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You Tell Me

September 3, 2011

Writing is for writing sake.

There’s nothing like the rush of sitting down at a computer and watching the world inside your head, trying desperately to capture all the emotions of all the characters, seeing what they see, seeing the world around them, what’s lurking around the corner, what’s lying in wait just a little down the road, what the kettle sounds like as it whistles to the protagonist to make a cup of tea, or how it feels when a loved one walks out of their life.

There’s nothing like the rush of knowing, more or less, what’s going to happen to your characters as their stories are told on your computer screen, but still feeling the magic – because that is what it is. Magic. Even badly written passages that you know you’re going to need to edit later on, rewrite a dozen times just to get it close to what you saw, have that kind of creative whachamacallit that makes you keep going, keep writing, just to see the story on a page.

Then, there’s sharing the story.

Writing is first for writing’s sake, but readers are a close second.

There’s nothing like the rush of having someone else read your words, your creation (and they are created, even if, when you write, they feel removed from the action – more like an archivist than a creator, even in those moments when you grin through a paragraph, typing furiously, feeling like a vindictive god). Having someone with whom you can share the experience. Isn’t that what all of us are looking for? It’s no wonder that bromances, romances and romantic comedies are so popular. Nothing like a good ol’ love story (even if it’s between two heterosexual men) to give an audience hope that they won’t die alone, lying in a hospital bed with nothing but the quiet beeping of a heart monitor for company.

Seriously, though. I love you guys. I really do. Even those of you I’ve never met. You’re my readers, and I love you for it. Having you guys along with me on adventures (in writing) makes writing a social affair. Maybe there isn’t the immediate gratification of seeing someone smile, reading body language, hearing your tone of voice, or having you buy me a glass of something really nice (ahem – if anyone feels like buying me a drink. . .), but knowing you guys are out there reading my words, sharing these worlds with me, is a humongous privilege. Thank you.

There’s Zen Motherfuckers, the novel I’m editing, and there’s The Roadkill / Rapture Boys, my novel-in-progress, neither of which are ready to share publicly. They will get there, and soon. So, in the meantime, there’s this blog I’ve been puttering away at, posting semi-regularly.

I want to know what you think: How would you guys like a more regular schedule?

I’m thinking of setting myself up for three posts a week

Mondays would be update days, posts like I’ve been putting up for the last while – progress checks, to let you know how the books are coming along, how close they are to completion, and so on.

Wednesdays would be shout-out days. Blogs of note, artists whose work is particularly interesting, writers who’ve recently released books (maybe even interviews), and interesting creative projects from interesting creatives.

Fridays would be story days. Pieces of flash fiction, once a week. Eventually, when there’s enough material to justify it, I could self publish a larger book (with a mix of published and unpublished shorts) – but, once a week, in sickness or in health, a new short story for you.

What do you think? Is this a good schedule, or should I tweak it a little? Is there anything I’ve missed?

Let me know in the comments below!

The Roadkill / Rapture Boys (book in progress)

August 30, 2011

Primarily copied and pasted from yesterday’s email to my alpha readers, with significant edits and additions because the email was sent yesterday. (My alpha readers are the ones before my beta readers. They give me the warm fuzzies. I might give them the creeps, but, hey, I love ‘em anyway.)

It’s been a busy week since I finished chapter one of The Roadkill / Rapture Boys. Since then, I’ve started editing Zen Motherfuckers (if you haven’t read chapter one yet, check it out - the download link is on the sidebar) during my evenings over little glasses of Canadian Club and mugs of loose leaf green tea. It’s certainly time consuming but it’s also very rewarding. Slow, steady progress! I’m hoping to have the first round of edits (all the easy stuff) finished within a couple weeks. Judging by my progress so far, that should be easily reachable. If I do a chapter a day and there are only 30 chapters. . .

While my nights are spent editing, I spend my mornings working on The Roadkill / Rapture Boys. Today, I finished writing chapter three (21,626 words so far). There’s a couple iffy sub-chapters that I’ve tagged for rewriting, but those will have to wait until the story’s finished. I really don’t want to break the pace.

I have a much clearer idea of where this is heading than I did at the start of chapter 1: where it’s going, how it’s structured, how the plot and sub-plots interact, etc.  As far as I can tell, the story happens in three major acts. My initial idea only really covered the first two. Ain’t it great how you discover that the plot goes further once you really start getting to know the characters?

Chapter 4 should be finished before the end of the week. I think it’ll be another long one, and I certainly hope that it’ll be worth the read!

Book Updates!

August 25, 2011

Chapter one of The Roadkill / Rapture Boys went out to my sample readers on Monday. So far, I’ve received three very positive, very useful responses. I’m looking forward to hearing from the rest of my readers, the guys who’ll be watching the story unfold as fast as I can get it written. So, to you guys, a big ‘Thank you’! I’m excited to have to guys with me on this ride.

