Sunday, October 22, 2017

PROOF!!!!!

I have the proof copy of Salvation Day!  I'm reviewing it as we speak, and it's on schedule for publication on November 2nd.  I hope you're as excited about it as I am.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

No Post Tonight

Sorry, folks, but events got away from me tonight.  Therefore, no post this evening.  I'll catch back up Sunday night/Monday morning.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Catching The Market

Hitting the market at just the right moment is important for an author.  If you can capture a trend just as it's going viral, you can ride that wave to success.  However, if you miss that trend, or hit it at after the moment has passed, you could continue into obscurity, wasting an otherwise incredible opportunity,

I find myself wondering if that opportunity is now at hand for one of my novels - Schism.  Schism is a novel of a 2nd American Civil War, one that gets triggered by the right spark.  It's set more on the red vs. blue model, and it gets downright ugly.  Partisan hatreds come bubbling out from every corner, and only an extraordinary(and horrific) event reunited the nation.

Sound scary?  I think so...especially given that I haven't seen partisan hatred as raw in real life as I'm currently watching.  Try making a political statement on Facebook or Twitter and find out what happens.  Half of the folks who follow you will loudly cheer...and half of them will condemn you.  Many will refuse to even speak to you again, and this can include both family and friends you've known since childhood.  We get so tied to our personal political beliefs that maintaining friendships is near impossible with those who are "on the other side."  It has even become en vogue to hope that people who share a different belief hurt themselves.

So, has this become the moment to release Schism?  The book still requires a little revision, but I could get that done in less than a month.  I want to capture the moment, but is this the right moment?  Or will my original release date be too far beyond the wind of rage?  My thought has been to release the novel to coincide with the political conventions of 2020, when the partisan rhetoric is at its highest point, but will that be too late?

I'd like to know what you think.  Is this the right time to cash in on the growing climate, or is patience the right virtue?  I need your help because, honestly, I'm not sure.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New Editions

No, not a large post today.  I just wanted to let everyone know that Akeldama has been updated.  No, you won't find a different ending or characters acting in ways you're unfamiliar with.  There were simply a few errors in the book that I've since corrected, and it was time to get that update to the audience.  One of my errors was particularly glaring since it involved someone I got permission from to use their name(yes, I misspelled it).  I was mortified.

Does that mean I'll be recalling the old editions?  Nope.  Maybe it's laziness on my part, or maybe I'm just cheap, but if you've got an old edition, keep it.  Maybe it'll be a collector's item in a few years!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Forgotten Characters

I was working on rewriting the sequel for Akeldama when I realized that there were several characters that I was leaving out.  No, neither of the main two(Seth and Maxwell), but several others that were vital to advancing the plot of the first book.  It wasn't an intentional oversight designed to create some big reveal later on; I just forgot about them.

Looking back at some of my other work, it occurred to me that this isn't something new.  As my story advances in more than a few books, the characters that are no longer as important tend to fade away.  It seems to be no big deal to me, but I then remembered that other people will be reading this, and they might be interested in knowing why (insert character here) no longer shows up.  I don't like that hanging thread, even if it's not necessary to advance the novel.

So, what to do?  Well, I think keeping a running journal beyond the outline I use would be useful.  What I mean by that is for me to keep a sheet either at my desk or tacked up to the shelf above my computer that has a running tally of the characters, what they've done, and where there are at the moment.  It might help remind me who else is in the story beyond the main player(s).

Should it matter?  After all, I don't notice who's left once the plot moves to the next vital point, but several readers have asked me what happened to somebody that may no longer be as involved(there's a character in Salvation Day that has a tremendous impact at one point but who vanishes without a trace roughly a third of the way in...and no, that character didn't vanish because he got killed; he just wasn't needed any longer).  That showed me my weakness.

It's important for us as writers to remember that readers grow attached to certain characters, and we don't get to decide which characters that might be.  For example, one reviewer on Amazon grew much more fond of Maxwell than of Seth, which I never anticipated.  Another reader emailed me to say that he was curious what ever became of Dmitri.  These took me aback because neither was the main character.

The lesson is to not forget who you have in your story.  Readers will want to know what happened to them.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Ego And Ownership

There's a fine balance writers need to take in regards to our work.  On one hand, we need to be willing to put aside our ego and accept criticism, both in content and in writing.  We can all make errors, and we don't always have the best ideas.  When someone offers a criticism of our work, we need to have an open mind about what they say...especially if we paid them for that criticism.  At that point, it's their job to find our mistakes.

Yes, it's hard.  We never really want to admit we screwed up.  We'll moan and squeal like branded calves, but the right criticism should make our work better and easier to read.  We'll be able to have our story flow more smoothly, and people will be able to read it without making faces that look like they just swallowed a spoonful of mustard.  Remember, too many errors and folks will just put us down.  Then how will people know if our work is any good?

But there's also the flip side of this - taking control of your own work.  While you should be open to criticism, don't forget that it's your work.  Perhaps what the editor marked down as wrong was exactly the way you intended it to be written, because it gives the desired effect.  And regarding content, perhaps others saw the point of your words more than the editor you paid.

It's hard to get it all right.  Putting ego aside requires maturity, but remembering it's your work requires you to not always be a doormat, and, sadly, we have far too many doormats in our field.  What do you hope to get out of paying an editor, and do changes make your story better?  Those are the key questions to ask yourself.

Does your ego hamper your reach?  Or does your mousiness make the story no longer your own?  Only you can answer these questions...but answer them you must.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

New Header Image

For those who haven't noticed, first let me say how sorry I am about your blindness.  For those who have noticed, I have a new header!  An old friend named Maggie Clark drew me a picture and gave me permission to use it for the site.  Maggie is a talented artist who is writing a humor book about her life.  Be sure to check out her website if you get the chance.

I've been looking for a new image for a while since I discovered that I shouldn't just grab any old image from the web.  Using someone else's work without permission is a big no-no, and it can get quite expensive.  So now that an artist has given me permission for a custom image she drew, I'm excited that something new will greet readers of my page.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Politics, Politics, And More Politics

News flash - we're divided as a nation.  I know, I know...it's shocking.

Although I get that most of us hold some pretty strong beliefs, I will never understand the urge for some of us to want to piss off half of our potential audience unless you're writing a book specifically about politics and marketing to that side of the political spectrum.

Recently, someone asked me why I didn't put certain character types in my work.  Another asked me why I didn't push a particular issue he felt was important.  Both got a little offended when I pointed out how divisive that could be and that folks on the other side of the aisle also buy books.

"This is your chance to have an impact," I was told.  What impact?  Is it really asking too much for us to have a story that entertains rather than preaches to us?  If someone wants to read political opinions, they'll pick up a book that is designed to do that.  However, I didn't go into writing to make political points - I went into writing to tell stories.  Changing historical events to put in folks who weren't there, or squeezing in some kind of radical viewpoint that would not advance the story one iota, isn't going to win any friends.  In fact, it might make a lot of folks who might otherwise enjoy my story to put it down in disgust and vow to never read me again.

To those who have implored me to push their pet issue, or even some of my pet issues, in my work, just stop.  People see enough politics everywhere else.  Is it really asking too much to just have a normal story that entertains the audience?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Fonts

The written word is actually one of the worst ways we can communicate because so much of what is said is left up to the reader for interpretation.  Writing makes it hard to convey tone of voice, body language, volume, facial expressions, etc.  As writers, we have to rely on the reader's ability to know us to properly interpret our intent.

So I do something a little different in my work - I sometimes change up my fonts.  Folks have told me for a while not to do that, that it messes up the flow of the work, but I feel it enhances it if used in the proper spots.  After all, don't we use italics for emphasis?  Don't some writers USE CAPS TO TELL US WHEN THINGS ARE LOUD OR CHARACTERS ARE YELLING?  Is there any real difference?

I often use different fonts to convey the mood as well as how someone is saying something.  I think it lets the reader know how to better navigate a scene.  Of course, this creates other problems, mostly in formatting the book for print and ebook.  To start with, it makes the final product much more expensive.  Changing up fonts beyond italics and the occasional bold makes the formatter work more, and thus charge more.  Additionally, although things usually work out just fine for print work, ebooks are more challenging because not every font I like to use is available in ebooks, so I have to modify and still try to convey the same thing.

I realize this can be frustrating for my formatters, and they've been more than patient with my eclectic tastes.  However, I do this because when I'm writing, I imagine reading my work to an audience, so I imagine how something is said.  A Bradley Hand ITC font gives a more guttural read than my traditional Arial, just like I think Papyrus creates an air of regality.  Still, I wonder if readers really care.

So what do you think?  If you've read my work, or any other book that has a few different fonts, do they change the reading experience?  Do they distract or enhance?  How much is too much?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Horrible At English

I was helping my 11-year old daughter the other night with her grammar homework, and it occurred to me just how much I suck at the language.  Yes, I can write a moving phrase and come up with a sharp turn of words, but when it comes to standard English, I'm lost.

She was working her way through a book called Grammarly(which, ironically, I was about to spell wrong until I looked it up), and she asked for my help.  I puffed up my overly self-important chest, sauntered over, and found I was of next to no use.  She was supposed to find the prepositional phrase in the problem sentences, and I had to look up what a prepositional phrase was.  I also had to look up how to find the direct object and indirect object.

Suddenly, all of my nightmares from 9th grade English(or Language Arts, as it was called back in my last year of junior high) came roaring back to me.  I have to now admit that I, RD Meyer, published author and winner of several writing contests, routinely failed these kinds of tests.  And I don't just mean failed - I mean spectacularly failed.  I was getting 40s and 35s on tests that asked the stuff my daughter's 6th grade class is now going over.

Truth be told, while I can write pretty well, I don't always follow the standard rules of English(I know, I know...big surprise).  I don't even know what all of them are.  Instead, I write the way I speak and read.  I may unwittingly use pieces and parts correctly, but I'll be damned if I could point out the nuances to you.

This all makes me wonder just how useful knowing such minute details are.  No, I'm not blowing off education, but unless you teach the language or are an editor, when was the last time you really gave a shit what a prepositional phrase was?  Or a dangling participle?  Once you left school, did most of that knowledge just fly right out of your head?

I wish I cared more.  I really do.  I wish others could think of me as some kind of language guru, but it doesn't interest me very much.  I want to spell words correctly and be able to write a sentence so that the reader doesn't want to pull his or her eyeballs from the sockets each time my work comes up.  However, the specifics of each rule?  Sorry, but I'm just not that exacting.  I wonder how many of my fellow writers are...or if I'm in the minority when it comes to the give-a-shit factor.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Salvation Day - Cover Reveal!

My cover artist, Carl Graves, has done another fantastic job with the cover for Salvation Day.  I think it helps capture the spirit of the novel.  Please let me know what you think.




Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sequels As New Ideas

If you're a writer, chances are that you have a special universe where you would like to set a great deal of your work.  This is usually the place our first novel comes from, and it's comforting to return to a familiar setting.  After all, don't many readers also demand to see what has happened to their favorite characters over and over and over again(Harry Potter, The Lost Regiment, The Great War saga, etc)?

Here's the problem with that, at least for those of us new to the water - our first novels aren't usually our best work.

I've written a few times about my first full length, novel, On Freedom's Wings.  I was swept up by a space opera that I was sure was going to take the world by storm.  I had sequels planned.  I prepared for years of going back into that universe and imagined all the accolades I'd receive as people returned time after time to see what was happening with the future I'd created.  Unfortunately, there was one teeny tiny problem...

My novel sucked.  A lot.

So, why is this a concern?  After all, don't most writers get better over time as they write and publish more?  Absolutely, but we know how the audience is - they won't read the later stuff in a series if the first book stinks.  It's counterintuitive to believe that people will join us halfway through a series where book #3 is great but the entry into that world has already jumped the shark.

There is a place for returning to the same universe, but it's usually after you've established yourself as a decent writer.  Making it the only place you write from makes it far less likely for folks to give you a chance because all they know is the initial shitty foray you made into that world.

It's daunting to keep figuring out fresh worlds and new ideas, but it's critical to success as a writer, especially new ones.  As our writing improves, people can find new novels that expose them to fresh ideas, meaning they can jump into that universe later.  However, crappy beginnings usually close people off to our work since most won't venture beyond the first book.

Branch out into other areas, especially when you first start out.  Readers will let you know once you've struck gold, and then you can find your happy place.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

RIP Jerry Pournelle

This was going to be a lighthearted post...until yesterday.  That was when the world found out that sci-fi great Jerry Pournelle died.  I read my first Jerry Pournelle book, Footfall, when I was 16.  The storyline about the traveling herd coming to conquer Earth after leaving their own war-torn world captivated me.  Years later, Inferno came to my attention as I was writing Salvation Day.  I remember hoping that I would one day reach the heights Pournelle did with his work.

By all accounts, Pournelle was a gentleman who never let his fame go to his head.  Sarah Hoyt, whose blog I've frequented over the past few years, wrote a moving tribute to him last night.  She shared his lack of pretension and how he engaged even newbie authors as equals.  The world is a lesser place today without him, and our profession has lost a great man.  It may be a long time before we see the likes of another Jerry Pournelle.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Rare Editions(Mistakes?)

I overlooked a few minor errors in Akeldama, and those errors have grated on me since I noticed them, both because I'm a perfectionist who despises making such mistakes, and because I honestly thought I got them all.  Even as I make some corrections, I just know I'll miss something.

But yes, I'm about to submit a correction to Akeldama.  Why do you care?  After all, shouldn't that be what every author does?  Yes, but since I haven't yet reached the bestseller list, the copies that are out there with these errors may eventually become collectors items themselves.

I know it's terribly conceited to say such things out loud, as if I'm bragging on my eventual success, but someone has to be successful, so why not me?  And should that occur, the copies that aren't error free, limited though they may be, could end up being like the 1922 Wheat Penny or the "Inverted Jenny" postage stamp.  Knowing that I'm going to correct these errors has actually made me somewhat wistful about the copies I have.

Of course, if my writing career goes nowhere, or goes only a few steps down the road, then these rare editions will mean little.  They'll be conversation pieces for those few souls who bought them, but since the general public won't know or care who I am, the books will just be something cool to note if anyone picks up one.  However, if I do eventually become more than I am now, they might create some buzz.  Imagine(yes, this is in the realm of fantasy, but just go with me) a first print edition of The Shining where Stephen King accidentally called the main character Jack Torrence a couple of times instead of Jack Torrance.  Or a copy of Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone in which JK Rowling switched the "i" and "o" in Hermione in some spots and spelled her character's name as "Hermoine."  Any chances some collector would like to have that due to its scarcity after correction?

