Tag Archives: updates

End-of-the Month Roundup: August 2016

My Friday Updates started off with a bang, and then they tapered off, and most of August has been without. “Why?” you may ask. Well, the simple reason is that I haven’t had much to talk about in August.

But, I suppose that’s not entirely true. I have actually done a lot of work, but not on my writing. I’ve been spending much of August studying, marketing in particular, but also editing. It’s the editing I’ve been learning that’s stalled my free-flow of writing. In short, I want to get my stories right, and to do so, I have to better understand the genres they fit in.

I’ve always had a problem with genre classification. I get the general genres like action and drama. But I’ve never been taught the conventions of these global genres, nor the conventions or obligatory scenes of their more defined parts (like action adventure, for example). Thanks to The Story Grid, I’ve been learning more about the genre types, and to some extent the conventions that make them work. More importantly, I’ve been giving more thought to what defines certain stories within their chosen genres, including my own stories. Especially my own stories.

I’ve been wanting to write an update to The Computer Nerd for a while, but I’ve been holding off because I want to attempt to run it through the grid (as outlined at The Story Grid website), and I want to be sure I fully understand how the grid works, and in turn figure out what I still need to do to make The Computer Nerd work. I also want to pick up Shawn Coyne’s book so that I have some kind of textbook to refer to when I give storygridding (a term Shawn Coyne coined) a try. I think it’ll be easier to graph once I know exactly what I’m supposed to do.

To be clear, I do think the story works based on the genre I’ve established. But now I’m wondering if I’ve picked the right genre. And I also think I can make it better. Even still, I have pictures in my head for improving it.

But, of course, that’s not the only thing I’ve been studying, nor the only thing keeping me up late at night.

When I do put it through a new rewrite, and eventually rerelease it, I also need to consider the cover image. I like what I have, but I don’t know that it’s appropriate for the genre. So much to consider, and I feel like no matter how much I learn about my craft, my awaiting knowledge seems to stack and stack.

There’s also the secondary concern about marketing. Whenever I do reedit and repost the story, I’ll want to do so with a change to the metadata. In short, I want this thing primed for marketing, and that means stripping out much of what’s already in there and replacing it with a more direct (and beneficial) link.

But how do I follow that?

The primary marketing tactic I see and hear all over the Internet is that the mailing list remains king. And guess what. I don’t have one. Nope, no mailing list. My blog subscription option is the best source I have for sending out new information, and most of the people who come here come to read my one comedic post about hoverboards, so they’re not going to subscribe. Clearly, that needs to change. So, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the mailing list and when to start it. But, I don’t want to really push the thing until I have what Nick Stephenson calls a “reader magnet” ready, and I’m starting to think that moving the post-credits scene to a mailing list exclusively is a bad idea. That scene is really part of the book, and should remain with the book. So, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a novella about the bounty hunter who’s searching for our mental institution escapees (spoiler alert if you haven’t read The Computer Nerd) and using that as my subscription incentive.

Would you be interested in reading the story of Mr. Sanders’s pursuit of our escapees?

Of course, getting people to subscribe means giving them something else to buy down the road, and The Computer Nerd is not something I plan to make a sequel or an entire series out of. It’s supposed to be standalone. Assuming they want something in the same genre, what do I give them?

I’ve been giving more thought to other stories I’ve posted or have planned to post by now–Gutter Child and Teenage American Dream specifically–and considered that maybe their stories could fit more into a mystery or thriller convention, and less in the convention they already have. So, among all of my other stray thoughts, I’m wondering if I should expand Gutter Child and turn the current plot into a subplot, and give Teenage American Dream a darker problem. I have some ideas on how I can expand them, but that will undoubtedly hold up my current plans of the other stories I’ve mentioned on this blog. I feel like I’ve been ignoring them long enough.

So, that’s how my month has been. No progress, just a lot of studying.

I also host a biannual game-making contest, which had a deadline this month, so I’ve been giving that a lot of my attention. But you came here to find out about my writing, didn’t you?

April Update

April 12, 2016

So, as I hinted at a month ago, the ripple effects of Cards in the Cloak and Gutter Child expanding to lengths well beyond my original plan have filtered into my upcoming slate of books, so I think it’s time to share the latest updates on where those are, as well as inform you on other things coming down the line.

Teenage American Dream release status, and the future of my upcoming slate of e-books:

My upcoming novel, Teenage American Dream, is still under construction. I had written most of Act 1 last summer, and because of the momentum I’ve been having with other books, I figured I could’ve definitely had a first draft finished by February. This was assuming that I would have pockets of time available between monthly releases of other books. As of The Computer Nerd‘s release last October, I was still on track. But then Cards in the Cloak was next on my slate, and I ended up doubling its size in the month I’d worked on it. I had expected to spend maybe a week or two updating it. I’d spent nearly six weeks on it. Then came The Fountain of Truth. That was originally going to be a direct import of the original version, which was a 1,000-word fable. I ended up adding two additional stories to supplement it, so I devoted another week to that one. Then there was the Cannonball City release to prepare for, and that’s just a huge chunk of story to read through that had taken me about 10 days just to validate. Because I wanted Gutter Child ready for January, I went right into working on that after I had finished my Amazon and CreateSpace paperback ports of my 2015 stories. And that story ended up stealing an additional month from my planned development schedule.

