Friday, March 29, 2013

Happenings In The Outhouse 29-Mar-2013 / Slight detour (AKA Next Project Almost Done)

I am pretty jazzed.  I've been going through my small but ever-growing backlist of podcasts and found out one from last week, of Mur Lafferty's I Should Be Writing, that she answered my feedback question regarding fictional blogs.  It's near the end--now, she didn't know of any although a listener made a comment on one that, strangely enough, I'm reading in ebook form.  Thinking about it now, I might do a post soon on fictional blogs and what I'm doing.  Bottom line: I'm creating a fictional blog for my thriller Beholder's Eye and the series, and it is called the Twin Cities Crime Blogger.  There isn't much on there now, but I'm brainstorming what to add to it down the road.

In early February, I posted that I completed a novelette titled Guest of Honor.  After consideration lately, I have decided to self-publish it as an ebook on the Amazon KDP Kindle store.  As we speak, I'm about halfway done editing it, and by next week it should be completed and formatted . . . and ready to go.  I'm possibly going to include a bonus short story and another bonus sample chapter from Beholder's Eye too, just to get more of my work out there.

With this slight change of plans, I've put the emergency brakes on my alternative military history novel.  At around 26,000 words so far, I figure I'm around a third done.  I will get back to it, but I want to get these projects out there first.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What I stink at

As I've been analyzing my writing life these past few months, now with the first quarter of 2013 coming to a close, I have realized what I stink at.

First, let's do a brief summary of the "business of writing."

Think of your body as your company, your corporation so to speak.

Your head is the Research and Development division.  This is where ideas are stored, where you read (for both pleasure and to learn new things), what learning tools you're listening to.  Without research, all companies will fail due to their lack of innovation.  They will remain in the Stone Age and will wither away.  For your writing business, you need to read both fiction and nonfiction, ever expanding your storehouse of ideas to make your writng more alive.

Your torso and arms are the production division.  Here is where things are produced.  This is where you write.  Put in your 10,000 hours as Malcolm Gladwell says.  Mur Lafferty says this is where you can suck at while you're learning your craft.

Your legs are the sales division.  This is where you submit your work for the outside world to criticize and give you feedback.  Send the query to an agent.  Send the short story off to a publication.  Self-publish something.  Put something for free on your website/blog and ask for comments.

Now I'll get personal.  Where do I stink at?  The last one: the legs portion.  Yes, I have sent hundreds of queries over the last seventeen years.  But it wasn't enough.  Some of the Research and Development section may have been lacking too, but an event in September 2011, as you can read on a blog post, helped to increase my knowledge about the publishing industry: the day we got high-speed internet instead of that dinosaurish dial-up.

Why do I say I stink at the selling section?  Well, frankly, I stunk at the production and selling side, but mostly selling.  Which is odd, because I work in the sales department of the company I work for.  But for me, most of my writing stayed on my computer and I never put them out there.  I have five completed novels, all of which have been edited several times.  Two have never seen the insides of a literary agent's office.  Short stories?  I never knew where to submit them, despite many hours trying to learn.  I did send a few to websites like Bewildering Stories and even got some great feedback from their editors, but I somehow never went anywhere with it.

So, of all the pieces of the writing business, I stunk (notice the tense change?) at the selling part most.  Production a close second.  That, too, I have been turning around lately, producing more and more content.  This blog has helped in that regard as well.

Where do your weaknessess lie?

Then, once you have identified the enemy, how are you going to correct it?

Monday, March 25, 2013

What I listen to - Fictional Frontiers with Sohaib Awan

When it comes to shorter podcasts regarding the publishing industry of science fiction and fantasy, one perfect place to find these is Fictional Frontiers, hosted by Sohaib Awan.

Most of Sohaib's podcasts are fifteen minutes long, and jam-packed full of knowledge as he interviews such SF/F heavy-weights as Timothy Zahn, Brad Meltzer, Terry Brooks, Tara Bennett, James Berardinelli, China Mieville, Howard Andrew Jones, and many more.

One plus for me is that Sohaib serves up many of those who are working in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  Very few podcasts I listen to ever do this.

Be sure to add Fictional Frontiers to your podcast feed.

You'll be glad you did.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Happenings In The Outhouse 22-Mar-2013 / Reviewing my 2013 goals

I have nearly 28,000 words written on my alternative military history novel so far, and am currently on chapter 24 (and to top it all off, I added a love interest that I have no intention of ever having - I love not being an outliner).  After a week and a half hiatus--where I not only battled illness, lower back pain, and muscle strain--I also organized what I plan on working on next once this book is done.  There is also something I'm going to be doing while I work at my day job as I cannot take the first draft of the book with me--okay, I really could but the logistics would be difficult--so I'll try juggling two writing projects at once.

