Friday, September 30, 2011

The Rollout

Starting tomorrow I will be posting a chapter from the book, everyday until the official release on Oct. 15th. 

Tomorrow's offering is the prologue, titled "The Accident."  I hope you enjoy getting to know the characters as much as I do.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Today's Spoiler: The Secret Prologue

As promised earlier, today I am posting part of my "Secret Prologue."  The secret prologue contains some vital back story to some of the most important characters.  This part introduces one of the major baddies in the first book.  None of this is exactly critical to the story, but it does reveal the identity of one mysterious figure you meet later on, and it helps explain the character's motivation, so it is slightly spoilerish.  You have been warned. 

As usual highlight the text to read more.  Hope you enjoy it.

The Secret Prologue
The House of Hokharty-Ra

Hokharty-Ra gently caressed the cheek of his young boy and only child, Hotep.  The five year old was still sleeping in the arms of his mother on their bed.  The boy stirred, and shooed away the hand as if it were a fly and then snuggled back into his beautiful mother’s shoulder and fell back asleep.  The Horus Lock, a long lock of hair on the right side of the boy’s otherwise shaved head fell across his eyes.  Hokharty smiled and gently lifted the lock from his son’s face and laid it neatly to the side.  As he did so he said a prayer. 

“Horus far-sighted, protector and savior, protect my son by this lock of hair.”

He gazed at them both lovingly a while longer then kissed the foreheads of each and got up tied his kilt around his waist and slipped on his sandals.

It was not yet dawn, but the house had to be blessed every morning.  The Chief Magician to the Pharaoh Djoser could of course have servants attend to it, but he never let anyone attend to the important matters.  It was his way.

As he entered the courtyard he passed a cot lying behind some drapes to one side.  Hokharty did not mean to wake the elderly occupant, but he was sitting up from his bed all the same.  Hokharty gently put a hand to the shoulder of the old man, to plead with him not to trouble himself but to rest instead.  The old man only smiled and shook his head, and placed his hand on the hand of Hokharty, his eyes wet.  He would not rest while his master was up.  It was better to be a servant in the house of Hokharty than it was to be a master in the House of Pharaoh.  No slave was ever whipped here or parted from their loved ones, and all who lived in the House of Hokharty-Ra knew that their master would one day be chief amongst his ancestors in halls of the blessed and justified dead.  The old man stood up.  He would be at his master’s side this morning and every morning as long as he was alive.

Hokharty smiled.  The two of them had performed this silent ritual every morning for the last thirty years.  The old man went right away to light the fires before the gods’ statues for burning the incense.  As Hokharty began his prayers, the old man was right there with a tray, holding the precious and fragrant spices and all that they required for the pre-morning blessing in the courtyard.

First they blessed the north and invoked the Goddess Nut, the sky, and Geb, her brother, the earth.  They looked to the Imperishables, the immortal stars that never set beyond the horizon, and said prayers that their house and its occupants would be likewise ever-lasting.
            Then they turned to the east, and offered prayers to a trio of idols, Asari, Usa, & Haru-Ra, The Father, the Mother and the Son, gods of the underworld, life and light and the sun, protectors and saviors.  They asked them to make their house prosperous and safe.
            Then Hokharty turned south and said his own prayer to Set.  His servant never joined him in this prayer and many in his house thought it odd that Hokharty-Ra bothered with the god of destruction and darkness at all but Hokharty was meticulous in all things and never let anything go undone.  The prayer was short and begged that no one in the house today would cause the god any offense.  The old servant held the tray and wrinkled his nose at the idol of Set with its large ears and ponderous long snout, but Hokharty had already turned to the west and the jackal-headed statue of Apnu.
            The statue of Apnu was the largest and most magnificent in his house.  Hokharty smiled.  He always left the god of the dead to the very last, because of all the gods, he was the only one he had ever met.  Hokharty knew that when he died, Apnu would come for him and guide him to the halls of his fathers.
            Hokharty reached for the incense on the tray but the tray was not there.  He turned to see the old servant, but he wasn’t there either.  Hokharty walked to the center of the courtyard.  There in the entrance to the house, the old servant was standing, trembling, shaking his head from side to side while slowly walking backwards.  Hokharty almost went to him, but then he heard…voices,  rough angry voices.  The old servant’s eyes darted to his master and his face implored him to run.  Hokharty didn’t know what to do.  He went to the edge of the courtyard and crouched low beside a pillar out of sight, and pulled the curtains around him. 

