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Recently I purchased and starting reading the novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, the 1954 novel that inspired The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, and the 2007 Will Smith vehicle I Am Legend. I have seen all three of those movies, and only am I now delving into the book. And I’m glad I am; it’s a great read, full of suspense and introspection into the life of a lonely man.

One the things I’ve realized in reading it is that despite the fact that the book was written in the 50s and depicts a post-apocalyptic world in the 70s, it seems pretty timeless. Sure, there are the occasional clues to the fact that it was written six decades ago, but for the most part you can read it and almost imagine that the events were taking place right now. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but my view is that it was a lack of details that leads to this timelessness.

Perhaps “lack of details” is a bad choice of phrase for this. I might be better of saying “the strategic use of ambiguity”. This is something I often employ in my writing, most specifically in my Mystery, Murder, and Magic series. In that world, I wanted to give the impression that the events were taking place somewhere between 30s and 40s and in a large city that goes unnamed. Why? Because I feel that by locking down specifics, you force the reader into a preconceived set of rules. By leaving things ambiguous, the reader can imagine that it’s New York City in the 1930s, or Chicago in the 1940s, or even their own city in a later decade (heck, it’s an alternate world, so it could be the 80s for all intents and purposes).

It’s certainly not a stylistic choice that is for everyone. Some people get very detailed in their writing, and sometimes that works out great for them. Other times, in my eyes, it becomes very distracting and sometimes tedious. The best example I can think of is Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove, which was a great story, but man, he got very wordy with the descriptions of the guns.

On the other hand, being too ambiguous and leaving out too much can be detrimental, too. You want to leave some things up to your reader, but you don’t want to leave them to do all the work. If that’s the case, you may as well just dungeon master a game of Dungeons & Dragons. You want to find that golden line of just enough detail and try not to step over it.

Whether or not this really is the case with I Am Legend, it was something that I noticed. And it was intentional, then I tip my hat to Matheson and I will definitely enjoy reading more of his writing, because he was obviously a masterful writer. If it was unintentional, well… at least I got a blog post out of it.

General Life Update

Well, sales for Starting Over have been pretty dismal. Of course, I missed a week or two of pushing it because of circumstances, but still. This is one of those tough cases where it’s a book a I really believe in and enjoyed writing, but doesn’t seem to be gathering any steam. I guess I’m just going to have to knuckle down and get in peoples’ faces…

In other news, I’ve started working on my next novel, Blood of the Father. It’s the sequel to Blood of the Mother (obviously), and it’ll be an interesting book to write because it sort of subverts some of the ideas I built up in the first book. I don’t like “black and white” stories; I like… well, I was going to say “shades of gray”, but someone sort of tainted that phrase. So I’ll say I like more three-dimensional stories.

Also, as I mentioned below, if you’re interested in being on a mailing list to receive updates, promotions/discounts, and whatever else I feel like telling you, please contact me about getting your email added.

Now, back to writing.

Want Some Email?

In my research for what marketing techniques would be best for me to get my new book in the hands of willing consumers, I found that I’ve been missing one of the most obvious and, according to some, one of the most important. I’m talking about a mailing list.

I had people tell me years ago to use a mailing list, and at the time I dismissed it. After all, in an era of social media, who still subscribes to a mailing list? But after some research and a chat with another indie writer, it turns out that – GASP – I was wrong. And I need to fix that.

So, I will be putting out a regular email to a mailing list. I will include recent blog posts, additional information about my current projects, promotions and discounts, and anything else you may want me to talk about. To sign up, go to my Contact/Mailing List page and fill out the form.

I’m not sure when the first one will go out (maybe in a few weeks), so sit tight. In the meantime, you can also follow me at a number of social media sites, all of which are listed on the right in the “Follow Me” box.

Time to start getting in peoples’ faces!

I soft launched the release of my new ebook at the beginning of this week, trailing after the end of the preorders for the paperback, so I figured it was time for an actual blog post about it.  “Starting Over” is now available for download in a number of formats from several retailers.  But before you consider it, what’s it about?

It took four years, but Mike Cosley finally managed to get through the nightmare of high school. But then he was faced with the decision of what to do with the rest of his life. Lucky for him, the answer was at the back of his closet.

Stepping through a mysterious doorway, Mike finds himself in the midst of a wizard, a demon, and all sorts of wonderous things – including a school that teaches magic. Through the help of the professor Fitzpot Fizzlebottom, Mike enrolls in the Wizardly Studies program and sets off to begin his new life in a strange world.

Meanwhile, a mysterious figure has set his sights on Mike…

Based on the long-running webcomic Bardsworth.

It’s a fun, lighthearted read for all ages.  You can download it at Amazon, Smashwords, or Google Play. Or, if you want the paperback and missed the preorder, you can purchase it at CreateSpace.

And please, spread the word!  If it sounds like a book that someone you know might enjoy, send the link their way.  Or gift it to someone!

Now it’s on to my next book…

After many years and many posts talking about it, the paperback version of the first Bardsworth novel, Starting Over, is now available for preorder!  From now until Sunday, May 31st if you preorder the paperback version of Starting Over, you will receive a signed copy and a coupon code for a free ebook version through Smashwords!  I might even throw a little something extra into the envelope when I ship the book to you.  ;-)

For those of you waiting for the digital version of the book, that will be available by next week through Smashwords, Amazon, and Google Play.

Just click on the picture below to go the Bardsworth website and then click on the “Buy Now” Paypal button.  (Note:  I have the shipping cost configured for just one book; if for some reason you wish to purchase multiple copies, I will contact you with a request for the extra cost of shipping.)
ebook_preview

I am absolutely dying to release my new book, Starting Over. My goal was to release it in April, and I was so, so close to being able to do so. But I made a series of good decisions that has led me to a later release date.

The first two I’ve already mentioned in other posts. One was to hire an illustrator to do my cover, and while I adore the cover she made for me, I had to wait until I received the final product before I was able to prep it for my ebooks and print release (had to add the text that goes on the front and back). The other was utilizing beta readers for the first time, so I had to wait until I received all my feedback from them (and all the feedback I received was valuable).

One of the other decisions I made was on the recommendation of my wife. Katie suggested that I not release the ebooks before the print books as I planned, and after thinking about it I decided to listen to her. I’m glad I did because I put an awful lot of red into the proof of the print book.

There’s something about seeing the words in a different format that helps you find things you never noticed before. About a third of what I marked was misspellings or grammatical errors. Another third was formatting errors (exclusive to the print book, so that won’t affect the ebooks). The last third was last-minute language changes that I wanted to make.

So there’s something to be said for having a little bit of patience. I know the book still won’t be 100% perfect, but at least I didn’t jump the gun on it.

Still open to suggestions about marketing it, though.

Soon…

It’s a project that has been very long in the making and, like many projects in my life, suffered delays for various reasons. But I’m happy to announce that the Bardsworth novel, “Starting Over”, will be available for preorders very shortly! Here’s the cover (which was done by my amazing illustrator, Jackie Zysk):

ebook_preview

For those of you who are regular readers of my webcomic, which the book is based on, you’ll have fun reliving some of the funnier moments and getting a more in-depth look at the world of Bardsworth. For those of you who have never read the webcomic, this will all be a surprise to you and I think you’ll enjoy the lighthearted nature of the story.

I’m just waiting for my proof copy to arrive so that I can double-check everything, and then you will be able to preorder the ebook and/or a signed print copy.

And then it’s on to the next project…

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