I also came to a realization when I reviewed how my 2013 goals are sitting so far.  I've accomplished a few things already, but now I find myself tweaking the goals list.  I then decided that even though I'm going to set my yearly goals, I'm also going to be reviewing these quarterly as my knowledge expands and I decide to change a few things.

Hence, I came up with a revised 2013 goals list.  This is between me and God (or whoever you call the Ultimate Being, if you so believe in one; if you don't then it's just for yourself - the choice is up to you).  There were some things that I wanted to accomplish but was already doing: blogging, attending my writers' group on a regular basis.

I have five completed novels written so far--and working on number six, of course.  This week, I've decided to tackle editing (again) my third novel titled Fog Islands.  And, if all goes well, I'll self-publish it later this year.  But first, I want to edit Guest of Honor and self-publish that first.

Speaking of self-publishing, you may remember I self-published a little wedding ebook in 2012 titled 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget.  In fact, I'm coming up on the one-year anniversary for it.  Now, I don't necessarily want to hang a lantern on this, but if you click on this link for the ebook, I have a single 2-star rating.  This came about a month ago.  Although it may be an honest review, and am delighted someone at least reviewed it, the comments do seem a little unfair--okay, the reviewer calls it common sense yet it's a fact that hordes of couples go into huge amounts of debt for their weddings each year.  I show a few simple things you can do to assist with that.  I disagree it's common sense (and someone else flagged the comment as not helpful, so thanks for the one who did that).  If you've bought the book, please give an honest review.  I don't expect a 5-star, but even a bunch of 3s would be helpful.  I'm not angry at the reviewer (and I've taken up enough of this post for it now) because hell even the top bestselling authors get 1- or 2- star reviews.

Also, I didn't publish the ebook for any huge literary merit or to make tons of money on it--I have made some, so no complaints there.  I published it because it was the right next step for my writing career--despite a few people making fun of me, I could freaking care less what they think (I've accomplished something very few have the guts to do . . . so there!)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What I listen to - SF Signal podcast

For all you podcast listeners out there, if you love science fiction and/or fantasy, you will definitely want to add the 2012 Hugo Award winning podcast SF Signal to your list.

Patrick Hester is the host of this fabulous show.  These shows can take on various forms.  He's had interviews with many of the big names in the SF/F publishing industry, like Chuck Wendig, Mary Robinette Kowal, Paul and Storm, Jay Lake, Jim Butcher, Laura Resnick, Patrick Rothfuss, and many more.

The other form of show are panels, where he'll line up industry experts to give their take on subjects such as Cyberpunk, Steampunk, the best debut novel you've ever read, and more.  These discussions always bring out so much knowledge of the SF/F industry that I find myself jotting down every story title they toss out.

Patrick is also a novelist in his own right, the host of another geek-related show (which I will cover in depth in a future blog post), and also produces Mur Lafferty's podcast "I should be writing."  Talk about one busy guy!

To listen to just the SF Signal podcasts: click on this link.

The full site, which includes tons of news articles on the world of sciece fiction and fantasy, click on this link.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Have a library card? Use OverDrive App for free ebooks and audiobooks

Have a library card?


Want free ebooks and/or audiobooks?

Of course you do.

Then try out OverDrive. OverDrive is a service that allows libraries from across the country to download ebooks and audiobooks. Lending periods are typically either 7 or 14 days. I, personally, have just started using this service in the past few months, and I highly recommend it. I have the app for both my Kindle as well as my Droid (found on the Google Play store).

If you're like most people who love to read but cannot afford to buy as many books as you want, then try out OverDrive.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Happenings In The Outhouse 15-Mar-2013 / I have a dream!

Last week, my sister-in-law wrote an interesting blog post on dreams and the lack of dreaming in some of her students.  It was sad to try comprehend that some kids--and adults too--go through life without any kind of dream for the future.  What's even more sad is that those who do have a dream never realize how to go about making that dream a reality.

From as far back as I can remember, I've wanted to be rich and famous.  Probably more rich than famous though, but if one came with the other I'd take it.  Not sure why I wanted to.  Maybe it was just the prospect of having so much money to be able to provide for my family and to help other people.  Many times in my life I've witnessed something and thought, "If only I had gobs and gobs of money, I could help them."

