Thursday, July 28, 2011

Setback with Book #2

For obvious reasons, I won't get into serious details about the problems with Avarice, which will be my second novel and the second book in the Oak Villa Series. Long story short, a great deal of the story after the halfway point of the novel wasn't working and felt like I was repeating a lot from my first book, Coercion. I tried fixing the problem for a week and realized that the only way to fix the book altogether was to return to the cipher--the point of origin where things started to slowly fall off the rails--and begin again. So, in other words, I lost over a hundred pages--about a month's worth of work.

While the book needs some major adjustments, I will be able to keep a fair amount of scenes in some form or another. It wasn't the scenes themselves that were the problem--there were actually a few very good ones, if I may be so bold--but the overall arc stopped working. Didn't help that I thought the book would be three parts of 13 chapters, then two parts of 20, and finally two parts of 17 chapters each (don't ask for any symbolic meaning because there isn't any. Take that shit you learned in English class and shove it down your throat). Structure and balance are vital, in my mind, to a story, and this book was losing both along with the story's coherence. This was the only way out even though it kills me inside to excise so much material because of my foolishness and arrogance.

So, with that, Avarice will likely be released in late September/early October, provided my artist (TBD) finishes on time. I'm hoping to have the book done by September 1 so I can handle the final story and formatting edits and maybe work on a novella or something. Been kicking a few ideas around. Though if my personal life gets extremely hectic (which it almost certainly will) , September 1 might be optimistic.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lessons I've Learned From My First Book Publishing (So Far)

For many, it's just the idea of making that first step and actually getting published. That was part of the goal for me, I suppose, but it is more of a way to help realize my eventual dream of being able to write for a living, which is only really possible for a select few. Stacked odds, I suppose, but it beats the shit out of working retail for living (which I have done in the past, and it is the pits). Publishing my first book, Coercion, has been a real trial by fire and I've learned plenty of lessons that I will certainly apply when it comes to my second novel Avarice and future projects.

1. Have artwork ready in advance. This is what kept my book from being published sooner than it was. I'd hoped for an April 30 release, but delays and excuses from my original artist kept me shackled so I had to look elsewhere. Then again, part of this is also due to the fact that I wrote the book in summer and fall of 2010 and had been hoping a literary agent would take me in. 20 rejections later and after reading about the advent of e-publishing as a viable (though challenging) tool, I decided to give it a shot. I hope to have an artist ready to roll soon and have the project done around the same time I'm done with my book, which should be around September 1. That's the hope. It will also be a different artist this time, mainly because my artist for Coercion lacks experience with color and I want some color this time because it goes well with the preliminary image I have in mind.

2. Cast the net wide from the start. I initially published through just Smashwords, figuring it would be out to all the major ebook publishers within a few weeks. How naive. This time I'm likely going to use a few different  publishers all at the same time and go for a more simultaneous release. That means not just smashwords but others, too. Try and hit the ground with a little momentum on my side (I hope).

3. Be ready for more disappointment. This seems a bit cruel, but it's the only way to function. The idea that I'm going to hit the jackpot overnight is ludicrous. Just gotta keep doing what I've been doing. Networking, promoting, and doing whatever it is I can to get the word out there. Means more disappointment, but maybe it'll eventually turn into something great.

All I can do is hope.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Harry Potter Coda

Let's get one thing out of the way: I have never read a single Harry Potter novel. Not because I dislike them or have a passionate anti-Christian fervor or whatever it is that gets people to dislike them (all my vitriol is saved for Twilight), but because I don't care much for fantasy novels. They're not my thing. Sci-fi isn't, either. That's not to say I've never read a fantasy book and wound up being entertained. For example, I did enjoy Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I recognize good writing and good prose and good storytelling when I see it and that is universal, regardless of the genre.

I read fifty or so pages of the first book, Sorcerer's Stone, a while back. It didn't wow me or impress me and I more or less let it go. That said, it is easy to see why readers gravitated to the novels. J.K. Rowling does a very good job of playing to the universal themes of someone discovering their destiny, learning who they are as a person, and everything that was more or less present in Star Wars. Like the aforementioned, Rowling brings an element of the supernatural and has a vivid fervor in her to write the stories, which is something you can't deny.

The books and movies have been enormously successful because of the continuing quality of both products. Will they last the test of time? Maybe. Certainly our lifetimes. After that? Hard to say. Like anything else in history, only the rare few survive to be remembered.

After more than a decade, it is all over. It seems strange, but there it is. There's been talk of Rowling writing an eighth book. I say that is a colossal mistake. As I understand it, she said everything she needed to say. Only reason she would write an eighth is for money. Fans might want it now, but then you have to listen to them bitch. Remember the prequel trilogy for Star Wars and the fourth Indiana Jones movie?

Thought so.

Let Harry rest. For the millions and millions of fans out there, it was one hell of a ride.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

July Update/Details on Second Book

First and foremost, Coercion is slowly reaching the mass market. Smashwords, after more than two weeks, finally gave it premium status and just this week the book is now starting to enter the market. It will be available for Apple products and apps next week sometime and for Nook users not long after. Not sure about the Kindle or Sony. For the next book I might publish it separately on Amazon for logistical reasons.

As for the rest, well, the current book is going well enough, but is definitely slower. Coercion took a total of 65 days to reach the end. The current book is well past the book and will be at three months on July 21. The main reason for this, I suppose, is because it has a much larger cast than Coercion and it's a little harder to maintain all that information sometimes, leading to continuity errors, re-writes, and do-overs. I'm working on editing the second chunk of the book right now, but I'm already considering doing some major changes to the general structure of the story. Hopefully for the better.

The book, I hope, is going to be done by September 1 and maybe published by mid-October. I'd say it with more certainty but I've never been good at predicting these things in the first place. When I saw two weeks it usually means one. Maybe I'll be done by August 15 and I can have more time to work in the particulars. I wouldn't bet on it, though.

The current title for my second book is Avarice and it is a continuation of sorts of my little Oak Villa universe. It is not a sequel (for obvious reasons if you bothered to read Coercion), but several characters who appeared in Coercion turn up again in Avarice, but mainly in peripheral roles.

The general story of Avarice involves an Irish mobster just out of prison looking to get back into the game and finds his whole world has been turned inside out. His "family" has been decimated by arrests and the new street boss is impotent. A friend he made in prison, a former gang-banger and thief, is also struggling. There's also a young kid informing on the Irish mob who has a shit-ton of problems himself and there's a cop in the Gang Unit who wants to work major cases and is unhappy with his political, venal boss.

More intricately layered, but it has been satisfying. I'm trying hard not to repeat myself in Avarice, but that's not always easy. Most books by authors tend to follow the same themes. The trick is to make it seem different or go from another angle.

I also intend to work on the blog more and try to be more consistent. I say that all the time, but I really want to now, if for no other reason than to keep my name out there. So expect blogs once or twice a week from here on out (hope I don't break it like every other New Year's resolution I've tried).