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Ever Moving Forward

The edits for the Bardsworth novel are on hold for the moment while Katie’s job is taking up much of her time. But I don’t like to sit still and let things not get done. Especially when I’m on a plane, which I was last week going to California and back. That’s time that can be spent productively. Well, when I wasn’t reading, but that’s another blog post.

As I mentioned in my last post, when I wrote Blood of the Mother my outline was pretty scarce. Most of it was in my head. I had notes to refer to, but I should have had a lot more, considering that I was planning for this story to span the course of three, maybe four books. So before I could get writing, and even before I have an outline that I can rely on, I had to go back over my story and pull notes from it. Reverse engineering, if you will. Things like place names, or physical characteristics of secondary characters, or little descriptions that might have otherwise escaped my memory.

Well, I managed to finish that up, and even found a few errors I’m going to have to correct. So now I can finish putting together a story bible (a compendium of all my notes) and then move onto finishing the outline. I’m hoping to have everything in place for New Years so that I can get started on the first draft during our annual writers retreat.

I mostly wrote this post to show people that writers never stop. We don’t sit around daydreaming (okay, sometimes we do, but that’s only when we’re really supposed to be doing chores or something). And we certainly don’t sit still. When one project ends, the next begins. Sometimes we even have two or three being juggled in the air. And that’s in addition to the routines of daily life, sometimes even a day job.

And people wonder why writers tend to be neurotic.

Continuing my apparent pattern of posting one entry per month, I felt it was time to talk about my current project status. As I stated last month, the first draft of the Bardsworth novel (still untitled) is done and I’ve done my first round of edits and rewrites. It’s going to go to Katie for further proofreading, editing, and general thoughts because landing back on my plate for another round. Then there will probably be at least one last round of proofreading and final edits before calling it a day.

If all goes well, I’d like to have the book available in both electronic and paperback formats by April/May. However, I still need to locate an artist with a style that I like who would be willing to do the book cover for me. I know, I’m an artist, and furthermore I’m the artist of Bardsworth. But I don’t want the book to be connected to the comic any more than it needs to be. It’s its own entity with its own life, and I would rather people go into it with different expectations than they would my comic.

That being said, if you have any suggestions for artists that have a lighthearted yet detailed style, please let me know.

Moving forward, while Katie has the Bardsworth novel in her loving care, I’m revisiting notes for The Godblood Chronicles and outlining the next book (tentatively called Blood of the Father). My outline for Blood of the Mother was pretty poor at best because I was still creating the world, but now that I’m writing another story in the same universe, I want to make sure that all my ducks are in a row. It’s shaping all right so far. And while the theme of the first book was faith in its many forms, the theme in this book is going to be courage. Let’s just hope I have the faith and the courage to get it done in a timely manner.

Thanks for being patient with my radio silence! I’m hoping to have some more posts for you in the future. Similarly, if you have any questions you’d like me to tackle or any advice to impart, please contact me and let me know. I can always use fodder for writing posts. :-)

Count This

I just finished up my first draft of the long-gestating Bardsworth novel! What a great feeling it is to finish a manuscript. It’s been a while!

I had to do a little research, however, after a debate that Katie and I had over the word count. To me, word count doesn’t mean much. As long as the story is engaging and complete, I’m happy with it. I know people who get very caught up in the word count stuff, and that just seems needlessly stressful to me.

Now, I was planning on stopping the book much earlier than I did, but Katie made some good points, not just about word count, but about it being a more complete story if I added a few more of my story lines from the comic in there. And she was right – I have no problem admitting that. But once I reached a point where I was 100% certain that the book was done, she brought up the word count thing again. So I looked at a handful of sources online.

Wikipedia isn’t much help, as there are only a few sources cited. Novelist Jane Smiley (someone I’ve never heard of) apparently claims that a novel is typically between 100,000 and 175,000 words. Then they go on to cite National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) as saying 50,000 words is novel length. Then they point out that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America specifies (for it’s Nebula Award category) that a novel is over 40,000 words.

That’s kind of all over the place, isn’t it?

Moving on, I found a random site called Novel Writing Help that points out that the standard advice one will receive is that novel word count should be between 80,000 and 100,000 words, but then claims that a novel is anything over 50,000. That sounds legit, but the validity of the claim is a little suspect, as the author of the website is hardly an academic, just a shmoe like myself giving out free advice.

Finally, I found a column written by a literary agent named Bree Ogden. Someone wrote in asking about word count, and her answer was that a novel should be between 70,000 and 115,000, with the “sweet spot” being about 90,000.

