Authors Life, Publishing, Writing

Holding onto a Dream

I suppose waxing philosophical is natural when a milestone is reached, but I tend to be a quiet observer. If you’re expecting a boisterous blowhard pontificating pompous bombast or boring people with flowery fluff, that’s not me. I write a bit, though. Fortunately, I have editors to ground me and help make sense of my ramblings that eventually make it onto a printed page.

There is nothing else like this feeling.

My love of writing compels me in a way that no previous endeavor in life ever has. The physical execution of the process consumes a portion of each day, but truth be known, I am writing all the time, even when I rest, and always when I dream. In fact, a writer is never not writing. Even while suffering from writer’s block, a writer is still engaged in the creative process, whether it is realized or not.

Yesterday, I received a physical copy of the third book I’ve published since signing with Pandamoon Publishing. I published a few others before becoming a Panda, a couple of self-published things, and a pair of works released through another, now defunct, small publisher. Personally, I don’t consider those in my totals anymore. There will come a time when I revisit them as newly minted manuscripts, heavily revised and reborn, because the stories within are important and tie into the overall creative universe that has spawned Fried Windows and The Thuperman Trilogy. But I never recommend them, despite that there are copies of them floating around. You see, publishing is a thing that cannot be undone, especially once an ISBN number is assigned. But One Over X served a developmental purpose for me as an author. It granted me insight into the publishing business and book marketing. And it established a foundation that produced an ambitious project that occupied my time for better than seven years. That series has yet to be published, but I learned many necessary lessons from creating The Wolfcat Chronicles.

I was a different kind of writer twenty years ago when I was working on my first manuscript. My processes and the quality of what I produce has changed, for the better, I think. My stories ramble less. They have coherent structure. The dialog is more realistic, which is always a challenge when you write fantasy. The characters have lives to which readers can relate. All of that was acquired through the processes of learning to write, something that one must teach to self.

A friend and fellow author told me that anyone can dream only to have it evaporate into the mist of morning wakefulness, but an author can capture a dream and give it physical substance. There is a lot of truth in that. And I’m reminded of it each time I hold one of my books. It takes weeks, months and sometimes years to compose a manuscript. It takes courage to send it in raw form to beta readers to test the viability of its story. More months pass in revisions based on feedback received and then several more months pass while the manuscript is edited. Dressing it up into a pretty cover and testing the nearly finished version of the story with advance readers who will hopefully offer some reviews is the next step in the publishing process. And then the book arrives, launched upon a largely unsuspecting world that, for the most part, does not read books anymore.

On the surface, writing professionally does not make sense. For nearly all of us who do it, it will never pay the bills. But there is satisfaction at the conclusion of each journey when you hold one of your dreams in your hands.         

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Two Weeks from Today

The launch of Homer Underby, Book 2 of The Thuperman Trilogy, is set for August 14. It continues the story of Will and Sandra, two precocious 8-year-old kids with active imaginations and budding superpowers. The story picks up where Becoming Thuperman, Book 1 of the series, left off. Sandra is grounded. Although Will is not, having his best friend unavailable is like being grounded. All they can do is wait until Saturday. If they win the first Little League game of the season Sandra’s grounding is over. But a new adventure is just beginning as the kids learn about a 20-year-old unsolved mystery involving the deserted old house down the street from where they live.

Homer Underby is a Pandamoon Publishing release available for pre-order at Amazon.

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Another Update On The Wolfcat Chronicles

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(Drawing by Amanda Williams, my daughter, depicting the Wolfcat Ela’na from The Wolfcat Chronicles)

Revisions of manuscripts may start out with lofty ambitions, reducing word count, removing redundancies, and identifying any substantive errors prior to sending it to a publisher. Results vary.

Twenty chapters, roughly 60% of the way  into the current revision of book one of The Wolfcat Chronicles I can promise I have deleted a lot of stuff that wasn’t necessary to the story but I’ve also added in just as much to clarify or enhance what was already there. Overall it is an improvement. The story reads better and the pacing is quicker. I’ve also managed to bring out more details about the principal characters. I’m calling the effort a success…so far.

For the dozens or so people who have read early drafts, the essence of the story line is in tact. Most of what I have removed was material added in to remind me as I wrote about other things. It’s a quirky thing I do in telling a story. You see, since it always takes longer to write something than it does to read it a writer has to put in little mnemonic cues or use some system to refresh details about characters and previous events told in the course of the story. Remember I wrote this with using a word processor program, which honestly is not the best way to compose anything of novel length. Also, since the book begins a series what happens affects everything that follows. So, somehow I had to keep all those little things in mind while I wrote the various manuscripts. There are programs available now that didn’t exist ten to fifteen years ago when I was first drafting this story. It’s easier for a writer to use something like Scrivener to keep things organized as he or she writes.

