Monday, December 31, 2012

Starting up 2013

To all my writer friends around the world, thank you. Your tweets, emails, blog and FB comments keep me motivated to move forward.

This is a writers blog and it's been great to post my journey so far. What does 2013 bring? I don't have a clue as usual. But I want to find out. I want to continue writing, making new friends and keeping up with old friends.

Thanks and I wish you all a great 2013.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Winding down 2012

This year was amazing for me as a fledgling ePub author! I dove into the deep-end of the eBook/ePub pool and I didn't drown ;-)

I wrote and published 2 books, 'Genome' and 'Arlo and Jake Enlist' (book one of the series). And I joined a great group of short-story writers, managing to get 2 stories published, one for Halloween and one for Christmas.

You can check the links for all my books on the right of this blog. I'm publishing on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and for 'Genome' on Smashwords.

I made some great new friends on Twitter and through writer's blogs. The short story group opened my eyes to another great way to write and get a readership. I have ton's of material that, I believe now, is better suited to the short story arena than as novellas. And it's a fun challenge to make a good story plot work in fewer than 20,000 words.

One of the most important things to happen in 2012 was that I decided not to quit writing. I was experiencing the 'why am I working so hard for so little return' syndrome known to writers as 'Dang It!'. It hurt to realize that I'm not a quick success story; that my books won't sell 10,000 books in 6 months or that I can't even get my books to show up near the top of the eBook lists on Amazon or B&N.

But it's OK now. I really enjoy writing. I've finally climbed up that first rung of the ladder and from this perilous height I can look down and see just how far I've come. Mostly I'm just too stubborn to give up. Same thing.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to 2013. Time to make some plans and targets. Next blog. Watching some football now. Time for a little relaxation.

Be good. Enjoy your accomplishments.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Being tenacious works!

Writing constantly. Marketing constantly. Making new friends and contacts. Diving into the short story pool feet first. Grazing around the blogging pastures for other viewpoints.

It's all really helping me. I'm getting better, and frankly I'm happier about playing in this weird writing world.

What it boils down to is tenacity. I refuse to quit. I WILL do this. I will learn how to write really good stories and get them on the market.

I have two books now. 'Genome' the novel (Amazon and Barnes and Noble  ) and the first book in a SciFi spoof series 'Arlo and Jake' ( Amazon and Barnes and Noble ). I also have published two short stories through the  Seasonal Short Stories group , one for Halloween and one for Christmas.

None of these stories would have seen the light of day if I had not went into full cussed-stubborn mode. What I lack in talent and speed I have to make up for in tenacity. Like it or not I have to sit every night and write, market, socialize or search for new ideas.

Enjoy your writing. Savor the 'ah-ha' moments. Laugh at your cleverness. Be happy when it's going well. When it's not going well; just keep pluggin away. Make it as 'necessary' as breathing. You need to work on it today, tomorrow, always. Don't stop trying.

Be cool. Be happy. Be tenacious.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Marketing update...

Points:
  1. This blog is getting some traction. I need to post more often to better serve my readers, but people seem to enjoy my posts. And I'm getting some followers and comments.
  2. I have over 1500 twitter followers. Most of my twitter-mates are indie writers. I'm using twitter to mostly connect with other indie writers because I have tons to learn and a few ounces to share.
  3. BUT. #2 has given me a couple of sales.
  4. AND #2 has allowed me to talk to some wonderful people who are also reviewers and agents. No. No one has offered to be my agent, but I've talked to a couple. Amazingly, they are pretty cool people, not the ogres I was led to expect. They have a life just like you and me. Imagine!
  5. I update FaceBook when something interesting happens. That earns me some warm fuzzies and a couple of friends/family may end up telling the right people about my books. Whoo Hoo if that happens. But it is fun to share life's little bright spots with others.
  6. A few people at work have read 'Genome' now and I've gotten some positive feedback. Better than I expected. Hey, 'Genome' was my first book so my expectations were really low ;-) Again, I'm hoping that a few well placed 'you should read this, it's not terrible' to their friends will spread the word.
So:
  1. I've still got a bazillion things to learn about marketing and I'm not that happy to realize this. I want to write, not market. Sigh.
  2. But, I have to.
  3. I'll just keep doing the part I like; writing. I'll spend as much time as I can doing the crappy, boring part; marketing.
  4. I'm not special and I'm never going to be an instant success. Too late; 'instant' was years ago.
  5. That's OK. I still get to write ;-)
Go; enjoy writing. Go; do your marketing. Just do it!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

'Arlo and Jake Enlist' launches into Cyberspace!

Yep, at long last I've published the first book in the adventures of Arlo and Jake series. Whoo Hoo! (links to Amazon and Barnes and Noble are on the right under 'My Books'.)

And like all great launches there were a couple of sputters and sparks. I no sooner pressed the go button on Amazon, when I noticed a couple of friggin' editing mistakes. For crying out loud in a bucket! Sigh.

So a couple of quick fixes; then reload the manuscript. Should be available tomorrow.

Arlo wants you to get off your green butts and go read it.

Go. Buy. Enjoy.

(thanks! ;-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Reviews and final legs...

So. Just got a review of 'Genome' by Ashley Prince at 'The Bibliophiles Corner'. I had contacted Ashley earlier in the year, but she was backlogged at the time. I'm very grateful Ashley was able to get Genome into her schedule before the end of the year.

I'm also grateful that Ashley did a very good review of the book. Everything she said made sense to me, and I'll remember her comments in my future writing. It helps to have this kind of feedback so I can get better.

And, wait for it... I'll FINALLY have 'Arlo and Jake Enlist' out by the end of November!! Whoo hoo! It's in the finally edit with my editors, Rocky and Amber. Then it's just a matter of a decent cover and I'm ready to launch.

Oddly, I feel more excited about launching this series than I was about 'Genome'. Maybe because I think A&J is going to be a really fun series to write and to read. Quirky, funny and just a bit irreverent. Hmmm, who does that remind me of? ;-) We all get to live vicariously in our books. I'm just going to have a lot fun doing it!

Have a great Thanksgiving, all my friends and Buckaroos!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Another short story, one more step...

I take small steps in almost everything I do. I'd like to take bigger steps sometimes, but that's not the way it works for me;-)

In writing, I've found that doing short stories is sharpening my focus on plot. That may be an obvious outcome to you, but it wasn't for me. As I've said before, I like the outline approach, but I don't always follow through. I tend to let the Muse guide me sometimes. Most of the time she takes me into the weeds for a while. She's got a wicked sense of humor, that lady.

I just finished another short story. This time for a Christmas compilation by Vanessa Wester and a short story group of friends in the UK. We did a compilation for Halloween that did pretty good considering we self-promoted it.

Both stories tested my abilities to focus on a full story in less than 4000 words. That whole 'play in three acts' went out the window. Instead it was more about creating an initial interesting paragraph to hook and carry the the reader along. At least that's how I approached it. I'm sure I'll learn other/better ways, but that's my story right now.

I'd recommend this practice for all my new author Buckaroos. I'll let you know when the Chrismas book comes out.

Have a great Thanksgiving, my friends. Be good to yourself and to your friends.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

No pain, no pain... slogging through the writing

Like all of you, my life is sometimes too full to get everything on my plate done. Between work (yeah, my 'day' job), family and friends, election brouhaha, holiday angst and just being plain tired of it all, it has not been a real productive couple of weeks.

By now, I wanted to have 'Arlo and Jake Enlist' in the bag and out there. Sigh. Instead I'm still in "find the stupid commas and typos" mode, working through the draft over and over. At least I have a couple of writing Buckos to laugh at my mistakes and offer 'a little help' here and there.

We're entering that time of year where I want to work less and relax more. But I'm going to get A & J out by pushing through the edits one at a time, every night and every chance I get.

No pain, no pain, I always say!

So what do you do to get past a 'gotta slog through it' period?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Write a short story for practice

OK, I need more than a little practice but I want to make a point. Writing is damn hard. The more you practice the better you get (I hope!).

I got a chance to take a dormant spook story from a nightmare I had around age 12, dust it off, finish it and add it to a collaboration with 7 other indie writers. Vanessa Wester kicked off the idea and acted as editor and publisher. The result is 'Out of Darkness' on Amazon. You can get on Amazon UK as well.

It's doing great considering our group is marketing it themselves using twitter and FB. Over 200 downloads (it's free til Halloween). Now that only really matters because the book has our author information including our other books and blogs.

I'm hoping that we all get a little more readership from these short stories. Getting your name to a readership is the hardest part about being an author. Without an agent or publishing house to promote your work it's all up to you.

This exercise has been good on every level. The story is exactly what I wanted it to be. A simple narrative from a 13 year old boy's point of view. A creepy 'what the hell is that' monster and a nice ending. I had a blast writing it and it is amazing to see it in a book on Amazon.

I'm going to unleash the short story monster and use this same process to practice writing and get my stories out there.

