Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 Goals

I was originally going to call this post my "2018 New Year's Resolutions," but I backed off because I remembered that I don't believe in New Year's resolutions.  My feelings are that if you try to change just because the calendar flips a day, then none of those changes will stick.  A true life change should be reflected in your lifestyle because you want to change, not because you think you are socially obligated to do so.  Therefore, instead of resolutions, I'm penning several goals I have for 2018.

1.  Publish another novel.  I plan to bring out Wrongful Death sometime in the late Spring/early Summer.  The novel is complete, although I want to go through it one final time to make sure I've caught all the tiny mistakes.  I'm also going to need to use an editor again since I missed a few in Akeldama and had to fix them.  That said, I only plan to put out one novel this year.  I was going to put out two a year for a while, but this is going to be a hectic year for me, so I think one is all I can manage at this point.  I will put out another in early 2019, but the stress of trying to shoehorn two in a year, coupled with some major life changes that I'll be going through in the coming year, will simply be too much.

2.  Get back to writing.  I haven't been very good at writing this past year.  I don't mean that my style has suffered(although that's entirely possible), but rather that I simply haven't written much at all.  I used to do around 1000 words a day when I was focused on writing novels, and it has definitely lapsed.  I have two novels I need to get to work on, the next chapter for the Akeldama series, and a follow up to Salvation Day.  I know where I want them headed, and I've even played out various bits in my mind while driving, but I haven't gotten around to sitting my ass in a chair and actually writing them.  Perhaps I can start with 500 words a day, with a 2000-2500 a week goal, and see if I can catch the writing bug again.

3.  Market more.  My novels have done okay, but I haven't devoted the time to marketing them as I would like.  I did a book signing in Charlotte last Summer, but now that I'm back in Kansas, I haven't reached out to bookstores the way I'd planned.  I also need to reach out to more bloggers and try to gain exposure.  If I ever want this to become more than a hobby, I have to get more people to see my work.

4.  Attend a writing conference.  I've always wanted to go to one of these writing conferences, but since Kansas is mostly a barren wasteland, I haven't had the chance.  I'm going to figure out how to get to one of these events in 2018, even if that means out-of-state travel.  I would like to network and attend workshops, but mostly I just want to see what they're like.  I have to find a way this year.  Time to start looking.

5.  Enter Salvation Day and/or Akeldama in a major contest.  Several readers have told me my books are decent, and my own ego likes to think I have a smidge of talent, so I want to enter one of these "whole book" contests and see if I can gain validation beyond my small circle.  It'll cost some bucks, but I think I can write it off as a business expense.  It might also gain me some exposure and get my work out to more people.  The trick is going to be finding the right one.

These are my goals for the year.  What are yours?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Pass On What You Have Learned

A few weeks ago, someone approached me with a few questions about publishing.  This person had written a book but had no idea how to get it out to the public or what to do to present it.  I gave a few tips I'd learned(get at least an editor who isn't you, hire a good cover artist, go to Bowker and get an ISBN, etc).  The person was grateful, and I went about my daily life.

Someone else told me that this was nice of me and they wish more writers would do things like this.  It got me wondering - are people really holding this kind of knowledge to themselves?

I suppose some are.  My few(brief) inquiries have shown me as much.  It's as if a few writers are so afraid that the person they give advice to will rob them of market share that they hoard the information like it's the KFC Secret Recipe.  This level of paranoia isn't helpful to anyone, least of all the person holding onto the advice.

Some of this goes back to the (bad) idea that books and writers are fungible(that is, able to be replaced by a like product).  It's absolutely absurd.  First of all, your book idea is YOUR book idea, not the person to whom you gave advice.  Despite the delusional fantasies of some of us, no one is looking to steal your book idea or manuscript.  Most folks have no idea if it'll sell well, so why waste the time until after the book has proven a success?  You need to be successful before people will care enough to try and steal your stuff, and by then, you'll have enough resources to fend that off.