My present plan is to revise each of the books in the series in order and present them to my publisher so they can be added to the overall production plan that, of course, includes the works of other authors. So I can’t say for certain when the books will appear. I’m hoping that the first couple of books will be out by Summer or Fall of next year. The following year I’d like to see the next five books with the final three coming out in 2017. The last three need more revision than the first seven. For one thing I have to rewrite the last several chapters of the last book. I want to make it clearer what happens and how it connects into the rest of the universe I’ve created in my fiction, including Fried Windows and One Over X.

I expect to finish writing the sequels to Fried Windows and my next book, Becoming Thuperman (due out in January 2015) during the next year. So those books should also appear in the 2015 or 2016 production calendar. That’s up to my publisher and whenever I finish the manuscripts and submit them. Once my books are under contract and through the substantive editing process I should be able to give a better idea of a release date for them.

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#writing #authors #NewReleaseBooks #revisions #ProductionCalendar #TheWolfcatChronicles

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About an ARC I Just Read – Then Back to Revision

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The past day or so I’ve been juggling a couple of things. First I upgraded to OS X Yosemite (which is Mac OS 10.10 for those geeks wanting to keep track). That proved to be an adventure on my old clunker of a MacBook Pro, vintage late-2007. Amazingly it runs the latest software and isn’t much slower than it was running Mavericks (the previous OS X version). I still need more memory but largely I think everything is working properly now after a day of testing and troubleshooting and downloading some updates for this and that. One that that impressed me immediately was that the install takes up considerably less space on my hard drive than Mavericks or its predecessor Mountain Lion.

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Somewhere in all that process I received an email from my editor asking if I wanted to proof read the ARC of Jeff Messick’s debut novel, Knights Of The Shield. Of course I did. Actually I’ve been waiting to read it. I started in on it immediately, using my iPad because at the time I was still installing Yosemite. Late Thursday night when the install was completed I switch to my computer so I could make notes and comments on the book. I pretty much read it straight through with only Thursday night’s nap and a brief nap last night as interruptions. It took slightly longer for the read as I was looking for any mistakes – there were few which is always a good sign. So, yes, it was a quick read.

The story is kind of a quirky paranormal police drama about a hard boiled homicide detective who survives a new partner who is, by the way, a computer geek, but nearly dies in the process. He makes a deal with the All Mighty to spare his life and winds up with yet a second new partner. This one happens to be one of his distant cousins, a thousand or so years removed, and a knight at that.

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The book is about honor and perceptions of the world. It’s also about politics, corruption, deception and how love pretty much trumps everything. I liked it a lot. I’ll be writing a review on it in the next few days. But be on the look out for it. It launches on November 11, 2014. Like me, Jeff is a veteran, so releasing his book on Veterans Day is somewhat fitting.

Today I work my day job. Tonight I’ll jump back into the revision of The Spectre’s Warning, book one of The Wolfcat Chronicles. I paused at Chapter 10.

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A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post – Coming September 30

One week from today A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post will be available from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. You can still pre-order so that you will automatically receive your Kindle download the moment it is released.

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A little over a year ago I met Steph at and online get together for Pandamoon Publishing. We are both part of a select group, what I’m sure will someday be referred to as the ‘First Gen’ Pandas. In the past few months I’ve gotten the chance to get to know her and work with her on a few projects as well as interact with her in conference calls and meetings. We have interviewed one another and and shared ideas on a number of topics related to writing. She has to be one of the nicest people I know. Having read A Tree Born Crooked a couple of times, now, I’m in awe of her skill as a writer.

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She is one of the rare one-third of Floridians who are native, born in St. Augustine and raised in the land of contrast: beaches and swamps, pine trees and palms, sunbathers and sunburn, alligators and ‘crackers’…well, you get the idea. Currently she teaches at a high school for the performing arts in the west central portion of the state, is married and plays mom to a couple of very cute dogs. She is obsessed with the TV show Justified and is extremely supportive of other authors and their work.

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Her book is about the side of Florida that people may not see all that often but that doesn’t mean it’s not here. She writes in a style that is authentic to her roots developing memorable characters.

