Tag Archive: author



THE SHIP - COVER Final

That’s right I’m looking for 6-8 Beta-Readers to scope out book 2 “The Ship”. Now please read this entire entry carefully before volunteering.
1-The book will be ready in MS Word or PDF for your perusal
2-I need you to be able to finish reading it and get back to me with your comments, concerns, and hopefully some praise by April 30th of this year
3-I’m looking for honest feedback on the story itself (good, bad, holds your interest or not)
4-Overall grammar and punctuation, does it read well.
5-You will each receive an e-book or a signed paperback of the final product as an extra thank you as well as being thanked in the Acknowledgement page of the book itself.

The reason for the April 30th deadline is so I will have most of May to make whatever adjustments I need to in order to release the book by the Memorial Day weekend, where I will be attending Baycon (a sci-fi, horror, fantasy convention) as a guest panelist. I want to unveil the book there and hopefully make a bunch of sales on the spot.

Thanks. Remember I’m only planning on 6-8 people, if I don’t choose you don’t be offended. I can only go over so many comments and keep track of so many folks. Thanks so much everyone.


“Welcome to Pointer, West Virginia”

 For those who have never heard of this place, do not fret. It doesn’t exist.  I made it up to be the setting for “The Vampyre Blogs”.  A good setting is extremely important to any story.  Your story’s setting can shape your character’s personality depending on how long they’ve lived there.  For instance, if they’ve been there a short time there’s the getting to know the place and the people.  Certain action sequences may take place in particular areas.  The town’s history may come into play.  If they’ve lived there all their lives, they should know a lot of people, have a reputation (are they considered cool, friendly, or weird by the other people?  Etc., etc…)  Already you can see the importance of your setting and you should know the place at least in your own mind, so you can convey it to the readers.  I don’t care if it’s a real place here on Earth or another world.  You need to become familiar with where your story is taking place.

I’ve touched on settings for stories in the past, but “Pointer, West Virginia” is very different for me. You see, I’ve never been to West Virginia.  I do not have any personal knowledge of what the place is like.  I don’t know how people talk there, what kind of accents they have, etc.  

Creating a fictional place doesn’t have to be super complicated, but whatever setting you build has to be believable.  In my case, I like to blend a bit of reality into my settings.  When I created New Swindon in Connecticut, for my first book “The Bridge”, I was familiar with the area where I placed it.  My grandmother had lived in Salisbury Connecticut for years and I became familiar with some of the other nearby towns.  I blended the characteristics of several of them to create New Swindon to make it seem more real and authentic.  I would refer to certain landmarks, roads and the things that actually do exist in real life.  This allowed me to make my town more believable and real.  

 In my second soon-to-be-released book, “The Ship”, I used an actual setting from real life that I was very familiar with.  However, I also took steps to make sure only my characters were fictional and that they blended right in with their real-life setting.  I had the knowledge of Santa Cruz and Seacliff to make this happen smoothly and very believable.  (Remember the old saying:  write what you know about).

So why am I using West Virginia, a place I’ve never been too, as the location for my third novel?  History!  West Virginia is steeped in it, especially when it comes to the Civil War, which is the time-frame my main character Nathaniel lived in.  So how did I approach this situation to so

So what did I do?  Simple, it was time for a little research on the internet and here is some of what I learned:

-West Virginia was created as a direct result of the Civil War.  Most of Virginia sided with the south during that turbulent time, except for the section now known as West Virginia.  They were not inclined to enforce slavery or returning runaway slaves, and decided to break off from the rest of Virginia.  There was a lot of tension when this happened, and there were a number of famous battles that took place within the newly formed state.

So right there I had a rich source of background to play with for my new novel.  However, I still had a number of obstacles to overcome for the story.  Where in West Virginia should I place my fictional town?  I checked over some county maps and saw where towns and cities were located and took notes.  I wanted an area that didn’t already have an actual town, so I could refer to the real places as being nearby.  Plus I wanted a location that was near the disputed Virginia/West Virginia border.  There were some hostilities there, and I had planned for my town’s history to include a bunch of raiders (southern sympathizers) who crossed the border and nearly wiped out Pointer’s population in one terrible “Night Of Fire”.  Could such a thing have happened?  Absolutely, because I checked up on atrocities that took place during the Civil War.  Both the North and South committed atrocities, some extremely barbaric.  So right there, I had foundation to create such a background history for the town.