All of this is just fantasy speculation and a bit of indulgence, but it makes for an interesting intellectual exercise.  It remains in the realm of fantasy for now due to two reasons - 1) I'm still a nobody, so no one cares if I have some errors in my work, and 2) since I'm still a nobody, there aren't a lot of copies out there, making this a more rare find should my books become more popular after correction.  And that's one of the keys to this whole thing - if I ever gain popularity, first edition mistakes will be much more common with the increase in print numbers, so it won't matter.  However, the low numbers now make those errors much more scarce.  If things take off, they grow more valuable.

Imagine creating something of value from a mistake!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Real Heroes

First, I know I've missed a few blog posts recently.  And I know you're sick of heating me bitch about how taxing it is.  I wish I had an explanation for my recent level of exhaustion, but I'm simply tired.  Real tired.  Most won't care, and I should just plod through and get back to it.  I will.  I promise.  But my pity party is still going strong at the moment.

Anyhoo...

I wanted to dedicate this post to the real heroes of a writer's world.  I know that I deliver the "meat" of a book by writing the story, but until I started publishing, I never really realized just how much goes on behind the scenes(or at least just out of sight).  Some stuff eventually gets seen, like the cover art.  And let me say that my cover artist, Carl Graves from Extended Imagery, is awesome.  He has once again gone well above the standard in the cover for my upcoming novel, Salvation Day.  He's making a minor tweak to the cover design he gave me a little over a week ago, and I promise to do a cover reveal once he gets back to me.  He has been a pleasure to work with, and he requires only a small inkling of the story to convey with images what that story is about.  He's a true hero.

My formatters Cheryl Perez and Rob Siders are just as essential to this process.  They format my work for print and ebook, tasks I have no idea how to do myself.  Even if I did, I'm not inclined to put in the time necessary - I'd rather be writing.  Both are real professionals who are able to shepherd a wide-eyed newbie like me through unfamiliar ground.  They've been extremely patient as I've bombarded them with questions and emails about topics I'm sure they consider mundane, but they've acted with professionalism and grace.  Again, real heroes.

I've also gotten a proofreader for this one.  Yes, I proofread my last novel, but this time I actually went out and paid someone to do it.  No, it's not at the level that it would be if I had more resources, but Kari Case is looking over my work to help me avoid the same minor mistakes I encountered with Akeldama.  She has a background in such work, and she let me impose on her limited time with the meager resources I have.  I'm hoping her heroic efforts will make this release a little less stressful than the last.

Speaking of needing more editing, I plan to do a second post this week(Thursday morning) to discuss that very topic.  I know, I know...back to shocking consistency!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Spotty Record

You may have noticed that blogging hasn't been as consistent here as I promised.  Work and life have become somewhat overwhelming at the moment, so, for now, I have to scale back to once a week.  As things calm down a bit, I will try to get back up to twice a week.  Believe it or not, my goal is to blog three days a week, like back in the old days when this site was new.  Of course, my goal is also to run two miles in less than 14 minutes too, and I'm not sure I can get there right now.

So please stick with me.  Plans for Salvation Day are moving forward, and I hope to do a cover reveal shortly.  Until then, know that I'll at least be putting up one post a week.  Sorry it's not more, but life sometimes gets in the way.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Snowflakery

A few days ago, while reading According To Hoyt, I came across something that literally left me slack jawed.  Being as cynical as I sometimes am, it's hard to shock me.  Very Hard.  However, the total and abject stupidity of the world of hysterics managed to do so.

I'd never heard of The Black Witch before.  It's a YA thriller about a woman whose grandmother saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War(whatever that is).  This story follows young Elloren as she attends Verpax University to become an apothecary.  However, being sheltered as she was, Elloren has some shaky views about the people Verpax lets in its doors.  It seems she was raised by folks who think such folks are lesser people, and she, naturally, has adopted these attitudes.  But, confronted with the reality of those in her midst instead of the caricatures she grew up with, she's forced to reevaluate her misguided beliefs and come to terms with the way she once viewed the world with the way the world really is.  Sounds like a great story about overcoming prejudice and growing up, right?

Wrong.

A blogger named Shauna Sinyard, who goes by the handle Bookstore Babe, wrote a 9,000 word review that starts out with "Normally, I start these reviews with a photo of the book and a star rating. Today, I am not going to do that. The Black Witch is the most dangerous, offensive, book I've ever read. It's racist, ableist, homophobic, and is written with no marginalized people in mind."  Her review started a firestorm where people began trashing the book and the writer based on the views the main character holds for a good portion of the book(which is kind of important in order to establish the story where she can overcome these things).  Reviewers began giving one-star ratings on Goodreads and other sites in the hopes of not just persuading people to not read it, but to get removed from stores altogether.  What's worse is that many of those parsing out one-star reviews freely admit they've never even read it.

What.  The.  Fuck.

Look, if you want to give a book a one-star review because you think it's a shitty book, go right ahead.  We've all read horrible stuff in our time.  However, at least understand the story,  The blogger in question, and many who came out as part of the mob she stirred up, made their reviews because the main character doesn't fit into their neat little world where no racism should ever exist.  There is apparently no room for the growth of a character, or if so, then they don't care to read about that character's journey.  I mean...pfft, who would want to understand a character in order to better figure out how that person overcame bigotry and oppression in the first place?  Who do the folks who do this think they are, writers with a story to tell or something?

Shauna goes on to spout every cliché ever produced to caricature the American Left.  She labels the protagonist as a stand in for white people who marginalizes every minority stand in throughout the story.  She then tries to connect Elloren's journey with racist white people giving themselves a pat on the back for getting past it.  I guess in Shauna's world, there is no personal journey, no overcoming of bigotry, and once a racist means always a racist.  Let's hope she never picks up something like To Kill A Mockingbird or Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

As bad as Shauna's lack of understanding regarding this made-up story is, those trashing the book based solely on her review are even worse.  Do these people allow others to make up their minds for them?  Are they so sheep-like that they will follow whatever someone in the "woke" crowd says?  And most absurdly, do they think their entire world will collapse...over a friggin' book?!?!

This stuff harkens back to old timey book burnings and should scare the shit out of all of us.  I know that I've said not to wade into politics, but the attempt at censorship here should make all of us - left, right, or center - mad as hell.  I was going to say scared, but scared isn't the emotion I'm feeling - I'm feeling anger.  Anger at those who think words are dangerous.  Anger at those who couldn't be bothered to judge for themselves but would rather another like-minded person tell them what to think.  Anger over trying to suppress a book(and let's be honest - that's exactly what's going on here.  If these people were granted authority over what others could read, do you have any doubt, any doubt at all, that they'd yank this book off the shelves so you couldn't make a decision they disagreed with?)

I'm not so much upset with the book getting a one-star review.  Like I said, if you dislike a book, then by all means, give it the worst review you can think of.  Where I get agitated is with people like Shauna completely misreading a novel and chastising the author, Laurie Forest, for not getting over racism on the timeline the reviewer wants.  Or, what appears to be worse, daring to not be woke to this stuff from the beginning.  I wonder strongly at the kind of bland characters she likes, for they must be so milquetoast that there is no internal conflict whatsoever.  And then she and others have the gall to tell us it's a dangerous book(news flash - books are not dangerous - actions are dangerous; books are words compiled into a story, and if you think they can create evil, then you need serious therapy).  Shauna, get over yourself.  Your adherence to your "woke" ideology has blinded you to the threat to freedom you represent, not Forest.