Go for it, Buckaroos!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Write, write, write

I took a couple of days off from writing to relax. No computer, no tablet, no laptop, not even a pen and paper to write ideas on.

It was marvelous. Nothing earth shattering or life changing just marvelous. Calming and settling I guess is the best I can do. Sort of like taking a few hours for a massage and then into a sauna for while. Try it, you'll like it.

Now I'm ready to dive with both feet. so to speak, and get writing.

Let's go, folks.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Unexpected adventures are best

The long story played short is I met a group of writers in the twitterverse that are in the UK, organized by Vanessa Wester (@vanessa_wester). Vanessa had a cool idea to put together a collection of Halloween short stories, call it 'Out of Darkness' and put it out for free on Smashwords. . https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/245692 

I rummaged through some 'idle' story lines and picked one that sounded creepy; 'Hole in the Ground'. I sat down Saturday morning on the patio and found a great ending, something it was lacking. Then a couple of hours of rewrite and angst.

Deb said the title was blah, so I changed to 'The Pit'. And that gave me some ideas to morph it a little more. A little nip here and a tuck there. Nice.

Finally it was 'done'. Holy cow, I got it done in hours! OK, I'm not counting the hours of writing the original story line. Anyway it was pretty cool and I sent it to Vanessa in the UK.

So the result is 'The Pit' (see my previous post of the story). AND it's out on Smashwords as 'Out of Darkness'. Vanessa prepped and compiled the stories and produced them. Awesome. Please check it out. The other stories are great. The authors are Vanessa Wester, James Smith, Sam Croft, Angela Kelman and Mackenize Brown.

So. Find a couple of writing buddies. Find a theme and each of you write a short story. Delegate someone to format and compile into a book and publish. Yes, I know this isn't new. Who cares? Have YOU done it? If not, do it now. Right now. Not later, not 'soon'. NOW.

Seeing your story on Smashwords or anywhere else is a rush. It's great practice and strokes your ego.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

'The Pit'. A creepy short story for Halloween...