I also, checked to find out what are the more prominent religions in the area, so I could populate the the town with a churches and denominations.  Plus I researched, what kinds of agriculture and commercial businesses are most prominent and where they are located in West Virginia.

 Now I know a lot of this sounds complicated and detailed, but I simply made a few notes to myself.  The object was to be able to make ‘general references’ to real aspects of the area, to make my fictional town blend in and seem more real.  That’s all.  I won’t be dedicating entire chapters to detailed descriptions, mostly it will be comments and points of reference made by the characters.  I even found where a community college is located in the county where I am placing my town, so one of the secondary characters can be an instructor there.
 

I know a lot of my readers may have never stepped foot in West Virginia, but there will also be some how do live there and I want them to feel like I treated their state fairly.  I try to make the settings enjoyable and fun to think about.  Who knows, some people may even want to visit them one day to see what it’s like for themselves.  It depends on the picture you paint, so to speak.

A few of your might be asking, how much time did I spend on researching the area?  Well, I’d say I spent a total of maybe 10-12 hours over a several day period to get my vision for “Pointer”.  I checked Google for images so I can describe buildings and streets, I checked maps for counties, I looked up the state’s governing body and typical law enforcement agencies, as well as the average population of towns so I could populate mine with the right number of civil servants and local government.
Finally, as I mentioned earlier, I checked out some of the state’s history.  Again I didn’t go into great detail, but simply made notes I could refer back to in order to make the town fit in and seem real.  Even the name of my fictional town comes from actual state history.  In May 1788 Fort Donally was attacked early in the morning hours by a group of indians led by Cornstalk.  The fort housed soldiers, wives and children.  One of the defenders who helped keep the gates blockaded and fired through a hole in the gate, was a slave named Dick Pointer.  For his courage and loyalty during the fight, he was given his freedom AND a piece of land with a cabin that people built just for him.  A rare honor at the time.  Upon his death in 1827 he was buried with military honors in Lewisburg West Virginia.

For my story, I’m going to have it that one of the children who saw him in action that day helped found my fictional town and named it after his hero.  A town named for a former slave would understandably be targeted by the raiders in my story and make it more believable.
So there you have it.  Here’s another one of my methods for making a believable fictional setting.  What are some of yours?  Please share in the comments below or give us links to a blog where you may have discussed your style of doing things.
I hope this entry has helped some of you.  And as always, take care and keep writing.

2nd Drafts, How I Handle Them…


As of today I’m already a third of the way through the 2nd draft of “The Ship”.  Progress has been good and I’ve been pleased with how things are going.  There will probably be a 3rd draft as well.  What happens after that?  Well, that’s a tale for another entry.

Today I wish to discuss how I deal with a 2nd drafts.  I handle 3rd and 4th drafts the same way, so don’t expect any blog entries on those.  It’s the same process all over again to try catch whatever I missed on the previous draft.

Like many authors, I’ve been learning a lot of things on my own.  There’s no exact set of rules for how to do  write and create a book, though many people have tried to explain it.  Every author is going to handle things differently, whether its how they create a story (with an outline, flying by the seat of your pants, etc.) to editing, proofreading, whatever.  Different things work for different people.

In my case how I handle dealing with 2nd drafts is pretty straightforward.  After I complete the first draft on my computer and save it.  I will then save it again using the “Save As” function and labeling it differently.  In this case “The Ship 2nd Draft”.  From there I will begin going over the entire story, page by page.  I already know what the current word count is (139,806 in this case).  I know this is one of the things I want to change about the book.  I also want to keep track of the pacing of the story, as well as watch out for ideas or concepts being repeated unnecessarily.

I proceed to go over the story line by line.  As I go along I try to keep an eye out for excess verbage such as “he/she said” because it’s usually pretty easy to tell who was speaking.  Another thing I watch out for are sentences beginning with “now” or “but”.  Sometimes I’ll use them unnecessarily, and also, if used too often they can be a little jarring to the eyes of the reader.