Ideas must flourish in the light of day where they can be scrutinized.  Bad ideas must be countered with good ideas rather than shut down because those ideas make you feel icky.  And folks should actually read for themselves before they comment on whether or not something is hateful.  It would also help if they got the premise of the book rather than letting it go completely over their head because it didn't resolve in the manner in which the reader wanted it to.

I have no desire to be timid on this.  If my stance on this issue offends you, then unfollow me.  I do not want to associate with people who question whether a book should even be in print.  And yes, I mean any book.  Those who believe a book is too dangerous would feel right at home in puritanical societies where no unapproved ideas come out to make others uncomfortable.  Sounds so nice...and so shallow.  I weep for those narrow-minded fools who cannot countenance a book being out that doesn't meet their strict social standards.  How pathetic.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Intimidated?

I ran across this post from WriteToDone a couple of days ago, and it caught me off guard.  In a nutshell, it talks about how to not be intimidated by other writers.  Nelu Mbingu, the post's author, makes laudable points in trying to get folks over being intimidated, but the entire post brought me to one simple question - is this really a problem?

Maybe I'm naïve.  Maybe I'm an arrogant asshole.  However, I have trouble wrapping my mind around being intimidated by anyone, especially in a field I enjoy.  Do we not publish because we feel we can tell a story better than someone else?  And if we need to get better at telling that story, don't we just do it instead of brooding on it?

But maybe this is a bigger issue for most than it is for me.  In my personal interactions with other writers - I mean real writers, not the folks who keep saying they're going to write a novel but never actually do it - I've found that so many have egos of crystal, as if a single harsh word about the work or artist will shatter their view of themselves.  So many spend so much time trying to impress others that I wonder if there's any time left to actually...you know...write.

Yes, many of us feel insecure.  After all, we're putting our work out there for everyone to see.  However, feeling intimidated?  Why would we ever allow our own insecurities to make us feel that others are better than we are?  True, we can always improve, but so can that person you feel may be so much better.  I think we all need to take a deep breath and realize that everyone else has the same insecurity we do.

I'm not saying to tout ourselves as the Next Great Thing.  Humility can always serve us well.  That doesn't mean we should ever believe our writing doesn't measure up to someone else's.  Be proud of what you've written, and be confident in the way you wrote it.  If someone doesn't like it, figure out why and move on.  That's part of getting better.  But never - never - let yourself feel inferior to another writer.  We're all in this together, and simply putting our work out there for others is an act of courage.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Salvation Day Release Date!

My next novel, Salvation Day, has a release date!  It is currently scheduled for release on November 2, 2017.  I've very excited about this release, for although I've enjoyed writing all of my books, Salvation Day is, in my opinion, my best novel.  I look forward over the coming weeks to the cover reveal and promotion for my most engaging novel yet.

If you haven't joined my mailing list yet, send me an email and do so as soon as possible to keep up with everything scheduled in this release.  See you in November!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Never Stop Reading

Stephen King put it right when he said that if you don't have time to read, then you don't have time to write.  This axiom should be obvious to anyone who wants to write, but I've found, surprisingly, that this isn't always the case.  A large number of writers I know tell me they don't have the time to read, and their time is better spent writing.

Most of us got into this business due to our love of books, so where did that love go?  I know that reading can be time consuming, but it's important to see what styles out there grab your attention.  What do you think about the description of events in books?  How well are characters developed?  You know your imagination and what you want to say, so it's real easy to take your imagination for granted and think that everyone has an insight into your soul.  However, this is a quick road to mediocrity.

There are many writers I love - Stephen King, JK Rowling, Timothy Zahn, Alan Dean Foster, William Forstchen, Tad Williams, and so on.  Their styles have inspired a great deal in my own writing, but I would have never known how they do what they do if I didn't read them(and continue to read them).  My next novel, Salvation Day, found so much inspiration from Stephen King's The Shining that it would've had an entirely different feel without the help.  I'd tried previously to build tension, but it was sloppy at best.  After reading The Shining, I finally got it.  I knew how to build subtly and not all at once.  Although not necessarily on the level of King, it's a much better book as a result.

So you have to read as diligently as you write.  Some folks write a little bit each day, whether it be 500 words or 5,000 words, but we write so we can stay sharp.  We must do the same when by reading.  Read a chapter or a few pages.  It doesn't have to be extensive, but it has to happen.  Without it, you'll end up with a crappily written tale that deserves little but the garbage heap.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Critical Mass

One of the hardest things about making a living as a professional writer is selling enough books.  And to do that, people need to know about your book.  A lot of people.

Once enough people know who you are and trust that you will tell them a good story, reputation can carry you to new heights.  There was no massive marketing campaign that started the clamor for Fifty Shades Of Grey.  William Paul Young didn't take out ads for The Shack.  Even the initial sales of Twilight weren't at the stratospheric levels they finally reached.  What happened was that a few folks picked up the books and liked them, so they passed them on to friends.  Those friends then liked the books and passed them on to still more friends.  And so on and so forth.

Obviously the first piece is to have a story that appeals to a mass audience and is told in a way that audience will appreciate.  Those in that audience then need to be enthusiastic enough about the book to not only recommend it to others, but to follow up and try to get as many people as they can to read it.  That happens when your appeal translates into zealous obsession with fans.

With enough recommendations and pass-alongs, the novel will eventually reach a critical mass of readers.  That means that its sales and promotion will take on a life of its own.  Although the same amount of enthusiasm may not exist in everybody, momentum becomes strong enough that people begin to read it out of a sense of wanting to be in on the "hip" thing.  They'll see their friends reading it - and not just one, but several - and they'll want to read it if for no other reason than to not be left out.  Marketing becomes self-sustaining at that point.

Okay, explaining that was easy, but how do you do it?  Beats me.

Of course you need to produce a story that lots of people will like.  Notice that I didn't say you need to have written a good story - it's no secret that I take a perverse pleasure in ripping apart Twilight and Fifty Shades Of Grey.  I personally think that both novels are putrid works that are poorly written, but both Stephanie Meyer and EL James found an audience for their crap, and that audience loves the books.  I know how elitist it appears for me to rip on these best sellers, but I similarly can't deny that they found a niche.

Once you've found your niche, you need to find enthusiastic readers.  That's  the most challenging part.  Finding someone to like your book is hard enough, but finding someone willing to go out and shill for your book for free, merely out of a sense of liking what you wrote is like picking the winning Powerball numbers...twice.

That doesn't mean you don't promote.  In fact, it means quite the opposite.  You need to promote because you need to locate the core of that critical mass.  Find a few readers who will zealously promote your work to others, and see if those they promote to are just as enthusiastic.  If you reach that critical mass, then the readers will do most of the work for you.  Remember, it only has to happen once.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Clutching Of Pearls

I know that only a few days ago I told everyone to stay away from politics.  However, and maybe I'm naïve on this subject, I don't consider this a post on politics - I consider it a post on how we've become a society of sniveling wimps who not only go and hide when something we find offensive comes along, but that we're so afraid of other things that we don't think those things should even be seen.

A couple of days ago, I came across an article for a new show on HBO entitled Confederate.  It's set in an alternate reality where the southern states successfully seceded from the Union.  I can imagine all kinds of cool plotlines coming from such a concept - the Underground Railroad still active, northern abolitionists encouraging rebellions in the Confederacy, international tensions over those who interfere in the affairs of another nation(even if that nation is a pariah), and so on.

