Blurbs

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to write a good blurb for Hatter is Mad and Shattered. I think I’ve got a good one for Hatter. I’m going to post it below, so if you read it and have thoughts, please let me know them. It’s not quite there, but I think it is getting close.

Seventeen-year-old Lillim Callina is pretty good at ignoring responsibility. So when an ancient orcish warrior throws a car through her front door, burns her house to the ground, and unleashes the Lord of Death on Earth. Well… she wanted to move anyway.

But when the Lord of Death beats her mother into a coma and takes over her father’s body, someone has to avenge them, right?

Shattered is still eluding me. I even went and diagramed each chapter of Shattered, and it didn’t seem to help. I’m sure I’ll think of something… I just don’t know. Part of it is hard because I feel like I need to explain who Dirge is, and I don’t really want to do that because I feel like it bogs down the blurb.

I also don’t want to be like “before Lillim there was Dirge… this is her story.” That just makes it feel like you need to read Lillim’s books to enjoy this novel, and you really don’t have to do that.

I am half-tempted to make the blurb about the main bad guy, Ordain, because I think he’s awesome.

In fact, one of the better blurbs, I’ve written is like:

If Lillith was the first demon, then Ordain was the second, and he has set his sights on bringing Dirge Meilan to her knees.

First he’ll turn one her best friends into a raving psychopath, then he’ll unleash his army of lesser demons on Dirge and her friends, and finally he’ll… well…

That blurb isn’t even very good… sigh. It’s going to be a long several months. On that note, I got the final ebook cover for Shattered, and I think it is pretty awesome. I happened to see a premade cover that just looked awesome so I decided to pick it up. I can’t wait to show it to everyone.

Foot Rub

I gave my wife a foot rub yesterday. This, in and of itself, is not all that interesting. Why then am I telling you about it? Because this was how I talked my wife into reading the second chapter of Hatter is Mad.

It all started on a not so dark and stormy afternoon, let’s call it Sunday afternoon. I thought I had to give my editor Hatter by November 1, and I was sort of freaking out because the book feels unready. I was sort of worried because I’d rewritten chapter 1 pretty substantially. Additionally, Chapter 1 used to be chapter 2, and I axed the whole first chapter. This meant I was doubly worried it wouldn’t work as chapter 1.

So I asked my wife to read it. In order to get her to read my first chapter, I had to proofread her school essay. This involved slogging through twenty-seven pages of dry, fact-laden prose designed to highlight all sorts of weird facts while she did my raid for me in wow because my queue had just popped when she asked me to do it.

Yes, I read 27 pages so that she would read 4 pages of my book. I was glad I did too because her commentary really highlighted several key issues. After I read through her comments, got annoyed, decided I was a terrible writer, put her comments away (because it was on printed pages), came back to it later, and read it again, I decided I mostly agreed with her.

Then I wanted her to read the next chapter. Cost? One foot rub.

So now my wife has read the first two chapters of the book and told me to, basically, re-read Hatter to fix a bunch of random mistakes and such.

To which I pointed out that I’ve read the damn thing like fifty times and had two separate beta readers read it. None of which caught the mistakes she caught.

These are not mistakes I’m going to understand because I know what is supposed to happen, and oddly enough, that isn’t always what is actually written.

After making the necessary edits to Hatter, I looked up when I actually have to send the MS to my editor. Not until November 20. That means I have plenty of time to get her to read the other thirty-three chapters…

Pursuit

Guess what I did today? Yup, I penned the first chapter of Lillim 4! (I know, I know, I gave it away with the title of the blogpost.)

Pursuit takes place immediately after Fairy Tale (like within hours) and is kind of weird for me to write. I’ve never written a story that, basically, picks up where the last book left off.

This isn’t to say that Fairy Tale ends on a cliffhanger or is an incomplete book. That’s not the case. This book just takes place right after. If I recall, Fairy Tale is about three weeks after Hatter is Mad. So this just compresses Lillim’s timeline.

Anyway, I’m pretty excited for Pursuit because it brings back one of my favorite characters, Masataka Mawara, from the Dirge book. Masataka makes a cameo in Hatter is Mad, but the sections he’s in focus more on his brother, Mitsoumi.

