Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Looking Back

2012 is winding down and instead of waiting around for its grand exit, I figured I would take a look back at the year now.  And what a year it was.

In January I was sitting on a completed rough draft of Blood of Two feeling a bit discouraged.  I had shelved the manuscript because it was the first of many in that story line, which is not an easy sell for a first time author.  Don't take that wrong; I don't walk away from difficulty, but from what I understood it was such a hard sell that it would be counter-productive.  So, Blood was shelved and work was underway on a stand alone novel .

Progress on Condr (the stand-alone novel) was labored, which is why I felt discouraged.  It is, without a doubt, a story that will get written, but it now sits on the shelf where Blood of Two once resided.

In May I purchased a cheap book for my Kindle.  The story was engaging, though the prose was littered with errors.  Even some of the phrases used had no business in a fantasy setting.  I was quite surprised to find that the author was an Indie.  No publisher had gotten their hands on the manuscript (and it showed), but it was selling.  Thus began my travels down a road that has really changed my life.

I began in earnest to edit Blood of Two, with a little help from my friends.  A breath of life had permeated my writing and the obsession has yet to subside.  In August I published Blood of Two and in September I began its follow-up.

Sales have been as expected, which is honestly unimpressive to the outsider looking in.  For those in the industry, which I am now a part of, my sales are considered average.  Again, sales of Blood of Two are going as expected.  I have sold more books than I have friends, and have gotten positive feedback from people that I have never met.  All things considered, life is good.

Since Blood of Two went on sale my writing life has been divided between actual writing, marketing research, and marketing.  Busy is the word.  I work, then I come home and write.  Life is good and life is different.

As 2012 winds down I find that I am now a writer.  I am a published author.  Strangers have seen what bounces around in my head and they approve.  On one hand this is surreal, on the other I can't help but think 'It's about damn time'.

As I move into 2013 my goals circulate through the veins of writing.  I have a short story about Celeste that I intend on releasing as a freebie.  I have two others about Princess Elanya, one of them a bit more light-hearted than most of my writing, and another story about Jaron Senith's nephew, Alik, who is shaping up to become a player in the Drums of Rallinwar storyline.  And, of course, the follow-up to Blood of Two is in the works.

Looking back, 2012 wasn't busy at all.  At least not compared to 2013.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Word Count Trap

I took years to write Blood of Two.  What was the hurry?  I have a well paying job that I enjoy; writing was a hobby.  Now, I have a deadline for the follow-up (self-imposed as it is), and writing has transformed from hobby to second job (that I love).

In order to meet my deadline I should probably have a goal of where I should be at certain time; rough draft done by a certain date, first edit done by another date, etc.  Well, I don't.  Kinda.  Sorta.  Okay, I have a rough idea of where I need to be.  For example, by May I need to be working with editors on the almost finished manuscript.  By the end of July I need to be wrapping it all up in a pretty bow, and by August I should be publishing it.  Really, really, loose goals that some writer's would cringe at, while others would be like "That's about right."

In the writing world there is a lot of discussion about word count production.  Two thousand words a day!  You have to write at least two thousand words a day.  I stick my tongue out in your general direction.

I work a sixty hour week.  According to some studys, I should be getting about 56 hours of sleep a week.  Which leaves behind 52 waking hours I am not at work.  Take those hours and subtract a little thing called life.  Unclogging a drain, paying that guy named Bill, fetching groceries, eating said groceries, actually speaking with that other person who has tolerated you and your fantasy world for 25 years, and finally just a few hours of kicking back and enjoying what you have worked for.  Not much left over for a second career in writing.

I spend anywhere from seven to fifteen hours a week on writing.  Don't make the mistake in thinking that all of those hours are spent typing the next book.  I have to sell what I have already written, so a significant amount of time is spent in the marketing arena.  Then there is research, which just baffles me; I write fantasy because I'm too lazy to do research, yet I find myself looking up things like the anatomy of a sword...  And of course, there is other prep work involved with the new novel.  Maps to be drawn up, new characters to be fleshed out, etc.  All told, I probably spend around seven hours a week actually writing the book.

So word production should be a primary goal, right?  Wrong.  Granted, my initial brain purge is crap when compared to the finished product, but if I focus on that word count on the bottom left of the screen, then my focus is not where it should be.  My focus is creating an engaging story.  If you are focused on word count, then the story could very well suffer.

This is not to say that I don't track my progress by word count.  Every night, just before I close the laptop, I will write down the word count of the novel.  Sometimes I look at that notebook page and think "Damn, did pretty good last week."  I like to see that number get larger on a daily basis; it means I am moving ahead.  The number of words I write each night fluctuates between 900 and 3000.  I am happy with either number (though admittedly ecstatic with 3000).

Of course, I work in the Quality department at my regular job, so quality before quantity is embedded in my being.  Just don't get caught up in that word count trap.  If you have a smile on your face when you finish up for the evening, then I think that alone is worth 2000 words.

Shameless plug:  Blood of Two, Book One in the Drums of Rallinwar series by C. Hollis Gunter is available where e-books are sold.  Check it out at outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Deisel, and Smashwords.  Read it, rate it, review it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

25 Words

When I sit back and look at my latest predicament, I just have to laugh.
I have written a book, several short stories, and have been plugging away at another book, so one would assume that words are not difficult for me to string together.  One would be wrong.  The most difficult part of writing, for myself, is coming up with the synopsis, the blurbs, and the tag lines.  Somewhere in this pile of blog posts, I fretted over the synopsis.  Now, I have spent weeks trying to come up with 25 simple words.

After quite a bit of research, I have come across an inexpensive, yet productive, method to market my book.  All I have to do is come up with 25 words to put on the ad.  Simple enough.  It will come to me in due time, I am sure, but what a mess this is.  I have a document open on my laptop where I have typed random lines of text in reference to Blood of Two.  I leave whatever I type and read over the lines from time to time to see if anything strikes a chord.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  %$@#

It's funny; it really is.  I know the book and what it is about; hell, I wrote the dang thing.  But for some redonkulous reason, I just can't come up with a good tagline.  It's like the guy who can build a hot rod from the ground up, but can't figure out how to put gas in it.

Shameless plug:
Blood of Two by C. Hollis Gunter.  Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Deisel, Kobo, Smashwords, or other e-book outlets.  Simple instructions:  Buy it, rate it, review it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's Over So Shut Up

There are certain topics that get banned from conversation during family get togethers for one reason or another:  religion, sports, politics etc.  Usually because the passion involved makes even the most likable person a true ass.

We all just suffured through another presidential election.  I think in many ways we suffered more than ever before.  In one sense, I am lucky.  I live in the state of Oklahoma.  In the grand scheme of things, Oklahoma doesn't matter.  We aren't one of those states that can decide an election, so no money isn't wasted on television commercials.  For that matter, if you are a democrat in Oklahoma, you may as well stay home on that one Tuesday every four years.

This time around it seems that social media was just littered with election garbage.  And it was just that; garbage.  The falsehoods propogated on Twitter, Facebook, etc. were astounding.  The sad part of it was that people presented these falsehoods as fact.  This of course makes them no better than the morally lacking candidates that ran for office.

