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The Crown’s Vengeance goes live

For all you late shoppers out there, those of you who are sitting at home, staring into our eggnog dreading the crowds at your local mall, I have good news. You can avoid that mess and get your favorite person a very special gift without ever leaving the comfort of your home.
Pick up a copy (or 3) of my new book. It’s now available on Amazon for Kindle, and Barnes and Noble for you Nook users out there. The hardcover will be up shortly, if your into the dead tree style of reading (either is fine with me).
This book delivers the same action-packed adventure found in my first one, replete with the twists and turns that keep readers guessing with every page. Some familiar faces return, mixed with a new cast of characters along for the ride.
As you can see from the cover, this installment takes a hard look at the often terrifying world of finance, a subject with which some of you are likely familiar. Parker Chase gets a chance to use his financial acumen, complementing Erika’s historical contributions as they unravel a new mystery.
So, get your copy now, and take a thrill ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat while peeling the curtain pack on the murky world of international finance.
Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.

The Crown’s Vengeance

I’ve been away for a few weeks now. Not ignoring anyone at all, but slaving away to get my new novel ready for release. It’s a sequel to A Patriot’s Betrayal, featuring some familiar characters and jam-packed with the same formula of action and exploration that set the tone for its predecessor.

I debated on the title, as I wanted something to reflect the content while enticing some of those readers who are not yet familiar with my work to take a longer look. A Crown’s Vengeance is set several months after the conclusion of APB, and again follows the exploits of Parker Chase. This time Parker finds himself a little more useful than before, as the story is set amidst the backdrop of a topic with which we’re all familiar. The financial crisis.

Now I  know you’re going to say “Wait a second. Isn’t the economy actually growing? You missed the boat!” To that, I say read the book. Not to give anything away, but this novel addresses an aspect of financial reform that is ongoing and completely relevant. I’ve read some of the recent works that delve into economic disasters, and this book is completely different in the avenues that are explored. You won’t be re-reading anything that you’ve seen before, I promise.

Not only do Parker and Erika Carr quickly find themselves neck-deep in a steaming pile of trouble, what they experience and uncover will both educate the reader and open their eyes to the tenuous nature of our financial system. The crisis that is explored is far from fiction. It could actually happen, and the scary part is that there is precious little stopping this story from jumping into the headlines.

Anyway, I’m freaking pumped to get this out there. The Crown’s Vengeance will be out before Christmas, just in time for everyone to download a whole bunch of copies or buy a hardback for 20 of your closest friends. It is the holidays, after all, and I need to buy eggnog. Whiskey flavored, of course.

I’ll be updating the sales experiment (dropped APB to $2.99 from $3.99) soon. I don’t check sales figures daily, so I really have no idea what kind of effect it had on sales. I’m not driving around a solid gold Bentley, so it hasn’t been as earth-shattering as I’d hoped. Nevertheless, onward we go.

Thanks for stopping by, and keep an eye out for the upcoming sequel. I’m excited to share it with everyone.

Price change (and a progress update!)

One of the ideas that I’ve seen time and again floating throughout the blogosphere is that an author needs to constantly evolve and always be willing to try a new approach to selling books. Unless you’re Stephen King, you probably have to tweak your sales approach on occasion to jumpstart things. Since APB was first published, I’ve kept the price constant at $3.99. I felt that price was fair for an unknown author, as any buyer would be taking a leap of faith, and could in fact be purchasing a pile of steaming dog turds. I know, because I’ve done that a few times myself (figuratively, of course. I’d never pay more than a buck for fresh doggie poo). Any higher and I think readers would be turned off, heading back to the pages of Amazon to find a more affordable unknown author to try. Any lower, say around 99 cents, and I think I’m devaluing the product that I spent literally years producing.

That being said, it’s time for a change. You can now purchase your very own copy of APB  for the low, low price of $2.99 per Kindle or Barnes and Noble digital copy (the hard copy is still $9.99, that’s as low as I can go and not have to pay Amazon for each book they print). I’ll keep a close eye on sales to see if this causes any sort of fluctuation and will be reporting back in a week or so. I’ve seen other authors post that this has worked in their favor, though to what degree, I can’t say. Here’s hoping.

Also, on a far more interesting front, the sequel to APB is now in the hands of my second group of beta readers. As soon as they eviscerate my manuscript, I’ll cry for a bit and then re-write it, which would bring me to draft #3. If all goes as planned, I should then be sending it off to the editor for final revisions. Finish that, implement changes, and it’s off to the formatting guru who also does my covers. With luck I should have the sequel out sometime in December, just in time for the mythical “holiday rush” that should send sales numbers skyrocketing. Seeing as how this will be my first go round with a holiday sales season, I’m not holding my breath. Enough to buy a cold case of pumpkin beer would make me happy.

Thanks for stopping by, and Happy Halloween to all.

