Sunday, December 22, 2013

Side Effect

I've been writing a lot of poetry recently. In fact I've got so many poems now I'm estimating that my first book of poetry will be out next year. All I need is fifty poems and I've got thirty-one poems now and another dozen or so that I'm working on to add to my collection. That means when all is said and done I'm within seven poems and I'll definitely write that many poems in the new year if current trends continue.

But there's an interesting side effect of all this poetry writing that I wasn't expecting. I seem to be more in touch with my feelings and emotions. That's not surprising since many poems are about a feeling or an emotion, just an unexpected because I've been writing poems for years and never experienced this before.

Not that I'm complaining. I like this side effect. It makes me feel more alive than I have in years. I've spent my life large part of my life working, like most people. The routine of the day, the drudgery of work, and the small moments of relaxation with a game in my phone, or a video clip on Facebook, sort of drain away my spark, my edge, and zeal for life.

But writing poetry helps to counteract that for me. And I didn't realize it until the last few weeks when several poems spilled out of me and into a text document the other day. It felt good to say a few things that had been in there for some time.

Keep writing everyone.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Is a Puzzlement

At the start of the month, I released a new story, Gray's World, on Smashwords. It's a science fiction story, one which I had submitted to some magazines and which they rejected. That was a few years ago when I was still struggling to figure why my novel wouldn't sell either.

Recently I realized how to fix the story. So I did and released it. I saw one tweet about it and since then people have been downloading it at a steady clip. Currently, as of this morning, I see 89 downloads in only two weeks. That's my best performance so far out of about ten stories in Smashwords. If this continues it will the first story of mine to break 100 downloads.

While all that is great my question is why? Do people like to read science fiction more than fantasy? I'm thinking yes. Did that one tweet make a difference? I'm thinking, maybe. Is words of mouth a factor? Possibly but I have no way to know. Or is it the time of year? Would the same story released in April or June be showing the same results? No way to know.

And this is where Smashwords breaks down. While readers can post reviews, what is really needed is a way for writers to talk to readers about likes and dislikes. What motivated selecting one story over another. I'm thinking that the mere fact that the story is free is an overriding factor. I have no doubt that if the prices was $0.99, I'd be blogging about something else today because the number of sales would be zero.

So I am left with more questions than answers. All I can do is keeping watching the performance of all of my stories and hope an answer presents itself.

Keep writing everyone.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Random Order

I've been writing all sorts of things as the mood hits. For example, I began writing a few poems. My poetry collection now has over 30 poems in it and I manage to capture a few more. When I have 50 poems I'll give thought to releasing it.

Revision on Book 2 continues but in a fit of activity I managed to plot out Books 5 and 6. It was necessary to do both books at once to match sure the timelines were in sync and not contradictory. I'll probably revise the plot of Book 6 later but at least I've got a good handle on it.

I released another story on Smashwords for free; this one was my first science fiction tale. I've been watching the downloads ever since. 

Revision on my very first novel has been slow but encouraging. This is the very first idea I had for a story. It is a mix of fantasy, science-fiction, and a few other things. Years ago, before the Aglaril Cycle was even a glimpse in my eye, this was the project that got me writing. The problem with the story is I had no ending. That recently changed and when it did, I dusted off the old files and began to look at them again. 

As things done now, I don't think this will be a novel any more, but it might be a novella. I'll have to seen. Currently it is only around 15,000. 

All of this work has been exactly what I need to do it keep the writing fires lit and burning, but there is not rhyme or reason to which one comes first or last. And now that Book 5 is plotted, it can rest until January when I'll began writing it, which is good there are several characters I need to think about, describe and name.

At the end of the month, the two short stories I'm working on will be re-read. Hopefully one of them will be ready to go out and be released. If it is, it comes off the list of work; if not, I'll revise and check it again in a month.

So you see, I've a plan for the writing I'm focused on but no set plan for which one comes first on any given day. That suits me and the way I like to way. 

Hope you all are continuing to write too.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

More Writer Traps

As anyone knows who has been writing for any length of time, it is easy for someone to waste time on other activities that should or could be spent on writing. This is the writer trap.

They come is all shapes and sizes and I've written about a few. Generally, they come in the form of distractions such as surfacing the Internet, playing computer games, keeping up on social media, and so on. But anything can be a writer trap of this type such as a movie on TV that you don't plan to watch but get sucked into.

But this past week I found another kind: one that involves having too many projects to work on. At the moment I've got lots of projects:

  • revising Book 2
  • working on several short stories
  • reviewing poems for my poetry collection
  • promoting Book 1
  • web site revisions
  • finding writers for the author event I'm organizing in the spring
  • keeping up on local author events in my area
All of these need my attention and are important things to do but the main focus of this week was revising Book 2 since I've neglected it for so long. But I found having these other projects a distraction too and so one day I focused on my poetry and not my novel. Another day I took for my web site.

This surprised me because I was not expecting it. But when I looked back on how far I had gotten in revising Book 2 the trap was obvious. I'll have to watch that for the future. Although it will be hard because distraction of this type are likely to increase as more books are completed.

Keep writing everyone.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


One of my early blog posts asked the question are you serious about writing. By that I meant are meant are you willing to do what it takes to write and publish your work. My view at the time was that writing is for sharing -- something I still believe -- and that in order to share a story or poem or written piece, you must publish it.

However, I'm not sure how many other writers share that view. I say this because I've begun to research out to many area writing groups looking for people with published work like me. I am looking for them because I manage to convince my local library to host an author event in the spring. So now I need about five people to come and talk about their work.

So far the results from reaching out to writing groups has been a bust. No one has expressed interest. So I began to suspect that writers in writing groups are not serious. They are writing for themselves or perhaps are few others. But they don't ever plan to publish. That's fine, of course, and confirms my view that belonging to a writing group is not for me.

Ironically, however, I've had to join several groups so I could advertise the author event coming next spring, not that this has done me much good...

And it still leaves me with the issue of finding writers with published books who want to participate in the author event I'm trying to get off the ground. 

I suppose this time of year people aren't thinking about the spring; they are thinking about the end of the year, holidays, family, presents, food, and all that stuff. That doesn't make my job any easier but might explain why I've gotten no response.

Perhaps a more direct approach is in order. I can use social media to find people ask them directly. I also plan to post a notice in the library hoping that any writers that use the institution will see the notice and respond.

And in the meantime, I'm planning to attend local gatherings put on by others to research how I might attend them in the future as a seller and not a buyer. I went to a book fair in Groton, MA last week, for example and gave my information to the organizer in case they want to do another fair in the future.

And amidst all they I've got novels and stories to write and revise. No wonder I'm tried. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wrote a book? Try selling it.

The big discovery this week is that traditional publishers aren't my only roadblock; traditional booksellers are too. I made this discovery while trying to arrange a book signing for my novel. In the process I learned a few things:

* It is nearly impossible to garner interest in a new unknown fiction writer; you can advertise but people will ignore it and not attend the signing. Apparently they want to be sure the event is worth their time and that they are not wasting their money. 

* The booksellers will buy books for the signing on consignment but will not advance money to pay for them; this means the author must foot the bill, not something I can do easily.

* The bookseller will alternatively buy books for the signing from the publisher but they have to be returnable. My publisher, as a small press, does not accept returns. 

* The sum of all these points means that a new author cannot, in all likelihood, arrange book signings to promote his or her book This leaves very few avenues open.

So I'm back to square one and spending time thinking about what I can do for now. Frankly, I think the best thing I can do to promote my work, at the moment, is to keep writing and release more of my work to the public.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sold Out ... Temporarily

The new this week is that my novel, after being in Amazon for about a week and a half is temporarily sold out. I'm sure those sales are family and/or friends. And I expected this sort of spike initially. The question is can I maintain it.

And quite honestly, I don't know. But I've begun focusing on book signings, which means identifying book store in the area and asking if they host such events so I can get connected with them.

Aside from that, I continue to revise Book 2 slowly, revise one short story in the hopes of releasing it soon, and developed the plot for Book 5.

I am still waiting for my free copies of my book and I have any to hear any details from my publisher on the launch event they said they were planning -- despite having explicitly asking about it.

I'm guessing they will not host such an event.

Regardless, I'm plugging away at all the things I can hoping to make some sort of difference in promoting my book.

Keep writing everyone.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Life Resumes

With my first novel published, life resumes its normal flow with the added piece that I'm now thinking about how to promote the book. Aside from that, I continue to revise Book 2 and I've begun to plan out Book 5.

Work on poems and short stories continues as well. And I continue to plod along taking care of my house, my dogs, the car, and spending time with my wife.

Just regular things that everyone does.

That said, there is a book launch event that is supposed to happen. The publisher is arranging that. I've asked for details because I've not herd a word. And this morning, it appears that I've sold one or two short stories. I need to check my mail to be sure.

