Tag Archives: Writing

Columbia Crew R.I.P. 2/3/2003. A song…

Creative Commons. Phot by Jtesla16.
Creative Commons. Photo by Jtesla16.

Five days ago I posted a poem I’d written for my daughter who was born on the fifth anniversary of the Challenger’s explosion on take-off. These are the lyrics to a song I wrote on the day the Columbia broke apart on re-entry.

My notes on the lyric sheet: Begun on the way home from work as I was sure we would enter into an Iraq war.  Finished as I sat stunned with the news of the Columbia Shuttle.

Waiting for the Fall – Eve of War

Driving home on the eve of war, can’t see far ahead
The rain it falls in sheets and blankets us, I long for home and bed
Are we right or merely righteous?  How and who decides?
Will our leaders lead us into battle or stay on the sidelines?

Waiting for the fall to come, but not the season’s change
Just like it came to Rome, collapsing under strain          

I awoke to hear the news, seven more are lost
They were living all our dreams, I can count the human cost
“Would they do it all again?” you ask. I can almost see them nod
For the chance to break these bonds and touch the face of God?

Waiting for the fall to come, just like it came to Rome
Prayin’ that the angels are coming to carry them all home

Everyday now, I hear the words. They say the end is near
But all we have, all of us, is one day in one year

Waiting for the fall to come is such a waste of time
Utilize the everydays, to do not is a crime

February 3rd, 2003

 

AIS Extras Part II: NaNOriginal Dream Sequence…

Yes. Dream Sequence… Gonna have to save my dream sequences for the fantasy series. Thanks, Amanda. Good call.

Remember, ALL IS SILENCE is ON SALE for the first time at $2.99 the entire month of November on all major sales sites in honor of NANOWRIMO.

Original Opening Scene of ALL IS SILENCE as written during NaNoWriMo 2012. Working titles were:

ZOMBIE ZOO
followed by
AND EVERYTHING AFTER…
then
ALL IS SILENCE IN THE WORLD
and finally
ALL IS SILENCE

Chapter One

No good sleeping in when her little brother, mom and mom’s live in boy-friend, man-friend, were making so much noise. She pulled a black hoodie and jeans over her t-shirt and underwear, ran her fingers through her short hair. The Boris Karloff buzz-cut had grown out to a boyish length and she wasn’t taking so much crap about it anymore. She had stuff to do. The flood was coming and they needed to move the house.

        She didn’t know how she knew it was so important, but the urgency was undeniable. She grabbed the combat boots and pulled them on over heavy socks–too much dirty work for the Docs. Lizzie’s little brother, Jason was giggling along with her mom’s chuckle. She’d never been into Saturday morning cartoons—too silly and obnoxious. She slammed the door and headed down the long hallway.

        “Thanks for letting me sleep in,” she said to the room.

        Her mom shot her an odd glance from near the stove. “It’s almost dinner-time, lazybones.”

        Jerkwad, mom’s boyfriend laughed loudly. “When you turn eighteen-”

        “You’re not my dad,” she cut off the response she wanted to say aloud.

        “What’re you gonna be when you grow up, sissy?” Jason asked.

        Lizzie glanced at the clock—6:18. But the light was wrong. “We’ve got to get the house moved. The floods are coming.” The rain pounded on the window.

        All three of them stared at her.

        Jerkwad spoke. “What the Hell are you babbling about?””

        “The water’s rising. The rain. The news said-”

        “You ain’t watched the news, Lazy.” Jerkwad shook his head, grinning. “You’ve been asleep all day.”

        ““Mom?” Lizzie begged. “Make him shut up.”

        ““He’s right, Liz. What’re you talking about?”

        Jason chimed in, “You goin’ Crazy Lazy on us again?”

        “I hate you all! I hope you all die in the flood. I’m moving the house.” She grabbed a Coke out of the fridge and raincoat off the peg. “I’m moving the house.” She slammed the door. Its aluminum weight did not give her the satisfaction she wanted. When had the heavy wood door gotten replaced?

        The rain pelted her as she pulled on the hoodie and jacket. She turned to the house and found the old single-wide trailer she’d lived in as a kid. Weird. Where was the house? This would be easier to move. She grabbed Jerkwad’s work gloves that never got used and headed around to the front. She started tearing the lower panels away to get to the wheels she knew were under there. Inside she could hear them laughing and joking. Lazy Lizzie was turning into Crazy Lizzie again. She shoved in her earbuds and hit shuffle on her phone. Something metallic and grinding from the 80s soothed her anger. Good working music. With a vengeance, Lizzie tore away more aluminum panels, sending them flying as they broke free.

