Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Cycle Starts Anew...

Wrongful Death came out a week ago today.  However, that doesn't mean it's time to sit on my ass and wait for the big bucks, movie offers, and talk-show invitations to begin to roll in.  Instead, it means it's time to get geared up for my next release.

Homecoming is a bit of a departure from my first three releases.  My first few novels have all dealt heavily with death and the afterlife in some manner, but Homecoming is a science-fiction novel set in the distant future.  Some might wonder why I'm going so far afield, but sci-fi has always been my first love.  In fact, the first novel I ever wrote through to the end was a sci-fi novel(and you'll never see it - looking back, I'm embarrassed at how bad it turned out, despite my thinking that it was absolutely awesome when I first finished it over 18 years ago).  I've been looking for a way to get back into sci-fi, and Homecoming is it.

Set more than 6,000 years from now, it follows the story of humanity's return to Earth after being driven off by a genocidal race that seeks out and destroys technology different from its own.  The journey starts out as an idealistic crusade but turns into a check on everything the survivors thought they knew since their ancestors apparently weren't as innocent as they'd been led to believe.

Written in journal format, it's told from the point of view of a historian traveling with the re-conquest fleet.  The marauders that took Earth are the most obvious challenge, but are they the biggest?  Some humans left behind managed to survive, as did others who escaped and didn't follow their friends to the same world.  There's also another alien race that stands in the way - they were once feared but time has finally given us an edge.  Will we use that edge in arrogance or in the search for justice?


I recognize that science-fiction is usually either terrific or god-awful.  I still have to go back through this book to make sure it meets my vision, but it's time to start putting it all together.  Homecoming is set for release on March 28, 2019.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Figuring Out Amazon

I had a problem last week when Wrongful Death was released - my ebook and paperback weren't searchable through one page.  To begin with, my paperback was out first, but my ebook was being held up.  For the first time ever, Kindle was demanding me to prove I was the author.  I wrote them back and provided what proof I could, and then I waited.  And waited.  Then I waited some more.  They never wrote me back to tell me all was good.  Instead, they just put it up on KDP Select.

Then the books weren't linked.  What I mean is that usually different versions of the same book are linked, so that you can go to the paperback page and do one click on a Kindle link to get to the ebook.  That wasn't happening.  Therefore, I wrote them again, and again I waited.  After no return email saying I was good, my book simply showed up on my page and both versions are now available on one page.  Maybe I'm just too insecure, but I like getting responses so I know someone at least heard me.  For the company to just assume I'd know everything was good is frustrating.

I'm also trying out KDP Select for a bit too.  That means that Kindle is the only ebook platform I can use for Wrongful Death.  That's right - the novel is not available on Nook or Apple iBooks.  This is so that I can be a part of the KDP Reading Fund, whereby authors dip into a big KDP pot for profits based on how much is being sold and looked at.  I say looked at b/c folks can check out my book for 30 days for free, something that unnerves me a little.  After all, I'm trying to make some money here.  However, I've been assured that this will get me into a higher algorithm and will help my sales in the long run.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wrongful Death Release!

Wrongful Death is now available from Amazon!  You can find the print book here, and the ebook here.  If you do check it out, please write me a review.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

A Literary Reminder


I was speaking last week with an old friend of mine named Kevin.  Several years ago, Kevin was a potentially up-and-coming author who’d secured a literary agent for his book Paws On The Ground.  The book is about his time as an MP working with dogs in Afghanistan, and the title is a take off of the military phrase “boots on the ground.”  It’s a way to say that you have to be in the thick of things and physically present to have an impact.

Kevin had gone to a writing conference and an agent was impressed enough to sign him.  That’s when he learned that maybe literary agents aren’t the best route to go if you want to get your message out to the public…

His first agent(I’ll get to why he was the “first” in a second) kept giving him edits and corrections to make.  Don’t get me wrong – if something can be made better, then I’m totally open to someone pointing out what that might be.  What I’m not open to is someone who supposedly works for me – and yes, literary agents work for the writer, not the other way around – insisting that his or her suggestions must be taken.  I’m the writer, and I get to decide what works best for the story.

There was lots of back and forth, and tons of new “suggestions,” but the agent never tried even once to submit Kevin’s books to publishers for sale.  Finally fed up, Kevin fired the guy and turned to a new agent.  This one didn’t offer too much to change, and he sounded like he was enthusiastic about Kevin’s book.  Then…nothing.  The guy just disappeared, as if the Earth had opened up and swallowed him whole.  Kevin hasn’t heard from him in more than two years, and he has basically given up on anything happening with his work.

Those who know me know of my antipathy towards literary agents.  I think, for the most part, that they’re useless.  To start with, they’re supposed to be selling your work and negotiating a contract, but every one I’ve encountered has no background in business or intellectual property law.  Most, in fact, have MFA or English degree and appear to simply want to be writers themselves without running the risk of putting their own work out there.  No, they’d rather criticize actual writers behind the scenes and then take credit for what someone else wrote.