Dreaming is great.  Where most get hung up is the doing part.  Doing is hard work.  Blood, sweat, and tears, baby!  Oh, and time.  Most have a lottery mentality--"I want it right now and I don't want to work for it!"

If you have a dream, great!  Now make it happen.

What have I been up to?  Mostly battling with some severe lower back pain, which resulted from a middle-of-the-night fall in my bathroom last week--no, I was not drunk, thank you very much.  I got up to use the bathroom and . . . POW that's the last thing I remember for several minutes.  I finally saw my doctor yesterday (simply because I thought it would've gone away sooner but it's not) and he said the pain is like a post traumatic muscle strain, for the first few days after my fall my body shut down from the shock.  Then, it came "back on-line" the damage done became evident.  I've never had back pain before and have known a lot of people who have (and I sure sympathize now!).

I did work on finalizing a short story for the Writers of the Future contest, so that's been submitted.  Now I'm going back to my alternative military history novel.

Final thoughts today?


Then do it!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Parable of the cabinetmaker

There once was an master cabinetmaker, whose great works were higly sought from all across the land.  One day, his apprentice noticed the cabinetmaker spending just as much time sanding the back corners of the drawer as he did the front.

"Why do you do that, sir?" the apprentice asked.  "No one will see them.  No one will even know."

"But I will know," the master cabinetmaker said.

The same could be said about your writing.  How much are you smoothing all of the edges?  Are you making the dialogue to the best of your ability?  Are you bringing a richness to both the story and the characters?  What are you holding back?

In my alternative military history novel (boy, I should really share the name for this instead of always referring to it in this way), I came to a chapter where I delve into the life of one of the supporting characters.  As I did, there was so much I discovered that I want to enhance it as I continue to write the rest of the book.

Does this always need to be done?  Do you need to share all of the worldbuilding you did for your book?  Certainly not.  However, take one of your favorite books and watch where the author does this, sharing a richness to their created world.  I'm currently re-reading George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones and loving where he brings this rich world to life.  He does it in sublte ways, giving little hints to the past.  The same could be said of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Does everything need to be included in your story?  Certainly not.  But adding even a few details here and there will make your world more alive, and your readers will grow more and more in love with it.  If, in the end, it doesn't work, you can always hit the DELETE key.

Monday, March 11, 2013

What I listen to - Adventure in Sci-Fi Publishing

"And now, pod-structed on a zeppelin by an apprentice mage, and delivered by rocketship to a benevolent dragon . . . Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing."  And so is the vivid introduction of a highly successful science fiction and fantasy podcast titled Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing, produced by author Shaun Farrell.

Ever want to hear from bestselling science fiction/fantasy authors and editors like Kevin J. Anderson, Lou Anders, James Enge, Mark Teppo, Jason Denzel, Travis Heermann, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Eric Flint, Ari Marmell, Peter Orullian, Tobias Buckell, and several more, then the Adventures In Sci-Fi Publishing Podcast is one of the best places to turn to.

Shaun recently reformated the show for 2013 to allow for more, and shorter, podcasts, which I for one was very pleased to experience.  For longer interviews, there is typically a part 1 and 2, bringing the majority of podcasts right at the 30 minute magic number.

Interviewees include: Shaun, Moses Siregar III, and Brent Bowen.  The questions asked by in these accomplished podcasts are not your typical "how did you get published" or "what is your writing style like".  They delve into the heart of each author, bringing out their masterful techniques and thoughts on the business of writing.

They currently have over 200 episodes (number 200 brought out an amazing interview with Lou Anders, accomplished editor of Pyr Books), so be sure to go back and listen to hours and hours of amazing interviews with Adventures In Sci-Fi Publishing.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Happenings In The Outhouse 08-Mar-2013 / Could I be one of the 8%

Literary agent Wendy Lawton wrote an interesting blog post a few days ago, giving statistical analysis of how writers find agents.  42% of her clients she met at a writers conference.  What about the good ol' query?



Yes, my friends, 8% of her clients she found through querying.  That statistic hit me hard, and I am thankful for Wendy to have posted it.  Keep in mind, this is just her statistics, as she pointed out to me in her reply to my comment.  Other agents may have higher stastistics on the query, although as I scan my brain to recall how many of the authors I've either met or listen to or read have landed an agent, the vast majority say they met them at a conference.

Last week, I said that I was giving myself 90 days (or at least until June 1st) to find an agent or else I'm going to self-publish.  With this analysis, I've made a decision: I will query the ones I have listed as potential agents, and if those don't pan out I will self-publish Beholder's Eye.  Which means, it may be far less than the 90 days.