Unfortunately, there are all kinds of folks who are pissed about the show even being countenanced.  The creators - the same folks who are bringing us Game of Thrones - are involved and facing a backlash(to say the least).  It's as if the very presence of a fictional show will make people think, "You know, that whole slavery thing was really a great idea."  Re-read that sentence and tell me just how stupid it sounds when said out loud.

I will not be "unopinionated" on this - the folks feel this way about a show being made are morons.  It's a goddamn TV show.  It's entertainment.  And does anyone think that the shows creators, in today's TV world, will even dare suggest that the Confederacy are the good guys here?!?!  Or are they mad that we might use the show to both entertain and wonder about the horrors of what could've been?  Alternate history and reality are a BIG part of stories.  Are these same snowflakes mad about Fatherland, the series about a Nazi victory in World War Two and the dystopian world it produced?  Or the acclaimed miniseries The Man in the High Castle?  What about Bring the Jubilee or Guns of the South?

To all the gasping and whiny little weenies who would let their own sensitivities prevent the rest of us from daring to watch, much less enjoy, a show like this, I say "go fuck yourself."  I mean that sincerely.  Grow the hell up and remember that book burnings - which is what this is in a preemptive sense - are the hallmarks of backwards and primitive cultures that are afraid of ideas.  That's right - IDEAS!  For some reason, they think the position of racial equality and being opposed to slavery are so weak that a show set in an alternate but almost-happened reality will drag it down.  Or they're so mad that folks could take enjoyment from it and not separate it from real life and current history.

I'm all for true social justice and the equality of opportunity that should be a hallmark of our society, but there's no way I will ever condone this kind of overblown sensitivity and political correctness.  Those of you who are mad about the premise of this show need to get over yourselves.  If it bothers you that much, then don't watch the damn thing.

I'm ashamed our society has gotten so wimpified that we cannot take TV show ideas on the value they are(entertainment) rather than having to turn it into a personal political screed and tantrum.  I now hope this new show takes off out of sheer spite.  The silliness of this whole episode makes me wonder how we got to the point of attempted censorship(and let's be honest - that's what this is).  We have to fight back against these self-righteous and arrogant puritans of thought or they'll win by apathy.  We need to sit them down and tell them just how dumb they're being and that we're tired of being bullied because they get upset about things they dislike.  They are mental children, and it's high time we called them on that and stopped giving into the lunatic rantings.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I've Got Reviews!

Akeldama has been doing decent since its release, even if I haven't yet "hit the big time."  However, one thing I wanted to share was the reviews the book has been getting.  Akeldama is rated at about 4.6 stars right now, and I'm thrilled about that.  I wish there were more, but that'll come in time.  And I know I've told y'all not to engage with reviewers, but I don't think I'm doing that - I'm simply passing along what others have said; I'm not critiquing the reviews and getting huffy when I don't get five stars "OH MY GOD YOU'RE SOOOOO AMAZING" reviews.

Vegan Tour Guide said, "I am glad this book was recommended to me and I will be recommending it to others in return. Until now, this wasn't my genre of reading, however I love the action and story and so I'm IN and looking forward to more!"

CC Case said, "Imagine if Tom Clancy were running your Vampire: The Masquerade Campaign.  If you wonder what types of political machinations come about from over a millennia of conflict between cursed immortals and the organizations who sought to oppress them, you will also appreciate this book. Even then, you may not see the plot twist coming at the end. Good stuff."

Shopper Lady said, "As summer begins, I'm definitely itching for books a bit outside my comfort zone and RD Meyer's book Akeldama was definitely the book for that.  This book was definitely intense and not what I would say is a "beach read.""

Dolores Stewart said, "Now, this is a vampire book. You won't be disappointed....it's action packed!"

But don't take their word for it - read it yourself and decide.  And if you do, please leave a review to let everyone, including myself, know what you thought.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Facebook Is A Tool Of Satan

I was originally going to do a different post today, but I decided that one will hold until Thursday morning.  Instead, I've decided to use this space to discuss one of the most distracting things known to man - Facebook.

I got online this evening in order to make a blog post about something to do with my writing career, and I thought, "I'll just check Facebook real quick to see what's going on.  Five to ten minutes tops!"

Fifty minutes later...

I like to talk on Facebook.  I think most people do.  I use it to keep up with friends, act silly, and yes, talk about serious stuff like science and politics.  I know I've warned y'all not to discuss politics, but that's a public setting I was talking about, not a private one among friends and family.  And since I tend to be verbose, these things can go on for a loooooooong time.  In fact, I tend to be on social media more than an hour each day.  Just imagine what I could be doing instead!

Facebook isn't a drug, but it is like an itch you need to scratch.  Whether that itch subsides, and how much it itches, depends on you.  A guy I know named Joe Peacock gave up social media back in January.  He explained the withdrawal symptoms(no other way to describe the itch).  He got back on only to promote his new novel because that's where the people are, but he has limited himself only to promotion and not to engaging on mindless topics that do little more than outrage each of us.  In honesty, he's stronger than I am on this.

What's so damn important about what I have to say?  Why do I feel the urge to be so involved?  If it wasn't for seeing what friends are doing(I mean close ones, not the "okay-I-know-you-so-I'll-follow-you" kind), talking about the latest outrage is about all I use it for.  It's not like I have a special need to see what everybody had for dinner last night, or their kid's latest baseball game.

I've got to find a way to cut this thing off.  I think deep down I know I need to cut it completely, for I'm not one for doing anything in moderation, and I know Facebook will suck me back in.  I'm not ready yet, and don't know if I ever will be, but I recognize the problem.  At least that's a start(even if only a pathetic one).  I keep going back to what I could get accomplished if I stopped entirely, but I also know I get bored easily and will want to find some way to fill that empty space when I have time between stuff.  If life was easy, I'd figure this out and do it really quick, but if life was easy, I'd also be sculpted like a Greek god and already be on the NY Times Bestseller List - sometimes it's the hard of life that helps us grow.  Now I just need to try to grow...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Polarization

We live in a more polarized political world than I've seen in my short time on the planet.  Although the 80s seemed tranquil, there were some folks who didn't care for it.  The 90s featured a blow job and an impeachment.  The 2000 election was the most contentious I'd yet seen, and it probably kick-started the levels of hyperpartisanship we see today.  And while President Obama won by pretty comfortable margins, it's not like he enjoyed a dissension free tenure either.

However, the level of vitriol never reached the same levels of absurdity as I've seen these last few months.  Love him or hate him, Donald Trump brings passionate feelings on every side.  Intimating that you like and support him can ruin friendships and family relationships.  Saying you oppose him will bring out every defender that ever walked the face of the Earth, even if President Trump does something they opposed just a year ago.  Mention support for a conservative position or a liberal position and you'll find yourself the target of venom you never imagined from folks who are normally civilized.  It's as if our political positions and parties are so tied to our own identities that we are incapable of using any level of objectivity regarding those who think differently.

That's why it baffles me that I see so many writers now getting political.  The only times I've done so on this blog were when I tried writing from various perspectives to see if I could pull it off, and I never gave away which way I lean.  Today, people boycott writers, actors, and comedians who piss them off, even if the person normally enjoys that entertainer's substance.  Maybe when people get to be multi-millionaires, they figure there's no damage when they do or say something both really stupid and really partisan.  However, this is infecting even startup writers and actors who don't have the cache to maybe be an idiot and keep readers or viewers.