Additionally, I've begun work on arranging an event at my local library so that I can have the local TV station cover it and/or interview me. I really want a TV interview to spread the word about my book.

This is the new normal I guess. And I'll find out in January when the sales numbers come in how success -- or not -- I've been.

Keep writing everyone.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Interview: Me, my world, and other things

I posted on Twitter yesterday reminding everyone that only three days remain until my novel releases. This prompted at series of question from Giselle Marks, a writer who follows me, about my book, myself, and other things. I thought it made a good impromptu interview, so here it is. Enjoy.

Keep writing everyone.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

When Ideas Won't Come

I've been struggling with a short story recently, one that I thought was ready to go. But based on a few test reads, I decided to revise it instead. But every revise comes up flat. So I decided to take a step back.

I re-read the story and cut away everything I didn't like before moving forward again. Then I resumed my revision, more slowly this time. Inching my way forward, writing a paragraph or two and them putting it away.

I salvaged a few sections from a previous draft too where they made sense and slept on it.

I did that because I know that if I sleep on something, I usually will have something to writing the following morning. And sure enough, I did. I finally had the answer I was looking for.

Well, not the whole answer but a new direction to explore. I still don't know how it will work out because I put the story away again just before starting this blog entry.

I don't want to rush this. But I have a direction and a few ideas where there were none yesterday.

I don't know if this approach will work for anyone else, but if you are struggling to find a way out of a story you've started, what do you have to lose? Try it.

Keep writing, everyone.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Aure, the Topaz, Book 1 of the Aglaril Cycle

I like to think that I'm not so arrogant or full of myself that I can't admit when I wrong. And at those times, I'd like to think that I can just admit it and move on. So here goes.

I never really expected to receive a physical proof of my novel because the publisher seems so inept. But over the last month they've been proving me wrong repeatedly and this past week they put the icing  on that cake. The physical proof on Wednesday and I approved it.

This opens up the floodgates for everything else needed to release the book to happen.

The release date is October 22 but you can order the paper version from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The electronic versions should be in stores soon for those with book readers and tables.

After that I'm not sure what happens. I asked about a book launch event. The publisher is going to handle that. I will be getting the word out too. So if you know anyone who likes to read fantasy novels, please spread the word.

Beyond that I guess I need to think about attending book promotion events like ReaderCon. And I need to get moving on Book 2.

Keep writing everyone.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Arbiters of Taste

Long ago, in an era without social media, the editors and publishers of books and magazine determined what we read for fiction and non-fiction. In one sense they controlled what we thought too or thought about, because we naturally think about things we read. It wasn't a monopoly of course. We were able to think about other things but they had a large influence.

The general reading public was the one check on this control. If we didn't like something, we didn't buy it and the publishers didn't make money. If we did, the cash poured in. This part is still true today but there are differences.

For example, because of self-publishing, publishers do not have while the control they had. Oh, they still control what is branded with their name but anyone can publish just about anything they want and get it out there. This, of course, makes it harder to know what is good and what is not. And yet some will argue the self-publishing is better because it is more democratic.  Others will argue that in matters of taste democracy has no place.

Personally, I'm not sure I have an opinion. Sure, I like being able to publish my own stuff. But I really don't want a terrorist manifesto published where young impressionable people will read it. On the other hand, the tight control publishing houses once had is archaic. It does not allow new talent in and preserves the old order when innovation is really needed.

But I think my biggest concern is that self-publishing allows individual to set themselves up as tin-pot dictators. These situations arise when one or more people decides to publish an anthology or magazine and puts out a call for submissions. Suddenly they decide what goes in and what does not. My experience with this is that even stories that have been well received by readers are in fact rejected.

I just have to shake my head in wonder. I guess I'm going to put my faith in the reading public. Money talks and if they download, buy, and read my stuff, the tin-pot dictators can all go to hell.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Trailer

The big news this week is that the trailer for my novel, Aure the Topaz, is out and posted on my web site, Feel free to watch it.

You'll also find it on YouTube and Vimeo.

The end product is different from the script and storyboards I submitted, but different in a good way. The folks creating the trailer clearly know what they are doing and personally, I'd like to shake their hands and thank them for the fine work.

I doubt that will happen as the publisher outsourced the project to some company I'm sure.

Regardless, it is done and turned out great. Now the only thing that stands between me and a release of my novel is seeing the physical proof of the book.

I am promised it is on the way. I have yet to receive it however and October begins in about a week. If we are going to make this deadline, they had better hurry.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I May have Been Too Hasty

A few weeks ago, I was surprised by a flurry of tweets to me and about me which seem to have prompted this blog to receive more notice. I assume my web site saw an increased in traffic -- I have checked the logs on that but it stands to reason since I habitually send people there.

Here's what happened:

As some of readers of this blog may know, I have in the Boston area. So does John Feitelberg. John and I (as far as I know) are not related, although I need to ask about his parents to see if he is related to other Feitelbergs (also not related) that I know about. But that's a sidebar to satisfy my curiosity on the point.

John and I are both on Twitter and are active on other sites. He tried to get the twitter name @feitelberg only I had taken it. John writes too and I guess having someone with the name you wanted, who lives in your area, and does what you do was too much for him. He tweeted on this, saying:
can't describe how much it rattles me that is a writer in Boston
That was last June and it surprised me because what difference does it make that I'm a writer and live in the area? I never got the answer to that and was too busy with edits to Book 1 at the time to pursue it.

Then a few weeks ago I heard from John again only this time he was getting an account for reddit. I, of course, had already been there and took the login name feitelberg. John felt obligated to share this on Twitter.
Signed up for Barstool Reddit and someone already snaked the handle feitelberg. That you again bro, ?
He sounded far more friendly this time. I responded, 'Who me?' which opened the floodgates. The next thing I know I'm getting tweets one after the other from John and his followers. Suddenly, My tweets are being retweeted and I'm the subject of the conversation. Mostly it's praise; John asks to meet me, share a beer, and have me read some of my poetry.

Others want to know more about me. I refer everyone here to my blog and to my web site. Two days later, John blogs about this calling me the most interesting man on Twitter. For the details, visit his blog:

Now a little praise every now and again is nice. Good reviews for my novel (coming out in October now -- maybe) would be nice, but I don't need my ego stroked. My self-esteem is good enough that I know who I am and what I'm about that such hyperbole is recognized and a little strange.

But, as the saying goes, all promotion is good promotion, if it gets your name out there and that's the result here. I've got a lot of new Twitter followers, which is good. But oddly no new followers for my blog, even though some of the last few posts have seen a lot of visits.

So I'm left scratching my head. Did I stop blogging too soon? Should I resume? I don't know, but I can easily test this by writing a few posts and see what happens. I'll do this on a weekly basis now, I think and since Book 1 has been promised me by next month, perhaps I'll have more things to say about that whole experience too.

In the meantime, keep writing everyone.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Self-Publishing Wins

I know I've discussed which is better: traditional publishing or self-publishing. At the time I gave the pros and cons of both. That discussion left out a few points which tip the scale toward self-publishing.

For example, I neglected to point out that most of us will probably end up using a small press if we go the traditional publishing route. This process takes much longer than it would if you self-publish. Much longer. I've been waiting months for my first novel to be released. And while the publisher has made progress toward that end, my book remains available for pre-sale only.

Since time to market is an important factor -- another point I failed to cite -- I don't see the advantage of the traditional publishing model. I suppose some small presses are better at keep a schedule but I suspect that most every scheduling issues.

The other thing to keep in mind is that self-publishing requires you make the quality of the book job 1. This means have the story professionally edited and pay for a quality cover. If you do those two things, you should be able to handle the rest of what you need to do yourself.

So I'm thinking that the rest of my novels will be self-published. That's assuming that the first one is ever released.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Everything is Part of a Larger Story

I got my first review of my short story, Baby Muran. I was mostly a positive review. The reviewer said it was well-written and a good adventure, which I agree with. That was the plan for the story all along.

But the reviewer also did that she felt it was part of a larger story. And with this I take issue. Here's why:

In order for the main character to seem real and not flat, he makes reference to things that have no relation to the story. My first draft didn't have those scenes, but the final draft does for exactly the reason I mention. If that makes the story seem incomplete, I'm sorry. That's life or a slice of life.

Additionally, the story is set in a context which I explain, the city was invaded and it now in ruin. The main character is helping to clean up the ruins. This too may seem like there is a larger story but the invasion is back story. The reader may want to know about that, but including is really outside the scope of the story I'm telling.

Still, the reaction of the reviewer is worth noting and I will keep in mind. Who knows, I may revise Baby Muran again.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

For those of you following this blog in Facebook using the NetworkedBlogs app, you may want to subscribe directly to the blog at I say this because I'm probably going to change how I use social media.