Were I to ever decide to go the traditional route for my work(the offer would have to be really high for me to give up the freedom of indie publishing), I wouldn’t need another literary critic.  I’ve got beta readers and people I respect for critiques.  Since reading taste is subjective, I have to be the final arbiter of whether or not a suggestion makes sense.  What I need instead of another critic is someone familiar with intellectual property law.  What rights do I retain?  When do the rights revert back to me?  Is the publisher insisting on a right-of-first-refusal for my next book?  What will the publisher do from a marketing standpoint and what does that publisher expect me to do?  MFAs and English degrees are great, but they don’t credential someone to determine whether or not a contract offer is to my advantage.  And since the main advantage most of these agents offer is access to a traditional publisher, it’s more in an agent’s interest to get better terms for the publisher than for me so that the agent can stay in the good graces of the publisher.

Most agents rely on the naiveté of new authors to yoke them into their corral.  This had its merits…25 years ago.  However, in the new age of indie publishing, all it takes is some initiative and common business sense to get what an agent could.  If you want a traditional contract, then get an intellectual property attorney for your contract.  You can hire your own cover artist, your own editor, and market your book yourself.  Sure, it may not have a big-time publisher’s name attached, but a lot of successful books don’t have that.  Remember that The Martian and Fifty Shadesof Grey both started off as indie-published.  It wasn’t a literary agent or traditional publisher that made them successful.  They were successful the same way IAm Legend or The Shining were successful – they captured lightning in a bottle and caught a break(luck and timing are the biggest pieces an agent won’t talk about, pretending instead that they can make you the next JK Rowling rather than acknowledge that most books, even those represented by a traditional publisher, don’t earn that kind of money).

If you want the comfort of having a literary agent, go ahead, but know that you’re likely making a mistake.  Most agents I’ve encountered think they run things rather than that they work for their client, just like a lawyer or interior decorator.  If you want to retain your freedom and not worry whether or not someone who has an MFA but has likely never published in their life approves of you, then eschew the agent route and put stock in your own abilities.  After all, you have some control over those.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

You Are Not Special

So many people, when they hear I have a few novels out, ask me what it's like to be rich.  Of course I'm rich, they think, because I've published books, just like Stephen King and JK Rowling.  I have to patiently explain that most writers don't sell many copies, and that it takes a break of some kind to get the kind of notoriety that Rowling and King get.

Unfortunately, lots of writers also have the idea that once they publish something, the world will be their oyster.  Far too many expect that readers will simply find their work and buy millions of copies so that the writer can retire to some Caribbean island.  I hate to break it to those of you who believe this, but that's nowhere close to the truth.

Yes, occasionally you can capture lightning in a bottle, but that's exceptionally rare.  What the vast majority of success takes is lots of hard work and a great deal of luck(although I've discovered that the harder I work, the luckier I seem to get).  You have to market yourself, enter contests, make connection, and so on.  There are literally thousands of books published every single day, and thinking that yours will stand out just because you wrote it and you know it's brilliant is not planning - it's fantasy.

I recently spoke to a fairly successful writer and asked for some advice.  Yes, I have a marketing degree, but the particulars of the writing market are coming slowly.  He gave me some great advice that I plan to implement shortly, and I'm trying to get noticed in a few other ways with folks who have access to greater publicity.  On top of my "day job," that can be exhausting.  However, it's worth it.  Regardless of whether I become uber-successful - which I, of course, still hope to become - I love writing and hearing from those who enjoy my work.  If I didn't love it, it would be too much of a grind.

But you have to love it, and you have to work hard.  Most of us aren't famous, where we can write something and people will gravitate towards it based off of our name(that comes after initial success, when that success becomes self-sustaining).  We may think we're special, and our friends and family may have told us we have great skill, but that will not get us an audience.  So stop sitting around waiting for breaks to come your way just because you feel you deserve them - go out and work so you earn them.  Otherwise...you can always write down your fantasy - maybe it'll make a nice book.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Small Setback

So Wrongful Death has suffered a minor setback.  The back cover has a grammatical mistake.  This isn't some misplaced comma, but rather an extra word that will trip up anyone who reads it.  It would be foolish to release a book with such a glaring error in such a visible spot, so I'm going to have to get that fixed before I release it.  Hopefully it will only delay publication by a couple of days.

The frustrating part is that I thought I went over the blurb so thoroughly that I eliminated all of that nonsense.  Just goes to show that no matter how many times we think we've checked something, things still slip through.  Thankfully I caught this one prior to putting it out to the audience(unlike Akeldama, which I had to issue a second edition for due to a dozen minor mistakes, all of them in the text of the novel).

The lesson here is to get an editor to look at all aspects of your book, not just the story on the inside.  I wonder how many more lessons I'll get to learn...

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

More Proof!

The proof for Wrongful Death arrived today!  I'm going through it now and the novel should be available for purchase by August 1st.  Since this one isn't as "thick" as Salvation Day or Akeldama, so the hardcover price will be only $14.95!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Back From Vacation!

Sorry I've been gone, but Disney World is now in the rearview mirror, and things are chugging along for the release of Wrongful Death.  I'm awaiting the final proof copy(due to arrive this week), and then I'll be ready to publish.  Everything looks good to go for August 1st, so please stay tuned for my latest novel!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Vacation

Sorry for the lack of posting, but I'm on vacation for the next two weeks.  I'll try to put some stuff up, but Disney World doesn't give me much time.  :-)

Upon my return, we'll be gearing up for the release of Wrongful Death!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Erasing History

For those who haven't heard, Laura Ingalls Wilder has apparently committed the horrible sin of being born in a different time and in an era that wasn't sufficiently woke enough.  Her Little House On The Prairie books have been a boon to children for generations, introducing youngsters, mostly girls, to the frontier of the late 1800s.  Millions of children learned to love reading based off of Wilders' books.  She was so impactful that there was even an award for children's literature given by The Association Of Library Services For Children that had her name on it.

