Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Best Edition" according to the U.S. Copyright Office

So, just out of curiosity, what book medium do you feel is the best edition? Electronic media that is searchable, indexable, does not degrade over time, and is easy-to-backup? Paperbacks? Hardcovers?

Luckily for all of us, the US Copyright Office has a handy priority list for what is a best edition for copyright purposes. In fact, they even have a legal definition of best edition embedded into US law. "The ‘best edition’ of a work is the edition, published in the United States
at any time before the date of deposit, that the Library of Congress determines
to be most suitable for its purposes."

The US Copyright Office thus defines best edition of a copyrighted work to be:
  1. Printed Textual Media (Hardcover over Softcover)
  2. Photographs
  3. Motion Picture (Film over video tapes)
  4. Other Graphic Matter
  5. Phono records
  6. Musical compositions
  7. Microforms
  8. Machine readable copies (i.e., Electronic media)
  9. Electronic works only available online
  10. Works existing in more than one medium

So, why is this important for an independent or self-publisher? If you register a copyright, the US Copyright Office will demand that you register the "best edition". If you offer your book on CreateSpace, Lightning Source, Lulu, etc. before the registration of copyright is filed and processed (takes months), then expect an email or letter stating that they cannot process your request until they receive 2 copies of the "best edition", which in this case is the hardbound or softbound edition, in that order of preference, respectively.

Something to keep in mind...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

10th Amazon Review for Lucifer's Odyssey

Lucifer's OdysseyToday, I received my 10th Amazon review for Lucifer's Odyssey, and amazingly enough it was five stars. For those authors out there who are curious how I did it, I've got an easy answer for you: LibraryThing giveaways.

My sales have been low, but my downloads have actually been decently high for a first-time author with no fanbase. To date, LibraryThing readers have downloaded 157 out of the ~190 books that I offered in giveaways in September and October. This comes out to about 82% claim, and of that, there have been:

10 Amazon reviews (4.50 avg)
10 Smashwords reviews (4.20 avg)
05 Barnes and Noble reviews (4.80 avg)
14 LibraryThing reviews (3.73 avg)
07 GoodReads reviews (4.44 avg)

All of that within two months of the first giveaway, and all of my reviews have come from giveaways so far. So why be happy about it?

Because those are readers, most of which are looking forward to the sequel that comes out in February. And having interested readers is a great thing. Also, those reviews, barring something catastrophic, are permanent and signal other readers about the quality of the storytelling and premise.

If you missed these giveaways, don't worry. I'm giving away 50 copies on Goodreads during the Winter Holiday book extravaganza. Feel free to talk to Scott or post in the thread to learn details of the giveaway.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Keeping my nose to the grindstone

It's been a busy month. Wedding coming up. Dissertation proposal is right around the corner (I'm at 63 pages), and I've still managed to add some weight to The Goblin Rebellion. It's definitely on the backburner. Life thankfully keeps on going. I say thankfully because if I was depending on writing for my income I would be in deep trouble :D!

I'm dropping Lucifer's Odyssey to 0.99 to coincide with a banner I'm doing at Kindleboards on October 11th. Other stuff going on with writing? Nothing really worth mentioning. Multiple 1 star bombs from the same reader on my Smashwords page, but *shrug*. I'm not going to let it bother me. I'm writing the best books that I can.

Life is too comical for us to keep taking it so damned seriously. Heading to Crete, Greece in less than a week. I guess I should pick up a camera to share some pictures with everyone. Have a great rest of the weekend!

P.S. Here's a funny SNL skit that makes fun of Twilight.

P.P.S. The reader who left the multiple reviews was gracious enough to remove four of them. Thanks Huibert-Jan Lekkerkerk! I appreciate your honest comments and your willingness to remove the accidental duplicate one-stars.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review bombs and happy fun times!

So, I've been patiently waiting for Smashwords to finally distribute my free story collection to Barnes and Noble. I've been checking every day several times a day, and yesterday, Eureeka!!

Angels and Demons coverOnly, someone else beat me to it. Apparently, within 2-3 hours of the 11,000 word collection going live, someone had read it and given it two stars. Then, within 2 hours of that, another person gave it a scathing 1 star review--one of those that lamented the time spent reading the free work.