Another thing I’ll be looking for as I go along is how well I phrased certain ideas.  Does it read smoothly or is there something not quite right.  I may rewrite a paragraph or line and make it more easy to understand and pleasing to the eye.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ll also be keeping an eye out for plot points or ideas being repeated in two or more areas of the novel.  I don’t know about you, but I spend weeks or even months writing a novel.  So I sometimes I forget what I wrote a few weeks back and wind up repeating myself later in the story.  This happened a lot in my first novel “The Bridge”.  However, I seem to have gotten better about it, because I haven’t been finding that happening as often in “The Ship”.

Finally, one other thing I’ll do as I go along is see if every scene, or even characters, are really relevant to the story.  I have removed characters, or even entire scenes, more than once from my stories.  I’ll do this because either the character or subplot is not really needed, or they feel really out of place and don’t belong in this particular story.

I’ve also removed lengthy scenes and simplified them because I plan on using the much longer version as the basis for a follow up short story, or another novel entirely.  Certain references that appear in “The Ship” will be expanded upon in a collection of short stories I’m planning on doing down the road.

So that’s an overview of how I handle 2nd, 3rd and 4th drafts.  All of these things help to cut down the word count as well as allow me to tighten the story up and improve the overall piece.  Mind you, I still plan on getting the book edited by others.  I’m just particular about getting the entire story down and told in a certain way before I let anyone else even get a glimpse of it.

As I said at the beginning, how I handle drafts and rewrites may not be the same as other people.  What’s your way of dealing with 2nd drafts and rewrites?  Enquiring writing minds would like to know, so please share your thoughts in the comments section below, this way we can all benefit and learn from each other.

Until next time, take care and keep writing.


     Yesterday I finished the 1st draft of my second novel “The Ship”.  The word count came in at 139, 345.  A bit high I admit, but a damn sight better than what my first novel “The Bridge” came in at.  That sucker wound up in 195,000 words.  Man did that puppy need some serious editing and rewriting.  I finally got it down to 102,000 words before I finally released it.  Yeah, I practically took a chainsaw to that sucker.

      So what’s my next step?
      First up is PROOFREADING!  I’ve been lucky enough to have a trusted beta-reader who has been checking my spelling, punctuation, etc. the entire time that I’ve been writing “The Ship”.  I kept all the corrected pages she sent back and am going through them and making the corrections already.   So far, 166 of the 525 pages have been fixed on that front.  It’s been going pretty fast, but she told me a while back that she was finding a lot fewer mistakes in my writing this time around and that my style had matured.  I was very glad to hear this.  I have been trying very hard to do a better job this time around, so it’s good to hear my efforts are showing.
 After the proofreading, I intend to start a second draft.  How will this be different than the proofreading? Simple, once the grammatical errors are fixed I can re-read the story myself and start looking for unnecessary repetition of ideas/concepts, simplifying concepts, expanding on thoughts where it might help the reader, eliminating scenes or characters who do not really make a serious impact on the plot, etc.
      When I write a first draft, it’s simply to get the entire story told.  Only then can I go back and look at it from a reader’s perspective and see if it’s all making sense.  I’ll also study the pacing, the details, are the characters actions logical and  if not is there a reason, etc.  Automatically, a lot of the repairs and adjustments I make will start cutting down the word count.
      After I’ve completed the 2nd draft, I may unleash it on a few ‘trustworthy’ beta-readers to get their impressions.and feedback.  From there a 3rd draft will be made incorporating some, but not necessarily all, their ideas. Why won’t I use all of it, because I’m already plotting the next story in the series.  Some of what they talk about, might be things needed to help set the stage for the next book.  They will have no idea of this, but I do and I’m not sharing that info just yet.  I don’t want to spoil the next book in the series for them.
     As you can see, finishing a first draft is a huge accomplishment, but the work is just beginning.  There’s so much more to be done, before I release the book in its final form to the public.  There is a lot to think about in creating your novel.  NEVER publish your first draft and say “It’s perfect as it is!”  You will regret it.  Take the time to go over it and have others add their input.  But choose those editors, beta-readers, and proofreaders carefully.  You could wind up with a bunch of “Yes-Men” who offer only praise and no solid advice.
     Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have more proofreading to do.  Until next time… keep writing.