From behind the curtains he could see what was happening.  Rough men, low men, filthy and brutish and carrying improvised weapons had entered the house.  Thieves. The guards at the gate were being thrown to the floor.  The old servant was pleading with them.  They were asking for the gold, and the women.  Then they asked about the master of the house.  They were looking for ransom as well.

The old servant told them that the master and his family were gone on a boating trip and would not be home for weeks.  He tried to direct them to the storehouse, stables and kitchens, anything that might divert them from the bedchambers. 

The old servant was loyal to the last.  A sharpened pruning hook struck him in the chest.  The tray hit the floor, its contents spilling everywhere.  Hokharty nearly went to him, but then remembered his wife and young son.  He stayed still and watched them kill his servant, his friend and cursed his cowardice.  The guards were killed as well.  The men pressed on deeper into the house.  They left.   Hokharty ventured forth into the courtyard, staying low and came to the servant’s side.  He was still alive. 
            Hokharty tried to lift him, but the old man resisted.  He was trying to speak, but all that came out of his throat was bloody gurgles.  He could barely move, but his rapidly clouding eyes were frantically darting to one side.  Hokharty couldn’t understand what he was trying to say with his last moments, until he saw the reflection of one of the rough men in the dying man’s eyes.  Hokharty turned just in time for the sharpened hoe to strike his heart.

Dragging his body across the floor Hokharty didn’t know how long he had been unconscious.  The curtains of the courtyard were on fire.  The furnishings were all overturned.  In the distance he could hear the screams of women and children.  For the last several minutes as he clawed his way towards the statue of Apnu, he had been pleading with the god, imploring him to help him, but there was no answer.   The world around him was getting dim.  Why wouldn’t the god answer!  From his earliest days the god said he would never abandon him, but now it was too late.  His strength had left him.  As he stared at the statue of the god he fell face first to the floor, certain he would never get up again, and as his breath left him, he turned his head to the left and looked up into the dark and empty eyes of the statue of Set.


Brad and Beck have done it again.

Candy. Corn Fangs. 

Candy Corn Fangs people!!  I mean seriously. 

What more do you need to get you to click on over to Sweeten Village?!!

It's like the demon love child of Stephen King and Strawberry Shortcake!!  Get over there now!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Spoilers Ahead.

Spoilers!  Some fans dig 'em and some hate 'em.  Whole websites trade in them.  Personally, I'm of two minds on spoilers.  

One, I like surprises.  Who doesn't? (I mean the safe surprises found in fiction and not the "Hey you're fired!' variety.)  Nothing beats a good surprise for elevating heart-rates.  Dropping the elevator floor out from under the reader is a great thrill for writer and reader alike.

Surprise however doesn't mean pulling a rabbit out of your hat.  Anyone can do that.  If a big reveal in a story comes out of nowhere, that isn't a real surprise, it's an hiney pull (Yes I know it's actually called an a** pull but we are g-rated shop here folks!) or maybe a Deux Ex Machina

Anyone can manufacture gimmicks to solve a current problem or situation.  That's like a game of Calvin Ball, where the rules are made up as you go along.  You don't have to be a writer to play that game, you only have to be more inventive than average, but inventiveness, while a good trait for a writer, is not the same as good writing.

A real surprise has to be shocking, but also, inevitable.  That is, once the surprise has been revealed, the reader has to feel a slight bit daft for not seeing it all along.  It should be obvious once reached, but only in retrospect.  You want the reader to shout out "OF COURSE!!" while reading silently, not "HUH?"  If it's the later, than it's the writer's who's failed, not the reader.

To do this well, you have to use foreshadowing or some other literary device, and plant clues all through the book.  Plant too many, and it becomes obvious and dull, like a bad TV mystery where you know who bad guy is going to be because of the melodramatic music cues that go off whenever he comes into the room.  Plant too few and the reader thinks you're just meandering around with no idea where you are going. 

(Of course you could just plant endless clues and make them think you know where you are going but you really don't.  For latest entries in this phenomenon just look up "TV Shows: LOST" or "Children's books: Series of Unfortunate Events.")

Plant just the right amount and the reader gets the double satisfaction of the initial surprise and then rereading the book to find out the clues were there all along.   Like a magician that pulls a great illusion, we don't mind being tricked as long as it is done well.