“James Hart, with a tough-as-nails exterior and an aching emptiness inside, does not want to go home. Yet when James receives a postcard from his mother, Birdie Mae, informing him of his father’s death, he bites the bullet and returns to the rural and stagnant town of Crystal Springs, Florida, a place where dreams are born to die. James is too late for Orville’s funeral, but just in time to become ensnared in the deadly repercussions of his younger brother Rabbit’s life of petty crime. When Rabbit is double crossed by his cousin in a robbery-turned-murder, James and a local bartender, the unsettling and alluring Marlena Bell, must come up with a plan to save Rabbit’s skin. A whirlwind road trip across the desolate Florida panhandle ensues as James tries to stay one step ahead of the vengeful Alligator Mafia and keep his brother alive. With bullets in the air and the ghosts of heartache, betrayal and unspeakable rage haunting him at every turn, James must decide just how much he is willing to risk to protect his family and find a way home.”

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#StephPost #ATreeBornCrooked #NewReleaseBooks #Florida #GritLit

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A Writer’s Vicarious Experience

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There are milestones in everyone’s life. For a writer those are inflection points, like the decision somewhere align the line to pursue writing in a serious way. Finishing a manuscript has to rank pretty high among a writer’s personal achievements. Having a publisher accept a manuscript for publication is well up the list too. But I believe the excitement of holding a printed copy of my first book in my hands was a transcending moment eclipsing all others to enter the realm or overall accomplishments like hold a child for the first time. Yeah, it’s like that.

As with one’s first child, it is an unforgettable experience but also one revisited with similar subsequent events. Books really are like children except the nurturing period may not be quite as long before turning one loose on the unsuspecting world. I can tell you what its like to hold a copy of a book you toiled over for months or years but is truly is something that until you experience it you cannot fully comprehend.

There is a certain level of immortality that goes with publishing something. Of course the life of a book depends on its success in the market place and whether it is available in bookstores and libraries swell as online. A lot of that comes after the fact and it requires an author to be a salesperson, something that is not quite a natural fit for the stereotypical reserved, reclusive sort writers are purported to be.

Over the next few weeks a couple of my friends are releasing books. Now, I’ve had several friends and acquaintances int he writing community release books over the past couple of years and I’ve been pretty supportive of their efforts to get the word out about their books. But I think the next two books present events I may experience vicariously because I am working at their publicist. The two young ladies are as different as the poles on the national political magnet, as if their writing styles and the genres of their books. And yet, I both of these books have story lines that I believe will be the key selling points. So I expect good things int he weeks and months to come for both ladies.

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Christine Gabriel’s Crimson Forest is the first of a series. We know the name of the sequel so far, Crimson Moon and that the second book is coming out in the Spring of 2015. It is a Young Adult / New Adult Paranormal Romance with elements of action, adventure and mystery as well as a goodly amount of strangeness – what more could you ask for? The characters are endearing or despicable depending on what they do int he story. And there are a lot of surprises along the way. Nothing is exactly what it seems. Inside the Crimson Forest the world had different rules. I read in in two days. It’s that sort of story. You want and need to find out how it is resolved. And there is a resolution before a hook that leads into the sequel.I’ll be posting a review in the next day or two.

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Steph Post’s A Tree Born Crooked is a stand alone novel in the Country Noir genre. If you don’t know what that is, let me explain a little about the book. First, expect critical acclaim for this one. Steph is that kind of writer. It’s a slice of southern life delivered with a chainsaw. The characters are gritty and realistic, the sort of people you see int he small out of the way stops along the Interstate as you drive from south Florida on your way North to a world that makes more sense to Yankees. The characters are memorable and the situations and hair brained schemes might be amusing if they didn’t have such serious and potentially deadly consequences. I posted a review for the novel back in March.

I’m as excited about these two releases as if they books were my own because, in a way, I’ve helped in gaining the authors some exposure for their work. Last night I was privileged to see the covers. Crimson Moon’s cover is pretty much a final that will be revealed in aa few days. A Tree Born Crooked’s cover is a late version. It needs the author’s final blessing. Expect a reveal on that one in a couple of weeks. Feeling the excitement of both authors as they reacted to their covers was a special experience for me. And I know both ladies will remember the moment as well.

Still, I’ll be waiting for the text message with a selfie attached when each of them receives her complimentary copies of their books. Yeah, happy dance time for certain. I may get out of my easy chair and share the moment with them.

#books #publishing #ChristineGabriel #StephPost #ATreeBornCrooked #CrimsonForest #NewReleaseBooks #MustReads

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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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