My plan is to use the blog for longer discussions. Shorter posts will go out at tweets or postings on my Fan Page. So if you want to keep track of what's going on with me, you'll need to follow me on Twitter  (I'm sure you can find me if you search for Rich Feitelberg) or subscribe to my Fan Page at

The reason for my doing this is simple: I want to keep everyone information on the release of my novel and progress on my stories, but I'm going to have less time to do it. Additionally, I want to spend less time blogging and coming up with things to say and more time writing the stories that need my attention.

So there it is. Next week I will probably disable NetworkedBlogs in Facebook so you have a little time to join or follow or take no action at all. But I hope you'll stay connected with me. If not, thanks for following me for the last few years.

Take care and keep writing.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Focusing on my Book Publisher

With the release date fast approaching and the publisher falling further and further behind, I'm going to focus less on my blog and social media and more on tracking their progress. You'll still see posts from me but I think they will be shorter and more focused. Such things seems to work better for my audience based on the reaction I've been getting.

So for now, I'm done with the blog. 

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Book Economics

My trip to Chelmsford has given me a new appreciation of the economics involved with writing and its selling and marketing. Let's look at what the self-publishing writer is up against.

Before a book is even available for purchase, the writer has pay:

  • Hundreds of dollars for editing
  • Maybe $60 for book cover images and creating the cover himself or paid for a cover 
  • For an ISBN; depending on how you plan to distribute your book, you may be able to get one for free, at least for your electronic oftening
  • For a distribution plan; wherever you self-publishing you'll never help getting the book in bookstore
  • For physical printed copies to sell. This can easily cost $100 or more.

So by reckoning the writer is in the whole $1000 or thereabouts. Which means to make a profit, at $14.99 he has to sell over 67 copies. That doesn't sound like a lot, but try doing it when no one seems interested in your book. Also keep in mind that however you are distributing the book, someone is taking a piece of the pie. It could be Smashwords or Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Apple or some other bookstore. So the actually number you need to sell to turn a profit is more like 70 or 75 copies or more depending on the percentages.

You'll notice I didn't even discuss promotion. The self-published writer will have to do that too. And that adds to the cost.

Now if you go through a publisher, you can subtract the editing costs since they'll do that for you. And the costs for cover images and the ISBN, and the distribution plan. But you'll still have to pay for physical printed copies to sell. So it sounds like you better off this way, right?

Well, maybe. Publishers are slow and don't share your vision for the work. Plus still they pay for lots of stuff you get less per copy. So if you spend a $1000 on books to sell, you'll have to sell a lot more that 67 copies. The exact number depends on your royalty percentage. For example, if you get 40% royalty after the publisher's cost on $14.99 you are only getting $3 or $4 per book. Which means you have to sell somewhere between 250 and 334 copies just to break even.

Kind of daunting, huh? No one I'm having a crisis of faith. Perhaps this whole publishing idea was a bad one. I don't know. What I can say is that without physical copies of my book, I'm not making another appearance. It is just a waste of time.

Friday, June 14, 2013


It's raining...


This is the third rainstorm in a week and so far we've had a about seven inches of rain, which is enough to wipe out the deficit we had and flood my basement.

The sump pump is running regularly but when I have this much water, it is really can't handle the load.

On the bright side, each storm gives me more information on how to potential prevent future flooding. I've got some ideas to try now but I'll have to wait until things dry out.

And the really strange part is the western part of the country is dry and could use this rain but we, who don't need it now, are inundated.

Maybe July and August will be dry. That's happened before. Meantime I'm get waiting for the rain to stop so I can get out the wetvac and start cleaning up.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Switching Gears

Time to get back to basics around here. I'm sure some of readers of this blog are tired of hearing me promote my novel, Aure, the Topaz or remind them one more time that I'll be at the Chelmsford Library this Saturday for Local Authors Day, to speak about said novel.

Instead I want to talk about Book 4. I finally managed to push through my own lethargy and get back to work on the #$@#$ thing. The book now stands are around 46000 words with a goal of reaching 70000 words before I consider it complete enough to put away.

Notice I didn't say finished. The book won't be finished until published. So I've got a long road ahead of me on this one.

I'd like to say that my return to working on the book was the result of overcoming some sort of writer's block or some other writer trap. But I don't think that's true. The simple fact is I lost interest in the story for a while and needed time away from it. This happens on all written work but usually I'm ready to put it aside before I lose interest. When it happens the other way round, it can throw a monkey wrench into the works.

I almost always have to switch gears and work on something else. That's one reason I picked up Book 2 again. But Book 2 is growing (106000 words at the moment) because I'm refining and adding little things to the story as I prepare to release it.

The exact process that will take isn't clear. I know I will finish revising it. I know it will go to the editor I used on Book 1. After that, I could self-publish it or I could sell it. The path I take will depend on how well Aure is selling. Even if it does well, I'll be sure to rethink if I want to use the same publisher. I may and I may not.

But that decision is months away. Revision will not be complete for months and the editor will add more time to that. So a complete draft isn't likely until 2014. Which is fine; I won't see sales figures for Aure until December or January. So that's the timeframe I'm shooting for and even that might be ambitious. I won't know for sure until I'm closer to the end of the revision process.

Until then it's steady as she goes writing Book 4 and revising Book 2.

Keep writing everyone.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Calling all Readers

I need your help but I'm not sure how to ask this nor am I comfortable asking. But that doesn't change the fact that I need to ask. So I'm going to say this once and move on.

Please order a copy of Aure the Topaz from If you've already ordered a copy, I thank you.

Okay I'm done. I won't ask again I promise.

I suppose I should have a mailing list you can subscribe to. But I don't and creating one would be difficult especially since the people I want to target -- folks browsing my work on Amazon and Smashwords -- are beyond my reach. I have no idea who they are and I have no way to reach them. 

So I thought this blog post would be a better and reach more people but probably not the ones who are mostly to act. This is one reason it is hard for a newly published writer to get sales and reach his intended audience.

Nevertheless I think I'm going to set up a mailing list on my web site and see if anyone subscribes.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Journey Begins

Aure the Topaz is now available for pre-sale at As a result, the long journey now begins. The book will begin to have a life of its own and who knows where it will go?

I feel a little like Bilbo Baggins about to leave his home for the first time. The main difference is I don't have a kindly wizard to watch out for me.

Not that I'm worried. I know, like all things, some people will like it and some will not. The trick now is to get Book 2 out into the world. And my revision on that front is coming along. But it will be some time before it is ready for public viewing.

Meanwhile, I am still waiting to see the galleys of my book. The publisher says I should have them but I've not received them. I don't know if the printer messed up and didn't send them or they got lost in the mail. But the publisher is planning to have the galley resent and I've asked for a tracking number. I've also asked them to confirm the address they have for me so I can make sure it is correct.

And on a third front, I prepare for my appearance at the Chelmsford Library. That is now less than two weeks away and I have to practice my talk.

Keep writing, everyone.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Count Down Begins

Aure, the Topaz, Book 1 of the Aglaril Cycle can be pre-ordered starting May 31. That's this Friday. The publisher hasn't shared any specific details, but I'm assuming you'll be able to order it from their web site.

I'm planning to ask about this, however, along with several other things because the physical proofs are MIA and I've got no information on the book trailer either.

I'm mostly done with re-reading the PDF copy they sent me. There are few little changes I'd like to see in the wording but other than that, the book is in fine shape I think. Lots of people should enjoy reading it.

Meanwhile, work on Books 2 and 4 continues. More on 2 than on 4 but that's because I'm busy with preparing for my appearance at the Chelmsford Library in two weeks and other chores around the house. Life doesn't stop for anyone and I've still got plenty of things to do here to keep my home going.

But at the same time, I'm trying to rest as much as I can. My plan for this long weekend was to rest and write and I never really got to the writing part. Perhaps today will be different.

Regardless,  I am focused on the pre-sale date for my first novel. Hope it sells well.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Story Tone

I've been proofing Book 1 one final time and in the process realizing Book 2 has a long way to go. It's the characters you see. I'm not sure their reactions are right ... or consistent ... or complete.

That may be my imagination. Or that fact that Book 2 is a different kind of story. Book 1 is an adventure start to finish. Book 2 starts as a mystery and transforms.  In Book 1, you see the magic gem early and it is the centerpiece of the story. In Book 2 you don't see the gem until the very end. It is the centerpiece but you don't know that until the story is over.

So the tone of the novel is different. In Book 2 we see Evan conduct an investigate and confront necromancers with his men -- something that does not happen in Book 1. We learn more about him and  the other main characters. And new main characters are introduced. All this makes Book 2 a complex thing while Book 1 is simple bill of fare. In short, Book 1 is like a hot dog and Book 2 a full course meal.

