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Writer’s Trap! And Getting Used to the Idea of a Draft!

beating-head-against-the-wall

Around page 276 of my second book, I’ve fallen victim to the same snare that held me trapped in chapter one of Sense Memory.  Ultimately, with Sense Memory, I was able to find that shining diamond of advice that allowed me to break free and get back to writing which led to the completion of my first novel.  Now, once again, I’m ensnared.  The troubling thing is…I know better.

It’s no secret among my friends and family and those who have read Sense Memory, that chapter one is a bit, well, awkward.  There are even a few reviews that talk about how if you can just get past the weirdness that is the first chapter, the story picks up and is worth the read.

So, what is the trap that I fell into with that first chapter, and find myself snagged on yet again?

Skipping ahead in the writing process.  I’ve jumped from the keyboard and into my brain.  And that’s no way to write a first draft.

When I was writing Sense Memory, I spent hours, days, weeks…you get the idea…pouring over that first chapter, trying to get it perfect before moving on to the next.  Even when I finally found myself in the middle of chapter five, I would go back and fix what I thought were problems in opening of my book.  I was obsessed with getting right, always with the thought that if I did it right by fixing it from the beginning, there wouldn’t be a need for a third or fourth draft.

Now, that first chapter is the worst/strangest/most confusing part of the book.

I was lucky to find Stephen King’s On Writing at that point, and it turned out to be my saving grace.  His advice on first drafts is the only reason I ever finished Sense Memory.  Well, that and my wife threatening to beat me if I didn’t get that next chapter into her hands in a timely manner.

So here I am.  Two hundred seventy-six pages into my next endeavor and I’m thinking things like…

  • Have I given the protagonist a strong enough need?
  • Am I taking too long to get to the point?
  • Is the action/situation/description in X chapter necessary?
  • Do I have superfluous characters that need to be cut?
  • Should I be closer to the climax than I am at this point?
  • Is my protag even likeable?  Is he consistent?
  • Is my style consistent?
  • Is my dialogue believable?
  • Am I a horrible writer???
  • AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What is the answer to these incessant, soul-crushing questions?

Who cares?  It’s the first draft.  Just write the stupid thing.  Nobody has to read it until I let them. The first draft should be crappy and full of holes.  If it isn’t, I didn’t do it right.

Maybe I should get a tattoo of the words Just Write It plastered across my forehead.

Alright.  Enough self pep-talk at everyone else’s expense.  Time to shut up the voice in my head and listen to my characters again.

Time to Go Write.

 

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Now Available on Smashwords in all e-Formats!

Finally, Sense Memory is available to everyone without a Kindle!  I had promised to have this done by May 20th…and while it’s a bit late, it is up and ready for purchase! 

In honor of this MOMENTOUS event

I am offering

~~FOR ONE WEEK ONLY~~

SenseMemAmazon

For only $0.99 !!!

To get this Fabulously Amazing, Strikingly Unimaginable deal, simply…

Follow this link to the Sense Memory Smashwords page, and enter the following at check-out:

Coupon Code: GZ38A

Offer ends: 7/24

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To Sequel…or not to Sequel?

sequels1Recently, odin1eye at View from Valhalla rebooted his podcast reviewing books or podcast fiction and I was honored to have Sense Memory be the first book reviewed.  As an update to his previous format, odin1eye brought on a guest host to discuss the merits and shortcomings of the book being reviewed and in this episode, the guest was Katharina Bordet, from The Every Photo Tells podcast.

They both had some excellent things to say (complimentary and critical), but there was one specific idea that I felt I needed to flesh out for myself and what better forum than this?   The episode, by the way, can be found here: Talkshoe.com

The concept that was posited by Katharina Bordet had to do with whether or not Sense Memory would be better served by a sequel, or by a series of short stories that existed within the world and characters of Sense Memory.  What an intriguing concept.

I love the idea of exploring further material surrounding Ben, Banquer, and Sonja as short and concise interludes and think this would be an excellent vehicle with which to develop the landscape and enrich the story itself.

However…

While the podcast review of the book brought the hosts to the conclusion that the majority of the loose ends had been tied up and there are not enough threads still tossing in the wind to neccessitate an entire sequel, a sequel is in progress and there is plenty for me to play with and explain in the coming books.  Yes…that would be books, plural.  Sense Memory was originally written with a much grander journey in mind and there are sprinklings of subtle conflict all throughout the book that will soon take root and explode into the beast I intended this story to become.

The idea of writing seperate short stories rather than a sequel is brilliant.  And I absolutely intend to take that advice on the “other project” I’m completing this summer.  This “other” world is much more conducive to the fracturing and mining that short works thrive on.  I’m not trying to be purposefully over-vague…okay, yes I am.  But you can watch the progress on this “other” story in the meter in the right side bar.  It is labeled “Sub Ex.”

So, thank you to Katharina Bordet and odin1eye and the View from Valhalla podcast for taking the time to discuss my work and offering your inspired insights.  Even though I may not take your advice on this book, I certainly plan to apply it to the next.

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Sense Memory – FREE DAYS!! Kindle!

May 8th and 9th

Sense Memory is FREE on Amazon Kindle!!!

Click here to get your free copy.

aaa

Want to help get the word out?

I will be facebooking and tweeting the hell out of this!  Feel free, in fact…please…retweet, share the facebook posts, email your friends.  Anything you can do to help me get my book into the kindles of readers everywhere will be amazing and intensely appreciated!

Let’s see how many downloads we can get!  I’ll be tweeting stats along the way, so if you haven’t already, make sure to follow me!

Thank you everyone!

 

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KDP Select and the Nature of Demonology

My take on the Evil Evil Empire of The Deep Dark Amazon

When I decided to release Sense Memory as my first foray into this new and exciting frontier of Independent Authorship, I took a long time deciding how I wanted to put my foot forward.  What color sneakers, brand, size, would I opt for comfort, class, or soles that would tone my butt?  Okay, enough extended metaphor.  I settled on KDP Select.  Figured I’d try it out and see what happens.

The first thing I found was a vast network of people who seem to loathe Amazon for their “predatory” business model and who take real issue with the format of the Kindle’s eReader.  Neither of these things bother me, for several reasons.

First, Amazon is a business.  They want to turn a profit.  Plain and simple.  They are not in a humanitarian industry, their mission statement has nothing to do with saving the world, or even making it a better place.  Although, I do have to say that Christmas shopping has become infinitely less cutthroat in my family and for that I say, “Thank you, Online Market Retailer!”

I have no illusions as a writer choosing to list my book on Amazon first.  I will not get the profit margin that I want, but I am certainly making a higher percentage per sale than I EVER would with a traditional publisher.  I trust in the idea that Amazon wants to make money.  If my book doesn’t sell, they don’t make any money off of me.  So it is in their best interest to help my book sell.  Which brings me to the Select aspect of KDP.

The “demon” that people see in the Select program is the stipulation that your book be sold EXCLUSIVELY through Amazon for each 90 day period in which it is enrolled.  Again…not evil, good business.  I, as a business, would have no interest offering free advertising tools to my clients if my competitors were likely to benefit from that advertising.  Again, not in the business to make people “feel good,” in the business to “make money.”  And the more money Amazon makes, the more money I make.

So, what is the draw?  Why would an author agree to sell in only one of multiple possible market places?

  1. Free days.  A great marketing tool to spread the word about your new book, foster a larger number of reviews, reach an audience who might otherwise never have heard of you, and rise quickly in the rankings making your book more visible to browsing customers.  You get FIVE to use at any point during the 90 day period.
  2. Amazon Prime Library.  Anyone with an Amazon Prime account can download your book for free and you still get paid out of an Amazon Global fund.  For the first period, I actually made more on the “library borrows” than I did on sales.

Okay, sounds cool.  So, what are the drawbacks to the draw?  Well…

  1. Free days.  If you don’t advertise the hell out of your free day, including listing with multiple “free kindle books” websites plenty of weeks in advance, tweeting till your tweeter is about to fall off, and begging all of your friends to share your tweets and facebook posts to the point where they’re ready to unfriend you for life, you will only see a cute little bump in the “free” rankings.  The next day, your normal rankings are…well…normal again and you’ve made one additional sale that you probably would have made anyway.  
  2. Exclusivity.  Once you use your first free day, you’re stuck in the program for a full 90 days.  But really…just be patient and jump out of the program when your time is up.

Alright, got it…But it helps right?  Well, yeah, if you have certain things in place.  Namely, several books available.

Where I see KDP Select really working is in advertising the release of a new book that is part of a series.  If I am able to download a free book that is, say, book three of a thriller series, I am way more likely to buy books one and two so I can feel like I scored with this free download.  To build an audience helps, or to solicit more reviews can also be a great goal with this program and will definitely help in the long run.

My Plan Now…

… is to use my remaining days, lose my friends, break my tweeter, and build as big of an audience as possible.  Then, finish my next book and release it ASAP so that I don’t lose potential secondary readers.  Then write and release the third, fourth, and fifth.  In thirty-five days when my Select is done, Sense Memory will be available everywhere through Smashwords, and I’ll have a print version available.

So while I know that there are major detractors (honestly, almost all of the people I’ve spoken to who loathe Amazon’s KDP Select have either been writers or aspiring writers, so any readers who are simply…well, readers, please weigh in) out there, I DO think that KDP Select has its place.

If you use it right, then it is no longer using you!

Go Write!

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And then…

I’m almost two weeks delinquent in getting new pages to my writer’s group, so I’m sitting here (obviously not doing what I’m supposed to be doing) thinking…do I give them pages from 3/4 of the way through my current project?  That would mean having to explain all of the stuff that happened before the 70,000 word mark or nothing that they read will make sense.

OR…

Do I write chapter one of the sequel to Sense Memory, bringing them in at the beginning of a new work, where instead of having to explaining the backstory that I don’t already infuse in the chapter, I just say…well, read the first book.  Which gets me six additional sales in the process.  Is that smarmy?  I offered to give them free copies and they said no.  I love my writer’s group.

So, I am sitting in the dark, listening to the ocean sound machine in the other room that’s lulling my son to sleep, frothing at the mouth, and getting ready to write the first word, of the first chapter, of the second book in the Benjamin Cady Series.

I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna…

…Go Write. 

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The Audio Version has Arrived!!!

Two really cool things about the audio version of Sense Memory…

It’s AVAILABLE NOW!  and it’s FREE!!

Click here for more info!

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