So let’s review the numbers, shall we? 40,000. 50,000. 90,000. Between 100,000 and 175,000. Between 70,000 and 115,000. It’s enough to give you a headache, isn’t it?  I mean, I guess we could take the average of all those numbers and use that as our figure, but that’s math.  I’m a writer; I don’t do math.

But ultimately, this is what I realized – most of the word count stuff relates exclusively to people who are trying to be published traditionally. But being a self-published writer grants me the freedom to do whatever the heck I want. I can use the numbers as a guideline (whenever I decide which numbers to actually use), but I’m not beholden to a “rule” of the word count. I became a self-published writer so I could break rules. If I haven’t stated it before, I have a problem with authority.  I’m certainly never going to write a 20,000 word story and call it a novel, but if it feels like a novel to me, it’s a novel.

So, how long is the Bardsworth novel? Well, there’s no point in saying anything at this point. It’s the first draft – I’ll be adding and cutting things all over the place. And that’s another reason that I can’t be worried about the word count at this point, because it’s going to change. But as long as the story holds up and everything is structurally sound, in the end I don’t think that people are going to worry about the word count when they’re paying something like $2.99 for a digital download of the novel.

At least, I hope they won’t. Otherwise I might have to find a new audience.

(Just kidding, I love you guys.)

I don’t get to buy many books these days.  One reason is financial.  While we’re doing okay at the moment, books for a long time were on the list of things that we could only buy once in a while.  Yes, I know getting ebooks is cheap, but if you’ve read my previous posts, you know my feelings on ebooks (even though I publish them).  Another reason is that we have such a large collection of books already and no space to put them.  Most of them are in storage at the moment, since we don’t have a permanent residence just yet, but still, the thought of adding to a collection that will take up an entire room is enough to make one leery of buying just one more.  Lastly, finding time to read is tough to do these days, so spending money on a book that I may or may not get around to reading within five years of buying it is a bit of a deterrent.

However, when you receive gift cards, you can’t say no.

I’ve had a gift card to Barnes & Noble since Christmas, but I didn’t get around to using it until today.  I had to find a time when I could go by myself because, frankly, I take forever to decide.  Especially when there’s a monetary limit.  And today was no exception; I actually have no idea how much time I was in the store for, but I know it was at least an hour.

I learned a sad truth, though, and in hindsight it was a pretty obvious one.  It was that bookstores are not as good as they used to be.  There were at least four occasions that I thought of something that I wanted to buy, but I was foiled at every turn when it turned out the store didn’t have those books.  I understand that the world of publishing has grown exponentially, and I’m happy to see so many more names on the shelves, but it makes it difficult to find older titles.  Things leave the shelves and don’t get restocked.  Plus, more and more room in the store is being dedicated to non-book stuff – the Starbucks cafe, the rows and rows of toys and games, the CD section, etc.  I remember the days when I could pop into a book store and find the exact book I was looking for.  Today, I couldn’t even find any books by Piers Anthony!  And he should have been taking up at least two whole shelves!  (Has he been banned from Barnes & Nobles stores or something?)

Anyway, observations aside, I finally decided on two books – Hard Magic by Larry Correia and Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay.  The former author was suggested to me by a friend, but in regards to another book, Monster Hunter International.  While I do plan on reading that one eventually, I had spotted Hard Magic years ago when I was still working on my Mystery, Murder, and Magic series and was curious about possible parallels since the overall themes – detectives and magic – were similar.  The latter purchase was simply because I really loved Dexter the TV series (specifically seasons one and two, which I understand were more closely tied to the books than later seasons).  Hopefully I’ll get to read them soon and post reviews, or at least my thoughts on them.

In the meantime, I guess it’ll be a while before I head back to the bookstore.  If that’s the case, I fear how much less I’ll be able to find in the wake of more to discover.

Well, I’ve made it to the big leagues. One of my books (that I know of) is being pirated. Arrrr.

About a month ago I was ego-surfing, because occasionally I find some interesting stuff. Unfortunately, this was one of those times. Buried quite a few pages into the search results, I came across a website (which I will not name here) that was offering a PDF copy of Fantasy Noir for download.

My first instinct was to contact the person in charge and ask them politely to remove it. Well, there was no contact information. So, seeing as though the file was being stored on Megaupload, I decided to contact them to see if they could remove the file from their server. Unfortunately, they required the actual file URL, which I couldn’t get because the offending site requires you to take one of several surveys in order to get to the file. I wasn’t prepared to give out my information and get possible adware on my laptop. So I did a WHOIS lookup to see if I could get the contact info from the domain registrar information. It was sketchy, almost certainly fake, but I used it to send a cease and desist letter anyway.

It is now seven days past the one month deadline that I gave to take down the file and it’s still up.

