Give Away

My first print copy arrived in the mail on Friday, and in honor of that, I have decided to list a Good Reads Give Away for one autographed (why not) copy of Kill It With Magic. You can enter Here. It’s free to enter as long as you have a good reads account, which is also free.

I also just got my first negative review on Amazon, and boy do I feel like a real writer, now. I was a little surprised when I received a notification about a new review in my dashboard. I went to check it out and was flabbergasted… someone doesn’t like my book? My book? Do you know how many puppies spontaneously combust when you don’t like my book?

I mean, this totally just murdered like 45 puppies. Bam, just gone. Nothing left but empty collars and fur. In all seriousness, I only read the review like six times before I totally moved on and didn’t write a blog post about it or anything. I mean, I’m bound to not make everyone happy.

Anyway, one of my crit partners sent me a new version of her final chapter a few days ago, and I’d sent it back with some comments. We chatted about it back and forth a bit through email and she said she was having a hard time with the dialog. That’s when an idea popped into my head, yesterday.

I sat down and wrote a little two page “ending” for her book. I know, I know, I shouldn’t write all over people’s stuff, but she asked me for help! I’m helping in my way. So, I just sent her my scene for her ending, and she can totally ignore it if she wants. I mean, the guy who wrote it has a one star review on Amazon, what does he know?

Interesting

There I was, standing there minding my own business on a dark and stormy night, talking to one of my friends, being all like “you haven’t liked my book on Facebook, yet,” nudge, nudge. Because I am now that author guy who bugs everyone about his book. It’s more cute than needy and depressing, I swear.

Anyway, this fellow remarks to me that the guy down the hall from us at work also writes novels for kindle. At first I was surprised, and then I was interested. I know that guy, and I never suspected he was a closet author. (I know, I totes used the word then, and you didn’t even notice.)

So I hit him up today, being all sly with my “I heard you write books on Kindle,” line.

It was like watching the sun rise as his face lit up like a Christmas tree. (Holy over use of metaphors, Batman!)

We wound up having a fifteen minute conversation about his books which ended with me getting free copies of all three of his murder/mystery novels. I’m excited to read them because he was so excited to tell me about them.

Now, I just hope they’re good.

First Review

I just got my first review (actually I got three, but this was the first one I read). It comes from Mark Lein over at Borderlein publishing.  He rated it 4 out of 5 stars and you can read the full review here.

**

Lillim Callina is a Dioscuri who has lived through several lifetimes due to reincarnation. She has recently run from her past and all her kind are responsible for: the protection of humanity from the demons, vampires, werewolves, and other baddies that roam the earth. Her peace is soon shattered and is thrown (quite literally at times) from conflict to battle to conflict in her journey to find and destroy an enemy of immense power. Along the way, she bumps into old friends and new acquaintances as she forges towards her ever-evolving goals.

Some of the old friends are more than what they seem and the twists and turns are entertaining and keep the reader invested in turning pages. The writing was very well done and the tone was just about perfect with the balance of humor.

Continue to full review

Looks Like Work

You know what, I hate going to the gym, and I hate running. I hate sweating too. I’m not a huge fan of sweat. I avoid sweat, moving, and effort. If I ever get the option, I want to come back as an indoor house cat who lays in the sun and watches the outside world through a protective glass window and eats canned food, grain free dry food, and treats. I could be a good house cat.

I can manage to put forth effort, sometimes. If there’s one thing my three marathons and 30+ half-marathons have taught me, it’s that I can drag myself along a street long enough to flop on a finish line. Even when I have a race coming up, I can’t really bring myself to train. I hate training; it’s so much work.

Still, you know what, I did it. I did another thing too; I wrote a book. Actually, technically, Kill It With Magic is the fifth novel I’ve written. Its older siblings are dark horrid things that fester in the night. Sometimes they reach out with hands bleached white by their time in the box under my desk, begging me to read them. I don’t know why they want to make me cry, but they do, and it’s horrible.

I read a post recently, and it moved me so much that I actually made a long, well thought out comment. Why? Because I want to be that author guy everyone knows who sips French coffee (I hate coffee) and wears black turtlenecks (I haven’t done that since high school) and looks down at everyone else (it’s not personal). I get to do that, once.

Basically, this post was about whether or not everyone has a novel in them, and, to some extent, I sort of agree that everyone’s life can probably be distilled into a 250-300 page book where we will all laugh and cry. I believe that everyone does something in their life that I would like to read about. Probably.

But could anyone actually write a novel?

I don’t really think so. I think anyone can write a novel just like anyone can run a marathon, put together a million piece puzzle, or design an award winning invention.

I think it is possible for people to do these things. Like, you know, physically possible. In that we all can breathe possible. I still don’t think most people will do most of those things because it takes work to do any of those things. Because it takes work to do those things, well, that makes it impossible for most of the population.

