Book Six Is Done!

This morning, I wrote the last words on Book 6. It is officially drafted!

This one came easily, especially compared to Book 5. I wrote it in fits and starts, grabbing a few minutes here and there whenever I could, but it flowed and came together quickly. I’m actually quite proud of this book, and can’t wait for everyone to get a chance to read it.

That’s going to have to wait, of course. I’m sending it to my editor next week, and then I’ll have to do all the formatting and setup on the paperback copy and all that. I’m thinking I might make this one available in Kindle Unlimited, and maybe even go back and make all of my books available there again (going wide hasn’t done much for my book sales, so there’s really not much point to it).

All that being said, when can you expect Book 6? Probably around February next year. And I’m already elbow-deep in Book 7. I’ve got the rough plot outline done, and I know what I want to do and what’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of getting all the words on the page in the right order now.

NaNoWriMo Roundup

Well, November has come and gone, and I did not get my novel finished.

I’m sitting at about 37,000 words on the thing, which I feel is pretty damn good. It’s not 50,000, for sure, but I know what the rest of the book needs to cover. I’m pretty sure I can get it finished in the next couple of weeks.

So, what worked and what didn’t?

Well, writing in short burst worked pretty well for me. Most of my writing took place between classes and during lunch or right after school in five to ten minute chunks. I was usually able to get a few hundred words cranked out each time, which was awesome.

Something else that worked pretty well was doing a bit of plotting beforehand. Did I follow all that plotting? Hell no. But it got me thinking about my characters before I started writing them, and it helped steer the direction I took the story.

But what didn’t work? Well, writing at home, first of all. There are too many distractions there, and I found myself staring at the screen and writing nothing more often than not.

I also need to start keeping better track of character and place names. I spent an hour one day last month combing through old novels, short stories, and half-complete stories trying to find the name for a character, only to eventually decide I hadn’t named her. I could’ve spent that time actually writing if I had a document with my characters’ names and basic info listed.

All in all, I feel pretty good about my progress on Book 6. No, the first draft isn’t done, but that’s okay. It’s not like I was going to be ready to put it out before Christmas.

But hey, congrats to all those NaNo’ers who got their 50K written. It’s a helluva thing, ain’t it?

On Absence and the Impossibility of Book Five

I’ve been…absent for a while, I know. Missing in action. Lost.

Well, it’s time to blow the cobwebs off the site and get to writing again.

I was…stalled on Book Five for most of the last year. I was about two-thirds done with it, with all the major beats written (or at least plotted out) and how I wanted it to end figured out. “I just have to connect the dots,” I’d tell anyone who asked how it was going. “It’s almost done,” I’d add.

But…I wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t feeling the urge, the desire, to write, and so I…didn’t. I went several months — most of last year — without putting a word on the page.

Every time I’d open up Dropbox and look at the Hazzard folder, I’d see the file sitting there, daring me to open it and type a sentence. Or a paragraph. Or even, God forbid, a whole page. Can you imagine, a whole page? But I’d open it, and stare at the words already on the page, and I’d come up with…nothing.

Just absolutely nothing, for months at a time. And then I looked and realized I hadn’t written anything here, even, for several months. I’d sort of abandoned all writing, except for my daily webcomic, and even that I took several extended breaks from in the past several months.

I felt bad about it. Really bad. Embarrassed and annoyed with myself and just angry that I couldn’t sit down and finish this damn book, or write a blog post describing why I couldn’t write. And there were an endless number of reasons I couldn’t put words on paper, though most of it boiled down to (1) depression or (2) apathy.

And I feel bad about that, too. Not the depression part — I have depression, it’s something I have to live with, and sometimes I just don’t feel like doing the things that bring me joy. The apathy is probably tied up in the depression, if I’m being honest.

As much as I hate to admit it, though, those are only part of the reason I stopped writing Book Five. I also stopped writing because of reader apathy.

Now, this isn’t an exercise in passing the blame. If readers aren’t flocking to my books, lavishing me with praise and million-dollar Hollywood contracts, that’s probably on me. I don’t do marketing, like, at all. And in the indie publishing game, if you aren’t hustling 24-7, you aren’t gonna find your readership.

All of which is a long way of saying: I was dormant for a long while, but I’m getting back in the swing of things. I’ve added a few thousand words to Book Five, and I’m hoping to have the first draft done in the next few weeks. I’ll try to post more consistently here as well.

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.

Book 3 Status Update

Just got word this morning from my editor that he’s done with Book 3! As soon as I’ve sent him his money, I’ll get the manuscript back, and then begins the arduous task of making corrections.

It shouldn’t take more than a week or so to get the corrections and changes made, at which point I can start formatting. Once formatting is done, I can get the cover made. I already know what I want it to look like (a rough sketch is featured above), and I’ve got the stock photo all picked out. My cover artist has a pretty damn fast turn-around, so best estimate is that the book will be ready to go before my birthday at the end of March. And what better birthday present than a new book?

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.

Book 2 Progress Report

As the school year draws to a close, I’ve been digging into Book 2 and getting it prepped for a fall release.  My editor sent me her edits and notes a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been going through them and making changes and corrections as needed.  In fact, I finished up just this week and have moved on to formatting.

Formatting has been a bit of a challenge.  I found the font Royal James used, so there’ll be visual consistency in the books, and I’m doing all the little, fiddly things that have to be done to make it look like a real, professional book.  Margins are set, title pages are created, and I’m messing about with the header text and page numbers now.  There are some challenges with getting everything exactly the way I want it, but I’m confident it’ll all be ready in September.

Once the formatting is done, I’ll be in a holding pattern, waiting for my artist to create the cover.  I know he has other jobs ahead of mine, so it’s going to be sometime this summer before he even begins, but once I have the cover in hand the book will basically be ready to go.  Between now and then, there’ll be a short story called “Bad Press” (anyone who got the old Hazzard Pay collection from a few years ago will be familiar with this one, though I’ve added a few new bits).

So, all in all, things are moving along well.  I feel I’ve got a much better handle on the stuff I have to do to self-publish this time around, and I think the results are going to be fantastic.  My editor was tremendously positive about the manuscript, as were my beta readers, so I’m hopeful this one will be a hit.

Independent

So apparently Royal James Publishing has closed its doors.

This was…surprising news to find in my inbox this morning.  Their website is gone, their twitter is gone, their entire online presence has been wiped overnight.

My book is still available from Amazon at the moment.  I’m not sure how long that will last.

Now, before anyone panics and thinks that my book is gonna disappear from the shelves forever, know that I have the rights and all the appropriate files and I’ll keep the book up on Amazon and Smashwords and all that.  I’ll also be self-publishing the next book, The Hidden Throne, sometime later this year, and all subsequent books and stories in the series.

Here’s where it gets kind of interesting for me.  While I enjoyed my relationship with Royal James and appreciated their support, self-publishing is actually going to be much better for me.  I won’t pretend Royal James didn’t frustrate me sometimes; the publisher was sometimes hard to get in contact with and not particularly transparent with important information about sales and the editing/pre-publishing process.  I am gonna have to pay for editing and book covers and formatting and stuff like that myself now, which is a bummer.  But I’ve got a helluva lot more freedom.  I can sell the book for whatever price I want.  I can do giveaways and sales and things of that nature.  I don’t have to get someone else’s approval for anything.  and I can schedule book releases whenever I want to (instead of having to wait for what’s convenient for the publisher’s publishing schedule).

So, looking at the ol’ pros and cons list, it’s coming up way more pro than con, I think.  My year with Royal James was enlightening, and I’ve come out of it much more knowledgeable about the publishing process than I was before.

Stay tuned for more information about upcoming releases and side projects!  Oh, I have so many side projects I wanna do, you don’t even know.