Category Archives: Writing

Tomorrow is the big day

Tomorrow is the big day and I am STOKED.

I’ve spent the past week and a half on overdrive and I’ll finally get to see the fruits of my labor.

OR WILL I?

Tomorrow is the first day of MANY years that Communion will be available to the world.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be a stellar first day that proves to everyone I’m going to be a successful writer.  In fact, most people who buy Communion tomorrow will be you faithful readers of this blog and friends I’ve met since becoming more active on the internet.

More readers and fans won’t come until later, some of them much later than tomorrow.  Despite all my blogging and tweeting and commenting, the internet is a big place.  It’ll be a LONG time before even a fraction of the internet knows Communion even exists, let alone considers buying it.

TOMORROW IS THE FIRST STEP

At this point, I’m getting tired of first steps.  I thought planning the novel was it, then writing the first page, then revising it.  But no, all of that was just the warm-up.  Tomorrow, I cross the line from being unpublished to published.  I’m out there.  There’s a chance that strangers I’ve never met before will find me and come to know who I am (or what I say of in my ABOUT section).

But just like novel-writing is a marathon that took a great deal of time to complete, so is a successful writing career.  Regardless of how well or how terrible Communion does tomorrow or even this month, I have to keep pushing on.  I have many more books to write.  Maybe I’ll see a return on my time and money invested with this first book.  Maybe not until the third.  Either way, I have to keep writing.

SOMEONE IS GOING TO DISLIKE THIS BOOK

Actually, I can think of at least 3 people who told me Communion wasn’t their cup of tea.  All three were older (30+) women, which is completely outside of my target audience.  Two of these three said they liked my writing style and want to see more work for me, but Communion wasn’t it for them.

There are going to be others who aren’t so nice.  All of the greatest books I’ve ever read have 1-star reviews.  Sometimes I read those reviews and think, “there’s no way this guy read the same book I did.”  Regardless, it is what it is.  You can’t please everyone.

 

So, I’ve spent the past two weeks going over Communion in my head, scene by scene, trying to predict what people will dislike.  I’ve done calculations in my head to come up with how much I need to sale to become a full-time writer.

But enough is enough.  The world gets its first taste of my dhampir tomorrow.  I won’t sit back and wait.  Instead I begin a month of aggressive marketing (release day party, blog tour, tweets, etc.).  I’ve been watching the book market for over a year now, waiting for my chance to compete.  Tomorrow, I enter the fray.

Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity (C3) Conference 2013

Back from my first writer’s conference (EVER!) and had a complete and thorough BLAST!  Before I say anything else, if you’ve never been to a conference before SIGN. UP. FOR. ONE. NOW!

(Actually, registration for C3 2014 is available now)

My enthusiasm should be reaching through your computer screen and getting in your face and shouting, “DO IT!  DO IT!” If not, go back to the beginning and read it over again.

So now that you can fathom my sheer elation for everything I gained at this conference, let’s talk about a few of the MANY things I learned.

Go even if you’re shy!

While those of you who have met me via Twitter or Wattpad may find it hard to believe, I’m actually a fairly shy guy.  I stutter whenever I get nervous or excited (it happens a lot and it’s very annoying).  I gave my pitch for Communion a couple of times and it sounded horrible!  “T-the v-vampires are ext-t-tinct…” But everyone I talked to was really cool about it and listened and even seemed impressed by the story.

Bring cards

A conference is a networking event and, like any networking event, you need a convenient way to exchange information.  Some writers will make a lasting impression on you (and vice versa), but it still may be hard to remember their name on Monday when you return to the 9-to-5.

Make sure to budget for buying books

Actually, I did this one.  I originally set aside $50 to purchase books that appealed to me or books of authors whose panels I attended or of those I happened to chat with and liked.   I went over-budget at the conference and still didn’t buy ALL of the books I wanted.  But that’s ok because I collected business cards– which you’re gonna do, right?

The Conference Continues at the Bar

So I don’t know if you’ve ever had a drink with an 11-time NYT Bestseller or an author who’s written for both Marvel and DC, but I did.  Because I went to a conference! (See how this works?)  Every topic is on the table while at the bar.  Writing tips, what writers REALLY think of their publishers, and even life advice.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ll definitely be attending the Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity conference next year.  Actually, I was asked (read:  politely told) to be a panelist.  So, if you want to see me speak (read: stutter) my way through a session on first-time authors, SIGN UP!

