Writing Rant: Chewbacca Mom & Another Low in Publishing

 

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The Chewbacca Mom, Kristina Hagman and Another Pathetic Low in the Publishing Business

Comparatively speaking, like the movie industry that is saddled with reboots, remakes, sequels and prequels, due to desperation for big tent pole franchises to battle for box office supremacy each weekend in order to make enough money to offset the money losing movies, the publishing industry has fallen into the same trope. The majority of books lose money in print. The big name authors and movie tie-in books tend to make the majority of profits each year to offset all the debut and shrinking mid-list authors that didn’t sell well enough through the channel to take another chance.

In essence, with only a few major studios and a few major publishers left, they are in a business of risk aversion.

There have been countless autobiographies of unimportant people. With that, I mean those who don’t have a meaningful impact on the world in any way. I would argue politicians and thinkers (usually mutually exclusive) should have autobiographies to better understand their life’s work and achievements.

Over the last 30 years, there has been an evolution to make an instant buck by pre-empting the autobiography, for more of a “Here I am now” book. You know, celebrity autobiographies; usually actors and musicians and athletes/coaches, some with only a single “achievement” on their resume. Win a gold medal at 21? Let’s make an autobiography. Get 1M fans on youtube? Let’s make an autobiography. I’m sure agents have run down the Chewbacca mask lady begging her for her autobiography.

You see, I’m not naive. It is now about capitalizing while the iron is hot and making most of people’s 15 minutes of fame and temporary fandom.

But today, I saw something on yahoo news that showed just how much farther the publishing business has fallen. St. Martin’s Press (part of one of the big 5), published an autobiography of Kristina Hagman. Who the fuck is she? She is the daughter of Larry Hagman. Who the fuck is he? Well, he was on a TV show called Dallas, and was famously shot as JR in a cliffhanger. So let me get this straight, this was a publishable project because she is the daughter of Larry Hagman, a deceased celebrity from a TV show from the 1980s that few people remember, and she has more insight to him (Let me guess, it will touch upon abuses of sex/drugs/alcohol, because this adds just so much insight and helps the world cope in a meaningful way).

I was going to classify this as a new evolution of celebrity autobiographies, as the “relative of a celebrity autobiography” until I looked at the cover and was flabbergasted.

Kristina didn’t even write the book.

A new, ugly literary beast was created. They published a “ghost written, relative of a celebrity autobiography.” I guess it was too difficult for Kristina to write about her father, so she scribbled some notes for someone else to fill in the blanks on her relationship with her father. Yes, I know most autobiographies are not written by the person, but at least the source of interview material is from the actual person with the achievement or fanbase.

It is unbelievable that they killed a living tree for this book.

What’s next? An autobiography of the woman who sold the Chewbacca Mom her mask, ghostwritten of course. Imagine it … 225 pages going over the 2 minute transaction, starting with a slow replay as she put the mask in her cart and tried it on (maybe she did or didn’t, maybe dramatize it a bit) and walked few passes near the register (maybe she did, or didn’t) down the aisle and inter-splice a breakdown of the security camera footage at Kohls like the zapruder film. Maybe there can be interviews of everyone in line that day, especially the important toy clerk who brought out (a 60% chance he brought the mask out, because Dave and Shirley were on break, but let’s not get into facts) the Chewbacca mask that she bought. Maybe there was a bag checker at the door who was the last guardian for freedom.

To you authors out there struggling to get your Great American Novel sold to a publisher, don’t fret, there is still a chance you can track down a relative of someone famous 30 years ago.

Back to Kristina. Remember the book cover above? Do you see something noticeably different than the one below? Guess what Kristina removed on her website … yep, she the “Wood Block Print Artist, Painter, Writer” removed the ghostwriter name from the version on her site. Riddle me this, how would you fill in this blank: Kristina is a ____ Artist.

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Book Review: The Stumps of Flattop Hill

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 6.57.52 PM.pngThe Stumps of Flattop Hill by Kenneth Kit Lamug

Are you afraid of the house on the hill? Children in this story are. Flattop Hill has a mysterious reputation for disappearing children who reemerge as a tree stump. Florence, the main character, sets out to see for her own if this fact or fiction. She begins her journey and tackles the house all alone.

Does the first 1000 words show it as edited?

The book is well edited. This is a children’s book probably suited for children aged 8 to 12 (although some words were for YA like formaldehyde). There are even little clever things he does with the font to keep the reader interested. Some represent the story on the page (like stairs, for instance).

