me very busy) and is ready to go out to early readers. So, in other words, guess what I’ll be doing for the next few days?

If you guessed ‘Making a whole lot of review requests,’ then reach up and pat yourself on the back!

I’m looking forward to it, though. I’ve been so busy editing lately that I haven’t had much time to go blog hopping and see what all my bookblogging friends are up to. This gives me a terrific excuse to see what’s been happening in their worlds.

Okay, that’s it! If I haven’t already dropped you an email begging asking for a review from you, then I soon will! If you don’t want to wait, feel free to beat me to the punch and request a copy!

Happy reading!

Almost there…. (and cover release 2.0)

Hey friends!

That’s a GIF of me, in my Editing X-Wing, with my sights set on the ARC release date for Happily. We’re almost there.

Hopefully everything goes smoothly and I don’t get shot down my Darth Vader or anything (spoiler alert!).

The release date for the ARC is still the same, as is the official publication date. However, something that has changed is the cover art!

I got a bit excited with the last cover, and sent it out into the world before it was ready. Part of the problem is that Happily is a bit of a new genre for me, and while the story came off smoothly, I was having a rough time coming up with cover art that suited it well, and looked good. The end result (my previous cover art), accomplished neither of those objectives. It wasn’t dreadful, I suppose, but it wasn’t right, either.

After quite a bit of brainstorming, drafting, editing, and several other verbs, I’m pleased to finally present to you the actual cover for Happily. Please enjoy responsibly.

Happily – Cover Reveal and Publication Schedule

Hey everyone!

Some exciting news: I have an ARC release date set for my next novel, a publication date, and a cover that’s ready to be revealed!

But first, a little bit about the story.

My daughter is nearly 4. While I was working on my last book, Cleaving Souls, she would come to my desk and ask me to play with her. Sometimes I could. Other times I had to keep working.

One day, when she was sad that I couldn’t come and play with her, I asked her if she would like me to write her a story. “Yes!” she said. “A Cinderella story!”

Perfect. It’s only one of the most overdone stories I can imagine.

But I decided to take a whack at it and started plotting and drafting. Quite a few lengthy brainstorming sessions with my wife finally produced a good angle from which to tell the story. Now the novel is almost ready to be published, and I hope that some of you are nearly as excited as I am.

Happily

Planned ARC release date: February 3.
Planned publication date: April 3.

The prince had fallen in love with a girl whose name and face he didn’t even know, and then had lost her. Now a shoe was their best approach to finding her?
Bunch. Of. Idiots.

Laure is a teenage street urchin just trying to get away. Where the rest of the world sees an enchanting love story, Laure sees royal incompetence and an opportunity to exploit it. She’ll have wealth and a way out of a life she detests, if she can only manage to hoodwink the royal family and survive to tell the tale.

 

I’m incredibly excited. This story took me into some new writing waters, but I’m very pleased with how things are coming together.

As always, I’ll be looking for some of you wonderful book bloggers to share Laure’s adventure with. If you’re interested, contact me, either here or in the comments below! Otherwise, I’ll probably come around your blog asking for a review in the next few weeks. 😉


In other news:

  • Fellow indie author Brent Jones is running a massive giveaway for three of his books. I’m currently reading one of them, titled Fender, and his work is high quality.
  • I’m planning on hosting a reading challenge, creatively titled “Booklover February Reading Challenge.” It’s love themed, because of Valentine’s Day, and is really low-key. Should be fun, though. Watch for it. 🙂
  • I just finished reading and put up a review for The Making of Jurassic Park. That movie has always been my favorite, so obviously I enjoyed the book. May have even done some fan-girling. Fan-boying? Fan-manning? Ah well.

Dementors, Cough Drops, and a Book Update

 

My nose and throat have been very dry at night lately, so I’ve been sneaking into the kids room to huff air straight from their humidifier in the middle of the night. I wear a dark, oversized bathrobe, and the kids’ humidifier looks like a little frog. Basically, it looks like a dementor delivering the kiss of death to a small amphibian.

What is it with me and frogs lately? I have no idea.

The past few nights I’ve ended up just sleeping on the kids’ bedroom floor, since the air in there isn’t quite as dry. Last night, about 4 AM, I was in there and started coughing pretty bad. So much that my three-year-old daughter finally said:

“Daddy, I think Mom put some cough drops by your bed, for you to have them during the night. Why don’t you just go get one of them?”

I really was fine–just a little something caught in my throat at that point. A few more coughs and it would be done.

Then my almost-two-year-old son said, “Sister said cough drop. Sister said cough drop.”

I guess I was bothering them or something.

Fortunately, the coughing stopped. Half a minute later, my son said, “I want chicka-boom-boom.”–referring to the alphabet classic, Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom, where the letters all climb a coconut tree. Haven’t read it? Get it. It’s great.