If anything this book is about Masataka. It’s about how he feels about Lillim. It’s gritty, dirty, and heartfelt. I had a blast writing the first chapter and am super psyched to write the rest of it.

This is odd because I didn’t want to write Pursuit. I kept trying to think of a way I could skip it and come back to it later. But this story needs to be told, and it isn’t fair to Lillim, my readers, or myself to skip Masataka’s tale of woe just because it makes me uncomfortable.

If you read the Dirge book, and you should when it comes out in March (so far away!), you’ll get to experience happy-go-lucky Masataka. You’ll get to watch him stand up and be a hero.

So what happened? What made him snap? Why does he hate Lillim so much when he risked everything to bring her back?

I’m not sure exactly, but I’m going to find out.

On an unrelated note, I completely rewrote a huge section of chapter 1 of Hatter is Mad to give some more explanation for something that happens in Chapter 19 which also got rewritten. I guess this is going to be one of the books where the editor makes or breaks it.

Playlist

I suck at finding good music for my writing. By which I mean, I can’t ever find anything I want to hear when I try and write, but I’m not super good at writing in silence. I start hearing the silence like it’s a living, breathing thing hacking in my ears until my head is about to explode. Can you relate? If you can, it means you’re crazy.

Lately, I’ve tried all sorts of things. I tried listening to country, Michelle Branch, 90s grunge and alternative, Miley Cyrus (hey, she’s coming at ya like a wrecking ball) and you know what works for me, lately? Nickelback’s All The Right Reasons.

I know, right? Who listens to Nickelback?

For some reason, when I listen to this album my brain just shuts off. I go into this weird mental state where I get really focused. It works whether I’m writing my books, writing code, or virtually anything else where I need single-minded concentration.

It reminds me of that scene in the Lego Movie where Emmet & Co. go into Emmet’s brain, and it’s just a blank canvas where he can create anything with a thought. That’s what happens when I listen to Nickelback.

I’m guessing, the reason is that the sound is just pleasant enough that it doesn’t upset me, but not so pleasant that it becomes distracting. I don’t really fall out of limbo with the album like I do when I listen to a random mix of songs.

I don’t know about you, but when I listen to something I don’t like, it immediately snaps me out of my groove. Something I really like can do the same thing. Next thing I know, I’ll hear a song and be singing along.

I don’t need that crap; I just need background noise that’s semi-pleasant.

I’ve seriously listened to this album 50 times (if not more) in a week, and I might be going a little crazy. So, what do you listen to?

Rewritting Again

I got chapters 16 and 17 of Hatter is Mad back from my crit partner, and she hated them. It made me sad because they are my favorite chapters in the whole book.

So I did what any self-respecting person would do. I made my wife read them and tell me how to fix it. She told me what to do, and I rewrote them. Then she read them again. (so nice!) I rewrote them again. I think they’re even more awesome now!

I resent them to my crit partner and am excited to hear if she still hates them. =D

On that note, someone found a typo in Kill It With Magic, which is fixed now, but still. After 5 beta readers, me, an editor, and a proof reamer, we still all missed it. That’s kinda crazy to me.

Shattered

I finished the first draft of the Dirge book, and I think I’m going to call it Shattered. I have to say, I’m pretty happy with the first draft. It came in a little short, but that’s mostly my fault. There’s a few chapters where I just wrote down the crux of what was going on (in like 500-800 words) and didn’t flesh it out a whole lot. I’ll catch these on the second draft and double them in size. You know, when I read through it and make edits knowing how it ends =D

Originally, I’d wanted to end it a little later in Dirge’s timeline, but when I wrote the last chapter, I was like “stick a fork in it, it’s done!”

I think I can hammer out a good second draft in a week or so, and then I need to find someone to read the thing. I still haven’t even had Fairy Tale beta read… so there’s that.

I’m starting to come up against the issue where writing the books may be the quickest part of the “whole process.” I’m worried my cover guy won’t be able to keep up, and I know my Crit partners can’t. (It’s unfair to ask them to.) I guess I’m getting ahead of myself because I probably won’t even release this until March. Hmm…

For those of you keeping track, my upcoming releases are Hatter is Mad (Lillim Callina 2) –December 2014, Fairy Tale (Lillim Callina 3) – February 2015, Dirge Meilan: Shattered – March 2015.