Do I care about the characters after the first 1000 words?

There story was far shorter than 1000 words, but perhaps due to the visual medium of the book, it was fairly easy to get into. Within a few pages the reader knows the plot of the story: Florence travels to Flattop Hill.

Do I like the world building?

The world is rather enclosed. The entire story takes place either at the base of the hill (or the village) or in the house on the hill. The pictures were all of a uniformed theme.

Overall Assessment: Would I continue reading past the 1000 words?

I obviously finished the book (42 pages) fairly fast. From the beginning, if you would asked me if I wanted to continue after 3 pages, I would have said yes, in order to find out what the heck the house was about. The ending was leaves things up to the reader to imagine the meaning of it.

Overall Story Opening Rating:  4.5/5 Happy Go-Lucky Red Pandas.

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One thing I would have liked seeing:

I think I would have been interested what the other townsfolk believed in. The story is a bit like Charlie Brown in that adults are kind of out of the picture. Maybe the older person could have given them a warning or something. Maybe add a red herring or two.

Q&A with Kenneth Kit Lamug

How long did the first draft take to write? 

The initial draft of the book including illustrations took about six months to complete. I write and draw concurrently so it’s a little difficult to say when I actually finished. Sometimes the drawing feeds the text or the other way around. I do have a day job, a family with three young boys, so most of my creative work is done between 7pm to midnight during the weekdays and most of my weekends when time permits.

After the initial draft, I let the book sit for a while before looking at it again and making additional revisions. It’s always good practice to step away and look at your work with fresh eyes and a little detachment.

Did you change the ending in the middle of writing? 

The ending did not change for this book, although I don’t think it was fully visualized until later in the process.

I wanted the ending to be open to interpretation.

On the surface, the reader will interpret it in the most obvious way possible. Yet reading deeper into the story could also give the reader an alternate ending. Just like the  Pied Piper of Hamelin, when the children enter the cave, did they go to a good place or a bad place?

Did you submit traditionally? (If so, describe process)

With my background and experience in design, I was able to layout the pages and the typography the way I visualized it.

I created a few mock-up prints for promotional purposes and to show it to a few people. Throughout this  time, I received feedback (mostly on the text) and I was able to make revisions. Once I was happy, I sent the book to my agent which she then pitched to a few publishers. After about a year, One Peace Books picked it up and I worked directly with an editor to make final tweaks to the book.

Working with One Peace Books was a smooth process. I made text revisions, a new updated cover and worked on some marketing ideas. Just hearing from other published authors, I feel like I’ve been lucky that the publisher liked the book enough that there wasn’t a lot of crazy revisions and updates.

Where do you want to go with the series?

I love this genre and visual style, so I’m sure that I will go back to it in some form or another.

For The Stumps of Flattop Hill, I’m not sure yet if I will create a sequel. If there’s any kind revisiting, it will most likely be through a different medium, like stop motion or animation. I could expand on the story while incorporating other elements to enhance the audience experience.

Favorite author who has influenced your writing?

For this book, my muses were the works of Edward Gorey, Tim Burton & Edgar Allan Poe. I feel like my author list always changes depending on my mood or whatever I’m interested at that point in my life. So I’ve never been stuck on a single person.

Since I work so much in the visual medium, I’m also inspired by many artists out there. My fascination is more towards the finished product rather than the person themselves. What inspires me about the authors and writers are usually their work-ethic, persistence and their process.

Check out his website at http://www.rabbleboy.com

Follow him on twitter @rabbleboy

 

1000 Word Book Reviews: Roses Are Red

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Carrie Green wrote the collection of stories “Roses are Red.” It is a mix of different genres that range from horror to sci-fi to more literary fiction. This is a review of the 2nd short story, “A Lucky Human,” which was a sci-fi story. The basic premise of the story is what happens after humans can start physically connecting with humans in a sort-of symbiosis.

Does the first 1000 words show it as edited?

The entire story appeared edited, grammar-wise. The first 1000 words was technically “A Long Distance Relationship” (the horror story) which also looked edited as well.

Do I care about the characters after the first 1000 words?

In “A Lucky Human” I didn’t really care about the main character early in the story because there really wasn’t anything positive that stood out to me, however, there wasn’t anything for me to dislike about him. I did enjoy the character arc of the main character through the story and there is some growth shown.

Do I like the world building?