The Pit
 
By Gary Alan Henson
 
It's the first thing Dad tells us when we’re looking around the 'new place' west of Levelland. Even before we get to check out the old two story house or the pump house out back, Dad gathers us kids up and points to the run down old building in the back lot.
"Stay away from that old barn and out of the back yard. If I catch any of you kids back there, I'll take a switch to all of you! I mean it. Stay way. There’s wasp nests, a big heap of old scrap and a big pit I've got to fill. And something in that pit stinks to high heaven." He had on his mean face, the one meant to scare the hell out of us, which it did most of the time.
Not this time.
I think 'a heap of old scrap' did it for me. I can tell that for Jess it was 'a stinking pit'. I can’t wait for Dad to go to work. Mom won’t be problem, she’s busy trying to clean and unpack. She'll be distracted for days.
The big white house is on 2 acres sitting back from its roost off Highway 385 west of town. Mom said it was a small farm house that was built in the 40's. She said each year it just grew, like a wooden cancer, piece by crazy piece. A couple of crooked rooms were tacked on the back side and a second level sits like a mushroom on top. You can see where they slapped on the second level over to one side, over the garage.
We’re moving to our 'country house' in the summer heat of 1962. It’s just 10 miles from our place on Jackson Street in the sleepy Panhandle town. That tiny little house just couldn't hold 3 boys and a girl anymore. We were like 4 cats stuffed into a dresser drawer.
Jess is 15, I’m 13, Jean is 6 and Dan is just a little smile with a big load in his diapers. No room, no fun. It was especially no fun for Mom. We drove her crazy rattling around in that old red brick town house. It had three small bedrooms and a postage stamp sized back yard. The swing set took up most of the yard or what was left of it after Jess and I tried using it for a fort.
Dad 'stole the place' or we couldn’t have moved. The only way Dad does anything is if he can get a great ‘deal’ or take advantage of something. He’s never bought a new anything. If he can’t ‘steal’ it we don’t get it.
So here we are on the front lawn looking at the big white rambling house with Dad pointing his finger at each one of us in turn. "You understand, kids? You stay in front. I'll have the back fixed up soon and you can play back there all you want. But not now. Got it?"
"Yeah", "Yes sir", "Ok, Dad". "Blub, dup". That last is Dan.
Mom is standing in the front doorway with a rag in her hand. "OK. Jess, you start moving you boy’s boxes upstairs. Alan you grab Jean and Dan and keep them busy out here on the lawn."
Jess slaps me on the back and grins. "Too bad dumbshit,” he says under his breath. His back is to Mom as he smirks at me and starts for the door. Jerk.
Dad turns and waves to Mom. "I've got to get back to the station. I'll be back after I close up." He climbs into his pickup and drives around the circular gravel driveway and back out to the highway. In seconds he’s gone again.
Mom is looking at the dust settle back down. I see her glance at the house and back to the highway. Then she ducks her head and turns back into the house.
Jean and Dan are sitting on the lawn picking at the burrs in the grass and tossing them at each other. Turning slowly I take in our new home.
The front of the house is flat and faded white. The cover over the porch is corrugated steel painted white of course. The screen door is kind of fancy with swirling aluminum flowers and vines. It doesn't quite sit square on the door frame but it seems to fit the front of the house just fine.
There's a low cinderblock fence running from the left of the house all the way to the driveway path. On the other side of the driveway is a huge garden. At least I think it's a garden. It's got big spiky, dull green plants with fuzzy stalks in the center growing in it. There’s a line of pine trees the whole length of the garden.
Behind the trees is the highway. Big trucks buzz past with bales of cotton and heaps of wheat with the chaff flying out the back. The other side of the yard has a long white, stone paved drive, up to the open garage. There are two openings. One is filled with a wood pile and a million rusting paint cans. The other has Dad's fishing boat on its trailer backed in as far as it will go. It barely fits.
"Alan". "Alan! Quit daydreaming and pay attention to your brother and sister." Mom is holding the screen door open leaning out and glaring at me. A smoking cigarette held between her two pointing fingers. She shakes her head and turns back inside. I can hear her yelling something at Jess. She looks back out of the screen from inside to make sure I'm moving.
Ok. Fine. I'll explore later.
Jean is picking the burrs one at a time and dropping them on Dan's head. He looks like a little pixie in a lumpy yellow-brown loin cloth.
I start giggling. Dan turns to me and smiles even wider. He reaches up and pats his head, his hand coming away covered with burrs. I can’t tell if they hurt or not. He just looks at them and laughs. Jean is giving me that squenchy-eyed 'look at me' grin and starting to giggle too.
The day passes slower than molasses for me. Dirty grey clouds have been sneaking in from behind the house for the last hour and little bit of wind is swaying the big trees. Jean and Dan take turns pulling up weeds and making stick houses on the lawn. Mom said to stay in front but she didn’t say where so I meander over to the cinder block fence and sit down. Now I can see the back yard, the old well house and behind that the barn.
Wow, I can see the hole in the ground Dad was talking about now! It looks like it’s been there awhile; there are burnt lumber and blackened stones all around the mound. I wonder what they were digging such a big hole for. I bet the hole is bigger around than I am.
Dan lets out a blood curdling scream. Crap! Just as I turn to check on him I see something pop up out of the hole for just an instant before it drops down again. Before I can turn back to see what it was Dan screams again.
“Alan. What the hell are you doing over there? Daydreaming while your baby brother is screaming his head off!” Mom is stomping out the front screen towards Dan and Jean. “I can’t depend on you to watch them for five minutes, can I? Damn it, Alan, I swear you have the attention span of a gnat.”
She scoops up Dan and looks down at Jean. “All right, Miss Prissy, what did you do this time? And don’t give me that innocent look, young lady, I know better.” She’s standing there with that ‘I’m not leaving until you fess up look’.
“But Mom, really, this time I didn’t do anything. He was playing with the stickman I made him and he screamed and threw it at me like it bit him or something. Really, Mom, I’m telling the truth.” Jean is starting to cry. Big blubbering, snot nosed bawling. Weird. That usually means she’s telling the truth.
“I ought to take a switch to both of you. Get inside and clean up. Your Dad will be home soon and I’ve got to get supper on the table. Move!” She swats me behind the ear and grabs Jean, pushing her ahead of me.
 The house is a mess, boxes and bags all over the big living room that faces the front of the house. Jess is picking up another old Havoline oil box that’s held together with duct tape. He pushes past me and heads up the stairs, two at a time. Show off. Jess never misses a chance to show me how puny I am and how strong he is. He’s built just like Dad, long and strong. He can also be an asshole, just like Dad.
“Move it or lose it, shrimp,” he sneers as he bounds up the narrow stair case. “Two more boxes and I’ll have all your stupid books and crap upstairs.” I know Jess doesn’t mean to hurt my feelings; he just doesn’t have much for role models. At least that’s what I tell myself.
Walking down the short hall I move aside to let Jean out of the bathroom. She looks around and then pulls me close by my tee shirt. “Alan, you got to believe me, I didn’t do anything to Dan, honest. He was playing with that doll I made out of twigs and weeds. We both were. The doll started to shake and I thought he was doing it, but he wasn’t. He tried to drop it and I saw it bite his finger. It had a mouth and little teeth made of weed thorns.” She was kind of shaking and her eyes were big. “Alan, I didn’t make it with a mouth, I swear. Please don’t tell Momma or Daddy, they’ll spank me and send me to bed. Please?”
Jean is a little twerp but I’ve never seen her shook up like this. “Sure, Jean, sure. Don’t worry, I won’t say anything.” I glance up the stairs and say, “Maybe you shouldn’t say anything to Jess either, he’ll just make fun of you. OK. It’ll be our secret.”
That seems to calm her down a little and she smiles. She reaches up and kisses my cheek and says, “Thanks, Alan.” Then she turns and heads into the kitchen. “Mom, can I help set the table.” I can hear her rattling silverware in the long narrow kitchen.
“Sure, honey. Thank you, sweetie. You put out the forks and knives and I’ll set the plates and glasses.” Mom sounds tense but I can tell she is proud of Jean. I wish she was as proud of me. Once Dan was born I became invisible.
I slip into the bathroom and turn the faucet on with hot and cold water. The water sputters out into the dingy sink. After a couple of seconds it changes from light brown to clear. I can remember Dad saying something about this place having a well and we’d have to get used to running the water before drinking it.
The soap is a big bar of Lava from Dad’s gas station. Washing with it is like scrubbing your hands with a Brillo pad but it works. My hands are almost red by the time I’m finished.
I dry my hands on the scratchy towel. Dad’s pickup is rumbling up the driveway and stops. The door bangs shut and he walks into the house without a word.
I walk up and hand him the towel. “Here Dad, the bathroom’s open now.”
He looks at me and tousles my hair. “Good. I’ll wash up. You tell your mother I’ve got to eat and get back to the station. That hired hand is probably skimming dimes out of the coke machine right now.” He takes the towel and moves into the bathroom.
It wasn’t much but I don’t get much from Dad so it felt really good. I walk into the dining room smiling for the first time today.
Supper is quiet and quick, just like always. Mom sets out pork chops, mashed potatoes, a bowl of greens and onions, red beans and half a loaf of white bread. The tea is her special Texas sweet tea. She brews tea in her pressure cooker pot, adding a cup of sugar to the boiling water. Dad likes it sweet and ice cold.
There wasn’t any talk at the table except Mom asking Dad how the new hand was working out. “Like all the rest of them, lazy and robbing the coke machine when he thinks I’m not looking. If he wasn’t your brother’s boy I never would have hired him.”
The rest of the meal is done in silence. Then it was over and Dad stood up. “The pork chops were a little dry and you could have used some more pepper in the greens. I’ll be home after I lock up.”
Then he’s gone.
Mom is kind of staring at the table and I could see her eyes watering a little. She dries them with a napkin and stands up. “You kids clean up and then you can watch one hour of TV.” Then she grabs her cigarettes and lighter and goes out the back door to smoke.
                ***
I barely make it into my bed upstairs when the thunder and lightning start outside. Sneaking over to watch I can see the big tree outside the window is swaying and slapping the gutter. Jess is already standing there peering at something in the back.
“What are you watching?” I ask, whispering for some reason even though the wind, rain and thunder are more than enough to drown me out. “Can you see that hole out there?” I try to scoot closer to the window and see for myself.
“Watch it, bean pole.” Jess moves a little and points to the barn. “Yeah, I’m watching it. I could have sworn I saw red lights glowing from that pit. And I know I heard some kind of thumping at the same time.” He looks at me and back to the window. “Do you see anything?”
I’ve never heard Jess’s voice sound scared like this.
A flash of lightning lights up the whole backyard and the thunder hits us like a hammer, setting the window rattling in its frame. I can hear Jess suck in his breath at the same time I see it. As the lighting flash starts to fade we can see a huge dripping red eye on a stalk snap back into the hole. I hear a deep rumbling drum beat each time a dark red glow pulses under the pit.
Shaking like a leaf I turn to my older brother and look into his eyes. I thought he’d be as scared as I am but he’s grinning like a maniac. “Let’s go catch that thing, pee wee!” He jumps up and runs to his side of the room and starts putting on his jeans. “What are you waiting for, scaredy cat? You afraid of a bug eye on a stick?”
“You’re crazy, Jess. That thing was the size of dog! It was a stinking eye, Jess, an eye!”
Jess is almost dressed but stops. “Well, wuss, you coming or not? Don’t you want to know what that thing is?” He grabs his baseball bat and pushes past me. He cracks the window up, letting the rain and wind splash in. “Fine, coward, stay here and watch me knock that eye into the next county. I’m going to be a hero!” Jess steps out onto the roof and turns back to me. “Last chance, dip shit.”
I finally get my frozen feet to move. Grabbing my jeans and my BB gun I step out on the roof and start putting them on. “I’m no coward; I’m just not stupid Jess.” I don’t think Jess thought I’d go with him and he’s not sure what to do.
The rain is getting heavier, the wind blowing it into our faces. I’ve managed to get my wet jeans on and hold up my BB gun. “Well, I’m here, what do we do now?”
Jess gives me another grin and laughs, “I’ll use you for bait and then bash him when he pops back up to look at your skinny ass.” He turns and starts down the wet roof to the tree branch that sticks out over the roof. I can see him shimmy down during the flashes of lightning. They seem to be coming more often now. The wind is picking up too.
Just as he slips down below the roof top he looks up to me and yells, “Come on, Alan, it’s an adventure man! Fun! You know; something exciting for a change.” Then his face is gone. The next time I see him he’s bent over running across the yard and around the pump house.
“Damn it, you jackass, wait for me!” I yell and I start slipping down the roof towards the big branch. I grab for the branch and stop. I can see that dark red pulsing light coming from around the pump house and a thumping rhythmic beat coming from the back. Then I hear a high screeching sound.  I don’t know what it is but it sounds like weird laughing coming from the where Jess just went. And then I lose my grip and yell as I drop the last 8 feet to the ground.
“Oomph, Ow!” I fall on my back in the damn bushes. Lucky I guess, but damn that hurts. That crazy screeching laugh starts again, higher this time. I roll over on my knees and stand up feeling a little shaky. The rain is coming harder now and the lightning is brighter, the thunder louder.
I pick up my Daisy model 99 and start toward the pump house; I don’t want Jess to think I’m chicken now. I grab the side of the low brick house and feel my way around to the back where I saw Jess run.
The next flash lights up the whole backyard and I freeze. Jess is standing next to the big red and black pit like a frozen white statue. He’s covered with dirty red and green vines all tangled around his legs and pants, all the way up to his neck. His whole body is shaking like he’s holding onto an electric fence. His face is a foot away from a dark red-green eye the size of a basketball. It’s dripping some kind of black and red slime. The stalk is as big around as a baseball bat and covered with those same slimly vines.
Jess strains his eyes toward me and opens his mouth. That high screech is coming from Jess! His eyes are bugging out now and his mouth is wide open. It looks like smoke is rising from the skin around his neck. “Shhooottttt,” he screams at last. “Shoottttt it, stupid!”
The eye slowly turns towards me and it starts to pulse again. A white bolt of lightning strikes a big tree in the back lot, sending bark and wood chips flying. The thunder clap slaps us like a fist and suddenly I can move again. I raise my BB gun and pull the trigger. Click. Damn, I forgot to pump it.
Like a maniac I furiously pump the handle, counting to 30, the most I’ve ever pumped it up. I slide a pellet into the breach and raise the gun again.
“Hurryy, Alan, hurry! It’s eating meeee!” Jess is screaming and shaking like a rag doll.
I aim and pull the trigger. Pop! I can see the BB smack the big eye right in the dark red middle. A thin fountain of sick green goo shoots out from the hole. The eye jerks back and the vines around Jess flail out from his body, showing burning strips all over his chest and back. A horrible hissing sound comes from the pit and the pulsing red light turns almost solid bright red. Before I can move a vine shoots out at me and grabs me around the waist and starts dragging me towards the pit. Jess turns and starts to run but the vines snap around him again and pull him back towards the dripping eye.
It’s pulling me closer and closer, all the time the goo is dripping out of the BB hole. The rain is pouring down now and the flashes of lighting are like fireworks all around us. Jess is struggling to get loose, reaching down into his pants for something. “Alan! Your knife! Get your knife before it wraps up your arms. Now, stupid, now!”
It’s got one of his arms wrapped up now but I can see he’s got his big Case pocket knife in the other hand and he’s opening it with his teeth. I reach in to my pocket, grab my knife and open it just as the vines start wrapping around my chest. I’m almost side by side with Jess now, looking into that basket ball eye. Oh my god it stinks. I puke right into the eye and watch the puke run down the stalk.
Jess is screaming at me again. “When I tell you, you stick it on the left and I’ll stick it on the right and we’ll pull our knives together. Got it?” He’s shaking again and now I know why. There’s some kind of burning acid coming out of the vines and burning my skin. I start screaming with pain and start shaking too.
“Alan! Alan!” Jess screams as he raises his knife. “Come on, we’ve got to do it now! Come on!”
I barely have time to raise my knife when Jess plunges his deep into the eye on the right side. I jerk forward and stick my knife as hard as I can into the dripping mess of the eye and start dragging it to the middle.
The hissing sounds like a train whistle right next to my ear. The eye jerks back taking my knife with it and gushing stinking gooey pus all over Jess and me. It whips forward and slams into me, sending me flying back to the ground. Rolling over I see Jess stabbing the vines around his chest, ripping them apart.
Jess falls down and scrambles like a crab towards me. “Get back! Get back!” We scramble backwards to the edge of the pump house watching the thing the whole time. The vines are thrashing around like thick ropes and the goo is pouring out of the eye.
There’s a boom and flash just above our heads and the eye explodes, sending gobs of stinking goo flying through the pouring rain and all over us. Dad is standing there with his 12 gauge. He pumps it and fires again. What’s left of the eye is cut off at the top of the stalk. The stalk drops to the ground like a cut rope, flailing all around the pit.
“Get behind me, boys. Now!” Dad is reloading his shotgun and pulling Jess to his feet. “Get behind me, Alan.”
The sounds have stopped and the red glow is gone. The stalks have stopped moving and there’s some thick green smoke rising from the pit.
“What was that, Jess?” Dad has his shotgun up and pointing at the pit. “What the hell was that and what were you boys doing out here.”
Jess looks at me and back to Dad. “We saw something in the pit, Dad. There were red lights and some kind of thumping coming from it. We just wanted to see what it was, that’s all.” Jess is shaking again.
Dad lowers his shotgun and looks at both of us. “I don’t know if I should whip both of you till you bleed or hug you. Dan or Jean could have wandered back here and who knows what would have happened.” He looks at the pit and back to us. “We’ve got to make sure that thing doesn’t come back. Stay here and shoot anything that moves.” Dad hands the shotgun to Jess and runs towards the pump house.
I can’t stop trembling but I scoot over behind Jess, looking over his shoulder at the smoking, stinking mess in the pit. “Jesus, Jess, what the hell was that thing?” I can’t keep my teeth from chattering.
“I don’t know. But we killed it, little brother, whatever the hell it was.” The gun never moves from the pit as he stutters back to me, yelling above the wind and rain.
I start as another flash shows Dad running back to us, some sticks in one hand and a shovel in the other. “Jess, come with me. You keep that 12 gauge ready to blow away anything that moves you hear me boy?” Jess nods. “Alan, you stay behind Jess and watch out for those vines. Can you do that?” I shake my head up and down and step behind Jess again.
“Ok. You two step right over there and watch the pit.” Dad moves towards the pit and Jess and I step to the side. Dad drops the sticks and plunges the shovel into the smoking vines and pus. He digs and scopes four or five times before he throws the shovel to the side. He picks up the sticks and jams them into the hole. “Ok. Run back to the pump house. Now, boys, and don’t look back!”
Jess and I run to the edge of the pump house, but Dad almost beats us there. He grabs us, picking up both of us and whipping us around the front of the building just as a big boom erupts from the pit. Scraps of lumber, dirt, green goo and vines rain down all around us.
Dad pulls us back around the corner and we look at the hole in the ground. It’s 20 feet across and smoke is pouring up from its center. Dad drops to the ground with us and starts laughing, hugging us and holding us like he hadn’t seen us in months. “Damn and double damn, boys.” He can’t stop laughing and Jess and I start laughing with him. The rain is pouring like it will drown us but we can’t stop laughing.
Then we hear it. A low soft thumping is coming from the ground. It’s getting louder. But it’s not the pit. All three of us turn as one back towards the house. Another lightning flash lights up the yard and the back of the house. Standing in the rain holding Jean by the hand and Dan in her arms is Mom. She’s looking at her feet where a dark red light is pulsing.
 
 
 
 
 
               
 
               
 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Reviewing "Blackstone & Brenwen: The Mirror & The Meretrix "

Andrew D. Mellusco has created a marvelous Universe in which we can watch fairy tale characters and creatures living, playing, stealing, murdering and litigating.

Mr. Mellusco brings together a rich cast of lofty Angelics, law-bringer Giants, deadly Wolfverns, Fire Demons and much more right into the court room. And Asmodeus has his own law firm!

I was instantly caught up in the mystery of Red Riding Hood charged with murdering her lover. And how does an insurance claim for a missing magic mirror figure into the murder?

Snow White is an assassin for the Queen? The Sandman can walk around in your dreams? It's a wonderful, entertaining read from opening scene to ending courtroom drama.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stay focused and persistent

Some friends asked me what it took to get 'Genome' published. How 'easy' was it, considering I did not have to go through a publisher. It brought home some comments I've seen around the blog'o'sphere and the twitterverse.

I've tweeted with new authors who are struggling with the 'how' of writing their first book and getting it 'out there'. Not with ideas or character development or story arcs mind you. But how hard it seems to put it all together and finish the dang thing.

Lot's of bloggers can give you step by step help on how to take your finished masterpiece and market it. Look around, you'll find some great help on that subject.

This little blog is on the personal tenacity needed to work on your book every day and get 'er done. It's deciding in your heart to put a significant amount of blood, sweat and tears into it every day. It's making yourself focus on something that's a blast one night and a nightmare the next. You need the determination to read, edit, re-read, re-edit in seemingly endless loops trying to get a stuborn section to 'work'.

Focus and persistance are the hallmarks of every great accomplishment. You just have to practice it everyday. They are habits. That's right, habits. I wasn't born knowing how to focus, it's damn hard. And I'd rather give up when the going gets hard, wouldn't you?

My advice is talk to yourself everytime you sit down to write. Tell yourself what you plan to accomplish tonight. As you're writing, check your progress. When you're done tell yourself what you accomplished and how it went.

You did good? Smile and give yourself a gold star (whatever that means to you ;-).

You couldn't focus enough to find your butt with both hands? Take a moment to figure out why and tell yourself what you're going to do 'this part' different tomorrow night, then DO IT!

Writing is hard. So what?! Lots of things in life are hard. You've mastered those, master this. You will persist. You will focus. You will finish. Have faith in yourself.

Keep writing, Buckoos, have faith. Be happy and be cool!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Slapping the Muse...

This is the response I made to a blog question "How do you deal with writer's block".

I thought you might enjoy.

1. Go to the library with a notepad or laptop and pick up a couple of magazines at random. Just look for articles that raise your 'say what?' balloon a little and take a few notes about the articles. Doesn't matter if the notes are relevant to your story, it's 'stuff' that focuses your mind on something interesting for a few minutes.

2. Pick up the Bible or Koran or Torah or Declaration of Independence or 'The Five Rings'; SOMETHING that is known to you. Flip some pages to an area you are not familiar with and REALLY read a 'section' until you understand it. Again, doesn't matter what it is just get your mind to focus on something outside your story.

3. Walk. From memory go over your story problem area. Talk like the characters, including voice inflections, accents, etc. Be the characters for a few minutes. You'll be surprised how 'they' will suddenly start talking back.

4. Relax. It happens. You are not a preprogrammed machine. You're a semi-solid mass of cells that sometimes needs a break.

5. This works best for me sometimes: intentionally take your story someplace 'stupid' for a couple of pages. The stupider the better. Make 'em jump through insane hoops and circumstances; face ridiculous foes and obstacles; be abducted by 'Narcisitic Ninja Ninnies from Neptune' (wait that's pretty good, I claim that one for a book I'm writing ;-). Point is go someplace dumb to shake up your thoughts. Try it once, I think you'll like it.

Be cool, mates!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Muse Madness!

Yes, the Manic Muse has smacked me again, right in the middle of DWTS! Bless you, you sexy thang!

I've just started a new folder under \Books on my silicon amusement park called '\PIP's Adventures'.

I opened a 'Plot Ideas' text file (I'm a bullet outliner kind of dude) and started dumping the MMM (Magical Muse Moments). Not a lot fell out but what did was good stuff.

And the kicker is I can tie in 'PIP's Adventures' with my first book, 'Genome' where PIP was 'born'. I can 'grow' PIP from a gleem in Gerry's imagination to whatever my imagination can take her. Showing how the Geek Squad brings her to life one sexy function at a time!

I think I'll do some test stories/adventures and put 'em out there for free at first. Maybe I can get a readership that likes funny, geeky, ghostie adventures. Who knows?

So, my writing friends, let your Muse work it's Magic whenever and wherever. Write down those ideas, no matter how ify they seem! If you don't like them later, fine. But if you don't write them down, you WILL forget them, trust me.