Surprises of this variety are fun (and difficult) to write.  They take planning.  I have several in my book.  Some surprises are projected from the first line of the prologue, (and some of these surprises won't be resolved 'til several books in! Oy! Writer's tip, for any lengthy epic series, get a notebook and make a timeline, first thing.)  Some are resolved in a chapter or so, but either way, I put them there to keep things interesting. 

BUT... I also like to know things. And I like to know in advance. Sorry, I just can't help it.  Not knowing breeds anxiety and that just makes me edgy in the gut.  Too much edge and I'm practically sick.  Even as an author, who is the master of the universe I'm playing in, I get this feeling. 

(Mild spoiler ahead!) For a book later in the series, I once plotted two characters into the very depths of Hell.  No, I'm not being metaphorical here, I ACTUALLY put them in Hell, fire and brimstone, demons and all that.  And I had NO idea how to get them out.  I feel for these characters.  I can run them into dead ends and down blind alleys all day, throw them against undead and worse monsters as long as I have a way for them to get out, and I know they will be OK.  But I was stuck this time.  I had gotten them to Hell and I had no idea how to get them out.  I was nearly physically sick for a day or two until the solution hit me.  The solution was...sorry, but I'm not quite ready to give that one up just yet.  So I know what it feels like to not know in advance, and it can be quite unpleasant.

Here is where I am of two minds on spoilers then.  Sometimes, knowing the end from the beginning really is better and it doesn't lessen the excitement at all.  I've experienced this both as an author and as a reader.  We all know the Titanic will sink, and that the Astronauts of Apollo 13 will survive, yet that doesn't lessen the emotional intensity one bit.  I could tell you that those characters of mine escape the infernal realm, (and I think I just did) and that may "spoil" it a bit, but the real excitement is in knowing exactly HOW they do it.

When you know the ending in advance, and you still can't look away, that is what we call suspense. When you can give the game away and still keep people reading for another two hundred pages, you know you have them hooked.

It's not the destination, it's getting there that is all the fun.  So sometimes, spoilers don't really "spoil" anything at all, in fact they make it better.  They may lessen the intensity of the big surprise, but it heightens the sense of anticipation all the way there.

A good book, I think, needs both surprises and spoilers.

One is a bucket of cold water in the face, the other is a slow boil, and both have their purpose.

As a writer one wants to balance these two facets of the plot like weights on a scale.  On one hand, the reader needs to know enough of the plot to keep interested and keep forging ahead to the ultimate conflict.  Also, they need to know that if they are reading a book for young adults, particularly a fantasy epic, that the hero, will ultimately triumph. 

He/She may stumble on the way, nearly fail and even go bad for a short time, but ultimately, they must triumph.  Had Harry Potter been killed by Voldemort, or stumbled on a stone and broke his neck on the way to the fight, it wouldn't be an epic, it would have been a cheat, and no one likes a cheat.  You can get away with that kind of thing in "literature" but not in good story-telling. 

Some authors forget that, but I promise I never will.  If I make you fall in love with a character, (of make you love to hate them) I'm going to make sure that character's story arc will have a full and meaningful resolution.  No promises on how that will happen exactly, (Hey, it's a dangerous world, and a dangerous afterlife in my universe too, people are gonna get hurt) but you will never feel cheated.  Trust me.  So in that way, I will "spoil" the plot and spare you any ugly unwanted surprises.

On the other hand, readers need to be smacked in the face with a cold mackerel from time to time, just to keep up the excitement.  Somethings have to be surprises, but they must feel natural, and when I pick up that cold mackerel to smack you with it, you're going to be able to say "Hey, that mackerel was in chapter two!!"  (Let's call it Chekov's Mackerel, shall we? Let's see if we can't make that a meme. Go my minions!  Go!)

So that's a promise too.

So here's what you can expect.  Lots of unexpected firecrackers along the way, and a very big atom bomb of a reveal you really saw coming all along, but couldn't wait to see happen.  Sounds fun huh?

Here's the hard bit though.  That balance between tension and surprise is different for nearly every reader.  Oh, if you split the middle you'll cull out most of your audience, but there will always be some that you bore and some that you annoy, because the truth is your readers will be much, much smarter than you are and will have figured everything out before you even break into the second act.

So how do you build tension for those that really don't like to know the spoilers, and how do you surprise the ones that are just too clever to be fooled?

It's a head-scratcher, but I think I have found the perfect gimmick!  Er...I mean "answer."

My answer is to sprinkle in a few elements in that have clear and HUGE spoilers in them from time to time, but aren't critical to the overall plot.  I also plan to label them in advance, so that if you want you can skip them and come back to them later.  

