The Fall of Awesome was my first published Fiction. I admit to a certain amount of pride, not just that I managed to self-publish it. To be fair, self-publishing isn’t difficult. But people bought it. People I didn’t even know. That makes me proud.
While FoA has never sold as well as my non-fiction motorcycle books, it has sold and I decided to get it a new cover.
And I liked the cover so much I decided I wanted to do an audiobook. Now, FoA was my first published book, and I learned a lot from it. Now it was going to be my first Audiobook, so I was going to be learning again. I decided to use ACX, which would get Fall of Awesome into the Audible.com, Amazon, and iTunes libraries without my having to do anything further.
I selected a chunk of text to audition purposes, set about how much I wanted to pay (not much, to be honest), and waited for producers to bit on the project. I got half a dozen over the next couple days, asking a few friends to help me chose.
Once that was done, the producer (Jarman Day-Bohn) and I spent the next six weeks working on the audio. I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted, which meant more work for him I suppose. He didn’t complain and worked with me until the final product was something we were both happy with. I was pretty excited by that point.
Then there was five weeks of waiting while the audio files went through various reviews to make sure they met the quality requirements for Audible. Once that was done, I got an email saying the book was available, though I admit a lot of my enthusiasm had bled away. Now, though, Fall of Awesome is available as an Audiobook, and people are (again) buying it. I’ve already decided to release Under the Radar on Audible, and have a cover professionally made (Something which I will start looking at after I have a draft).
Well, my plans to do regular blogs hasn’t really worked out. A week and a half ago (while at fencing practice. Yes I fence, everyone should) I noticed I was usually sore. I didn’t think much about it until late the next day, while at work. I noticed then I was unusually tired and probably had the start of a fever.
To make a long story short, I spent most of the next 6 days in bed when I wasn’t trying to work. I even got told to just go home one day. That doesn’t happen very often at my work.
so, I sat at about 20,000 for seven days. I did a couple hundred words, not enough to really think about, and went from way a head actually behind.
Now, this sort of thing happens during NaNo. It’s easy to give up, but I knew there was a lot of time left. And I knew I could (when I wasn’t sick) manage 4-5 thousand words a day pretty easily. So I didn’t panic, didn’t give up (really, I can’t give up. Under the Radar is going to be my next book whether I ‘win’ NaNo or not), and kept carrying my netbook around with me.
This weekend I’ve been back at work. Work isn’t really a great place to work since I am constantly interrupted by…well…work. Still, I’ve managed to crawl back to even with where I should be, and I have the next two days off. So, even though I am exhausted and still a bit sick feeling, I am pretty relaxed about where I am on the project. NaNo is fun.
I worked the first four days of November, 12 hour days for the most part. Monday was a little shorter, but not so much as to make much of a difference. Friday also saw the release of Ender’s Game (the movie), which I wanted to see. I supposed I could have waited on the movie, but I am not the best at waiting.
So, I had a pretty busy life at the start of November, but as I write this I still have managed to get 11,000 words done. Enough that I feel like I can take some time to put out a blog instead of slogging away. Of course, I will have to slog away later – that’s just how it goes.
It feels good to be writing again. I had some warm up, finishing PCB3 during October, but that was nothing like the sheer orgy of writing I’ve done over the last few days. Orgy is probably more accurate than you would think, I hadn’t realized how much I had missed the keyboard, though it’s not like I’ve just been sitting around watching TV.
This years NaNo follows The Fall of Awesome, a small time, most ly rehabilitated thief has stolen something a lot of powerful people want, although for different reasons. Its taken from him almost at once, and while he would normally just leave it to the heroes to deal with, he ends up with a personal stake in the matter. Instead of the Super Squad, this book follows Team Justice, the newest of the three major teams in Super City, a team with secrets and an agenda of it’s own.
I am really liking the story, I’ve been thinking it would be a good follow up to FoA, though I was also tempted to write about the formation of the Squad and Incredi-Girls arrival. Mostly because I like my character notes on Rapid, the speedster on the team. Perhaps that can be next.
It might be optimistic at this point, but I am planning 3 books for next year. Two Super City books, and one travel book. This year I didn’t release any new fiction, though the print and audio editions of Fall did come out. Going Small 2.0 and PCB3 did come out, but that isn’t much compared to everything I produced in 2012. That was because I spent most of last year writing full time. Now, it’s my second job.
So, back to NaNo for me. If you’re taking part, congratulations (Whether you finish or not, but you should be writing right now instead of reading this). If you’re not, there is still time to join in, you aren’t that far behind! (yet)
Okay, so I haven’t been blogging as much as I should have been lately. This is mostly because I’ve been having various adventures, and I’d (almost always) rather be having adventures than typing, even though I do like sharing my adventures will all of you. That is apart of what this blog is about.
