Books, Editing, Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing

Ironing Out the Wrinkles in a Plot

In some ways publishing Fried Windows in May of last year created a few paradoxes for the main character Brent. WARNING: If you haven’t read the book, you might want to before continuing on. I’m about to reveal some things about the plot.

There are some relationships Brent and characters in my other novels, particularly Andy Hunter, Terry Harper, Lee Anders Johnston and Caroline Henderson from One Over X (two of six books published) and The Power of X (as yet unpublished). There is also a loose connection between the mother  in Becoming Thuperman and Terry Harper – as they attended high school together. Brent meets Terry Harper while he attends Purdue University where the latter is pursuing aa doctorate in applied physics and eventually becomes a professor before taking a tenured position at the University of Texas.

Brent and Lee Anders Johnston hale from neighboring towns in rural Ohio. Both were musicians in their teen years. Brent actually played bass for a brief while in a band that Lee led. Lee was best friends with the lead guitar from Brent’s garage band – which is how they met. Ironically, as they were both the sons of farmers, their fathers knew one another, though not very well.

After the disintegration of Brent’s garage band over an issue about performing a Rock Opera Brent wrote for his senior English project – a piece on Beowulf – Brent and Lee perform an acoustic set at the Christmas party of a friend of Brent. It is the last time Brent and Lee perform together for nearly twenty years, though the two of them conspired during their connection to compose a few songs that will end up reuniting them in later years – and reinvigorating Lee’s career as a professional musician.

Lee departs Rock as his vehicle of musical  expression and begins playing Blues with a couple of musicians while he attends Purdue University – where he studies Engineering and meets Terry Harper, his professor of physics. In Lee’s Junior year at Purdue his folks sell their farm in Ohio and retire to Texas. Lee transfers to the University of Texas. The following year, Terry Harper is offered a tenured position at UT, based on his recently published best seller on astral physics the university. And, so Lee and Terry reconnect at UT and the Lee changes his major to physics.

While in Austin and immersed in the vibrant artistic community, Lee joins a country band called Faction. At a bar in Austin he meets Caroline Henderson, the daughter of Joseph Henderson, CEO of HENCO. They share a few dates before establishing a relationship.

When Lee is offered a research job in Colorado, three of the original members of the band follow him there. They form the nucleus of a new Faction that lands a recording contract. Lee and Caroline have a long distance relationship until she completes college.

To pursue his musical career,  Lee quits his job and accompanies the band to Memphis where they record their first album.  Then, against her father’s protests, Caroline joins Lee and goes on tour with Faction, actually performing with the band as a background singer.

So, where is Andy Hunter is all this? Anyone who has read One Over X, knows that both Andy and Lee have a relationship in another version of reality, where both work for Henco. Lee works at a product assembly facility while Andy is a coder for the instructions loaded into the devices the company makes. The company’s CEO is Caroline Henderson who took up the reins when her father, Joseph Henderson passed away – never knowing she is to the Andy who was born of an unwed mother who used to work for the Hendersons.

In the other world, the one where Caroline and Andy grew up as siblings, Andy studies applied physics at UT Austin and becomes enamored with Dr. Harper to the point that he begins writing a boot about him. In the process he attempts to create a device based on Harper’s hypotheses that can cancel out the effects of the electromagnetic fields of the Earth – theoretically opening portals to every other dimension.

The powers that be – as in the Universal Powers That Be – are not amused with Andy’s devise of how it throws a significant distortion into the over all matrix of fabricated reality – the shell they created as the distracting illusion of life. With it Andy can, pretty much, go wherever he wants – as long at he knows his destination. Therein lies the rub.  Andy knows that the device can do but doesn’t understand it’s potential. And in the process of exploring it he becomes genetically altered to be more like an extraterrestrial ancestor of humanity than a man.

Brent is a transplanted straddler, born into the world to correct the problems Andy will eventually cause. He gets sidetracked with his own issues and adventures but, moreover, he is intended to defeat Andy’s modification to the design. Brent is naturally drawn toward the people he needs to connect with in order to fix things. Yet he is uncooperative in dealing directly with any of his new found friends.  As a result, Andy changes many things both for Earth and Anter’x, a directly connect world – via wormholes – on the other side of the galaxy. There the wolfcats thrive – for a while anyway, along with a primordial ancestor of humanity called the Hovdin and a race called Sabatin that enslaved the Hovdin for a time.

In The Attributes, a two book set that I wrote a while back, all the timelines and plot lines are resolved. Imagine that! Me crop 2

 

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A Pretty Cool Day In Florida

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For almost two years now I’ve been associated with Pandamoon Publishing, first as an author and more recently as a publicist. At times the latter role requires more effort and schedule juggling than the former but it is one of the few times since receiving a degree in marketing from the University of Texas in the early ’80’s that I have actually done something related to my studies. That’s kind of cool.

Aside from working on my next book(s), there are eleven more under contract now, I have had occasion to work with a diverse group of fellow writers. Personally I think all of them are more gifted than I am. A few of them have been fooled into thinking I’m as talented as they are. I’m good a creating illusions. Until yesterday, though, I had never actually met any of the other authors, other than chatting with them online. That isn’t to say I don’t know these people and over the past couple of years we haven’t become friends.

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The Pandamoon stable of authors is approaching two dozen and continues to grow. The publisher is expanding its editorial and marketing staffs to handle the bandwidth of all those new books. For a relatively small and fairly new kid on the publishing block we are making some waves and gaining attention. And a lot of that has to do with the effort and coordination between the marketing team and the authors. One of the success stories is Steph Post, author of A Tree Born Crooked.

