Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tales From My Desk #2

Thought I'd share some info with everyone who has been following me so far. I figure I owe all of you some explanation of what I've been up to.

For some time now, I've been trying to track down that elusive muse.

The first book I uploaded to Kindle, Mr. Dead Eyes, has been selling steadily since its publication in January of 2010. I used to sell 10 copies a month. Now that number has been going down but it still remains my best seller out of all three books.

So why haven't I published anything in the last year and a half?

Many reasons.

Most pressing are the edits I'm currently working on for my second collection of short stories. Originally, I had hoped to have it ready by the end of 2011, staying true to my quota of one book a year. However, the edits are more extensive than I had planned. But they are crucial. And I've just been a bit lazy with it.

It takes me forever to edit a manuscript sometimes.

But I'm glad when I do.

I'm down to the last three stories that need reworking and a little TLC.

In between my long breaks of editing, I've been working on a number of projects. I recently finished another novella, started a dozen short stories and I'm also working on three separate novels. None are even near completion but I take a lot of joy in creating new stories.

Aside from publishing the collection as a whole, I've been thinking of publishing four stories by themselves on the Kindle for 99 cents each, an introductory offer for new readers.

Also, I'm planning on tweaking a few story points in Mr. Dead Eyes that just don't make sense. If I'm going to be writing the second book, I want to make sure I have all the important key elements that will be reintroduced in the sequel.

Also, I've been getting a couple of bad reviews on Wearing Donnie Torr while its been on the Kindle. This is largely due to its formatting. So, in an effort to correct it, I'm going to tweak the original PDF and try a re-upload. People have noted that the size of the font changes with each page.

How annoying is that for someone who wears glasses?

Put em on, take em off, put em on, take em off. Over and over again.

Meanwhile, I've been working on a collection of essays about my life. Included are a bunch of bizarre stories that my wife has told me I should write about. Like the time I got fired while wearing a Ghostbusters costume, or how I nearly got a role as an extra in The Dark Knight, or how I nearly lost my life while taking Driver's Ed in High School. So far there are 18 essays in all. Right now I'm working on one in which I got the part of Ebeneezer Scrooge in the school play. Hopefully this collection will come out sooner than the others. I've been getting a real kick out of writing non-fiction.

When I have time, I'd like to narrate an audiobook of both Wearing Donnie Torr and For What It's Worth and release them as podcasts on iTunes. I've also been looking for voice over work, eyeing four companies in particular.

To help encourage my daily writing, I've turned to the expert himself. I've been reading Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing. It's a really good read. Just the thing I needed.

So...yeah. I've been quite busy.

I don't want to promise anything but I will say that before the year is up the new collection will make an appearance on Kindle.

I also have 613 days to write Mr. Dead Eyes 2.

I haven't even started the research yet.

Plus I've gotten thirty plus emails on book reviews. I've wanted to give back for a long time. So I have to do 100 book reviews on Amazon for the rest of the year. I asked for it. But I'm happy about.

So I should have something for you guys soon.

Just hang in there.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Myth #1: A Million Words Of Crap

With every new author that graces the scene there seems to be a new piece of writing advice stacked on top of the writer's totem pole of rules. Some are new ideas. Some are old ideas that have been modernized. And some are just the same old pieces of advice that every other author is chirping.

I've read a lot of books on the craft of writing. The one I hold in the highest regard is Stephen King's take on the craft.

But there have been a couple of pieces of advice that I don't subscribe to or just ignore entirely. The one I'm here to talk about today is the old Million Words of Crap myth. I call it a myth becuase to me it holds no significance whatsoever to a writer's journey. It's been hyped up too much

The theory goes that as soon as you've written a million words of God awful material, you will have reached your peak of creative genius and every word therafter will be sparkling pristine prose.

A complete load of garbage.

