Happy New Year!

Welcome, one and all, to the year 2020! In celebration, I have a surprise for you: a new cover for Book 4, Crooked Halos!

Now, I updated the cover earlier this evening, so it may not show up on Amazon until tomorrow. But I think you’ll agree, from seeing the cover below, that it’s miles better than my original cover (which is not to throw shade at the original cover’s creator; she just didn’t have the resources available to make the cover I really wanted).

Anyway, behold! The new cover for Crooked Halos:

Pretty keen, eh? Here’s the full paperback cover, complete with synopsis and all that jazz:

Book 4 Cover Reveal and Release Date

Hey, folks! I’m all finished getting the fourth book of the Hazzard Pay series, Crooked Halos, set up! That means it’s time to get it out there. Here’s the synopsis/back cover blurb for the book:

In Arcadia, no one is innocent. This is true even for Dresden Crowder, Eddie Hazzard’s old partner from his days on the Arcadia police force. While the city considers Crowder to be a hero who sacrificed his health and well-being for the sake of the city, Hazzard knows better: Crowder was a crooked cop who framed Eddie and got him kicked off the force.

Now, Crowder is suddenly back in town with murder on his mind and a patsy to frame. Three guesses as to who the patsy will be. Hazzard has to save Crowder’s would-be victim—who actually wants to be murdered—salvage his own tarnished reputation, and survive against a whole host of villains, all while trying to shut down organized crime once and for all in the city. Poor odds? Little chance of success? Yup, this is definitely a case for Eddie Hazzard.

And here’s the cover:

Cmcottrell_3D.jpg

The book will be available this Friday, August 10th! You can get it from Amazon or from a number of other fine distributors, as is your wont. The dead trees edition will be available this weekend as well, for those who still prefer to read that way.

I keep getting asked about audiobooks and when I’ll have those available. The sort answer: not unless the ebooks or physical books really take off. Audiobooks are expensive, unless you’re doing it yourself (and no one wants to hear me drone on for hours and hours, reading my stuff and being impressed with my own cleverness. Or do they? I don’t know).

But anyway: book! Buy it! I worked really hard on this one for a really long time. I think it is pretty darn good. That is all.

Book 4 Update

I’ve been quiet, but busy the past couple of weeks. Book 4 has been to the editor and returned, and I’ve made changes and corrections based on her suggestions. I’ve formatted the paperback and the ebook version, and I just ordered the cover this afternoon. What does all this mean? It means Book 4, Crooked Halos, will probably come out sometime next month!

In other news, I’ve set up all three of the other books to go wide, which means you can read them in iBooks, Nook, and a half dozen other ways now. I’ve also sent the first half of Book 5 off to my beta reader to find out if it’s horrible drivel or not.

Long story short, there’s lots going on, and I’ll do my best to keep everyone updated.

Book 4 Status Update

By the end of the day (I’m writing this on Wednesday, May 30), I’m hoping to have about 20,000 words on Book 4 written, almost all of them brand-spankin’ new. There’s at least another five or six thousand to write after that before I can start working old material back into the story, fixing inconsistencies and continuity issues as I go along and making sure it all makes sense in the end.

The choice to ditch the first 20K seemed like madness when I decided to do it a few weeks ago, but in hindsight it’s been the best choice I could have made. That initial sequence–a massive flashback about Hazzard’s first case as a police officer–was draggy and slow and far too police procedurally for my tastes. It felt far too generic and lacked the fun inner monologue that (I like to think, anyway) Hazzard stories have. I’m still going to have that story in the final book, in a way: Hazzard will give a much briefer, more concise version of it as his present self, so we’ll get more of his snark and all that. It’ll be five or six thousand words all-told, not 20,000. That’s opened things up for more action and less sitting around talking about warrants and proper police procedures.

Probably not going to be done by the end of the week, unfortunately. There’s just too much still to write and not enough hours in the day. But maybe by next week? Hope springs eternal.

I should probably get off here and get back to writing the actual book, huh? Yeah, that sounds like a good choice.

Going Wide

After the debacle of all the mysterious KENP page reads, I’ve decided to “go wide,” as they say.

What does that mean? Well, up till now, I’ve only distributed my books through Amazon. They’re the biggest kid on the block, of course, and it’s really easy to sell books through the site. But my experience with the Kindle Unlimited nonsense has me thinking it’s time to give some other sites a shot.

To that end, I’ve started setting up my books in Draft 2 Digital, a platform that sets up your ebooks through a variety of distributors (including Amazon, if you so choose). Right now, the only book that’s available through multiple platforms is Death Comes Calling, because I never enrolled it in KU. The other two books will be available through multiple platforms in mid-July, when their KU enrollment period ends.

