Updates!

I have a few exciting updates to announce: 1.)    My book has been professionally edited, so the typos and grammar errors that most of you have been so kind not to mention, should be mostly eradicated. When I get unsolicited emails from readers, complimenting the story, then volunteering to edit my next book…I know it’s time to put this in the hands of a professional. Still, I took a few readers up on the offer to sweep The Jakarta Pandemic, and they turned up enough errors (I’m embarrassed to say how many), that my editor didn’t consider re-negotiating terms in the middle of the project. Thank you guys and ladies for taking the time. You know who you are. And thank you, Noah Mullett-Gillman, for taking on the editing project. You should check out his book, Luminous and Ominous, another recently released Post Apocalyptic tale. 2.)    Noah also recently hosted Post Apocapalooza II, a series of interviews with new/indie Post Apocalyptic writers…and I was included in this group. The term apocalyptic fiction wasn’t in my vernacular until a few months ago, and I’m not kidding. I’ve read plenty of PA fiction…The Stand, The Road, World War Z…and I love

Don’t characterize my characters…just yet.

Good plot. Immersing detail. Popular genre.  Quick tempo. All the trappings of a worthy read…right? While these qualities in a book might draw you in, and keep you there for a spell, nothing, in my humble view, detaches the reader quicker than hollow characters. I’ve read the reviews (not on mine thankfully…yet). “Cardboard, one-dimensional, flat, undeveloped, unrealistic…” The list goes on. Unrealistic?   Now this description captures my attention the most, because it reminds me of something Stephen King said about writing good stories. I am paraphrasing at my worst, but he said something to the effect that an interesting story pits normal people against extraordinary circumstances, not extraordinary people against normal situations. Realism defined? I don’t know, but I like reading stories about characters that have to struggle to overcome an extraordinary problem. Is James Bond one of these characters? At first you’d probably say “no way!” I might agree, but I’d argue that he is an extraordinary person pitted against insanely extraordinary circumstances. It’s the same formula, just presented in a higher octane fashion, which is why it works…more so in the recent Bond films. Ever read a book where the protagonist is an unstoppable, unbeatable hero? Mentally

Enduring the next epic disaster

Does the current situation in Japan qualify as an “epic” disaster? I don’t know, but the unfolding drama at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will cast the final vote.  All eyes are focused on the crisis, but what exactly are most of us seeing…and learning? As a writer that recently launched a novel centered around an “epic” human disaster…The Jakarta Pandemic, I saw frightening similarities between the research driven scenario I had created for my story, and the media stories spilling out of Japan. I admit, there is a big difference between the instantly devastating impact of an earthquake/tsunami hit, and the slower burn of a gradually worsening pandemic disaster. However, I wasn’t thinking in terms of the immediate blunt physical impact.  I really focused on the after-effects.  Stories of evacuation, refugees, food and supply shortages…and not just for the immediate victims, but everyone ultimately affected, even as far away as Tokyo. I especially considered the citizens forced to evacuate the 12 mile radius around the Fukushima plant.  What did they bring with them? How much did they have to bring? What about the people in the next distance ring, who were told to stay indoors? Do they have enough

Can you see the future?

Or the ending to your story?  I thought I could see it clearly.  So clearly, that four chapters into The Jakarta Pandemic, I decided to write what I thought would be the last chapter, or final conflict of the story.  What a waste of time.  Well, I shouldn’t say a complete waste.  I kept a few elements of the scene for the final draft, and writing in general is rarely a waste, but I took a two-week detour (yes, that’s how long a chapter used to take me…part time) from a solid writing stretch.  I’m glad that a writing genie didn’t appear and laugh at my face as soon as I finished it.  I would have been pissed. Instead, it took me months to figure out that this chapter just wouldn’t fit into the story as written, which was fine.  Though I remember being a little disappointed, and possibly angry when I took a look at the chapter’s word count.  I learned a valuable lesson from this, and of course, probably reinforced a bad habit.  Let me explain. The good first: 1.)  I’ll probably never jump ahead and write a complete scene or chapter again.  I’ll still wake up in

Past or Present?

Tense.  This isn’t exactly a new topic for writer’s blogs, but it’s an amusingly controversial one.  If you Google “present vs. past tense writing,” you’ll end up in the middle of an angry battle between the fiercely entrenched forces of the past, and the anti-establishment present.  I’m not going to reiterate the arguments here, you should really check them out for yourself.  This one heats up pretty quick (Fiction Master sounded like he wanted to punch the blog author in the neck).  I think it’s fair to say that we’ll see Glenn Beck and President Obama having beers together in the White House garden before any of the “pro-past tense” folks acknowledge the possible use of the present tense in fiction writing. I feel like I’m listening to an argument between two sci-fi fans over time travel, and I’ve heard it all before…maybe because I’m caught in a perpetual time travel loop that keeps replaying my past experiences…or I’m listening to an author tell a story, which clearly already happened, giving me the impression that I’m hearing it again.  Does any of this make sense?  Probably not, because if you’re like me, after listening to the time travel argument for

Behind the scenes of The Jakarta Pandemic

About a month ago, I received some great feedback regarding my book.  My neighbor and I were discussing the book, and he thought that a map of the novel’s fictional neighborhood would have helped him to visualize the action in story.  A friend of his shared the same sentiment, going even further to say that he quit trying to keep it straight after a while.   There are thirty-eight households on Durham Road, not all of them an intrinsic part of the story, but most of them are referenced repeatedly.  If you read carefully, you should be able to figure it all out…just kidding. I sympathize with anyone who had trouble geographically tracking the story throughout the Durham Road neighborhood.  As a stickler for details, I couldn’t hope to keep it all clear in my own head while writing the story, so I created a cheat sheet from the very start.  Actually, it was a poster-board, very much like the one created by Alex Fletcher in the story.  Take a look at both versions.  One is obviously my marked up, faded “cheat sheet.”  The other is a page I added to the beginning of The Jakarta Pandemic, at the request of

Starting somewhere

How to start this blog?  I can’t imagine going wrong with a thank you to anyone who has put their stamp on my first novel.   Whether you took the plunge and bought the book, or simply passed the word on to a friend (or both hopefully), I’m humbled and impressed by your efforts.   Clearly you have all done something very right to help the word get out…sales via Amazon have steadily climbed since I uploaded the book into Kindle format.  I’m sure Amazon’s Christmas Kindle Proliferation didn’t hurt.  How many Kindles were sold last year?  iPads? I certainly can’t claim to have pulled off a mastermind marketing campaign.   Or maybe I did, in sort of a low budget, high tech way.  Facebook, email lists, business cards (which my wife hands to everyone…she hands out ten for every single card I sheepishly offer).  I can’t thank her enough (though she might disagree).  I also started posting chapters on a fantastic survivalist/disaster preparation forum, mainly to get feedback from “the experts.”   People who really give some serious thought to modern day survival scenarios (every aspect).   I’d be willing to bet that this group spread the word far and wide.  Many