Second, we need more indie writers, so getting more people into the field expands it and reaches new people for all of us.  McDonald's was a great idea that was first.  It had a nice little share of the market, but that's nothing compared to what it now claims, and a great deal of that is due to the proliferation of not just McDonald's, but of other fast food restaurants that made McDonald's innovate along the way and made fast food socially acceptable(indeed, a part of daily life).  If Burger King, Wendy's, and Taco Bell hadn't come along, I'm sure McDonald's would've been just fine, but it wouldn't be the behemoth it is today.  We need the same thing in indie publishing.  We need a larger cohort so that it will become a more socially acceptable alternative to traditional publishing.  That way we all have more success.

Third, networking is never a bad thing.  By helping out a beginner, that beginner may come back to be a great connection when he or she makes it big.  Having them remember you for your kind advice can pay off big down the road.

Finally, think about the troubles you had when you started writing and publishing.  I'm sure no one figured it all out on their own.  Be that mentor that you once had(or were seeking).  Wouldn't you have liked to have known who to get to do your cover art?  Wouldn't it have been nice to know that you need a formatter for both print books and ebooks?  Imagine the trouble you could've saved if you'd known which outlets to approach for publicity.  It all comes back around - make sure it comes back in a good way.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

No post today.  I just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.  I'll be back to "regular" posts later this week, but I felt the tips on writing to wait until after opening gifts.  :-)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Drama Beyond Death

Stephen King famously said, "Kill your darlings."  What he meant by that was that sometimes you have to shake things up in a story that has gone flat, and one of the best ways to shake things up is to kill a main character or five.  King's biggest example is in The Stand, where he wiped out almost everyone who was part of the Boulder Free Zone Committee.  King felt that his story had no direction, and he needed a way to move it forward, so he had Harold Lauter use a bomb to blow up several main characters.

This is a great technique, and it's absolutely useful at times, but it has grown so prevalent that I wonder if writers know how to do anything to add drama beyond killing off folks.  I don't have an issue with folks dying in books if such dying advances the plot, but I'm running more and more across those who seem to be doing it just for the sake of shock.  Here's a handy tip - the more you do something for shock, the less that shock will register on each succeeding occasion.

There are ways beyond death to add drama and shake up a plot.  A character finding out that a past event was all a lie and that he or she has been fighting on the wrong side shakes up a plot.  A terrifying assault, be it through mob violence, rape, or the beating of a child, can shake things up.  Folks can go off to new cultures or have to confront aspects of their past.  All of these things create drama and tension without the need for death.

I'm not saying to keep every character alive during your story.  Keeping people on the edge of their seats by wondering if their favorite characters will all make it through can be useful, but it should serve a purpose in your story.  Most readers will accept a death that makes sense and moves the plot forward, but they will also be pissed off if you kill a character just for the sake of "shock."  Readers get attached to these characters, and randomly killing them makes them mad, especially if it means nothing.  Yes, random death happens in real life, but most of us read in order to escape the real world.  Throwing too much "real world" into your novel will get you discarded.  That's why I rail so much about keeping politics out of writing - people have no choice but to encounter that in everyday life, so books and other entertainment are where we go to get away from that mess.

Introducing random death was creative when first done, but like any overused plot device, it has run its course.  If you want to be seen as creative and innovative by your audience, you have to figure out ways to drive a story that don't involve randomly killing folks.  Remember, it's not creative to do what everyone else is doing.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Book Review: The Autobiography Of Jean Luc Picard

Last week I did a review of the book Thrawn.  This week it's The Autobiography Of Jean Luc Picard.  Just to say up front...I absolutely enjoyed this book.

Let's preface everything by noting that I am a sci-fi nerd.  Some folks appear to have disdain for either Star Wars or Star Trek, depending on their tribal loyalty, but I love both universes.  They are separate and have their own merits, so I've never gotten why people feel they have to only like one or the other.