With the slate constantly backing up, I couldn’t actually get to Teenage American Dream Act 2 until early March, which meant I would have to crank out the chapters double-time just to get a rough draft done by the April 20th deadline necessary to release it on the original preorder date. Thanks to various issues I’ve had with The Computer Nerd’s level of quality (more on that in a moment), I’ve decided I didn’t want to do that, as I don’t want to release anything rushed out the door, so I’ve finally made the decision to push the date back from April 30, 2016, to June 30, 2016. And even this is subject to change, as I want to give myself time to read the story with fresh eyes, which until I started making e-books, was my practice.

That said, I’m still working hard to get the book done. But it’s just not happening at the speed I’d like. I’m currently in the middle of Act 3, with a fairly solid plan for the rest of the story. Finding the time to finish it has been tricky, but I am picking away at it. Of course, now I’ve got Superheroes Anonymous‘s release date looming, and that’s the one book that won’t slip out of date. Because it’s such a large book, I feel like I need to start prepping it for release, and if it’s anything like Cannonball City, that means I need to give myself at least two weeks to get it in its proper state.

The ripple effects continue, of course, as moving Teenage American Dream back by two months inevitably means that I’ll have to push Sweat of the Nomad and Zipwood Studios back also. Even though the new dates are set, they’re still essentially TBD, as I have made very little progress on either of them.

I think given the low success rate of my pay-for books, and the poor rating that The Computer Nerd had gotten on its Amazon debut, I want to restructure how I handle not just the rest of my 2016 slate, but also my plans for 2017. I still have two more non-novels in mind for 2016, plus the Christmas e-book, but I think come 2017, I’m going to focus less on monthly shorts and more on two or three larger releases. I still want to have a Zippywings collection for the end of that year, but I think the stories that go into it will be available only in that collection. I think this will alleviate some pressure to rush things out for the sake of deadlines. I believe in quality, and I want to make sure that  that’s what I’m supplying.

To make up for the shift in dates, I’ve decided to release the first five chapters of Teenage American Dream on this blog. If you would like to preview it, just select “Future Books” from the header above, hover over “Teenage American Dream,” and you’ll find the chapter selections unfurl. Keep in mind that these are still rough draft versions and are subject to change somewhat. But at least you can see where it’s going.

Or you can just click here to jump right to Chapter 1.

Updates to Past Releases:

The other big news item for April is that updates to my older releases are coming soon. Most of these updates are cosmetic and shouldn’t affect those who have already read them, but for new readers, these changes will mean greater navigational flexibility, as well as an easier time locating all of my current and upcoming books.

Shell Out will also receive a slight update to Part One, which has already been changed in Zippywings 2015, but not in its individual version. This change is extremely minor and does not warrant a fresh download if you’ve already read it. In fact, I’ll save you the mystery. It adds these lines to the end of the chapter (first two paragraphs are the same; the third is changed, and the rest are new):

After delivering a successful interview through the use of fake smiles, he landed his first telemarketing job with a local phone company.

At first he assumed he could advance the ranks to become CEO of the corporation. Then reality hit him when he failed to make a sale during his first month. His employers furthered his understanding when they assured him he would go far–very far–as long as it was with a different company.

When another rent’s due date reached the horizon, Greg returned to the Classifieds. There he circled a job that didn’t require so many sales demands. When he told his friend about the job he’d found, he scoffed at him.

“Dude, I’ve found you one better,” his friend said. “Pays by the hour, but it’s generous. You just gotta be able to talk to idiots.”

Greg thought about the requirement. Then he nodded.

“I have plenty of experience in that,” he said.

The Computer Nerd is also undergoing a change, but this one is much larger. After reading through the first chapter of the paperback version, months after I had last looked at the story, I started finding a number of things that I knew I could’ve done much better with. I still don’t think it deserved a poor rating on Amazon, but the little bit I looked at convinced me that it would never reach five stars. So, I’m revisiting that story in my spare time and fixing the problems that I find along the way. To give you an idea on where I am with that, I spent most of my night last night fixing Chapter 1. Here’s a picture of me wrapping up my revision session last night:

portrait revising novels
Revision Face

Content changes will happen across the board, from Smashwords, to Amazon, to the paperback editions.

Of course, all of these things are happening amid my need to take on a second job (or better yet, find a full-time job), as my current job of the last six years is dishing out some horrendous scheduling cuts for the summer that I won’t be able to live off. All I can say at this point is that I hope I don’t have to alter my release schedule again.

So, there’s your April update. If you have questions, feel free to ask. Also, I haven’t made an absolute decision on this yet, but I may be giving Gutter Child a free week soon. As of now, I’ve made two sales on that book, and it’s been out since February. I’d like more people to read it.

Okay, see you next time.