Also, Kill It With Magic is now listed as a Pitch Perfect Pitch on Underground Book Reviews.

Now, I guess it’s back to Abby Banks.

My editor

For those of you not in the know, the editor I hired for Kill It With Magic was Todd Barselow. My lovely wife found him for me and suggested I contact him because he was really active on Anne Rice’s page. If you need a good editor, I suggest you contact him at his webpage, www.toddedits.com.

Anyway, the point of this post isn’t really to plug my editor, but it is sort of. After he finished with my book, he made a post about it on Anne Rice’s page. A little while later he sent me this:

Anne Rice Likes ItSo that’s pretty cool right? Anne Rice likes my book kinda sorta. I think she actually liked that I said nice things about Todd, but I’m going to take it, anyway. You know self-delusional small victories and all that.

On that note, Kill It With Magic was accepted by Indie Underground as a “Pitch Perfect Pitch.” Evidently, less than 25% of the books submitted get selected, though I’m not sure how exclusive that actually is. I’m hoping super duper exclusive. (I can dream, right?) This means that I’ve qualified for a review from them since only “Pitch Perfect Pitch” category books are eligible for reviews. This is one of the top indie review sites, so I hope they actually pick me, and I get a good review. If that happens it makes me eligible for even more exclusive review sites.

Also, I am lowering the price from $3.99 to $2.99. Why? Because there are several promotion websites that only accept $2.99 and down. If that’s still too much for you, wait until December when I drop the book to $.99 in anticipation of the sequel Hatter is Mad. You should buy it anyway, though. Everyone who has read it has liked it, except for those who haven’t…

 

Vampires

I’m reading Interview with the Vampire right now, and by reading, I mean listening to it in my car because I don’t actually read things. Who has time for that? Anyway, it sorta dawned on me that the book is old, and it’s only from 1976.

I mean, a lot of the vampire lore we’ve all grown up with has probably come from this book, and it’s what, 40 years old? That’s not really all that old. Even White Wolf’s Vampire the Masquerade is only from 1991. It can barely drink.

Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897. Nosferatu came out in 1922 and Dracula came out in 1931. That means the world just sort of rode on Bram Stoker’s coat tails until 1968 when Anne Rice wrote the piece of short fiction that grew into Interview. That’s nuts to me.

Vampire lore was just Dracula (which is only like a hundred years old) for 70 years.

Now, we have Twilight, Vampire Diaries, True Blood, and many other vampire books/movies/tv shows. Vampire lore is constantly changing now, constantly being influenced.

I bet if I dug into werewolves I’d find a similar pattern. Some book a long ass time ago then nothing until the 1930s when the wolfman was made. And… I can’t even think of a werewolf book that’d even be as influential as Interview with the Vampire.

I’m not the most literate guy in the world. I’m just now reading Interview for the first time, and I read Dracula like two years ago. Admittedly, I don’t read a lot of vampire fiction, but I’m kind of surprised that there’s this huge hole of monster fiction. Was it all just comic books?

The first appearance of Blade in 1973. (Yes, this is my copy)

I’m sure there’s someone out there with an unnecessarily detailed timeline that can pinpoint all the vampire stuff up through the middle ages to now, but how many people can do more than go Dracula, Interview with the Vampire, Twilight when thinking about vampire fiction. I’d guess not a whole lot… and that’s kind of sad.

Socially Awkward Chapter

There is a time in every book’s life where it has the uncanny urge to get awkward. There you are, innocently writing your book, when it turns around and stares you straight in the eye. You try to back away, but it takes a menacing step toward you and smiles, a devilish light in its eye. 

“We’re about to get weird,” it says, slurping on its tongue like there’s just a little too much saliva in its mouth.

“No, we won’t,” you say, raising your hands in supplication. “I promise.”

The book just shakes its head. One slow back and forth movement of utter denial.

This just happened in the Dirge book, and sometimes, there is just no way around it because you need a chapter or arc or whatever to bridges two distinct thoughts together. You need this bridge to smash these very different, sometimes counter-intutive ideas together into a semi-cohesive novel. These are easy to do in movies. Can you say “Training montage” and queue the music?

