Closing Out 2016 – What To Expect In 2017

So… 2016. That was something, wasn’t it? Some ups, some downs. But, all in all, it was certainly 366 days of, well, interesting events. But, enough about that. This post is about what I did in 2016 (or didn’t do) and what my plans are for the coming year.

To wrap up the past year, what have I got to look back on? Sadly, not a lot. Since I set out to “seriously pursue” this writing thing about five years ago, 2016 has got to be one of the absolute least productive years I’ve had. Just by sheer word count, it was utter shit. I wrote almost nothing new this year and nothing was finished. Not gonna make excuses (much). There was one major highlight out of 2016, and for me, it was a pretty big one. My first novel, Frostwalker, was released as an audiobook, narrated by Jack Wallen. It’s been somewhat successful, and my future novels will almost certainly be going to audio when they are released. Seriously, if you’re an indie author, do not overlook audiobooks!

I’ve talked about it before, but the current day job I have is simply exhausting, mentally and physically. That said, I’ve been trying to make progress. That lack of time and energy isn’t the only thing holding me back – I’ll get back to that in a moment.

First, there’s something that needs to be said. The past year and a half of this “new” job has brought about changes in my life that are still being figured out. It’s not just the exhaustion and demands the job puts on my time. For most of my adult life, we’ve been poor. Varying from just “first world poor” to some close calls that have nearly put us on the streets. Without the support system of extended family, we would never have made it. Now, at last, we’ve reached a place that we’ve never been at before – we’re more or less financially secure and self-supporting. It’s hard to describe what it’s like, and 18 months later, we’re still discovering ways that this has changed our lives. This is a good thing, but man does it ever cost a lot in time and energy. It’s not easy to put into words, but if you’ve ever been poor and finally made it (most of the way) out of that, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. So, this past year has been amazing in a lot of ways, but it’s been a big adjustment.

So, back on topic, what was it that made the past year such a disappointment with regards to my writing? I think, mainly, I’ve gotten stuck in a first draft hole. Those who have been following me the past couple of years have heard about my second novel, currently under the title A Man With A Gun. The first draft of AMWAG was finished on February 8th of 2015 – damned near 2 years ago. That date was also the end of my last solid stretch of daily writing. Since that time, I’ve had a few weeks here and there where I put in some words on a couple of small projects that may or may not become finished works. But, I keep getting stalled and losing motivation.

What happened? Well, once that draft was finished, I hit the brakes and decided to breathe for a bit. Meanwhile, I set about finding beta readers for AMWAG. It’s been hard to do. I’ve had a lot of difficulty finding people to read the manuscript, mainly because my usual readers are unavailable, or just too busy. Some have read it, both from my usual suspects, and a few new folks. I’ve gotten some feedback, and a lot of it is looking really good. Meanwhile, I had those side projects that I kept trying to work on, but they kept fizzling and stalling for me.

The issue arises due to a personal quirk I have. To put it simply, I don’t like having too much going on at one time. This has always been the way of things with my creative outlets. I don’t like working on something when another project is calling for my attention. Part of becoming a better author is getting to know how to access your creativity and how you work. Discovering what is the process that works for you. For me, while I know it’s maybe not the best or most efficient process, it really is difficult to move forward on one project while another is unfinished.

Right now, it feels like A Man With A Gun is what should be the focus (and it should be, I think). However, due to the scattered way the beta reading has been going, one or two readers here and there, always someone new going through it, I keep waiting on all the feedback.

Looking back, I should have set a deadline for when to end the beta phase. It’s been too easy for me to set aside other projects and tell myself, well, right now AMWAG is what I’m working on, so this just can’t have my focus. It became a crutch. So, to end that, I’m going to set that deadline here and now. The first round of revisions on A Man With A Gun is going to start February 1st of this year. So, if by chance you are currently one of the folks reading the manuscript for me, having your feedback to me before then would be nice. If you’re interested in reading the first draft, feel free to drop me a line, but be quick about it!

Another goal, this one a little less solidly defined: I want to have A Man With A Gun released before the end of the year. Should be easy to hit that one… Then again, I had hoped to have it out last year.

But, that’s not all that’s going on in 2017. There’s another (somewhat major) endeavor I’m hoping to undertake. As most of my followers know, I’m also a gamer. While my gaming has taken a serious hit, and obviously, I have to balance my very limited free time with the writing, I do plan to use it as another creative outlet.