Republican, Democrat, or whatever other not-a-chance party, it didn't matter.  The lies spread like an egg in a lopsided frying pan.  What really throws me off is that people that I thought were intelligent human beings shared, retweeted, reposted stories that were just outright lies, or misrepresentations of photographs.  So, either these intelligent people are liars, or they are dumber than I gave them credit for.  Either way, a lot of people, from all sides, lost a lot of my respect for them.

It all goes back to something I have said before on this blog:  Don't believe everything you see on TV, read in the paper, or find on the internet; research the facts.

If you share, retweet, repost a story without finding out whether or not it is true, then you have been made the fool.  Don the cute little hat with bells on it and do a little jig, because you are qualified for one thing, acting the fool.

And now that the election season has passed, I still get inundated with propoganda on the social media outlets.  It's over.  There is nobody that needs to be convinced that your side is the only side to be on for another four years.  And really, do you actually think that your lies will change someones mind?

It's over, so shut up.

My favorite line this election season, that says more about the speaker than it does about who they are speaking too:
"If you don't vote for Obama, then you are racist."

Shameless plug:
Blood of Two (Drums of Rallinwar:  Book One) is available in electronic format at your favorite e-book outlet, including Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Diesel, and Smashwords.  Buy it, rate it, review it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sometimes it just works

Since the release of Blood of Two in August, I have had conversations with readers (some friends/family, some not).  To my pleasant surprise, some elements of my story worked how I wanted them to.

When I created Tarimot, he was to be the comic relief, but he didn't agree.  He became more of the advisor to the group and not so much funny, though he does have his moments.  But, one of the things that I used to round him out was his speech pattern.  I actually have a file called Tarimots cadence that I revisit from time to time just to make sure I write his dialog correctly.  In my mind, this wasn't really a big thing, but many of the readers picked up on this and were complementary of it.  I was told by one reader that he felt like I could write a paragraph of Tarimot's dialog, and it would be apparent that he was the speaker without the use of a speaker attribute.  If I could pull this off with all of my characters, I would be ecstatic.

Blood of Two had its share of unexpected events, at least I hoped it did when I was writing them.  Again, I was happy to find out that they worked as I wanted.  One character was expected to go off the deep end, but most of the readers didn't expect the degree of the dive.  There were a couple of deaths in the book, and one in particular that made a reader or two really ticked at the author (mission accomplished).  I wanted to create characters that got the reader hooked, and for the most part I succeeded.

One death scene received the greatest complement I could hear.  The reader told me that the emotion and reactions of the characters around this one death was so spot on that he assumed that I had suffered the same loss.  I was so taken aback that I failed to tell him that I hadn't.

And finally, there was the end of the book.  I agonized over it for months.  It still bothers me from time to time.  It came across as so damned altruistic, but the readers liked it.  That's what counts in this business of sharing the imagination.

The point of this post?  I once read, in one of my many writing books, that if you are particularly proud of a scene, or phrase, get rid of it.  Balderdash.  If after a few edits, you are still proud of it, then it must be good.  I have several readers that will back me up on this one.

Sometimes, it just works.

Shameless plug:
Blood of Two (Drums of Rallinwar: Book One) is available at most e-book outlets.  Check it out at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Diesel, Smashwords, and other electronic retailers.  Buy it, rate it, review it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Every Picture Tells a Story, Don't It?

I am a sucker for a story.  Notice I didn't say 'good' story.

I have sat through countless very bad movies just because of the story.  I like to see what the story teller does, where they fail, where they succeed, where they were original, where they were cliche' (Avatar).  Was there a beginning, middle, and end, or was it beginning, muddle, and end?

I have done the same with books, moreso seeking knowledge on a professional level.  Why is Moby Dick a classic?  Why are Steinbeck and Hemingway celebrated?

I can wander through art museums and dream up stories for paintings that catch my attention.  Most likely they aren't the same stories the artist's had in mind, but that is the beauty of art.  Each rendition tells a different story to different people.

The same goes with photography.  There are stories to be found in pictures.  I absolutely love a photograph that conjures a story in my head.  Many photographs don't trigger that story for me, but they may for other's.

My brother is a photographer (Question Mark Photography).  Some of his pictures speak to me, other's don't.  I found one that did, and I couldn't resist the urge to type up the story it told:

The rising sun cast its light across the water and filtered through the steel beams of the old bridge. She hugged her knees up close to her body and pulled her sleeves over her hands. The fight was so stupid she hadn’t bothered to cry; she just seethed. How could someone so perfect be so damned insensitive?

Footsteps crunched across the dormant grass. She looked up. It was him.

I'm not posting the photo here for a couple of reasons.  The first being that I didn't ask permission to do so, the second because I have an exercise for you.  Click the above link and find the photo that matches the story.  It should be easy enough, but there is something else you need to do while you are there.  Look at the other pictures.  What stories come to mind with each photograph?  Is there a particular picture that inspires you to write?

And, it wouldn't hurt to "Like" his page.

Every picture tells a story.  Not the same story to everybody, nor does it speak to everybody, but it does tell a story.
Shameless plug:  Blood of Two (Drums of Ralllinwar: Book One) is available where e-books are sold.  Check it out at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and several other venues.  Buy it, rate it, review it.

Monday, November 12, 2012


1. belief in perfection: belief in and pursuit of perfection as an attainable goal

"youthful idealism"

2. living by high ideals: aspiring to or living in accordance with high standards or principles

3. belief that material things are imaginary: the philosophical belief that material things do not exist independently but only as constructions in the mind

In my mind, one of the catalysts to progress is Idealism, or "belief in perfection".  We see something that can be improved, or performed in a more productive manner and we pursue a goal of perfecting the process or thing.  I love it.  Idealism drives a lot of what I do at work and at home.  To some extent, Idealism has driven me to write fantasy that does not conform to the cliche's or formulae that have been prevelant in this genre.
Idealism rocks.
However...   It is one thing to be idealistic, and quite another to be condescending.
Idealistic does not necessarily mean "better".  In some cases your pursuit of perfection may lead you down a less productive road.  In many cases, your pursuit has been tried and been written off as counter-productive.
We see this in all walks of life.  Take my path of publishing, often referred to as Indie Publishing.  At some point in time, Indie Publishing (not to be confused with Vanity Publishing) was an idealistic pursuit.  Not a better pursuit, just idealistic.  In a broad sense, it was actually not a new idea, considering Vanity Publishing has been around for a long, long time.  In a narrower sense, Indie Publishing is idealistic.  E-Readers and the potential audience (by far greater than the old Vanity route) has created this idealism.  But it is not better than traditional publishing, just different.

At work, you may be flooded with a new method of reaching point 'x'.  Idealism at work.  Is it better than the traditional method?  

Maybe it's raising a child.  Idealistic methods of child rearing have been around forever.  As mentioned before, this is how we progress.  Are these methods better?  

The better mouse trap?  

Methods of lawn care?  

Washing a car?  

Idealism is great.  Just be careful how you present it.  Idealism can quickly become freak hippy voodoo, expecially if you choose to be condescending to those who don't share your methods of progress.   After all, who is smarter?  The one who believes their way is the best way, or the one looks at many methods and decides which one works best for them?  

Now, how about we tie that into a character or two in story.  A character who is idealistic, yet narrow-minded and condescending.  A character who is idealistic, yet constantly get distracted by bigger and better ideas.  A character who is idealistic, but is appreciative of those who choose to do things differently than them.   Characters abound.  We just witnessed a few examples of idealists pursuing several different government offices.  And there were more than one or two that were viewed as freak, voodoo hippies.