        The sound of a phone cut through as the song ended. Isn’t someone going to answer it? They call me lazy!? She sent the last panel flying across the yard. How had she done that so fast? The phone still rang. She shook her head in disgust and pulled open the back door to the little kitchen. The house was cold and empty. She slammed the door. The solid wood reverberated. What the Hell was going on? The ringing continued, but Lizzie couldn’t find the phone. It wasn’t on the wall. “Where’d you guys go?” she hollered. The phone stopped. Mom had been cooking. In the new house. Then it was the single-wide. Now she was back in the house, but it was empty. Am I going crazy?

A new screeching sound replaced the phone. Jason’s stupid freaking bird screaming alarm clock. Damn thing could wake the dead. I must be dreaming. It is morning. The dream spun downward as Lizzie’s body sank into the bed. She sighed. For a minute she’d wondered if they were right and the Crazy Lizzie had returned.

Come check out what it later became here. Or buy a copy here for only $2.99 the whole month of November 2015!

 

 

Why I Wattpad – Part IV

Why I Wattpad is a continuing series of blogposts about my first year on Wattpad. Here are Part I, Part II, Part III.

WP-A Cool Number-almost
Almost 123,456 reads on Chapter 1 – Part I

Success breeds success.  When Wattpad agreed to Feature ALL IS SILENCE it quickly became established as a ‘good/successful’ book. Because it was featured the statistics rose incredibly. [If you don’t wish to read the statistics skip ahead two paragraphs.] It hit to high-points of 12000+ reads one day, 633 votes on a different day.

Hitting 100,000 reads had been cool, but then reads really started racking up. While on vacation this summer I hit a 1,000,000 reads near the end of June and 50,000 votes not long after, then 4000 comments. ALL IS SILENCE passed Scott Westerfield on the Completed Science Fiction chart! 132,000 people have started it, 5145 have finished it. It spent 57 [non-consecutive] days at #1 on the HOT Science Fiction chart.

Wattpad #19-#20

Now it has an average of 175 reads a day, votes meander from a literal handful [4] to a few hundred, though hundreds is now less than half. It’s slowed down. I can now answer all the comments on all three of my uploads: ALL IS SILENCE [complete], TOILS AND SNARES [Excerpt. 6 of 15 chapters uploaded] and STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS [Excerpt. 12 of 35 chapters uploaded]. They’re all three in the SF Hot 300, though T&S doesn’t stay there. [More about that in the advice below.]

Is there still a benefit? Yes. Now, I have a small army of 3500 followers/fans. True, they are an army of cats so getting them organized and going in the same direction is practically impossible, but also unimportant. If I post a request for Beta Readers, I get a bunch of people who already like my stuff. If I offer a free download on another story, there is a bump. I was hoping for a significant bump for STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS that I can attribute to WATTPAD, but I haven’t figured out how to measure that yet.  I know that putting out a request for reviews on ALL IS SILENCE has worked. I would credit my Wattpad followers with about half of the last 30 reviews. That alone may be worth it.

But the real question is this… If I give away a book for free on Wattpad will the benefits out-way the costs? Many authors are concerned that they’ll lose money. Probably not. Most wattpadders are not part of the work-force and not likely to buy an ebook from Amazon. Yes, ALL IS SILENCE is available for sale on Amazon, too. It’s still doing fine there.

The primary benefit of Wattpad is building a fan-base. To do that you have to post regularly and interact with your fans, but it is very successful in this regard. The feedback from readers is nearly universally positive. I have only had about 3 interactions that I would consider negative and one of those was due to giving another author unwanted advice on how to request that an author read their book. I suggested that just sending the link was crass. [Still is. This might segue into the advice section. Yup.] I told him he should send a short 30 word blurb along with polite salutations and then the person he wants to read his book can take it or leave it.

ADVICE SECTION: First three came directly from my editor, Amanda June Hagarty. Glad she convinced me to give Wattpad a try.