I'm making slow progress on my alternative military history novel, mainly due to other projects getting in the way that I need to complete: a short story that I am tweaking before submitting it to the Writers Of The Future contest, compiling the final list of agents, brainstorming my next moves, and even adding more to my "Through The Outhouse Window Video Blog."  I also had a brief medical episode very early Thursday morning which wiped me out for the entire day (I'm feeling better, but as of Friday morning now I'm still a bit light-headed).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My review of Game Of Thrones Seasons 1 & 2 - Books vs. DVDs

What can I tell you?  I only recently discovered George R. R. Martin last year and honestly I'm not sure why (and how) I missed his writings.  As a huge fan of J. R. R. Tolkien, J. K. Rowling, and Terry Brooks, where in the world was Martin hiding?  Well, it's possible he was there the whole time and I just didn't know what was in store by this master of the storytelling craft.

George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy series A Song Of Ice And Fire, starting with Game of Thrones, is now on its third season as an HBO TV series.

I read Game of Thrones last year and was taken aback by this rich world, one that felt like a medieval soap opera where this family was pitted against that family and so on.  I loved it!  At times, however, minor characters seemed to blend and I got confused as to what was happening, but in a way that's the richness the world Martin has drawn.

Then, I borrowed the first season of Game of Thrones on DVD from the library and got an even clearer vision of what the world was about--I even have plans to go back and re-read Game of Thrones.  Now, I can also honestly say, I am also a fan of HBO's Game of Thrones channel on YouTube.  I have gone back to the beginning and have watched nearly every single video--yeah, call me a geek if you want, I really don't care.

I am currently in the middle of reading Martin's second book in the series A Clash of Kings, which the second season in the HBO series takes place.  In watching some of the previews, I don't consider them spoilers as I plan on getting the DVD series very soon even before I finish reading the book.

My take on watching the TV series and reading the books is simple: they've enhanced my knowledge of this world GRRM has created, and appreciate the complex web of plots he has set in place.  (As a side note, speaking of epic fantasy series, I have not read any of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books but I will devour them soon as well--I just want to get caught up in GRRM's world first).

If you've either not read the books but watched the movies or held back on the movies as you have read the books, my suggestion is to do both.  Read the books AND watch the TV series.  You will enjoy these books a whole lot better.

Way to go George and the HBO team for putting together such a fantastic series!

Monday, March 4, 2013

What I listen to - Speculate!

Speculate! is one of my newly-discovered podcasts--another gem in the rough for anyone wanting to know more about the fantasy/science fiction publishing industry.

The hosts are Gregory A. Wilson and Bradley P. Beaulieu, successful bestselling authors of the genre, and they bring a whole new level of industry and publishing knowledge to each episode that you don't find anywhere else.

Greg and Brad have interviewed fantasy/science fiction authors or editors such as Myke Cole, Saladin Ahmed, Joe Abercrombie, Peter V. Brett, Howard Andrew Jones, Lou Anders, Brent Weeks, Brandon Sanderson, Kevin J. Anderson, Patrick Rothfuss, and many more.

Here's something unique Speculate! brings to the podcast table: they will occasionally do a series of three podcasts centered around a single author and their work.  On the first one, they will review an author's book, the second one they will interview the author themselves, and the third one they will discuss and dissect the book, educating the writers out there what worked and what didn't.  This is extremely valuable to both beginning and veteran writers as they give a unique perspective on a specific book.

Make sure you add Speculate! to your podcast list.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Happenings In The Outhouse 01-Mar-2013 / Loving Google's Street View

I am currently on the 21st chapter of my alternative military fiction novel, with 23,714 words written.  The last few chapters have been fun because I've looked at the characters more closely and how to up the tension.  I also had the characters running around Washington D.C., a town I have never been to.

Thank God for Google Maps Street View.

Oddly enough--well, okay may not--some of the areas I wanted to go didn't have a street view, so I had to improvise the best I could.

I'm still querying away, looking for agents.  I also found myself listening to an old podcast from the Creative Penn, where Joanna interviewed Dean Wesley Smith..  It was interesting because most of his advice was centered on NOT getting an agent.  Then, I gave myself a deadline: if I have not found an interested agent by June 1st, I will self-publish Beholder's Eye.

The fuse is lit.

I also shared a short story this week in our tri-weekly writers' group.  They liked it.  It's a sci-fi story that needs a little tweaking, and then I plan on submitting it to the Writers of the Future contest.