So, what have I been doing? Well, the last month has seen me finish Pain, Curiosity, and a Bear volume 3, and get the color and ebook versions available at Amazon. I had wanted this done in late August or early September, so late October is a bit behind. I think the final product is good, though, so you should get and pick it up (if you like motorcycle travelogues, anyway).
Another thing, which will get it’s own blog at some point, is releasing The Fall of Awesome as a audiobook. This was actually a big deal and I was, and am, super excited about it. It was a huge process and took longer than I’d expected, but I am so happy with the final result I actually listen to it all the time. Well, when I don’t have other podcasts to listen to.
November starts tomorrow as I write this (yes, on Halloween), and I will be playing again this year. With The Fall of Awesome being out in all formats now, and people still asking about a sequal, I will be returning to Super City for another story, this one with Team Justice and a bit more of the criminal element. I think the story is more than 50,000 words, but one never knows. The working title is Under the Radar, and I will be going with the print/audio versions as well.
So, this next month will probably, hopefully, see me writing a lot at computers, with NaNo and trying to get back into the swing of blogging. Hopefully there won’t by whining. the plan is a NaNo update (Tuesday) and a book review (Thursday) a week. Optimism is fun.
I started self publishing last year, though this year I haven’t been as productive. Mostly that is my fault, and I make no excuses. Anyway, since I was just starting and didn’t have a lot of money, I did just about everything I could on my own. My first two books, Going Small (about lightweight motorcycle travel) and The Fall of Awesome (my NaNoWriMo novel) were edited my friends for (basically) free and I designed both covers myself.
Going Small was simple, since I just used the CreateSpace cover tool and a picture I already had. Fall of Awesome was fiction, and harder. I fuzzied out a picture of Panama City, threw some text on it with a simple picture editor, and hoped for the best.
It wasn’t bad, at least not so bad that no one bought it. After a while I decided I wanted to change it to something else, a simple black cover with red words. That cover was worse, and I had fewer sales. I thought about going back to the original cover, but decided instead to invest in a professional cover design instead.
Reading a blog on Indie Author News, I found Jeanine Henning, and contacted her. I was still on a budget, though it was a better one now. She asked a lot of questions that I hadn’t thought about in any way, and said she would come up with a cover. I didn’t know what to expect, since I didn’t think I did a good job with her questions. She clearly knew what she was doing, though, and I think it will actually help me with my next Super City novel, which is on deck for when (if ever) I finish PCB3.
This is a draft of the cover, since I am excited about it and don’t have the final version yet.
I still need to get her a few things (and am blogging instead, bad author!), but can’t wait for the new cover to be done. When it is done, Fall of Awesome will be available in print, my first fiction. Since it has (by far) outsold Broken Gateways and Last Day, I am going to spend some time working on other stories set in Super City.
In the mean time, though, I have to refocus and finish PCB3. I found a huge number of issues with PCB2 as well, and they are not currently for sale until can get them fixed. No, I don’t know when that will be, but I am feeling extremely focused lately and my word count has started to hold steady at levels I haven’t seen for months. I am (currently) planning on taking no trips for the month of August. Easy to say, though I had been thinking about GenCon in the middle of the month. I guess we will have to see how good my self discipline is.
I don’t remember where I got this short little novel – not really a novella, maybe a novelette – from. But it was on my Kindle when I was looking for something to read, and the first few paragraphs caught my attention. Of course, that is what they are supposed to do, so, success!
On the surface, the story is simple. An actuary wants to upgrade from his clunker flying car to one of the more modern, sleeker models. He has his eye on one in particular – the Shearwater – and carries a promotional pamphlet around with him just about everywhere he goes. Part of this desire for a new car is focused on his affection for, literally, the girl next door (who, it is rather clear to the reader, is already very interested). It is when the two of them take his clunker for a picnic and he shares the promotional pamphlet with her, that things start to unravel. While he had been focused on the sparkling ad copy, the woman instead asks about the small notations marked which he had passed over.
These notations do an excellent job of countering every supposed advancement praised. As the main character reads more of the hidden disclaimers he grows more uncomfortable with the idea of replacing his old car with a new one, which increasingly reads like a death trap with liability waivers. There is a small exploration of actuary tables, and the relative safety of some of the flying cars versus others, leading to the revelation most of the smart actuaries – the ones who know which vehicles are safe and which aren’t – are in fact using the inexpensive model.