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Steph and I both live in Florida. When I lived in Pinellas County, we were even on the same side of Tampa Bay, just a few miles apart. Close, but we never had an occasion to ever meet in person…until yesterday. This time there was no excuse. She was appearing as a panelist at the 6th Annual University of Central Florida Book Festival in Orlando. Currently I live a little over five miles from the venue. So, yesterday morning I pedaled my bike northward on Alafaya Trail and parked it in a bike rack in the midst of the festivities. I attended the panel discussion on mystery and crime writing. Responding to questions from a standing room only crowd Steph shined. I was proud of her not only because we are colleagues at Pandamoon but also because over the past couple of years she has become a dear friend of mine.

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Afterwards she signed my copy of her debut novel and we took a picture together as proof that we had actually been in the same place at the same time. I met her husband, Ryan, and a couple of her high school friends who came out to the event in support of her. Really, what was important, though, was I got to hang out with one of my favorite authors. How cool is that? I’m such a fan boy.

Seriously, though, I loved Steph’s book from the first read through of the manuscript and since  it’s publication I have found it to be one of the easiest things I have ever promoted. Even if I wasn’t closely associated with the marketing support for the book, she would still be one of my favorite authors. I’m pretty sure that very soon her fame is going to blow-up in a huge way and everyone will be talking about her books. She has genuine talent that she has honed through the discipline of scheduling her time. She is a professional writer in every sense of the word. Personally I have no idea how she juggles everything she does, because is is also a writing coach and educator as well as a wife and ‘mother’ of several rescue pooches. But once you meet her and talk to her you really get the vibe that you’re in the presence of a remarkable individual.

As I pedaled home after spending a few hours at the festival I was thinking about how great it would be to get all the Pandamoon authors together in the same place at the same time. We have talked about it and even have a name for the event all picked out: “Pandamoonium”. I’m sure that sooner or later it will happen. Likely as not we’ll assemble in some central location, probably Austin, Texas, which is close to where the publisher is based. Only then will the sensation of being in the presence of greatness that I felt yesterday be eclipsed. Despite our geographic barriers I work with some amazing people.

It is a testament to the technological advancements over the past dozen of so years that people from every time zone in the western hemisphere have meetings regularly to share information and ideas about such topics as establishing and promoting author’s brand. Pandamoon Publishing is cutting edge in a lot of ways.

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As for Steph Post, what she has done – pretty much on her own, albeit with some support from the Pandamoon marketing team – is nothing short of phenomenal. In the months since she signed with Pandamoon she has worked diligently on her brand, posting attention getting pictures that supported the theme and mood of her book, which is about crime in small town Florida. She contacted other authors in her genre, got to know them personally, read and reviewed their books, interviewed them, and her attention was reciprocated with reviews for her book. She arranged interviews on radio shows, with bloggers and scheduled personal appearances. Even before its release to the public, A Tree Born Crooked was receiving critical acclaim. Since its release it is being considered for some prestigious awards.

The reward for all her hard work was evidenced not only in the number of people who purchased Steph’s book yesterday but also the number of new friends she made as a result of her participating int he panel discussion. She signed a lot of autographs. In this age of Internet distribution and sales, one thing has not changed and it is ironic that, really, it is the same as it has been for the past couple hundred years. How a book is marketed always comes down to pitching it one reader at a time.

#UCFBookFestival #Orlando #Florida #Authors #StephPost #ATreeBornCrooked #PandamoonPublishing #ElgonWilliams #Publicity #Marketing #BookSigning #MysteryWriter #CrimeWriter

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What’s In A Name?

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Having a weird name like Elgon has been problematic throughout my life. Of course, I never thought it was weird name until I reached school age. Before that, everyone I knew could pronounce my name correctly. They were family, after all. Around the first grade people began to ask me if it was a family name. Uh, my dad had it too but never used it because he didn’t like it much.

I’m not sure why he decided to name me after him, though. People do strange things, don’t they? Especially with the naming of kids, it seem all bets are off. A simple, fairly common name can be spelled a variety of ways in the interest of, well, making it more interesting. What ends up happening from the child’s point of view is that just when you want to blend in and be one of the gang you stand out as the odd ball with that weird name.

When my son reached age ten or so, he realized what a great decision I made on his birth date in not naming him after me. I named him for the first of my ancestors to come to America. His middle name is for the ancestor who signed the Mayflower Compact. Yeah, I have one branch of my family tree going back to Jamestown, Virginia (1607) and the other Plymouth, Massachusetts (1620). Before that my family tree has branches all over the British Isles, it seems, but most of my roots go back to Wales and England.

Anyway, the first time my teacher asked me about the origin of my name I really didn’t have an answer other than to tell her it was what my parents gave me. In retrospect that was an answer as profound as it is superficially stupid. It is a given name, after all. So, of course, my parents gave it to me. Sheesh! But what did I know?

In the interest of enhancing the educational opportunities of us kids, my parents invested a large amount of money purchasing an encyclopedia from some traveling salesman. When I was six years old, mostly, I liked looking at the part of it that had pictures. I was naive enough to believe that all the knowledge in the world was somewhere in those twenty plus volumes. And so I decided to look up my name and find out where it came from, just so I would have a good answer for the next time someone asked, which seemed a nearly daily occurrence once I started school.

Mount Elgon

To my surprise, my name was actually in there. You see, there is a mountain in Kenya that is my namesake. It is an extinct volcano. How cool was that for a six-year-old to discover? The trouble is, how on Earth did I end up sharing a name with something in Africa when my parents were hillbillies from eastern Kentucky? I figured my dad would know, since he shared the name. But he’d never used the name, preferring to go by Bruce, his assumed middle name – I’ll explain that later.

