Friday, February 17, 2017

Fight the fear - what's the worst that could happen? / Happenings In The Outhouse 17-Feb-2017

Writers (and most artists/creative types in general) are fickle creatures.  We are fearful.

We have the fear of failure.

The fear of success.

The fear of the "oh, my gosh, look what you did!" reaction from others.

We have a fear of putting our work out there, even when we know in our heart of hearts, that it's not quite perfect.

Fight the fear.  What's the worst that will happen?
My first indie published book was a nonfiction book called Debt Free I Do: 99 Ways Of Having A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget.

When family and friends found out about this, they laughed.  "What in the world do you know about weddings?"

But I didn't care.  I published it anyway.

Now, almost five years later, I have over 20 published works (some for free on my website, even), from short stories to full-length novels.  Who's laughing now?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Write, Don't Preach / Happenings In The Outhouse 10-Feb-2017

I was listening to a webinar a few weeks ago when they were discussing social change through our writing.

The first book that came to mind was The Chamber by John Grisham.  I saw the movie before I read the book, but the one thing that stood out in my mind (in the book version) was that John Grisham didn't preach about capital punishment.

In fact, by the end of the novel, he set the moral implications of capital punishment on a silver platter, as if presenting both sides of the coin.

The novel gave us a choice.  Both sides seemed plausible, no matter what side you stood on.  He didn't preach one side over the other, even if he did hold a certain view.  The reader just never saw that side of him.

I've read books where the authors preached their social views on issues to the absolute extreme.  Whether I believed in the issue or found that side completely absurd, preaching has always grated me the wrong way.  Even if I believed it.

If you have a story, tell it.  If there are issues you want to address, do it through story.  You may actually sway a reader to your side if you tell your story, through the actions of your characters, well enough.  Take as an example: The Hunger Games.  Suzanne Collins did a wonderful job of portraying the grim realities of a post-apocalyptic life and the greed of a totalitarian system.  Not once did she preach that the big bad government was horrible and should be stopped.  She told it through the story--and through the other two novels in the series.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Setting the big rocks in place / Happenings In The Outhouse 03-Feb-2017

A few weeks ago, I finally came up with "the big rocks" to plot out books two and three of the Shadowkill Trilogy.

What do I mean by big rocks?

Think of ideas as various sized rocks.  Big rocks are the main plot points that are the meat of the story.  This would be the equivalent to the Rebel Alliance stealing the plans for the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope.  For example, that is.  There are other big rocks in Star Wars, but for simplicity purposes let's stick with this.

Next to the big rocks are smaller-sized rocks.  Imagine the big rocks being placed in a large bucket.  The remaining space fits the rest of the rocks, and eventually down to sand.  Coming up with the big rocks for the rest of this trilogy has changed the scope of these books--honestly, I know what's going to happen in book three, but didn't figure out how to marry the two.

Now I have.

I am currently around the 21,000 word mark in the second book.  I'm shooting for around 75,000 words, as a guideline, but wherever it ends is fine by me.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The anatomy of a jerk / Happenings In The Outhouse 27-Jan-2017

The harsh title of this post may give some pause, but go with me for a bit.

A few weeks ago, I felt like my entire childhood was torn into shreds.  An actor, who played in prominent role in a series of movies that came out when I was young, came out very publically and trashed someone, even going so far as to call him a "loser."

I apologize ahead of time as I will be very cryptic on who the actor was and who the other person he trashed was.  The point of this piece is simply: don't be a jerk.

I find it distressing when (some) people become more and more popular, they feel like they can spread their message values to everyone, despite whom it may hurt or if it aligns with the values of their fans.  Now, if your entertainment platform has always been of a certain nature, I'm not speaking of them.  For example, for those who like the liberal nature of Ed Schultz or the conservative nature of Rush Limbaugh, Ed and Rush will not change as their entire platform is based on their political views.

Now, some of my favorite authors and actors do hold different values than myself, which I am okay with (not everyone should think alike), but the emergence of social media has made their views more and more public.  Especially the vile comments.

I honestly don't have a solution, except this: no matter how famous or public your life is, remember that not everyone thinks the way you do.  In fact, others may have a different set of values, but still love the work you produce.

In other words, don't be a jerk to them.  Or anyone.  Period.

Okay, rant over.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Two novels written back-to-back / Happenings In The Outhouse 20-Jan-2017

As the headline states, I am writing two novels back-to-back.  These would be books two and three in the Shadowkill Trilogy.

As an aside, I am also working on a nonfiction book--okay, writing three books at once, but the nonfiction book won't take that long to complete and I will work on this in the off-hours.
I am currently around the 10,000 word mark in book 2 (I have the title, but I'm holding off on sharing it for the moment in case it may change).  It's going great.
To prepare myself for these final two books, I re-read book 1: KillzoneIt's a fun read (and I'm not just saying that because I wrote the damn thing), and it was a great landing point to start headlong into the next two books.

Why two books back-to-back, you may ask?  I had written Killzone in 2014 and it has steadily grown in sales month by month.  My original plan was to write more in the Central Division thriller series, but I want to close out the trilogy first and even put together a box set of all three.
Also, there is a new form of fiction out there called LitRPG.  For those who have read Ready Player One, it blends gaming into the fiction writing element.  Now, the Shadowkill trilogy isn't technically LitRPG, but rather a technothriller with a flavor of LitRPG.  Instead of the characters living through an online MMO world, the gamers are powering real-life robotic soldiers through virtual reality (VR) helmets.
Now, back to writing the last two novels back-to-back.  How am I doing this?  Well, instead of finishing one book and then editing it, when I complete book 2, I'm jumping in right with book 3.  When the two books are done, then I'll start the editing process.  The plan is to have them published by summer 2017, and that is a goal I'm positive to hit.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Christmas in January / Happenings In The Outhouse 13-Jan-2017

On December 30th, 2016, I finally published The Christmas Letters.

What legacy do you want to leave behind?

Meet the Wilkins. The typical busy American family.
But when Grandma Wilkins passes away, they discover her old Christmas letters in a shoebox. Molly, the youngest grandchild, soon decides to start where her grandmother’s legacy left off, writing about future events, no matter how unrealistic they may seem at the time.

The Christmas Letters can be found at the following e-retailers:

Friday, January 6, 2017

Why 2016 did NOT suck / Happenings In The Outhouse 06-Jan-2017

I've noticed a trend as 2016 wound down about how the year sucked.  Whenever a celebrity, be it singer or actor or whomever famous, died, people would get enamored by how much the year sucked big time.

If you look at Wikipedia, there is a recent deaths section.  Every single day, someone dies.  It's natural, all part of life.

How one looks at the year, and how one treats it, is based largely on one's attitude--and I have a feeling that the majority of the noisy people who are shouting from the mountaintop that 2016 just sucked, had more to do with the results of the 2016 US election than deaths.

Get over it.

Move on with your life.

Do something to improve your life.

2016 was a spectacular year for me.  I published 3 full-length novels, a short story, and a novelette.  Two were books 3 and 4 in the Central Division Series:

The last novel published was The Christmas Letters: