One of my 18-year-olds was the captain of her varsity soccer team and is a regular at the local cross-fit gym. She convinced me to join her on her first Spartan Sprint. At times it felt like an Army obstacle course, which I have not done in more than a few years. My train-up was less than rigorous, but we got it done without any injuries and without too much soreness.
I’ve long enjoyed military science fiction, so I have had The Forever War on my to read list for…well…you know…forever. I’m glad I did. Finally. It is not just damn good, it is good for a reason. Several, in fact.
I am happy to share that since I last made a donation in March, my sales of Youth In Asia about the 173rd Airborne Brigade during the Vietnam War have generated more than $600 of income for me. Not bad for a book priced at just $1.49, and of which I only get 30%. Since I’ve promised to donate half of my earnings, that is $300 more to donate.
Additionally, Crawford Roberts, the accomplished producer of the audiobook version of my novel had offered his services at a discounted rate, and then, after working on the projected, offered to complete it for free. I did not feel right keeping the $200 I had promised him, so I have added it to the $300 I will contribute. That makes $500.
Better yet, my employer again agreed to match my total contribution, so (in part due to Crawford’s and my employer’s generosity) I have just made a $1,000 contribution to the VFW’s National Home for Children.
With your help, I have now donated $1,650 to the VFW, Wounded Warrior, and similar organizations from my book sales to help our veterans
I will also donate a portion of my revenue from Lonely Hunter. Two of my children are chronically ill, so I’m happy to give to organizations doing medical research from which my children and all children will someday benefit.
Rogue One: A short Review
I took my four teenage daughters to see the sci fi movie “Rogue One” a few days ago. There were some really strange coincidences between the movie and my forthcoming novel, Lonely Hunter. But first, some thoughts on Rogue One.
None of my kids are particularly dialed into Star Wars, but a few have seen a prior movie or two. I’ve seen four of them (swore I’d never go to another one after Clone Wars). Three of my kids enjoy various Sci Fi-ish flicks from time to time such as Hunger Games, Inception, the Marvel franchise, Transformers, etc. We all thought the trailer looked interesting, so we gave it a shot.
The consensus coming out was that it was underwhelming at best. But what was really weird were the number of coincidences with my own novel.
As I continue to edit my work in progress and think about meeting readers’ expectations, especially when it comes to descriptive writing, I recently came across and interesting review of Peter Mendelsund’s What We See When We Read, “a book that explores how people imagine and remember the things they read.”
I’ve always been loath to write (and dislike reading) detailed descriptions of characters and settings. I’m OK with details that surface as the story progresses when they are relevant, but one of the fastest ways for me to lose interest in a book or story is a front-loaded block of description sentences which have no other purpose, and an abundance of adjectives and adverbs. She was tall and had green eyes. She stepped over the puddles with her long legs while smiling at Bob, showing off her perfect, white teeth… Ugh.
Since I recently released my first audio book, I thought I’d provide a summary of my experience publishing an audiobook via Amazon’s ACX Audible to help anyone headed down the same path. The book has gotten strong reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but I wanted to make it available so people could hear it as well as read it on their Kindle Fire.
None of us want to fail as writers or have to admit to our families and friends that after all our hours in seclusion banging out our manuscripts they failed to sell even 10 copies. That is the height of embarrassment that none of us want to experience. As an indie publisher, it is critical that we understand what we are getting ourselves into and how to be successful before we start. This is doubly true as I am writing a book, and I hope this second one is even more successful than my first.
A recent article argued that there is a formula to writing bestsellers. The article says the algorithm is “built to predict, with 80 percent accuracy, which novels will become mega-bestsellers. What does it like? “Young, strong heroines who are also misfits (the type found in The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). No sex, just ‘human closeness.’ Frequent use of the verb ‘need.’ Lots of contractions. Not a lot of exclamation marks. Dogs, yes; cats, meh.” So if you are writing a novel and want to trump your competition, you should abide what this book says, right? Let’s see how I’m doing with my upcoming science fiction novel:
* Young, strong, heroine — check.
* Misfit — check.