Shameless Plug: Blood of Two (Drums of Rallinwar Book One) by C. Hollis Gunter is available through most electronic book outlets including: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ibooks, and Smashwords.  Buy it.  Rate it.  Review it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

An Artist Needs Feedback

For those of you who know me, this post may appear to be entirely out of character.  I have lived most of my life bearing little concern for what people think of me, or what I do.  And then I wrote a book.

To this point, sales of Blood of Two have been as expected.  As I peruse the reports, numbers from the different outlets are beginning to come in and they are good, not great, but good.  What I am lacking is reviews.  Currently, Blood of Two has three reviews on Amazon.  As a percentage of books sold, this is a very low number of reviews.  This is where my personality takes an about face.  I want to know what you think.  Make that, I NEED to know what you think.

I have received feedback from those close to me, and even a handful of people that I don't know.  Overall the feedback has been good.  Most importantly, I have heard a few comments about how the story could be improved.  And that is what feedback is all about.

While positive reviews and feedback is awesome and extremely encouraging, the negative feedback is just as important.  When someone has something not so complementary about Blood of Two, I carefully weigh the criticism.  Is it personal taste, or is it something that I can use to improve the next project?

There is not much I can do about someone's taste in books.  There are multiple genre's out there and varying styles of authors.  If you didn't like Blood of Two because it's just not for you, then it's just not for you.  However, if you didn't like the book because there was not enough swords in the neck, or the imagery wasn't clear, then if I feel like there is validity to your argument; I can improve the next book utilizing your input.  We both win.  You get a book that is more enjoyable to you, and I get a book that sells.

Here's the other part.  I won't walk up to you and ask what you thought of the book.  Why?  This puts you in an awkward position.  Do you tell me the truth, or just tell me it was great and change the subject?  Right or wrong, this is how I am.  If you read my book and see me on a regular basis and never mention it, I can assume you didn't like it.  I'm curious.  I want to know why.  But, I won't ask.  I don't want to put you on the spot.  Just realize, no matter what you thought of the book, I NEED to know.

An artist needs feedback.  No matter the medium; paints, photography, words, chalk, or yarn.  An artist needs feedback.

To improve.

Shameless plug:
Blood of Two, book one in the Drums of Rallinwar series, by C. Hollis Gunter is available at most e-book outlets including: Barnes and Noble, Amazon, iTunes, and Smashwords.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Character Creation

In this ultr-political season my cynicism is at an explosive level, so I have opted not to subject you to my thoughts on liars and the morally reprehensible running for office...

I have been plugging away at book two in the Drums of Rallinwar series.  The process is slow going, not because of the story, but because of the characters that must be created.  You see, I have an issue with just slapping a name and description into the text and moving on; every character in my books has a story.

Leandros Coth plays a larger role in Book Two and when it came to writing his first scene I had two new characters to introduce.  The first character is his right hand man, Enicks.  The second is his lover/girlfriend/housekeeper.  Before I could introduce these characters I had to write up a sketch for each of them.  All of my character sketches are of the same format and provide specific information for them.  As you have most likely guessed, the information includes: name, height, age, build (or weight), but there is other important information that helps me flesh out these characters.

I include their family, not always names, but what family members they have; mother, father, wife, children, etc.  This helps in how they interact with other characters.  Think about it.  If you have children, you look at friends that don't just a little differently.  If you are unmarried, your married friends treat you a little differently.  What family you have, and who they are (or were), has an impact on your personality.  Like it or not.

I include a brief history of the character, which often leads to a short story to write when time permits.  This also provides a little insight to the character's personality.  In the case of Tandy Aramel (a new character in book two), her family was murdered by soldiers.  It is only natural that she mistrusts military.

The last item on a character dossier, and possibly the most important, is there desires.  What does this character want?  What a character wants often drives their decisions.  In the case of Enicks, he wants nothing more than to please his boss, Leandros.  Why?  Because Leandros is a rich business man with no known heirs.  In Enicks mind, if he serves Leandros to perfection he just might get a cut of his wealth with the man kicks over.

As I mentioned before, a lot of times these sketches lead to a story outside of the book.  I have written several shorts that involved many of my characters.  It's a nice distraction, and it also helps me to understand who these characters are.

Of course, it is my hope that this creation process makes the characters real for you, the reader.

Shameless plug:
If you haven't picked it up yet, Blood of Two by C. Hollis Gunter is available in electronic format at most e-book retailers.  A paperback copy can also be found at Amazon.
The ebook is cheap, only $2.99.  Pick it up, read it, and let me know what you think.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Nice Calm Weekend

I am not an outdoorsman by any stretch of the imagination.  My standard version of camping includes a travel trailer, steak, and a good book.  But I do enjoy a good hike with my family.  In the case of this latest weekend, it was just myself and my beautiful wife.
We have hiked some strenuous trails in the Rocky Mountains, a couple of not-so-strenuous trails in the Smoky Mountains, and this last weekend, a somewhat tame trail in Southeast Oklahoma.  With every hike, my mind drifts back to a time when European explorers first made their way across North America.
My adventure this weekend was literally a stroll through the woods.  I had the backpack loaded with bottled water, rain poncho's, beef jerky, a compass, a crude map, and several other implements of manufactured comfort.  Most importantly, the trail ahead was clear, even with an occasional orange dot spray painted onto a tree to show me that I hadn't lost my way.
I look at this photograph and have to think about how uncomfortable a night's sleep was in this wilderness.  You can't take two steps without finding a stone the size of your head.  I don't care how many blankets you carried, those stones would drive into your back, making that next day uncomfortable.
How far could you travel each day without a well-worn trail to guide you?  With an eye on the compass and an eye on the direction of travel, it had to be slow going.  Fortunately for the early traveler, the undergrowth in these woods are sparse.  Unfortunately, there are bluffs and other inconvenient formations that could cause a detour and delay the forward progress.  The few miles I traveled through the forest on a chilly Saturday afternoon could very well have taken more than a day for the early explorer.
So, that somewhat tame hike I enjoyed this weekend wouldn't have been tame a couple of hundred years ago.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Characters do the Darndest Things

I get asked a couple of standard questions by those who have read Blood of Two.

What will happen to (insert character name here) in the second book?
How many books will encompass Drums of Rallinwar?

Both of these questions can only be answered by the characters.  Sorry, I have little to no input here.  I know it sounds a bit looney, but it is true.

When I sit down to write, I have an idea of what scenes I will be writing that day.  This usually goes hand in hand with a (loose) outline of the book.  That is as far as I can plan, because more often than not, the characters have their own ideas of what needs to happen.

Each character has their own personality.  While I may want Aeldon to sit back and take insolence from one of the Keeper's; he has other ideas.  You can guess where he will take a scene, and it will usually end with a sore hand.  I can't force a character to do something that is a departure from their personality.  That is not to say that they never surprise me.

The first scene in the second book with Qa'Veck took me off guard.  It was a simple scene meant to show us his new duties.  His reaction to the changes in Dalthanalle was not what I expected, yet it fit with his character.  Unfortunately, his reaction doesn't fit with a future scene I had schemed for him.