I call them "Secret Chapters."

Here's how it works.

To every book, there is another "secret" book between the story.  We can call this backstory or world-building, but the truth of the matter is that there are thousands of stories we would love to know about in between the actual story we read.

(The one I'm dying to know is the story of Lilly and James' romance.  Seriously!   How did this stuck up prick jock turn into someone Lilly would go out with?!  I soooo want to know that.)

Anywho, writers often have to "write" these backstories even if they never actually write them, though they usually float around as a collection of notes and impressions rattling around your brain rather than an actual story.

But some of them are just too fabulous not to write down.  So I decided the write them anyway.  Well some of them.  And I wanted my readers to have them too.  The problem with these back-stories is that they give the game away, but I've decided that's ok.

Those of you who are already five steps ahead of me aren't going to be disappointed with a little extra info, and it might make things a little more tense for you to know some of the secrets right from the get-go.  For those of you who really don't want to know...then that's why I'm labeling them "secret" chapters.  None of the main narrative will be impacted by events in the secret chapters.  The story will flow just fine and you can just chose not to read them.

Don't worry, I know you can exercise the willpower.  My brother spent the last three months before the release of Return of the Jedi in a self-imposed media blackout cocoon.  He hardly left his room for weeks and blasted John Denver almost constantly to drown out all possible conversation.  You don't have to go to such extremes.  All you have to do is skip a chapter or two.

Some of these chapters, specifically a prologue and an epilogue, will be in the book, but the rest are going to be posted online.  I'll use the white text on white background trick to hide them from any unwary eyes.

The first will be posted tomorrow.  It's a section from the secret epilogue about the backstory of one of the main villains in the first book, Limbo's Child.  Not something you need to get the rest of the story, but it confirms the identity of one of the other mysterious characters in the story right away.  So a bit spoilerish, but not too bad.

More secret chapters will be coming in the weeks preceding the book's release, and more in the months to follow.

I hope you enjoy it and more importantly, I want your feedback.  How many will read them?  I don't know, but I'm dying to find out.  I secretly suspect that most people will trade a little surprise, for a little more tension, but we'll see.

Monday, September 26, 2011

16 Seconds of Awesome.

These are the new title graphics for the video spots we're doing for Limbo's Child.

I've been told these are only "preliminary."  There are apparently minor defects that are invisible to the average eye but are galling to my graphic designer, Travis.

Well, here they are...tell Travis what you think of them on the Youtube page.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Travis is working on some amazing title graphics for our new video spots, and all I can say is...whoah.

Wait 'til you see it tomorrow.  You'll feel the same.

Update:  Ok, jumped the gun too soon.  (Trav hates it when I do that.) Apparently Trav has this thing called a...what did he call it?  Oh yeah, a "full-time job."  (Braggart.)

So the new snazzy titles will be done at some unspecified time in the future known as "WHEN I (expletive deleted) WELL FEEL LIKE IT!"  Which is apparently standard practice for employees who are paid nothing. 


It's so hard to get good employees-who-are-really-friends-who-owe-you-a-favor-and-will-do-these-things-for-free-out-of-a-sense-of-obligation these days.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Home Stretch

We are nearing the publication date.  As always there are going to be last-minute minor tweaks and adjustments.

For example, all of my readers think that the Amazon Mud Wrestling Championship scene and the chapter of nothing but gratuitous explosions were a bit much and a complete departure form the rest of the book, particularly as none of the characters of the book participate in those events.

Hmm.  Those were always my favorite chapters.  Oh well.  Maybe I can shoehorn them into a sequel.

One doesn't like to second-guess yourself too much and at a certain point you have to cut off the process, and we are nearly there.

We now have a firm publication date, October 15th.

From here on out we are going to be plugging the book full time.

Travis has been working his heart out on the illustrations and a bunch of other multimedia projects to promote the book.

The first ten chapters will be released on the website around the first of the month, in preparation for its e-publication on Oct. 15th.

Please hang with us and tell all your friends.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Fantastic Artist & A Fantastic Series

Travis wanted me to blog this.

Check out this series of digital paintings by the fabulous digital artist alicexz, inspired by the new BBC Sherlock series.

I don't think I need to add this, but the series is worth checking out too.

Scott Westerfield's Goliath!

For those that don't know, I'm a huge fan of Scott Westerfield's Leviathan Series.  The new book, Goliath, comes out today and I can hardly wait to see what happens to Deryn and Alek. 

It's been called "steampunk" but that hardly does it justice.  The separation of the WWI powers into Clankers and Darwinists is pure genius, and if you don't know that that means, you need to read the books.

Behemoth is a fun adventure tale set in Istanbul, but I have to say that Leviathan is one of my all time favorite books.  It has a very simple yet powerful narrative structure.  The chapters alternate between the stories of two very compelling characters, Deryn Sharp, a young girl disguised as a boy, determined to make it in a man's world as a midshipman aboard a flying whale...yes you read that right, and Alek, heir to the Hapsburg empire caught in a conspiracy to kill him and his family and thus start WWI. 

For the whole first book, you know these two are going to come together by the end.  Their meeting is inevitable and yet thrilling despite knowing about it advance.  The ability of the author to foreshadow their eventual meeting to the reader, and yet still make it thrilling and exciting when you arrive is just amazing.  The end is not in doubt, only the details, and you read for the details which are amazing.

I strongly endorse the work.

As I was framing my own book, I wanted it to have that same urgency and inevitability.  I wanted the readers to know from the first pages that my two main characters, Lucy and Nephys, were going to collide by the end of the book, but how they got there, I wanted to leave as a bit of a mystery.

If I managed to capture half of the tension and excitement of Leviathan, than I know I will be a success.

Stop reading and go buy Westerfield's Leviathan series now.

Friday, September 16, 2011


People ask me... (Ok, I hope that one day they will ask me, but no one has so far.)  Where do I get my inspiration?

Well, I look at things like this:
(Warning, disturbing imagery of human specimens in jars.)

and where most people think "ew" I think...wouldn't these things make cool minions?!  That goat with two bodies is adorable!!  That's a ready-made goth metal album cover right there!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Zombie Gingerbread Men?

And Vampire Cupcakes?  With sparkles?!!

Oh yeah, we're down with that.

Check out the webcomic by Beck Seashols and Brad Duncan.  Fun stuff.

Update:  Inadvertantly left off co-creator Brad Duncan.  Fixed now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Death & Meaning

When I started writing a book about Death, I did not have any intent to make a "message" book. I have had friends and loved one die before, so it was not something I had not experienced. But the goal of the book was first to make an interesting fun compelling book that I and other people would like to read. I wanted to write an adventure story, pure and simple.

Adventures thrive on the mysterious and what could be more mysterious than death? The afterlife and underworld seemed like a pretty amazing place to set a young adult novel. And to get the action going, I have to start with a death, the death of a loved one, just to get us to that exotic locale.

That all felt "fine" to me until Sunday when the wife of one of my best friends from grad school sent me a message and asked me to call ASAP. I was nervous. I usually only talked to her husband, my friend, and not her. I guessed beforehand that this meant that the news was not good. It wasn't. My friend, in just his mid forties, died on Friday night of a sudden and massive heart attack.

It was devastating news. He and I had always been good friends and shared many interests. Recently we had found ourselves on opposite sides of the political spectrum so we had bickered endlessly about things that seem utterly meaningless now. What a waste of time that seemed now.

I was particularly touched by his wife's gesture. In the midst of her personal tragedy she reached out to his friends to comfort them. We had a long talk and I hoped I was as much a comfort to her as she was to me, but I don't think so.

Then I hung up the phone and thought. OMG. I've just written a book about death, and not just any book, a lighthearted comic/horror/fantasy adventure young adult novel, where I deliberately rip a mother from a child, just to get the action going on what is largely just a fun and comic yarn. I suddenly had doubts about the whole endeavor. Not whether it was good, but more specifically if it was even right or in good taste in the first place.

One does not wish to be trite about death. You can make it funny, humor is a perfectly reasonable response to absurdity, and let's face it, death can be pretty absurd at times. But though you can treat it with humor, it should never be treated tritely, without meaning.

I've since gone back and re-read the ending and large tracts of the middle as well. I wanted to make sure that though I treated the subject with humor, I did not treat it with contempt. I wanted to make sure that the forced and violent departures and sudden separations felt meaningful, and were not just played cheaply to pull on your heartstrings. I bring people BACK from the dead too, something an author can do just for a cheap plot device, but of course no real human gets that opportunity. I did not what to feel like I was deliberately manipulating or treating casually, the very serious subject of death. I suddenly wanted it to be more than just a good yarn. I wanted it to have meaning.