  1. Upload smaller pieces two or three pages [I aim for about 1000-1200 words] at a time.
  2. Upload two or three times a week. Make the times consistent, put it in your calendar and then don’t miss it. If you’re writing as your posting this gives you a motivating deadline.
  3. Communicate with your fans. You don’t have to respond to every post/comment, but try to get a comment to each of the people who are sending you a comment stream. Those comments boost your story’s ranking.
  4. If a comment offends you, you can report it. I called out jerkish behavior on my books, but Wattpad will do it for you.
  5. Track your data. I used GoogleDocs. It can give you insight into changes you make and how they effect the outcome.
  6. Upload longer works. If you have a first book in a series, I heartily recommend uploading it in its entirety to Wattpad.
  7. As new chapters are uploaded the author should dedicate each section as they are uploaded. Dedicate it to another Wattpadder who has commented a lot recently. If you try to go back and do it later, like some authors have, it is an overwhelming job, but if you do it as part of the set-up when you’re adding the live link to your website, it is a very small amount of work.
  8. The sweet-spot for me, when I was uploading three times a week seemed to be about 9 pm P.S.T. I think it’s because the Wattpad counts may reset at midnight E.S.T., but I’m not certain. This was one of the last hunches I had and don’t have hard evidence.
  9. Once your story is complete, you can still get some boost, by editing your description and chapters. It will pop back into the system as ‘newer’ if not ‘new.
  10. Don’t send too many “To all my followers” posts. I try to send one every 2-3 weeks now, and try, try, try to not send more than a couple a week! People will get sick of you and start ignoring you. When you do send these posts, try to make them fun and offer the readers something like: “Sign up for my newsletter this week and read my new story for #FREE!”
  11. Have fun. Write on.

Did I miss anything? Is any of my advice skewed or no longer valid? I’ve been treading water for the most part, though this last two weeks I’ve been trying to get Straight Into Darkness up the SF charts. Highest ranking so far is #9! Let me know. ~ Rob

 

Too Much To Think About…

STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS-3quarter
61.67% of the front cover of STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS. Coming this summer.

Sunday morning:11:07. I hab a code. Ruddy doze. Sore trote. But I did go for a short run! Yah!

Getting ready to dive into the physical manuscript of the book to the right. Actually might do some good old fashioned cut and paste. Logging off of social media for the next few hours. As Marshall Ryan Maresca would say, “Going down into the word mines.” I’ll let you know how it goes…

Sunday afternoon: Checking in. 2:31. Struggling. Papers strewn all over the living room, trying to find order in the chaos of the first draft. Three hankies down. Okay. Back to work.G

Sunday evening: 7:25. Well. Yes. Well. After making lots of stacks of paper and lots of marks on them as well as some cutting and pasting, I have decided that I need to step back and think a bit more about what’s happening in the book. ALL IS SILENCE is essentially a quest book. We don’t see a lot of character growth. There is a goal of safety, of going from being alone to being surrounded by loved ones. STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS is about character growth, maturation, transformation. So I’m thinking and reading before diving in.

Next step will be pulling the parts that definitely don’t fit. I found several of them today. Then I should be ready to write in the missing parts. The first five chapters are off to the editor. I have the beginning, many rising actions, the climax and the falling action and resolution, but some are not as fleshed out as they need to be. And there is still the fate of the world and of Zach, Nev, Mannie and Saj…

So, more thinking is needed. And sleeping… Hopefully my throat will be up to teaching tomorrow. I’m going to give it a shot.

Fourth Wall Friday, Toils and Snares Presale, RADCON 6C

A few random items at the last minute. I have a couple other blog posts in the works, but nothing is finished and one I wrote in January is already inaccurate. Sheesh… Time is flying. Oh, and Sunday is my 48th birthday. “Not to fifty….!” Fifty will be fine.

I had an absolute blast last month writing a guest story for Fourth Wall Friday, monthly blog-post that lets author or character walk through the fourth wall and interact. You can read my story, “You’re the author, get your own damn coffee.”

TOILS AND SNARES, A Deserted Lands Novella is available for pre-sale at Amazon. It’s on presale until February 28th. If you want a sample before you buy, come on over and read toils&snares3first four chapters of the second draft on Wattpad.

At nearly 40,000 words, it’s a lot longer than the 22,000 word novelette I intended to write. But I love the story arc. It gives a bit more information on the pandemic than ALL IS SILENCE did. I’m calling it a parallelequel because it takes place essentially over the same time period as ALL IS SILENCE, but with completely different characters. The setting is strictly Pacific Northwest, going from Portland, Oregon up to Lake Quinault in Washington.

Most of the characters in TOILS AND SNARES, will appear in a novel that connects to characters in ALL IS SILENCE. Seriously folks, I have a dozen or so storylines set over the next hundred years or so in the Deserted Lands alternative universe!

This weekend at RADCON 6C in Pasco I will get to see Mike Shepherd Moscoe, Alma Alexander, G. David Nordley again and I finally get to meet two writers I ‘met’ this year: Jim Hines and Ksenia Anske. Plus a whole bunch of other folks who sound really cool.