Administrative Announcement: Reverse Course

Remember when I said I was going to release Communion in two parts?

Yeeaahh.  Not really.

After talking to several other authors and giving it some more thought, I realized it’s better to publish the whole thing at this.

As a first time author, I need to wow people.  And I need to give them more than they were expecting.  The first half would have ended on a cliffhanger (a huge turn off to some readers).  But now I’ll be selling the full-novel at a steal for $2.99.  And those who read it WILL.  BE.  AMAZED.

One of my reservations was waiting until late next year before having another book available.  As I mentioned in the previous post, Independent Authors are advised to publish a book AT LEAST every 6 months to stay relevant.  I have a book I can use for April 2014.  It won’t be a full novel, but somewhere between 20-30K words.  Still, said project has been very popular with the Wattpad crowd.  After I fix up, I’ll have a shorter piece that will get be a lot of attention.

But the biggest reason of all, this is my debut.  I only get to debut ONCE!  I want to give the world my best with this debut, not just half my best.  I was worried that the second half of the novel would need some additional scenes and sprucing up, but my editor loved the whole thing as it is.

I’ve also gotten responses from my last few beta readers since the time of the previous post.  They also agree:  it’s time to share my baby with the world!

I’m going to a Writer’s Conference!

I’ll be attending Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity in Baltimore, MD in September.

No, this isn’t to promote my debut novel Communion.  Maybe one day I’ll have that kind of following, but right now I’m simply going as an unpublished author and a fan, looking to network.

There are a bunch of panes I’m looking forward to.  Some are easy choices, such as

What makes a hero
Building a great series
Magic in “real life” and fiction

But, like all conferences, there’s always that hour that has TWO panels you want to attend at the same time.  I’m torn between ‘What to Expect from Publishers and Editors’ (has a lot of business implications) and ‘Handling Sex in Crime/Fantasy Fiction’ (let’s just say things get steamy in the Communion sequel).

Ordered 500 bookmarks.  Gotta get rid of all of them before August 1st

Ordered 500 bookmarks. Gotta get rid of all of them before October 1st

I’ll also be looking for booths ran by any authors who have self-published their books as ebooks only.  I’m interested in doing this at some point in the future, but it would be nice to get some ideas on how it’s done first.

I won’t purchase a table for myself, but I will be giving out Communion bookmarks to anyone I happen to talk to.

But, it’s the first conference I’ll be attending… EVER.  Any tips?

I have to Give a Presentation :-(

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it on here before, but I’m a part of the local chapter of the Maryland Writer’s Association.

[Pause:  Let me go ahead and encourage any writer reading this to join up with writer organizations.  They’re great for gaining invaluable information and resources and for the one thing we NEVER get tired of, networking].

Anyway, as I wanted to increase my level of activity with them and give back to a group that’s given me so much, I was asked to give a presentation at our November meeting.  Definitely not what I had in mind, but I can deal.

My presentation will be on plot development.

I’ve read several books on plot, including Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell.  In fact, use of those readings are what made Communion a candidate for self-publishing while Lamia’s Dream (my Succubus story) is only available on Wattpad.

In addition to referring to what I’ve learned from those books, I was also asked to compare the plot structures of several books by the same author.  For example, I’ve heard that bestselling authors like Stephen King and James Patterson use the same plot structure in a lot of their books.

With that being said, I’d like to ask for your help.  Can you tell me 3-4 titles by Stephen King or James Patterson that use similar plot structures?  How about for a different author?

The point of this presentation is NOT to encourage writers to “steal” the formula used by another author, but to teach them such formulas exist and open their mind up to possibilities.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

Administrative Announcement: Communion in Two Parts

For about a month now, I’ve been going back and forth on whether I want to release the full copy of my debut novel Communion in October or split it into two parts.  In the end, I’ve decided on two parts.

Several factors played into this decision:

1)  For the readers:  Communion is pretty long for a first novel.  The draft I sent to the editor is a little over 86K words.  Out of about 15 people I sent early drafts to for a beta-reading, only about half were able to get through it.  I’m worried people who I’ve never even met might find 86K slightly daunting for an unproven writer.  The first half will be about 45K.  I’m hoping will find this length a little more comfortable.