Not anymore.

Apparently Wilders had some unflattering stereotypes in a few of her books, and the powers that be thought that this was too much to give an award named after the author for.  A lot of Wilders' work portrayed Native Americans in a bad light.  It obviously couldn't have been that, since told from the viewpoint of settlers, many of that time had a poor view of Native Americans, or that attitudes change from era to era.  Nope, Wilders was now an awful bigot who must be expunged from history.

Folks, this is getting out of hand.  One of the offending passages of pone of the novels reads: "There the wild animals wandered and fed as though they were in a pasture that stretched much farther than a man could see, and there were no people. Only Indians lived there."  It's horrible as she seems to imply that Indians are not people.  However, as anyone familiar with the passage and Wilders' work knows, Wilders herself was horrified when she discovered what people took from the passage and asked her publisher to change the wording to say "settlers" instead of "people," as noted when she said, "You are perfectly right about the fault in Little House on the Prairie and have my permission to make the correction as you suggest. It was a stupid blunder of mine. Of course Indians are people and I did not intend to imply they were not."

Still, that's not good enough for The Association Of Library For Children.  Wilders', a product of a different time, was expunged from history despite the significant impact she had on children reading.  It makes me wonder what other literary giants are next on the erasure list.  Mark Twain appears to be the most obvious given the noted challenges in Huckleberry Finn.  Ernest Hemingway wrote some stuff that many consider to be misogynistic and homophobic.  Even William Shakespeare wrote stuff, such as in The Merchant Of Venice, that can be considered antisemitic stereotypes.

How much history do we want to erase, and what does that say about our own legacies?  Two hundred years from now, what might succeeding generations think about our work?  Will our portrayal of stuff be considered wrongspeak?  Will we be similarly expunged from the record?  We need to get a grip on our being offended, for it's denying some of the best work of history and the authors that provided that literature.  I would hope we are all sufficiently self-aware to know how to separate great literature from some of the attitudes of previous eras.  If we're not, what are we doing reading in the first place?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Another 5-Star Review!

Just thought I'd share that Salvation Day has yet another five star review!

"Truly a 5 star book. This is one of the most unique books I've read in a while, and once into it, I couldn't put it down.  RD Meyer has a keen eye for detail, and developed a main character for whom you simultaneously root for and against."

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Milestone!

RD Meyer Writes has hit the 100,000 visitor mark!  Thanks to everyone who has decided to check out my crazy ramblings.  :-)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sequel Skittishness

Until recently, I hadn't understood the nervousness authors feels when it comes to delving back into the worlds they created.  I just thought I'd be able to jump back into a story and readers would either continue to read it or not.  Well, based off of some success I've had with Salvation Day, I've started to feel a pressure I'd previously written off.

Without giving away too much to those who haven't read the book, Salvation Day is built for a sequel.  Yes, the story wraps up fairly neatly, concluding one story before starting another, but there is another story out there that the ending begs to be written.  Getting to work on it is my next big project, even if I haven't yet begun(I've been busy with getting a few other books ready to go).  I'm in the daydreaming part of the project now, which any writer worth his or her salt will tell you is just as important as actually writing it.

However, I can't say that it hasn't gotten me nervous.  The disaster I created with the initial sequel to Akeldama is still fresh in my mind.  I went into that story with one idea, and it spun totally out of control.  Worse yet, I thought I could totally change every character and be okay, not realizing what a moron I was for doing so.  That book will require a nearly complete re-write, even down to the title.  I don't want to make that mistake with the sequel to Salvation Day.  The story needs to be fresh but true to the original.  Salvation Day is a pretty intense emotional rollercoaster, and capturing that lightning in a bottle twice is going to be hard.

I've had a few things pop into my mind, and I should probably just start writing.  My wife read it and she loved it.  I know you're going to say that she's my wife and is supposed to be like that, but she's not a reader...at all.  I've tried giving her other things of mine to read, and she only got into Akeldama.  She got into nothing else, and she hasn't been a reader since we first met, so her not only getting through Salvation Day, but also demanding more, gives me a good gauge.  I figure if I give her my new pages, she'll help get me on the right track, as well as let me know when things get goofy.

Salvation Day hasn't gotten the most reviews, but it has gotten the most acclaim, and I've often said that it's far and away my best work to date.  I don't want it ruined by frivolous flights of fancy.  After all, we've already seen what that kind of idiocy can do to a successful brand...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What The Con Is Going On?

Okay, folks, I know I've said lots of times not to get into politics as a writer, but I view this more as simply an extension to that and chastising others rather than getting into it myself.  Far too many folks have allowed politics to get in the way of enjoying good writers and good stories.

A recent phenomenon has gotten lots of traction, and I'm referring to some conventions deciding to, for lack of a better word, erase certain authors from their ranks.  Some are so polarized by the personal political views of Larry Correia, David Weber, and John Ringo that they've besieged the conventions they were slated to be guests at and gotten the organizers to rescind their invitations.  These activists have organized boycotts, written letters, and basically thrown all manner of temper tantrum to prevent authors like these from being spotlighted.  Are these men secretly vampires who've infiltrated our society and are preparing to turn the populace into an unaware food source?  Have they raped and pillaged their way across the steppes of Russia?  Perhaps they enslaved thousands of children and are now operating a trafficking ring.