Even the people who write a book by stabbing at a keyboard, littering the screen with semi-intelligent prose (been there) or hobble down a marathon course in five and a half hours (done that) put forth a degree of effort far beyond the average and even the above average person.

Writing a novel or running a marathon can be done with nothing short of effort. Not done well, but done. It still takes a lot of work. It’s estimated that 1% of the population has run a marathon. If you look at people who have done it more than once that number drops to like .1% of the population. I think it waxes exponential after that.

I’m not sure what the numbers are for people who have “written a book,” but my guess is that they’re similar. My guess is that most people look at the accomplishment and think they could do it because they can physically write down words, but that they won’t do it because the amount of effort involved is staggering.

News flash, that means you can’t do it. If you could, well, you wouldn’t tell me you could do it, you’d point at a finished book or a finisher’s medal. You wouldn’t bring down every marathon finisher and every author with a tome under their belt by saying “Oh I thought about writing a novel, I have this great idea.”

Yeah well, didn’t Thomas Edison say, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Kill It With Magic – Live

KIll It With Magic Final

Today is the day I go from unpublished scum to self-published scum, which is different because you can now buy Kill It With Magic, and you should because it is awesome. I decided to go with the $3.99 price point because, honestly, $2.99 felt too low, and I don’t buy books for more than $3.99. Besides, nearly everything I read said that $3.99 was the way to go.

I also ordered my proofs from createspace today, which is totally my fault for being so late. The print version should be available in the next week or so. In retrospect, I should have taken the print version more seriously. I totally blew off my cover guy when he asked for the dimensions for the print cover and didn’t send them until almost a month later. This meant that I had to wait a whopping two days for them.

I should have done this a month ago. If I had the cover in hand, I could have submitted the book for review at the beginning of last week. I guess I could have skipped the proof version and just put it out there, but in the grand scheme of things I think I should proof my first book, right?

Anyway, my preorders netted me a total of four sales, and, somehow, inexplicably, I sold a book today. That brings me to five sales. That’s pretty good considering I’ve done zero promotion, I think.

In other news, I totally shelved Abby Banks for temporaries. Every single time I sat down to write it, I just couldn’t get into it. I kept glancing over at the Dirge book, and I finally gave in and allowed myself some free time to write Dirge. I wrote four chapters. I went back to Abby Banks and pounded out two chapters. Then I wrote six more Dirge chapters.

Long story short, I’m going to finish Dirge and go back to Abby Banks. I think I can completely finish the book by the end of October, and if that’s the case, I’ll still be able to finish Abby Banks by December’s end.

I also really want this Dirge book out before Lillim 4, Pursuit, comes out, which I’m supposed to start in December. I hadn’t planned to write this pre-Lillim Dirge book, but it helps me establish some themes that will be intrinsic to Pursuit. I guess it all works out.

Top Ten List

In my post where I talked about the cost of publishing Kill It With Magic, I talked about having a top ten list of comic books I want to collect. Unfortunately, I never actually said what they were, and because I know you’re all super interested in it, I am going to rectify that now. (Yes, I’m that guy.) They aren’t really in any particular order.

Consider this your formal education in comic awesomeness if nothing else.

#1 – Daredevil #1: This is the first appearance of Daredevil. In all honesty, no one other than Ben Affleck should even care about Daredevil #1. So why do I care about a superhero that even the actor who portrayed him is trying desperately to forget?

When I was a little kid, my uncle showed me the comics he had saved from when he was a little kid. He had a lot of really cool issues, but for some reason the one that stuck out to me was Daredevil #1. I remember him saying that he hadn’t liked the comic as a kid and felt he had been ripped off. His comic is in really nice condition, as he only read it like twice before putting it in his comic box. Since then, I have always wanted my own copy. If my uncle had pulled out some other comic, I’m sure Daredevil #1 wouldn’t even be on here.

#2 – Hulk #181: This issue really needs no explanation if you know about comic books. Why? Because Wolverine! While not the first appearance of Wolverine, which occurs in Hulk #180, this is credited as his first appearance.

I have been trying to buy this comic for several years now and always seem to let it slip through my fingers. In my opinion, this is one of the few comics that make or break a bronze -age collection. It is also one of the few comic books you’ll actually hear mentioned in popular culture when they talk about having a “cool” comic. This is always the comic I promise myself every single year and then I don’t buy it.

#3 – Amazing Spider-Man #3: The first appearance of Dr. Octopus. Not only is he pretty much the quintessential Spider-Man villain, especially now that there is the Superior Spider-man, but one of the very first comics I got as a kid was about Dr. Octopus. I really liked the idea of having a bunch of mechanical arms I could use to hold my foes against a wall while I flick them in the nose with my fingers.