Anyways, I guess he wanted to cuddle with that book. So, I got up and handed it to him, then laid back down on the floor.

What happened next requires a refined sense of humor to appreciate. Just a warning.

All the coughing and standing up and laying back down had caused quite a stir in my bowels. So much so that it had created a gas bubble in my guts, which I passed rather noisily.

Both kids started giggling. Then my son said, “Hehehe…. Elephant fart.”

Sometime after that, we all fell back asleep.


In other news, editing Happily has been going very well. I write very clean rough drafts, and kept notes of changes and areas that needed to be retouched. By Saturday, the first copies will go out to my invaluable team of alpha readers.

I’ve also been considering writing a short series of blog posts on writing and storytelling tips. I’m not a master at either, but I believe I have some information and little tidbits that could be very helpful to others. I probably wouldn’t start that series for a little while, though. Not until Happily was safely on its way to launch.

As always, any book bloggers out there interested in an ARC copy of Happily, or a review copy of any of my other books, need only ask. It is literally my pleasure.

Happy reading, friends.

I Survived & Progress Update

Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. My family always takes the week to go to the beach in California–one final burst of warmth and sunshine before the dreary Midwestern winter sets in. We meet up with all the family on my wife’s side and snuggle into a little beach house together.

This year there were 16 people in the house–fewer than on some other years, but still a good number.

Now, remember in high school history classes, when they talked about industrialization, migration, and urbanization? People crowded into apartment buildings. Then, when they got sick, the sickness could just spread like wildfire, the people were so cramped.

Well, I suppose you can see where this is going.

On Wednesday, the first person got sick.

On Thursday night, three more people were sick.

On Friday, six more people were sick.

On Saturday, one more person got sick, and we all went home. That makes 11/16 people sick, a pretty decent infection rate. I’m sure it will remain the defining feature of this year’s Thanksgiving vacation.

Miraculously, I was not one of the ones who fell ill, and neither were my two children. We still had a lovely vacation, even though it we were haunted by the fear that one of us might be the next to fall victim to the plague. Because, seriously, that’s kind of how it felt to watch it spread through the house.

Anyways, enough about that.

Being on vacation, I didn’t do much writing, but instead devoted some time to checking out other people’s book/writing blogs. Met some wonderful folks. Seriously, the book-blogging community is a lovely place, generally speaking. Sometimes things can get a bit heated, but that’s because it’s a community made of people who are passionate about the things they blog about.

In other news, I finished Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. I might just write up a proper review for it. It is, I’m coming to realize more and more, my favorite novel. I find it deeply meaningful and symbolic, without being remotely stuffy or pretentious. A masterwork. Can’t decide if watching the movies would be a good idea or a dreadful one.

Final news is that, although I didn’t do much novel writing this week, I think I did strike upon a story idea I want to run with. It won’t be my next novel, or the one after that, but perhaps the third novel release from now (and my fifth overall). Hooray!

Hope everyone else stayed healthy out there!

Not Today

My last post was all about how I have this microphone, and that it sits on my desk as a constant reminder that I need to do an audiobook recording.

Well, today I tried. Again. And was rebuffed by the universe again.

I tried to convert a motor home into a recording studio. Anyone who knows a great deal about audio recording is probably laughing at me for even bothering–but then again, maybe a motor home is actually a great place to record, and I just have no idea what I’m doing.

It took a while, but eventually I could get a recording whose quality I felt good about. But see, this is how it always goes: I set things up, get a good audio sample, and then figure I’m ready to dive right in. Then afterwards, go back and realize that what I recorded does NOT sound like the audio sample I pulled immediately before recording. It’s a strange, inexplicable thing, but it’s what always happens.

So anyway, in I dove.

I recorded for several hours. It ended up only doing 25 pages of Cleaving Souls, because I had to contend with the freakishly loud traffic, my neighbor deciding it was a great time to putt-putt around on his tractor, and a splash of rain pelting the top of the motor home.

Then I listened to it, and it all sounded like rubbish anyways. I’ve come to this conclusion: not now. Not today, or anytime soon. As much as I would love to create an audiobook to share with people, I can’t. I lack the expertise, funds, and possibly talent. Someday, those might change, but not today.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow. Fortunately, I could choke it down with some comfort food–delicious potato wedges. I’m a simple man, with simple tastes.

I ate the wedges with a frown, but feel much better now.

If there is to be an audiobook anytime soon, it will be rife with background noises. Heck, I might even leave in the sounds of me sniffing and stumbling over words. It would be free, but I’m not quite sure I should bother bothering.

Today’s the day: Book Launch

Today is October 10th! That means that Cleaving Souls is officially released. Hooray!

I first started working on Cleaving Souls back in February of this year. Then, it was just a very, very rough idea. However, those basic elements stayed with the book. It took about forty-five days of concentrated writing to produce the first draft, and then it went through four additional rounds of draft revisions and edits.