Nope...they're white men who are conservative/libertarian in their views, and they aren't shy about sharing that.

Say what you will about the wisdom of an author being so vocal about politics(I personally think it's not the best idea to alienate potentially half the audience before they even read your story), and disagree with their views all you like(there are lots of things I don't care for that I disagree with), but to treat them like they're the Spawn of Satan is ludicrous.

Let's put this into perspective - none of these writers have advocated to reopen gas chambers and poison six million Jews.  Nor have they ever taken girls captive to use as "wives"(read - sex slaves) for local warlords.  They aren't stabbing children, or running experiments on people regarding bubonic plague, or starving millions of people, or killing whole groups just because those folks wear glasses.

If your political views are so warped that you view anyone who disagrees with you, whether on the Left or Right, as some version of (Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Joseph Kony, Unit 731...insert favorite villain here), then you need some serious retooling of the way you view the world.  If you view anyone in these camps without rock solid evidence of actual vile things, then you are a moron.  Conventions like Origins and WorldCon have bowed to pressure to disinvite good authors because the whining of a few who can't stand that maybe someone might hold a different political opinion.  I thought we were here to find good stories, not get the lowdown on the latest machinations of the tax cut or how the North Korea Denuclearization Summit was going.  We aren't here to debate same sex marriage, the removal of statues, gun rights, or abortion - we're here to read a good book and share that experience with others.  Get off your goddamn high horse, step back from trying to go full-blown totalitarian on everyone, and figure out why the hate in your heart is so fierce that you can't enjoy a book without thinking everyone must belong to your circle of politics.

Fortunately, a few conventions are starting to fight back.  DragonCon recently parted ways with Charlotte Stormborn, who used to run the Literary Track at DragonCon.  She tried to muscle her way into getting authors she disliked off of the guest list because they weren't sufficiently woke for her.  And to show how truly inclusive she was, she wrote, "If you think there are some good arguments to be made for the inclusion of voices like Correia’s and Ringo’s ya all can also talk* to me.  *don’t talk to me, ever."  Not the most open-minded person when it comes to discussion.  Again, she's not running a progressive political forum in Seattle - DragonCon is one of the largest conventions for geeks like us in the country.  Like I said, though, fortunately, DragonCon parted ways with her when she tried this kind of bullshit, and the convention is better for it since they will continue to feature writers fans actually want to see.

ConCarolinas is another one fighting back.  They bowed to pressure this year and got slammed for being stupid.  Realizing their folly, ConCarolinas said they would no longer bow to this kind of madness(they disinvited John Ringo as the special guest), and they are inviting David Weber to next year's convention.  Of course this pissed off all kinds of temperamental children who just can't take it when folks they view as Nazis(they need a serious dose of history and a binkie to soothe them) get invited to their precious safe space, so I expect the fits will grow more intense.  However, ConCarolinas is now saying that enough is enough, and that award winning and talented writers deserve a space at conventions fans want to see them in.

People, get off your soapboxes and stop with the crying about folks who hold differing views.  This is about good stories, not who you think would best run the country/world.  I can't believe I even had to write this, but it just shows how childish folks can be when things don't go their way.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Characters As Blank Slates

If you've ever written a hero, chances are that you imagined yourself in that role.  After all, don't we all tend to think of ourselves as heroes of our own stories?  There is a danger in this, however, and that's taking for granted what the audience knows about the character, as well as giving our character too perfect of an appearance.

First off, we know ourselves better than anyone around.  We've peered inside our own thoughts, and we take for granted our outlook on the world.  One of humanity's biggest flaws is that each of us has a hard time understanding why everyone doesn't see the world the way we do.  That may or may not work fine for us as individuals, but readers don't always get into the main character's head unless we lay it out to them.  We need to remember to "give away" a bit more than we're used to when it's just us.  In order for readers to empathize with the main character, the reader needs to know more than we're used to letting on.  It's vital to impart mindset, motivation, and understanding to our readers that we might normally think everyone should just know.

Second, we have to write those main characters with a great deal of self-awareness, and we need to be honest about ourselves.  Far too many people can't see their own flaws, and if that translates into the main character, you'll end up giving everybody a character so perfect that no one will care.  People want to know the flaws as well as the bright spots of a character, so perfection rarely sits well since it's not something anyone can actually relate to(which is, ultimately, what we want readers to do with the main character).  But writing about our flaws is tough because it forces introspection, something most of us are bad at.

Can we overcome our own self-image and write characters that are relatable as well as heroic?  That's the true test of any author.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Checking Yourself

So, I'm a schmuck sometimes.  I keep forgetting that we, as writers, need to check what we write before we post it for the world to see.  Three days ago, I posted about my excitement in being awarded the IndieReader Discovery Award for Paranormal Fiction.  I was floating on clouds...until I realized that my headline said, "IDRA" rather than "IRDA."  I've fixed it, but it went out in my initial blog post, and it still lingers on my Facebook page.