Is it because we feel so strongly that we just have to put out our personal views no matter how much that might piss off others?  Is our shouting at the wind really going to change things?  In other words, is it worth alienating half our potential audience so we can "be heard?"  Maybe some feel it is, but don't count me among them.

Folks, stick to writing.  If you want to share your views, do so with your family and friends(if you still have any), but keep it out of the public spotlight.  We need people to buy our stuff.  It may make us feel righteous to say all of this, but even those who agree with us won't necessarily buy our work.  Political views and entertainment tastes rarely coincide.  Just ask The Dixie Chicks.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Back To Work

Yes, the blog went dark for two weeks.  It has been a crazy time around the Meyer household, and I let things slip.  I wish I had a more compelling story than "I got overwhelmed," but that's the crux of why I went two weeks since my last post.

I also let some other stuff slip on the business side.  Sales for Akeldama have been going well, but I haven't had the time to do much on the business side of the house, including more marketing.  In short, I'm caught in that loop where I need to devote more time to become successful, but I don't have the time because I'm not yet successful.  I have a day job that I need if I want to do silly things like eat and sleep under a constructed roof, so I've been unable to devote 100% of my time to being a professional writer.  I have also been spending what free time I have with my family, and no offense, but if it's a choice between this and my family, my family will win.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Some of that will change shortly.  I have an author's page on Amazon that needs to come online, and I have another book to get ready for publication.  I may even have an announcement ready for Salvation Day in the coming weeks.  On top of that, I will try my best to get back on my Twitter page and Goodreads account.

So, does all of this come down to whining?  Perhaps.  However, I've used the time to come up with a boatload of topics(for the record, a boatload is 2.5 times greater than a shitload), so I shouldn't have to scramble for a while.  I should also be able to stay more in track with blogging on a regular basis.

Finally, I owe a huge bow of thanks to both Nicole Pyles and Sarah Hoyt for featuring my debut novel on their sites.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Signing Event


So today was my first book signing event.  First, I want to thank Park Road Books for their support in this event.  They gave me a venue and helped me immensely.  I'm grateful.

Second, the event was a little different than I envisioned.  I thought I'd start right at 2pm, give an overview of the event, read a passage or two, and then sign some of my work.  Maybe that will work someday when I have a bigger following, but it wasn't in the cards today.
(My front door display at Park Road Books)
There wasn't exactly a crowd at the event, which wasn't unexpected.  Instead, there were a few subscribers, most of whom I've gotten to know real well over the last few years.  So instead of going all formal, we devolved into an informal discussion of both my novel and my other works and their release schedule.  People came and went throughout the event, some staying for only a few minutes, while others stayed for more than an hour.  And during that time, of course, I signed some books.
(I've been writing my name since I was five)
I managed to sell 90% of what I brought and what the bookstore already had on the shelves, which constituted success in my mind.  The store also still has a signed copy to sell(they requested I leave a signed copy for them).  Not an earth shattering event, but still a fun one.

As I pick up more folks, and maybe stray outside of my old hometown, these will gain more structure, but for now, it was great to just bullshit with the folks who came and sign some novels.  I wouldn't mind all these events being this low stress.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Spinning Out Of Control

Stories can be a strange thing.  As a writer, I think I know how a story is going to unfold, but it sometimes takes a surprising turn and goes off in an entirely different direction.  I know how artsy-fartsy it sounds to say that we're not creating the story, that we really just sit back and write what we see(like it's a TV show), but it's the truth.  Sometimes we exert control, but mostly we're just along for the ride...like everybody else.

However, that can sometimes lead to strange stuff.  This happened to a novel I wrote called The Onyx Cluster.  The book was supposed to detail an arrogant scientist alone in a post-apocalyptic wasteland after a time travel experiment gone wrong.  He would eventually find a group of mutated telepaths who'd manipulated the time stream to cause the very apocalypse that created them.  It was to be a tale of loneliness and introspection that detailed that our best efforts sometimes go astray.  What I wrote instead was an overly complicated story about a guy who became a resistance leader in the future and brought back a psychic child that led authorities on a high speed interstate pursuit.  I'm not sure how I got there.

By the time I got halfway into the book, I had no idea how to untangle the mess I'd created.  I should've done the right thing and scrapped the whole thing before starting over, but we all know how hard it is to just abandon material we've spent months on.  So, God help me, I let that crap-a-thon go to the end.

That doesn't mean I learned no lessons from the fiasco.  The biggest takeaway was that I needed to exert more control over my stories.  Previously, I just wrote down what I saw.  I now tend to grab the wheel a little more strongly.  Reading some great authors, they do the same thing after similar tales of woe.  The most famous one I can think of is Stephen King, who said that The Stand was just going out of control with no direction until he blew up the Boulder Free Zone.  Yes, he was writing down the story he saw, but it was going nowhere, so, as the God of that universe, he introduced some wrath.  It's an important thing to remember.

Get into your story and take charge when you see it going awry.  Yes, it's fun to be as surprised as everyone else as to how a story progresses, but that can lead to silly garbage.  God may not publicly interfere much, but when He does, it can be dramatic.  Always remember that when it comes to the universes you create, you are God, and you must sometimes intervene.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

No Post Today

Sorry for the short post today, but I'm spending some much needed quality time with the family.  That doesn't mean I'm not still mapping out my next novel(which I am) or reading for both enjoyment and to stay on top of how to write(which I also am).  However, I needed a breather, and my family needed my time(which I gladly give).  I'll return on Thursday morning with a new post.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Book Signing Event!



I wanted to announce that I'll be doing a book signing event for Akeldama at Park Road Books in Charlotte on June 25th at 2pm.  I'll be answering questions about the novel, and I'll sign copies of Akeldama for anyone who would like one.  Park Road Books will also be carrying copies for those who haven't yet purchased one.  I hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Lessons Learned So Far

I'm nearly a month into this book release thing, so I thought I'd share what I've learned so far.  The list may seem a bit negative, even though I don't really mean it that way.  It's just that we learn the greatest lessons from the things we need to fix.

1.  You'll never catch every mistake.  I went over Akeldama with a fine tooth comb.  It has been written for nearly six years, and I spent most of the last six months pouring over it to make sure it was perfect.  It wasn't.  I was no more than a day past release when I found my first typo.  I've found three so far, and it irks me.  I'm going to put in a correction, but I somehow doubt even then that the 10th go around will find everything.  Copyediting would be great, but it's expensive.

2.  Not every subscriber will buy a copy.  I've spent the last few years building a subscriber list of several hundred.  Each time I convinced someone to join my list, or they asked me to of their own accord, I got excited.  Well, it turns out that not everyone is as enthusiastic about your project as you are.  So far, barely a third of those on my list have bought a copy.  That makes me wonder how many were just humoring me.  Yes, build your list, but don't bank on it providing the bulk of your sales.

3.  Whatever you project as costs...double it.  Costs pile up.  You may think you're straight with a cover, ebook format, and print format, but there are so many more costs that you can soon find yourself overcome by them.  I needed proof copies, second proofs after the first resubmission, a business license, a (very small) advertising budget, book promotion copies, etc.  Costs I never considered came up.  Be generous with what you think you'll spend when you estimate cost.

4.  No one will be as enthusiastic about your work as you.  Many think that simply getting a book out there is enough.  It isn't.  If you want to do promotional events,. you need to really go after those slots.  If you want reviews, you need to ask, and possibly re-ask.  When someone says your book sounds interesting, try to close the sale at that moment.  Waiting allows them to cool off, and you're much easier to say no to if you're not there to make a face to face call.  People don't just run to Amazon and buy it just because you're the one who's excited about it.

