The finish work…

All of the pieces are falling in place for the imminent launch of the second book in my Black Flagged series, Black Flagged Redux. The editing process is finally complete, a few extra chapters have been added at the request of my editor, ebook formatting is in progress and I just returned from an exhausting research trip to Europe. Actually, it was a family  vacation, but I did get to visit a street address that is very important to Black Flagged Redux. More on that in another post, along with pictures. One of the final pieces fell into place while I was on vacation. Despite the fact that I had written more than 120,000 words to create the novel…and likely rewrote most of them at some point…I never feel like the book is real until the cover is finished. I feel like a child waiting for a toy to arrive in the mail…but in this case, I kept checking my email. Once the file arrived…Black Flagged Redux was done! Check out the cover Jeroen ten Berge created. It’s a brilliant continuation of the themes present in the first cover. Give me one more week to pull it all together!

Find a Niche, and Expand It

In today’s fiction market, you either need a sizable backlist, a ready-to-go fan base, or a traditional publishing deal to come out of the gate bursting with sales. Your Twitter following of 800 other authors doesn’t count as a launching pad, either. The most common problem for new authors, is the search for readership. Unless you’re writing to fill your own bookshelf, you share the same dilemma. I know…we all have an incredibly interesting, unique novel, ready to unleash upon the unsuspecting world…but so does every other writer reading this essay. And this is just the tip of the iceberg! The key term here, is “unsuspecting world.” I’m fairly confident the world will push onward in blissful ignorance of your book, if you don’t find a way to start a small fire. You need to find a niche, and expand it. I’ll be blunt with my story. I published The Jakarta Pandemic in October of 2010, and had no clue what to do with it. I was just glad to have finished it. Three years of disorganized part time writing, and now what? I had no marketing plan…or concept. I had started research into the traditional publishing world, but quickly

If you don’t have anything nice to say…

Then don’t slam me with an ill constructed review on Amazon. Post it to your blog. If you get as many blog visits per day as I do…I’m pretty sure that your review will live forever in obscurity. However, if you have something nice to say, I’d like to help you get the word out to the masses. I found this unsolicited review of my book while conducting one of my daily vanity searches on Google. http://nicksteckel.blogspot.com/2011/06/book-review-jakarta-pandemic.html What a nice thing to find. Someone who took the time to write an extensive, meaningful, well constructed review of my novel. I actually felt guilty about some of the short reviews I have written recently. Here is someone that invested a considerable amount of positive, mental energy on my book…beyond just reading it. I ask you to take the time to read Nick’s review. I couldn’t have written a more poignant review of the book myself. He really captured the essence of my intention for the story, and for his efforts, I think his blog deserves some attention. Many thanks, Nick. One last note: I added a word count for my next novel to top right corner of my blog. I’ll post

What a character would do…

Or rather be caught dead than doing. Character development is a complicated aspect of writing. Like in our own lives, a glaring inconsistency draws a ton of attention, especially on paper (or e-ink). This post was long overdue, and a minor criticism at my last writers group meeting motivated me to tackle the subject. What was the criticism? My protagonist, male…a former deep-cover operative, pulled a bottle of Riesling out of the refrigerator to share with his wife. Apparently, men don’t drink Riesling. Not even in 2005. And I thought it would go nicely with the Thai food they were eating. I was a little defensive, maybe a little hurt…I like Riesling (not a first or second choice, but it does pair well with spicy food). Alas, everyone agreed that a beer was more appropriate. This is a character compromise I am more than happy to make…if only this was their only suggestion about my new story, Black Flagged. PREVIEW. This is a pretty minor criticism compared to some of the critique I have received over the months regarding the protagonist of my first book, The Jakarta Pandemic. Alex Fletcher, decorated war veteran, and former Marine Corps officer, grates on

The structure of a plot…

My new novel’s Plot Chart Or what I like to call…Order out of Chaos. I recently submitted this picture to my writers group, with a short explanation of my “to be discussed” submission (Chapter Three of my next novel Black Flagged). As a joke (a dry one), I told them that if my explanation was confusing, then they should refer to this plot chart, which would clarify things. They got the joke, and everyone that responded, kindly informed me that they couldn’t read the chart, which was my intention…I can’t give away the entire plot that easily.  I figured that only someone with a relative or friend working in a CSI lab could turn this into a readable image. They knew that too. Joke’s on me. I often get the question, how do you even start writing a novel? That’s the easy part (or maybe the hardest for some). You take a story idea brewing in your head, and start to craft a scene. Then you start writing. Does it have to be the beginning of the story? No. In my opinion. Once you get to writing, you’ll know soon enough were the scene fits. This is where you start

Updates to The Jakarta Pandemic…

On April 28th, I alluded to some changes by unveiling The Jakarta Pandemic’s new cover. One month later, The Jakarta Pandemic is officially DONE!!! I know, the book was “done” in late October, then again in November…I think I substantially changed it every month since it was first launched. I really mean it this time. I’m through tweaking this book, and so is my editor. I can’t thank Felicia (editor) enough for convincing to make some necessary changes to the format and content. I am extremely pleased by the final product…enough to leave it alone, which is big for me. What major changes can you expect to see in the latest revision? First, the book is about 25 pages lighter than before, thanks to some aggressive editing of “long” news segments and a few scenes that really didn’t propel the storyline. STREAMLINING. Almost all of these cuts came from the first third of the book, which is good news for readers…the nasty pandemic induced mayhem comes quicker. I love story setup, so it was tough to part with some of this content, but I firmly believe the words were not sacrificed in vain. A moment of silence please. Second, I

Six months into self-publishing, and what have I learned?

Everything…from the ground up. Uhhh. I’d like to sit here and tell everyone that I’m always a “do it yourself” kind of guy. I framed our attic for its eventual transformation into a beautiful 800 square foot home for my son’s Xbox 360 (that’s about sums up its purpose now). I even did all of the trim work, built shelving and helped paint (I hate painting). But I didn’t mow my own lawn last year. Why? Because I’m not obstinate when it comes to the do-it-yourself mentality…and when a good price comes along, I’ll let someone else breath noxious fumes and spend two hours on a lawn that’s going to brown up in August anyways (no matter how much water or fertilizer I pour onto it! Even The Lawn Dawg couldn’t prevent that). It doesn’t look like I’m going to win the noxious fume argument this year. My wife wants to direct this money elsewhere, which is fine…I really don’t mind mowing the lawn. So, what am I talking about at this point? Self-publishing. I get a lot of inquiries about my experience, from other aspiring writers and curious friends. The question I get from everyone is: “Did I choose