I’ve finished the second chapter (a short one, under 4,000 words – chapter one is a 8,000 word whopper!) and am plugging away at chapter three. The total word count so far is just shy of 15,000 (I’ll reach that milestone tomorrow morning) and I feel as if I’ve really started to discover the rhythm of the story. Incredibly encouraging, and it means that I might, just might, be able to get back to my standard >2k words/day writing pace. Fingers crossed!

In other news, I planned to submit a novella (short novel) to Amazon Kindle Singles. The story, Demi, has been sitting around on my desk for a good year and a half, so I figured that, hey, the story just might find the perfect home at Kindle Singles! Fortunately, I reread the book before submitting – and, Holy Christ, it needs work! Awkward sentence structures galore, endless words that can – and, therefore, should – be edited out. A good story well told, but goodness does it need work!

But what about Zen Motherfuckers?

I admit, I’ve resigned the KickStarter project to failure. It’ll still be up, just in case something fantastic happens and, somehow, I manage to get the funding sometime in the next 35 days (although I have no idea how that might happen), but, yes, it’s probably going to fail. And that’s okay.

But, as I said in the last couple posts, I’m moving forward with this. Short term, that means that I need to start editing. I have the edited manuscript from Jill Mason sitting in my writing folder, ready to be worked on. What’s a reasonable pace? Starting tomorrow*, I’ll be editing Zen Motherfuckers for a minimum of two hours/one chapter per day, whichever happens first. If there’s a particularly messy section that needs to be rewritten, I might work on it for a couple days, but the writing’s in pretty good shape and it shouldn’t take more than a month. Don’t be too surprised if there are a few multiple chapter days in there! I’ll post progress updates here.

One last note:

I’ve been spending inordinate lengths of time on Twitter, mostly with the PubWrite crowd – a collection of writers, many of whom self publish. They’re really a great crowd. Upbeat, uplifting, and generally possessing a great sense of humor. Writing is not a social pursuit, but the camaraderie I’ve been enjoying has been a great encouragement. So, to the PubWrite crowd, another big ‘Thank you’!

If you’re on Twitter, give me a shout. It’s always appreciated. :)


* I meant to start editing Zen Motherfuckers tonight, but I procrastinated.

Planning for Failure

August 23, 2011

My good friend, Robin de Voh (several microfiction pieces up here) left a very motivating comment in yesterday’s post and I have, I think, enough of a response to justify a brand new blog post. So, without further ado (with Robin’s words in bold). . .

Okay, what you need to do when this kickstarter run fails:

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Robin.

(I kid, I kid.)

1) Not care. First-try-faileritis is not a condition you need to worry about. Learnin’ ‘sperience!

I do care. If I didn’t care, that would be a pretty strong sign that I haven’t invested enough of myself in this book and into building a career as a writer.

That said,  I get exactly what Robin’s saying. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” (Or, from Caddie Woodlawn, a childhood favorite, “If first you don’t fricassee, fry, fry a hen!”)

I’m accustomed to failure. As far as I’m concerned, failing means that I’m actually doing something. Doing it wrong, maybe, but at least I’m taking action. I’ve had more than my fair share of successes, too – which, again, comes from doing shit. I plan on continuing making failed attempts for the rest of my life – hopefully making progressively more interesting mistakes as time goes on.

2) Realize that you need to reach people by any means possible.

3) Get blogs in on it. If your book is awesome enough, try and get it reviewed, and when the rave reviews start coming in, the kickstarter saying ‘I just need a little help’ will be that much more effective.

4) Make the right friends and talk to them individually. Make a deal that if they retweet or share your posts on either platform, they’ll get something symbolic in return, such as a tiny little credit in the book or even just a free copy if they’ve helped you a lot.

These three points boil down to, “Make friends and develop relationships. Use those relationships to promote yourself.”

I’m working on it, especially the first part, mostly using Facebook and Twitter. The internet is a fantastic tool. I’ve always enjoyed the company of writers (and musicians and performers and painters and actors and all kinds of creative types) but, since moving to rural Indiana, there hasn’t been much in the way of human contact. That’s mostly by choice. I get to be a hermit, write lots and spend inordinate lengths of time out in the woods with a gorgeous chainsaw, but some sort of human contact is necessary.

I’ve finally started commenting on other peoples’ blogs, some of which I’ve been reading for months (or, in some cases, even years). And, hey, this blog is getting more views than I had a right to expect. (Thanks, guys!)

Now, skipping a bit:

But seriously, send out review copies. Either hardcover (expensive) or ebook-ready (kindle, ePub, pdf, there’s options).

Yes, sir! As soon as I’ve finished editing Zen Motherfuckers, I will get my review copies out there. I’ve got a list of review blogs I’m planning on sending a digital copy to. I’ll email them as soon as I can!

Sometime in the next few days, I’ll put up a new page offering review copies to any bloggers out there who might be interested.

Now to get to that editing. . .