I’m very pleased with the final product. I take pride in only publishing stories that are ready and worthy of publication. Making them that way is a long process, and depends on the help of many other people. Since there is no acknowledgements page for Cleaving Souls, I’d like to make some acknowledgements here, as well as talk about the process the manuscript goes through.

  • Becki – My little sister Becki is my first-reader and my “crap-filter.” She’s a bookworm with a good sense of when a story is entertaining and when one isn’t. If she says a story is no good, then that’s as far as it goes. It’s waaay too much power for her to have, but so far it’s worked out all right.
  • Becky – After I work with my sister’s notes, I hand the manuscript off to my wife. She’s got a sharp eye for typos and continuity errors, and once she’s read through a story, I can hand it off to others without worrying too much about readability.
  • Mom & Dad – My mom reads the story out-loud to my dad. Together, they give invaluable feedback on story and readability. You notice different things when a book is read aloud, so their contributions help a lot with keeping the prose smooth and natural.
  • Kevin, Laura, and Tammy – Any lingering typos or issues are hunted down by this final group of readers. Each of them caught a few small issues, and a few bigger ones as well. They also made excellent suggestions for things to add into the story, areas that needed to be clarified or explained, or parts which needed their pacing to be adjusted. They helped give Cleaving Souls its final polish and turn it into a great product.
  • Aside from being enlisted as editors, these people also offered invaluable encouragement. I’d also like to mention Stacey and Zoe, two people who I have never met, but who enjoyed Home To Roost and were ready to read and review advanced copies of Cleaving Souls. Their enthusiastic praise for Cleaving Souls made my week.

So there you have it: a little snippet of the editing process that Cleaving Souls underwent, and an idea of where the credit goes for this story. I may have written it, but without the help of these people, it probably wouldn’t have been much good. Thanks to their help, I’m very pleased and proud to present Cleaving Souls.

Some dangers you cannot outrun. Some nightmares do not end when you wake.
Something is watching Katherine Harris. She can feel it when she goes out. She can feel it inside her home. She feels it in her bed. Her husband, Alex, wants to blame her anxiety on her pregnancy, but he’s often away for work. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be stuck in a small town, to be trapped in a tiny house on a run-down street, to be alone. Kat does, and the feeling only grows worse.
Whatever is going on, Kat’s certain that it’s far more serious than pregnancy jitters. When Alex takes Kat on a second honeymoon to get her mind off things, it becomes far more dangerous as well.

A Nightmare & An Update

Dreams are strange things. I don’t worry too much over what they might mean, but I certainly enjoy talking about them.

The other night I had a dream. It turned into a nightmare, but from my experience that’s how all nightmare’s go. You never start out in a nightmare; rather, a dream becomes a nightmare. Sometimes it happens slowly, and sometimes the change feels instant. I guess it’s just a reflection of life in general. Fortunately, not all dreams become nightmare–another reflection of life.

In my dream, I was visiting a high school literature class to discuss my writing with them. The entire junior class was reading one of my books (though I honestly can’t recall if it was Home To Roost or Cleaving Souls).

At first, it was very exciting. But then the longer I talked with them, the more I realized that very few of them cared what I had to say. It dawned on me that my book had become another one of those much-loathed required readings, like A Separate Peace or The Scarlet Letter. And if that were the whole dream, it would have been strangely sad, but I wouldn’t have called it a nightmare.

The nightmare began when I noticed that even the teacher thought my story dull and drab. She said that the only reason that they were reading it at all was because someone in the school district was making them. When I asked more about it, the teacher said that someone (she never said who) had basically destroyed their family and their finances in support of my book, and bought copies for the entire district. It had wrecked that person’s personal life so badly, that Child Protective Services had to take their kids away, and now the school had to take care of the kids all the time.

So that was pretty awful.

But then the teacher released the class for the day, and took me to the room I would be staying in, courtesy of the school. Where was it? At the school. What was it? The school cafeteria.

The high school emptied and made that magical transformation from a lively school to a dusty mausoleum (and if you’ve never been in a school after everyone else has left, then trust me, that’s exactly what happens). Also, it was suddenly night time.

The school had provided me with a sleeping bag that smelled faintly of urine, and had me bed down atop one of the cafeteria tables. All the lights were off except one: the lights to the adjacent hallway, visible through a series of windows set in the far wall. The rustling of the sleeping bag and sound of my own breathing echoed in the cavernous room. Rather uncomfortable, but not necessarily scary.

But then I heard children crying. Not high-school age, but small children crying for their daddy. I realized that they must be the children of my patron, now wards of the school district.

“Your daddy isn’t here,” someone said, “but the man who made him go away is. Do you want to see him?” Somehow, I knew that he was referring to me, and I prayed that the children would say no.