Well, I just got the official word from Kickstarter that my crowd-funding project failed.  No surprise really, not since I told everyone I considered it over already a few days ago. Will I try another Kickstarter down the road?  Quite likely.  It was a good experience I felt.  Also, I got a number of good compliments on the video I made for it, which also pleases me.

For those who don’t know, I began running a Vlog (video blog) about a year or two ago, but haven’t touched it in a long time.  I may start creating more videos just for giggles.  I’ve had several comedic ideas in mind for some time, but just haven’t had the time or inclination to get out and shoot some new material.  For the most part, I tried to make my videos informative (usually about writing or being creative).  But when I look back on what I did in the past, they were very informative, but static.  A guy sitting there and talking at you.  Whereas my Kickstarter video I put a lot more thought into angles, a bit of a script, and even a few visual effects.  Nothing by Hollywood’s standards, but it was definitely more fun to watch.  If I could add some more comedy touches to it, I might have something a bit more fun for people to watch.

The few where I did add comedy were my most popular videos in the past.  And I’ve often been told I have a good sense of timing and comedy, so we’ll see.  I’ve already got one idea for a Christmas video to a very amusing song which I definitely want to put together for this coming December.

But I digress.  I learned a lot from my Kickstarter experience and will probably employ it again down the road.  One of the things I learned was to be more careful about the timing.  Starting one up around Christmas was a BIG mistake.  A number of people wanted to contribute, but times are still hard and they didn’t have much to spare and I understood this.  That was my bad and it won’t happen again.

Do I recommend Kickstarter or crowd-sourcing to other writers and other creative minds who are trying to raise money to help finance a project.  Absolutely YES!  It’s worth a shot and the most you’ll lose out on is time, but you will gain insight about your idea.  Was my book a bad idea?  Not in the least.  I know a lot of people are out there chomping at the bit to get their hands on it when I release the book.  Some of you may be saying, “If that’s the case why didn’t any of them help fund your Kickstarter?” Once more I point to TIMING!  Even when the book comes out, they may not be able to buy it right away, depending on their finances.  But they will buy it eventually.

I’ve noticed books with artwork do pretty well on Kickstarter (children’s books, comics, original artwork books, etc).  I think partly because the contributors can see more of what they’re money would be going into, plus a lot of artists can offer original pages or images as part of the rewards they offer contributors.

All I had to offer were copies of my book in various formats (Nook, Kindle, PDF, signed paperback copies, 1st editions, and even the artwork that became the book’s cover).

Also, keep in mind the levels you make available for people to contribute.  Don’t just aim really high, aim low too.  My goal was $600, if I had 300 people give at $1, then another 60 give $5, I would’ve made it.  Remember, it’s a bit of a numbers game.  Not everyone will be able to donate a huge amount, but a large number of small ones can take far enough to hit your goal.  Just make sure you get the word out there.  Kickstarter isn’t going to spread the word for you.  That’s YOUR job!

I know this is a lot to take in, but that’s why I’m posting it here.  So you can refer back to it again and again.  Part of my creating this blog was so others could learn what worked and what didn’t as I travel this road to become a well known author.  There’s still a lot of the journey ahead of me, so stay with me.  There’s still a lot more experiences I have to share with you.

And remember, if you go the crowd-sourcing way keep in mind the time of year.  You may not want to start one around April 15th when people may be having to find money to pay the Tax Man and whatnot.  Think about what may be going on in the lives of others.  Now the the major holidays over may be a good time to start putting your project together and getting it out there.  Will I re-release my project again?  Possibly.  But it won’t be a for a few months if I do.  I’ve pushed the release date back to late May to try and get “THE SHIP” out there as the perfect time for a nice book to read during the summer, which is when the story is taking place.  They say timing is everything.

So until next time, take care and keep writing everyone.


Greetings everyone.  I wish to make a couple of announcements.

First, after careful consideration and evaluating where things are at, I’ve decided to aim for releasing the book in time for June. This way people can enjoy it as part of their Summer reading.