This is not the first time I had thought of this. Every writer has pretensions that his work will be not just entertaining, but important somehow. I had thought that maybe over the entire series I could craft a greater purpose than just pure fun story-telling, but now, NOW, with the death of my friend, it felt like an insult not to deal with it appropriately in THIS book. Pile on top of this, the rather self-conscious realization that my friend has died, and while his widow's (Widow! I still can't believe it!) first thought was to comfort others, my first thought was to selfishly consider what were the implications of my rather silly and inconsequential novel and you may understand why I was beginning to feel like the whole project was worthless and should be abandoned.

I was am very despondent about this.

My book is not as important as anyone's life. And to think I could create a book of meaning, not just fun, but meaning, on the subject of Death, suddenly seemed pretentious and arrogant. I'm not a prophet or a philosopher. I have no greater information on the topic of death than anyone else. I don't even think my ideas for fiction are particularly novel frankly, I have even less meaningful insights on Death. I just think I can tell a fun story.

Only it can't just be fun anymore. I've decided I can't just abandon the book. That would be defeatist, and frankly, I love the book, and I know that others will love it too. I want to see the same joy in their faces that I get when I read it aloud to my wife. And yet, it can't just be a fun story anymore. It has to be meaningful, without being maudlin or sentimental.  Even if I don't get to the "big reveal" by the end of this book, I at least have to show the reader I've thought about it, and that by the end of the series they can expect that I will say something at least somewhat meaningful and comforting, if not profound (and I have no hopes that I could ever be profound) on the subject of death.

So I am going to re-read and re-edit and re-think the whole thing. If this pushes back the release date a week, a month, or even more, then so be it. I'm not writing about unicorns or space aliens. I can't just fudge it. I chose the venue, and the subject is death. I have to do that some small justice some how, or I will feel like I'm just making money on people's pain. I will keep you posted of course and please send out your prayers to my departed friend Larry and his wife Lisa.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Don't go "Lucas" on me Rowling.

The story of how Lucas went from one of the greatest mythology makers of modern cinema, to an utter laughingstock is amazing. Rowling, if you ever EVER, go Lucas on us and do this to HP, we will hunt you down and kill you.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


When the book is turned into a movie, with high end soundtrack, and this guy decides to do a cover of the main theme...that's when I'll know I've arrived.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Special deal for my early adopters.

First, I want to say a very personal thank you to my three followers.  (Technically I'm the fourth, but that's because Travis runs the site and I wouldn't know what's going on here if I didn't follow my own blog.  I expect that at any time he could turn it into a manga fan site.  Gotta watch that boy.)


No new innovation can make ground without early fans.  I won't bore you with my Econ 101 level knowledge here, but basically, if new widgets don't have a strong group of initial followers, then those new products never get to the larger market.

If there weren't a dedicated core of videophiles willing to pay 10,000 smackeroos for plasma screens back in the early 90s, they wouldn't be selling at Walmart for 800 today.  In economic talk we have a special term for these people.


Of course that's only in the secret econ books bound in human skin.  In the textbooks we give to freshmen we call them "Early Adopters."

Fortunately for you the cost of being an early adopter is cheap, just $1.99, but I don't want to abuse my"Early Adopters" too much, and I hope to make the experience even more worthwhile for them.

"Dance with them that brought ya" my Mom always said.  Wise girl that woman.  (She also said keep the Colt 45's in the fridge and the Colt 44 in the nightstand.  I got those confused once and had to defend myself against an intruder with nothing but a bottle of cheap malt liquor.  It was surprisingly effective, but that's another story.) 

Where was I?  Oh!
So I want to give my followers the best possible intro to the book as I can. 

I'll be posting snippets and sections of the book soon as well as character descriptions .  Travis will be posting more videos and illustrations.  I'll be starting a video blog myself, and we will offer merchandise tie ins and special offers.  How special? 

How does "FREE" hit ya? 

That's right.  I'm going to let my dedicated followers have a crack at the book for free.

How?  Well if this were a dead tree book, the only way I could do it is to sneak into the bookstores in my ninja costume and replace the price tags with ones reading $0.00. ( Either that or just replace the dust jackets with Tori Spelling's new book.  I hear those are going for virtually nothing in large bins labeled "doorstops.")

Now I want you three to know that for you, I'd do it, but through the miracle of e-publishing I can lower the price for a set time and then let you know when that will be without having to dye my pajamas black.