My paternal grandmother was still alive then and lived not too far from us so the next time I visited her I asked about the origin of the name Elgon. The story she told was about a peddler of pots and pans who came to her place in the hills of Kentucky when she was pregnant with my dad – probably sometime in 1913 or 1914. She thought his name was nice and decided to name Dad that. There, I had my answer, sort of, except as I matured I wondered whatever my grandmother was perhaps as bad at spelling as I was. The way I figure the peddler may have been named Elgin, which is one of the variants of what people assume my name is when I first pronounce it for them. That leads me to a brief discussion of the problem every kid with a strange name has – having to spell it out.

Sometime between the first and fourth grades I grew tired of having to correct people’s mispronouncing my name. So I started saying it and then immediately spelling it out for them. Does it help? Not really. I’ve learned, from my name at least, that people hear whatever they want to hear and largely don’t pay a lot of attention during conversations. Of course they are too busy with their internal monologue and thinking of something to say in response to whatever has been said to them to ever pay too much attention to minor details, like a kid spelling out his odd name.

I guess the name helped to make me weird, or perhaps weirder because I believe I have been the way I am since birth – if not before. So you have a kid born to be the weirdest of weird, a writer, and you give him a weird name. Somehow that seems both appropriate and redundant in retrospect.

I’ve told the story before on this and other blogs about how one of my teachers in high school told me I was mispronouncing my name. Yeah, she actually told me that, as if it were not my name that I could choose to pronounce any way I damned well wanted. That was pretty much my exact response, which, of course, pissed her off enough to dispatch me immediately to the principal’s office. Upon hearing my version of things he tended to agree with me. Afterwards my teacher called me Mr. Williams and even confirmed in advance that she was pronouncing my last name correctly.

Purdue-University Fall

Somewhere along the way, in the spring of 1973, my sister, Genette, who was also stuck with an oddly spelled name, decided I should use my lonely middle initial ‘B’ and fabricated the middle name, Brenton, for me to place on my college application for Purdue University. I also used it when I applied to other universities but that matters little since Purdue is the college I decided to attend. Genette started calling me ‘Brent’ after that, something she still does to this day. And while I was at college I went by Brent.

Even after college, I continued to use Brent as my name. It followed me into the Air Force and halfway around the world to Korea where it was pronounced B-L-E-N-T-A. Oddly enough, I discovered Asians could actually pronounce Elgon correctly. So when I soon tired of being called Blenta, I switched back to being called Elgon and I have used my given name ever since. Brent was relegated to the back of my mind and eventually became the name of a character in one of my books, an alter ego of sorts.

AF picture 1983

You might ask why, if I am named Elgon, after my dad, am I not Elgon B. Williams Jr? This is maybe the weirdest part of the whole story. You see, my mom knew this kid when she was growing up in the hills and hollers of Kentucky. His name was Junior Williams. I think his given name was actually Junior. People do that to kids, too. Anyway, she hated him because he used to do really disgusting things that involved farts. For example he delighted in cupping his hand to catch a fart and then sticking it under a baby’s nose and laughing while the infant gagged. Mom didn’t want me associated with that sort of person.

So, even after naming me Elgon, which was also my dad’s name, Mom did want Jr. tagged on behind my name. So she didn’t give me Dad’s middle name, which everyone believed was Bruce since he had always been called that. She insisted that the attending nurse not put Jr anywhere on my name since she gave me only the middle initial B. It turned out that when Dad filed for social security benefits and actually received an abstract of birth record from Kentucky that his legal name was Elgon B. Williams, same as mine. Where did the name Bruce come from? No one knows.

I have always signed my name completely as Elgon B. Williams – as if there were any other Elgon Williams with whom I might be confused. It’s silly, I know, but I’m used to doing it and it is automatic when I sign my name.

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The reason I bring all this up about my given name is that I’m about to use the novelty of my weird name to advantage. For marketing purposes, my books henceforth will be credited to the author Elgon. It’s not that I’m going to stop using my last name or trying to hide it or anything like that, just that it is, and since my dad passed in 2000, superfluous. I am the only living person – at least to my knowledge – who is named Elgon. There is a mountain in Kenya and a hair care products company in Italy that share my name, but I believe that, without a doubt, I’m certainly the only author named Elgon. There will be no confusion. So when my next book is published sometime early next year it will bear only my first name, Elgon.

#WeirdNames #names #ElgonWilliams #Elgon #Kenya #Kentucky #Mountain #GivenName

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Becoming Thuperman Coming in Early 2015

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My next novel due out is titled Becoming Thuperman. For those who have read Fried Windows, it is a bit of a departure. Don’t worry, though, there is a touch of supernatural/paranormal strangeness. Just this one is not a sequel or directly tied to any other of my books.

A little over a year ago, when Fried Windows was at Pandamoon Publishing in substantive edits, I started working on one of those back burner ideas that I’d been kicking around for a while. Although it is not about Brent Woods, the main character in Fried Windows, he does mention it in another, as yet unpublished, book about his early college experiences titled Fifteen Days of Danielle.

 

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Best friends Will and Sandra are both eight years old. School’s out in Normal, Illinois and the kids are enjoying their summer vacation doing what comes naturally riding bikes, talking baseball and making plans to change the world – when they grow up, that is. What begins with a road trip to Chicago’s Midway Airport leads a sequence of events over the course of the following week that changes both of them forever. You see, the kids are just beginning to discover that superpowers run in their families.

I had a lot of fun writing about the kids while I was wrapping up Fried Windows and tying a bow around it. As is the case with Fried Windows, I am working on a sequel that I expect to finish sometime next year. I plan to get to those as soon s I finish the revisions on The Wolfcat Chronicles.