This is like the third episode of a season. We all know the show is gonna end on a cliff hanger. The next season starts off all fast and furious… but let’s be real, those first couple episodes are really tying up last season. They have no business being in this new season. Their only purpose is to end last season. Then, once that’s done, we’ll get this really boring episode  because we need to move to the new plotline. You know the episode.

“Wow Agent Sally, it’s great that you were able to stop Jupiter from crashing into the sun. We can all live happily ever after now,” says Jed as they walk through the park eating ice cream as the sun beams down on them.

Agent Sally pauses, looks at the camera, and bends down to pet a bunny and sing songs that summon other small, woodland creatures.

Her phone rings and she looks at it like she’s never seen such a device before. It’s shrill tone, ripping across the horizon as the music beats a cresendo.

“Hello,” she answers, staring out across the blue lake as small children play kickball.

“Agent Sally. I know we didn’t realize it for the past season, but the Martians are invading. They’ve reached a level of preparation that tells us they’ve been up to it for a while, but we inexplicably ignored them until right this second. Drop your icecream cone and get on the next ship to Mars!”

In books, we have what I like to call the socially awkward chapter, which is for all intents and purposes, chapter B and it occurs somewhere in the middle. As in, I have chapters A and C, but I need something in the middle. It’s the car ride from the house to the mall.

I hate it because I have to write one now, and I feel like readers notice them. It’s always the scene that makes the whole thing happen but at its core, makes no sense.

It’s the scene where Picard decides to go down to the planet to fight the space monsters when there’s like 45 other people on the ship. Why can’t they blast the monsters from orbit? Why isn’t Joe “it’s my job to own space monsters” Johnson not going down? Why is Picard going down?

Um… because I’m writing about Picard. That’s why he is going down to fight the space monsters. Duh.

That’s why I’m going to write a chapter where Dirge goes down to earth to save some dude even though they are in the middle of CRISIS. I have a good reason for it… it just pisses me off.

Deep Thoughts

I have many thoughts in my head right now. None of them particularly deep, though. I mean, yesterday my coworker was all, “nice shirt.”

And I was like, “what are you trying to say? Do you think I’m fat? Is something wrong with my shirt?” (Because I’m that guy.)

He sort of looked at me for a moment, hands raised in surrender. “No man, not everyone can pull off green.”

Like what’s that about. Am I pulling off green or something? Do I want to be pulling off green? I’m not just some guy trying to pull off green, ya know? I’m more than the color green. If you cut me, do I not bleed?

See… I have Deep- Jack Handy- Thoughts.

I also added a new page to the blog. It’s called Free Short Story, and you can get a free Lillim Callina short story by signing up for my mailing list, if you were so inclined. This particular story is the first (read only) short story I’ve ever written. It’s a little more horror and suspense than my usual stuff. I was experimenting. Anyway, if you were so inclined, you could get it by signing up. Right now, getting it isn’t automated so I’ll email it to you personally. I hope to fix that this weekend. Then you can receive the story via the cold, unfeeling machine.

I’ve been working on the Dirge book pretty exclusively and have no idea what to call it. I’m worried it’s all smashy smashy and contains little actual plot. It’s basically detailing the oncoming siege of Lot, but still. I’m sure I’ll fix this in the editing, but this is pretty much exactly what I worry about in all my books. There needs to be a fine balance between smashy and plot. Otherwise it turns into Fifty Shades of Grey with fights instead of sex.

I’m currently about 28k words into the Dirge book which makes it about halfway done. I also deleted about 10k words in the middle I need to rewrite. This happens to me a lot. Mostly because sometimes I just throw up on the page and no amount of tweaking is gonna turn that straw into gold, so I just delete it and start over. Nothing like a little rework to capture the other 6 or 7 (depending on which definition you’re using) wastes.

My other thought was that I sold about three times the books I expected to sell, which is awesome, and I love everyone, in whatever way is most pleasing to everyone, who bought a copy. I also had one return, which I assume is from the person who gave it a one star review for being too much smashy and not enough plot (omg really?).

Yeah… I need to outline these posts first.