Be in the moment and keep the electrons flowing, Buckaroos!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Another experiment or two or three

As soon as I get my book cover finalized I'm launching the 'Arlo and Jake' series. The first book, 'Arlo and Jake Enlist', is in final edit and then it's ready for prime time. Whooo Hooo!

I have outlines for 10 books in the series, and I have the second book 20 percent drafted. Oddly enough I have the third book 30 percent drafted. Go figure. I go where the Muse smacks me. I'm trying to push the 'current' book forward but allow myself to side track to the other outlines when a cool idea surfaces.

So I have 3 experiments here:
1. Writing a shorter (about 30,000 words) book instead of going for a 'full' novel of 60,000 to 100,000 words.
2. Writing a series of shorter books with a common 'theme'.
3. Pricing the first book at 1.99 until the second book is out at 1.99 and dropping the first book to 0.99.

I'll keep you up to date on how it goes.

Keep writing Buckaroos!

Be in this moment.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Share your work at the library!!!

On a whim and an idea I visited the Lewisville Library to see if they accept books from authors. Guess what, they do! So I put a little info about 'available on Amazon and B&N' on the front cover and gave it to the desk clerk.

I also asked if they had a 'local authors' book shelf. I've seen these in other libraries, it's a great way to generate interest in writing and to meet local writers. Nope. No such shelf, though the clerk wasn't sure why not.

It was kind of cool but I thought that would be that. So we moseyed (Texas for slowly walked and looked around) to the Children's library section where they were having a library book sale. I found a couple of great books (Ernie Pyle from the early 40s) and was paying for them. The 'Friends of the Library' ladies where manning the church tables and were very friendly.

They were running a raffle and I mentioned that I could donate a copy of my book 'Genome'. They were delightful in their response! They thought it was so neat that I was a local author with a published book! I grabbed another copy, signed it and gave it to them. I also mentioned that I had just given the library a copy but there was no 'local author's bookshelf'. The ladies thought that was a great idea and said they would start one!

There were several younger ladies there who wanted to know if 'Genome' was a 'young adult' (YA) book. When I explained the story they said they were looking forward to reading it!

Now I may not get sales from this but I got some exposure for the book and some ideas for more! I'm going to get some placards and business cards made. Then I can paste a card on the front cover that has 'Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords', my blog address, etc.

I didn't think of it in time but I need to find out if I can 'donate' an epub copy to the library for the epub lending program they are starting up!! And next weekend I'm trying the other local libraries!!!

Go ahead, give it a try and let me know if it works for you!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ahhh, sweet autumn rain...

It rained for a full ten minutes today! OK, it sprinkled, barely wetting the sidewalk. But dang, it was cool!

It's finally cooling off here in north central Texas! Notice I didn't say Dallas. No, no, no. Texas is so big you have to guide the reader to a visual proximity or, Lord forbid, they might not understand 'where' in Texas you're standing! ;-) You have to watch the news here to really get the absurdity of that, I think. When I lived in Colorado it was 'Denver area', 'near Colorado Springs' or 'the western slope area'. That was pretty much it ;-)

My rambling point is that with the cooling evenings I can finally get out again. I truly enjoy our patio during the evenings and weekends; when it's cool enough that the iced tea stays cold for more than 5 minutes.

I take my laptop out with a cool glass of liquid heaven, sit in my cushioned rattan chair and have a blast creating something out of nothing. A glimmer of an idea slowly morphs into a short scene and then, with any luck, into a full fledged, finished sequence that someone else might want to read. All without drowning in manly sweat. That's right, I don't 'prespire'. I sweat.

For some reason these cool evenings with the drifting breezes fuel my imagination.

As long as I don't fall asleep in my chair.

Fill a tall glass with ice and sweet tea, grab a comfy chair and write, buckoos!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A success story in progress...

 
No, not mine yet, dang it ;-)

My friend and writing buddy, Rocky Angelucci, and his book 'Don't Die Early '.


Rocky's book is great, so I don't find it's success surprising but I got to read and critique it early on. I got to see the blood, sweat and tears Rocky put into this book. His passion for the subject suffuses every page but it's tempered with cold, hard facts and random bits o' fun.

But in the end this book is all Rocky. His ideas, his research, his digging for facts vs fantasy, his rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. And now it's all Rocky doing the marketing and promotion. He birthed a wonderful book and now he's learning how to bring it to you (without the icky birthing parts of course ;-).

When one path wasn't working he searched for a better path. He worked and reworked sections that were confusing or vague. He spent nights and weekends going over and over the 'story arc' even though the book is not a novel. He wanted it to be easy to read and 'enjoyable'. Yes, it's a book about health and personal responsibility but Rocky wanted you, the reader, to enjoy the ride.

And he's succeeding. A little more every day.

Now it's time for you to take some lessons from Rocky. Work hard. Know your subject. Learn something everyday that improves your story. Read, reread and reread until the story flows like butter on a hot toasted bagel. (Sorry Rocky, but metaphors don't have any calories so we're good. ;-)

And by the way, Rocky had fun. Ask him.

Keep writing, Buckaroos! Have fun!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Who's your writing buddy, Buddy?

One of the fantasies I have is being able spend a couple of hours every morning at a local cafe, drinking coffee and bouncing ideas off a few writing buddies. And being the sounding board for them of course.

You know what I mean. You're writing that new scene into a difficult part of the plot and you really need someone to help smooth out the edges, to tell you if it 'makes sense'. You can't wait till tomorrow's bull session to hash it out.

I have a friend, Rocky, that has been a great supporter and writing buddy. We work together and sometimes spend our lunch time walking around talking about our books or brain storming about new stuff. It's great and I truly appreciate having Rocky to talk to. (Soap box on.You should check out his book 'Don't Die Early'. Click the link on the right. Soap box off. ;-)

But this dream of mine is one of those things you yearn for because you just 'know' it would be so cool and so helpful and just damn fun!

I've been with a couple of writing groups but meeting once a month isn't near enough. Wonderful people, some really great sessions but just not enough.

So.

This blog and twitter are 'almost' good enough for now. I making writing buddies and writing friends around the world. It is simply awesome.

So grab a writing buddy or two from somewhere cool and support each other. Pick a place you've never been to and find yourself someone interesting to write with.

Be cool, be yourself, be a buddy.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Don't give up!

It's true in every aspect of life that dogged determination will take you further than whining or wishing. Writing is no different.

Talent is great.

Education is wonderful.

But a stubborn will to do your best, every chance you get, is mandatory for a happy life. It's mandatory if you want your dreams to become reality.

The world isn't against you. No one is holding you back. It's up to you to live a little better everyday. It's up to you to attempt, to adapt, to stretch, to push and to enjoy the results of your hard work with celebration and joy.

Don't give up.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

One more rung on the ladder

I've added a couple of pages to the blog. One to hold my future 'Arlo and Jake' posts and one for 'Prose and Such'.

It feels kinda cool. I think I've lots of 'stuff' that worth posting. And I've learned to be patient with it.

I had no idea a few months ago if this blog was a complete waste of time or not. I started it to help me market my books and ideas and get to know my fellow ePub adventurers.

I think it's good. I like it. I enjoy hearing from you and posting about the journey we're all having.

Thanks to all my friends and fellow travellers out there around the world.

Keep walking, friends.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I miss you Neil Armstrong.

I watched all of the Apollo missions as a young boy, riveted to the TV, including all the moon missions. My dreams of being an astronaut continued until my mid twenties when I was a Navy submariner.

I built and launched Estes rockets high into the Texas panhandle skies. I made rocket models of plastic and balsa. I drew pages and pages of space flight missions to the moon and all the other planets. Because I just KNEW we would continue the space program and I was going to be there.

I joined the NASA civilian program for Space Shuttle technicians while still in the Navy. It didn't happen for me but it was wonderful to get those newsletters. It made me feel like a part of something incredible.

Watching the tributes to Mr. Armstrong are bringing back long lost feelings and memories. I hope and pray that we bring back those programs and others to fuel this generations hunger for exploration.

Men and women like Mr. Armstrong fueled our imaginations then and now.

I miss you Neil.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Do you dream about your books?

OK, I'll just throw this out there and hope no one calls the Nutzoid Police.

I have great dreams. I fly, I shot lightning out my fingers (really weak little bolts but hey, it's cool anyway), I fly P51s, I drive cars with no brakes, and other cool stuff. I know from reading some buzz killer books that part of this is because I read so much just before sleeping and that sometimes my arms and hands are falling asleep so I'm feeling the nerve pain.

But at least once or twice a week I have dreams where I'm either in a scene from a book I'm writing or talking to characters I'm writing about. I don't always realize it until I wake but sometimes I do know during the dream.

Some of the scenes about PIP in 'Genome the novel' come from those dreams. PIP is an AI that runs the holoroom and bio genetics lab in the book. The idea to have her morph to different avatars came from a dream where I was talking to my computer ( yeah,  think Star Trek Scottie talking to the mouse scene ;-) and there's Elvira's head spinning around in front of me as the voice of the computer.