Anyone who is a close follower of the blog can then buy it for the special reduced introductory price of zippo, bupkiss, nada, niente, goose egg, zilch,  but only for a limited time.  After that the price will be raised to the regular price of your eternal soul...wait...that's "Atlas Shrugged." 

My book will normally retail for a measly $1.99, so it's not like I'm saving you THAT much.  Still you could have the book AND a cheap coffee if you take advantage of my limited time offer.  Without that coffee you might fall asleep on your morning commute and swerve into an elementary school crosswalk.  So you see, I'm really doing it...for the children.

So watch the blog and we will let you know when you can pick up your e-book copy of Limbo's Child for pocket lint.  In fact, save the pocket lint and knit yourself a sweater with it instead while you read the book.

I only ask that once you read it, you share it with all your friends and tell them what a great book it is.

Thanks again, and sincerely, without the snark...Thank you for following.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Friends let Friends Network on Their Webpage

(Travis Here) The above title was posted above a list of links to other artist's websites on my friend Ian Walker's website.


Done and done friend.

Monday, September 5, 2011

It Ain't About the Money

Years ago I worked in marketing.   I know, I know...10,000 years in purgatory being forced to eat and drink the crappy products I forced on my victims.  (I feel most guilty about using cartoon taxi cabs to get seniors to spend more in casinos.  Long story.)

Anywho...the company I worked for was very corporate.  We made, amongst other things, signage, meters, and space age time clocks with lasers and bar codes.  Ironically, we still punched in on a time clock that looked like it was the best soviet model of 1949. 

It was the one and only job where I worked on the clock.  Strangely, as a child I always wanted to work on a clock.  George Jetson punched a clock, and so did Fred Flinstone (although his was at least a cool dinosaur..)  Punching a clock was somehow evidence of being a grown up.  Of course, I hated it.  I felt like a machine and I was treated as a machine. 

I found a smaller leaner company, less than 20 employees, doing something similar.  I jumped.  In the exit interview, my supervisor started with the only thing that made sense to him.

"It's the money isn't it?"

Let me say that if it takes until your employee leaving before you think of this, it's just too late, but more importantly, it wasn't.  The new job was longer hours, less pay.  Try as hard as he could, my supe just couldn't wrap his head around why I was leaving.  He nearly spent an hour begging me to stay.  That, my friends, was the only time I ever found out I was valuable to the company.  But it wasn't about the money.  I wanted to work on better computers, with people who didn't operate under the principle of CYA.  (Cover Your A** to any newbies out there.)

I wanted to forge my own destiny with a young crowd, and boy were they young.  My new supervisor was younger than me and straight out of high school, but he knew his stuff.  I wasn't there long.  Just a year before I took off on another adventure.  Graduate School.  that job probably gave me the resolve and courage to try and when I left the new company, they didn't stand around cluelessly wondering why I was doing it when there was no money in it.  Instead they practically tipped me out of the nest and said "Go fly!"  (In the best possible sense of course.)  It was a great company.  The company's long since been sold off by now, but I do wonder where they all ended up, but I know it wasn't in some corporate machine.

Trying to explain to someone who's only idea of success is money that money isn't everything is a futile effort.

But this video comes as close as I've seen to explaining it.

I do have hopes that my writing career will be successful, even monetarily, but that ain't why I'm doing it.

The Self Publisher's Manifesto

Another great post by the inestimable Sarah Hoyt.

Read the whole thing as they say, but here's the money graf:

There is technology that allows us to tell the publishers, “Scr*w you guys, I’m going Indie.” Yeah, it’s in its infancy, it won’t support most of us, yet, but it’s already having an impact. And that means that for the first time we have some power on our side as well.
Every writer who can should at least have one or two Indie books, just to strengthen that transition, and to dip his/her toe in the pool and see what it’s like. Every writer should inform himself of this transition.

And we can help each other.  Some of us are better at book design than others, others at plotting.  We can pool what we have and get by the rest of the way on grit.

Let's make it happen.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hoyt responds to crowd-sourcing fiction

Well I couldn't be more flattered.

Hoyt responded in depth to my earlier post on crowd-sourcing editing. 

I think she misunderstood my original post, but heck, everything she writes is worth reading, especially her books, so go read them.  Heck, go BUY them.

Darkship Thieves. Haven't read this one myself, but people are raving.

Friday, September 2, 2011

More than a Feeling

It's hard to explain the excitement of seeing the book come together.

Whether it's a flop or whether it's a hit, I'll be writing in this world for years to come.

Over the next few weeks as we get close to the roll out, I will be updating video blogs about my inspiration and how the book came together.