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As soon as I have an official release date for Becoming Thuperman I’ll let everyone know.

#BecomingThuperman #ElgonWIlliams #Writing #ComingSoon #NewBooks

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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Elgon – An Update

Ambitious title, I know. But since there’s not that much to tell, I think I can pull this off.

What’s going on in my publishing life?

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Fried Windows is doing fine. There were a couple of free ebook promotions that created more awareness of the book and a Goodreads Giveaway I did last month. There will be some more things coming down the pike. So look for them. I still need for everyone who has read the book to post a review to Amazon and Goodreads. I realize that’s a challenge for every author out there, getting readers to post reviews. Readers aren’t writers, after all. But it only takes a couple of minutes to write two lines about what you liked or didn’t like about the book. What you may not know is how important total number of reviews are for promoting a book, especially receiving some gratis attention from Amazon. I’m told you must have a minimum of fifty reviews posted to receive a serious push. I have seventeen.

Becoming Thuperman, my next project in the pipeline, is in revisions right now. I have about a day or two left on that before sending the new and improved, latest version to my publisher so it can be reviewed for subediting. The tentative release date on that book right now is the end of January 2015.

Once I finish the revisions on BT, I have committed to reading and reviewing a couple of new books, one a fellow Pandamoon author named Jeff Messick whose debut novel, Knights Of The Shield – a paranormal cop thriller – comes out in mid-November. The other book I just received and it looks interesting. It’s called Stealing Destiny and is in the paranormal genre. Its author, J. D. Selmser contacted me kind of out of the blue. I happened to have a gap in my schedule so I agreed to give it a read. It’s the first book of the Immortal Obsession series. I seem to be reading a lot of paranormal books lately.

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In my publicist gig I’ve been promoting Steph Post’s A Tree Born Crooked which launched yesterday. Readers of this blog know I’m very high on this book. It’s different in a great way, paving a lot of new ground in gutsy, gritty realism. It’s seriously a great piece of literature and deserves all the critical attention it has already received. Also, Steph is a sweetheart. I’ve only known her for a little more than a year but she’s a great friend and amazingly talented writer.

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Christine Gabriel’s Crimson Forest launched at the end of August and it’s been doing very well in sales. It’s another paranormal book but with a few twists and a lot of differences from the usual fare of vampires and creepy things. It’s a first novel for Christine and also the first in a series. She is nearing completion of the sequel work, Crimson Moon, that will launch sometime in March 2015.

Remember The Wolfcat Chronicles, that ten book series I penned between 2000 and 2005? Well, I’m going to be doing a new revision to the first book of the series and submitting it to my publisher. I have submitted a version previously. The problem is scheduling the editing required to release ten books in a fairly short time interval. Also I need to revise the entire series in a narrow window as well. The first seven books are pretty close to being ready for prime time. The last three could use another revision and I want to rewrite the ending because some of the plot ties into Fried Windows. Yeah, imagine that. I’m hoping Spectre of Dammerwald, the first two books of the series, can be released this summer and fall with One Pack, the next five books, coming out in 2016.

Other projects I’m working on: a sequel to Fried Windows tentatively titled Ninja Bread Cookies and a sequel to Becoming Thuperman titled Being Thuperman. On the back burner is a book I started last year titled Bongwater Moses. Those books will make it into print eventually, perhaps in between the individual Wolfcat books. Although there are a few threads of continuity between them and the Wolfcat books they are intended to stand alone.

There are a couple of other books kicking around that I’d like to publish. One is a background book about Brent Woods, the lead character in Fried Windows, titled Fifteen Days of Danielle. Another is a book that I haven’t decided what to call. It is loosely based on my experiences growing up around South Charleston, Ohio in the sixties. There is also a book I want to revise one more time before submitting it titled Selling The Morning Calm which is loosely based on a couple of years I spent in Korea while working with the military. And there is a supernatural book about text messaging that I wrote in 2009 and another supernatural one that has Brent Woods as a character that is set in a haunted house. Add to those a couple of books that sort of provide some backstory for The Wolfcat Chronicles that need to be revised and another book about Brent Woods and how he got involved with The Program that is mentioned in Fried Windows…busy, busy.

Later on I plan a rewriting of the One Over X series which I began last summer with a revised new edition that split the first book into two books. I self published that and posted it to Amazon back in August 2013.

All told there are some twenty books that will see their way into print over the next three or four years.

In my personal life, my nomadic nature continues. This time I moved only a few miles from where I had been staying. It’s a longer commute by bike to where I work part-time but it’s good exercise riding four and a half miles each way. Over the past year or so I have dropped over sixty-five pounds. I’ll probably shed a few more in the process of biking to and from work, now. I may pick up a second part-time job for Christmas season as I am closer to a major shopping area in East Orlando and those stores are only two miles away.

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#writing #publishing

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Author Ken Donaldson Interviews Me

I’m not enigmatic and I’m not reclusive though it occurs to me that some think I am. It’s probably because I spend a lot of time in my creative space writing and because of that I’m not out carousing. Anyway, in an effort to tell more people about me I’ve been giving interviews. The following is a recent one my good friend and Australian author Ken Donaldson did with me and posted on Goodreads. It is used here with his permission.

Ken Donaldson

KD: I have seen you online, as I am sure many other readers have who are familiar with you from the self-publishing forums. Give us a little insight into your background as a writer.