OK, so I'm a geek that has great dreams. How about you? Don't be shy, let me know.

Be cool, be alive and be yourself!

Best of luck!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Genome hits the Createspace shelves!!

Just a quick note to say I finally got the proof of 'Genome' approved and it's now published in paperback on Createspace!! Wow!

It's hard to believe it's actually out there AND I have paperback version in my hands! Something I created, nursed and obsessed over for years it seems. I wrote the first draft of 'Genome' as a movie script in 2006! Six years ago!

My next move is to buy a dozen copies and distribute to friends and family. I think I'll go down the local library and see if I get a copy on the shelf for 'local author'!

More later, it's late and I'm exhausted. Writing is the fun part. The rest is just a lot of work ;-)

Be cool, me buckoos!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What about poems? Short stories? Tablet games?

I'm finally back onto 'Arlo and Jake', my humorous SciFi series. I've got 10 books outlined, the first is nearing completion and the second is started.

I'm writing 6 nights a week for one or two hours each night and having an absolute blast! Also trying to market 'Genome the novel' which is out after the 'final, final' rewrite ;-)

So why am I thinking about doing a small book of poems? Well. I have no clue, really. I just feel the need to put a few pieces of prose and poems I've written into a book and put it out there. I have no idea if it's a waste of electrons or something that people will enjoy.

I have a dozen short stories in various states, from rough outline to first draft. Some I love, some I should just throw out. (Does anyone ever really throw out an idea? Didn't think so ;-)

Tablet games? Well a few friends and I have been pondering a game or two for a while. I bought an SDK (Software Development Kit) from Corona Labs so we can write them once and 'port' to the major tablet formats without rewriting each time.

So. A lot to do, fun times. Now I need to step back and focus. I've been reading lots of other bloggers and I see I'm not alone in the 'too many irons in the fire' syndrome.

So. A lot to do. But really, isn't that a great 'problem' to have?

I have the support of friends and family. I have cool projects, active and waiting to be launched. My lovely wife lets me tap on the keyboard, night after night in front of the TV while she knits scarves for CCA. I work for an amazing company with some of the best teammates I've ever had.

So. Here's to 'having to focus'. Here's to 'lots to do'.

If you have things to write, write them. If you have games to create, create them. There has NEVER been a better time for you than now. You have access to all the followers and customers you could ever want; FOR FREE! All you have to do is create something and raise the flag. 'Hey, over here! It's my first book. It's not Pulitzer material but you'll have fun for a only a buck or two.'

We're all waiting for you to 'Just Do It'.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The last, last rewrite?

Well the marathon is over at last! Rocky found more silly dialogue comma issues just by searching for 'says' and checking for commas. Duh!

So I just completed the changes to the Nook and Kindle document and to the Smashwords version. I uploaded the new docs to PubIt, KDP, Smashwords and Createspace. Whew!

Now to wait for the sites to send me the 'A OK' email and do the final checks. Then I can order another proof from Createspace and if all goes well, launch this thing! Cross your fingers.

I hope the end result of this 'final' editing is that the reader is not distracted by lots of grammar and punctuation issues. I hope he/she can just enjoy the story.

Here's hoping that I can put 'Genome' on the shelf and get back to 'Arlo and Jake' and other projects!

Keep plugging away, Buckaroos!

Be in this moment and enjoy it.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Out damn comma, out!

OK. I spent about 16 hours proofing 'Genome' from my Createspace paperback proof copy. As I said last post, it was an eye opener to see so many tiny 'oops'es. If I had listened to my editor, this exercise would have been much easier and shorter. Listen to your support team!

I'm too pooped to upload the doc to all my distributors tonight and I don't want to make a stupid mistake now. So tomorrows task is to upload the 'final' proof. I also have to give my corrections to Rocky to add to the Createspace version. This time he gets more than lunch!

So the purpose of this little blog is to clue you in on what 80% of my mistakes were. Commas. Silly, who notices 'em, commas. And by far most of the 'errors' were in NOT including commas in dialog following the tag line. I know, I know how could I make these mistakes? I can only said I had at least 100 errors in the first 3/4 of the book and maybe 10 in the last 1/4.

Look up 'tag line' and punctuating dialog in your favorite web site but the gist of my errors were of the flavor of:
Jack said "I'm missing a comma after the word 'said'."
It should read:
Jack said, "There's that silly comma!"

Or:
"I keep getting this wrong" Sam said.
Should be:
"Now it's better," Sam said.

The rules are pretty easy, I just wrote in a stream of consciousness and then did not go back and 'fix' the problems. I wouldn't really care, to be truthful, but going back and reading the paperback version made it obvious that the correct style makes the flow of dialogue easier to comprehend.

Don't let the flow of your story stutter and halt due to poor dialog mechanics. The flow should not get in the way of the story. Take your time.

Keep writing, buckoos!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Proofing 'Genome' is an eye opener!

Having 'Genome' in book form and reading it slowly, out loud is a real eye-opener. I'm finding lots of places where I miss used words, like 'past' for 'passed'. And where I am missing the comma before beginning a quote, etc. This is what happens when you rush your editor, which I did.

I was so anxious to get the book out I said 'good enough' too soon. My fault, not my editor's, she wanted more time. Hmm, how many lessons do you have to learn before you're a good author? ;-) I know I'm not there yet.

So. Going to spend this week's evenings going page by page; slowly! Then and only then I'll update all my manuscripts and go live with Createspace.

Like I said in my tweet today. Writing isn't the challenge. It's the rewrite, rewrite, rewrite that's the challenge.

Keep writing, buckoos, but DON'T rush it. You'll only have to correct it later. Take your time.

Be cool and be patience!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It's alive!!!

I received my proof copy of 'Genome' from Createspace! It's awesome! It's so cool to hold it in my hand and flip through the pages. OK, I'm a dinosaur; whatever.

The new cover came out wonderful thanks to working with Rocky. I loved the watercolor Deb did for the book but in the stamp sized image on Amazon and B&N it did not work as well. The new cover looks more professional and every thing I'm reading says that the cover, epub or print, is extremely important. Another lesson learned, pay attention to the cover.

Not much progress with Arlo and Jake since we have a house full of visitors. Love having family to visit but it wipes me out and writing just does not happen. I'll catch up soon though. Still scribbling down ideas and 'what ifs' to explore next week.

Be cool and keep the faith everyone!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Epub support is awesome!

My adventures in the epub universe continue to surprise and delight me.

Everyday I try to find like-minded authors and readers using twitter, blogs and writing support sites. I try to find and follow 10 new bloggers/authors, viewing their sites or blogs before I press 'Follow'. And I try to tweet directly to them so we can say 'hi'. Most respond with a friendly 'hi' and a promise of more conversation. Now if we could only get our politicians to act this friendly to each other!

I'm finding some 'buy my product' and 'you can buy 10,000 followers instantly' but most are great sites and the home of a hardworking author who has something to add to our experience.

I'm finding we have some of the same aspirations and agonies. I want to write and sell good stories and to have a following of appreciative readers. But I know I have a lot to learn about writing well, engaging my readers and marketing. We all do.

So I'll continue to search for and engage my fellow story tellers, trying to soak up the knowledge and hopefully become a better writer. I'll try to be patience and move the journey forward a little each day.

I hope to see you along this road. We'll stop at a tavern along the way to share war stories and a glass of Texas Red or two.

Be cool, be good and be in the moment. Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Almost on Createspace!

Rocky is one of my fellow writing mates. He's been instrumental in getting a new cover for 'Genome' and pushing me to get the book on Createspace. I haven't been dragging my feet, just damn busy! ;-) I think Rocky had enough waiting today and 'prompted' me to finish the task.

So I'm hoping that tomorrow or the next day I'll have it's 'publishable' on their site and can order my first 'draft' copy of the book.

I can't wait to hold a physical copy of 'Genome' in my hands at last! Hey, ePub is my friend and I'm fully on board with all that means. But. Holding it my hands is going to be a thrill.

And I intend to send it to some agents, friends, libraries, etc.

While I wait for my copy I'm going to plunge forward trying to get 'Arlo and Jake Enlist' completed and ready to ePub. It's 22,000 words now (about 70 pages) and the content is getting better and better.

Be happy, be cool and be in the moment, y'all.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Arlo and Jake get meatier

After my live-in editor finished the latest rewrite of 'Arlo and Jake Enlist' we had a great talk about what A&J has and does not have.

It has a good premise, good characters, good plot for the first book and setting up future books in the series. We like the main characters and the growing list of supporting characters.

The enablers (see my post 'The making of an AI') are clever and after the rewrite they are more 'believable'. Like most SciFi you have to suspend belief/disbelief in lots of things like faster than light travel (FTL), alien beings and cultures, the ability of alien cultures to co-exist (don't get me started on why that will never happen with humans in the mix, we can't even agree to disagree on the simplest of concepts here on Earth) and much, much more. Enablers allow us to do that.