So, you see, I know what I want to happen in book two, but the mystery remains as to what the characters will allow to happen.  The destination is clear, but they are the navigators for this journey, and some of the paths they choose make driving difficult.  Maybe difficult is a poor choice of words.  Exciting, interesting.  Definately different than I had planned.

C. Hollis Gunter
p.s.  I sign this post only to populate search engines...
p.s.s  But who is going to google my name...
p.s.s.s  Maybe I should also include:  author of Blood of Two...
p.s.s.s.s  Now who would google that?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One Month In

A month ago today I began my journey as an author and published Blood of Two.  I suppose a writer diving off into this adventure without their eyes wide open would be disappointed at this point, but the results are what I expected.

One month in, I am not a rich man, nor am I a famous author.  Neither of which was something that I expected.  Am I content?  No.  Am I discouraged?  No.  As far as sales are concerned, the book has met my expectations at this point.

This is part of writing a book that is the most challenging for myself; marketing.  I have never been adept at selling anything, including myself.  I think numerous failed job interviews serve as testimony to that statement.  So, this is another lesson that I need to learn.  Hey, I taught myself computer programming and have become quite proficient at it, I can teach myself to market my book.  I hope.

The most difficult part of marketing is convincing myself that time spent in that arena is part of my writing.  I spent two hours last night working on the marketing aspect, all the while pining that I should be working on the follow-up to Blood.  In essence, I was, as well as continuing my work on Blood of Two.

The one thing that I didn't expect when I published Blood of Two was the feedback.  Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have published the book if I didn't think it was worthy.  However, often what I think is good is not what other's think is good.  The feedback has blown me away.

I have read reader reviews of Blood that were critical of certain aspects as well as complimentary of the book.  And for the most part, I agreed.  I was also elated that people that I didn't know enjoyed the story.  My friends and family, of course, have been extremely encouraging, which is priceless.  But when a complete stranger praises my work, it seems to add credence to what I have been told by those close to me.  These comments give me drive to continue.  Hell, even the criticisms give me drive to carry on.

I am doing something that I enjoy and people appreciate what I am doing.  My gut tells me that the sales will eventually pick up, with a little help.  So, I am happy with the process so far.

One month in and I'm not concerned with the sales, my concern lies with completing book two.  In eleven months I hope to do a search for C. Hollis Gunter on Amazon and see two titles.  And I hope that it is received as well as Blood of Two.

Friday, September 14, 2012

If You Read it, Review it

An honest review is as good as gold.

The world of independent publishing is populated with get-rich-quick schemers.  Formulae are being developed and some claim they have found perfection in theirs.  Write a book, e-publish it, market it through social networking, purchase online reviews, write another within six months, rinse and repeat.  By book number 3 (or five depending on who you believe), you will be able to quit your day job.

Did you catch that little piece about purchasing online reviews?  They are available for purchase, and not just for books.  And do you really think someone is going to pay for a review that is not a positive review?

I will say it now:  If you purchase a review for your book, you are NOT an author.

This practice does not bode well for the serious writer.  As a reader, if I surf around on an online retailer and find a 99 cent book that has a plethora of 5 star reviews and that book sucks, I will be wary of the next 99 cent book with a five star rating.  Eventually, if I get bitten enough, I will view all 99 cent books as useless crap.  Which, by the way, I do.

I like to support my fellow independent authors, so I have purchased quite a few titles written by them.  I have come across quite a few gems, but I have also found books that should have been left on a hard drive that was about to crash.  Almost every one of the hack jobs that I have read had nothing but positive reviews.

If every review for your title is an honest review, you will NOT have an overall five star rating.  Somewhere in that list of reviews, someone will give it less than five stars.  It is a fact of life.  People's taste in fiction is different.  What one person loves about your book, another will absolutely hate about it.  In the world of the internet, people are not afraid to tell you how they feel.

Don't believe me?  Check out the reviews for some of the classics on Amazon.  Take a gander at George R. R. Martin's reviews for his latest book, and everything this man touches lately is gold.

Bottom line:  The industry needs honest reviews.  Whether you liked the book or not, your review can be helpful to the author.  Maybe you disliked an element that the author thought they pulled off well, and you pointing it out brings to light a way for them to improve.  Maybe the book is just crap and readers need to be warned off of it.  Write the review.  Be honest.  Be tactful.  If you are hateful, or attack the author, the review will likely be ignored.  Have I said it yet?  BE HONEST!  I mean this whole-heartedly.  If you don't like my book I want to know why, and I believe most true author's should be like this.

If you read it, review it.

And I mean it.

Anybody want a peanut?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Vacation is Over

Blood of Two was published some three weeks ago and I took some time off from writing.  Last week I took off from my real job.  Today; I am back.  Back and excited for what is to come.
This evening I will dive back into book two and the thoughts churning through my mind have me anxious to put them in print.  The people in my head have been quite active these past few weeks.

A large part of my excitement is the feedback I have received from Blood of Two.  To be honest, I didn't expect much, but a couple of reviews on Amazon, and some comments from people I know have been more than encouraging.  Sales have been what I expected, being a debut novel and I can feel this train gathering momentum as it chugs away from the station.

My target date for book two is August of 2013.  I would love to have it out sooner, but I am not going to force the process.  For myself, there are a lot of steps in the process of making a publishable novel and to skip those steps would be to create a substandard work.  I will not push out a book that isn't ready for the reader.

One thing that kept coming back to me these last three weeks:  I am a writer.  Of all the things that I have been labeled throughout my life, this title has its own special feeling.  It is something that I have wanted to be for a long, long time.  I am a husband, a father, a brother, a son, and soon to be a grandfather, all of which have significant meaning and a special place in my life, but now, I am also a writer.  My brother is a photographer, my son a musician, and me, well, I am a writer.  Damn that feels good.

Vacation is over.  Time for me to get back to being a writer.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Lessons Learned

Now that the dust has settled on my start into this e-publishing adventure, I thought it might help others if I shared a few of the things that I have learned through this process.  By no means am I an expert now.  I think it's safe to say that I know just enough to get the job done.  I still have a lot to learn, but here is what I have learned to this point.

There are several resources available to the new author, and the more you read the more prepared you can be.  One of the first things you have to remember in the world of e-readers is:  What you see is not what you get.  By this I mean that your manuscript, as it appears in MSWord, is not as it appears on a Kindle, Nook, or the plethora of other mechanisms.  You have to take that wonderful manuscript and butcher it up to make it look good.

The best place to start is BEFORE you begin your manuscript.  Unfortunately, most of us don't know this until we have spent many long hours on our manuscript.  So, be prepared to spend hours doctoring up your work.  Be patient.  Don't skip any steps in the process, it will only prolong the process.

Save your original manuscript and modify a copy of it for the conversion process.  This way, you always have the original to fall back on.

A good starting point is to read David Dalglish's blog entry on this subject.  It is a good quick-and-dirty look at prepping your manuscript, but it is not the end all.  There are aspects of the journey that he doesn't cover, but I would consider this a must read.  Especially for those of you who are not on friendly terms with your computer.

Amazon Kindle

Step one is to download a free copy of Building Your Book for Kindle.  Give it a read at work, during your breaks of course.  Then open up your manuscript and just follow the instructions in the book.  Again, don't skip any steps in the process (especially the table of contents part...).
Amazon actually makes this whole thing fairly simple.  Once you have finished following the process that the book spells out, you will have an html file ready to upload to Amazon.  The most challenging part for me was formating the book cover correctly.