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EW: Since I was 13 years old I have wanted to be a writer. I recall picking out a pseudonym that I have never used. In high school I wrote a few creative things and was a co-editor of my high school’s newspaper. That’s how I became interested in journalism, which is what I studied at Purdue University. While there I took several writing and literature courses and wrote a manuscript, portions of which eventually were incorporated into my first published novel, From the Inside. A few years later, while I was in the Air Force I served as a historian for my unit and composed an award winning 400+ page document, which was technically my first publication. Over the years I suppose my various muses and I have not always been on the best of terms. At one point I decided that I needed a lot more life experience before I could write the kinds of novels I wanted to produce. Mostly, I think I had to find my author’s voice and, of course, establish a better connection with my personal muse. In the mid 1990’s I drew together my notes and drafts that turned into the manuscript of my first novel in 2001.

KD: Tell me what other authors do you enjoy, who inspired you or influenced you the most to become a writer?

EW: I drew a little from Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and Douglas Adams. I like the sense of irony in the works of both men. Also I particularly enjoyed Samuel R. Delany, Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. In college I learned to appreciate a variety of other genres. I was particularly fond of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, Steppenwolf and Beneath The Wheel. Ernest Hemmingway was someone whose simple writing style I came to admire. Lately I’ve been enjoying a number of up and coming authors like Teyla Branton, Karen Perkins and Margaret Snowden. There are a lot of really gifted storytellers out there who at the moment are obscure but I’m confident you’ll be hearing about them very soon. I’m fortunate to call many of them my friends.

KD: What made you decide upon the genre you are currently pursuing?

EW: As I said before, I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy when I was younger. So it felt pretty natural to slip into that genre. It affords a writer great latitude in expressing his or her creativity. Since I’ve been told I have a wild and vivid imagination I tend to push the boundaries a bit and have never felt confined to the real world. Reality is an illusion, anyway.

KD: What is special about how you write? Do you have any set routine of method you follow?

EW: Early in the morning seems to be my most productive time, before the world around me wakes. When I start laying out a novel, I create the character profiles first and through dialogue I allow the characters to expose the conflicts. Later I go back and write the narrative pieces that connect things together, describing the settings and establishing the mood. Otherwise it is used to facilitate action sequences. However, sometimes the action is delivered through arguments between the characters. Novels with excessive narrative can be tedious to read and I personally feel narrative is more boring than dialogue. A reader should feel as if he or she is part of the story, maybe one of the characters or a bystander listening and observing what’s going on. Dialogue can drive a story in an immediately intimate and compelling way. The realism of the exchanges between characters is key to telling a story. I spend a lot of time making certain that dialogue flows well and sounds as natural as possible.

KD: What are the future plans you see for your writing next?

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EW: I’m working on a sequel to Fried Windows and several other projects. Always have at least two or three things going on at a time so that whenever one hits a snag you can move on to another. That is how I combat writer’s block. The next novel I have coming out is Becoming Thuperman, which is scheduled for release in January 2015. It’s a fun departure from Fried Windows about two kids – a boy and a girl – who are best friends. It’s summer vacation and like most kids they enjoy riding their bikes to the community park where they play baseball. There’s a big scary dog that lives down the street in the old house that everyone says is haunted. A spinster and her brother live there. Oh, and by the way, the kids are just discovering that superpowers run in their families.

KD: Do you have any brief thoughts in passing you would like to share with the readers?

EW: I’d like to express my gratitude for everyone’s support of my writing. There are more authors out there these days and there’s a wide variety of stories from which to choose a next favorite read. When someone tells me they have enjoyed Fried Windows or one of my other books it makes my day. Every author feels the same way. If you love an author’s work support him or her with a review – just a couple of lines telling other potential readers what you liked about the book. You don’t realize how important that is in the decision process for the reader or for the success of an author’s story reaching as many people as possible.

KD: I do wish you all the best in the future. Certainly has been a real pleasure Talk with you Elgon. That is where we conclude this Interview.

Link to Ken’s Amazon Author’s Page:

http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Donaldson/e/B00E6Y02E0

Link to Elgon’s Amazon Author’s Page:

http://www.amazon.com/Elgon-Williams/e/B001K8TYXU

#Interview #ElgonWilliams #KenDonaldson #Writing #Authors

 

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Success And Failure In Writing

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Over the course of my working life I’ve acquired a pretty thick skin with regard to being rejected. That’s a good thing to acquire if you’re going to write – a thick skin. And you need to get used to being rejected. It happens a lot. As anyone who has worked in sales learns not to take ‘no’ personally, you have to understand that ‘no’ often means ‘not yet’. Some might state that as ‘no’ doesn’t really mean ‘no’ as they refuse to ever take it for an answer. It’s part of the mindset of countering rejection. Like a persistent, pestering five-year-old they refuse to give up on their heart’s desire. Like a hungry bulldog on a piece of raw meat they…well, you get the idea.

I was never all that excessive as a salesperson and that is probably why I was only moderately successful at it.

I had no trouble selling something I believed in or liked, though. Those things usually sell themselves. Just explain the features and benefits but have a sales ticket handy to close the deal. Things like that, the easy sells, don’t pay top commissions because less effort is required. Selling some unnecessary something to someone who doesn’t want it is what pays the most. And something someone doesn’t want pretty much defines that book you just wrote, especially if you’re an obscure first timer.

I know you don’t want to accept that, but it is the truth. And despite knowing that greed is one of the seven deadly sins, some of us are greedy. So you want to become rich and famous as a best seller author. Otherwise, why go through the agonizing experience of spending years writing a book and another year or two getting it published just to have no one want to buy it? We’re taught from an early age that this is a material world and one’s success or failure is often measured in terms of possessions and accumulated wealth. We sell our souls, at least figuratively, to the idea that more is always better when it comes to having ‘things’. The weight of those things and maintaining status becomes our fervent obsession. But is that really why you wrote that book? I mean, be realistic. There much more immediately lucrative endeavors and your time should have been spent pursuing those if, in fact, your overall objective was to become a rich and famous best selling author.