5.  There are always surprises.  Some folks will come through in ways you never imagined.  Sales will come from unexpected quarters.  Always seek the opportunities that come, and that means being on the lookout for them, no matter how subtle they may be.  And then move past those opportunities you miss.  They may sting, but you'll waste time and emotion on that which you cannot change.

Overall, it's been a great start, and one to keep going.  Hopefully these lessons will help me continue to sell and make my next project even better.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Yeah, I Missed One

Seems like I missed a post today.  My bad.  I got caught up in stuff.  Mostly, missing it was a reminder to plan ahead by a few posts.  I'll resume regularly scheduled blogging on Monday morning with some exciting news about an event for Akeldama.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Copyediting And Cost

I've spoken in the past about the benefits of copyediting.  I've talked about how a good copyeditor will make your manuscript so much better, and how it's foolhardy not to get one.  That's why I feel like such a hypocrite.

No, I didn't get a copyeditor for Akeldama.  I wanted to, but I couldn't afford it.  A book the size of Akeldama, I found out, would've cost me over $3,000...and that's just for the first pass.  Another pass would've been another couple thousand dollars, and my entire company's budget, for everything I intend to publish, was $6,000.  So I scrimped, and some people noticed.

I still feel that some issues with my grammatical "errors" is writing style.  Put two grammarians in the same room, and they'll edit the same piece of writing differently.  One will say you need the Oxford comma, one will poo poo it away.  One will say to never end a sentence with a preposition, while the other will say that's not a hard and fast rule.

So I got some people I know to proofread my work, and they missed some stuff.  Not much, but enough for the pickier among us to notice.  I plan to submit a couple of corrections, but that'll have to wait for now, for expense is an issue.

Some say you shouldn't publish unless you have the money to do it all.  I say that's bullshit since it would stymie so many of us.  That means accepting risk.  Most of us aren't rich, so copyediting may be out of our reach until we're successful.  Unfortunately, we may not be successful if we don't meet all the gates, so it becomes a self-licking ice cream cone.

I'd like to find a good proofer or copyeditor for Salvation Day, but I'd be lying if I didn't say price was an issue.  Everything takes money.  Am I whining?  Maybe a little bit, but I'm also pointing out that we have to put our resources, limited as they are, first into getting published.  Beyond that, we prioritize, and sometimes the price of copyediting puts that touch out of reach.  I wish it wasn't, but as long as we're wishing, I'd kind of like to have a pony...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Catholics & Mormons

Now that some folks have actually been able to read Akeldama, I'm starting to get questions about it.  The most common one so far has been, "Why did you include so much about the Catholic Church?  Are you Catholic?"  A corollary to this has been, "Man, you sure talk a lot about the Mormon Church.  Are you a Mormon?"

I'm not sure why my religious affiliation plays into any of this, but I'll play along - no, I'm neither Catholic nor Mormon.  Why then did I decide to use those particular religious sects as centerpieces in my novel?  It's really quite simple - I needed a religious structure that was highly organized, and those were the two largest I could find.  I needed a vehicle through which to tell the story, and the Catholic Church and the Mormon Church fit the bill.

I had no desire for my main character to be an agent of the government.  I thought that if I did that, it'd limit his the extent of his power.  I'm all about USA, USA!, but no amount of chest thumping would've given Seth Gendrickson global reach.  Although the US government gets into lots of places, if it could get into everywhere, there wouldn't be any terrorism, for they'd have uncovered it all.  Seth needed to be able to get into dark and shadowy places that most folks couldn't, and the Catholic Church, with over a billion members and churches in every corner of the world, provided that.

So what was up with using the Mormon Church?  I needed another organization that fought the other main vampire sect, as well as a partial foil for my Hunter.  I wanted to introduce a level of doubt, and even a certain amount of human prejudice, into the equation.  Right or wrong, there's a degree of suspicion from most other parts of Christianity towards Mormons.  And since The Church of Latter Day Saints was already headquartered out west in Utah, they were perfectly positioned to already be involved in the fight.  Plus, their highly organized structure provided a counterpart to the Catholic Church that couldn't be readily dismissed.

Since I'm neither Catholic nor Mormon, I had to do a good bit of research into each in order to sound credible.  There are nearly 15 million Mormons, and over a billion Catholics.  If I didn't know how each was properly structured, or the various tenets of each set of beliefs, the entire book would come across as phony.  Although the basics of Christianity are constant - one God, sent His Son to Earth to die for our sins, believe in both an afterlife and an adversary - the nuances of each are distinct.  How many non-Catholics even know what the Roman Curia is?  Or that the claim about Jesus and Lucifer being brothers is rooted more in the doctrine of differing views of salvation that each held rather than as some setting of each on equal footing?  Things such as The Institute For The Works Of Religion may not come up much in Akeldama, but getting wrong what they actually are would make the reader dismiss the story as unconvincing.

The next time you read a story and wonder why certain things are in there, try to view it through the author's eyes.  Could the writer have accomplished the same story through another vehicle?  Or, like in my case, were the various nodes of the story simply the easiest way to say what the author wanted to say.  Not everything is an insight into the writer's life; sometimes they're merely tools that best allow for the expression of imagination.

Monday, May 29, 2017

God, Country, Golf


Everyone has a hero.  Some people worship Thor, some people are awestruck by Mickey Mantle, and others idolize Neil Armstrong.  There's something about these brave souls that calls to us and urges us to be better than we are.  We know they're not perfect - no one is - but the hero represents an ideal we strive for, an image that we hope we can one day become.

For me, one of my heroes was(and still is) Larry Bauguess.

I met Larry in the Fall of 1991 as a raw ROTC cadet at Appalachian State University.  I had no idea how to be a Soldier, or even what that meant, but here was this individual who seemed to embody everything that should be.  He wasn't some Hollywood action star towering above the rest of us.  Truth is that he wasn't any bigger than I was.  Yet I knew instinctively that this was a leader who represented the best, and that if I could be half the Soldier he was, I'd turn out pretty good.

That's why it was such a shock to me a day or so after Mother's Day in 2007 when I found out that he had been killed in Afghanistan.  General Dan K. McNeill called it an "assassination."  I was numb for a few days as I contemplated the impossible, that the man I most admired in the Army was dead.

I've known his widow, Wesley Hobbs Bauguess, for as long as I knew Larry.  I met her the same semester at ASU(she was a year ahead of me, while Larry was two years ahead of me).  She was also one of the most squared away cadets I'd ever encountered.  When she and Larry got together, and later married, it was a shock to no one.  They seemed made for each other, like different parts of the same machine, fitting together like they were meant to be.  That was one of the things that made his loss so hard to bear.

Wesley is also among the strongest women I know, and, on the tenth anniversary of Larry's death, she has published a book called God, Country, Golf, Reflections of an Army Widow.  In this book, she recounts her journey through this difficult time, as well as what has helped her get through it(not surprisingly, the facets are in the title).  She talks first about the day three uniformed Soldiers came to her door at Fort Bragg to deliver the news, and I admit that I teared up as I read it.

She then talks about her history with Larry, before transitioning into life without him and what she has done since.  Wesley has not sat around wallowing in despair - she has sought out those who need help and served as an inspiration for others.  Yes, there have been plenty of moments of grief, a grief I can only imagine, but she has also persevered and gone on to give comfort to our wounded veterans, as well as work with Folds of Honor, an organization that helps provide scholarships to the children of those we've lost.