I do this sometimes...I get so excited about something that I hit "enter" prior to fully going through it(another great plug for the necessity of having an editor).  It usually doesn't matter, but I did this to the world while announcing a friggin' award...as a writer.  Yeah, I look skilled...


I'll get past it.  In the big scheme of things, it's not the end of the world.  After all, Salvation Day is still an award winner.  That doesn't keep me from kicking myself over my idiocy.  Bleh!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

IRDA Award Winner!



I am thrilled to announce that Salvation Day has won the Indiereader Discovery Award for 2018 in the Paranormal Category!  I wish I could've been at the actual event for the announcement, but work keeps me busy here as I don't yet have enough sales to skip my day job altogether(maybe this will help that).

A tremendous honor, and I'm thrilled to have been selected.  I hope everyone enjoys reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

In Anticipation...

Sorry for no post this past Monday, but there is exciting news in the works regarding Salvation Day.  Tune in this coming Monday for a big announcement!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Wrongful Death Cover Reveal!

Wrongful Death is slated for release in August, and the cover is finally ready.  I think it captures the spirit of the book pretty well, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  And big thanks to Carl Graves for the great design!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

No One Cares As Much...

...as you do.  Your work is your baby, and no matter what friends and family tell you, they don't care about your writing like you do.  Sometimes it can be a chore to get folks just to read your work.  People have lives of their own, and even though they want to be supportive, stuff gets in the way.  You have to be your own best cheerleader, and you can't get discouraged when people aren't as enthusiastic about your work as you are.

There will be times you'll get down.  There will be times you'll be frustrated by nobody finishing your book like they promised.  When that happens, knuckle down and try to push through.  It'll be hard.  You'll wonder why you're doing so much when so many seem like they don't care.  It doesn't matter.  What matters is staying on the path.

Remember, success isn't not not failing - it's getting back into it after failure until you make it.  Most successful people didn't perform flawlessly.  Instead, they simply kept going when everybody else gave up.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

New Schedule Of Releases

Okay, so things have been hectic here the last few weeks.  Sorry for the lack of consistency in my posts, but since no one is paying me for these, and my real-life job keeps food on my table, I've had to let this lapse for just a bit.

However, I'm back, and I'm here to update folks on the schedule of releases for my new novel, Wrongful Death.  I got behind on some stuff, so it won't be ready for release on June 28th.  Therefore, I'm delaying the release until August 1st.  I should have everything ready by then, and it'll be available before school starts!

On that note, I'll also be delaying the release of Homecoming by two months to let me catch my breath.  I'd planned on releasing it January 28, 2019, but I'm now going to try to release it March 30, 2019.  I'm going to have lots to do over the next year as I prepare for a major transition in my life, so getting some breathing room will help.

That said, I'm going to try to release Schism on April 29, 2020, the day after the last major primaries(Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania) in order to try to capitalize on the fervor of the 2020 Presidential election.  I guess we'll find out if I have momentum, or if Schism gets drowned out by the political noise.

For updated information on my novels, check out my Novel's Page.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Get Woke, Go Broke

Okay, maybe this post will get me in trouble, but I'm growing increasingly concerned by the whole "woke" movement overtaking many writers nowadays.  It's not enough to simply write a good story - writers nowadays must show their bonafides by writing culturally sensitive novels that cater to every group in existence.  And woe by unto the writer who fails to do so.

What's more, even trying these days isn't enough.  Laurie Forest wrote a great book called The Black Witch, where she even tried to be as "woke" as possible.  But she wasn't woke enough, because a few busy-bodies took her novel to task and nearly crashed it before it had a chance to get off the ground.  Fortunately, not everyone is a killjoy and rightly recognized Laurie's talent vice her ability to properly virtue-signal.

Being woke is about being superficially diverse, and it most often feels forced.  The Marvel Comics Universe is on the verge of going broke from changing its primary stories to accommodate this movement.  Social justice warriors may celebrate the new levels of wokeness, but they aren't the ones who buy comic books.

Not only is it supremely hard just to write a good story, but it's damn near impossible to do so while trying to check every box in the universe to make sure you don't offend someone by including, or not including, something.  Further, it's actually an insult to various groups to try and shoehorn them into characters already written.  Rachel Weisz of Oz The Great and Powerful and The Lovely Bones said it best when asked about who should play the female James Bond, she opined, "Why not create your own story rather than jumping onto the shoulders and being compared to all those other male predecessors.  Women are really fascinating and interesting, and should get their own stories."  Bravo for her!  Women have incredible stories, as does every ethnic group in existence, so why cram them into already created heroes and into already created story universes?  The new Ghostbusters movie flopped terribly because most fans knew the original, and they knew this version was merely a way to create wokeness on the back of an already created universe.  Couldn't the writers come up with an original story that didn't piggyback off of something else?  Did they think that women would be unable to carry a new story in an original universe all by themselves?  Isn't that just a tad bit sexist?

Our stories have to come from within, and they come off as fake when we try to write everything to please everyone.  There are some things I'm no good at writing because I don't have the background or context.  For example, I originally wanted to write Wrongful Death from the perspective of a high school girl, only to discover I knew nothing about how high school girls thought, so writing as one would've been fake.  It'd be the same to try and include every intersectional movement out there.