Jean Luc Picard is, in my opinion, the best Star Trek captain out there, and his "autobiography" - actually written by David Goodman...because it should be obvious that fictional characters can't write books - is a fun look deeper inside the man.  It talks more in depth about Picard's childhood, his days at Starfleet, and his time commanding the USS Stargazer(including his court-martial for its destruction).  There is a little self-doubt in the pages, but not much, and certainly not more than we saw on screen.  Picard seems to have natural human emotions, and although he wonders about his own maturity and the impact of his decisions, he doesn't come across as weak.  He is an ideal for most of us to strive to without being so perfect that none of us could ever get there.

The only shortcoming in the book is that every story therein was at least mentioned during the Star Trek:  The Next Generation series.  Yes, it went deeper into the stuff talked about on the show, but I would've liked a few more nuggets that weren't talked about.  The novel brings up how Picard won the Academy Marathon on Dalula Two, how his brother Robert hated him for daring to leave their village in France, and how he took control of the Stargazer's bridge when its captain was killed.  Great stuff, but all at least talked about, however briefly, during the series.  If one pays attention, as I tend to do with TV shows I really like, one can find every part of this book in the series.  Some people may find that fun, and I found it fun for the most part, but I wish there'd been stuff not on the show so I could've learned more.

All in all, if you like the show, you'll like this book.  I give it four out of five stars(I rarely give five stars to anything).

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Voracious Readers

Larry Froncek of Various Readers Only contacted me and asked if I would allow his reader subscription list to have my first two novels for free.  I know it sounds a little against the grain to give away books for free when you're trying to build a business, but that's exactly why I did it.  I'm not yet well known, and I need exposure, so I agreed to let his site audience have Akeldama for free to read.  The hope is that a lot of them both enjoy it and write a review for the novel.

When starting out, exposure is the staff of life, and it's as important as paid sales, because it will hopefully lead to more people checking out my work.  It may have no effect, but if nothing comes of it, I'm not any worse off for trying.

So here's to Larry and his audience!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Book Review - Thrawn

Like most geeks, I'm a Star Wars fanatic.  Back in 1991, a host of new books set in the Star Wars Universe came out.  The first set was by Timothy Zahn, and he remains, in my opinion, the only author who can write Star Wars worth a shit.  In Heir To The Empire, he introduced us to Grand Admiral Thrawn, the new villain.  Thrawn was different than any we've ever encountered - he was a military genius who studied his opponents' art in order to find psychological blind spots he could target.  Yes, he was brutal and calculating, but he was also brilliant, insightful, and knew how to get the most from his Soldiers.  Many military folks have said that Thrawn would've been the ideal commander to serve under.

As with any popular character, the audience has demanded more and more glimpses of him, and Zahn has obliged with books like Outbound Flight, Specter Of The Past, and a few more that touch at Thrawn around the edges.  However, his latest work, Thrawn, is a much deeper dive into the character and his rise to power in the Galactic Empire than any previously attempted.  I grabbed the book with glee and tore into the story, finishing the novel in roughly a week.

And I must say...I was a little disappointed.

No, not with Zahn's writing style.  Zahn still has a terrific grasp of storytelling and can bring the reader into the tale.  My disappointment came with the treatment of the main character himself.

Grand Admiral Thrawn, or Mitth'raw'nuruodo as he is known in his own language, was great in previous works for several reasons, not the least of which was the touch of mystery Zahn gave him.  He was one of the few characters that we never heard from in his own point of view, so we had to guess at what he was thinking.  Further, he was a villain.  He may have been brilliant and a great commander, but he served the Emperor and the Empire.  He wiped species out of existence and nearly took down the New Republic(formerly known as the Rebel Alliance) with barely any of what the old Empire had at its disposal.  He was a grand threat that conquered in order to rule.

Thrawn, however, changes this a great deal.  Starting with Vector Prime, a large extra-galactic war took place, introducing a race of aliens from beyond the galaxy and being an existential threat to every race.  The Thrawn Books, starting with Outbound Flight, play off of this, as if Thrawn's race, the Chiss, saw the coming invasion, and Thrawn was sent to prepare the galaxy.  Even the evil Emperor's motivations were changed from a pure power play to preparing for this awesome threat.  Thrawn was recast from villain into a hero trying to save his people, and, by extension, the entire galaxy.  So even if a bit ruthless, his intentions become far more pure.