Download the free copy of the Smashwords Style Guide.  Just like with Amazon, follow the instructions in the guide, and do not skip any steps.
Smashwords is bit more demanding than Amazon.  This is because of the premium outlets like Apple and Barnes and Noble.  Your electronic book has to be formatted properly before they will send it on to other outlets.  Keep in mind, the 'meatgrinder' at Smashwords will not catch some formatting errors.  So even though your book may be approved by the software, issues can still exist.
When I uploaded my book the first time, I saw that text on the left hand side was cut off on Apple devices, and the map in my book would not show, yet the 'meatgrinder' accepted the book.  When the book completed the second step of the process (real people taking a look at it), I was instructed to fix these things.  Without a doubt I lost some sales here, because before the book made it to the second part of this process several people had already viewed the sample and most likely written it off because of formatting errors.
Again, do not skip any steps outlined in the style guide and you can avoid losing sales.  Take your time going through all this.  I know, you're ready to get your book out there, but getting in a rush will cost you.


So you spend several hours working on your manuscript formatting it in silly ways to translate to the multitude of e-readers.  You head is stuck in the what-you-see-is-not-what-you-get mode.  Go eat a sandwich, watch TV, mow the lawn, whatever you need to do to get out of that mode.  Because when it comes to creating the print version with Createspace, what you see IS what you get.

Quite frankly, the print version of Blood of Two is embarrassing.  I love the cover, but the inner content looks cheap.  It looks cheap because I failed to make it look like a standard book.  Set up your word processor to reflect the print size of your book.  In my case it was 6x9.  Once you do that, grab a book off your shelf and see what you can do to make your document emulate that professionally published book.  What you see on your computer screen is what you will see on the printed page.

Again, take your time.  You want your book to look its best.  Take no shortcuts.  You took months to write your book, take a few hours to present your book at its best.  Do not make the same mistake I made.

I know there isn't much here, but the main thing to remember is patience.  Don't think that you will go home on a Tuesday night and be published by the time you head to bed.  While it is very possible that will happen, you can't jog into the process with that attitude.  Take your time to do it right.  It doesn't matter if you've written a masterpiece if people can't read it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Drums of Rallinwar Book One: Blood of Two

It's here!

I know I've been a bit quiet for the last week or so, but it has been with good reason.  Blood of Two is now a published book.  It has been a stress filled weekend with manipulating the manuscript to meet the different requirements of the varied electronic formats, but book one is now behind me.

The book is available at Amazon.

And it is also available on Smashwords.  This site has it available under multiple formats: Kindle, epub, rtf, pdf, lrf, pdb, and txt.

The print version should be available on Amazon sometime this week.  Sometime over the next couple of weeks it will also be available at other electronic outlets such as Barnes and Noble, iBooks, etc.

If you read it and enjoy it (my ultimate goal), please take the time to give it an honest review at whatever outlet you purchased it from, and spread the word.  Recommend it to a friend, or enemy for that matter...

Honestly, because of the route I have chosen, word of mouth is important to this book's success.

I hope you enjoy Blood of Two, and I look forward to bringing you many more books.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gatekeepers vs. Curators

So many things are on my mind while I eagerly await the final round of copy edits.  I've been working on formatting the book for e-readers.  Waiting for a camper to get in stock.  Looking ahead to a short vacation.  And reading a plethora of articles about the rise of indie authors, which I will soon be one.

As expected, when you read blogs, forums, news articles, press releases, etc., you see two sides of a story and the truth lies somewhere in between.  Reading from the viewpoint of the e-revolution, which includes indie authors and electronic book sellers, you get a celebratory feel.  Life is good.  Publish your book and hit the lottery.

There are a lot of success stories in the Indie world and it is the selling point for that side.  Though the reality isn't quite that rosey.

The viewpoint of traditional publishing is, as expected, all doom and gloom about independent publishing.  According to them, the average author sells 50 copies.  Since they can't seem to provide the reader with the source of that information, I tend to think they pull that number out of their head.

Like I said, somewhere in between these viewpoints lies the truth.  But the argument that intrigues me most is the one that the traditionalists use the most:  There are no gatekeepers in the Indie world, therefore the market is flooded with crap.

I can give them that point, but that is just one side of the argument.

In traditional publishing the path to paper is over-populated with these gatekeepers.  An author pens his story and his query and submits it to the first gatekeepers, the agents.  Stories of great author's that almost didn't get published because an agent wouldn't pick them up are all over the place.

Another gatekeeper is the publisher.  Stephen King was turned away by how many publishers?

I guess my point is that these traditional gatekeepers buy into a book based on what they think will sell, and they are often wrong.  Just as they will publish books that don't sell, they don't publish books that will sell.

As an indie author, I am circumventing the gatekeepers.  There is a way into the building that isn't guarded (yet), and folks like me are taking advantage of it.  We are going straight to the readers; the ones who care more about what they buy as opposed to what will sell.

The reader is the curator.  If readers don't like my books, they won't sell.  If my books are good, they will sell.  In one way, it's not that simple, but in another it really is that simple.

This method of publishing is a win for both parties involved.  The reader gets a book for a reasonable price and the author gets his stories off his desk and into the world.

Traditionalists don't like it, because it threatens their world, and in some cases their livelihood.  So when they paint the cover, it is dark and scary.

Indie's love it because it is cheap and easy.  So their painting is all butterflies and rainbows.

When the broth boils away, we are left with gatekeepers and curators and the reader's may end up deciding which is better.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Coming Soon

People keep asking me if I am excited.  The simple answer is:  No.  I am anxious.

Just how will this book do?  I don't expect to sell more than a few copies, but those few who purchase it; how will it be perceived by them?  Friends, family, I mean no offense, but you are supposed to tell me you like it, even if you don't.  So, if you tell me it is good, by default I won't believe you.  Now, if you tell me you didn't like it, then I just might believe you.  However, if a complete stranger likes my book, then maybe I have hit on something.

Kind of weird when you think about it.  This is one of those few cases where someone would trust a stranger over family or a friend.

No, I am not excited about the impending release.  I am nervous as I could possibly be (translated to southernese:  Nervous as all get out).  I have spent a considerable amount of time (just ask my neglected wife) on this book, and it is an awful thought that it could just plain suck.  Nervous, nervous as can be.

Anyway, the book will be released in electronic and print format sometime between now and August 31.  I do hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Yo! Thanks

Most likely my last round of pencil edits is behind me.  I will spend the next week turning those margin notes into text and giving the book one last read.  After that, I have a "buy my book!" paragraph to drum up, and the Author Notes for the end of the book.  As I stretch my legs for this home stretch run, I just needed to say one thing:

Thank You!

There have been several people over the years that have motivated me to pursue this craft, either directly or indirectly.  On top of those people, there have been a handful more that have helped me take a rough draft to a (pardon my modesty) really good manuscript.

And then there is this social networking BS.  For those who know me personally, you know why I call it BS.  I am not exactly what one would refer to as a "people person".  I suppose it may be the fact that my mind lives in another world.  This whole social networking thing is really stretching my limits and has been an element leagues outside of my comfort zone, but for some off-the-wall reason it is working for me.