This is not to say that we should write stuff that is intentionally offensive or that doesn't see the world as it is.  However, we can't force it if we want our stories to be readable.  Let it come naturally and let the audience decide.  The outrage mob will always be there, but a group that genuinely enjoys your work will abandon you if you try to be what you're not.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Cutting

I finished a short story this afternoon that I intend to enter into The Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition.  Actually, I finished the story more than a week ago, but I had to trim it, and by trim it, I mean cut it to the bone.  You see, the competition has a word count limit of 4,000 words, and my story came in at 4,952.  That meant I needed to cut roughly 20% of the story in order for it to be eligible for the contest.

This isn't something new.  I'm an old hand at editing.  I just had to put the story away and come back to it with fresh eyes, so I let it sit on my computer, untouched, for a week.  I then went back in and started cutting.

At first, I thought, This is a breeze.  I found lots of extraneous words, so I was slashing lines like I was a killer from a low budget horror flick.  I hacked and slashed, and by the end, I felt pretty good...except that I was still nearly 200 words over the limit.  That was disheartening.

Going back in this morning, I reworded and cut again until I felt like I wasn't just trimming fat, but rather had reached bone.  I've had a shoulder surgery where they shaved some bone, so imagine that pain, but with a story.  The story is 11 pages, so I had to average cutting over 15 words a page.  By the end of the first page, I'd cut...12 words.  That was when I knew that this would be harder than I thought.

All writers despair at cutting their babies.  We're so certain that our words matter, that the story will lose meaning if we cut too much.  Unfortunately, I had no choice here if I wanted to enter this tale.  So I cut.  And I cut.  Then I cut some more.  Finally, on the far end, I was down to 3993 words.  I still wonder if I left in some extraneous stuff I could've gotten rid of so I could keep more descriptive parts of the story, but it's done.  I will send it off this week, and someone else can tell me how I did.

That doesn't make this any easier.  Cutting a story near and dear to you is always hard, and it never gets easier.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Time To Get To Work

With life and everything, I nearly forgot that I'm supposed to have a book coming out soon.  Wrongful Death is due out June 28th, and I've got a lot of work left to do.  I've got to finalize the cover, finish getting it edited, and get it in the proper format.  Honestly, time snuck up on me.  Best for me to get to work!

Oh, and I promise that my next post will be longer.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

More Praise For Salvation Day!

Salvation Day has made the Best Reviewed Books Of March on the IndieReader website!  I'm thrilled for others to have recognized my work, and I'd love it if you headed on over to check it out.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Trying To Restart

I know I've been a slacker.  I'm trying to get back into blogging, especially since I've been one of the ones so vehemently chastising folks for not consistently blogging. 

It really is like going to the gym - the more you take a day off, the easier it becomes to take the next day off.  And it hasn't just been my blogging that has suffered; I haven't been writing like I want to.  Some of that is work/life related, but not enough to account for all of the non-work.  So, what have I done to rectify this?  For starters, I'm working on a short story to enter in the Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition.  It's based on an idea I've been tossing around for a while, so I'm actually into it.

I also need to try and start work on either the Salvation Day sequel or the reworking of my sequel to Akeldama.  I've got the ideas for the next installment of both, so just getting something on paper could spur me back into a rhythm.  Akeldama's sequel is done, but it's in serious need of revision, and I haven't done anything with it in a year.  Salvation Day's sequel has been floating around in my head for nearly that long as well.  I've got to pick one and knuckle down.

Part of this could be that I've got a few more books already done.  Wrongful Death is in the final stages of being edited now, and it should be out around the end of June.  I never counted on having finished books as being an impediment to more writing, but I think that not having the pressure of getting something done has lulled me into some false sense of security.

I just have to find the time to do a little bit each day.  It doesn't have to be much, but it needs to be something, even if that something is only 500 words and 15-20 minutes.  But hey, isn't time the bugaboo we all face?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

IndieReader Review For Salvation Day

Sorry I haven't blogged in almost a month.  Life has been busy, and I've been lazy.  What I'd like everyone to know about is the IndieReader review for Salvation Day!  IndieReader has given it 4.6 out of 5 stars.  Here's a quick sample of the write up:

"SALVATION DAY is a book that blends together science-fiction and fantasy into a tale that has been told for eons, but never quite in this way."

"This story is ambitious in its scope and ultimately very satisfying. The descriptions of things never seen by human eyes are vivid and feel real. The plot is tightly structured, and the ultimate confrontation is full of action."

"The reader can take a journey that is both familiar and original, and a lot of fun."

I was gratified they like it, and I hope some of you will check it out at their page.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Prize Giveaway

Folks, take a look at this picture:

This was my page counter just a few days ago.  As I rapidly approach 100,000, I had an idea - whoever becomes my 100,000th visitor, and sends me a screenshot that shows such, will get my next work, Wrongful Death, free of charge, and in any format(ebook or print) the person so desires.  Will that be you?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Embarrassment

As writers, we have to be very careful when we write and market our business in order to avoid embarrassment.  A wrong fact or imprecise spelling may seem like not a big deal...until you do it in some monstrous way.

While writing Akeldama, I wanted to include real-world stuff in order to give the novel a more authentic feel.  In one of the scenes, the main character visits a business in Los Angeles that is supposedly acting as a front for a CIA department.  I chose a real-life business - Philippe The Original.  I contacted Philippe's for permission, and they sounded pretty excited to be included in my work.  I was jazzed, thinking that maybe this could lead to some real publicity for Akeldama...only to later discover that I'd misspelled their name(I wrote them as Phillipe's rather than Philippe's).  I was mortified.  I went back to my print and ebook formatters and made the correction, but that was after I'd already sent them a copy.  I want to send them a replacement, but nearly a year later, the embarrassment is still too much for me to show my face to them.