As a result of this decision I’m declaring the Kickstarter a failure and ended.  Mind you, I am not angry or upset by this. In fact I think it may be a blessing in disguise.  I will have more time to rework the book and possibly have some Beta-testers read it to get a better idea how my unpaid team and I do at getting it edited as best we can. If there still seem to be a lot of problems, then I may try another Kickstarter or find another way to raise the money for a professional editor.

I’d like to take this moment to thank everyone who did pledge to the Kickstarter.  The Kickstarter was not going to succeed, but I do appreciate your belief in me and your support.

Remember “THE SHIP” is still coming. I am not giving up on it. I’m just giving myself more time and breathing space to get it in the best shape possible. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks.

ALSO: I will be appearing in an anthology being printed over in England soon, so I’ll keep you all appraised about that as I hear more on that front.

On a final note, I will also be releasing another book later this year. “THE VAMPYRE BLOGS” which is destined for a Christmas release, since that will be the time frame of the story.  In the meantime, you can read entries by the characters on my blog that is dedicated to that novel. Keep in mind, the entries you read online will NOT be appearing in the novel. They are merely to help prospective readers become a little more familiar with the characters and their histories, before the book comes out.   After all, I can only fit so much into one book. (grin)

Thanks for your attention and support. Take care and keep writing everyone.


Well gang, I’ve got one week left in my Kickstarter for getting “The Ship” professionally edited. Right now it’s sitting at 55% funded. $330.00 have been pledged, but there’s still another $270.00 needed to make the goal.

Will it happen? I don’t know. If it doesn’t, then it’s back to the drawing board and try to do the best I can with my backup team and the release date will be pushed back again. Not my favorite option, but whatever will be, will be.

If you want to make a pledge there’s still 7 days left. No monies change hands unless the goal is met. Remember, pledging is like reserving your own copy of the book. Everyone who pledges will be receiving either an e-version or a paperback depending on the level you can pledge.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/975056676/editing-my-2nd-novel-the-ship

THE SHIP - COVER Final

Why The New Blog?


Before I get into promoting my new blog, I thought I should explain myself to you all.  The reason why I’ve created “The Vampire Blogs” was simple.  It’s part experiment, and part story building.  With the popularity of vampires in books, it was only a matter of time before I found myself getting drawn in, although I had sworn to avoid the genre.  Yet, like any writer, I couldn’t help speculating on  “Well, if I did a vampire story, I’d make it more original and do this, this and this…”  Naturally, an idea came and began to snowball on me.

 

I wanted to keep most if not all the typical strengths and weaknesses of the traditional vampire, while at the same time making such a being fit into my Para-Earth Series world.  The being I would have a reasonable explanation for the various abilities such as shape-shifting, turning into mist, etc.   I would also give him a few new traits that fit with the being I had made him out of.  I won’t go into any more details at this point, because I don’t want to spoil things for the readers of the novel when it comes out.

 

So, I created Nathaniel and made him into a vampire.  Is he good or bad?  Well, I’ll let you all find out over at the other blog and in the book.  He’s human, let’s say that much.  He can be good or bad like any person.  It all depends on how he’s treated and if he’s pushed too far.

 

Still, none of this answers the original question of why I created an actual blog for a novel that isn’t going to be ready until December.  The answer is very simple.  I wanted to see if I could generate a lot of interest for the book, by giving my prospective audience and chance to get to know some of the characters in advance.  To let the readers inside these people’s heads and know where they’re coming from and what kind of lives they’ve led.  Remember, like in any book, these lives are going to be turned upside down and forever changed by the end of the novel.  Whether these changes are going to be for good or for bad, only time and the novel will tell.

 

But there was also a secondary purpose for creating the blog.  It is going to help me as a writer to get to know these characters as well.  I’ll have time to really figure out who they are, what events have shaped them, and what are their hopes and dreams.  I’ve encountered so many people who always wanted to know more about certain characters in books we’ve both read, but sadly the authors don’t always have the time to give us more.  Unless the writer is doing a long series, there are always so many unanswered questions about the people we meet within the pages of those books.  Maybe the author doesn’t even have all the answers, I know I didn’t sometimes.  So this time, I hope to have those answers and can share them in advance with all of you.