And that, to me, ruins the character.

I want characters to stay true to who they are.  Thrawn can be a much more complex, and thus much more compelling, character by remaining a villain.  Had Zahn shown his rise through more self-serving means, it would've been a more fun book.  None of that would've diminished who Thrawn was.  In fact, it would've reinforced that good guys and bad guys aren't always as simple as they appear.  But by making him a noble soul trying to save everyone from the extra-galactic threat, he became a hero, rendering most of the initial works on him to irrelevance.

The insights into his character and motivations are also a bit disappointing.  He's not terribly complicated, doing little but having more common sense and an ability to extrapolate beyond first order effects of a decision.  I can think of any number of leaders in both the military and civilian sectors that have that quality.  In short, it made him less special.

I give this novel three stars(out of five).  Worth a read because Zahn can still tell a great story, but not worth it if you don't want your perception of the character to change.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Don't Be Desperate

I'm trying to get better at posting twice a week.  I think the key is to do my posts at the same time and just schedule them, because every time I say I will get to the second post later, I never do.  Anyway, that's just an aside since this post isn't about that...

I think that traditional publishing is dying.  I've made no secret of this.  In order to survive, it will need to be radically changed.  Unfortunately, there are too many writers out there whose desperation keeps it just barely above water.

So many folks are desperate to be published, so they'll do anything to see themselves on the shelf at Barnes & Noble.  That means accepting any terms a publisher will give them.  They'll do re-writes that completely change the story, accept titles thrust upon them that have no bearing to the work, sign away rights that the publisher shouldn't have, and basically whore themselves out just to get that "chance" to be traditionally published.

I want to say that writers should show more backbone, but it's going to take a deluge to fix this because there are too many folks right now that will be happy to take your place if you bow out.  And since publishers don't seem to have any more of an idea on what makes a good book than the average reader, they'll publish the next person to come along rather than have any need to chase you and your good work.

We need to be willing to go the indie route or tell publishers altogether to take a hike if we want this to change.  Much like in dating, publishers can smell desperation, and it makes them drool at how much they can take advantage of the poor soul who just wants to have his or her book published.  It's bad for writers and it's bad for readers.  The only entity it's good for is publishers who can keep the line of willing peons moving.

We need more who are willing to not be peons.  Desperate folks make for willing peons, and that gives all the power to traditional publishers.  Don't be a peon.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Page Critiques...By Agents?

Being signed up for several writing websites, I often get semi-spam emails from them(I guess they're not actually spam since I did sign up for updates, no matter how trivial).  Many of them are invitations to writers' conferences, while others give "tips" on how to write better or appeal to an audience.  I look at some and disregard others, as I'm sure we all do.  However, the ones that make me chortle the most are the ones about how I can submit a few pages of my work to an OMG ACTUAL LITERARY AGENT and get their valued advice.

My disdain for literary agents is no secret.  I put most ion the same category I do the folks who are writing books telling you they can make you rich - if they really knew the secret, shouldn't they be following their own advice rather than telling others how to do it?  Most agents I've come across are little more than famous-author-wannabes who had little to no success as writers, so they decided to join the cool-kids club by sucking up to publishers.

Agents pass off the solicitation for ten page critiques by implying they know all about what makes a great book because they have inside knowledge of what publishers are looking for.  Of course a few folks showed this to be a bunch of hokum, most notably the guy who resubmitted an award winning book to see how agents and publishers would react, only to be rejected more than three dozen times(including by the publishing house that put out the original).

If I want a real critique, I want it from a publisher, not an agent.  Further, I'd like it from several different publishers(or at least several different people at the same house).  After all, aren't these the folks who decide what gets published?  Agents don't do that - they try to get publishers to accept a book, but they don't publish themselves.  So why would I care about their opinion?

Getting published by a traditional publisher is hit or miss to begin with.  Therefore, why introduce a middleman who may or may not have any additional insight beyond knowing what he or she likes to read?  These are the same people who told Dr. Seuss that his stuff was too different from most of what's out there for juveniles, so they couldn't accept his work.