I look back at the history of this blog and can already see positive results.  The month of July alone has garnered more traffic than the last two years.  So, somebody actually reads what this old man has to say?  Seriously though, thank you to those of you that do read it.  And an even bigger thanks to those who refer this blog to other's.

Twitter.  Oy.  A place where I am compelled to come up with something to say on a regular basis.  I don't even talk to myself on a regular basis.  But, again, I have seen positive results come from my involvement in that area.  We will see if it translates into sales, but I doubt you will find me putting out the daily "Buy my book" tweet.  That's just not me.

Facebook.  Well my wife posted something on her Facebook account the other day about my upcoming novel.  Unlike myself, my wife is a popular person on Facebook.  That one post brought traffic to the World of Nilrus Facebook page, and I can only believe that more will follow.

Thank you to all of you who follow my progress and spread the word about my upcoming book.  Like I've mentioned previously, I'm not out to make it rich.  I just want to tell my stories.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Almost There

Currently, I am working on the (hopefully) final edit of my novel with only 37 days remaining until my self-imposed deadline.  This has been one heck of a ride, especially these last two months.

Many, many years ago this story took root in my imagination.  It took a few years more before I worked up the courage to put the story to paper, or computer screen.  On my way to that point I read several books about writing and even tossed in a class or two that helped me along the way.

I suppose what really kickstarted this journey was a creative writing class that I took in college.  I was encouraged by fellow students and the professor after a couple of short stories were critiqued in class.  The prologue to the book is actually based on a short I wrote for that class.

I began with several character sketches and shorts involving these characters.  It still amazes me how the characters took a life of their own as I wrote about them.  At the risk of sounding a bit off my rocker, the characters dictated to me how they responded to situations that I put them in.  Tarimot is one of those characters that I created who refused to fit the mold I had imagined.  He holds several of the traits that I gave him, but he refused to be the character that I wanted him to be.  He showed me who he was and though I didn't much care for it; he has become a better character than what I envisioned.

When I completed the second edit a couple of years ago, I began the search for a viable outlet.  In my research for agents, I found that my book was not likely going to get published in its current form.  You see, this story has always been a multiple book story.  It simply could not be compressed into a single novel, and believe me I tried.  After several failed attempts to end the story, yet leave it open for continuation, I gave up and began a stand alone book.

Condr is the main character of that book and the concept is another passion of mine.  I wanted to create a character that would return in other stand-alone novels in a serial type format.  The Adventures of sort of thing.  I suppose Indiana Jones would be the best example of the type of single story return characters.  As much as I wanted this to work out, my attention kept turning back to the original manuscript.

As documented in this blog, earlier this year I stumbled upon the catalyst for this new adventure.  Thus, in 37 days (or less) I will become an Independent Author.  In one sense, this is something that I never wanted to do.  I am, by default because of my age, of an old school frame of mind.  Self-publishing has always been the kiss of death for aspiring writers.  A lot has changed in the book world over the last few years.  The big six continue to charge too much for their e-books, which has opened the door wide for the independent author.  I know several Indie's who have been offered book deals after having pursued the independent route.  This was all but unheard of ten years ago.  So, no longer is the self-publishing route the kiss of death.  On the contrary, I believe it is fast becoming the norm and this belief, in my eyes, was substantiated by Terry Goodkind just a few weeks ago when he self-published his latest novel.

So, here I go.  In 37 days (or less), my writing career officially begins.  It has been a long ride of ups and downs, but I would buy a ticket for that ride again.  At this point, I am happy with manuscript's progress and I look forward to seeing what other's think of it.  But don't think that I will just sit back and wait; book two has already begun.

For now, I am almost there.

Monday, July 16, 2012

So, What Is It About?

So, what is this book about?  Sounds like a simple question in search of a simple answer.  Yeh, whatever.

I posted something on facebook a while back that actually sounded pretty darn good (if I say so myself), but it really wasn't a complete synopsis of the upcoming novel:
"Devon must help his mentor, the dwarf that raised him as his own, return to his fallen home, to die. Along the way Devon loses friends, finds out more about himself, and learns a surprising history behind his step-father. His life changes in unexpected ways, and in the end he braces for even more..."
I couldn't find the complete post (thank you Facebook), but you get the idea.  A young half-elf goes through the character arc, blah, blah, blah.
I suppose this is something that all authors have to face.  How do you write up a blurb that tells what the book is about and in turn, sells that book?  This portion of writing goes hand in hand with all the other aspects; it isn't as easy as it looks.  You have the idea, you know what you want to say, but you don't know how to say it.
So, again, what is this book about?
It is about a half-elf who faces some life-changing experiences.  It is about a dwarf who is going home to finish a job begun some forty years prior.  It is about an elf who comes face to face with his hatred.  It is about a prince who learns that his life has been built on a lie.  It is about another prince who has found that he has held himself back because of his inability to come to terms with a lost love.  It is about a princess who learns that people will lie to her to make her feel more secure.  It is about a kingdom built on hypocrisy.
It is about the ignorance of racism.
None of which will sell a book.  That initial facebook post may sell the book, but it also sells it short.  So, I basically have 45 days to drum up a paragraph that will sell the book AND give some idea about the many facets of this novel.  Again, nothing new.  All writers have to go through this.
I suppose the best practice is to know the answer to the question when somebody asks you what the book is about.  If you are writing a book; do you know the answer to that question?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Map of Dalth Valley

Map provided by Lucky Art.  Be sure to check him out on Facebook @http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lucky-Art/236172039766357

In the World of Nilrus there are many cartographers, but one stands above the rest; Lucious Dunbarien.

Nobody is sure of where Lucious actually hails, nor are they sure of his age.  It seems his maps date back several hundred years, though he doesn't always sign them, his work is unique, if somewhat inaccurate.  It is rumored that he once apprenticed under an alchemist, an herbalist, a blacksmith, and a tanner all at the same time when he was young.  Why he began the career of cartographer is often speculated.

Lucious travels the world with an apprentice.  He has invented several methods to help in his pursuit, including the Millstone wagon, which drops a stone every 5200 feet or so, the survey tripod and all of the tools that go along with it, and of course his greatest invention of them all, the Dunbarien Directional Location Device.

He and his apprentice will utilize the local population to determine names of geographical locations, which oftentimes leads to ambiguities.  An orc may name a mountain one thing, while an elf calls it by another name, and still the humans refer to it as another.  In some instances, Lucious will combine names when he labels the map, which, as you can imagine, can lead to confusion.  Unless, of course, the local population likes the new name, which is rare.

His accuracy sometimes comes into question, though not where he can hear.  One can rest assured though, if he places a mountain on the map, that mountain exists.  While his accuracy is occasionally skewed, the inhabitants of the world hold the man with a great deal of respect.  The village of Cantel moved its location 30 miles, just so travelers would be able to find them by following one of Lucious's maps.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Anxiety of Finality

I just completed this round of edits on my novel.  Honestly, as much as I have tried to track my progress and save the manuscript at various steps, I don't know how many times I have read and edited my own book.
As I approached the end of the novel I couldn't help but feel that a complete re-write was needed for the last few chapters, yet when I got there, I just basically doctored up a few paragraphs here and there.  Which leads me to the anxiety of the situation.
What will my wonderful crew of editors think of the ending?  I find myself a bit Charlie Brownish on this one.  One moment I feel like the ending is a bit anti-climatic, although it is book one of a couple, or a few.  The next moment I feel like the end is perfect, as it leaves the reader wanting more.  But, then, that is why I have the editing crew.  To this point they have been honest with me about the story and I have no reason to doubt that if they feel the ending sucks, they will tell me it sucks.