To that end, I (and my wife) plan to begin streaming video game sessions on a regular basis. This will be another way for me to connect with you folks out there. If you’re the sort who likes to game, and especially if you enjoy livestreams, please consider stopping by. Most of my streaming will probably be late night, since I am (and always have been) the second shift sort. If the streaming works out, I hope to bring it together with my writing platform as a part of how I interface with those of you out in the wider world.

So, that’s that. Here’s hoping that 2017 will be a productive year! Good luck out there!

The Frostwalker Audiobook Is Out!

I’m happy to announce, after much struggle and a great deal of effort on the part of the fantastic Jack Wallen, the Frostwalker audiobook is now finished and available for sale!

Let’s just go ahead and get it said: You can grab this great story, read by a great narrator at Audible and Amazon right now. It’s also available on iTunes!

FrostwalkerAudiobookCoverFINAL

Come for the story, stay for the venison!

It’s been a long, sometimes difficult process. While Jack worked quickly and without complaint, he also waited patiently for me to find the time to go over the various iterations of the audio files. As I’ve discussed recently, my current situation has left precious little time and energy for creative pursuits, but Jack was very understanding whenever I was slow on my end. Sometimes, I was very slow indeed.

I also learned a great deal about how one goes about creating an audiobook, and had some great chats with Jack along the way.

So, now what? Now you go get it! But, more than that, I would like to ask my friends and followers, readers and fans (yes, Mom, this means you) to help get the word out. Frostwalker isn’t a new release, but it’s currently my only full-length novel (more on that in a moment). With such a limited catalog available, I need all the help I can get letting people know about my work. If you want to help an indie author out, the best thing you can do is tell your friends about them! Please do so, and thanks in advance!

What else is going on? There’s good news there, as well. First and foremost, I’m happy to say that I’ve finally managed to return to writing – a little. The day job is, frankly, a serious drain on my energy, even when it’s just the normal eight hours. However, the past week has seen slight progress on a couple of stories I started work on last summer.

Beyond that, I’m also still in the early stages of revision on my second novel, A Man With A Gun. There are more (new) beta readers looking at the manuscript. Soon, I hope to begin edits. Yeah, I know, you’ve heard that one before, but seriously, the book will be coming out eventually! Heck, if you really want to give it a read, you could always volunteer to be a beta reader and help make it the best book it can be.

It’s been difficult, but I do hope that this recent return to writing will be a long term development. I’ve missed sitting here at my writing desk, putting on my writer hat, and… well, you know! If you want to be a writer, you gotta write!

I hope to begin doing more frequent updates in the future. For now, thanks for stopping by!

Starting 2016 With A Bang – Frostwalker Audiobook And 2015 Wrap-Up

So, it seems that all of the time left in 2015 has leaked out and now we’ve got a whole other year ahead of us. That went fast!

To kick off the new year, how about we start with a major announcement? After two and a half years since initial publication, the Frostwalker audiobook is almost here!

The audiobook will be narrated by the inimitable Jack Wallen. Many of you will know him, either through his own fiction, the numerous audiobooks he’s narrated, or possibly even from his stage career. Principle production is complete and now we’re into the nitty-gritty of polishing up the final product.

While the final release date for the audiobook is still undecided, it shouldn’t be too far off. For now, here’s a look at the audiobook version of the Frostwalker cover art:

FrostwalkerAudiobookCoverFINAL

Looks kinda familiar…

So, that’s pretty cool! But what else is going on?

Well, the short answer is: Not much. As I discussed previously, my employment situation changed and the new job has utterly devastated my productivity. The good news on that front is, I’m beginning to adjust a bit, and I do think I’ll be able to eventually start devoting more time to this whole author thing again soon. It likely won’t be much, but with luck, it will be enough to make progress on my various projects. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Unfortunately, no further progress has been made on any projects since the last time I posted. My final word count for 2015 came to 95,795. If you recall, my goal set at the beginning of the year had been to average 500 words per day. In the end, I only managed a smidge over 262 per day, on average. The first half of the year had seen daily averages well above target, but after faltering during the middle of the year, then getting this new day job, that was doomed.

I’m not sure how feasible setting a goal like that is for this year. With the situation as it stands, I’ve held off on setting a concrete word count goal. But, there are things I plan to get done!