If you're looking for page critiques, you have two other routes that make much more sense.  The first, in keeping with the theme here, is to try and find someone who actually works for a publishing house and is willing to look at your stuff.  At least at that point you're dealing with someone who has made decisions regarding real publishing, not just the hope of publishing.  The second is to get them critiqued by your target demographic and see if your audience thinks you have any talent.  Either way, don't go to an agent who doesn't get to make the decision on what gets published, but rather just may get to pass your book along, where it may or may not be seen, much less accepted.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Mixing Personal And Professional

Recently, I broke one of my cardinal rules - I allowed my personal feelings to come out when dealing with a fellow author.  I shouldn't have, but this individual wrote a blog post that I found insulting, and rather than let it go, I jumped into the swamp with both feet.

The post in question was only pseudo-political.  I didn't start some diatribe about President Trump or talk about how I hated Hillary Clinton.  There was no rambling sermon about lacking in Christian morality or a screed about keeping religion to yourself.  Instead, this person wrote a post that mentioned certain aspects of my personal life and choices.  No, it wasn't directed at me per se, but rather at those who do what I do for a living.  And the post was almost comical in its ignorance and the stereotypical way it portrayed stuff.

That said, I should've moved on, but I was already annoyed with some things at that point, so I jumped in.  I screeched.  I railed.  I lambasted this person for the condescension shown.  In short, I did everything I tell everybody else not do to - I allowed my personal life to invade my professional one.

I have gone to great lengths to avoid politics on this page.  I've also gone to great lengths to not get too detailed with what I do for a living.  I've done this for two reasons - first, although the vast majority of people are supportive of what I do, some people will make judgments about my profession from a position of ignorance.  I've been told that my job is only done by those who couldn't find anything better, and that I'm a pawn for "the elite."  This is born from those who have little association with reality, but the attitude still exists within a large swath of the population.  Second, I haven't gone much into it because there is a stereotype about the way most who do what I do must lean politically(marginally true, but not universal), and that could alienate half of my audience.  It all comes back to what Michael Jordan said in 1990 when asked why he wouldn't endorse Harvey Gantt in the North Carolina Senate race against Jesse Helms - he pointed out that Republicans buy shoes too.  In other words, it's not real bright to intentionally alienate half of your potential buyers.

I shouldn't have jumped into this person's display of ignorance.  It goes to show how emotion can get to all of us if the mood is right.  I should have just let the individual continue to live in the eternal bliss that comes with being an uninformed fool.  Even now I wonder whether I should've written about it, but I had to get this off my chest, and it could be an object lesson on two fronts.  The first front being that we should try to not mix our personal and professional lives if at all possible.  The second being that this person has indeed alienated a good swath of the audience by going down the controversial path chosen.  We are more divided today than I think we've ever been, and I think this writer will hurt audience outreach by being so open about personal beliefs and biases.  The writer is already successful, and maybe that makes the person feel immune, but I can guarantee that it doesn't take much to piss off fans and find yourself without many future or new readers.  As for me, I'll simply stick to expressing my personal views the way I always have, by not buying any future works of the individual.  Others are free to do as they like, but since it upset me enough, I'll exercise my own market choice.  It will likely make no dent in the author's sales, but I don't have to be a part of the person's success either.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Salvation Day Thank You

I just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who has supported the release of Salvation Day.  It has done better than I thought it would out of the gate, and I'm grateful for all of the support from those who've bought it.  As much as I would like for some of you to do an Amazon review, I'm more thankful that you've picked up a copy, and I hope you are enjoying it.  It's people like you who help keep me going.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Breaking In - Traditional Versus Indie

Those who've been around a while know that I'm a huge supporter of indie publishing.  And having recently released a pair of novels, I'm doing what I can to become a success.  My efforts got me thinking more and more about the difference between doing so in an indie environment versus a traditionally published one.

I know a few writers in both realms, and the differences aren't as stark as one might imagine.  From everything I can tell, there is a little more reach in the traditional arena, mostly through catalogues and bookstore sales pitches/agreements.  However, the fuse-to-bang ratio is short, meaning that if a new author doesn't catch on quickly, then the traditional publisher will soon move on to the next project.