Waiting for the feedback sucks.

The next step in this process is go through the marked up manuscript that two of the editors have given me.  The most challenging aspect of this will be to re-write the prologue, which I admit is a bit lame.  Beyond that, at first glance, I have quite a few typos and I may need to insert a sentence here and there to clear up some confusion.  With 57 days to release, I have plenty of time to make this book right.

As anxious as I am for feedback on the last few chapters of the book, I can't even begin to imagine how anxious I will be when the novel goes up for sale.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Is It Greed?

I'm torn, and I know that part of my thinking is due to the fact that I really don't much care for this particular author as a person.  We have never met, but through his interviews and such there is this pompous air about him.  Who knows, if we met I would probably like the guy.

A very successful author (and I do mean very) recently released a book through self-publishing means.  This is a good thing for him, because now he will make the money that he has earned through his success by cutting out the major publishers take.  This also highlights the relevance of the young e-reader in the book world.  Overall this is a good thing for him, for myself and the countless other independents out there, and for the customer.

Through traditional channels, this book would have been north of $15 for an electronic copy.  By bypassing the publisher, this book is available for $8.99.  And this is where I am torn.

While the price point for most Indie's is between $.99 and $5.00, this $9 price seems a bit extreme.  Publishing an electronic book can cost nothing.  Granted, this author probably spent some decent coin on marketing and editing, because he can, in the grand scheme of things that cost is likely negligible.

This book will probably sell close to a million copies because of his track record.  With Amazon, the author pulls in up to 70% of sale.  This author stands to make close to 6 million on this one release.  Divide that in half and it is still a significant amount.  So, is he charging too much?  It is less than what the publisher would charge, so the customer is still getting a decent deal.

Maybe it is the perfect price.  The customer gets a decent deal and the author hits the lottery.

Maybe I'm just jealous?

I don't know that I could charge more than $5 for a book, I think especially if I sold millions.  For myself, $5 is a fair price to ask.  Anything more just seems greedy.  I could be wrong, maybe he has spent millions in promoting this new book.  I just don't know.  I tend to like the path of providing the customer with a quality product at a fair price that benefits both myself and the reader.  Nine bucks just doesn't do it for me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day Dreamer

I suppose it is true of most writers, but I dream of what could be.  I can't help it.  I know the reality of things.  I will likely work until a week after my death, at which time I will still be in debt up to my eyeballs, and my books will have sold 16 copies each.  A tad bit pessimistic, I know, but I do still live in the real world.

Despite all of that, I can't help but daydream about how well my first book will do.  Will it be a bestseller?  Nah, but in my dreams it sure as heck is.

So, for the six of you who actually read this blog:
This round of edits is complete up through chapter 17(of 33), which puts me beyond the halfway mark.  The feedback from my crew of editors has been priceless, and quite honestly, I can't wait to get going on the next round of edits.  There has been some valuable information shared with me, as well as some praise on a few elements of the book that I wanted to come across just right.

I am still very excited with this endeavor.  And last night I amplified that excitement ten-fold.  I decided it was time to practice formatting the book for e-readers.  I spent about an hour with the manuscript and the conversion software and loaded the book onto my wife's Kindle.

Pardon me a moment while I slip into textese.


I can't explain the feeling I had when I saw my book title and C. Hollis Gunter as the author on the Kindle front screen.  I still get all silly feeling when I think about it.  As a matter of fact, my day dreaming just kicked it up a few notches.  I will probably pass out when I see it listed on the Amazon website this fall.

Until then, I will keep on day dreaming.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

You Discovered What?

So, if you glance down the right hand side of the page you will see that I am reading a book about the Inca's.  I enjoy reading histories about different cultures, how they lived, and how their lives may have differed from other cultures.  But, what struck thought with this book was the ethnocentric view of how the Europeans "Discovered" areas of the world that other cultures already lived.

In 900 A.D there were cities in South America with greater populations than London.  Kingdoms existed with much the same social stratification that could be found in Europe.  So tell me Mr. Balboa; how is it again that you "discovered" an ocean that South American boats were already sailing on?  And I'm thinking that there were some natives that could have disputed some of Columbus's "discoveries".

Can you imagine a Viking and a Spaniard standing on a beach arguing who found this land first, all the while a group of people who have lived there for years watch on?

I know, you are thinking that I am picking apart semantics.  Nobody really "discovered" these geographical areas, they were just the first Europeans to see them.  But not really.

The Europeans (much like today's Americans), felt they were far more superior than other cultures that may have existed, and from their conquests you'd find it hard to argue that from a military point of view.  With that in mind, nobody of any importance had ever been to the America's, nor had they sailed the Pacific.  Therefore, in their minds they truly believed that they had "discovered" a massive, populated, continent that was being cultivated and mined as they sailed across the Atlantic in search of slaves, gold, silver, and exotic goods.

And now, Biru is called Peru because the "superior culture" couldn't pronounce it right.  The Cherokee, Mohicans, Seminole, and many other tribes are called Indians, because the "superior" culture thought they were somewhere else.

Semantics, I know.  But, it is still ethnocentric.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Don't Make It Sunday

Despite what some literary snobs would have you believe, even us genre authors have something to say with our writings.  We also fall into the same pitfall; the sermon.

Terry Goodkind is the author that comes to mind when I think of preaching your beliefs in your novels.  Goodkind, quite often, went overboard with the use of his character, Richard, to tell the reader all about organized religion.  These sermons were intrusions into an otherwise engaging story.  Whether or not you agreed with his viewpoint, you were taken away from his world.  The character was no longer speaking, the author's voice came through loud and clear.

Annoying.  Goodkind actually made several good points while up on his soapbox, but it did absolutely nothing for the story.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  He wasted my time and several trees to force his viewpoint down my throat.  I can tell you that, no matter how much I loved his world and story, he will never waste my time again.

And I did the same thing.

I have a lot to say about a lot of things, but this book uses slavery as a tool to show how we like to hold on to wrongs done to us in the past and use them as an excuse for the wrongs we do to others in the present.  It's an endless cycle.  Culture blue was wronged by culture red.  They escaped the oppression and punished culture yellow and culture red, because yellow likes red.  As time goes by, yellow overcomes and punishes blue and they're also angry with red because they did nothing when blue were punks.  And on and on and on.  Need an example?  Read a little about the centuries old riff between Christianity and Islam.  Don't forget to toss Judaism into the mix.

There I go again.  At least it's not the book.

I found a passage in Chapter Fourteen, while doing this round of pencil edits, where a character says and thinks things that were totally in my voice.  I am so glad that I caught it, but it just shows me that as much as I hate something, I can fall into the same trap.  It was an accident on my part, and I am sure that other well-meaning author's have had the same slip up and it made it into print. 

What we have to remember when we write, as genre authors, the reader is there to escape the world.  You can say what you need to say without taking them out of your world.  You have to remember that the story is first; you have an entire novel (or series) to sprinkle in a bit of your beliefs.  Don't do it in a paragraph, page, or chapter long sermon.