#4 Amazing Spider-Man #9: The first appearance of Electro has long been a comic I have really wanted. There are about three reasons for this. One, when I was little I had a Spider-Man video game for Sega Genesis that I really liked, and Electro was one of the villains. Two, when I was an intern we used to joke about a super hero who was a master electrician who had a horrible accident where he fell into exposed power lines and became Conduit Man, with powers over electricity. That nearly sums up Electro. Three, he is in the new Amazing Spider-Man 2 Movie. Plus, I think this comic is severely undervalued. Still.

#5 Tales of Suspense #57: The first appearance of Hawk Eye. Like Hulk #181, this comic has always seemed to slip out of reach. Now that Joss Whedon has gone and made Hawkeye cool, this comic is even more out of reach than it once was. I really wish I had just ponied the money up for this when I tried to buy it, and Ironman #55, five years ago. Then I could point at them an laugh instead of looking at them and crying.

#6 Amazing Spider-Man #121: This is the infamous Death of Gwen Stacy comic. While this has been one of the few comics to be on my top ten list for a really long time, it is one of the ones I haven’t really pursued very hard, and I do not know why. Part of it is I want a really nice copy and to not pay a whole lot for it. The other part of it? I don’t know how I feel about actually owning a piece of Spider-man’s broken heart. Because I’m not a heartless savage.

#7 Amazing Spider-Man #122: Mostly because you cannot have #121 without #122. They go together like peanut butter and something that goes with peanut butter. Like rice cakes when you’re on a diet. Oh and its important because it’s when Spider-man “kills” the Green Goblin.

#8 Green Lantern #7: This is the first appearance of Sinestro. It has been one of the holdovers of the list, like ASM #121 for a long time. I don’t know why I haven’t just up and bought this comic yet. I think I’ve only even bid on it like twice. This is also one of those weird comics where it seems to go for a lot less on EBAY, when it isn’t a buy it now auction, than at shops.

I mean Sinestro isn’t even that cool, which is pretty much the entire problem with the Green Lantern and Superman really… They don’t have cool villains like Spider-man, X-men, or Batman. How can you have a hero with no villains? Villains make a hero…

#9: Showcase #22: Speaking of the less than cool Green Lantern, the first appearance of Hal Jordan and the new Green Lantern Mythos is something any true Green Lantern fan must own. As a Green Lantern fan, I feel like it is my duty to own this comic. It is just so damn expensive, that even if I was going to spend the greenbacks to get it, I’d likely just buy #10 on the list.

#10 Amazing Fantasy #15: This is the first appearance of Spider-Man and is one of the most famous comics of all time. I almost bought this comic as a kid for $500, and I really wish I would have done so. I’d only had $200 or $300 at the time from my summer job. I had been saving for a Super Nintendo and was going to a comic show with my Dad. Anyway, the moral of the story is I didn’t buy it and now just a cover for this book is like $500…

That’s my top ten list. Part of the problem with it is most of the comics on it are expensive, and I really want nice copies of the books. That is a lot of the reason this list hasn’t changed much over the years. Perhaps I’ll do a post in the future where I talk about some comics I have managed to get from this list. Will it be interesting? Unlikely. Will it let me show off to my small corner of the internet? Yes.

Studying

You know what the problem is with studying and practicing? Eventually, you still have to go out there and do whatever it is you’ve been studying or practicing for. Ultimately, the only thing that studying does is make it so that when you actually get into the field and everything goes sideways and Murphy laughs at you from his perch high above the law, you don’t have to think about what the hell you’re doing… as much.

You want to be able to rely on the fact that you read the biology book fourteen times and that you studied your flashcards for a billion hours and you can recite the periodic table by heart when you get to that Biology test. I mean, if you’re like me, you’ll still look at the test and be all like “wha?”

You just hope that doesn’t happen.

So you study a little more. You practice a little more before the big day. Unfortunately, sometimes that big day is in your head. I feel like I have that issue with self-publishing. I always feel like maybe I should read one more “How to” book, or get one more edit, or read one more novel by author who does something I like so I can glean wisdom from them.

And then I don’t write. I know practicing is part of the whole leveling up thing. But, sometimes, I just need to get out there and, you know, write my books.

I read something on James Altucher’s website that really resonated with me. We have all heard that Malcom Gladwell 10,000 hours to master any art thing. We’ve all heard that the first 80% of the work takes 20% of the effort or that 80% of your revenue is from 20% of your clients, or any other variation thereof.

But, think about that for a second. How many people do you think could distinguish between someone with 10,000 hours from someone with 2,000 hours, or 1,000? How steep is that learning curve, really? I know if I watched someone with 10k hours playing someone with 1k hours I might be able to be like guy A is clearly better than guy B. But how much better would he be? If I watched two 2,000 hour players play each other, would I be able to tell the difference between them playing each other and two 10k hour guys playing?