This is why double and triple checking our work is so important.  The right use of something can help, but the wrong use in any way can set us back and even contribute to poor reputations.  And it's far easier to destroy a reputation than to build it back up after it went south.

I've gone back through my other works and looked at any instance I've used a brand name or a historical fact to make sure that I won't make the same mistake, but it's still possible I could miss something.  Now that is happened once, it has me worried what I'll miss next time, as well as whether I could recover from a second mistake in such a public way.

What mistakes have you made that caused you embarrassment?  How have you worked to make sure it doesn't happen again?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Author Interview - Joe Peacock

Today I interview Joe Peacock.  I've been a fan of Joe's for several years.  He began by publishing chapters of a personal memoir on the internet, and he turned it into several very good books.  Recently, he has decided to take on writing fiction, and his serialized novel, Marlowe Kana, is quickly gaining momentum on Amazon.  He has three parts out for the moment, and an almost perfect star rating(out of 39 reviews, he has 37 five star ratings and only two four star ratings).  Joe is a tremendous writer, and I highly recommend his work if you're into cyberpunk, or even just plain old good fiction.


Your previous books in the Mentally Incontinent series were mostly anthologies about your rather extraordinary life.  Marlowe Kana is totally different.  What made you decide to write it?
I went through a pretty big life upheaval in 2013. After it all happened, I looked back at who I was before, and who I am now, and decided that I wasn’t really into making myself and my memories the subject of all my writing anymore. I was challenged by several friends to try my hand at fiction over the years. It was intimidating, and every time I tried, the work was just meh. Writing fiction is SO MUCH HARDER than writing about yourself or “thinkpieces.” You have to make everything up, then you have to make it all make sense, THEN you have to tell the story in a way that doesn’t bore people. So I always thought “someday, I’ll tell this grand cyberpunk story I’ve wanted to write since I was 16.”
Then one day, a longtime reader and now dear friend, Beth, wrote me to let me know she’s terminal with cancer. You can never feel so helpless as when a friend tells you they’re dying, and there’s literally nothing you can do about it. Your instincts to help kick in, but having had a few friends in my life pass from disease, I knew the conversation couldn’t dive into “Oh, I’m so sorry” territory. So, I offered to write something for her, in her honor. She mentioned a science fiction story I attempted years ago, Marlowe Kana. I facepalmed… Of all the things she could ever ask me to do, that HAD to be it, right?

Needless to say, I couldn’t say no. My first few drafts were awful -- and I mean true stinkers. A few friends pointed me to a treasure trove of writing education, and I became enamored. I fell in love with concepts like flow, story structure, theme, setting, character development… I couldn’t stop learning (and still haven’t -- every single day, I learn something new). Beth loved the book, and while I feel like I’m just barely past the starting line on my learning how to write, that fact made me happy. She’s still reading, and I’m still writing. Nothing goes to the public without going to her first.


The novel starts off with Major Marlowe Kana being transported in a prison van after being convicted of attempted murder, conduct unbecoming, and treason.  Yet she also has a massive following, and people are still following her “feed.”  Many have feeds of their own.  Can you tell us about the concept of the feeds, as well as what inspired them?

Youtube. Twitter. Tumblr. Snapchat. Every single day, more and more people build their own personal “Feeds” and share them with billions of people. Some even do it for a living. Considering we intake the vast majority of our movies, television, news, and other entertainment via broadband and cellular connections, the idea of news sources, citizens, or just about anything that can connect to the net having a “feed” seems inevitable to me. So does the idea that soon, things like jobs, politicians, and government will be irrelevant. We will someday all work for the same corporation -- should we choose to work, as I also believe advancements in AI, robotics, and automated logistics are going to force us into a Basic Minimum Income societally. To me, the idea that fame and attention being the only currencies that matter is not a question of “if,” it’s a matter of how soon. 

Marlowe Kana is a serialized novel.  Why did you decide to write it that way?

I made a pledge when I first started writing 15 years ago that everything I ever write will always be available for free in some way, so publishing it to the internet was a foregone conclusion. Since this book is vastly different from anything I’ve ever done before, I wanted to give people an easy way to check it out and support it before spending money. I also wanted to give people something to look forward to weekly, but that was more of a crapshoot. I felt like simply hitting the shelves with an eBook, with months between each volume, was going to result in fewer people trying it out and seeing what they think.

There’s also something to be said about having something to look forward to each week!

You say that you don’t mind people sharing your work, so long as they buy the next installment if they like the one they received.  Why do you not mind sharing?  What do you say to those who think you’re missing out on potential sales?

It’s simple: the internet exists. It’s not going away. Every single piece of content created in the modern era WILL INEVITABLY be uploaded to it. You can fight this, but it’s futile. My philosophy is that anyone who wasn’t going to buy it before downloading it wasn’t your customer in the first place. They would have opted to ignore you instead of reaching into their wallet. I’d rather give that person a chance to read my stuff. If they hate it, so what? They didn’t spend a dime on it. And if they love it, there’s a VERY high chance they’ll buy the book (1.99 for an ebook, 6.99 for a paperback, small prices to pay to support a writer you like). It also keeps me honest: I can’t write crap. I have to keep working to make better stuff, or I lose that person who has decided to support me.