New Frequently Asked Questions thanks to Wattpad.

As ALL IS SILENCE has climbed the WATTPAD Science Fiction charts to #1, I have started to get a few questions over and over. I can only assume [be careful you know what that means, Rob.] that other folks might have the same questions.

If you have any other questions you think other readers might like answered, let me know. Eventually, I’ll get a new page up on the website for these! Thanks. Rob

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do you have any Writing Advice/Publishing Tips?
A. Publishing tips? Here are a dozen blog posts on My Path to Indie Publication.
A. Writing advice? Roberts’ Rules of (w)riting
–        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –
Q. How long is ALL IS SILENCE/is it done yet?
A. All Is Silence is finished and has 35 chapters. I will be uploading a chapter a week in three parts until early April 2015, then I’ll upload the first several chapters of its sequel. If you can’t wait, you can go to www.desertedlands.com and purchase an e-book or print copy.
–        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –
Q. Can you help me with my grammar/critique my story/help me format my e-book/etc.
A. I completely appreciate the desire to have someone read and offer a critique. One kind writer give me a verbal critique of the beginning of my first novel. Unfortunately, I am a school teacher by day, parent by night and have to squeeze in the times that I get to write and edit. I teach English so I get to edit papers daily. My son is applying for colleges and has an A.P. Literature class, so I offer suggestions and edits for him. In addition, I am in a writer’s group because I still need advice on my writing and I offer edits and critiques for that. So unless you go to my high school, join my writer’s group, or become my kid, I’m afraid I’m going to have to say no. If you join my newsletter at www.desertedlands.com you will hear about any conventions I might be attending and I will be doing writing workshops at some of them.
–        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –
Q. Are there more books about Lizzie? How many books are in the Deserted Lands series?
A. Lizzie will be in at least three more books, her trilogy and then one several years down the road. I currently have nine novel ideas for the series and about that many short story ideas. I will be releasing the novella [short novel about 111 pages] TOILS AND SNARES, a parallelequel to AIS, in the next month. It has different characters, but take place at the same time. It explains a bit more about how the pandemic happened. If you want to know more sign up for my newletter [yadda, yadda, yadda].

Reflection on 2014 goals and renewal, revision and recreation of Goals for 2015.

How do I follow up a year like 2014? To finally be able to call myself not only a writer, but a published Author, has been a dream for decades and a goal since 1991. That was one small part of 2014!

2015 looks to be a challenging year for all authors, as the industry continues to flex and flux to maximum capacity. My overarching goal for 2015 is to beat all the records I made for myself in 2014: get more words written, more stories and books published on more platforms. Develop my web presence more to increase my discoverability. All of these are within my locus of control. I must have confidence that the sales will follow and keep to the long view [As opposed to the Longview] of success.

Doing some end of the year accounting I discovered that I have paid for all the printing costs of books I purchased: 600 copies of the paperback, 50 copies of the hardcover and another 10 copies of the Advanced Reader Copies. My cost in books, shipping and tax? $3935. My estimated income for 2014? $4037. Now, I haven’t paid for the cover art, editing or advertising yet, but I also paid the bulk of those in 2013! So, I very nearly broke even this year! When I have to order a second printing, I will have covered those costs.

So, onto the goals. In 2014 my original goal was 150,000 words [I actually raised it to 182,500 in a fit of optimism and then got very little writing done for the first four months after releasing All Is Silence. Not counting what I may write in the next two days, I hit 127,551 or 85% of my goal. I’d give myself a solid B for writing. 102,055 of those words were fiction and the other 25,000+ were blog-posts. So for 2015, my goal is to write 150,000 words of fiction and 32,500 words of blog posts and other non-fiction activities for a total of 182,500 words, averaging 500 words per day. Not bad for a father, partner, teacher.

I intended to complete two on-line writing courses I purchased from Holly Lisle. I got partway through both. No goals for writing courses in 2015 except for finding advice as needed.

How I did on other Writing Goals 2014 [and how I’ll adapt them in 2015.]