On one level the book is a simple jab at new-flanged not being automatically an improvement over the old, or simple, or inexpensive. This resonates a bit more than usual with me lately, as I am needing a new motorcycle helmet. Okay, not a flying car, but a study (no longer all that recent, but I am betting the conclusions still stand) showing the safest motorcycle helmet was also the least expensive tested. But beyond that, there is also the consideration to be content with what you have – not to overreach. With the money he didn’t spend on the fancy new car on fixing everything that was wrong on his older model, with enough left over for a nice ring to give the girl next door. She said yes.
America is very much a credit culture. We want the best, or what seems to be the best, and are willing to go into debt to get it, even if we aren’t sure how we are going to get out of the debt, or if we have to roll that debt over into a larger one because a new best thing is available. It is, or has become, the American Dream. In the adventure rider circles I (sometimes) join there is a similar need – there isn’t a better word for it – for the best or shiniest, or whatever, motorcycle or gear or accessory (called a farkle in motorcycling circles) based on it’s perceived need or desirability rather than its actual usefulness. And this money spent means there is less for the actual trip – which is supposed to be the point.
The main character in the story is forced, by a random assignment at his company (and set up my his boss, who knew the character was car shopping and wanted to steer him away from the fancier models) to crunch the numbers. It was a hard lesson, and despite the numbers he was still tempted to get the newer car. In the end, it seemed like what changed his mind was the simple fact his boss, the guy running the firm and with enough money to have any flying car he wanted, was using an older model of the character’s clunker. While I would’ve liked to see the character choose the older model as a purely sensible choice, this conversation meant the sigma of the old car was removed. It became ‘okay,’ even acceptable.
So, the end is less a matter of accepting less bling as a sensible choice than accepting less bling because others do it as well, but the other messages are still there. The story, written in a sort of vague, Golden Age tone, was an easy read and flowed well. The characters were archetypal, which they had to be given the length of the story, and it had a happy, if not particularly relevant, ending. Since the Smashwords price (at the time I wrote this) was ‘free’ there isn’t much reason not to pick it up and give it a try.
Long after I wanted to write, but long before I published anything, I had a hobby doing endurance motorcycle travel. The biggest (and perhaps only) organization for this sort of thing is call the Iron Butt Association, and to join you have to ride 1000 miles in less than 24 hours.
I don’t know how many of you ride motorcycles, if you do this might sound like a lot. Even if you don’t ride, 1000 miles in a car is no trifling distance. But, in truth, it’s easier than you think. I’ve actually done several now, though I never joined the IBA (there wasn’t much point, for me at the time).
After I knew I could ride that far, more importantly ride that far and not be so tired and beat up feeling I needed a few days to recover. This simple knowledge opened up most of the United States to me, and I stretched my trips further and longer. I live in the Midwest, and being able to travel 1000 miles in a day opens up a lot of ground and things to see.
I moved away from endurance riding when I started prepping for my Americas trip. For one thing, my motorcycle choice for that adventure, an SR250, wasn’t as good a choice for big mile days. My endurance motorcycle, an XS1100, had ten times the horsepower and 30% more range, not to mention being able to cruise at interstate speeds for hours and hours without straining, something I can’t truly say about the little bike.
You might wonder what this has to do with writing. I’ll get there.
When I first came back from my Americas trip and was writing full time, I worked up to writing 8-10 thousand words a day. An impressive number, I know, but it’s really just a matter of sitting at the computer and moving your fingers over the keys. Edit later, just write and write and write. Much like endurance motorcycling – just sit on the bike and work the throttle, the miles will pile up.
But now I struggle to manage a few hundred words a week. It seems I’ve tried all kinds of things to improve this, apps on my phone, dropbox on my netbook, nothing really seems to help. It’s been bothering me to watch my productively plummet. I’d hoped to have PCB3 done by now, and I am still slogging through the first draft. It really is a slog too – a lot of things went wrong during this part of the trip.
I’ve spent some time thinking about why my productivity has dropped off so badly. Mostly, I have to look at my full time job. While I’d meant to be diligent about dividing my mental energies between there and writing, in truth lately I’ve been much more focused on doing a better job there, and traveling more, than writing. And so, writing suffers. Even today I spent a chunk of the day riding my motorcycle on inefficient routes to the few errands I had to do. This means less time for writing, and even now that I am here and at the keyboard my attention wanders.
There is no substitute for sitting and writing. Literally nothing else produces words, and I’ve lost my ability (for the time being) to sit and generate the number of words every day I want to do doing. I won’t be able to fix this today, or tomorrow, or perhaps even over a week or month, but at least I know where I need to go. Direction is important if you want to get somewhere.