Given this I suppose, Book 2 should feel -- or taste -- differently. But something isn't right. I don't know  what. Not yet. But I will before I'm done. Time to review the ten chapters I've just "finished" and see if anything pops out.

Keep writing everyone.

Friday, May 17, 2013

One More Time

I received a PDF of the final draft of my novel from my publisher. So I'm reading it once more time. The physical galleys are coming by mail or UPS or whatever delivery service they use.

I'm about to order 10 copies of my short story collection, Men, Melee, & Magic, for my Chelmsford appearance. This will give Lulu time to get the copies to me. I'm now slated for an interview on a blogtalk radio site in June. I don't have the exact date, but it is coming.

Needless to say, I've had little time for writing. But that will pass. I just have to get through the next few months.

And since there are so many things vying for my attention just now, time to go back and attend to them.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Interviews, Reviews, and Other Stuff

I received another set of interview questions courtesy of my publisher. That makes two sets so far. They seem slow to get me the physical proofs for the book but they seem to be working on promote well enough.

The other night, while waiting for my brother's plane to land at the airport, I discovered that someone had reviewed one of my stories. The Reaper is a fairy tale about how the perils of theft. The review gave the story four stars, which is great. It made my day.

Meanwhile I'm plodding along in my writing. Book 4 is closing in on 45000 words but progress is very slow. I'm beginning to wonder if I'll even finish it this year.

The good news is I'll have a long weekend coming and that should give me time to focus on it more.

In the meantime I'm just doing what I can and preparing for my visit to Chelmsford.

Keep writing everyone.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Not All Reviews are Equal

Feedback and reviews for a writer of fiction -- hell, for just about any writer -- is important because it allows you to gauge if your draft is on target. But not all reviews are equal. In most cases, a review or critique is subjective based on the bias of the reviewer. This is important to remember.

I had forgotten it until the other day. I know this because two stories I submitted to an anthology were rejected yet the stories continue to do well in Smashwords. So while the stories might fail to meet some literary benchmark, they resonate with my readers. Given that choice I'll gladly take the latter option.

And this fact reminded me that in an age of self-publishing, old literary standards mean little. People who insist on upholding them are clinging to a past that is evaporating. It is kind of like living in an closed religious community with strict rules of dress and behavior. You miss out on everything around you. They insist on the old ways out of fear.

I'm not saying down with the old ways; but I do think people need to be open to change and have to learn how to adapt. I'm not one to talk here; I really dislike change. But when I see the handwriting on the wall, then the time to change is at hand. In this case, how you judge a good story from a bad one depends on who you are.

I know that my two stories were rejected because they were not considered very original. I would argue that because originality is in the new of the beholder. Sure, an editor of an anthology who sees hundreds and thousands of stories could have that reaction, especially if he or she doesn't read the whole story. But for others, the story is unlike anything they've every seen.

And that's the point. As a writer I tend to think that all comments are equal and have equal weight, but that's not true because for the editor of the anthology my work is crap. And I know that's wrong. So my goal is to write the best story I can. Make the text as clean as possible and adhere to the rules of writing creative fiction, such as they are. Beyond that, what you think of a story is your business and rushing to judgement does not do you or me much good.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Coming Soon

Hard to believe that in a few short weeks, my novel will be available for pre-sale. I don't have the details for this yet, but I'm assuming my publisher's web site will let you pre-order the book and that my web site,, will point you there. A link from this blog may also be available if I get really organized. So start saving those sheiks if you've been waiting for a paper version of the novel.

In the meantime, I'm preparing for my visit to the Chelmsford library and I've been re-reading Book 2 and have been making tweaks here and there. It will go to the editor I used on Book 1 so I can finalize the copy. I'm undecided if it will go my publisher after that. I'll have to see how they do with promoting Book 1. If there do a poor job, I may self-publish Book 2, at least to start.

It's really hard to say for sure since I have no crystal ball for the future. So my focus is just to get Book 2 to a point where the editor can do her job. I thought the novel was at that stage but I decided that was not the case a few weeks back. So I opened it up for one final read and edit. After that I'll see where I stand with Book 1.

All this will take months because I'm reading Book 2 very slowly, crafting each scene as I go. It takes longer that way, but the results are good and it is really the only way I can be sure the end result is what I want.

Keep writing, everyone.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Interview Questions

My publisher arranged an interview for me which will appear in social media prior to my book's release. I have a series of questions to answer which the interviewer will arrange and post. I don't have a date for when this will come out yet -- hell, I'm still writing my answers -- but if I had to guess I'd say mid-June since the release date is July 9.

The publisher also confirmed that the pre-sale date remains May 31, which is good. I'll be able to tell the folks who attend Local Authors Day in Chelmsford that my book is available for pre-sale. So now all I have to do is figure out what I'm going to say about my book.

That's harder than it sounds because so many pieces are intertwined. I have the added burden of explaining which the Aglaril are. In my rehearsals for the event I usually start there and then give a brief  history of the magic gems so they will have context.

I've identified several passages from the book to read and I am told that the goal here is to hook the audience. So I think I need to finish with the battle between Evan and Jormundan, the necromancer Evan has been chasing because that encounter goes very badly for Evan. If I stop just as Evan is waiting for the final death stroke, I should have the audience on the edge of their seats.

Or is that kinda heartless? I don't know; sales is one of those things I never learned about in school. It just seems to me that I need to set an expectation and then leave them hanging so they will buy the book and can fulfill it themselves. Of course, that might not work. I don't know but it is worth trying once.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, April 29, 2013

This seems odd to me, what do you think?

ReaderCon will be held in July this year. For those who are unfamiliar with this event, it a convention for imaginative literature -- science fantasy, fantasy, horror and similar genres. This year it is in Burlington, MA which is not far from my Boston-based publisher.

So I asked them if they were going to attend the convention since they have several books to promote now and the Con is perfect place to do that. I also was thinking that if they did attend, I could show up one day to sign copies of my novel.

But that aren't going, which has got me scratching my head. I would've thought that a convention in their own backyard would be something they would jump at. But I guess not. Still it seems odd to me, but I suppose that like any business, they have to decide which events they attend and which ones they skip. 

Still, it seems odd to me. What do you think?

Friday, April 26, 2013

More Delays

Since my publisher is Boston-based, it occurred to me to ask them if the recent events in the city had affected them. They had that their productivity suffered and as a result everything is delayed. Physical proofs, for example, which I should've already had in my hands, won't be sent to me now until next week some time.

Worse still, the release date of my book is pushed back to July 9. So now I'm asked about the date for the pre-sale because I committed to go to Chelmsford to talk about Book 1. I did that assuming the book would be available in the next few days. Now that won't be true so if they move the pre-sale date as well, there's really no point in talking about my novel and getting people interested in it because they can't order it and they can't purchase it.

But I don't want to back out either. Not unless I need to. Frankly I don't see why the book can't be made available for pre-sale at the end of May as originally planned. But then I don't control these things. The publisher does and I've received an answer to my question regarding the date for pre-sale.

So I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. This may be one of those times when relying on luck is the best plan.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Plugging Away

With the dust from last week settling, I am back to plugging away at my novels. Book 2 is getting another read and edit because it has sat long enough that I can make one pass through it and then put it down again.

And I continue to wrestle with Book 4. The word count is coming up but it is still too low to make the novel viable. So I continue to re-read and inject more description into the story.

I think I'm done working on short stories for the moment. Well, new stories that is. I may crack open a draft that is waiting and see if I want to take that on.

Otherwise, I am waiting for the physical proofs of Book 1 to arrive. It shouldn't be much longer for them unless there's been a delay.

Keep writing, everyone.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Strong

I've never been a person to identify with a specific place. That's probably because I've moved about quite a bit in my life. From Boston to the South Shore to Worcester to Ohio to Boulder, Colorado and then back to the South Shore. But even beyond that, I've never felt tied to the land the way, say, farmers are.

But the fact is I spent the first 11 years of my life growing up in the Boston neighborhood of Mattapan. That's where my grandparents bought the only home they ever own. That's where my father grew up. And that's where my brothers and I lived for a while.

It is this connection that has come to fore so suddenly this week because of the bombs in Boston. I don't claim to be a Bostonian, but I don't think you have to be to love the city or see the people responsible for these cowardly acts brought to justice.

This week has been a tough one. I relive the World Trade Center attacks and the events in Oklahoma City in 1995. I keep thinking about how mad the world has become and yet in the face of that madness, we've seen the courage and all that is best in people as they help the victims hurt by the bombs. This more than anything makes me proud to be from this part of the world because this is how people should act toward each other all the time.