What does all this mean for you? Well, it means if you prefer reading your ebooks through iBooks or Nook or Kobo or whatever, you can totally do that! There’ll still be print versions of the books available through Amazon/Createspace, and you can still get the books for Kindle. They just won’t be available through KU. I’m just a little too gun shy after everything that’s happened.

Speaking of future books, I’m hard at work doing the rewrite of book 4. I’m still hoping to have it done by the end of the month so I can send it off to my editor. I’ve got about 10K written, and there’s at least 30-35K from the previous draft I can use and at least another 10-15K left to add. This might end up as my longest novel to date.

TFW You Scrap 33% of Your #WIP

Writers are full of advice for one another. “Write every day,” some of them say. “The first draft is you telling the story to yourself.” “Kill your darlings.”

Kill your darlings.

It’s a simple idea: you can’t be afraid to cut stuff you really like if it doesn’t fit. Even if it’s the best scene you’ve ever written, with dialogue crafted into perfect prose, if it doesn’t fit in the book, you have to cut it.

Now, most authors will keep scraps and bits they’ve cut like this in case they find somewhere to put it later on down the road. Just because this particular scene doesn’t work in this book doesn’t mean it won’t work in another book. Your darling may still see the light of day.

And then there’s what I’m experiencing. I’ve been going through book 4, giving it a once-over before sending it off to my editor at the end of the month. And…

…and dear lord, the first third of the book is just dead boring. It’s flat, lifeless, and doesn’t really do much besides move the proverbial pieces around the board, getting them in place for when things do start to pick up. It bored me when I was reading through it. I hated it. It plodded in the worst possible way.

So I cut it. All 20,000 words of it. A full third of the book, just gone.

Am I insane? Couldn’t I have just worked on it, made what was there more interesting? I mean, I’d already invested all this time and effort and energy into the thing.

But no, you gotta kill your darlings, even if they’re not quite as darling as you’d like. You can’t be afraid to put massive swathes of your book on the chopping block if they just don’t work. And this 20,000 words just did. Not. Work.

I’m going to try to rewrite that chunk of book over the next couple of weeks. I’d still like to hit my (self-imposed) deadline to get the book off to the editor by the beginning of June. I spent a bit of time yesterday plotting out what I’ll do in the rewrite. It has me far more excited than what I had originally.

This book has been the most challenging for me to write. It was the second Hazzard novel I ever wrote, way back in, like, 2013, and it’s now on its third major draft (where I’ve rewritten massive chunks, not just little tweaks here and there). This damn book is my problem child, but it’s gonna get written.

Even if I have to kill half of it in the process.

Book 3 Status Update

I was sick over the weekend and the beginning of this week, which means I got a whole lot of nothing written (well, I wrote exactly two things: a one-liner for Miss Typewell that I like, and a couple lines of what will eventually be a song).

But I was busy last week! During my downtime (mostly lunch time), I did a second draft of Book 3 of Eddie Hazzard’s adventures. In the process of polishing things and making sure it all made sense and wasn’t absolute crap (jury is still out on all that; it needs to go to my beta readers next), I added about 2,000 words to its length. My stuff tends to be short; this book currently clocks in at about 55,000 words. Book 2 is a little over 60,000, and Book 1 was around 56,000. But I believe in getting in there, getting the story told, and getting out. I don’t need to describe every single brick of every single building. This ain’t Tolkien. Could I expand things, make the story longer or add in more detail? Sure, I could probably do those things. But I like economic storytelling. I like stories that can be read quickly. So that’s the sort of stories I write.

Sometime in the next few months, it’ll go out to my beta readers for their opinions and perspectives. I trust them; the two ladies who’ve beta read my other books have offered excellent advice and suggestions. Then, I’ll make a few tweaks based on their feedback and find an editor to pick through it. With any luck, I should have the book ready to publish by early next year.

I’ll probably start doing the next draft of Book 4 in the next few weeks. It needs more work than the earlier books did; of everything I’ve written, it’s the one I’m least-confident in (it’s also technically the second full-length novel I wrote; it’s gone through two massive rewrites since the first draft back in, like, 2013). With any luck, that one will be off to the beta readers before the end of the year.

One of the things I’ve noticed about successful self-publishing authors (from this Facebook group I’m in) is that they’re constantly working on multiple projects at once. They’ve always got things in various stages of completion. I need to do that to capitalize on any momentum I might end up generating with one of my books. Sure, the first book hasn’t really sold well (or at all, to be completely honest), but that’s okay. It’s the first one. I have to build the audience and bring in the readers over time. Eventually, they’ll be there. The sales will be there. I’m mostly doing all of this for fun. It’d be nice to recoup expenses (good editing services are not cheap), but I’m mostly doing this because I love telling stories. That’s not going to change anytime soon.