What's more, my traditionally published friends are expected to do the same things we indie authors do without being prompted - market ourselves, promote our site and our books, look into the various avenues we can appear, etc.  The biggest difference is that they often get nudged to do various things that might not have otherwise occurred to them, while we indie folks are expected to just think of it on our own(and it's a little more hit-and-miss).

From what I can gather, the biggest advantage to the traditional world happens after you take off.  If your work shows some modicum of success, then a traditional publisher can use its extensive reach to spin things into the stratosphere - larger bookstore appearances, displays in windows, talk show bookings...the whole nine yards.  We indie folks have a little more trouble getting larger marketing avenues to take us seriously.  Sure, there have been some successes, like Andy Weir and William Paul Young, but usually even the most successful indie writers, like Hugh Howey and Joe Konrath, are not very well known to the public.  Yes, they sell well and have devoted followings, but it's not to the levels of the former.

Does this mean that a writer must go traditional to have any level of fame?  Or course not - it means that you have to have realistic expectations and an understanding that you will have to work harder.  To me, that's not all bad.  First of all, I love this writing thing(even the "boring" business part).  Second, I feel it's a small price to pay for control over my craft.  If I don't want to change something, I don't have to.  If I have a vision for my cover, I can run with it.  Until a writer becomes a massive success in the traditional world, that level of control is assumed by he publisher rather than the writer.  I'm a control freak, and I wouldn't do well in that kind of an environment.

It all comes down to your personal preference, but don't be fooled into thinking that all you will have to do is write if/when you get a traditional writing deal from a publisher.  The first steps will always be on you.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Beyond The Veil

Yes, I know I'm a slacker.  I haven't written a post in two weeks.  Life has been very busy at my day job, so blogging hasn't been high enough in my priorities.  However, that got me thinking about a good idea for my return blog - that in-between place where one is trying to make the successful transition to this professional author thing while still trying to put food on the table until sales get high enough.

First off, I'm not delusional - I know that Salvation Day isn't a New York Times bestseller.  I'm building a career, and that is going to take time.  Regardless of how highly I think of my writing skills,  it's going to take time for word to get out.  After all, I'm still a relatively new author.  My other novel, Akeldama, has only been out for about six months, so my presence in the market isn't large yet.  That will change over the next few years as I release at least two more novels in the next year and a half(the plan being to release four in the next two or so).  Hopefully one will catch on, which will translate into people checking out my other work.

Still, getting from A to B is challenging.  Becoming a professional writer requires dedication, and, above all else, time.  You've got to put yourself out on forums, in bookstores, into marketing, updating your website, going onto other websites, etc.  It's time consuming enough when that's all you do, but doing it while also holding a steady job?  That's tough.

Some will say that I should quit my other job and focus entirely on writing(and marketing my writing).  That being my sole revenue source will supposedly be a motivating factor.  Sounds a movie.  However, I have a family to take care of, and I like them to not freeze to death in the winter, so I'm keeping my day job for now.

Therein, however, lies the rub.  It's hard to break out unless you can devote lots of time, but it's hard to devote lots of time until you break out.  I know better than to just put my work on Amazon and hope someone notices, but most writers starve.  I'm trying to find a happy medium between feeding my family and pursuing my dreams, and I'll bet that I'm not the only indie author in this boat.

Hence my reasoning that, like a ghost, I'm stuck in the veil.  I can't completely manifest myself in the physical world(my day job), but I can't move on until I let go.  Maybe as time moves on I'll be able to figure it out, but it's exhausting(as my lack of presence on this blog over the last couple of weeks has shown).  On the plus side, work is now lightening up(the past two months have been brutal), and I've got some time off for the holidays.  Perhaps we'll find out what more I can do.  If nothing else, it'll keep me on the go.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Book Release!