But for these events to be something more than just random acts of violence, they need to cause change.  But I don't think that will happen. When the dust settles, I'm fairly sure we will go back to the way we were before April 15. Some will spin the events for political reasons to either promote or reject some agenda. Others will honestly try to learn something from the events and suggest changes so that bombs will never again mar the Marathon.

But we need to change the human heart and that is a hard thing to morph. We need to release old hatreds and bias and embrace tolerance and understanding of others. We need to love our neighbors the way we love ourselves. That's an old struggle I know. I only hope that these events take us one step closer to realizing that goal.

Monday, April 15, 2013

One Step Too Far?

As some people reading my blog may know, I have self-published some short stories on Smashwords. I've collected these into a single volume so I will have something to sell June 15 at the Chelmsford Library, where I will speak about my novel.

I also have published Kindle versions on Amazon because I am told I needed to be in the Amazon store if I hope to sell anything. I recently updated a few stories there. Generally speaking the updates go through without a hitch. But this last time, one story got stuck. After a few days I wrote to Amazon asking to unstuck it.

They responded that the copyright of the story was in question. I was amazed that they would question it but they had no idea of the stories history. So I told them that I held all rights to the story, that the story was published in Smashwords and Amazon for distribution purposes only.

That was enough to satisfy them but I have to wonder, did they go too far? Who else are they questioning about the copyright of their work? If they had not been satisfied, the story would have been dropped from the Kindle story, forcing me to sell from my web site exclusively. That would have been life far more complicated, because I would have to start taking payments on the site. Currently I sent visitors to other sites that sell my work.

I toyed with the idea of changing the title and resubmitting it but never went down that path as there was no need. I'm not sure if that would've worked. It might have especially if I revised the first several pages. Of course that's a lot of work when I've done nothing wrong, which is why I only toyed with the idea.

The moral here is trend softly and know where your work is published. Amazon may come knocking on your door when you least expect it.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cliche or Clever?

I had feedback on one of my stories. This story was actually received well in 2010 when I wrote it by another writer who was offering to review and critique stories in his blog. I submitted it to another set of writers for an anthology (this week) that's they want to published and got back the comment that it is one big cliche.

I wasn't expecting them to like the story (they don't seem to like much of anything) but I didn't think it was cliche. Then I got to thinking: one man's trash is another man's treasure. I've had sixty downloads on this story. That's not a lot but clearly some people like it.

So it wasn't for that last group of writers. Okay. I move on. Other people will like it. And as another friend of mine points out, so long as a writer is selling his or her work, he or she is successful. So as long as the downloads continue, I don't much care if one group of people like or not.

Of course, all this begs the question I asked years ago: who decides what is published and not published? Who decides what is acceptable? Ultimately, the readers do by what they read. Self-publishing fits into that very well since it gives me direct access to the reading public.

But there are still places where others want to decide. To some degree I understand that. With a lot of people self-publishing quality of the writing and the content is suffering. And writers, good professional writers would be foolish not to object to this.

But there's a thin line here.

In my case, I am told they did not even read the whole story. That's common practice in publishing circles, but that's not my practice. When I review something I read the whole thing and evaluate the whole work. Otherwise, I only have a partial picture. My reviewers could have extended me the same courtesy. But they didn't and I have to disagree with their comments because they only read some number of paragraphs and came away with the impression that the story is a cliche. This tells me that the story's hook needs revision. Fine. I can accept that. But beyond that point, I'm not prepared to make changes.

And now Amazon is questioning whether I hold the copyright to this same story. Talk about a gatekeeper. But if they pull the story from the Kindle store then I'll just offer it in print form or from my own website.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Local Authors Day

It's been busy here like floodgates opened. Let me tick through the events:

I heard back from my local library. They will allow me to hold an author's reading there but I've got to do all the set up and break down, which is not what I was expecting. I can do it but I don't think they really want people to use their facilities or they would be willing to help more. I've put this event to one side for the moment. You'll see why in a few paragraphs.

I heard from my publisher. The release day of my novel is pushed back three days from June 15 to June 18. That's not a really big deal. The physical proofs of the novel will be in my hands in about three weeks. Still no word if they will attend ReaderCon in July to sell their published books. 

I was invited to participate in Loval Authors Day in Chelmsford. This is an event I attended last year and got the organizer's name so I could attend this year. Since this event is completely hosted by the Chelmsford library, I put my author reading to one side for the moment. The date of the event is June 15, which means my book will not be released and only be available for pre-sale. So I've written to them to tell them this and asking is that's okay. I can still talk about the book and point people to where they can pre-order the book. I can also sell my collection of short stories which I pulled together over the weekend. Basically I took all my stories on Smashwords, stuck them in a Word file and uploaded it to so I could self-publish a few copies. I spent more of the time developing a cool cover for the publication. 

All of these happenings made me shift into high gear and start develop flyers and marketing material for myself. I also started loading up a money box for I can make change if someone pays in cash. I'm going to sign up for Square so I can take credit cards sales with my cell phone. And then I need to circle back and think about what to say about my novel in case I can attend Chelmsford and start to pull together poems and stories for the author reading which I now think will be in August.

I'll need to add an events page to my web site too. But here's the schedule as I see it:

In June: Chelmsford (assuming they don't have a problem that my book is not released yet)

In July: ReaderCon (assuming the publisher will go. If they don't, I don't have enough material to warrant a table this year)

In August: Author reading at my library. This will get me some exposure.

After that I'm hoping to show up at some bookstores. I've identified a few in the area. I'll be talking to them starting in July.

And meanwhile, I've got writing to do. Guess I'm going to start doing that at night, if I can. 

Keep writing everyone.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Editor's Hat

It is has been said to me that writers cannot edit their own work. And is true but only up to a point. But this I mean that when you think a story is finished, you need to have someone else review to make sure you've done your job as well as you think you have. But prior to that point a writer had better be able to toss out trite phrase and insipid dialogue or else you've got a long hard road ahead of you.

I find that I am reluctant to edit my work. Notice I didn't say revise it. I said edit it. There's a difference. Revision is just make changes. Editing is revision with the goal of improving and polishing a piece.

And it's not that I can't edit my work it's just not comfortable to do so and that's a bad place to be. If I can't take an honest look at my work than I'm on that aforementioned long hard road and that's no place I want to be because I've already been there.

The road to getting Book 1 sold was that road; returning to that point it not something I relish. And yet, I discovered I've been deluding myself about the story I just released last week. I discovered the problem after receiving some harsh comments and when I took a hard look at it I had to admit it needed a complete rewrite.

That means I did not do my job as a write and that my editing process needs a lot more work. I fell into the trap of rushing out the story without checking to make sure it was complete and well told. So I've been rewriting it this week adding more description, more action, and more character reaction.

And I really need to get back to it as there are several scenes left to write, revise, and edit.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Stories Keep on Coming

I keep getting ideas for short stories. No sooner is one put away and drafted then another crystalizes in my mind. I just finished a story called Telescopevision, about an astronomer who discovered how to capture light from a distance planet in such detail that he can see the actions of the people living there. The catch comes when that world turns out to be a twin of his own and about three months in the future, allowing him to see that he will be kidnapped by gangsters.

That story took months for me to sort out the details and determine how best to tell that story. So what happens? I complete the draft and put it away and the another story occurs to me that night about a runaway slave who is questioned about his involvement in aiding slave smugglers so they can be freed.

And all of this other writing is keeping me from revising Book 4. I suppose it's not really a problem. I bigger problem would be if the ideas didn't come. Still I'd like to get on with the writing I planned to do. But that's how it happens sometimes, the muse throws you a curve.

But I'll muddled through and get back to Book 4 soon I'm sure. In the meantime, I can go pester the folks at the library about my author reading since they have yet to respond to my inquiries. I've got a feeling they won't until I really show I'm serious about this. But I've gone after jobs before so I can apply my cold calling skills to this and I should yield a result.

Keep writing everyone.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Promotion Plan

I've written about the type of promotion a writer does for his or her book before. But it is clear to me now so I thought I'd go over it again.

To start there are personal appearances. These are the book launch and author readings and other appearances you might make at a convention. There are reader and book conventions and probably genre specific conventions you can attend.

Then there appearances in newspapers, TV, and radio. Newspapers still carry weight is a portion of the reading public so it is important not to overlook these. I'm hoping to network myself into an interview or two with some of the smaller newspapers in the area.

I'm also planning to have my author reading covered by the local access TV station so I can use the video online and distribute it to other access TV stations in the area.

And of course you need an internet presence. A web site and presence in different forums where you make connections with others who in turn and help guide you and hopeful support you when your book launch comes. My main focus has been here but I'm starting to branch out to other venues.

I'm also trying to attract an audience now with my free short stories. My hope is they will put down money for my book when it releases if they have liked my other stories. There is no guarantee of this. In fact, given the amount of free reading material available now, it may be possible to never pay for a book or a story again.