It has a good plot 'arc' with multiple highs and lows and a final 'hero wins over obstacles' scene. It even has a setup for the next book in the series 'Arlo and Jake Galactic Boot Camp'.

What it's missing is 'more'. I had a friend read it. He basically agreed with all the above, including the 'needs more'. His only real complaint was that it was too short and that he wanted some of the scenes to be 'meatier'. Otherwise he enjoyed it more than 'Genome'.

Now 'Genome' is a 68,000 word (about 200 pages) novel. I believe it's at least a 2.8 out of 4.0 (2.5 is 'acceptable' in the military) on the 'goodness' scale, especially for my first novel. A&J is intended to be much shorter, probably only around 100 to 150 pages or say 30,000 words. I want each book in the series to be an afternoon read over a plate of nachos and a couple of 'Fat Tire' beers. A fun read with cool ideas and characters you'll want to have more adventures with.

So for Bill to say he liked A&J better than Genome was both great and a little of a 'huh?' moment. But it boils down to Genome being 'full bodied and aromatic' where this version of A&J is 'thin and missing some chunks of 'meat'.

So I spent time with the editor going over where I could add more content and flesh out existing scenes. The result brought the story up from a 2.5 to at least a 2.9 with more stuff to add before my eyelids glued shut at 11:00PM. And the page count went from 43 to 68.

The point other than the one on my head?

Give your reader more than some clever dialog or unique plot/universe/enabler. Give them scenes that are full bodied and satisfying to the mental palette. Take the time to go over the whole story, over and over again, looking for those scenes that are still too quick or unsatisfying. A meatier story is more satisfying and more likely to gain you a following. And it's fun to do.

At 'The End' they should want more for sure. Another book from you. Wouldn't that be nice!

Be in the moment and keep the stories flowing!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Adding deeper content to Arlo and Jake

A good practice for me is to print out the story so far and then read it out loud. Slowly. Taking pen to obvious mistakes and changing 'stared at' to 'stares at' etc. I'm writing A&J in first person and I keep lapsing back into narrative mode. I seem to think in both modes while I'm writing ;-)

After reading the first draft a few times and giving it to a good friend to read it was pretty obvious that it needed more 'meat', more story. Bill said that he really like the story but at only 50 pages he found that he wanted more when he got to the end.

Now I think wanting more at the end of a story is a good thing. But in this case Bill said he also found that he wanted more during the story. I had some great scenes but they were too sparse, they went by too fast. There were lots of places he wanted to 'see' more action.

So. I'm in a 'where' are the thin parts of the story' mode now. Not too surprisingly I'm finding lots of places where I can improve and enhance the plot. This is good. This is so much fun it's probably not legal. ;-)

Print it out. Read it out loud, slowly. Listen to the story. Maybe have someone else read it out loud for you so you can concentrate on following the story. Try it, and let me know if it works for you.

Be in the moment, everyone. Best of luck!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The week that wasn't

Having a house full of friends and family made writing impossible last week. Didn't even get a chance up update the blog, which I missed very much. This has become part of my writing rhythm; it acts as a mental kick start.

I did continue to mull over plots and characters for 'Arlo and Jake' in-between birthday parties, restaurant sallies and playing cards until 1 in the morning ;-) I scribbled a few down on paper because of the leaks in my minds. Others I'm hoping will swirl around long enough for me to play with and then get put into the outline.

Found another relative that had not heard about 'Genome'. After she chastised me for not telling her, she downloaded it and I hope to hear from her soon. This made me think that I need another round of 'who haven't I told', just in case. I need to make sure that all my 'close' contacts know about my writing in addition to trying to find new readers.

I hope you all had a great week while I was celebrating. I'll try to catch up now.

Be here in this moment!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Genome poised for paperback!!

I'm expecting to get 'Genome' onto Createspace this week due to the efforts of Rocky Angelucci (check out his 'Don't Die Early' blog link on the right!) Rocky has done the grunt work to create a new cover for 'Genome' and get it to meet the Createspace requirements. Mego thanks, Rocky. I'll let everyone know when it's done.
I spent most of this weekend editing and rewriting some more on book one of the 'Arlo and Jake' series, 'Arlo and Jake Enlist'. I sent it to another buddy to review. I'm hoping to find a good cover for the series and then it goes public! I've got 2,000 words on book 2, 'Arlo and Jake Galactic Bootcamp'. I'm having a blast keeping the 'mood' of the series going. God I love writing!
Everyone have a great Independence week!
Be cool, be good and live in this moment!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reality check??

I had a couple of friends finish reading 'Genome' recently. I asked for an honest review and got it from both. I can't thank them enough as this kind of feedback is essential for me. I need the truth or I'll never get better.

The good news is they liked 'Genome'. Whoo Hoo! I'm on cloud nine here. They rated it a four because it was my first book. I would have got a 3.5 otherwise. That's ok with me, I would have been bummed if they gave it a 2 or a 5. A 2 meant it really was below my expectations. A 5 would mean they were probably just being nice to me though I have a 5 already. I'll take it ;-)

I also asked them what price they thought was appropriate for Genome as an epub book. Both said they thought 2.99 was the right price. Again, I really appreciate their honesty.

And I have to agree with them. My original gut feeling was 2.99. I raised the price to 4.99 as an experiment. BTW, I had no sales at 4.99 but I only tried it for one month.

So. I've lowered 'Genome' back to 2.99 and I'm going to leave it there. I'm getting it ready for Createspace as a paperback with a new cover. I have to figure out the 'right' price there as well. Marketing makes my head hurt.

Now I have to finish up 'Genome' marketing by getting it on Createspace and keep tweeting and promoting it.

In the wings I have 'Arlo and Jake Enlist' ready to edit and release. I need a good cover and I'm going to put it out there for 0.99. It's only about 50 pages.

Anyone else have experience making the right choices for your books?

Be cool, be yourself.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

'Genome' is on Smashwords!!

OK, first and most importantly I have 'Genome' on Smashwords. Another great marketing/publishing site that I hope will gain some exposure for my books.

It was a 'challenge' to get it to pass the formatting requirements and I'm still not quite sure why it's complaining about my paragraph indentations. I'll work it out though.

They sell in multiple formats so I understand the need to simplify but they could use a little better feedback on exactly 'where' the problem exists. You know, maybe a line number where the offending extra space or indent occurs? I'll write 'em a note.

But like I said not too bad to get it loaded and available for sale. Hope someone out there in the blog-o-sphere will buy a copy and let me know.

Be cool, be good and of course, this moment.

'Genome' vs 'Arlo and Jake', making time...

'Genome' the novel and been out for 4 months now and I'm doing what every new author does; checking sales daily on Amazon and Barnes/Noble and trying to find ways to market it. But I'm also hard at work finishing the first book of the 'Arlo and Jake' series. The old noggin' is spinning a bit I must confess.

So how do I know if I'm spending the little time I have after my day job in the 'best' way? Well, frankly I don't. I've been kinda bouncing back and forth as the ideas hit me. I wonder if any of you have this problem? Or am I the only nitwit in the new author sphere without an agent to help :=)

Anyway, today I've decided to do 2 things first and then resume my ping pong exercises.

First, is update this blog. I'm trying to get back to 3 blogs a week. If I don't blog often who's going to care if I blog at all? Duh.

Second is look into Smashwords. One of the twitterites suggested this as another new author marketplace. Cool.

So for the blog: USE YOUR STORY OUTLINE doc! I talk a lot about this document because I'm so surprised that more authors don't talk about it or use one. At least the ones I've talked to and read about.

Take my new humorous SciFi series 'Arlo and Jake'. Book One 'Arlo and Jake Enlist' is written and in edit/rewrite mode. The whole story was outlined by chapter, with main characters descriptions, 'things to talk about' and plot summary. I believe this allowed me to write a better story in less time than in Genome, where I had an outline but didn't really use it as much.

Today I've been putting more 'meat' around the next two books in the series. In the process I refer to the existing outline and add characters, character background, plot 'arcs' and a 'hey what if ' section to keep ideas that pop into my fevered brain.

I've got book Three sketched out enough I'm ready to outline the chapters. Book Two is still fermenting so I'm out of sequence here. Hey, I'm not that logical! I have a couple of ideas but the whole plot hasn't 'shown itself to me'. Really, does that actually happen to anyone?

As for Smashwords, it's time I go check it out. I'm hoping it's as easy to add to as Amazon and B&N were. I'll let you know what I find out.

Keep plugging away, me buckoos!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Blogs and Tweets and Followers, Oh My!

The new guy IS trainable but... I'm amazed by the huge time sink all the social media stuff can be. I'm making some great friends and contacts but dang, I need time to write sometime! I know, I know, patience Grasshopper. Trust me, I'm really trying.

The TwitterSphere (@garyalanhenson is you wanna chirp at me) feels like there are a billion people all out on their balconies shouting at the top of their lungs, "Hi, I'm a writer/artist/professional/stripper/scientist(yep, lots of them nerdy dudes and dudettes)/cool dude-dudette/media professional who can make you rich is you just buy my 'How To' book, (-saying something clever here-). Please RT."