Not everyone makes it. You know that. We all play the game to some extent but usually we give up somewhere short of becoming rich and famous because we realize that we aren’t all that good at playing. A few of us gain some perspective and enlightenment from observing others and witnessing the results. It is almost a bromide that it is better to be unhappy and rich than it is to be unhappy and poor, so we opt out of the system at a point where we find a way of living comfortably between the two. But we are unjust as unhappy as we ever were because whether we are writing or not determined if we, as writers, are happy.

After years of playing the game, succeeding and failing like everyone else who doesn’t write, accumulating stuff that made it difficult to choose leaving high-paying, bad jobs with abusive working conditions, I gave up nearly everything I have in order to pursue writing. In retrospect I should have done it long before. I couldn’t have ended up any worse off. Perhaps it was wrong to do what I did for so many years, opting to be practical instead of pursuing my dreams. But the past couple of years I have learned how very little a human being truly needs in order to survive.

Yeah, I’m not rich. I don’t really need to be rich nor do I want to be. I’m pretty content having just enough. In the rankings of the rat race I’m poor. But as I refuse to participate in that competition what difference does it make. I’m not out to impress anyone with a flashy car, a big house, expensive clothes, watches and gadgets. Everything I have, except for my bicycle, will fit in the truck of a car. Imagine that! I have little stress in my life other than what I determine is necessary. I have goals that I set for myself but they are attainable and I am responsible to very few others. I have a couple of part time jobs to help cover expenses. Otherwise, what I do is write. That’s important knowledge and pretty radical in this material world, right?

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Thirteen years ago when my first book was published I wanted it to be best seller. I promoted it amongst my friends, coworkers, relatives, people I had known in the past, neighbors and even total strangers. I personally handed it to book critics who didn’t want to read it just because it wasn’t validated by some major publisher’s seal of approval. Although I’d signed on with a small publisher that won’t good enough. They equated that with using a vanity press even though I had not paid to be published.

I drove miles from where I lived to pitch my novel at bookstores. I donated copies ot local libraries. I attended fairs and conferences to pitch my wares. I sold a few copies. Moreover I learned something very valuable from the experience. Other than me and maybe my immediate family, no one cared about the book I’d just published. It was immaterial that I’d spend years writing it, that I’d spent countless hours revising, editing, and everything else involved in just getting it to a publisher. It was inconsecquential that I’d spent another two years working the book through the production process just to finally hold a copy of it in my hands. I signed a few autographs – on the off chance I ever became famous – and some people read it and gave me their feedback. The book was a first in more ways than one. It was enlightening to learn that hardest part of publishing a book was actually getting anyone to buy it.

As crazy as it may sound, part of the realization in my situation back then was that the true objective of a writer is to be read. If people decide to purchase a book the writer might earn at living at it. But truly, that is not the objective or writing. I also understood that success for a writer is measured in how many strangers read his or her book and like it, not how many friends, family and acquaintances feel obligated to buy it just because of a level of familiarity.

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So, as much or as little as I have promoted my books over the years, posting things in social media of late, and having scores of people I have known over the years congratulate me on my achievements, I have not sold all that many books to people from my past. That’s fine with me because I completely understand the process now. It’s just weird, isn’t it, having someone you knew when you both had pimples tell you that he or she has written a book. If you happen to read the book do you hear the squeaky voice of that kid you grew up with – that nerdy dude who used to sit off to himself or that shy girl who never spoke much. Why would anyone want to read a book he or she wrote?

My youngest daughter best expressed the sensation of reading one of my books. “It’s kinda creepy hearing your voice in my head as I read.” Okay, enough said. I get it.

When I write, what I compose is intended to be enjoyed, not the source of creepiness. Someone who feels forced to read it out of some obligation borne of friendship or shared genetics probably shouldn’t buy the book. Writers want to make happy readers not tormented souls. When I write I imagine it is for a person I haven’t yet met because I no longer expect anyone I know to read my books. For those of you who know me personally, if you ever read one of my books, I think you may be surprised at what you’ll find. Anyone who knew me way back when I was that weird kid was largely ignored actually had no idea I could string a few words together into something half-way coherent. Now there’s a book or, actually, several. Who would have thought it possible, right?

For all writers whether published or yet aspiring, I offer some advice suitable for having carved into something you could hang above the workspace where you write:

1) Most people you know won’t read your book.
2) Most people you don’t know won’t read your book.
3) Most people won’t care about your book whether or not they know you.
4) Until your book hits the New York Times Best Seller List, most people won’t know or care that you write.
5) After you make it as a writer, some people who buy your book won’t actually bother reading it.
6) But, because you don’t write for any of those people who won’t read your book, why should you care?

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#Writing #ElgonWilliams #FromTheInside #ToTheCloser #OneOverX #ColonialAuthority #TheResurrection #TheAttributes #FriedWindows #Success #Failure #Publishing

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Response To A Challenge: Review Of Fried Windows

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From time to time I review things. Novels, music, concerts, plays and a few off the wall experiences have been fair game in the past. But I have never officially, publicly reviewed any of my own work, until now. I’m doing this on a dare, in response to a personal challenge. I will not post this review of Fried Windows anywhere like Goodreads, Amazon or anywhere else for fear of someone assuming I’m more vain than perhaps I am. I humbly submit this only because I think it might be enlightening to hear the author’s thoughts.