Please describe your ideal writing session, and then what reality is for you when it comes to writing.

Ideal: I sit down and the work is already done, in perfect form, and I just look at it and go “oh wow, nice, that came out of my brain-chip and into the computer nicely!”

Reality: at first, it was a chore to write. And when I take breaks for more than a few days, it’s a chore to get going again. But just like working out, or eating right, or learning any new skill, when you make a habit of it it becomes not only routine, but you begin to miss it if you don’t do it.

I currently have a day job, so my writing begins after I get home and have dinner with my girlfriend and spend time with the pups and cats. I grab a cigar and a drink, open the laptop, turn off WiFi (VITAL!!!!) and start pecking away. When the cigar is done, i take a break, then find another cigar and get back to it. Some nights, I produce total garbage. Some nights, I come away with something I think I can work with. No chapter I’ve written has sprung forth from my fingertips in final form. I ALWAYS have to go back and redraft, then redraft again, then flesh out and fix up. Always.

It sucks on its surface, because who in their right mind loves redoing stuff over and over? It’s not misery, mind you. It’s just hard. And we are predisposed to avoid hard things.  But much like any meditation or work worth doing, you learn to love the process.

You’ve published both indie and traditional.  Which do you prefer and why?

Indie for the control and freedom and flexibility. Traditional has its merits -- the publisher handles printing and distribution. They copy edit. They design the books. They make deals with booksellers. But the truth is, even at my highest selling point when I was with Penguin, I was still hustling outside of writing words on the page. I was calling every place I could, arranging book signings myself, trying to get into book clubs and colleges and everywhere I could. And I still had to work with the editor for editing, and I still had to give input on design…

Today, with Amazon and CreateSpace, you can let them do an easy 80% of what any publisher does for you. The missing 20% is the prestige of the name, and with enough hustle and enough people reading your stuff, you can make up for that too. And the best part: every sale is yours. Every part of the process -- from design to when you decide to release it -- is under your control. It’s a lot more work, but again, the work is something you learn to love.  

Once Marlowe Kana is complete, what plans do you have for future books, either fiction or non-fiction?

I think for the foreseeable future, I’ll be working in fiction. It’s just plain more fun than talking about myself anymore. The internet is BEYOND full of people doing what I used to do, and it just doesn’t need another one. But the market for original stories that take you out of your day-to-day and transport you someplace where you can get excitement, adventure, intrigue… See new tech or creatures or ideas you never knew you wanted to learn more about… It’s huge and growing with every single day we have to live through this current news cycle of despair, hate, anger, argument, fighting, racism, violence and other crap.

Finally, what advice would you give to those looking to do this whole writing thing?

READ. A lot. Everyone will tell you, this is the very first step and it never stops. You never get to mark it “complete”. You don’t necessarily have to read about story structure, construction, storytelling, plot, or the mechanics (although I highly advise you do). You do, however, need to learn how to tell a story. You need to learn how to construct it. You need to learn how to advance a plot. And there’s no better way than diving into the work of literally thousands of amazing, talented, brilliant writers who did it their way. I’ve learned more reading Neil Gaiman, Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Issac Asimov, Andy Weir, and dozens of other geniuses than I have from manuals and texts on how to write (but I do have to say, I learned a lot from those too).  


Thanks for your time, Joe!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Tax Man Cometh

As most of you know, I began my business this past year so I could officially start publishing as an indie writer.  The freedom that has come with it has been great.  However, today I finished the one thing every business owner dreads - taxes.

Taxes are a part of life in America.  I'd be paying them regardless of whether I published through indie or traditional.  The only real difference is in how I report them - as income(through royalty payments by a traditional publisher), or through a Schedule C(filed as the head of a business).  As a business owner, I can do things I can't do when filing as regular income, like deduct the cost of inventory and business expenses.  These deductions mean that I have more income that's not taxable.

Make no mistake - I lost money this year.  I expected that.  This was my first year, and I know I still likely have a few more years of slogging through, plus the need of a break, to start showing a profit.  My losses weren't staggering, but they were real.  Lucky for me, I had a few thousand bucks set aside specifically for my business.

The nerve racking thing, however, is the labyrinth of IRS rules, as well as the risk of an audit.  I was very careful in annotating expenses.  There were probably even a few I could've taken but didn't since I was unsure of some.  I played as strictly by the book as I possibly could, mostly because the IRS scares the shit out of me(as it does most people).  That doesn't mean that my caution and double-checking of everything has totally alleviated my anxiety.  The IRS audits about three times as many returns of folks who have Schedule Cs than they do regular folks, so even with my meager amount, I'm at greater risk of an audit.  I don't know about you, but I went into writing to tell stories, not to get lambasted by a government agency.

This is part of life as an indie author.  That doesn't make it any more pleasant.  I advise caution and complete honesty as a business owner, as well as plenty of time to make sure you get things right.  With all of that, even I might not have gotten everything right(I hope I did, but I'm as human as the next person).  This is why it's crucial to know how to run a business and not just muddle through.  I'm sure you'd rather not have your next novel be a first hand account of losing everything in taxes.