But free stories are like free software. Some are good and some are not. You get what you pay for and putting down money almost always guarantees a quality story because so many people have been involved with bringing the novel to market. That's not true of self-published work and especially not true of free stories that are self-published. So you can buy wholesale, so to speak, bur you may be very disappointed. Caveat emptor.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Author reading

It appears that my local library will host an author reading. So I'm thinking about suggesting they hold one for me late May or early June prior to the release of my novel. I'll see what they say and if my publisher can supply copies of my novel to sell.

I know nothing about the format or length of such an event. I suppose it would about an hour with me reading various things. On that point, it occurred to me to read some of my poetry, some shorter short stories, and excerpts from my novel. But as I think about that, it seems to be no so good an idea. Perhaps someone in the audience wants to buy my poetry or short stories, what then? I have nothing available in that space and no plans to publish my poetry any time soon.

I think I'm going to have to ask the library and my publisher what to do. And I keep going back and forth who do I ask first? I think I talk to my publisher first to get their input. They're the experts here, not I. That will also let me go to the library with a single request that hopefully will not change.

For anyone reading this who might be interested in attending, I will post the time and date and location once I know what it is.

Stay tuned and keep writing.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Coming Soon

At the end of this month I'm going to release another short story in Smashwords. The last story I released has been averaging one download a day which is the best I've seen so far. I think part of the reason for this is I've seven stories posted there now and people can see I'm not a one-hit wonder.

Another reason is I'm making all my short stories free, at least for now, so that people will come and read and learn my name. That will make it easier to sell Book 1 when it releases. At least I hope so. My thinking is if they like my short stories they are more likely to put down money for my novel in a few months.

That's another reason why I'm releasing stories on a regular basis. To get folks in the habit of checking for my stuff. If they do, they should find out about my book was it releases.

Of course, I will advertise. There'll be a press release in May that the book is available for presale and I'll be going around to post notices in various web sites that will let me do that sort of thing.

Prior to that I should have some marketing material ready. The tricky part here is I don't know exactly when I'm getting the artwork from the publisher. They said April without giving a specific date. I don't think they know yet.

Now I have the difficult task of picking the story to release. That's hard because I only want to release a story that's ready and sometimes that's hard to know. I've been known to rush a story out only to find out the ending needs works or a scene in the middle needs revision.

But this is how a writer learns what is good and what is not. And to go slow. So now I let stories sit for a time, like dough for a pie. When it rises again, I will read it and see if it is ready.

This time I've got a story in mind. I'll be reading it next week to see if it is really ready.

In the meantime, Book 4 beckons.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Price of Following the Muse

Back in the 90's I spent a lot of my free time with friends. Those were more carefree days and lots of fun but I did this at the cost of not writing. I could have been working on the stories that I am completing now. I had many of the ideas I am now writing about. But I chose to be social and enjoyed myself.

That changed when my father died in 1995. After that friends got married, began families, moved away. That's all perfectly fine, of course. That's life. I found myself doing less social things and filled my time with other things. I met my wife and bought a house because I too am not immune from life and the changes it brings.

More recently, say 2009, I began to make conscious decisions to pursue my creative writing in a way I had not before. That took some doing. I had to back out of several commitments, in some case volunteer work I had done for years, and close down a small web site consulting business I had started. I also had to isolate myself so I would have the time to write without distraction. This is still true. I need large blocks of time that I can dedicate to writing. That means if writing isn't your regular job that you spend much time alone, apart, and staring into the soft glow of your computer's screen.

I'm not regretting those decisions. I made them consciously. I decided it was time to tip the balance back toward the one part of my life I had ignored for so long. So I shut down other parts of my life to do it because there just isn't enough time in the day to do everything -- at least not for me.

But the price of that is I am less social -- far less social -- and I miss my friends some of whom I've not seen in many years, of course that has more to do with the fact that they moved away than any decision I made. And I suppose this highlights the fact that I prize friendships greatly because I am slow to make friends and once make one I like to keep them like a favorite sweater. But that's not always possible for lots of reasons.

I tell myself that this is the price of pursuing my art. That a writer -- or any artist -- needs time to make his or her art. And that's true. But it is also an excuse. If I wanted to I could make the effort to connect with others. And I do that now and again. But the truth is no one makes the effort to connect with me either. Friendship, like so many things, is a two-way street and now that I am busy with all the writing and promotion and editing and revision and publishing of my stories, lots of other things are taking a backseat. And so if others will not make the effort I guess I'm going to be very lonely.

What a shame. Because I could easily put my writing aside for a few hours for any friend who wanted to reconnect. But the sad part is they won't because they are busy too. But they are also scared I think, afraid to offend or be rejected or waste time if I am suddenly too busy for them. But that as I said isn't the case.

So this is the part I pay for remaking my life. Is it a high pay to pay? Ask me again in a few years; I may be able to answer that question then.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Revise Early and Often

These days it seems like I can't go more than a few paragraphs before I stop and revise what I'm doing. That's not a bad thing but it does add to the time it takes to complete something.

I suppose the real culprit here is not have a good solid few hours to work on any one thing. All the interruptions force me to refocus and then revise what I'm doing.

And I'm realizing that revise is probably the wrong word here. Review is probably more accurate. Yet during my downtime away from everything, I do truly revise and change bits of stories so I can go back the next day to fix what I've done.

It's all about saying what I want to say and saying it the way I want to say it. Sometimes I don't have a preference on the what I want to say but I want to say it in a way that is interesting. The recent combat scene I finished the other day in Book 4 is an example. It didn't matter to me what the particulars of the combat were. But I absolutely wanted to describe them in an engaging way. That was hard because I find writing combat scenes not very interesting.

So when I revise I look for what is being said and what is not being said. Is there anything to add? Can I clarify my point by changing words? Can I simplify the whole mess and say this in a more straightforward way? Often I'm doing all of these things at once in a really heavy edit. But more often than not, I reserve those time to when I can step back and see a story or section of a story in its entirety because editing here and there is like making a patchwork quilt. And in general, that's not my goal.

The other thing I ask myself when I re-read my work is this: Do I like the way it reads? I edit for the ear as well as the eye, you see. I re-read the first chapter of Book 2 the other day to see if I still liked it. And I have to say there's something there I don't like. I can't put my finger on it but I'm sure I will. Eventually.

Keep writing -- and revising -- everyone.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Publishing Schedule

I had to swap my Monday and Tuesday schedule to accommodate a medical appointment. That done, I'm back writing.

I've been hammering on the writing projects I've got open. Book 4 has been giving me lots of trouble. I keep writing and rewriting the same scenes over and over trying to reach a point that I'm happy with. The short story I'm working on has along been hard to finish. I think I figured out where it is going and how to get there. 

In both cases I've had to think about the story in question in great detail to ensure the story works because I've got several stories that I've completed that aren't working for me now. They will have to be rewritten. 

Part of the problem here is I've had much less time to focus on my writing. This happens from time to time. Fortunately, my schedule should settle down soon. So I'm hoping to make more strides forward soon. 

In the meantime, I am waiting to see the physical proof of Book 1 from the publisher in April. Also in April, I will receive the artwork for my promotional material. This includes the final cover art, marketing images, and a PDF of the book interior. In May, virtual tour bookings will begin. And sometime in between now and the end of May the book tour should be ready.

That's the word I have about what's coming. I'll let everyone know when the book is available for presale. Stay tuned everyone.

And keep writing.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Everyone's a Critic

For those who don't follow me on Twitter, my name there is @feitelberg. Now, as it happens there's a @jfeitelberg in the area and I some time get his tweets and I'm sure he just some of mine. Yesterday, I got several from his crew.

The first commented that my twitter feed was weird. I don't know what that means since my twitter feed mirrors my blog posts. So I ignored that tweet. I have nothing to say to that. If someone finds it strange or weird that's their opinion. There are entitled to it.

Next there was a question of where they could find my stuff? By this I assumed they might my stories. So I directed this person to my web site There are links there to my work along with other things.

Lastly, there was a tweet about why I had not received the physical proof of my novel yet. I didn't understand this since it is only of interest to me. But I answered nonetheless that the physical proof is due next month.

Then I did a little checking on these people. They all appear to be young (20-ish) and more interested in sports than fantasy novels. It occurred to me that this might be a form of cyber bullying that you hear about but at the same time they might buy my novel too, I suppose.

But I think the bigger issue here is that in a world of social media, everyone's a critic and offers an opinion even when it is not insightful or thought provoking. I was raised differently and I try not to open my mouth unless I have a point to make. Hopefully, my blog posts reflect that even if my points are small ones and minor. That's better than have no point and just making noise.

