What I’m working on

After a lot of thought, I’ve decided to start on the next book in the Solar Storm line. The way I work seems a little scattered at times. At least, it seems that way to me. Now and then, I’ll get an idea for a scene, but not for the book I’m working on. I have no less than eight books in various states; most are only a few scenes or notes.  A few are between 25 and 50 thousand words in their partially completed states.

To put that into perspective – Solar Storm: Homeward Bound is about 175 thousand words. I don’t worry too much about word count while I’m writing, other than as a tool to see if I’m getting anything done or allowing myself to be distracted. In today’s market, an average novel is somewhere between 80 and 90 thousand words, with 65 considered low and 120 high.

On a really good day, I can crank out 4-5 thousand words, unedited. I suspect my average is much, much lower. Closer to 1000. I’ve decided to shoot for 2000 a day.  I’m only hitting 1000, right now but I’m fairly confident that I can hit my goal as I get further into the book.

Wow. I think that covers it.

Sales have been fantastic for a book with no marketing at all, and a cover designed by me rather than a book designer.  Yes – people do judge a book by it’s cover. If you don’t believe me, see how many books that got turned into movies now use the movie star on the cover.  I’m not complaining – I’m just kind of… amazed.   As of this post, Solar Storm: Homeward Bound has 116 Reviews and a rating of 4.6 – that’s a lot of reviews for such a new book.

I’ve been working on the next book (well five of them, but I’ve been pretty focused on one particular book.  Given the feedback, I might put it on the shelf and start on the sequel. The response to the characters has been fantastic.  I’ll need to make a decision pretty soon, and then really focus on getting the next book out.

Thanks to everyone who’s written a review, your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Too Much Stuff?

Feedback on your writing can be — enlightening. So far my worst review has been three stars, but the reviewer was disappointed enough to say they probably wouldn’t read my next book. That kinda hurt. I looked at some other books they had reviewed, and initially, I was surprised that they’d read my book at all. Then it occurred to me that I hadn’t looked at the complete list of their book reviews nor do I have any clue as to how they choose which books to review. Perhaps my surprise was misplaced. The fact that they bothered to write a review at all was good. I’m under no illusion that everyone is going to like my book let alone read it. But, when someone goes to the effort of reading and then posting a review, it makes sense to take that criticism seriously and see if there’s something I can learn from it.

Most of the negative comments have been about my enthusiastic coverage of STUFF. Most of the people making that complaint are women. What’s that mean? It means that not everyone is interested in the same things I am.  Everything the reviewer said was in a way, valid. I do have a lot of words dealing with the minutia of gear – I love that stuff in books that I read, the problem is: It rarely moves the story forward, and there are a lot of people who don’t care for it. I had, I think, good solid rationalizations for each of those little equipment diversions.

Notice I said – rationalizations – not reasons? Well, there are reasons too, but in all honesty, I’m not sure I can judge the difference. I’m a gear junky – I love stuff – it’s sort of a guy thing. So, are my reasons sufficient? So far the guys seem to think so, and the women don’t. I’m not sure the guys would miss it much if I left most of it out.  Should I have left it out? Maybe.  Considering no one said – wow I really love all the detail you put into Ham Radio, or guns, or… Perhaps I spent more time on those things than was necessary to the story. It’s something that I really have to think about going forward.  No matter what – the story comes first.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the reviewer was female, as most of the complaints about radios, guns, tents, and stuff have come from women. Which doesn’t surprise me, what does surprise me is how many women were willing to take a chance on my book. That notion was based on an admittedly small sample size which seemed even remotely interested in the topic.

Live and learn. In only a few weeks I’ve learned that I don’t know my market nearly as well as I thought and that a significant portion of my audience doesn’t share my fascination with STUFF. Also, reading reviews about your work written by total strangers is a lesson in both not letting things go to your head and not getting depressed.  My goal is simple – make the next book better.  That means listening to critical feedback and put the story first.

Now What?