When I first started writing, Sixth grade I believe, I had never heard of this highly toted piece of advice. But I did know one thing: with every project you do, you learn from your mistakes, polish and move on. Now, if you're a slow learner, it would conceivably take you a while to get your bearings.

But just imagining these numbers is ridiculous. You may not even want to write at all. It's an incredibly high standard that has left many aspiring authors by the wayside.

Some people shrug this rule off and cheat by saying, "Oh, well when they mean a million words of crap, they mean all the emails and letters that I've written in my entire life."

While that is a nice shortcut to make for yourself, it doesn't attack the subject head-on.

Think about it.

A million words of crap.

Imagine a million peices of paper stacked in your living room. Depending on how big your living room is, you'd either be facing a tall white pillar or several stacks completely cluttering your space. That image alone causes me heartache.

If every novel you wrote was exactly 50,000 words long then that means that you will have written 20 books of complete failure. Some have said don't publish anything that is within the margin of the million words. That you will fail. But also, that you will fail horribly.

My goodness, that's a cynical take on the whole thing.

I've written many practice fiction books. I wrote a pretend goosebump book which was fifty something pages. I've written a sequel to a childhood book which was twenty something pages. I've also written several pieces of fan fiction.

One book I deleted entirely was 168 pages.

Now, I'm sure that all of those projects don't even come close to a million words, or a hundred thousand for that matter. But with each new project I learned something different.

Look, I'm not the greatest writer in the world. But I do know of a good unique idea or two when it comes to fleshing out a story. And to limit yourself this much is just going to bring you nothing but grief.

Sure, I'm aware that there are some people who have used this method and it took them ten to forty books in order to get their first one published. For that I appluad you. But as for the other aspiring authors out there, don't kill yourself over this stuff.

Practice makes perfect but you certainly shouldn't be chained to an ideology that is going to do nothing but give your competitors a little more time to churn out those good ideas before you do. In my eyes it's nothing but a stalling tactic that has been held in high regard for far too long.

Myth or not, you decided. It's your writing life, after all.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

100 reviews for 2012

Lately, I've been reading a lot of books. I read so fervently that I often get carried away and start skimming the pages. But no matter how many books I read, I've put a simple star rating on them, added them to my just-read list on Goodreads and just shelved them away.

That simple routine has me feeling guilty.

Like I'm not contributing...just consuming.

That wasn't always the case.

Back in the day I'd review movies on Flixster but that teetered out when I kept seeing more and more garbage. The great movies are rare now. And I didn't feel it was worth my time.

Books on the other hand, need more encouragement. It's gotten to a point where if someone asks me what's good to read I go into reviewer mode where I give them a five paragraph speech on the latest book that not only thrilled me but changed my life.

In a way, it feels like cheating, people. It's been on my mind.

When I did have an urge to review books, I setup an amazon account under the name of The Film Noir Fedora.

I wrote a total of 207 reviews and a lot of them were on books I've read through the years. The last one I wrote was for Elisa Lorello's book Faking It. Which, by the way, is a very good book. It's staying strong at four stars with 209 reviews. These are committed reviewers. They took their time to add their two cents and made that book skyrocket to exactly where it needed to be.

Speaking of which, Elisa's not the only one who has been writing. Paul Lorello has just come out with a new novel called Compounded of Dust. A book I've had the joy of rereading. And you should too!

The last book review I put up on amazon was Feb 16th, 2010. That's too long to stay silent...especially in regards to books, which I love talking about the most.

I've realized that a lot of effort has gone into these books and that, I feel, has to be matched by reviews as well. After all, the more you write reviews, the more you encourage your favorite writers to write more books. It's just that simple, folks.

So, for this year, I am going to make an effort and write at least 100 reviews of books I'm currently reading. If you feel you need an honest review of a book you have recently written, do not hesitate to email me at

I know I won't be able to read every single book out there but this will at least help me stay more committed to the craft of writing and will, hopefully, get people to read better books.

In short, stay committed. It helps others.