One particular item, A Man With A Gun still needs to be finished up and prepared for publication. Technically, the manuscript is still in the first draft stage, and there are still copies out with beta-readers. The focus for now will be on getting A Man With A Gun through the editing process, and ready for release.

A whole new year is set out before us. A lot can happen in a year, as the previous one has shown. Here’s hoping for a productive and successful 2016!

Update – May 2015 – Crunching Numbers, Another New Project, New Blurb

So, how about another monthly update?

As I’ve mentioned lots of times, one of my biggest hurdles is just staying motivated and keeping my productivity up. I’ve also mentioned that my goal for this year has been to average 500 words per day. That’s not a lot, really, but it adds up in the end. For someone not writing as a full-time job, I think it’s a passable goal.

I just crunched some numbers… Taking how many days have already passed this year (145), and considering my goal of averaging 500 words per day this year, my current total word count for the year (79,610) puts me only about two weeks ahead of schedule.

Writing a novel really sounds so reasonable when you look at the raw numbers. If you crank out 2,000 words per day (which I do on good days, but usually I’m closer to 1,300 or so) then you hit 80,000 words in only 40 days. 80,000 words is a reasonable length for a novel and, in fact, both of the novels I’ve written so far have been in that neighborhood. So, if you’re motivated enough, you can write the first draft of a novel in the time it takes to wipe out all life on earth in a biblical flood. Easy peasy.

If I run the numbers with my usual output of 1,300 words per day, it’s still only about 62 days to hit the 80k mark. Two months. Prison sentences for major crimes have run less.

But, let me tell ya, doing that every day for two months takes a lot out of you – especially if you’ve got other things on your plate as well, such as a day job, a small business to run, family, etc.

Still, that’s what you do. If you want to be a writer, you have to, well, WRITE. Ain’t that a kick in the head?

For those keeping score at home, my goal of 500/day average word count means 182,500 by the end of the year. I have 102,890 remaining to hit that mark and between now and December 31st to do it. IF I only write 500 words in a day, I have 206 days of writing ahead of me and 220 days left in this year. Most days that I write, I do well over 500. But it’s those damned zero-days that get ya.

So, how do I get there? Well, that brings me to my next point: I’ve started yet another new project. Last month I mentioned that I’d started something new, and that I got 12,000 words into it before I hit the wall. That project is still “live”, but until my muse is ready to feed out a little more of that one, I’ve got something else to work on. I’m only about 3,000 words into this new one, and no idea if it will be a novel or what, but I’ve only had two sessions to beat on it so far.

It’s a good idea to have multiple projects, and for just that reason. If the well dries up on one, you switch off for a while. I don’t care where my 500 words per day come from, so long as I’m getting 500 words of new fiction written every day.

There is always the possibility that these projects will fizzle entirely and never come to see the light of day. That sort of thing happens. I’ve got a 40,000 word manuscript from some years ago that will likely never be finished. But, it’s all part of the process. It’s all writing experience, it’s all work spent sharpening the tools of my trade, and who knows, maybe that idea will come around again?

Anyway, this new project is a post-apocalyptic thing that’s been bouncing around my head for a few months. Not zombies – not yet anyway – but definitely post-apocalyptic. We’ll see where it goes.

Lastly, I was very happy to get a new blurb for Frostwalker from none other than Armand Rosamilia. I added his blurb to the Frostwalker page here at the site, but for your enjoyment, I’ll copy and paste it here.

“Ancient curses, zombies, a bleak wintry setting you can feel in your bones, and a fast-paced story that keeps you guessing. This is a debut novel? I’m impressed.”Armand Rosamilia, author of the Dying Days zombie series

Armand knows survival horror, so such comments from him mean a lot to me!

That’s mostly it for now. Beta reading continues on A Man With A Gun, and interested parties still have time to give it a go if you’re so inclined. Drop me a line if you’d like to beta read that, or if you’re interested in joining the beta reading Facebook group I created.

Until next time…

Get My Books Free During “Read An E-Book Week”, March 2 – March 8!

The ebook revolution continues! Books in digital format are still a bit new to some people. But, this portable, flexible, and connected new way of reading has taken the world by storm. If you’ve never read an ebook, now is your chance to give it a try – for free!

