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Archive for January, 2018

Okay, so maybe I’m guilty of a little hyperbole: “Success” is like the mechanical rabbit that dogs chase around the track and never quite catch, so maybe claiming it is a bit premature. However, as a principle … well, let me explain.

I put The Killing Scar up for pre-order a couple of days ago, and when you do that Amazon sends you a nice little email confirming that the site is live, so people can actually, you know, pre-order the book. And in the email, it says if you want to see how things are going, you can check the “pre-order” tab on your private author site. So, being as anal about these things as all authors are (regardless of whether they admit it), I checked the “pre-order” tab, on a lark. After all, even I hadn’t known the site was live, so no one else was going to know…

And there it was, my first pre-order. I did a double-take. Somebody had gotten to the site even faster than I had. (Whoever you are, thank you!) At first I thought it must be a friend, but when I checked I saw it was from a foreign market, in a country where I don’t know anyone.

Oh my gosh. I have a fan. There is someone out there who has read the first two books and is so eager to read the third that he/she/they jumped on the pre-orders as soon as it was possible to do so. How cool! I thought, then: Oh, wow, what a responsibility.

As Ben Parker famously said: “With great power there must also come great responsibility.” Now, I’m not going to claim that writing adventure novels is a great power, but it is a great responsibility. There is someone out there (and I hope a good many someones) who has put faith in my ability to write an entertaining story, to the point of reserving my next book before it’s available. There is someone out there who is looking to me in the same light (although not in the same way) as I look to Jim Butcher.

That’s a lot to live up to. Not that I am comparing myself to Jim Butcher (you may laugh), but we share the same burden: We both owe our readers the experience that we ourselves have set them up to expect. We both are responsible for producing the best product we can, every time we sit down.

And with that being said, I’m sure that when I sit down tonight to write, there’s no reason to believe that I will suffer from terminal writer’s block. Really. No reason at all.

Help…

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The cover for The Killing Scar is here, and the book is available for pre-order at a discount price!

cover1-3

A German scientist pursued by Allied agents…a victim of mob violence…both believed dead by the world at large. But the history of their struggle, begun in the chaotic months after the Great War, will come to a fateful conclusion in the days of the Great Depression, deep in the wilds of a ravaged Europe, where a deadly secret weapon is being developed which could change the course of history!

After the War, Eric Reinhold pursued the murderer Captain Skorzos for two years, until their final confrontation on a night the Eric still will not talk about, twelve years later, but which is widely believed to have ended in Skorzos’ death. Since that time, Eric himself has wrongfully been declared dead, the victim of a gangland shooting. But now it appears that both men are still alive–and their next meeting will have consequences that could shape the fate of the world…

The Killing Scar will be released on February 28 for $3.99, but you can pre-order through Amazon and Smashwords at the reduced price of $2.99. Plus, in celebration of the publication of book #3 in the Nemesis saga, the first book, The Choking Rain, will soon be available for free on all platforms.

And don’t forget, the fourth book in the series, Marauders from the Moon, comes out this summer!

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It’s scary starting a new book. You have an idea, maybe just a scene that you’ve been carrying around in your head for weeks or months, waiting to see if it grows into something you can use. If it’s a series, you already have your main character(s), so that’s a help. But you don’t have a plot, you don’t have secondary characters, you don’t have a beginning, a middle, or an end… You have to write 1200-1500 words per day for the next four months and you have no idea what Word One is going to be! Help!

It’s exciting to start a new book. There’s this image you’ve been carrying in your head for weeks or months that you can’t wait to get down and see where is goes. This is the fourth book in your series, and you’re really getting into your characters’ psyches, and you’re learning more and more about your setting all the time. Right now you’ve got nothing more than maybe a half-page of scattered notes, but in a few months you will have a book: Tens of thousands of words that you put together in a way that has never been done before and never will be again. Your universe, your mark on history. The possibilities!

And you wonder why writers can never seem to confine themselves to the here and now, even when they’re away from their typewriters. They are in a constant state of simultaneous terror and awe. (No, not shock and awe. That’s different. That’s when someone buys your book.) There are those who say fiction is irrelevant; it has no relation to, or effect on, the real world. They’ve never written a novel. Believe me, when you write a novel, it affects your real world a lot.