The funny thing about this is that I'm not upset about the one star. Sure, it might hurt the book from gaining more exposure, but honestly, Angels and Demons was just a fun experiment with first person perspectives where your afterlife can be determined by what someone else might do to you. I just thought it was something interesting to think about. Either some people really, really didn't see it as interesting or fun at all, or someone is legitimately review bombing me (I've read about these kinds of things on KB).

Here's the thing, though. Either way, I'm not mad at all. I'm not even a little upset. Publishing books is fun, and what I love about the books I'm working on is that I actually enjoy reading them. I've read Angels and Demons several times since I released it on September 3rd, and I still get a kick out of it.

The maelstroms? The homeless, amoral sidekick? The charred wings and the devil trying to kill as many people as he can before God's angels catch up with him? A naked angel walking around Oslo? It just seems fun to me. Someone else could have written it better, but for some reason, I had the idea instead. Sorry about that.

I've heard of authors who can't stand to read their books, and directors or actors who would never watch their movies again, but I'm just not feeling it. I have fun rereading my books and stories--often way more than I enjoy reading other authors.

Anyway, I expect a lot of 1 and 2 star reviews, and I'm sure I'll have earned them in spades. Maybe that comes with writing specifically what I want to read. It sounds pretty darn selfish, but it doesn't mean I don't want other readers to be happy and enjoy themselves. I value feedback from readers, and I hope that others take a chance on Angels and Demons and provide your opinions in all their unadulterated honesty and sharp, serrated edges.

You won't get backlash from me. You're more likely to get a high five and a thank you, especially if you actually offer valuable feedback. Sometimes, as an author, I can't see the forest for the trees. I've even had stories that intermingled with each other, and while I'm rereading one of them, I might patch it in my mind with stuff I wrote somewhere else and not notice where holes or something like that might lie. So a bad review is often a blessing in that regard, and I look forward to them.

It's all good. Heck, it's more than all good. It's fun! So, review bomb or not, I hope more people speak their minds about books and give honest reviews. 1 star, 2 stars, or 0 stars if you can manage it. If a book needs work, let other readers or the author know about it. Similarly, if you loved a book, tell everyone why in detail. It can only help us authors get better!

Happy reading everyone!

P.S. Before I finished this post, another reader appears to have plopped down a 5 star rating to offset the 1 and 2 stars and brought the average up to 2.5. Thanks whoever you are! It's nice to know that I'm not the only one having a good time reading these things :D!

P.P.S. In the spirit of the light-hearted way in which this collection was composed, I've updated the Smashwords description--which will eventually make its way to Barnes and Noble. It's sort of Samhainy :D!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Some Lessons Learned from Paperback Publishing at Lightning Source

Hello everyone,

The paperback is out for Lucifer's Odyssey, and boy have I learned some very valuable lessons from the process--and I do mean VALUABLE. Others who go through Create Space will probably have a different experience as CS is a lot more friendly with submitting revisions.

First, there's something I guess you should understand about Lightning Source. It's a business that seems setup around making you pay a lot of money upfront for setting up a title, and it can be pretty brutal for someone with a steep learning curve. You may think that a paperback is just as simple as uploading a PDF and whammo--job done. Right? Not quite.

There is no preview box for the book or anyway to check margins for readability or anything like that on either the cover or the interior PDF (the contents of the book). My cover illustrator had offered to take care of the cover part, but that ended up being a huge hassle as the interface just wasn't as easy as I guess Create Space is. He tried uploading it maybe four times, and I had to keep submitting revisions. In the end, we both got frustrated, and I took over that part--applying their template for a 5x8 stock (which isn't actually 5x8 inches, btw).

Anyway, I finally tweak the cover and interior and away goes the proof. That's $110 well spent, right? Everything is ready to go.

Not so fast.

I get the proof, and the back text is not quite the way I need it to be on the cover (so big and wide across the back that it looks goofy). Even worse, the interior is set to .5 inch margin all around--which was their recommended setting. Turns out a .5 inch setting makes the interior edge extremely difficult to read. The inside edge is simply too deep into the binding.

So, not only am I changing the cover (35 dollars) and the interior (35 dollars), but I'm ordering another proof to make sure this .75 inch interior actually works (I asked Lindsay at LS, but she just said "Oh yeah, lots of clients seem to use that. You'll like it."). Thanks for not telling me on the first batch and saving me 35 bucks before the book is even out! LOL.