I’m working on the next book – I’ve got about 57,000 unedited words, and it’s probably 1/3 done – maybe a bit more. Then comes the editing where I attempt to remove all the stuff that I find fascinating. Generally speaking, the author’s enthusiasm for something may be a good indication of something that distracts from the story. Well, at least in my case it does. If things go well, editing will remove ten to thirty thousand words. Yes, it is a bit like pulling your own teeth with a pair of pliers.

I’m also digging into marketing. Have I mentioned that I don’t like marketing? I suspect I don’t like it because I’m not good at it.

It’s been a long time coming – but it’s finally done.

My first book is finally done.  Now Available on Amazon.


The Back Cover:

Are you ready for the End of the World? Jack thought he was. He’d spent years learning to live in a minimalist and sustainable way. He’d changed careers, and he had a plan. A plan just in case the worst happened. Unfortunately for Jack, he was far from home when disaster struck, when the end of the world as we know it came. Now he is on foot, with winter coming. Jack and his two dogs will need to trek over 750 miles to get home.

How do you cope when almost everything you depend upon is lost? When everything you’ve come to rely on stops working.

There was no way to predict a Solar Storm. There was no way to predict its enormous magnitude or the damage that it would do. What do you do when you can’t call for help? When transportation stops and the lights go out? How hungry do you have to be to steal, to kill? What will people do when there is no law? Who can you trust?

Jack would most likely run out of food before he got home, even if nothing went wrong. But something had already gone wrong, and it was just the beginning. He had choices to make and no information. Every decision was a trade-off. Would he survive if he chose wrong? Jack was about to find out.

Procrastination can only get you so far.

Procrastination is a way of life. Or, perhaps it’s just the way of my life. One thing we all learn as we get older is that change will happen. It seems that change has come; I’ve run out of excuses to procrastinate.  It’s hard to imagine, but it looks like I’m going to have to actually publish this book.  I’m getting final feedback from two people, hopefully in the next week or two. Then it’s done.

Coming soon to Amazon Solar Storm – Homeward Bound.


Cutting is hard

Well, the rewrite is done.  I didn’t cut nearly as much as I though I would.  I think I eliminated about 7k words, and then added about 3k new stuff.    The flashback is now three parts, spaced out at what I think are logical points.  It’s also shorter by about a quarter, and  I think I managed to keep all the parts that let the reader really get to know the characters.

It think it flows better, we’ll see what my readers think.  Assuming they can force themselves to read it again. Reading a book twice or more is not something a lot of people do.  It takes time, and time is not something folks have a lot of to give away. So, thanks!

Rewrites – Solar Storm

I’ve received some good feedback on Solar Storm, with more to come. The result will likely be a slight reorganization of text and the elimination of something like 10-20K words. Yikes!

There is always a balancing act between character development in depth and keeping the story moving forward. As it stands, the novel stalls too early and for too long. I’m trying to decide if my, rather too long, flash back should be two smaller flashbacks several chapters apart, or if it could survive being broken into a few conversations.

While a conversation seems more natural, the effect can be pretty heavy handed when you actually read it.   It ends up being long paragraphs of exposition punctuated by brief reactions by the listener. I tried it and I think it’s safe to say – I’m not good enough to pull it off.  There is a hidden upside to that.  I no longer have to take my third person voice and turn it into first person description – I tried, it sucked.

So, here I am, trying to figure out what information has to go in the bit-bin. It hurts – to see the hours of effort come to naught – to see bits of story that I really liked, sacrificed to it gods of pacing.   Can you imagine what Jules Vern (and no, I’m not comparing myself to him – I just happen to be rereading Twenty Thousand Leagues.) might feel if his editor told him that his extensive discussions and  lists of species or his descriptions of geography and the places visited by the Nautilus under the command of the Mysterious Captain Nemo were, gasp!, slowing the pace.   Yet, I can hardly say the criticism in my case his harsh, it’s simply true.

Ultimately, telling a story is not about the teller, it’s about the story and the reader.  It matters not how much the teller likes the sound of his own voice.