2) For the story:  While I feel strongly that the first half of Communion is ready to go, the second half needs a little more work.  There are certain minor details that need to be further refined.  Also, if I release Communion in two parts, I can beef up the second half by adding a few more scenes.

3)  For my writing career:  It’s recommended for an Independent Author to release a new book in six month increments at most.  I can release part 2 of Communion in April 2014.  And I’ve already begun planning out the novel for October 2014.

And, I’d much rather leave people with the feeling of “I want more” rather than “I’ve had enough.  Is this book over yet?”

In other news, Communion finally made its way to a professional editor earlier this week.  Her first read-through will be a beta-reading, so I’m looking forward to hearing what she says.

Also, I recently ordered a blog tour via Bewitching Book Tours.  I’ll be posting the banner (it looks AMAZING!) and other info in the next week or two.

So, that’s where my thoughts are.  Do you think this is a wise decision or am I setting myself up for failure?

Different Kinds of Vampire Storylines

With Communion in the hands of Beta-readers and my most recent project Sparkle ready to be published on Wattpad later this week, I’m not sure what I should write next.  Although, it will likely involve vampires.

To give a little bit of background about myself, I always told myself I would NEVER write a vampire story.  Then I worked on a story called Lamia’s Dream, which uses succubi.  My succubi drain a person’s emotional energy, kind of like a psychic vampire.  While on break from that story, I wrote Communion, which centers around creatures called dhampir.

Now I can’t get enough of the blood suckers and I’m thirsty for another vampire story.  To figure out where I should go with vampires next, it’d be helpful to know what’s been done with the night time terrors before.

Here are some common vampire storylines:

Romance:  A female (usually human) and a male (usually vampire).  In Lamia’s Dream, I tried to switch it up by having a human male and female succubus pairing.

Love slave:  This falls under romance, except the human (usually female) is a slave to the vampire.

Revenge:  Vampires killed the protagonist’s family.  Now the protag is gonna make those fang faces pay!

Vamp/Human Hybrid:  Protag is has a vampire parent and human parent.  Is often a vampire hunter.

Rebellion:  The vampires are the reigning authority and someone has the stop them.

Horror:  In the spirit of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the humans have no special abilities but have to fight a supernatural foe.

Comedy/Parody:  Some vamps just wanna stay out of trouble, but trouble has a way of finding them!

Coming of age:  This one also isn’t vampire specific.  But a younger vampire “grows up” (so to speak) to become a more mature vampire.

Fledgling:  This is like the coming of age story.  But it usually focuses on the human who was first turned into a vampire and they’re struggle to adapt.  Communion would fall under this category.

This list isn’t meant to be all-inconclusive.  In fact, I might be missing some.  Can you think of any other examples of the vampire storylines?

Brief Introduction

Not sure what everyone else uses for their first blog post, so I’ll take some time to introduce myself:

I’m 25.  I’m a graduate of North Carolina State University where I majored in Psychology and minored in Japanese.  I currently live in Southern Maryland.

I wrote a lot as a kid.  I began a new story (or 3 or 4) every school year but rarely completed them.  I finally finish one when I was 16.  It was about ninjas.  It was really bad.

Communion, my first completed novel worth self-publishing, will be released October 1st.  Writing it was a labor of love (sometimes more of a labor), but I’m eagerly looking forward to writing about Les and the other dhampir in the near future.

My values as a writer include:

Write High-Quality Books

Notice I didn’t phrase it as a “writing a good story.”  While this is paramount to having a good book, another aspect writers need to think about is the quality of the book.  A riveting story can easily be ruined by typos and poor editing.

Diversity

The Young Adult fiction is in desperate need of more stories from a male perspective.  Even more scarce are male protagonists of minority.  Communion and my other current project (which is still untitled) both center around African-American males in high school.  I use a cast from different racial and religious backgrounds, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.

Integrity

What does this have to do with writing books?  The books that you write say a lot about you as a person.  I want my books to have a good message.  That doesn’t mean that I always use morally good characters or non-offensive content.  But even the worst of us have something to say that could benefit the rest.

Entertainment

If I didn’t have fun writing it, I doubt you’ll have fun reading it.

So that’s all for now.  I have a condensed version of this in the “About” section.  Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know or see added to that section.