So, 220 dollars down the tube and the book isn't even out in the wild yet. No one has seen it, and there is no indication that anyone will ever buy it--even though I'm sure my family would probably pick up some paper copies. I still haven't told family and friends about this book yet, and I'm not sure when or if I ever will. We'll see. Anyway, I just learned a 110 dollar lesson that I wanted to share with you guys. The initial 110 was expected, so I'm not including that. The lesson comes from the additional expense that I hadn't expected that was mostly due to the illegibility of the inside edge (which their customer service rep could have told me about during her proofing of the book).

Oh well, lesson learned. I found a typo since then, but I'm sorry, that will just have to wait until the 2nd edition--likely next year after my wedding because I'm running on fumes right now.

But you know what's really sick and twisted? Despite the cost, I'm totally stoked about it. I love the Matte finish, and from what I understand, CS just didn't have that. That being said, if a debut author ran up to me and asked me what they should do for paperback when starting out, I'd tell them definitely go with CS first. Less up front cost and it will give you practice on what to look out for with internal margins and such before you get in the hole early. Stupid hole.

Anyway, here's a webified version of the final upload. Lucifer's Odyssey is finally complete... for now...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Shorty Story Collection is up and free

Angels and Demons coverI have an article up on my reader blog about my free short story collection. My editor Derek Prior got the collection back to me in August, but with the release of Lucifer's Odyssey, it took me a bit of time to get the tertiary editing done and format it for Amazon and Smashwords.

The Amazon edition is still $0.99 while I wait for them to pricematch. The Smashwords edition is free for at least the next couple of months. So, if you like a well edited clash between angels and demons, get it a go!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tell Me About Your Odyssey (and get Lucifer's)

Lucifer's OdysseyWith the release of Lucifer's Odyssey, readers get a chance to follow the Crown Prince of Chaos across the multiverse--from Earth to Chaos, the Goblin Realm, and even part of a primal pattern (a projector of universes). His journey may cover trillions of light years and hundreds of pages, but he's also a fictional character. Let's get real for a minute.

I want to hear more about your life journey. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Make me want to reach out and give you a hug or a high five. And feel free to embellish if you like (i.e. make it all up if you want to spin a thick yarn on us!)


Top 5 odysseys get signed paperback copies of Lucifer's Odyssey (U.S. mailing addresses only) or an eBook version in the format of your choice (MOBI, EPUB, or PDF). Additionally, I'm throwing in Pink Snowbunnies Ski in Hell, a charity anthology that features one of my flash fictions.

No purchase of any kind is necessary. Here's all you need to do:

1.) Reply to this post with a comment detailing your odyssey. It can be two sentences. It can be hundreds.
2.) Indicate in your post what your email address is so I can contact you in case you are a winner. You can also send me an email at rexjameson@gmail.com, if you would rather not leave your email address on this public website.
3.) Your odyssey must be less than or equal to 1,000 words. This is how much space we had available to tell our story in the Pink Snowbunnies Ski in Hell anthology and is about 4 pages worth of possibilities. Good luck!

Like one of the odysseys posted here? Then leave a comment and vote for it! Have fun, be creative, and win yourself a copy of my book and a great anthology for charity!

Contest ends September 10th!!

Embellished Example:

I was born in Alabama. I didn't have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of, but my mom Francis, brother Steve, sister Jackie and I had each other. We vagabonded around the Huntsville area, moving from home-to-home until I was eleven years old. That's when my mother formed a plan--not a particularly bright plan but a framework to temporary riches nonetheless.

She and my step father robbed five banks in the family van and clown suits, and they might have gotten away with it if they had been remarkably smarter. When the cops showed up at our door, Steve, Jackie, and I had no idea what was going on, but we were pretty sure it wasn't good. My younger siblings and I ogled Huntsville through the striped back window of a cop car as we were carried north to our father's house in Tennessee.

Somewhere along the way, we were told what our mother had done, but we didn't dwell on it. I dove into my books and theories, and my brother and sister started building friendships in elementary school. We adjusted well, all things considered, and I graduated in the top 25 of my class. I packed up my belongings and got ready to enroll in college, but I soon got a surprise from the financial aid office. Apparently, according to the IRS, I was a female.

At first blush, the perks seemed overwhelming. I was rooming with a hot, smart girl and the dorm featured community showers. Unfortunately, it also meant that I was being audited and ineligible for financial aid, and my girlfriend was absolutely livid about the possibility of me rooming with a hot, smart girl.