The next step is to email the registrar to see if this person has hosting through their service. If he does, there’s a chance that they can coerce him into taking it down. If he just has the domain name through them, then I’m stuck.

What I’ve been asking myself, though, is why do I care? I mean, beyond the principle of the thing, I electively choose not to use DRM on my ebooks. And I’ve always been a proponent of pushing free ebooks to gather interest in ebooks for purchase. And I think what it comes down to is that it’s one thing if I choose to offer something of mine for free and/or encourage people to spread it around, but it’s another to have that same something being given away behind my back.

In all honesty, I’m a hypocrite. I’ve downloaded music and applications, and even though I always have the intention of buying them outright when I have the money (and I have on many occasions), I’m still doing it. That doesn’t provide me much moral ground to stand on, or at the very least any ground that’s very solid. “Let he who who has not sinned cast the first stone” and all of that. So I guess all I can hope for at this point is that if someone downloads Fantasy Noir for free and likes it, that the person will either buy a legit copy of it or pay for one of my other books.

Otherwise, if you plan on reading any of my books, please pay for them. If for some reason you can’t afford a book you really want, or if you feel that the price point is unfair, contact me about it. I’m more than willing to listen to your arguments and possibly work something out. I’d rather you tell me to my face that you think $3.99 is highway robbery for what I’m offering than going behind my back and buying a “bootleg” version.

Then again, here’s a reality check for myself – how many people are actually downloading the illegally free version of Fantasy Noir? I’m gonna guess probably not enough to warrant this entire post. Wish I had thought of that before I typed it all out…

My First Creepypasta

I’ve had an on-and-off fascination with creepypasta for a few years.  I would frequent the /x/ board of 4chan specifically to read them.  Something about them has always, well, “creeped” me out more than a traditional horror story.  Maybe being on the internet gives it a more legitimate feel, as if there is a greater possibility of it being real.  I’ll be honest – I’ve actually gone to bed disturbed or scared after glutting myself on creepypastas at night.

So, being a writer, I naturally had to take a stab at it myself.  One of the “genres” of creepypasta that I like most is video games.  A few of my favorite stories are BEN Drowned, Polybius, and The Theater.  So I pulled a little bit of experience from something in my past (playing the very first Alone in the Dark computer game late at night, in the dark) and put together my very first creepypasta.  Enjoy!

Continue Reading »

My Moldy Collection

Even though I write primarily for electronic formats, I’m still somewhat of a purist when it comes to my own reading habits. I grew up with physical copies of books. There’s nothing I love more than being able to feel the texture of paper as I turn a page, to be able to study the illustration on the cover, to smell either new book smell or vintage book smell. Sure, they take up a lot of room in mass quantities and have disadvantages that their electronic counterparts don’t have. But I’ll take ‘em any day.

One of my bad habits (and I say that in a tongue-in-cheek way) is collecting old pulp science fiction novels. While fantasy is primarily the world I lived in while growing up, I always did have a spot for sci-fi in my heart, and that has grown over the years. Yes, I enjoy the big name stuff, the award-winning stuff, and the stuff that has been turned into movies. But more often, I enjoy the authors that not many people know about, the ones that thrived even in obscurity. Philip Jose Farmer is one of my favorites, and while he’s fairly well-known (especially for his Riverworld series), most sci-fi readers I talk to have never heard of him. Farmer’s stuff is sometimes way out there, sometimes downright absurd, but that’s what I love about the genre. When the sci-fi stuff gets too science oriented, I tend to lose interest. I’m more interested in the big picture themes, in the world that the characters live in, in how the characters behave.

I bring this up because I went a long time without adding to my collection, and this past weekend I picked up a couple of books and realized how much I love seeking them out and how much I love diving into a book I’ve never heard of by an author I’ve never heard of. My finds included a book of short stories, The Planet on the Table, by Kim Stanley Robinson. My limited research showed that he is a fairly well-known sci-fi author (famous for his Mars trilogy), and after reading the first story in the collection, I’m hungry for more. The other book was more a fantasy/alternate history book called Too Many Magicians by Randall Garrett. The book sounded intriguing, and my research on the author was entertaining (I won’t say anything – visit his Wikipedia page and read for yourself).

Anyway, one of my dreams is that once I have a house to live in and we have a library (because we will have a library in our house), I will have a section primarily dedicated to my old pulp sci-fi books, regardless of how we have our books organized. I don’t collect many things as a hobby, so this being my one big thing I’d like to see them all in one spot. And then someday my kids can look at me and go, “Dad, why do you have all those moldy pieces of paper hanging around?” And I’ll shrug and they’ll return to their digital media.

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