* No sex — this one is an in betweener…you’ll have to read the novel to understand.
* Human closeness — check.
* Frequent use of the verb “need” — hmm… 154 times in a novel of 116k words…I can work on this one.
* Lots of contractions — I probably need more, so this is fixable.
* Not a lot of exclamation marks — I’ve got too many. I can fix this.
* Dogs — Several of them.
* Cats — One. Dead.
I suppose if I put an image of a young woman on the cover… Bestseller, here I come!
I think about writing like I think about long distance biking. I (used) to do a century (100-mile) bike ride about once every other month and even tried a double century (but only made it 172 miles ). Tour de France rider I am not.
The analogy is this: Writing is a long-haul exercise, just like any endurance sport. And if you are into endurance sports you know you are going to hit really bad times along the way. It’s going to happen. You have to be ready for it, or you will give up when you hit the hard times.
I don’t normally post about WIP (Works In Progress). However, I thought I’d provide an update on how End War: Lonely Hunter is progressing. It is my first full length Science Fiction novel. To be honest, I’m a bit burnt out at the moment. Between a demanding full-time job (that has nothing to do with writing), blogging, relentlessly growing my understanding about how self-publishing works, continuing to promote my first novel (to include finishing up the audio book), and working on Lonely Hunter and its four sequels…I’m smoked.
One of my goals this year was to read more indie/self-published novels. Part of my motivation was to study them to help me learn how to better write a book. My own novel is progressing, and I do read about the craft and some classic works of fiction. But sometimes it is good to look at the not so good to better understand what does and does not work. So far I’ve read seven novels and novellas. That is not a huge sample size, but it is big enough that I wanted to provide some summary thoughts. And these books are not randomly selected from Amazon. Let me explain….
Free Indirect Discourse (also called Free Indirect Speech) seems a clunky mouthful, but it is also a powerful tool to make your writing more intimate when used in proper measure. Wikipedia says: “What distinguishes Free Indirect [Discourse; FID for short] from normal indirect speech is the lack of an introductory expression such as ‘He said’ or ‘he thought’. It is as if the subordinate clause carrying the content of the indirect speech is taken out of the main clause which contains it, becoming the main clause itself. Using [FID] may convey the character’s words [and thoughts] more directly than in normal indirect.”
No, I’m not selling thousands of books a day. And, no, this is not a huge category. But it is still pretty exciting.
In the US, my book has made it to #6 and #9 in two different categories. And it has made it to #1 in France, #2 in Australia, #2 in Canada and #9 in Brazil. And it has cracked the top 100 of several more lists. All that is exciting, but a #1 spot is special and not something I’ll ever forget.
Thank you to everyone who bought a copy. 🙂
Most young writers (of all ages) share their manuscript much too often and much too early in the hopes of getting constructive feedback on their work in progress. For instance, I see a lot of writers share their work after just a first or second draft. Some share “Chapter 1” of a novel, even though chapter 1 is all they have written. Even if such drafts are free of spelling and grammatical errors, sharing a draft so early is a mistake.
There is no understating how important it is to get reviews to help ramp sales of your new book. And I’ve previously written about how to get great reviews from some of Amazon’s top reviewers. But I’ve just discovered this: There is a group on Goodreads that is helping authors get thoughtful reviews posted to three sites (Goodreads, Amazon US and Amazon UK) from readers they don’t know. It’s a great and simple system. How much does it cost? No money involved. You just have to pay it forward and review a book from someone else. And there is no limit; you can get as many reviews as you can give.
I believe we live in a universe governed by laws of causes and effects even though we don’t yet fully understand all the causes and all the effects. When it comes to art, in particular, it is immensely difficult to know what cause will result in which effect. So it is tremendously difficult in the realm of words to know which sentence, which metaphor, which plot device will resonate with a majority of your targeted genre’s readers and turn a bunch of words into a great story. Though we don’t know these things with precision, I do believe that there are quantifiable causes and effects in play.
Wired for Story is Lisa Cron’s assertion that we do in fact have (some) science in the realm of writing that enables us to understand the causes and effects of good storytelling.