Category Archives: Writing

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.

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.