I convinced the ladies in administration that I wasn't a female but was never issued a male parking pass, which resulted in some amusing traffic court cases. After a year of trying to pay for college with a full time job waiting tables, I decided to take up an offer that some researchers had presented me with through college channels and dropped out of school.

The new job was located in the tropical paradise of St. Cloud, MN. 9 months of winter and wind chills frequenting the negative thirty range. Oh, and the Fargo accents that they swore they didn't have!

The terrorist attacks happened shortly after we started our company, and the market for our research was practically obliterated. We stumbled along for another three years, I got married, and then I got out of the four digit salary (you read that correctly).

We moved back to Tennessee, I went back to college as a card-carrying man this time and actually received financial aid. Woo hoo! It's like Christmas! Then I got divorced, earned three degrees, and met my fiancee at a charity strip poker game for graduate students and senior citizens on Halloween.

So, my Odyssey took me from Alabama to Tennessee, Minnesota, and back to Tennessee. Where has your journey taken you?

P.S. Remember, embellished.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sneak Peak at the Primal Patterns Series

Lucifer's OdysseyLucifer's Odyssey

The release of the first novel of the Primal Patterns series is coming up on September 1st, and reviewers are already taking a look at the advanced review copies and posting sneak peaks. For readers curious about the setting of this series, check out the breakdown at my Reader Blog.

As a result of the review on eBookworm.us, I plan on adding the following Author's Note to the book to prepare the reader for the first book. What are your thoughts? Will this help shape reader expectations better?

Author’s Note
This book is about a war between angels and demons but with a different premise and origin story. Angels were once demons, and Jehovah has created a truly unique universe for humanity and his other creations to thrive in and ultimately be reborn into, instead of being placed permanently into heaven- or hell-based eternities. As a reflection of some of our current Earthly religions, this god prefers his creations to those in the rest of the multiverse. And so the saga begins …

Lucifer's OdysseyIntroducing The Goblin Rebellion

The follow up to Lucifer's Odyssey should be released in February of 2012. I've commissioned Christopher Steininger for the cover art, and he has delivered once again! Then again, I may be a tad biased here. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Self-Publishing and Editing with Moses Siregar III


Five years ago, if I would have posted a blog entry that claimed the New York Times Bestseller List would be frequented by self-publishers, many in the publishing industry would probably have ignored me or sent me a hand-typed rebuke in a self-addressed envelope. But times, they are a changing. Today, big names in self-publishing like John Locke, Amanda Hocking, Bob Mayer, JA Konrath, Blake Crouch, David Dalglish, Victorine Lieske, and Courtney Milan are turning heads in the publishing industry, and new self-published authors are joining their ranks every day.

Moses Siregar III is such an up-and-coming author whose debut novella has accumulated 15,000-20,000 downloads through a combination of high-quality, epic fantasy writing and intrepid platform building over the past year. His first novel The Black God's War was released on August 1st, 2011, and he joins us today to discuss his self-publishing journey and the role of editing in writing his debut novel.


Rex: Welcome to the Rex Files!

Moses: Thanks very much for having me over, Rex.

Rex: Your debut novel was released on August 1st. What has the past year been like, and how did it feel to have that final release date set?

Moses: The wonderful part was getting absorbed in the crafting of my novel. I loved that. The hardest part was reading feedback from three editors and about a dozen beta readers. Although their comments helped me improve my book by leaps and bounds, if your readers and editors are as critical as you want them to be, reading so many critical comments just isn't fun. I had to wade emotionally through that constant drubbing. But it was good pain. I'm a better writer for it, and my novel is a better book because of it.

Setting the release date was like getting a monkey off my back. It's great to be on the other side of that date, although now I feel like I've only made it to the base of Mt. Everest.

Rex: One of the bigger taboos and repeated advice in self-publishing is that "the money should flow to the writer” and this seems to also extend to "do whatever you can yourself" and sometimes even "don't spend a lot of money on your novels—especially your first novel." You've mentioned on the Kindleboards that you invested roughly 1,500 dollars on editing alone for your debut novel The Black God's War, so it would appear that you buck this advice. Does this editing investment cover both the novella (which seemed to do well in sales over the past year) and the full novel which was just released? How do you feel this investment has affected the quality of your works?