Salvation Day has been released and is now available for purchase!  It has been a long time coming, but I'm happy the day is finally here, and I'm extremely proud of this work.  The book is out on all major publishing sites(Amazon, Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and Apple iBooks).  As a reminder of the plot...

Mike Faulkner wants to kill God.  No, he doesn't want to convince less people to believe; he wants to confront the deity Himself and watch Him die.

After he lost his baby girl to a childhood illness, his wife, consumed by grief, committed suicide.  Through a series of (seemingly) random events, he comes to know that his wife's soul has been sent to Hell for this violation.  However, Mike is a theoretical mathematician whose equations show the potential for a new form of energy that can affect the bonds of reality.  In the midst of this discovery, he's approached by a demon from Hell's ruling council with an offer of immortality in exchange for creating a new weapon to storm the gates of Heaven and confront the Almighty.  The demons promise to free his wife and give him absolute power for his efforts.  And all it will take is destruction on an unimaginable scale, as well as the discarding of conscience in order to satiate anger.  After all, what's the harm in annihilating Heaven if that means the cruel will of God can be overcome and real justice established?

Salvation Day is a paranormal thriller that takes us from Mike's grief to his temptation to his corruption to his redemption, stopping at every emotional place in between.  Mike's journey is for everyone who has ever had questions of faith, the meaning of existence, and a longing to know why life sometimes seems unbearable.  How would each of us react to being given the power to create our own version of paradise, and would we truly understand the repercussions of that desire?

This is my second release, and my third should be coming out next summer(probably in July).  I've got the process down now, and this release has proven far easier than my first.  I hope to have at least five novels(preferably six, depending on what happens with the Canidae re-write) out by mid-2020.

As with Akeldama, if you pick up a copy of Salvation Day, please do a review on it.  I hope you enjoy it and give the book a good rating, but obviously that's your decision.  All I really ask is that you do a review.  Tell me and others what you think.

You can buy the paperback here, and the Kindle ebook here.  You can get the Smashwords version here.  Apple iBook version and the Nook version should be ready by this weekend.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

"How To" Books

First of all, I know I missed a post last week.  Sorry.  Life at work has been overwhelming.  Hopefully it'll lighten up this week.

Now, on to the real topic...

Anyone who is a writer or knows a writer also knows how desperate most are to be successful.  We want fans, prominence in bookstores, a spot on morning talk shows, a movie deal for our latest book, etc.  As a result, most of us will do what we can to figure out the path to success, and that creates a market for other writers.

What do I mean by that?  Well, it seems like my inbox has been flooded over the last year with people trying to sell books where the topic is "How To Be A Successful Writer."  In other words, I'm getting less advertisements about books with plots than I am about books about writing and marketing books.  I have yet to open my email over the last six months without at least one - usually more than one - spam email about how if I use one little trick, my audience will explode and my dreams will come true.  Of course, they can't let me know that little secret unless I plunk down $14.95 or so for it.

Don't get me wrong - some of these tips might be good.  I'm sure that using a few as part of an overall marketing strategy has the potential to increase sales.  However, what I continue to wonder is why the folks trying to sell these books aren't using their own techniques to become super-prolific fiction writers themselves.  Having looked into a lot of them, most are/were fiction writers as well.  So why do they have to write a book about how to be successful instead of using their strategies to be successful themselves?

Keep in mind that their names aren't King, Rowling, or Patterson.  Maybe the people writing these "How To" books have some talent, but they haven't been using it to become the grandiose successes they say they can make other people.  Most folks outside of writing circles have never heard of them, and even most writers wouldn't recognize the names, so what makes them experts at knowing success?

A lot of this seems like a scam designed to prey on those who are overly eager about their careers and will do anything to make it.  It's a great market to try and take advantage of, but fellow writers should be cautious before jumping into these things.  Ask yourself how successful the person offering you their key to success has been, as well as why they're offering it to you.

Yes, be willing to listen to others to help formulate your own path, but be wary about thinking anyone has found the secret.  If that person had the secret, wouldn't he or she be using it to sell his or her own books instead of telling you how to sell yours?

Sunday, October 22, 2017


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'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


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.


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


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?


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


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 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.