Dilemmas, Dilemmas

I’ve been really sick for the last week. It was awful, therI e was a 48 hour period where I couldn’t even stand up without evoking brainsplitting headaches and vomiting. I feel better today. I even took Parker out for a very short run, although my congested lungs weren’t too happy about that. Anyway, I am back up and alive and looking forward to being a productive member of society again.

I have been debating and debating about what to do with the release of my book. During the last week, I’ve written hardly anything, and I am starting to worry a little bit. I could finish the book, have it edited, formatted, and illustrated by the 29th of April like the original goal, but I want to slow things down a little bit and make sure that I write the best possible book that I can. How would you feel if your favorite author rushed to put out a book so they could hit an arbitrary release date? You might be excited to read the new material, but that excitement will quickly disappear once you realize that the book is sloppy and unprofessional. I don’t want to do that. So I’m going to push the date back a little bit and make sure that this book is as good as it can possibly be. I think this will make all of us happier.

Advertisements

Comic Book Thoughts

There’s a special place in my heart for the medium that is the comic book. I fell in love with this when I was probably about 8 or 9 years old when my dad started buying me Amazing Spider Man books. It was right around this time, too, that DC Comics did their death of Superman with Doomsday and all that, and I couldn’t get enough. Then I went YEARS without reading comic books.

That was until college, when a really cool professor of mine (Dr. Ken Cooper) assigned our class The Watchmen by Alan Moore. I had never read anything like it, and by this point in my life, I had read a lot more than I had at 8 years old. The same professor assigned us The Ice Storm–although I cannot remember if it was the same class or not–and there were a bunch of Fantastic Four references in this book, and I slowly found my way back to reading comic books.

After college I discovered Neil Gaiman, right around the time his book Anansi Boys came out. I read it, loved it, and then read American Gods, which quickly became one of my favorite books ever. This, of course, prompted me to learn more about Neil Gaiman, and I discovered that he had been around for a long time as a comic book writer. The Sandman–a series he started in the 80s and that lasted for about 10 years–was, and probably still is, the most amazing long running comic series ever written.

Are there better books out there than The Sandman? Yes. Alan Moore’s V For Vendetta is perhaps the best socially aware comic book ever written, but it didn’t have the same reach that Sandman did. I read an interview with Gaiman a few weeks ago where he was commenting about how during the 10 year span of Sandman, most of the time he was more in tune to what his characters were doing than what was going on in real life. This blew my mind, to use a turn of phrase. I have been working on my sci-fi western novel off and on since 2007–a long time by any account–and it has only just recently reached the point where it has consumed my thoughts. It’s a good feeling, and it makes me realize that I’m doing something right, that my characters are starting to come alive. I think this is something that writers need to do if they’re going to be successful. Because if the characters have no spark with the writer, they sure aren’t going to resonate with the reader.

Computer Problems

My schedule has been thrown way off on all of my projects because I have had computer issues yet again. My new computer died exactly 29 days after I purchased it. All of my files were lost as Best Buy was not able to revive it. Luckily, my 30 day warranty had not expired so I got my money back. This was Monday. Today is Friday and I just bought a new computer.

I was able to back up two of my novels, and lost 11 pages of the third. So it wasn’t a huge catastrophe. I am going to try like heck to get back on pace and have my first novel out and published by April 28th, but things are running behind now. I am trying to set up a blog tour that will kick off April 29th, so stay tuned for where you can see my guest blogs posted! I’m very excited about this, and I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks.

Exercise

I ran today. 2.2 miles. My mom came over and took the kids so suddenly I found myself alone and not wanting to write (which I did) or clean (which I also did). So I put on my running shoes and just left the house. I didn’t even bring Parker with me. I felt a little bad about that, but I wanted alone time and for some reason having a dog making me run a lot faster than I wanted to run wasn’t sounding appealing.

I need exercise to stay sane. I’ve learned that over the years. But it isn’t just physical exercise that I need, although that does play a big part in it. I need mental exercise too. I need to feel challenged and I need to feel like what I’m doing is worthwhile. This is why I love writing. I get to expand new worlds, I get to problem solve, and it’s really fun at the same time. I’ve said this before in other places, but writing and editing to me is like working on a puzzle with multiple solutions. The short stuff is really easy to solve (such as an article for a client), but the longer novels are really complex and really difficult. And I love working on them and figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

When I was in high school, I used to play with handheld puzzles. There was one in the guidance office that no one had ever solved, and one day I solved it. The school counselor was amazed, which was cool for my ego. The problem was that it didn’t matter. I was good at solving things that nobody else could, but what does a puzzle have to do with helping out other people? Not much.