A Patriot’s Betrayal now available for your Nook

Finally got my first novel up on Barnes and Noble for all you Nook users out there. The delay was due to the fact that when I uploaded to Amazon, I decided to enroll my book in the Kindle Select Program. What this does is allow people who pay a fee each month to borrow my book at no charge. For every borrow that occurs, I get a certain cut of the total borrow pot for the month (I think it was around $600,000 per month). The more borrows, the more I make. It sounded great, so I agreed to participate. The caveat was that I could only list my book on Amazon for the 3 months I enrolled.

I think during the entire 3 month period I had a total of 1 borrow that netted me 2 bucks. Was that worth completely ignoring the entire Nook community? Probably not, but what the hell. So anyways, for anyone who has a Nook, I apologize. Fear not, for you can now run to B&N’s site and purchase as many copies of my book as your heart desires. Or you can get just one. It’s up to you.

The writing process

One of the main questions I get when people find out I’ve written a novel is “How did you do it?”

Now, that could apply to any part of the process, from finding the time to write to actually uploading a manuscript. What most people, at least those who have a modicum of interest in writing, mean, is “What steps did you follow to get from staring at that blank screen to having 100,000 words on there?” I’d like to take some time and detail the process that I’ve used for my first 2 1/2 manuscripts (note to any potential writers: while this has worked for me, I can’t promise it will for you-everyone’s different).

Over the past two weeks I’ve done a little bit of everything in terms of creating a book. Flipping back and forth between my second and third (both as of yet untitled) works, my time has been spend on everything from the very beginning of the editing process to the culmination of a first draft. What follows is in chronological order and comprises the main steps I take on this journey.

Once I sit down and decide it’s time to dive in once again and start pounding the keyboard, the first thing I need to have is an idea. I’ve got to have a rough concept in mine, the tiny seed of a story that, with time, love, nurture and the occasional curse word, will eventually blossom into a book. Most of the ideas that I have for a story are simple, basic concepts that will develop over the course of writing to become something completely unrecognizable when compared to the first day. I can pretty much guarantee that whatever I jot down in the first few sentences of an outline will never make it to the final draft.

To start, I always focus on things that I know or enjoy. With my first novel, it was American history. I’ve had a love for it since I was a kid, so writing about the subject shouldn’t be totally mind-numbing. If you the author don’t have any  passion for what you’re writing, how can you expect the reader to give a damn? If the nugget of a story I begin with isn’t something I explicitly enjoy, it will almost always be an idea or concept with which I’m familiar (set in a city where I’ve lived or an area I’ve visited). Ideally, both criteria are met, and you’re off to a solid start. Writing about something you enjoy in a surrounding you know gives an author the best chance to make their story  jump off the page and grab someone’s attention.

A second source of ideas would be in current events. Take a look at the newspaper or CNN. What’s going on? Anything you find interesting? What’s affecting people in your community, your state, your hemisphere (at least those who speak a language that the book will be published in. They’ll be buying it, after all.) Grab a headline or two and run with it. This is the best part of writing…you get to make it all up. Always keep your eyes open for any wacky or fascinating idea or event that could turn into a novel. You never know where inspiration will strike.

So let’s say you’ve got an idea. This idea is a barnstormer, is going to set the world on fire and finally let you tell your boss to shove it. Next step, nurture that wonderful little guy  by doing the right thing and creating an outline. (Again, this is what works for me. Some people undoubtedly love to just wing it-I can’t and I think it creates more headaches than it’s worth). Identify your major plot points. There should be at least three of them. Lay them out chronologically with plenty of room between for stuff to happen. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to head to the library and do some research. Or pull up a new browser. Whatever floats your boat. Regardless, now you have to do some research to fill in all the pages between your three or four or ten major plot points. For example, if your chosen subject is a story on cats overrunning the city of Paris (which may imply you’ve visited France and either have far to many cats or a major fear of the little critters), it would be a good idea to learn as much about the city as you can. Figure out what times in the past have seen feline infestation in the city, or what diabolical politicians would be the most likely to unleash their furry minions on the unsuspecting citizens of Paris. Whilst researching this subject, you may learn that Paris has more painting of cats in their famed museums than any other city on earth. That, my friends, would be a good thing to remember. How, or when you use it is up to you. You may never bring it up again, but I’d put it in my back pocket if I was you (actually if I was you I’d think of a new storyline, but that’s beside the point).

Ok, so you’ve got this great idea and you’ve done some research. Time to get deeper into the story. And of course, the first place you want to start is…at the end. I’ve found that by starting at the end of the story, it’s much easier to work backwards and, like any good politician, make the facts fit your story. This is fiction, after all. We don’t answer to the voters. If you want to save yourself some major editing time down the road, do your best to get things straight the first time. I’ve found that by starting with the end and focusing on the overall ideas for a chapter going in reverse, i cut waaaay down on correcting stuff later. By that I mean that there’s usually a continuity in the story, explanations following events to make certain the reader isn’t confused and ends up throwing your book out the window. It works for me, so I’d say give it a shot. You might like it, might hate it.