Don't make it Sunday.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Titles, Working Titles, Sub Titles, Oy

Finished up my edits to Chapters Six and Seven and got them ready for the editors.  I need to string a few weeks of three chapters together to get on track for a September release.

When I began this project eons ago, I saved my word document using a working title type name, Drums.  I think I've mentioned this, but just in case I will throw it out there again.  It took most of the book before I came up with an actual title for the novel.  I love the name.  I even Googled it to see if the title already existed and found it to be (hopefully) unique.

Now that I have found a way to create the story in a manner that it was intended, I have to come up with a name for the series.  The Chronicles of..., The ... Trilogy (mine probably won't be a trilogy), etc. etc.  This is actually just as difficult as the book title was.  At the moment, I am leaning towards a sub title that reflects the working title.  Of course, I want to be careful that the sub title will apply to the rest of the series as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Declaration of Independence

In the not so distant past, self publishing was the kiss of death.  You would never reach a large audience, and the major publishing houses would shun you once you published your work.  That was the past.

I have done a substantial amount of research in recent weeks and found the e-publishing revolution in full swing.  Will I achieve such heights as King, Grisham, Martin, and others?  Not likely.  Will someone other than myself and my three editors read my work.  Heck yes.

Which has been my goal from the start.

I have a story that is screaming to be heard.  At no cost to me, I can throw it out there so people can read it.  Time will tell if it is worthy of reading.  Don't get me wrong, I would love to sell millions, but that is a dream at the back of my skull being held down by the strong hairy arm of reality.  What I think of my writing is irrelevant.  What you think is key.  I can only hope that you take as much joy in reading the story, as I took in writing.

Over the next three months, I will be using this blog, Facebook, and Twitter, to introduce the World of Nilrus.  Call it a miniature marketing campaign, which at this point will only be seen by friends and family (yes, I need to work on that too).  I won't be doing this on my own.  Teri, Lucky, and Athena are helping me on this journey (in some cases, pushing); without them this would not be happening.  It is my hope to show you the characters and the world they live in and maybe even strike that desire for you to read their story.

At the end of these three months, I will be an independent author.  The novel will be available at most of the e-book venues like Amazon.  You will be able to read my book on your Nook, Kindle, or one of the other e-readers available.  The ultimate judgement of success or failure will lie in the hands of the reader.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Growth of Independence

Jump into the way-back machine, okay, maybe not so way-back.

Books in electronic format have been around for a bit, but really, the Kindle really brought the written word into the modern age.  Resistance was there, and I was one of them.  I like the feel, the smell, the look of a printed book in my hand.  Not to mention the aesthetics of a physical representation of my purchase.  Regardless of my resistance, e-readers are everywhere, and more and more people are embracing this technology on a daily basis.  The traditional publishing houses still resist.

When Amazon brought us the Kindle, they warned that those $5 books wouldn't last; the publisher's were already resisting then.  Today, when you shop for a new e-book on Amazon, you will see one line; "the price was set by the publisher".  Is this their way of saying "we tried to tell them it was too much"?

Without getting into the whole argument about why, or whether the price is justified, let me just say that in most cases the paperback is cheaper than the electronic version.

But, this is a good thing.  Because of the arrogance of the Big 6, readers have found some quality independent authors.  If you scan some of Kindle's top selling lists, you will see they are skewed more toward the indie's.  Writers are finding out that they can do just as well, and in some cases better, on their own as if they had signed a big contract .

How long will this go on?  Seems to me that is up to the big publishing houses.  As long as they try to sell their books at the prices they are trying to sell them at now, readers will gravitate towards the independents.

Personally, I think the big houses should charge more.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I Have A ... Goal

For many years I have had a story in my head, at some point the howling of the characters forced my hand and I began to put this story on the page.  It is a big story; maybe not as big as The Wheel of Time series, and probably not as short as the fantasy standard trilogy.  Regardless, that first book was not a stand alone story, no matter how hard I tried to make it so.

And that is where this new journey began.  You see, getting Book One of many published through traditional means is improbable, at best, for an unpublished writer.  I didn't find this out until Book One had been through a couple of edits.  I was discouraged when this knowledge came to light, but I set aside that passion and began a new, stand alone, book.  Unfortunately, my heart was still with the characters and story line of Book One, which left the new project hollow and, at times, stagnant.

During one of these periods of no writing, I did a lot of reading.  I sought out newer fantasy novels by authors that I was not familiar with.  I wanted to see what was selling in the market.  I wanted to see if some of my ideas could sell.  This led me to the inspiration behind my change of path; David Dalglish.

David is an independent author, as in not tied to one of the big publishing houses.  And from what I can tell, he has been quite successful.  His books are well done and I highly recommend you read them.  They do have a few (very few really) editing issues, mispelled words, wrong words, etc. and a handful of phrases that just don't fit in a fantasy setting, but altogether well written.

I bring up the editing and phrases, not to bash Mr. Dalglish, but to bring up a point.  This was something that I feared with my own writing.  How could I publish something that had not been through the "process"; the process where an agent sends the manuscript back to me several times, and then an editor at the publisher takes a few pokes at it?  That process refines a somewhat rough work and results in the printed book that you purchase at the store.  David has shown me that it doesn't have to be perfect (or near perfect) to sell.

With all that rambling, I guess the bottom line is that David Dalglish has inspired me to pursue the once forbidden path of self-publishing.  I have imposed a deadline on myself and I have thirty-three chapters to edit, three of which will be a complete re-write.

My goal?  Publish my book in September of this year.  My dream?  That people enjoy it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Yet Another Change of Plans

My lack of activity with this blog is reflective of my writing endeavors. That last post in October really explains a lot of the reasons why I've been in these doldrums. I know there are other writers out there who go through similar feelings; there is a passion tied to a project and when that project gets delayed, it is difficult to re-focus that passion to another well deserving project.

Condr is a deep, complex character that is a joy to write, yet I haven't approached his story with the lust that the Dalth epic had behind it. To use a phrase that sometimes irks me; I lost my muse. I love to write. I want to spend the rest of my life writing. Most important; I want to write what I want to write, not what a failing industry wants me to write.

The last two years has been an uprising of independent writers succeeding in the electronic market, thanks in a large part to places like Amazon and Smashwords. Writers now have an avenue that can, at times, be more lucrative than the old route through the big publishing houses. Those same large publishing houses are fueling the rise of independent publishing by over-pricing their electronic media. You don't have to trust me on this, just go to Amazon and check out their best selling lists and you will see that they are dominated by self-published writers.

Is there a trade-off with self-publishing as opposed to the traditional method? Heck yes there is. By following the traditional path your novel goes through several revisions and by the time it hits the printed page, it is a refined piece of work (for the most part). With self-published authors that forced editing is not present, so it is left to the writer to edit, re-edit, and find others to edit their work.

The self-published author has to market their work, but if you aren't a best-selling author at one of the big houses, those publishers often leave the marketing in your hands anyhow. In some cases, I have seen midlist authors discouraged by their publisher's when the subject of marketing came up.

I think you can see where I am going with all this rambling. I will continue with another post to discuss my decision to circumvent the big crumbling publishing houses, but for now; I am freaking excited again!