 

Whether or not this experiment is a success or failure, time will tell.  But you’re all invited to come along for the ride and see what happens.  Please leave feedback here or over at  “The Vampire Blogs”, because I’m looking forward to hearing people’s thoughts on what they are seeing.

 

I just finished putting up a new entry there today, where my lead character “Nathaniel Steward” has just finished his first entry.  Come and meet the vampire who I hope will capture your hearts and minds…

 

http://thevampyreblogs.blogspot.com/2014/01/first-blog-entry-of-nathanial-steward.html


“The Vampyre Blogs” are here. Click below to get your first glimpse into the life of the first vampire from the Para-Earth Series.  Feedback and comments are welcome and encouraged.

http://thevampyreblogs.blogspot.com/2014/01/a-brief-introduction-to-this-blog.html

Apple MacBook Pro laptop


Well, 2013 was a rollercoaster of a year for me.  There were some great highs but an awful lot of lows that really made this a tough one for me.

 

Losing my father-in-law was probably the hardest thing to go through.  I looked up to that man so much and he gave me such great advice and encouragement.  To watch him fight the good fight and then lose to something other than the cancer, was gut-wrenching.  However, to see my wife’s family pull together and know I was a part of them, helped a lot.  As did this Christmas.  This was the first one without him and was going to be especially hard for my mother-in-law.  Helen (my wife) and I had her and my brother-in-law over here for the holiday where we decked out the place and managed to create a magical Christmas in which it felt like he was right there with us the whole time.  We all felt his presence, and that made me feel so much better.

 

My debut novel “The Bridge” came out and 1477 copies were grabbed up.  Most of these were thanks to free e-book giveaways (about 1370) by my count.  Was it worth doing that?  I think so, because as a 1st time author I needed to get my product and my name out there.  I’m hoping this will translate to a large number of people willing to actually buy the second book when it comes out in March 2014.  Because I won’t be doing free promo-giveaways again because in order to do that, I’d have to first release the book to Amazon only for 3 months.  That would leave all my Nook, Apple and Sony e-reader fans waiting on the sidelines.  I don’t like that idea, it seems unfair to my audience and I cannot operate that way.  I care about the people that are interested in reading my work.

 

Foolish? Maybe.  Idealistic?  Certainly.  But that’s couple of things that make me who I am.

For 2014 I’m hoping to put out at least 2 new books.  “The Ship” of course in March.  Then I’ll be introducing a new set of characters and their first story in December.  “The Vampire Blogs” will be my first Christmas story.  My protagonist will be a blood-sucker with most, if not all, the usual powers and weaknesses and no sparkling.  He will also be a good-guy.  I have plans of starting a blog dedicated to events in his and the other characters lives before the book actually comes out to give the audience sneak preview into the workings of their minds and how life shapes their personalities.  Please let me know if you like this idea in the comments section below.  Most of what will be shown in the blog will probably not show up in the book, so these ‘blog’ entries will be an added treat for my readers.

 

Depending on my schedule in the coming months, I might have a third book come out which will involve Alex, Veronica, Cassie and Julie once again and take up where both “The Bridge” and “The Ship” leave off.  Little hint for everyone about the final scene coming up in “The Ship”.  Hee-hee…

 

I will be attending more classes at my local Community College starting in Feb., with the hopes of entering University in the Fall of 2014.  We’ll see how everything goes and how life is treating me.  The amount of free time I have will have a definite impact on how much writing I get done.  So keep your fingers crossed for me.  I’m dedicated to getting “The Ship” and “The Vampire Blogs” out for certain.

 

Other goals and dreams for 2014 involve spending more time with my wife and hoping our financial situation improves so we can get out and try more things.  Kayaking, Parasailing, Ballroom Dance and other activities have long been on our list of what we’d like to try or do more of.  We’ll see how things go.

 

So, as 2013 comes to a close, I pray the coming months are kind and treat you all even better than the last 12 have.  More writing tips will be coming soon so stay tuned.  In the meantime, if you must travel please be safe and stay well.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL… and keep writing.

 

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