It was pretty good sci-fi world building for a short story. She set up the rules of the science fiction tech early in the story to be used later on so it didn’t feel like the end came out of left field. I would have liked to know a little more detail the science behind the computer-human connection.

Overall Assessment: Would I continue reading past the 1000 words?

This is an assessment of the entire story, so I read well past 1000 words. Would I want to read about what happens after the short story?  I would have to say yes. I think she might have something there based on where the story ended and can see a half dozen ways she could continue the story.

Overall Story Rating:  4/5 Happy Go-Lucky Red Pandas.

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One thing I would have liked seeing: 

I would have preferred more description of the ship and surroundings as they boarded. I would have liked to know exactly what the environment was to get a sense of place. Maybe a little background on Earth and the situation with humanity would have added some depth and color to the story.

Q&A with Carrie Green

How long did the first draft take to write?  

My short stories tend to be produced in one seating, but I always let them rest before editing, when the real nitty-gritty work of being a writer begins.  I edit endlessly, consistently, so that my first drafts never see the light of day.

Did you change the ending in the middle of writing?

No, if an ending changes, it’s during the editing process, not while writing…

Did you submit traditionally?
Before the advent of Amazon and self-publishing, I did submit traditionally.  Now, I’m a firm believer in what Joe Konrath has to share about the realities of the publishing industry (via his blog) and how authors are much better off, financially, in pursuing self-publishing.
 
Where do you want to go with the series?
This collection of short stories is part of a series named ‘New Blood.’ and it exists primarily to promote my writing until the publication of my novel, Walk A Lonely Street.
Favorite author who has influenced your writing?
There are plenty of authors who have influenced me, but the earliest was Mark Twain.  His books were my bedtime stories, read out loud by my father, when I was too young to read.  What you are exposed to, first, forever shapes how you judge what comes after.  All other authors had to live up to Mark Twain for me.
You can follow her @CarrieGreenBook &  http://www.carriegreenbooks.com

1000 Word Review: Storm in Shanghai by J.M.Bush

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This is a story about magicians and the powers that threaten it, or so I think from the first chapter. It begins with a back and forth conversation between father and son, and the son wins in order to see some World Cup action. There is some mystical threat, the Maelstrom, that is threatening Italy. The father is some mage of some kind. Disaster strikes and the leader if left wanting to turn the page to see what happens. (I do)

Does the first 1000 words show it as edited?

Yes, it appears edited. The only thing I saw that might stand out is the story is written in present tense, but at times the story does switch to past tense sometimes.

Ex: “My dad, one of the world’s fastest casters, dismissed his ball of lightning and sealed the car door shut with Storm wind. He also charged the handle with a little bit of Storm lightning, it seems, because I get zapped as I grab it.” 

As far as regular grammar, it reads well.

Do I care about the characters after the first 1000 words?

I did. He kept it simple and started his story about a father and son relationship as told by a POV of a 10 year old. The kid wants to see some World Cup action and the father placates him. I think every man remembers how it is at this age. The father doesn’t have to say he loves his son, but this is enough to imply to the reader the unsaid. This is good writing, like in a movie. Show and don’t tell.

Do I like the world building?

I do. I like foreign and interesting environments. It was a nice touch adding Italian to the prose. He also sprinkled in some magic and world building the system. I assume the father is a mage or wizard of some sort. There is a Maelstrom threat to everything.

Overall Assessment: Would I continue reading past the 1000 words?

Yes. I want to see what happens after the blackout. Good on the author for wrapping me in so quick.

Overall Story Opening Rating:  4/5 Happy Go-Lucky Red Pandas.

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One thing I would have liked seeing:

I prefer past tense with the story, especially since I am assuming 1990 AD (nice touch adding the AD) is in the past and the story is being told today due to the vocabulary the kid is using. Would have liked to know where the mother is. Maybe describe what the heck the Maelstrom is and the total deaths caused and who the father is in the scale of mage types. Would have liked to know why the father’s dream is to visit the place, but why he couldn’t have bought a plane ticket for this long? Magic spell bubble or something? Is the Maelstrom threatening other countries? How long has this been going on?

The First Chapter can be reviewed here:

http://www.eatplaywritetravel.com/#!chapter-1/jrohi

Q&A with J.M. Bush

How long did the first draft take to write?  The first draft took me three months to write and was at about 73k words.

Did you change the ending in the middle of writing? The ending changed slightly because, during the many rewrites over the course of a year, I added many new chapters from different POVs to show some backstory. This influenced the course of the story in many ways and as a result, the ending was affected.