  1. 26 submissions – No. 3 publications and 1 submission. 2015: 12 publications of novels, novellas and short stories.
  2. Complete Final Draft of Straight Into Darkness before October. – No. Finished a really, really rough draft in early December. 2015: Finish Final rough by 48th birthday, February 15, 2015. Complete Advanced Reader Copies by April 1st before Norwescon.
  3. A three day novel writing weekend (outside of NANOWRIMO) – No. 2015: Renewed.
  4. NANOWRIMO – 4th Deserted Lands novel – No. 2015: Write 50,000 words in November 2015. Probably Grace I or Charley I.
  5. Break record of 6054 words in one day! [using TEK article] YES!! 11/15/2014. 6,238 words. 2015: Rebreak record. At least 7,000 in one day.
  6. Complete 2nd Draft of Oppositions, my second novel, fantasy – No. 2015: Tentatively renewed. Only if I finish a 3rd Deserted Lands novel draft before November.
  7. [added 5/4/14] Blog once a week [added 7/10/14] Blog longer, more content. YES!! 63 blog posts, averaging 386 words each up from 143 words each in 2013. 2015: Aim for 64+ posts averaging 500 words each. Focus not on writing.
  8. [added 5/4/14] Publish Toils and Snares novella in late summer/early fall. – No. Perhaps I should have set a goal to write it first! It was going to be 22,000 words. It’s going to finish at about 40,000. 2015: Publish in January of 2015.
  9. [added 7/10/14] Publish at least one Kindle Single [this summer?] YES. Published Just Desert and One Tin Soldier on KDP. 2015: Publish 8 short stories to Kindle Direct Publishing.

Additional goals for 2015

  1. Read and decide whether to rewrite first novel, Jack and the Beanstalk for YA/MG or not?
  2. Record all unrecorded, written/remembered songs.
  3. Complete at least 2 short Deserted Lands stories TBD: 10,000 words total.

My reading goal was 14 books and I hit it, not certain that I didn’t read a few more on e-readers! Oh, and not counting the three books I read to my daughter putting her to bed! I’m aiming for at least 15 in 2015 [not counting my own books! I read All Is Silence twice in 2014].

Hope your new year is a good one.

Write on,
Rob

Hashtags, ALL IS SILENCE follow-up, NANOWRIMO…

Well folks,

We’re into November and NANOWRIMO: NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. If you know my propensity for DOuble TYping CApital LEtters, you understand part of the reason why I like this activity. The other reason I love it is because thanks to NANO I now know [hear that?] that I can make it as a writing pro. I sent my 2012 NANOnovel to the printer for Advanced Reader Copies to send to Reviewers, Booksellers and Librarians ONE YEAR after I wrote the first words. And I’m pretty damn proud of it. I feel like I’ve finally gotten through my million words of dreck and am now producing decent fiction.

I write a lot with music and over the last year have been meandering through Twitter and Google+ and the whole idea of hashtags has only recently gelled in my brain. So last week I created my first original hashtag: #NANOWplaying. So as you check me out in social media, you’ll probably get a sense of the noveling process through my listening pleasures.

#NANOWplaying: Bush – Glycerine.

STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS is over 10,000 words and plot points and scenes are now popping unbidden into my head. The first week was scary because I felt like I was floundering, but pushing forward, without overwhelming myself paid off yesterday with enough new ideas to stitch together the plot pieces I’d already figured out. Cool.

#NANOWplaying: Candlebox – Far Behind

Thanks to all of you writer/teachers out there who have inspired and impressed me with the virtue of tenacity and perseverance: Holly Lisle, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. And to the friends and folks in my life who have become fodder for the fiction. Thanks and apologies if you see yourself too much in a character. Believe me, it wasn’t you if you feel bad. 😉

Write on,

Rob

 

Beta Readers and eARCs

Closing in on the finil, finial, FINAL draft for electronic Advanced Reader Copies.

How can you become a Beta reader? Sign up on the Newsletter page in the upper right hand corner. You will also receive FREE fiction Bi-Monthly. Beta Readers who meet either of the expectations below can get a FREE SIGNED and personalized ADVANCED PUBLICATION COPY.

1. FREE SIGNED PRINT COPY. If you refer me to a significant reviewer [I get to decide significance, but rest assured, if they write for a magazine or have a well-followed blog that caters to my audience, it will count.] who agrees to read an Advanced Reader Copy or Electronic Advance Reader. [Note: They don’t actually have to write a review for you to get your free copy.]

2. FREE SIGNED PRINT COPY. Become a beta reader. Once I get the ARCs out, I will send out eARC’s to the first 100 people to sign up. For every error, or comment you make and send to me by e-mail, I will give you 1% off a signed print copy. So, if you find 100 errors or make 100 suggestions (or any combo thereof) I will send you a free signed copy on release. (You’ll probably get it before with me hoping you’ll post reviews on GoodReads, B&N, KOBO, Amazon, and/or your own blog/webpage/Facebook/Twitter. This entry was posted in Writing by roblogger. Bookmark the permalink.