They didn’t.

The lights were still off, except for the hall light. In the quiet, I could hear the fast drumming of little feet running, and a series of too-thin shadows scurried down the wall of the adjacent hallway, flashing from one window to the next as they ran towards the cafeteria’s doors. The kids weren’t crying anymore; they were coming for me.

I wanted to shout out that they couldn’t come in–that I didn’t want to see them at all–but I couldn’t speak.

The cafeteria doors banged open, but nobody stood in the doorway.

I heard little feet again, this time close by, moving slowly in the darkness. I could feel eyes on me as I lay atop the cafeteria table.

Then one of the kids whispered, “We want to touch him.”

I tried to scream, tried to yell for them to get back, but I couldn’t. All I could do was breath, and so I breathed as loud and as hard as I could, until I woke up panting.

Now, it may sound like a pretty stupid dream, but in that moment, it was terrifying. However, once the moment was over I was able to calm myself and go back to sleep. Sometimes silly things are very upsetting. Being silly doesn’t make them not upsetting, and being upsetting doesn’t make them not silly.

Makes me think of my three-year-old daughter. She gets upside-down about plenty of dumb things, but in the moment they’re very upsetting to her. I’ve found that it can be helpful to her if we show that we understand her feelings, and then try to put those feelings into perspective for her to see. She’s often able to recognize that whatever is upsetting her really isn’t a big deal and actually can be managed, and she calms down.

It seldom goes as smoothly if we skip the part about sympathizing.

So my thought for today is that we should try to understand and sympathize with people. Before we jump in and tell people what they should or shouldn’t do, or how they should solve their problems, we should first take a moment to try and understand what they’re feeling and thinking.


And now here’s my update:

Cleaving Souls is almost ready for launch! It’s going to be released on Tuesday, Oct. 10, in both ebook and paperback format. I’m pretty excited for that, especially since some great reviews have already rolled in! (And few things are sweeter than a positive, unsolicited review.)

The only thing left to do before the release is revamp the blurb. It’s not too bad now, and I might end up keeping it, but I’m still stewing over making it a bit longer and less generic. But I’m not sure. Blurbs are tricky for me, because I really don’t want to take away anything from the story–I’d rather my readers gets to discover everything for themselves.

For anyone else who’s excited enough to want to post about it, I’ve made some simple promotional material. Feel free to use any of it on whatever social media platforms you use.

In other news, I won a self-publishing book cover art contest (first and second place in the horror category, and first place in the thriller category). As you may or may not know, I go against all sound advice and make my own book covers. I think they turn out well, and I have a lot of fun doing it. Perhaps sometime I’ll have to make a book-cover-creation-process post, featuring different iterations of one of my covers.

That’s it for now. Happy readings!

Moving Forward

Hello there!

Well, my last post was a rather sad one, about having to scrap 30,000 words worth of manuscript. Still kinda feel that one in my gut, to be honest, but I’m also happy to say that it was definitivamente the right thing to do. Also happy to say that I’m at 16,000 words for the newer manuscript, which hopefully is something like 1/5 of the way done.

This new pass at the novel is far more streamlined, has an adjusted point-of-view, new personalities on my protagonists, a lot of complication cleaned up, and a different age for the reader. A lot of changes, and all for the better.

In other news, Cleaving Souls is nearly ready for publication. I really probably only have an hour or so of editing left to do on it, then send it out to as many beta readers as I can get my hands on while I mull over the official blurb and back-cover material. Oh, also, I’ll need to typeset the print edition, and make sure the e-book is clean and shiny. But I did those things myself for Home To Roost, so they shouldn’t take too long. I haven’t heard any complaints from my readers regarding formatting for Home To Roost, and I’ll assume that means I did a good (enough) job. It looked legit to me, at least….

Tough Decisions

There’s a principle of economics called “Sunk Costs.” The way I understand it is this: even if you put a bunch of time into something, if the end product isn’t going to be worthwhile, then ditch it. This can be painful because of all the time you’ve already invested, which will now essentially go to waste.

Unfortunately, knowing about sunk costs and the math behind it doesn’t make it any less painful.

Earlier this year, I was working on a space opera. I had mixed feelings about it. Writing was going slow in places, but I persevered. I finished it, and then… chucked the whole thing. 120,000 words. But it wasn’t good enough, I won’t publish something that isn’t good enough.

The flaws were too deep for mere editing to get them out, but I plan on coming back and rewriting the story someday. Just not today.

Well, I’m having to scrap something else right now. I’m 30,000 words into a novel, and I realized that I’m telling it the wrong way. I need to change the point of view, get deep into one of my character’s heads, get rid of a bunch of the cast, and then change the tone of the story. Once again, too radical for edits to fix. Just start from the bottom.

It’s painful, but I believe it to be the right call. Time will tell.