Next is the most important part. Hands down, you’ve got to pay attention to this. Now it’s time to WRITE.

Write, write, and write some more. Get everything that’s racing around your mind down on paper or onto the screen. Throw knowledge and character development at the wall like so much spaghetti. Toss dialogue like it’s hot, kill characters, shoot guns, unleash natural disasters or atomic bombs. Whatever you do, keep writing. You can worry about editing later. I like to set a word count for each day (around 1000 or so) and not stop until I hit it. Some days are better, some worse. Just make sure you have a clear goal in mind and you strive to reach it every day. I find the 1000 word mark breaks the massive task of writing a book into manageable parts.

After this, you’re well on your way. I just realized how long and boring this post is, so I’ll save the next steps in my writing process for later. Things like editing, cover art, formatting and uploading.

Anyways, thanks for stopping by, and if you haven’t had a chance to pick up your copy of my first book, A Patriot’s Betrayal, get on it today. Football season is here. There are bets to be lost.

Making time to write

Over the past few weeks things have been busy for me, and I haven’t been able to devote as much time to writing and posting on my blog as I’d like. Sitting here today, slowly cooling cup of coffee in hand, I figured it would be the right time to explain how I’ve found the time to do all this.
One of the first questions I get from anyone who learns that I published a book (other than asking why I’m still working-love the enthusiasm but best-sellerdom is still just a dream) is how did you do that? I could never write a book. I can’t believe you wrote this WHOLE book! Well, the first thing you should know is that I’m no different than you. Anyone who puts their mind to it, who truly dedicates themselves to writing a novel, even if they have the literary talent of a chipmunk, can do it. It’s simply a matter of deciding that you’re going to write a hundred thousand or so coherent words, and then sitting in front of a computer or grabbing a legal pad and WRITING.

If you want to be an author, you have to write. It’s that simple. Thinking about writing, reading successful author’s blog posts about writing, scanning the best-seller lists for story ideas, talking about writing, those are all important aspects in becoming successful, but none will get your manuscript finished. You actually have to write the damn thing at some point, and like everything else, that takes time. Time that could be spent in front of the television, at the gym, out at happy hour, or sleeping. An author has to make a conscious decision to plop their butt down and write before they can ever think about watching the royalty checks roll in.

But I’m busy. I’m tired. Football is on and I’ve got to go get bombed with my buddies. All valid excuses, but excuses all, and that won’t cut it. Only you can make the decision to spend a few hours or minutes each day making progress towards that ultimate goal.

THE END.

Based on my experience, I’ve found that the best way to ensure you, as an author, spend a bit of your scarce free time each day writing, is to make a schedule. When you’re sitting at work, plowing through another article on CNN, take a break and plot out the rest of your day. Say you have to go running after work. That’s fine. Mentally prepare yourself to run, come home and eat, then sit in front of the computer and pound that keyboard until you’ve put 1,000 new words into the manuscript. Or if your evenings are full, make the (ungodly) decision to get up an hour earlier, brew a fresh cup, and bang out 500 words. Setting aside time (coupled with a reasonable word total goal) will do wonders for your progress.

Now, I’m not saying it will be easy. Nothing worth doing is. If you’ve made the decision to write, to finally get that novel that’s been brewing inside your head out there, then you have to sacrifice. But don’t do so in vain. Don’t simply spin your wheels, getting nowhere. Lay out a plan of action and move forward. For me, it’s setting aside a specific time and working until I hit a certain number of words on paper that has allowed me to do this. If that works for you, great. If not, figure out what does and stick to your plan.

Ok, that’s enough preaching for one day. Two new interviews regarding my first novel have been posted recently, and you can find them here and here.

If you made it this far, I hope your head hasn’t bounced off the keyboard yet. And thanks for stopping by.

New interview and a word on reviews

This time I was fortunate enough to be interviewed at author Chris Redding’s blog. She asked some interesting questions and really got at the heart of what started my writing career, all while keeping things light. Stop by and check out our fun talk, and maybe you’ll learn something you never knew about me.

I’ve been noticing a small spike in sales for my hardcover books lately, and I was sort of hoping this would lead to some additional reviews on Amazon. One of the most powerful tools for indie authors such as myself is the review that any reader can leave. As an unknown quantity, potential readers who have never heard may name could easily be swayed by the (hopefully) kind words someone else has left behind. I owe a great debt to anyone who has purchased my book, so thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you liked what you read, consider leaving a review. It only takes a second, and who knows where it could lead?

 

As always, thanks for stopping by.