So I'm taking my time finding and 'Following' people. Looking for people that are interested in ePub writing or maybe someone who might be interested in my writing genre. I've even been able to gift 'Genome' to a few artificial intelligence and genetics researchers who I tweeted, "Hi, I'm a new writer. Are you interested in reading a novel that includes a sexy AI character?" Hm. OK, I'm one of the billion. ;-) Haven't heard back from them but I'm hoping they enjoy it and will pass the word.

OK, actually I'm having fun meeting lots of new people and by far most are interesting and polite. That is a refreshing surprise for me. Thank you TwitterSphere!

This blog is slowly gaining momentum as well. I need to up my game a little and get back to three blogs a week. I really enjoy writing these little snippets and passing along what I've learned from others.

As an example I found Jim Butcher's 'Jim's Livejournal' (Jim Butcher's journal) through another blogger. Thank you! Mr. Butcher is one of my writing heroes. Love his books, his style and he seems like a genuinely cool guy. And I love the image of a wisecracking Wizard in a trench coat. Wish I'd have thought of that!

On the writing front, I've finished the first draft of 'Arlo and Jake Enlist' and I'm doing the rewrite/rewrite/rewrite phase. And I'm looking for a good cover graphic. I'm still hoping to have Book One out by the end of the month. Wish me luck!

Keep writing and keep the faith!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Arlo and Jake Enlist first draft!

I finally worked through the rewrite of  'Arlo and Jake Enlist'! Whoo Hoo! My intrepid editor was merciless again. I had mixed present and past tense terribly! Again!

My hat is off to you who go before me in the writing field. Though I did 'better' this time, my writing technique was awful. Again!

I'm hoping that book 2 of the 'Arlo and Jake' series will be better. I'm definitely more 'aware' as I write now. I still do the stream of consciousness writing to get the story written down. But now I'm aware I need to go back and correct as soon as possible! Don't wait!

The outline document saved my butt numerous times. With my crappy memory it's a must for me. And it allows me to 'experiment' on story plots and characters.

Well. Now it's time for the serious ripping and mending and rewriting and rewriting, etc, etc. I know I have some plot issues to resolve but overall I'm really happy with the first book. It's fun, it's fast and it's got cool characters.

I still think I'll offer this book at 0.99 since it's only 20,000 words. The rest of the books in series will be in the 40,000 to 50,000 words and I'll offer them at 2.99. At least that's my plan for now.

This is such a rush for me. Every author wants his/her books to sell well and be popular and I'm no different. But I can honestly tell you that the journey has been outstanding for me. I intend to keep walking down that road for as long as I can. Story telling makes me happy!

Peace, love and keep writing!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New cover for Genome and more...

Because I want to put Genome on CreateSpace, I've decided I need to revisit the cover. Unfortunately the current one will not scale to a 'full' front/back cover format.

I'm working with a friend to find a good translucent 'graveyard with gate' picture that I can superimpose a DNA helix or some sort of cellular diagram.

I also want to make the title font less 'text booky' and shamefully, make my authors title larger.

I need to think ahead next time and consider all publication needs before deciding on cover art. One more thing I was totally ignorant about. I'm sure there will be others!

More...

'Arlo and Jake Enlist' will be first draft edited this week for sure. Whoo Hoo!

Then it's lots of 'read out loud and rewrite' sessions. And cover art (see above ;-).

Getting excited about adding the first of this series to my stable!

This moment! (something I say to myself a lot to remember that the only really important time is now.)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Small change

When I first started this blog I thought only of blogging about 'Genome' and other book ideas I have. And frankly I had no idea what I was doing, surprise, surprise.

Now that I've got a few months of looking around and blogging and tweeting, I realise that I want to blog about more than just SciFi. So I've dropped that from my blog 'title'.

Even 'Genome' is not really just SciFi. It's got lots of techno and AI content but it's also a ghost story and a love story.

So I've broadened the scope a bit to writing in the ePub world.

Have a great day everyone.

This moment.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chapter Six and counting!

My first draft edit of Arlo and Jake Enlist is moving ahead nicely. I'm up to Chapter Six.

I'm finding lots of 'fast typing' errors to fix but I expected that. I tend to just write the story out as I go rather than worry about spelling and grammar. Younger writers might be able to hold those cool thoughts in their heads but I have to get them out or lose them!

At this rate I hope to have the story done by the end of June!

Great morning session all in all. Good cup of coffee and a fun story to tell. Life is good!

Keep writing, friends!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

More is better? Who knows?

I've been reading a lot about how epub books should be priced. I originally priced 'Genome' at $2.99 on both Barnes and Noble and Amazon. I got a couple of sales (mostly friends of course) and I've had one or two since then. I know it will take a lot of marketing on my own and some time before sales will improve.

I decided to do my own analysis. So I parsed through a hundred or so epub books on PubIt! and KDP, looking for similar books to 'Genome'. I bypassed the vampire/werewolf/porn forest and looked for techo thriller, scifi, fantasy books with similar blurbs and word count. 'Genome' is about 68,000 words.

I discovered no clear pattern. Some works of 300 pages were $.99 some were 4.99. Some books of 50 pages were $.99 others were $2.99. I was really surprised at how many short story books were out there. Really? $.99 for 40 pages? OK, I'm not savvy in that market for sure. Maybe this is the norm here.

I priced 'Genome' at $2.99 because it's 'only' 68,000 words (about 200 pages on Amazon) and it's my first novel. I'm proud of it but it's my first. I'll get better. I've got some really great plot devices in PIP, the AI characters and the genetics holoroom. But did I do a great job with these devices and the rest of the book? No. I'm still up loading improvements from time to time.

But. The more I read and analyze the market place the more I think that $2.99 makes my book look 'cheap and not worth it". So I'm going to price it a $4.99 for a while. It's worth $4.99.

I'll keep track of this experiment and let you know if it makes any difference at all. Perception is everything in life, so maybe this pull my book out of the cheap seats. I have no idea.

Does any one else have real experience on this subject?

Keep writing!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

First draft! Arlo and Jake Enlist.

OK, it's too soon to celebrate because there is still tons of editing and work to do, but damn it feels good to have 'Enlist' 'done'.

Will our intrepid heroes join the fleet or go back to beach bunnies and beer? Who is Lt. Pixie and why did she pinch Jake's behind? Is that a proper way for an officer to act? Maybe not but this is a navy that every able bodied spaceman dreams of!

Now the hard work of course. Reread, rewrite, revise, rewrite, read, etc, etc, etc.

Need to add some 'meat' to the story line as well. I want you to feel like you got your 0.99 cents worth after all.

Have a great day and keep writing!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Finally! Moving forward...

Eight is 'done'. Needs editing and polish and etc, etc but the story line is complete. That was a tough one because I wanted the story to make sense. I want Jake to have a serious turn so that his decision to stay with the space fleet seems valid.

I've read lots of books where there was a scene or two that just didn't jive with the story. It diminishes the story and makes you pause to think "say what? why would he do that?". I don't want the reader distracted if I can help it.

Time to move on and get Jake and Arlo into the fleet uniforms!

Keep writing!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chapter Eight is hard, damn it!

I'm still working through the final arc/tension scene and trying to get it 'right'. I'm not so worried about perfect/polished/whatever just 'right'. Consistent with the story so far and fun. Bring the reader past the battle and keep him interested in reading more.

I'm having fun mixing in my navy sub experiences with this story. Jake has pieces of me of course. I'm using the memories of my years in the Navy to try and make Jake believable and add realism to the story. OK, my boats plowed the depths of the Atlantic and Jake ends up in space but hey, we're both stuck inside a tin tube hoping the outside stuff doesn't get mixed up with the inside stuff.

If the weather holds and I get some writing time in today and tomorrow I hope to have 'Enlist' done in draft mode and can start editing. I'm constantly adding/modifying my outline doc as the story unfolds. It's been a great help, much more than I had hoped.

I've added a section to my outline doc called 'Things to talk about:'. Sound lame but once again it's helping more than I had hoped. It's just a place to stick 'ideas' that could help this story and any of the other in the series. An example is 'white hat'. That's a term used in the Navy for an enlisted man. Part of his uniform is the sailor's round white cap you can see in the movies.

It's one of those terms that can be used in a derogatory way as well. 'Damn white hats, mind your place...' or some such. Terms like this add credibility to the story. I added to the 'Things' section so I could use at an opportune time later. I'm adding other terms and ideas there as well that I want to include in story. I have a crappy memory so this becomes my 'paper brain'. Which is, by the way, another Navy term. It means, or used to I suppose, the stuff you wrote on 3x5 cards that you had to remember during your watch.

Have a great Memorial weekend. My thoughts, prayers and gratitude go out to the men and women of our armed forces and their families.

Live this moment!