The first inspiration is this classic from Boston. (The reasons why will become self-explanatory once you read the book.)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Crowd Source Editing?

Sarah Hoyt, author and blogger has an excellent post on the differences between editing and proofing.

A critical read for every aspiring author.

Basically proofing is correcting typos, common grammar mistakes and the like. It's a facial and a new hair do. Editing is major cosmetic surgery. A good editor knows how far or how deep to cut and where it has to be stitched back together.

I have had the novel "finished" for some time now, in the sense that the story is over, the plot resolved, the characters have traveled their emotional arc, but like building furniture, all the pieces may be together but it isn't finished yet. It needs another fourteen layers of lacquer and polish, which usually takes as much or more time as building the darn thing in the first place. And often you have to wait for long times to let one coat of varnish dry and set before the next can be applied. In writing you have to wait for things to gel and set before you can tell what's wrong with it. Errors that you are oblivious to today become glaringly obvious six months down the road, as any voter disappointed in a candidate understands.

This is a soul-killing process and very frustrating.

Your characters are very much your family and making major alterations to their lives feels like going to your own living children and saying, "You're too short...grow up some more!" Characters are like living organic things, they don't want to take orders or change, but sometimes you have to insist, and sometimes you have to send them to fictional nirvana by removing them from existence.

So you labor for months to fix what took years to write, or worse, dither endlessly uncertain of what to cut or what to change. I am currently in what my wife calls "hand-slapping" stage. That's the stage where you have to slap the hand of your children to keep them from picking at a scab. Editing is as much about knowing when to stop as when to start.

There's nothing wrong with the novel, but I can't resist the urge to tinker, but eventually you tinker so much in one area you have to open whole other plot lines that have long been settled. So you end up changing stuff that need not be changed, until you've rewritten the whole thing again, which of course, demands another rigorous editing session. Lather. Rinse. Repeat until you put your head in an oven. This is why we set a firm release date for the book, to prevent this kind of work-crushing self-kibbitzing. Set it and forget it after that.

But maybe there is a better way.

Here's where I think e-publishing has an answer...kinda.

In dead tree publishing the thing has to be "set," at one point in time. This was once literal. A typesetter had to set the type before production. This means that editing ends when the typesetter starts his craft and begins loading those tiny little metal metal mirror letters into the tray. The technology changed over the years but it was still the same, nothing could be printed until the text was finished. In the digital age however, the editing can continue even after the publishing.

On Kindle, I can update my work, trim it, and fix the embarrassing typos should any slip in, but I can also continue to edit story, ideas, characters, updating them constantly if I so wish long after it's been published.

If the book isn't selling, or if I get comments that one chapter drags, I can edit it. If they think the cover really doesn't tell what's inside, I can change it. I enter into a dialogue with my customers about the final product, improving it with each round. I used to work in marketing and this is exactly how the process worked in advertising. If an ad wasn't selling, we didn't wait for it to find an audience. We killed it and moved on, changing or updating the sell until it...well...sold. The same could apply to fiction.

The person who bought my book this week may get a slightly different book than the guy who bought one last week. The newer book would be presumably better. We are already used to lots of products being updated, why not fiction? We could see a future of endless feedback, using the crowd to beta test our work. Why have two or three first readers when you could potentially crowd source it and have hundreds? You might even release the work rough at a lower price to encourage these early adopters. Then take their advice and put on a few more coats of varnish later.

(Bad news for freelance editors if this takes off, but hey, I used to work in slide libraries as a visual resource consultant, a job that doesn't exist anymore thanks to digital images, so dem's the breaks kid.)

In theory, a work might never actually be "done" in the traditional sense, but might be constantly evolving.

At some point this would probably be pretty ridiculous. I'm sure that an endless series of edits, though it might thrill some avant garde types, is a pretty good recipe for a lousy book. However, maybe we take on too much control and need to trust and grow with our fans. All authors do this, but they do it over the course of several books. Now with e-publishing, they can do it over a single book!

I'm not advocating putting up just any rickety piece of crap. An author would ruin his reputation that way, but if you do solid work, then why not let them see you put the final touches on it?

At some point the author must assert control, but right now I'm looking at this piece of furniture. It feels solid and smooth, and sanded. Nothing wobbles, and I'm thinking I'm going to skip the 18 layers of french polish and just rub it down with linseed oil and send it on to the customer and see how they like it. I can always add a touch of varnish later if they want it.