Did you submit traditionally?
I did! I submitted like crazy after the first draft and first round of edits were done. After that is when I really went back and took it apart, then put it back together. It ended up being 106k words after all the rewrites. Then I began submitting again. This time, I got some partial requests and a couple of full requests. Two agents held onto it for a long time, but in the end, they passed. So I made my mind up to self-publish the book. I could have waited, but in the interim I had written two other books, one during NANOWRIMO 2015, and I felt that having something published, even self-published, would help me get these newer books picked up by an agent.
Where do you want to go with the series?
Two more books, at least. I have the overall arc of the story planned out, but it keeps changing. I keep having killer ideas about it, and so it is an ever-evolving thing. I’m sure it will change a lot more before it’s done, too. But at the moment, book 2 will take place in Malaysia and Cambodia, while book 3 will take place in Egypt.
Favorite author who has influenced your writing?
R.A. Salvatore got me started on the whole fantasy obsession, so I’d say he is the main influence. But more recently, Brandon Sanderson has really got me excited to write stories. I absolutely love his world building.
The J.M.Bush can be followed at @M_to_the_Bush

1000 Word Book Review: Firetok by Gordon Wilson

 

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Firetok by Gordon Wilson

From the first few chapters, there a few key facts to pick up. The main character has some psychic abilities. Much of the first chapter covered the relationship of the main character and a little girl, with child abuse playing a major part in the story. I’m sure the entire story has nothing to do with it, but for me, it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea to read that as the beginning. I would have preferred getting the psychic ability story out in the beginning some other way. Perhaps the girl at the beginning comes into play later on in the book. Based on the cover, I assumed Firetok was a dog of some kind, so I was a little confused why the story didn’t begin with the dog instead.

Does the first 1000 words show it as edited?

There story was edited. It flows well. There is a key point the author is trying to make in the first chapter and accomplishes what he sets out to do, I think.

Do I care about the characters after the first 1000 words?

I don’t necessarily care about the character through Chapter 3. It is hard to really relate to what he is going through, and to be frank, the actions of the kid is and administrators are baffling. There wasn’t a date I saw, but if happened in the last 40 years, the girl wouldn’t have gone back home with the mother.

Do I like the world building?

There wasn’t much of a setting covered in the first couple chapters. Most of it is character driven and covers the relationships in the story. I did like that the language in Chapter 2 seems more of a regional dialect and local, giving it some authenticity.

Overall Assessment: Would I continue reading past the 1000 words?

I personally wouldn’t, due to the subject in the first chapter. Child abuse and non-action because of it wouldn’t have made me read on. It reminded me a little bit of Forrest Gump in a way, but the that story was told, Forrest was likable far before the child abuse stuff.

Overall Story Opening Rating: 0.5/5.0 Happy Go-Lucky Red Pandas.

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One thing I would have liked seeing:

Make me like the main character early on. Maybe use a flashback to cover childhood trauma instead of leading off with it. Then I would have cared when reading it. Another way is to actually make the first chapter the last chapter. This would be a reveal similar to the end of “Once Upon a Time in the West.”

Q&A with Gordon Wilson

How long did the first draft take to write?  

My first draft took pretty close to 8 months to write. I was working on the road and could only work on it Saturdays.

Did you change the ending in the middle of writing?
I did not change the ending, it pretty well wrote itself and even now could not imagine a different outcome.
Did you submit traditionally?
I don’t think I ever sent out any query letters. I had no idea how to really write a book much less go down the agent road. My initial intention for Firetok was to introduce the characters of what I expected to be a several part story.
Where do you want to go with the series?
I don’t have a firm vision of that yet. A couple of the characters have a lot of growing to do and much more wrong to right. They like me are still learning how to use their power.
Favorite author who has influenced your writing?
Favorite author, I kind of hate to say it because I get compared to him frequently but I would have to say Stephen King followed closely by Mark Twain. Have they influenced my writing? I think they must have because I have read so much of their work. I really enjoyed how Twain could make a story seem kind of straightforward and believable without being overdone.

 

1000 Word Book Reviews: Roko’s Basilisk by Michael Blackbourn

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Roko’s Basilisk by Michael Blackbourn

The author was up front in saying the story picks up around 2800 words in. For me, he was right. Much of the first couple pages involves the main character’s daily routine except the character was going through pain. Much focus is spent describing the way his body is feeling and giving sensory descriptions. This continues for a few pages and didn’t quite hook me.