But I suspect once my novel is out, I'll be fielding comments that are a lot more noise so I suppose I'll just have to get used to it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Upgrading Technology Needs to be Easier

My wife and I have suffered through a few technology upgrades recently. I say 'suffered' because the process could have been a lot easier. Here's what happened:

My wife's laptop died and she needed a new computer. She had a backup but the operating systems of the backup and the new computer didn't match. So she could do a full restore. She had to install all her applications from scratch and then adjust them. And she had to move all her data back herself too. In some cases that was tricky because the operating system wants things in certain places and we had to jump through hoops to get the data in the right format.

We also upgraded phones. Again we couldn't just backup and restore the data because the operating system of the phone was older than that of the backup. We had to update the new phone first. And even when my wife did that she was missing all her apps because they didn't transfer from her old phone to her new computer when she synced it months ago. Instead, she had to install all her apps onto her computer so they could be transferred to her new phone.

Frankly, I found both processes a lot harder than they should have been and I'm finding that new versions of software that I've used for years, harder to use than before. The redesigned iTunes is a perfect example. The download feature is buried in the right corner at the top. Since I use that a lot to update apps I've purchased not finding it in the left navigation any more was very confusing.

The search feature in Word is another example: there are three levels of search and I usually want the third level so I have to click through a few controls every session so I can get to the controls I want. I find this needless, but I'm sure Microsoft changed this because the advanced search confuses people. So I am punished because I understand it and am a power user.

And I say all this as someone who has written about technology for years and have helped design teams with usability. Usability is, of course, the study of how people use things. What they find intuitive and what they can't use easily. The idea is to make products so easy to use it is effortless. Technology companies are failing in that practice, I think. Increasingly I find new products harder to use which means I am less likely to upgrade unless there is a compelling reason to do so.

My wife had to change computers, for example, her old one died. And I wanted the faster 4G LTE on my phone, which is why I upgraded that. But I'm not upgrading my desktop computer even though the operating system is two versions old. Instead, I'm likely to buy a new laptop. Why? Because it avoids a standard upgrade path. But I'm still thinking about it so I might forget the whole thing and like with my aging computer.

The bottom line here is this: technology is suppose to enhance our lives and make it easier but the effort to stay current is getting to be too hard and is not always an improvement. Technology companies would be wise to pay attention to this and make their products as effortless as possible.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Upcoming Schedule

My novel is definitely on a slow march to being released. The next thing on the schedule is getting a physical proof of the book. This is due in April. About the same time I should very some of the marketing materials the publisher is creating so I will finally be able to show everyone the image of the cover and maybe a few other things too.

What is not clear is when will the book trailer be ready. I asked about this and got the very vague answer it will be ready by the time the book releases. If it weren't for the fact that making the trailer requires lots of images I don't have and a soundtrack for music, I'd create the thing myself. I even when so far so to search for some images but when I reviewed the storyboard I developed I realized I cannot do it justice.

I suppose I could try a scaled-down version with less images and more words, but I'll still need some music. I'll have to search the web to see what I can find and decide on the feel I want for the trailer.

I think the lesson here is not to leave this to others in the future, which will be hard less I really don't have the resources and finding good royalty-free images and music that's appropriate is really hard.

In the meantime I have another short story to finish and I need to try to move Book 4 along some more.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Stories and Characters

I don't know what it is about this time of year but ideas for short stories keep bubbling up. No sooner have I put to bed all the short pieces I've been working on than a new one has started forming. As it did, I realized that I need more characters if I'm going to keep doing this.

I've known this from the beginning. Last year when I set out to write as many short stories as I could before the edits for Book 1 hit, I decided that these stories would feature characters from my novels only at a time before the novel takes place. So a scene from someone's life so to speak.

But having done that several time now, I'm realizing I need more characters so I can feature them in a stories and perhaps even put them in a novel.

The process of character creation can be hard work. You really need to know what makes the character special and unique and how you will show that to the reader. If we look at real people for a moment, we can say that everyone is special and unique, the problem is you don't know it. It is usually hidden or masked. We do this for lots of reasons that are beyond the scope of this post but the point is the best parts of everyone are hidden. It is only when something happens that we get even a glimmer of what someone is capable of.

In fiction, my job is to show these qualities and to create situations where a character's traits shine. Then you see them and you take a liking or disliking to the character. And even with all the variation in the world, and all the possibilities, it can be hard to develop a character that is different and that you can write well enough to be believable. Often, you have to spend time with the character and that's not something I have in abundance.

Still, I need to start developing characters independently of stories so they will be ready when an idea comes my way.

Where's my notebook?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Another Writer Trap

I've discovered another writer trap, one so sneaky and clever it doesn't look like one. Here's how it works:

I write a story and polish it and send it out and it gets rejected, causing me to go back and revise it. See? It doesn't sound like a trap at all. But when I revise it, I see things I don't like that I should've fixed before, but I didn't so I waste time now fixing and improving the story, which shouldn't be broken. And that's the trap.

Of course, you can argue that this is not a trap, just the normal way writing works sometimes. But I maintain anything that waste writing time is a writing trap and that includes bad writing, bad plot, or bad story elements. And I realized the issue the other day while revising a story that needed work, even though I had sent it out and thought it was done and ready to go.

In my case it was bad plot, which I changed so the whole story works better as a whole. I don't understand why I didn't see these things before. But I didn't. The good news is I've got a new take on the piece and I should have fixed for a March release.

On the other hand, some believe that no writing is bad writing. Sometimes you need to clear cobwebs or ramble around until you figure out what you are trying to say. And that's true. In that context, writing that you will toss out isn't bad or time-wasting; it is more like stretching exercises before the big run. But bad writing happens when you think you know what you are doing only to find it is a mirage.

That's the trap to avoid. So know what you want to say; make sure your purpose and intent is clear.

And above all, keep writing.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Something for Nothing

I checked my dashboard in Smashwords the other day to see how all my short stories are doing there and was surprised to see about forty downloads for my latest story. Since I only released it at the beginning of February, that's pretty good.

Then I checked the stats on my other stories they are all showing activity. I assume that's because most of them are free now. But I also assume people who take the risk of reading one story, like what they see and are coming back for more.

Another factor may be that the number of offerings keeps growing. This shows I'm not a one-hit wonder. That's something that I look for and I'm sure that's something that other readers look for too.

Of course, the activity here could be better and the number could be higher. But it's a start. I expect at I release more stories, the number will continue to improve. And all of this is part of my plan make something happen ahead of my novel's release. My thought is that if people like my short stories, they will be more likely to buy my novel. Not sure if that will work but it's worth trying.

So for the next several months I'll be releasing one story at a time. I'm hoping to be able to keep that going even after the novel is out, but what happens after that is a little fuzzy just now. I'll have to figure that out as I go.

Keep writing everyone.

Friday, February 15, 2013


It has taken a few days to feel better after all the shoveling and headaches associated with the blizzard that came through here last week. But I'm on the mend. I've been using the time to construct a new short story. I've had the idea for this story for some time but was unable to pull it together.

That changed this week. Most pieces fell into place. The story is about a magic horn, the kind made from a ram, not the kind you find in a orchestra. Once I knew this, I wrote a small piece of backstory to get the history of the item in place.

Then I focused on the present. Who were the characters of the story and what are they doing it and why? This was the hard part. I knew the horn was in a secluded place so I put in a hilly location, hard to get to. That immediately suggested that I use a young James Claymont, from my novels, who I've established as someone who climbed sheer cliffs and mountains as a young man. In this story, he is a journeyman, bard-in-training, and his master is the guide into the hills.

That only left the person being led. I struggled with this for days going back an forth. I settled on a man who is without scruples, who seeks the horn to buy it. Most people don't do that because the horn is said to grant the user the one thing he wants most. In reality, it passes judgement and gives the person the one thing is deserves.

So when the merchant is unable to buy the horn he uses it figuring it will grant them more money. But that doesn't happen. And in fact it isn't until later that the merchant discovers that the horn has turned his riches to dust, forcing the man to live like all those he swindled for years.

And it was the sense of justice in dealing with the merchant that took me a while to sort out.

I have a few more details to sort out, like the title, but it is mostly put together now. I'm hoping to finish work on this and then go back to Book 4, which stalled just before the storm hit and which I've not looked at since. That's not a problem. I needed time away from it. But I really need to go back to it once I finish with this new project.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Little to Say

I've have very little to say at the moment. I haven't been writing because the blizzard that came through has sap my strength for the moment. I've been forced to dig out from snow banks up to be knees or hips.

The storm also knocked out the power to the entire town and I spent all most of Saturday without power or heat. Then when power was restored, I had to sit with to furnace to get the heat going again. The pilot light keeps going out and it took several hours of relighting it to get to stay lit.