KickStarter: Week Two

August 22, 2011

As the KickStarter project starts week two, I’m realizing how woefully unprepared I am. Not just underprepared, unprepared. Sure, I scribbled notes in that oversized notebook I keep at my writing desk (the notebook’s huge!) and bounced ideas back and forth with a few good friends, but I had no real idea what would be needed for a successful KickStarter fundraiser – and, to be honest, I still don’t really know!

The best answer I’ve come up with is that, if I’m going to get to the point where I’m writing for a living, churning out novels and short stories at breakneck speed, then I’m going to need readers. To get readers, I need to keep writing, and I need to get my writing out there. How best to do that?

Really, I have no idea. A couple ideas, sure, but nothing concrete.

Now, I’ve started planning for failure. Don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up – just the opposite. But most of this, oddly enough, doesn’t depend on what I do. It depends on book lovers hearing about this from their friends, people they trust and whose opinions they trust.

What does this mean for Zen Motherfuckers? Again, I don’t know, but I have ideas. Regardless of whether or not we manage to get the funds raised, I’m going to go ahead with the book. It might be slower than I’d like, but it’s a good way of doing things, and I’ve always said that I’d rather have something good than something convenient. Besides, if this does need a slower route, that gives me a little more time to really develop relationships with my readers, and that? That really gets me going.

Need Sample Readers for Book-in-Progress!

August 20, 2011

Your friendly neighborhood Jaron has been multitasking like a champ.

First, trying to figure out how to increase the chances of the Zen Motherfuckers Kickstarter project reaching its intended goal.

Second, gearing up for a trip to Hong Kong near the end of the year. (Lots to do here, so little time – I actually enjoy deadlines.)

Third, and this is the reason for this update, I’ve started on another novel, The Roadkill / Rapture Boys. I’ve got a complete first chapter (8,000 words) and have started the second. Now, I’m looking for a relatively small group of sample readers who’d like to track progress of The Roadkill / Rapture Boys as it’s written.

What does being a sample reader mean?

It’s pretty simple. You post in the comments below letting me know that you’d like to be a sample reader, and I start sending you chapters as they’re written. You read the chapters and send me feedback, let me know what you think, point out any glaring plot holes and character flaws (not the good kind that drives the story forward, the bad kind that makes them feel two dimensional, unbalanced or force them to take actions that are incongruent with who they are), mangled phrases, places where the plot lags – basically, anything that you think is wrong with the writing.

When I wrote Zen Motherfuckers, I posted the chapters on a Facebook group as they were written. I got lots of nice feedback, plenty of compliments, and a few messages saying, “Uh… what? Here’s what I don’t get.”

In other words, “You suck. Here’s why.”

Obviously, you’ll need to keep the bulk of the writing to yourself. No posting full chapters online. (Posting excerpts is fine – are more than welcome. Just make sure you link back here.) Any reviews talking about how the story’s going, your thoughts as the book progresses from a single 8,000 word chapter to a complete novel, will be linked to. (Even if you say it’s shit – just say why.)

So. Anybody want to be a sample reader?

Post in the comments below!

Kickstarter – Day 3

August 18, 2011

I admit – part of me had hoped to see the Kickstarter project funded in record time, blowing far past any expectations that anyone might have had. That’s the wildly optimistic part that sees relevance in everything, expects the universe to conspire to drop everything into my lap. Of course, that part of me is frequently disappointed. The rest of me is buckling down and trying to figure out what I need to do to push this book, get it in the hands of as many people as possible.

Why? Because I love readers. I love ‘em. (I love you!) I’m a sentimental bastard who loves people who love what I do. Really, I’m a sap.

But it’s not just my readers – I love all readers, really. Whether they’re into fantasy and sci-fi, popcorn novels, Dan Brown’s latest Vatican-offending pop culture icon, comic books (comic books are awesome, just fucking awesome), doesn’t matter. The fact that people are reading, that language isn’t dead, that it’s still appreciated with all its clever turns of phrase, all its momentous scene-building glory, all its emotionally moving (or traumatizing – try Guts by Chuck Palahniuk) turns – all of it.

So, Zen Motherfuckers. Here’s something you can tell your friends, courtesy of the fantastic Ken Hill (and on Facebook).

My friend Jaron is seeking funding for a limited print run of his novel, “Zen Motherfuckers”. Having read it through and been witness to the birth of this dizzying narrative, AND speaking as a picky asshole who puts a book down if I don’t like it within the first 50 pages, I *highly* recommend you support this book.

For those who like dense simile- and metaphor-laden imagery wrapped in cigarette smoke and soaked in cheap bourbon, a sense of the unreachable transcendent, and who enjoy reading about people losing their shit completely while searching for meaning in a disorienting world, this book is for you.

Spread the word!

Tell your friends! Hell, tell your enemies, too. Tell everyone you know!

Thanks for the support – it means a lot. :)


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