During the course of the novel, Wesley talks about her family(she has two beautiful daughters), and how her faith in God and her love of country has helped them through this difficult time.  She also reveals her love of golf and how that both helped her at school and helped her continue to give to the community.  She has met Presidents, written articles for major news organizations, and cared for those wounded on the field of battle.  She has kept Larry's spirit and zest for life alive with her compassion and drive to help others.

Be warned - this book will grab onto you emotionally.  You'll laugh at some of the exploits she recounts(like how she "died" in training when one of her cadet comrades threw a training grenade in the wrong place and it landed in the middle of her team), and you'll cry as she talks about the journey her family has gone through(such as her drive into the North Carolina mountains with her daughters to tell them exactly what happened to their father, and why his actions saved the lives of others).  Mostly, you'll feel pride at sharing the nation with this tremendous woman.  I cannot recommend her book strongly enough.

If you're interested, please go to Amazon and buy it here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Akeldama Update

Not much of a post today.  Truth be told, I wrote another long post that I originally intended to publish, but I then realized it was better suited to Monday.  Trust me, when you read it, you'll understand.

The release of Akeldama, even with the bumps along the way, has gone pretty well.  Sales are ticking up, and I can't express my gratitude enough for those that have purchased a copy.  I plan on doing an event in Charlotte in June, and I'm trying to schedule events in Kansas for the near future.  For all those who've bought one, I am always available to sign them.  Approach me wherever you are - I will never turn away a reader.  You can also send it to me to sign and return, but you'll have to include return postage since my budget won't allow for me to pay its way back(I'll rapidly go broke if that was the case).

I've also started working/re-working the next novel in the Akeldama series, and I'll have an interesting request regarding it shortly.  Until then, thanks for sticking with me, and please purchase a copy of Akeldama if you can.  The paperback is on sale until June 1st for $13.56, and the ebook is available on Nook, Kindle, and Smashwords(still working on Apple iBooks) for $3.99.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bumps In The Road

As readers of this blog know by now, I released Akeldama last week.  This has been the culmination of years of anticipation, and it is far from the end.  Most folks I know think that the release of a novel is the end point, the place where writers become rich and famous, and all is right with the world.  For me, the release of Akeldama was the beginning of a career, not the end of a movement.  I plan to release at least four novels over the next two years, and possibly as many as six over the next three years(five are written).  I planned and plotted and worked hard to start a business, not create a hobby.

That doesn't mean all has gone smoothly.

For all the planning, things get missed, things that create frustration and have made me wonder if I'm just another schmuck on a lark.  To start with, I promised those who joined my distro list prior to Akeldama's release that they'd get a 15% discount on the novel.  I thought I had everything set up for that, even acquiring a discount code from CreateSpace.  However, on the morning of release, several people emailed me to tell me that the code was invalid.  I dug into it and found that the code only works for CreateSpace's e-store, which I'm not using.  I was pissed!

So, after whining and feeling sorry for myself for an hour or so, I went back and figured out what I could do to give my customers the price I promised.  To make good on my word, I reduced the price of Akeldama from $15.95 to $13.56(the price at 15% off) and made it available for a limited period of time(in this case, until June 1st).  Yes, it means that others who weren't on my early subscribers' list also have access to that price, but at least those who wanted the discount can get it, and my word is still somewhat intact.
(On a side note, many people decided to purchase at full price anyway to support this struggling writer's career start, and I'm grateful for their help)

And then there was the reader who pointed out to me a typo.  Yes, a typo.  After months of pouring over it and having several people look it over, there was still a typo.  It's not a big one, and it's one that, honestly, many people will miss.  You have to really understand things to even notice, but it's still there, and it grates on me.  I pride myself on being a perfectionist, and, sheepishly, I'm even quite arrogant about it.  After all, don't most writers know - not believe, but know - that we're better grammarians and spellers than the average person?  Don't we possess that conceit?  When I heard about the typo at first, my initial reaction was, "Pfft, that person has it wrong.  They've got no idea what they're talking about."

Then I looked at it.

Yup, it was there.  Subtle but obvious to me.  Proof positive that you need editors who know what they're doing, as well as proof positive that no amount of proofreading catches everything.  I felt sick about it, and, honestly, I still do.  Every time I think about it, I feel a twisting at the back of my neck, like someone has grabbed my brainstem and yanked.  Perhaps I'm beating myself up too much over it, but no one feels this sting more than I.  The ironic part is that nearly everyone who doesn't know this part in depth won't even notice.

Finally, I had a reader on my list ask to be taken off.  I dutifully complied, but it still hurt.  I don't want anyone who doesn't want my work to be bothered, but I spent years meticulously piecing together my subscriber list, and it's a body blow when people no longer want to be a part.  Yes, everyone else has lives and things that they're into, but while my mind can understand that, my ego has trouble with it.
(Yet another side note - not everyone on my list has yet bought a copy of either the ebook or paperback.  It'll be interesting to see how that plays out.  After all, it's only been three days)

So stuff doesn't go perfectly.  That's life, but it's also hard for a control freak like me to take.  I don't like chaos, so I try to eliminate variables.  Yet they stubbornly persist.

Oh, who am I kidding about just being a control freak?  I'm their king!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Release!

It's finally here!  Akeldama is now available on all platforms(or will be by this weekend...Nook and Apple iBooks are still awaiting final validation by those sites).  It has been a little more arduous than I thought it would be setting up, but my debut novel is finally on sale.  As a reminder on the plot...


Seth Gendrickson has worked for the Catholic Church's Order of Mount Sion since his initial encounter with a vampire during seminary years ago.  Finally working his way up to the rank of Hunter, Seth's first assignment is to investigate a spike in vampire activity in Kansas, an area previously quiet.  The region between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River had been a kind of neutral zone for the two main factions - The Assembly of Cairo and Los Muertos.  The Assembly hails from Europe, and although few in numbers, is the older of the sects and far more powerful.  Los Muertos saw opportunity in the New World, so they established themselves in the Americas and began to multiply.  They are young, aggressive, and passionate.

And they're moving east.

Seth is under orders to figure out what's going on before an all out vampire civil war brings knowledge of such supernatural creatures into the open and causes societal panic, a situation the Church is keen to avoid.  During his mission, Seth captures one of the enemy and interrogates it, but he soon finds that the movement east is less an invasion than it is an influx of refugees fleeing a greater threat.  Something is hunting the vampires out west, something more terrifying than the risk of conflict.  Seth tracks this threat from California to Japan and across Europe to discover the heart of a conspiracy that stretches back 2,000 years and threatens the future of the world.


This may be my first novel, but it certainly won't be the last I publish.  My plan is to bring out a new novel every six months for at least the first three years, and I'll be deciding on a release date for Salvation Day by the end of June.  Wrongful Death will follow, and then we'll see where the publication schedule goes from there.

If you buy a copy of Akeldama, I ask only one favor - please do a review of it on your favorite reader's site, be that Amazon, Goodreads, or whatever you enjoy.  No, I'm not asking for a specific star rating or write-up, just an honest review.  For one, I want to know what people think.  Second, honestly, more reviews means more exposure which means more potential sales, so anybody that could help out with a review would be greatly appreciated.

If you're interested, you can buy the paperback on Amazon here, or the ebook for Kindle here.  And you can get it on Smashwords here.  I'll add links for Apple iBooks and Nook as soon as they become active in the next couple of days.