Of course, I’ve read Fried Windows – so many times I’ve lost count, not that I was really trying to keep track. I dare say I have read it more than anyone else ever will. I’ve read previous versions no one else has seen save for a few beta readers. I know what was deleted during the final edits and where the skeletons are hidden. What was removed and replaced in prior revisions now exists only in my memory of the original story. Also, what  triggered the creative process that resulted in the original draft is part of the story of my recent life. I’ve shared some of these insights in the past, of how I left a bad situation that was killing me and on the way produced a novel. But I have never given the work a formal, critical review.

Here goes:

Fried Windows (In A Light White Sauce) by Elgon Williams is urban fantasy meshed with various other genres including mystery and science fiction. The result is entertaining though the plot, at times, becomes complicated and twisted as the storyteller fuses the various element together and have it make some modicum of sense. Then again, does fantasy need to make sense?

Strawb is the standout supporting character. Her eccentricities are the glue that binds the amalgam, giving necessary cohesion to the storyline. Without her presence Brent, the hero, would drift aimlessly through a fantasy world he barely recalls, bouncing from one experience to the next while trying to piece together the puzzle he made of Lucy’s life.

Lucy is as an innocent child at times. After all, she is disconnected from any real world underpinnings.  This allows her to be free but she also laments what she knows is no longer within her. Brent is as attracted to her as he ever was as a child when she was his imaginary friend. But within his Carlos persona, Brent finds the desire to stay with her in the Inworld nearly irresistible. In the course of remembering things from the past Brent/Carlos realizes he was at least complicit and possibly responsible for what changed  Lucy and why she is trapped in only one world. In the process he appreciates that what he did as well as what he did not do now exposes his real world children to fates similar to Lucy’s.

Despite the seriousness underlying everything, Fried Windows was always intended to be a lot of fun. What if someone offered you a special gift of reconnecting with childhood? It’s a fantasy that perhaps we have all permitted. In a world of mortgages, car payments, bills and responsibilities, what sane person hasn’t wanted to escape for a while? In the background, as Brent experiences being a kid again it alters him. A lot of what he does seems crazy – even to himself. As readers we are left to question what is real and what is not about this curios man and his strange story. What did the mysterious organization called The Program do to him? How much responsibility do they bear for Brent’s apparently tenuous grasp on reality?

At one level we might just as well accept that Brent is bonkers and leave it at that as we go along for the ride of a lifetime. But the possibility that he is not, that what he perceives is a veiled reality that the rest of us ignore, opens endless opportunities for us to explore. And as a writer, exploring unbridled imagination is a way to find artistic expression.

I won’t give any overall star rating to my own work. I find the awarding of stars counter productive, anyway. How can one equate the works of two different authors and determine that both being excellent deserve the same rating. Also, as a reader, there are stories I like better than others but that does not diminish the effort that went into creating the story. No doubt some will find areas that could be improved in Fried Windows. Each of us might write this story differently. But I feel the book does its job, establishing the foundation for what is yet to come as the real world learns more about Brent Woods and his multiple layered fantasy universe.

There, was that so hard? At the risk of seeming self-aggrandizing, I am posting this review. If it comes off as self-promotion, so be it. I would have never written Fried Windows if I did not intend for others to read it. Certainly, I would have never gone through the extended process of publishing it if I did not believe in the story. Whether you buy it as an eBook or paperback, rent it, borrow it or whatever, I hope you enjoy the experience of reading it. I also hope you learn not to assume things about the nature around you. What we believe in is a matter perspective and perception, after all.

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#FriedWindows #ElgonWilliams #author #NewReleaseBooks #MustReadBooks #Writing #BookReview

 

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The Zone – Being Creative On Autopilot

 

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Fried Windows strikes a few chords with a lot of people who read it. What’s interesting is how many different things people take from it. Some have asked me If I planned that, or did I intend for this to be in there. Not wanting to be as evasive as this sounds, the answer is yes and no.

Any author of fiction will tell you about his or her method of writing – where and when they do it, and what the experience is like. For some it is scheduled at a certain time of the day. For others it is more spontaneous and serendipitous Others will tell you about being in The Zone.

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It’s a place that, if you’re lucky, you get to where the words flow well and almost everything you write is pretty darned close to perfect and magical in the first rough draft. No, it doesn’t last for more than a couple of hours or  maybe four. When you emerge from the state you are drained and pretty-much unable to write anything else. But what you’ve written is a keeper.

That’s not to say it might need some revision. It’s not to say that something else might need to connect with it to complete the vision you wish to convey. But you know you won’t discard what you just wrote. It is good enough that even in a raw state you just feel there is something special about it. It shines.

Maybe if you stayed in The Zone all the time you’d burn out or wind up a babbling idiot – not that I’m not getting there for other reasons. I believe writers and other artists can force their minds into an alpha wave state similar to dreaming but do it while conscious and functioning. While there we lose track of everything else and the creative energies of the universe flow through us.

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Okay, that’s out there. I’ll grant that. But I know there are some artistic folks reading this nodding their head right now

What separates authors from writers is the ability to find The Zone on a fairly regular basis. For a while, because of a lot of other issues in my daily existence (I won’t call it a life because it certainly didn’t merit being called that) I drank in order to get there. I believe other artists use drugs or alcohol to read a near meditative state of consciousness. Others can find it in different ways. When I wrote Fried Windows, for example, I had quit drinking. In response to a personal challenge I wrote a poem and from that exercise I reconnected wight he feelings and sensations of being a child. Also, I relayed that the child I had been fifty years ago was still there alive and well inside of me.

I’m not saying that a writer can’t produce good stuff worthy of accolades if he or she was not in The one while writing it. It’s just being there kicks things up to another level. When you can  connect with The Zone daily for a period of time what you write has universal appeal. Others will pay attention to it and enjoy in a special way.