But literature adds to society. I am a devout Christian, but before I made this choice, I went through some really dark times. My writing is a reflection of that. I hope that what I can someday successfully accomplish through a body of works is to show how other people can be in really bad spots in their lives with all sorts of hazards thrown at them, but still overcome them and be successful. That’s a part of my philosophy, anyway.

Poetry

I’m putting together a book of surreal/steampunk-esque poems right now to go along with my many other projects. The collection is about 1/3 ready to go and should be ready for publication over the next few months. It is stuff unlike anything I’ve written in verse before and I’m having fun exploring the dark areas of my mind and then trying to find pretty ways to phrase my dark thoughts and nightmares. If that makes sense.

I do have a small collection of poems that I published several years ago. I think I have about 8 of the chapbooks left, so if anyone wants them, I will send them to you for free. Just give me a buck for shipping if you’re far away and you can be the proud owner of my first (hopefully of many) chapbook. The collection is entitled “Extractions” and features some cool photography by Lisa Eggleston.

Recap

I gave away 75 copies of my fantasy baseball book when I offered it for free a couple weeks ago. My Zenyatta book just finished up its free copy giveaway (1 day shorter than the baseball book), and I gave away 78 copies. This didn’t surprise me. The Zenyatta book has been outperforming the other by leaps and bounds since I was able to publish them myself last year. Plus, I had a giveaway for Zenyatta back last year, and I gave away over 200 copies then, so I knew that this book would do better.

What have I learned from this? Not a lot, honestly. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to give away both books close together and see how this affected sales. In all honesty, sales were not affected at all by the giveaways. I know it’s still a little soon to make this judgment for Zenyatta, but based on the data I have now, this is what I’ve observed.

This isn’t a bad thing. I just wanted to see what would happen. Plus, I’m taking both books off of Amazon in the coming weeks and I wanted to thank my readers for their loyalty, so I thought this last hurrah with free books would be a nice way to do so.

If you want a copy of either of these books and you can’t find them on Amazon because I’ve unpublished them, just send me a note or comment on this blog and I will see what I can do. I am looking forward to this next stage in my career and I hope you are too!

Advice for Young Writers

I went to the eye doctor the other day, and my doctor was curious about my writing career as his daughter wants to make a living as a writer of some sort. He asked me for some advice, so I told him the most important thing that I have learned so far.

The biggest thing a writer can do to be successful is to write a lot. The more you write, the better your chances of finding someone who will pay you for it. Even if you’re the best writer in the world, you’re style, content, etc. might not be right for the person you are submitting it to. Right now, I write consistently for four to six clients, depending upon the week. For the sake of simplicity, let’s call it five. To get those five clients, I submitted writing samples to over 200 different places. Not favorable math at all. It ends up being about 2.5 percent of the places that I’ve submitted to that currently give me business.

This isn’t unique. Stephen King had hundreds of rejections before he started out. J.A. Konrath wrote over 1 million words over the course of many novels before he got his first piece published. The fact is, writers need to be in the right place at the right time if they want to get paid. The more you write and the more you submit, the better off your chances of making money will be.

Think about it. Who are the most successful writers you can think of? Stephen King. James Patterson. Danielle Steele. NameĀ a famous writer, the odds are they’ve written more than one book. If you want to mimic their success you need to write and you need to write a lot.

Hemingway had a famous saying that, to paraphrase it pretty inaccurately, was along the lines that you have only a few good words in you, and that the more bad writing you put out, the easier it is to get the few good words out. If you write enough, you can turn those few good words into good novels.

There are exceptions out there. J.D. Salinger made it big on The Catcher in the Rye and hardly wrote anything afterwards. So yes, it is possible to be rich and famous on a little bit of writing. But the likelihood of that very rare writer being you is very slim. Like betting double zero on a roulette wheel with thousands of numbers on it. It can happen, yes. But it almost never will.

So write a lot. Every day. And don’t be afraid of rejection.