I am at the “ten lines of notes that I may never use” stage. And I have a blurb. In fact, the blurb came first. It was the first thing I wrote, because once you have a blurb, you have a story. You just have to fill in the details.

I have no idea right now what those details are going to be. I am in the same state as anyone else starting to read this book; I have little to no idea what’s going to happen.

It is scaring my pants off, and exciting as hell.

#SFWApro

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I’ve been wanting to write, honestly I have. It’s just that I’ve been too busy writing. As you know, The Killing Scar is drafted, but that was only the beginning of the work. First I had to edit it, which means I had to re-read it, not an easy task when I just wrote it. It sounds like a lousy pitch for your book that it’s the last thing in the world you want to read, but it’s true. But that’s done now. As soon as I get the cover, I’ll preview it. Then, if the beta readers don’t threaten to turn my ms. over to the police as evidence of a literary crime, I’ll publish. That’s a big “if.”

In the meantime, I have to start outlining Marauders from the Moon (due out in June, and when am I going to start it?). And at the same time I’m re-reading The Choking Rain, because one of the problems with maintaining a series is that you can’t always remember the details from one book to the next, and I don’t want that problem. Yes, I could create a bible (which I probably will if this goes on), but I don’t have one and I don’t have time to write one. (See paragraph above.) It’s been a while since I wrote Rain, but it took a long time to finish, so re-visiting it isn’t a picnic, either. (Honestly, these are good books, you just wouldn’t know it to listen to me.)

Anyhow, I didn’t want more time to go by without touching base. The government might shut down, but my publisher has a schedule to keep, and believe me, he does not like it when I slack off. It may be a while before I get back here.

–Okay, okay, boss! I’m going back to work… Sheesh, what a grouch.

#SFWApro

 

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So I’ve finished The Killing Scar… That’s the third in my renamed “Nemesis” series. I have one more planned, Marauders from the Moon, then I will stop and assess and see where I want to go from there. I’d like to continue the series; it’s fun to write, and I’m really starting to get a feel for the characters (some of whom demonstrate an alarming degree of independence).

After the lightning round that was drafting The Scent of Death (57 days), I had hoped to make equivalent speed with this one and finish by the end of November. But that didn’t happen, and then with the holidays, things dragged. I blame myself, but I won’t schedule another book to end in the fourth quarter, I think.

I have the cover for Scar on order, and the plan is to publish at the end of February. But it needs editing, and proofreading, and I need to start outlining Marauders if I’m to publish that this summer… That would make three books in one year. Life was a lot simpler when it took a year to write one book.

But who ever said simple was fun?

#SFWApro

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It isn’t easy being a writer. Or any kind of creative person. If it were, everyone would do it, and the world would be an even more beautiful place. But it isn’t, for reasons that most people could come up with if they were to bother: How do you get ideas? How do you stretch those ideas out to cover several thousand (or several hundred thousand) words? How do you find the time? The list goes on.

If you’re a writer, however, you’ve already come up with answers to these questions. (Well, all but the last three…) But even then, there’s the problem of persistence. Not the persistence it takes to submit and re-submit the same story to various markets maybe four dozen times with no reason it will succeed. (I think my record for rejections before a sale is 44.) That’s a long-term sort of persistence; I’m talking about the day-to-day, the persistence it takes to complete a single project, especially a novel.

2017 was a very hard time for writers (at least liberal writers). The year was a socio-political mess (no matter whose side you’re on), and outside events kept getting in the way. This doesn’t count all of the large and small personal crises and problems that nip at your available time (the kids are sick, your boss was mean today, a death in the family). Maintaining your focus in the face of these events is hard. They make you not want to write; they slow you down. What’s the point of creating a fantasy world when the real world is so screwed up?

And maybe that is the point. When we’re writing, when we’re creating, we have control. Our worlds are only as screwed up as we want them to be–and we can fix them (or not). I’m not saying that we should concentrate on our stories to the exclusion of the real world, but perhaps being able to exert some control in here will help us feel we can exert some control out there.

So we can’t feel guilty about focusing. At the same time, feeling guilty about not focusing just makes it worse. This is a hard life we’ve chosen, but then, Life is hard. And we get through it every day.

Just remember, your characters have it even worse than you do.

#SFWApro

 

 

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