Can I really tell the difference between an expert playing the violin and a master? I don’t know anything about violins, so maybe I could tell one is better, but how much better?

At what point does the mastery of a skill start to look less exponential and more linear? (OH MY GAWD MATH)

I’d wager it’s not as high as we think. I bet that once you get to the top of that cliff the average reader can’t tell the difference between you and John Scalzi or Stephen King. They’ll just be like “I enjoyed the book, moving on to next shiny book now.”

And, I’m not saying readers are dumb. That is not my point at all. I’m just saying I wouldn’t be able to tell, especially a month later. I’d just remember I liked it. So, don’t stress and keep practicing.

But get out there and grab the bull by the goddamn horns because even if you suck, most people won’t be able to tell, and the ones who can tell? They don’t care, anyway.

Pretending

Sometimes, I feel like I’m pretending. I know why, but at the same time, I don’t know why.

My old crit partner, who is having her book published by Penguin, just released her cover. I’ll be honest, I’m not really a fan of it, but that’s neither here nor there. Still, it sort of feels like she is a “real” author because she’s picked up by Penguin and has a real blurb, book cover, etc, etc.

I know my book is good, and that everyone who reads Kill It With Magic will love it like a new child. I know that I slaved over the book, had a professional cover made, had professional editing done. My book is professional. Even if it was the worst written piece of trash ever written, it is still a professional publication.

I’ve already got two other books written. They will also have professional editing and professional covers. Even if writing isn’t my full time job, I am providing a professional product.

Still, it’s hard to look at her book and think that it’s not somehow better just because Penguin did it. It’s hard to read blog posts about writing where the authors are like 0.000000001% of you will ever be real authors picked up by a real publisher, and if that doesn’t happen you failed so you shouldn’t try.

It pisses me off because, yeah, the chance of making it even if you win the Big Publisher lottery is slim to none. I get that. I also get that most indie books fail. I get it, but my book would still be in a drawer in a box under my desk if I was going the Big 6 publisher route. Now, at least people can read it and love it or hate it.

Readers can laugh and cry because it’s just that good or just that bad. That’s got to be worth more than sitting in a box under my desk. Right?

Kill It With Magic – Preorder

Well, I have news for you folks out there in blog land. I just got back Kill It With Magic in ebook form on Sunday night. So, last night I submitted it for preorder with Amazon and when I woke up at 5 AM (thank you howling outside cats) the book was ready to be all purchased. So, without further ado, I present to you Kill It For Magic is now available for pre-order.

KIll It With Magic

Tenjou Tenge

Back in the day, I used to be quite the anime head. Not like those weird kids you think of in school because I was pretty normal. I just really like shounan-style manga and anime. That’s the kind of anime that usually goes something like “I must get stronger/better/etc to overcome x challenge.”

A lot of my early writing is in this style and, is therefore, not super interesting. However, the whole point of this post is that, about two weeks ago, I decided to re-watch Tenjou Tenge because I heard that, at some point between now and when I originally watched it, they released two OVAs.

For those of you not in the know, OVAs are basically episodes that take place in addition to the series, usually after the series is over. These are not the same as movies because they tend to be about as long as a normal episode, though often the animation is much better.

Why did I re-watch Tenjou Tenge over any other anime I own? (about 50) Because I remembered a particular scene in which they are fighting something that paralyzes people with mind control. Mitsoumi beats the shit out of the thing anyway because he has practiced so much that he can fight without thinking.

It turns out the scene I was thinking of is only in the manga and doesn’t even occur in the anime so I watched it for nothing.

Anyway, the reason I liked this scene is because it makes me think of people, especially people who are very good at things. Think professional athletes, video game players, musicians. They practice and practice so that they can play really well. However, the part of the brain they typically play with isn’t the thinking part. That is why when someone “gets in the opponent’s head” it really messes them up.

Why? Because then you start thinking about what you are doing. The part of your brain that thinks about what it is doing has practiced WAAAAAAAY less than the other part that usually gets used once you pass say, a few hundred hours.

Think about driving. How often do you just get in your car and before you know it, you’re there. How much of your driving time is spent driving that way instead of actively concentrating on everything you do like when you first learned?

I often wonder if writing is the same way. Sometimes I sit down, and I just “get in the zone.” I’ll look over, and I have 3 chapters written. (My chapters are short this is probably 3-4k words tops.)

Is this because I’m writing with that “other” part of my brain? I’m not sure, but I’d like to think so. I mean hell, I just sat down and started writing this post about Tenjou Tenge, and I barely even talked about it. So. Not. Planned.

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