Eventually, the focus of the story became more clear on page 5, which I think is way beyond 1000 words. The story is about a VitaVax shot, which is nanotechnology that repairs cells. This is what was causing much of the issues of the first few pages.

To me, the author should have dived into the plot narrative a little faster. Other than that, I didn’t quite know the time or setting or any background to the story.

Does the first 1000 words show it as edited?

Yes, however some of the formatting was off. The thoughts of the character were not italicized as usual in a third person point of view story. There a couple odd uses of words likeShe looked up from her phone and smiled. Smiling from bed.”  Some of the sentences didn’t have a noun and a verb, which can be fine, but was a little weird in the context. “The VitaVax shot” and “Casual pants and a dark button-down shirt” and “Go” and “Stressed about the Presentation.” None of the sentences were dialogue or part of a POV narrative, so to some, I could see how it wouldn’t be typical. Note: I write short truncated sentences, but mostly in my first person POV stories. Additionally, sometimes stream of consciousness stories almost require the story to be filled with this. 

Do I care about the characters after the first 1000 words?

The first 1000 words doesn’t do enough to get me to care. By the time it gets to the VitaVax shot, I am a little more interested in the story. There wasn’t much to identify with Thomas yet early on. Perhaps it picks up later.

Do I like the world building?

I didn’t gather in the first few thousand words what the world was. So I couldn’t assess this. For me, consider this as not observed.

Overall Assessment: Would I continue reading past the 1000 words?

If reading this on Amazon, the first 1000 words wouldn’t get me to continue past. If it would have started with the VitaVix shot paragraph, and given a single flashback/filler paragraph to get me up to speed on the headaches, it would have propelled me enough to the next plot point. 

One thing I would have liked seeing:

For a man with so much pain, I would have liked to see a little more interaction. We get that Thomas is suffering, but that can be told in one paragraph. He can describe his pain in one interaction with Jane while also establishing the world and the shot he got. It doesn’t really have to be a mystery. Just jump into it and go.

Overall Story Beginning Rating: 1/5 Happy Go-Lucky Red Pandas

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Q&A with Michael Blackbourn
How long did the first draft take to write?
About a year. this was my second story after my kids book and the first ‘grown up’ sci fi I’ve written. Everything seems to take longer than I would like. When I used to jump out of planes and blow stuff up for a living everything seemed to go more quickly. Writing takes me a frustrating length of time to get right.
Did you change the ending in the middle of writing?
I added an entire parallel story inter-weaved with the main plot after I finished. It made the entire concept of the short much much stronger and I couldn’t imagine the book without that element now.
Did you submit traditionally?
No. This story is about to hit amazon as soon I as I have part 2 completely edited. They are going up as a pair. Both have strong endings (no cliffhangers) where I leave no room for a sequel, so I’m hoping the fact that there is more will be a draw to people, wondering how it might go on.
Where do you want to go with the series?
I have a second part that is done and I’m just polishing, it’s 3 times longer than this initial piece. And I have a third part outlined. There is a lot of room in this concept for more.
Favorite author who has influenced your writing?
Howey and Heinlein. One when I was in highschool – he was my into to science fiction, and the other more recently for how well he writes the internal monologue of characters.

1000 Word Book Review: Raven Song by I.A.Ashcroft

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Review of the first 1000 words of “Raven Song” by I.A. Ashcroft

I asked the author to send his first 1000 words, and he literally sent me 995 words exactly. Usually I review the first 1000 words via Amazon and the preview system, so this was different.  (Note: Sometimes I will read a few thousand words to get a better sense of the story for a better review, and sometimes I don’t pay attention and go much farther an in depth)

The story opens with a prologue. It was about a half-naked boy shivering on a sidewalk. Overall, it was hard to really associate what was going on outside this basic image along with a man in a suit and a raven. It was mysterious, but I wasn’t quite sure if it sold me to buy the book.

But then I read about the Barrier, which was a shield that covered a ruined New York. Awesome. This is pretty much all you have to say to get me to turn the page, so good on the author.

The story then jumps 18 years in the future. Wow. What a jump. Part of me didn’t really know what was going on. Then he gave a time reference: July 21, 2147. Awesome. For what remains of the 1000 word book submission, there is much talk on dreams and ravens and insomnia of the main character, Jackson. Then it ended at the 995th word.

Pros and Cons.

Pros: I like the city shield and the time reference. It is more than enough to get me interested in the story. Shows some imagination, though it reminds me of the Simpsons, Stephen King (referenced by author below), and Highlander 2.