And yet I've been lucky. There are many in nearby towns who still have no power or heat. But I don't feel lucky. I'm tired and sore and in no mood to write. Not yet. But I will eventually.

Meanwhile the publisher is still trying to get the color of the gem right in the cover samples they are sending me. I'm sure it a color calibration thing but I until I see the physical proof, I can't sign off.

Keep writing, if you can.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Just Can't Seem to Get it Right

My publisher sent me a new cover. It had the corrections I wanted except for the color of the gem. I don't know what they can't get that right. I sent them a mock-up of a golden gem and they gave me something lime green.

It may be our monitors are calibrated differently. So to give them the benefit of the doubt I said I can't approve the cover now. I need to see the physical proof, which they told me was planned. It is the only way I'll know for sure.

But it is odd that the color is so far off. And I would show the cover here but I can't do that yet. It still is only an internal draft. But I did look at the image on different computers and each one give me the same lime green.

I suppose the artist could be color blind or perceive greens in an odd way. But I've never heard of that. And yet I have no other explanation. I know my eyes are good because I've had them checked recently.

Guess, I'll wait for the proof like I said.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, February 4, 2013


I've reached a stopping point in Book 4. I've gotten the characters through one disaster after another and then I checked the word count. That's sort of like counting your chips at the poker table -- never a good idea. But I did it anyway because I was trying to project the word count for the novel.

I was short by about 15,000 words. That's more than I can easily fudge with an added description here or a paragraph of clarification there. So I decided to add an new scene. I was thinking about it yesterday.

The issue isn't that they must now have some new unplanned encounter. The entire series is features all types of encounters. The issue is this new encounter must be relevant to the story or the series because nothing is included without a reason. Nothing. And there are no exceptions.

So I got to thinking about it. I was sure they needed to meet a person stuck out in the middle of the swamp in which they find themselves. Why is the person here? Because she has no choice. A curse! She is cursed to live out here alone until some condition is meet. Okay, that works -- classic fairy tale stuff.

Now as it happens I've been skipping ahead in my planning to Books 6 and 7. Both books have an issue with the plot: how do the characters sail from point A to point B with horses in tow? You see the original outline of these books has the characters sailing to various places to save time and to skip weeks of overland travel. But it never occurred to me that the horses they would use in the first books would need transporting too. Small problem there.

Of course, they could leave their horses in some town stable but they never go back there. Plus several of the horses are named and Ahlan's horse in particular is not about to be abandoned somewhere. I hadn't worked out how to resolved this but figured I could wait until I start writing Book 6 to worry about it.

But I was now adding a new scene and needed to make it relevant. What if as a result of satisfying the condition, which the character help with, obviously, they are rewarded with a way to teleport themselves and their horses from point A to point B? That was very neat and clean and since I'm introducing the teleportation bit in Book 4, no one will suspect that I've planted the magic here to resolve plot issues later.

Very nice. Problem solved. Now I just have to write the scene and hope it is at least 10,000 words. It might be. We'll see.

Keep writing, everyone.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Promotion on the Horizon

I recently the revised cover for my book. It had all the elements it needed and looks much better. But the color of the gem looked greenish not yellow. So I mocked up a new version and sent it to them. I don't think I'll see the cover again until I review the physical proofs. No idea when that is.

I would post a copy of the cover here but I've been told not to, at least not yet. So everyone will have to wait. Sorry.

But what that means is the publisher be starting to focus on promotion. This is the part of the process I've been waiting for because I know so little about it. I'm hoping to learn a few things on this subject in the next month or two.

Currently, my plans are meager. I made some business cards and I will make some 4 x 6 postcards too with the image of the cover one side and the back cover text on the other. These are giveaways; promotional flyers if you will that I can give to anyone.

Beyond that I'm told I need to spend tell in various online forums creating a presence. This seems to me to be the weakest part of the whole process because I've tried that and frankly who has time for such things?

I also need to think about interviews and I've got some ideas along those lines. There's a media kit to finish, a book launch, and subsequent signings, a book trailer, and my web site to update. The publisher will be helping with all of these except the web site update. I can do that myself.

I'm sure there are other things to do too but I don't know what they are yet. Hopefully I'll learn about them as the promotion goes forward.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Faster than a Speeding Turtle

I was warning by one of the writers who signed with my publisher that they were slow. I've now found out just how slow. My novel, which I thought was due out by March, is in fact slated for June. I am not happy about this because it delays work on Book 2 and gives me less time this year to sell Book1.

In fairness, the publisher never did give me a straight answer on the release date when I asked months ago. And I was sick in September, delaying by second around of edits. Additionally, Hurricane Sandy dealt my contact with the publisher a nasty blow causing her to be out of contact for a few weeks.

I'm sure all these things have had an effect and a three month slippage is nothing compared to slips in the software industry, where I've worked for many years. But that does nothing to ease the emotional upset I'm feeling.

On the plus side, I did learn that there will be a physical galley proof of the book so I can see what it will look like before the printer gets it. I wasn't sure anyone still did those, but apparently they do.

I have until the end of February for any front or back matter changes I'd like to make. But as I've still not seen the cover draft, my focus is there.

I suppose this is just a curve in the road. I wonder how many more curves lay ahead.

Friday, January 25, 2013


I'm a big believer in improvisational writing. By this I mean, writing without having a clear idea where I'm going. I may having a general idea -- a crudely sketched out plot, for example, -- but I don't know the details before I start writing. I do this to see where I end up. Once I'm done I go back and keep what I like and discard the rest.

This approach is not for the novice writer because it is fraught with pitfalls. For example, you have to have a good sense of your characters or you cannot pull this off. Likewise, you have to know the background of your world well enough that if you invent something new on the spot that it doesn't create an inconsistency. Continuity is king.

I tend to write new scenes in whatever novel I'm involved with in this manner. Sometimes is works and sometimes is doesn't. Other times I can't tell if the new territory I've discovered will work or not. Those are the hardest pieces to assess.

Example: in Book 2, Evan pursues the trail of the necromancer who has abducted Duke Wrightwood by using the portal stone the dark mage used to transport His Grace back to his lair. When Evan arrives he finds a grassy knoll with a building at the top and a murky lake at the bottom.

Now I knew there was something in the lake. Something deadly. But what exactly was not clear to me. So I improvised and before long I had a battle scene on my hands as the multi-tentacled monster reaches out and grabs several of the knights who accompanied Evan to the knoll. The scene by itself is okay but I can't help feel it could be better.

I think part of this stems from the fact the monster is reminiscent of the scene in Lord of the Rings outside of Moria. A multi-tentacled monster attacks the Fellowship as they enter the dwarven stronghold.

I could change the monster, of course, but without a clear idea as to what the monster should be I'd be spinning my wheels. But that's the nice thing about writing. even as I write this a glimmer of an idea presents itself. Which only illustrates the fact that revision is key when using this technique.

Keep writing everyone. I have a revision in my future.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Don't Tell me What Color the Sky is

I was talking to my mother the other said about the first version of my book's cover. She likes to hear about what is happening with my book, partly because she is an avid reader and is interested in the learning about the publishing process, and partly because, like any good mother, she takes an interest her son's life.

I mentioned to her that one of the odd things about the cover image is the sky was an auburn-rust sky which is completely wrong. The sky should be blue. She remarked, since this is fiction, the sky can be any color in the rainbow. I replied, that's true but I wrote the story. I made the sky blue at the outset.

This anecdote illustrates one of the things I expect to happen once my novel is released. I expect people to tell me how reality works. These people will think they know more than I do and will want to demonstrate it but ranting on that a bard would never be hired as a guard especially of something so valuable as a magic gem.

What these people forget is that I set the rules for the story. Sure, the rules mirror the world in which we live. That's necessary so that the reader will recognize enough of my world and hopefully suspend his or her disbelief. But there are differences. So don't tell me what color the sky is or how magic works or whether or not a fifteen-year-old boy can become a master of martial arts. Because if you do I won't be listening. These are details I selected and I'm not changing them. And since this is my sandbox, my rules prevail. If you think you can do better, write your own story.

And there's the rub, you see. It is very hard to write a good story and harder still to get it published. But it is easy to criticize and complain.

What these people don't know is that I've already made many changes to my story. The first draft looks nothing like the one that's being published because I changed the most glaring parts that made not sense to anyone. I did this without being told, "Change that!" Rather I made adjustments as a result of repeated rejections. And yet at no time did the characters change; the plot changed a little and continues to do so as I develop and flesh it out but that's normal in the writing process.

I say this because I know many writers who believe in artistic integrity. What the writer says goes. And that's true, but only up to a point. After all, if your story is so poor the reader cannot suspend their disbelief, it won't matter what the color of the sky is.

Hopefully most people will like the story and the ranters will keep quiet. We'll see soon enough. The novel is due out in about two months now. I can hardly wait.