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I don’t know if being The Zone is a gift or blessing; it just happens. After a while, if you have been practicing putting your feelings into words and expressing everything you sense in as much detail as possible, you make the connection. Reading the words of other authors who are adept at doing what you strive to achieve will help you get there. But at some point you really must shut out the world around you and allow whatever it is that compels you to write, your inspiration, to drive the process.

Being in The Zone is a high and like a drug it gives you an emotional surge and a physical rush. After you’ve been there you can’t wait to get back there. Connecting regularly with your muse or whatever you term what it is that gives you the experience is something you cannot turn away from. I sort of think that inspiration is only a guide, showing you the way that will lead you to The Zone. It takes some effort and concentration to be creative but that lays the foundation for finding you way top the euphoria of achieving art at a higher level of consciousness.

My mind is far from the adventure land that some may believe it is. I will admit to not being normal and even state proudly that I have never wanted tone considered normal. There are a lot of things going on in my head including fears, self-doubt of unrealized potential and misguided ambitions. In everything I have done in life, though, I have attempted to be the best I could b. Writing has been the only thing I have done that allows me to feel accomplishment without questioning why I did it. I answer to no one else when I write. I do it because I must for my survival as a human being.

A while agoI wrote in this blog about not being in competition with other writers. I truly believe that. Every writer had his or her reason for doing what they do. All that matters is that we write better today than we did yesterday or the day before. If we can continually improve we will eventually write something others will want to read. A part of that is finding the path to The Zone. Once there it’s obvious why we do what we do. It’s like everything else in the world shuts down. We float in our imaginations for hours.

There is are not breaks from the moment of being in The Zone. The phone may ring but it goes unanswered and unacknowledged. Cars drive by outside your house or apartment but no one hears. Anyone with the great misfortune to know and live with you will be ignored. While in The Zone hours elapse that seem like they passed in seconds. The duration is evident from the pages generated and the feeling of satisfaction when the words are read even if you wonder where some of them came from.

The Zone is unlimited and not exclusive to those of us who can dream wide awake. It is a level of heightened awareness that transcends being alert. All artists experience it. I’ve known professional musicians who feel it when they have written hit song, for example. When it comes it seems easy and you wonder how you ever missed making the connection before.

When I wrote the core sixteen short stories that followed the first 5000 words of Fried Windows I had those feelings daily for about a month. At times during the revisions, when I was writing connective pieces and additional story elements, I felt it again. It was like I knew the connection was there and what was emerging was magical, beyond anything I had ever written. That’s why I had no doubt the book will be successful. Everyone who reads it shares the magic that somehow passed through me while I was in The Zone for those periods during its composition

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Fried Windows Comparisons

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I’m flattered when readers compare Fried Windows to The Wizard of Oz or Alice In Wonderland – the original books not the movies. Like those masterpieces the story has a touch of political satire and along with the playfulness there is some dark overtones. Like Dorothy and Alice, Brent is on a quest to discover something about himself as well as what the heck is going on.

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Although the book does not contain offensive language or adult scenes it is not a children’s book. I suppose there are precocious ten year olds who would enjoy the book but I considered the base age group for the story was high school aged. There is a lot going on in the book so I feel it is intended for more developed minds. There is a pule metaphor throughout the book. I think you have to be more mature to notice and resolve the riddles.

I’m a little surprised that people think Fried Windows is a children’s book. Although I have edited some children’s and middle grade books in the past I have never really written anything designed specifically for younger readers. There is a special art to that and I’m not sure I am blessed with it. My next book Becoming Thuperman may be as close as I ever come to writing a Middle Grade or Young Adult book. The main characters are kids discovering they have some super human abilities. What kid doesn’t dream about that. But it’s really not a kids book either.

Ironically, another book that is close to being in production, Spectre of Dammerwald, started out to be a children’s book. I had completed the draft of One Pack, which is now five books. I was working on the draft of The Last Wolfcat, which is now three books. And I was editing a MG book for a friend. I did a detailed substantive edit for him and suggested adding in a couple of chapters to increase the intensity of the climax. As a result the idea was suggested that I should try to write a children’s book. I was at a point in The Last Wolfcat that I realized I needed to know a lot more about the main characters’ pasts, things that happened before One Pack begins. So I set out to do what Tolkien did with The Hobbit, writing a children’s book as a prequel to the trilogy – in my case an octology in progress. So I started writing Spectre Of Dammerwald and about two chapters into the story it was clearly not going to turn into a children’s book. As the inspiration continues it became two books that rounded out the ten books that are The Wolfcat Chronicles.

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Brent, the main character in Fried Windows appears in The Last Wolfcat. Characters from One Over X who are friends with Brent appear in One Pack. Without giving away any secrets, there is a character introduces in Spectre of Dammerwald who is Brent in disguise, but you really don’t find out who that is until later on in the One Over X saga.

Yes, the stories are interconnected in some ways. Even Becoming Thuperman connects to the Brent Universe in a tangential way. In Fifteen Days of Danielle, a story about Brent as a college student, he mentions a cape-less superhero who talked with a lisp – Thuperman. Also in Becoming Thuperman, Will’s mother knew Terry Harper, a physicist who appears in One Over X and The Wolfcat Chronicles as well as some other books, in high school and they stayed in touch for many years after.

In general the supporting characters in one series end up being main characters in another. I figure if you are going to create an alternate universe and populate it with characters, there are billions of individual stories that can be told. I’m working on a few of the stronger associations.

#newreleasebooks #mustreads #friedwindows #ElgonWilliams #fantasy #WizardofOz #AliceInWonderland