Cons: I am not exactly sure what the genre is from the first 1000 words. Is it a paranormal dystopia? Science Fiction? Mystical parable? Hard to tell from the intro. Also, I only really know one character at one point. With no dialogue, this makes it a little harder to get into the action. Lastly, the main character opens chapter one by waking up from a dream sequence. People are split on the “waking up in bed” opening, but the author doesn’t use it as a trope to undo a prior scene, so people might not mind. I didn’t, but then again, I wanted to hear more about the city shield.

Does the first 1000 words show it as edited?

Yes. Grammar was good. There were some odd things, like in the 2nd paragraph he used the word “eyes” in three sequential sentences (Raven Song Fact: eyes are mentioned 9 times in first 995 words). He also starts 3 out of 4 paragraphs in a row with “Jackson” in Chapter 1. Some authors try to mix it up a little.

Also the story has a third point limited narrator that trails off after “once upon a time.” A bit of an odd place to do that. When I write, I usually only trail off with dialogue or first person narration. 

Do I care about the characters after the first 1000 words?

No. For me, I cared more about couple of the scene details more. Jackson’s mysterious prologue and dream reaction didn’t really get me to care about him yet. It would probably take me to see him interact with someone first.

Do I like the world building?

Yes, for what was mentioned. I liked the shield over New York. (Any dystopia of New York, I am a fan of, probably going back to my days watching Escape from New York)

Overall Assessment: Would I continue reading past the 1000 words?

Yes. I want to know more about this version of New York.

One thing I would have liked seeing:

Get rid of the prologue, and open up with Jackson doing some action or at least interact with someone. Then tell me about the backstory slowly. George R.R. Martin used a prologue, but he tells 800+ page books. He also used a dream sequence with Ned Stark in A Game of Thrones, but that is in the middle of the book to a crucial moment at the Tower of Joy.

Overall Story Beginning Rating: 4/5 Happy Go-Lucky Red Pandas

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Q&A with the Author: I. A. Ashcroft

 

How long did the first draft take to write?

Almost a year and a half! The idea was germinating for about three months in my head, and then I spent six months dickering around with scenes and short story snippets. Finally I realized it was a novel, and for around seven months, I put what I had through the shredder, began structuring things so the pacing didn’t drag, refining subplots, re-writing, etc. It was my full time job after my full time job ended business hours! Of course after that was done, it needed a few months of editorial revisions, but at the point I was having so much fun finishing my first novel, it didn’t seem like such a long time.

Did you change the ending in the middle of writing?

Yes. I had an ending planned at first that felt a little sitcom-esque… all of the characters made it out relatively unscarred, and then they were chipper and ready for their next adventure in book two. It was awful. Sounded quite… false. The new ending, I felt, came organically out of all of the difficulties the characters face in this story, and though there is joy and hope, it’s the regrets, unfulfilled desires, and unanswered mysteries that I think will set the stage for a truly intriguing second book.

Did you submit traditionally?

I did not. I considered it carefully, and I’d love to submit traditionally some day, but I discovered that I really enjoy the world of indie authors and publishing. So, I never did send my manuscript to anyone but readers and editors. It gives me a lot of happiness to put my efforts into getting this out there right now, connecting with my audience today, rather than waiting for an agent, a publishing house, a release date, etc. So, for the Inoki’s Game series, it will all be independent! But after that, I am considering going down the traditional avenue for a couple of other book ideas – I’d love to reach even more readers.

Where do you want to go with the series?

Book Two: Eclipse of the Sun will be done with its first draft by end of May, and it’s going to set the stage for a complete upheaval of the world where Jackson and Anna live. There’s a lot of secrets and string-pullers that will be revealed. I have plans right now for four books, though a fifth is possible (I find I go crazy if I outline too far ahead. But, the ideas are seeded). I also found a fantastic audiobook narrator, Mikael Naramore, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear his reading of this series.

Favorite author who has influenced your writing?

Stephen King’s ideas shaped my style a great deal (I was reading The Dark Tower and On Writing while crafting this story, though I don’t 100% agree with every notion he sets forth). His efficiency of narrative though, when it’s at its best, is something powerful. Neil Gaiman’s weird, dark, and humorous descents into myth and folklore deeply shaped the way I try to approach a story, too. And finally, I don’t think I can leave J. K. Rowling off my list – she left with me a fascination with magic and those that use it, and a readability I find I just slip right into, even years later.

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