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Read An E-Book Week is an opportunity to pick from thousands of books for free and try ’em out. You don’t need to have a Kindle or any special hardware. Chances are, whatever you’re reading this on will work just fine. There are free Kindle apps for PC, Mac, Android, and Apple devices as well as other formats, such as PDF, that you can read on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

During this year’s Read An E-Book Week, I will be offering all of my works at Smashwords for free! This is a great opportunity to check out my pulp horror short story The Card if you’ve not read it before. If you really want to cash in, grab my survival horror novel Frostwalker and save $2.99! While you’re at it, my other short, Out After Dark is also free – but it’s always free at Smashwords anyway.

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How To Participate

During the event, head over to Smashwords, add my books to your shopping cart, and use the coupon code RW100 before you check out. It’s that simple! Just use the coupon code when you checkout at Smashwords and you’re set!

Thousands of other books will be available for reduced prices or even free like my own. Take a look around and see what catches your eye! But remember, this event only runs from March 2nd until the 8th. At midnight (Pacific time) at the end of March 8th, the deals end – but the ebooks you get to keep!

Take the plunge and get into ebooks – you won’t regret it!

Get My Short Story “The Card” Free – But Act Fast!

So, here’s the thing: I know what it’s like to shop for books. I also know what it’s like to have a very limited budget for entertainment. This is why I understand the difficulty people have with taking a chance on an author they don’t know. For most of the Earth’s population, I am one of those authors you just don’t know.

Because of this, I think it’s very important that relatively unknown authors such as myself get their work in front of readers. Until you know me, and know that my work is worth your limited entertainment dollars, I can’t reasonably ask you to risk your cash on my work. It’s going to take some give and take – and I have to give before I take anything.

That’s part of the reason why my short story Out After Dark is free. Another reason is that it’s rather short, and I don’t really think it’s long enough to charge for. Granted, publishing it through Amazon means that I can’t set the price to free – but Amazon does price matching. That story being free at Smashwords and all the other places that Smashwords distributes to (iTunes, Sony, Kobo, B&N, etc.) means that Amazon makes the price on Out After Dark free – at least, on the US Amazon site. Not entirely sure where they’re setting the price elsewhere.

The CardHowever, that’s just one story, and it is rather short. The Card is a longer piece, and it’s not in the overdone vampire genre (even if I think Out After Dark is a new twist). The Card is a very original piece. I do think The Card warrants a price, and 99 cents is pretty much the lowest you can go.

Now, in an effort to get my work out there, and give readers a chance to get to know me, and a chance to enjoy my work, I’m posting this coupon code to get The Card for FREE. However, this coupon code is only good for the next day or two. It expires February 14th, but I’m not sure if that is midnight (California time) the morning of the 14th, or if it will be good until the end of that day. Smashwords wasn’t entirely clear on that when I generated the coupon code. Bottom line: get it fast while you can! Here’s the code:

TQ57Q

To use this code, go to Smashwords and add The Card to your shopping cart. Input the code in the space provided, then check out! You may need to create a Smashwords account, if you don’t already have one. It’s free and easy to get a Smashwords account, so don’t let that hold you back. Using this code, The Card will be yours, and on your account, for as long as you want it. No strings attached!

After you’ve read The Card, if you liked it (or even if you didn’t), I hope you’ll leave a review at Smashwords. If you’re so inclined, you can review it at Amazon and Goodreads as well.

If you like my work, I hope you’ll try my full-length novel, Frostwalker. Again, I don’t feel like you need to spend your money without knowing you’ll like what you’re getting. You can read the first 33% (one third) of the book for FREE at Smashwords. I hope you’ll check it out!

Lastly, please share this with your friends! I really want to reach as many of you as possible. Someday, I wouldn’t mind writing full time, paying my bills doing what I love. But even if I reach that goal, I hope I never lose sight of what is important: This isn’t about making money. It’s about telling great stories and entertaining readers!

Thanks, and enjoy!

Are We Indie Authors Trying Too Hard?

I’ve been reading a how-to book lately. Specifically, a book on how to “build your author platform”. This book hasn’t been particularly fantastic, although it’s not so much that it’s full of wrong ideas, it’s just that I’ve already heard all of these things before.

But, the book has made me think about something that keeps coming to me every time I read about this sort of topic, whether it’s a book for writers, or a blog post, or anything else. Every time I delve into the topic of “building your author platform”, I keep getting this slightly skeevy feeling, like we’re missing the point of the whole writing thing and simply turning ourselves into hucksters. Continue reading