Moses: My investment was well worth it, at least for producing a better book. It's been gratifying to see the early reviews coming in for my novel at Amazon and GoodReads (knock on wood). We recently had a thread in the Writer's Cafe about "Self-Publishing Regrets." The two top regrets seem to be: 1) waiting too long to get started and 2) releasing a work that needed better editing. You don't want to be one of those authors, because if your editing and proofreading isn't up to a professional standard, you will hear complaints in your reviews, and that can hurt your sales.

If you self-publish, you're also the publisher, so you'll probably need to spend some money on things like editing and cover design—unless you have qualified friends or relatives who can do these things for free or through some kind of bartering.

I didn't spend nearly as much on the novella, but I did have my first editor work on my novella for me. I needed the help even more a year ago, so I'm really glad I did that.

Rex: Do you plan on a similar investment for the second novel in the series? If not, do you have plans on how you are approaching the writing of the second novel that will affect the amount of editing that needs to be done?

Moses: I'll probably hire just one multi-purpose editor for the second novel. I've met one very successful indie author who uses a computer program called Serenity Editor to help her with her editing (she doesn't even hire editors anymore—just a proofreader). After I hear from my beta readers about my next book, I might use a program like that and then see if I can find an affordable editor. If my book is in good shape by the time the editor works on it, then hopefully I'll be able to get a good deal. If it came down to it, though, I'd pay for a good editor if I couldn't get a good deal with someone I already know. I want to build a reputation for producing quality works, because that's what I hope will sustain my writing career over the long term. I want my reviews to sell my books for me, not to warn readers that the book was just okay. I love this quote from Seth Godin:

"It's cheaper to design marketing quality into the product than it is to advertise the product."

Put another way, spend the extra time and effort to make your books great, so that you won't need to work as hard at the advertising and promotion. A lot of indie authors get tired and exhausted due to promoting their books. That's perfectly understandable, because it's really hard work. Now that I have a book out, I can see how much promotional effort is required, at least until (you hope) your book starts selling. By making the book as good as you can make it in the first place, you'll save yourself a lot of time and effort (and maybe money) when the time comes for promotion.

Plus, indie publishing is already extremely competitive. It's only going to get harder to thrive in it. You have to do everything you can to stand out, starting with producing a well-edited book that kicks ass.

Rex: From your interview with John Mierau, you mentioned that you had used three different editors in the past year. How did you come across these editors, and what roles did they play in the shaping of your novels? Also, did they all do the same kind of editing, or did you try out different kinds of edits with each one?

Moses: The first editor was a friend of a friend on Facebook. She doesn't read fantasy, but she has a lot of experience and she possesses wonderful language skills. She’s mostly a copyeditor.

The editor you and I share, D.P. Prior, wrote a fairly critical review of my previously released novella. He's also an indie fantasy writer. I hired him because I decided that if I could write something that he would rave about, then I might have a bestseller on my hands (Ha!). He helped me on so many different levels, particularly with point of view, internal monologue, and my fight scenes.

The third editor, Joshua Essoe, is a friend that I met at the Superstars Writing Seminar. He's a new editor, but he did a fantastic job at a reasonable price and he offered great suggestions. He balanced the big picture with the line editing.

I also hired Anne Victory to help with proofreading. She was great.

Rex: From the sound of it, you started with a copy editor and then branched into other types of edits. Did Derek end up doing a literary edit for you or was this a light/copy edit followed by a separate line edit and a final proof from Anne Victory? Would you recommend a similar editing path for new authors?

Moses: I benefited from paying three editors. Each editor had different gifts and skills, and as a first-time author, I needed all the help I could get. But when it comes to hiring editors, buyer beware. Be careful with who you hire, and get samples of their work if you can. I nearly hired one editor, but after reading her sample comments on my novel, I realized would've been money down the drain. This was an editor who is sometimes recommended at Kindleboards.com, and I feel bad for anyone who hires her and thinks he's getting a good editor. I'm not talking about Lynn O'Dell/Red Adept, just in case anyone is wondering (I say this because she is often recommended at Kindleboards. From all I’ve heard, Lynn is great).

On Derek Prior's website, he says that he did this for me: Editorial comments and light copy edit. I had asked him to let me know how he would criticize about the book if he were to review it, and then he made a lot of deeper comments on roughly the first 25% of the book (I learned a lot from that), as well as some comments here and there on later sections of the book that had issues. He also gave me some more general suggestions that helped me tighten up my plot and continuity issues.

With Anne Victory, I paid her for Oops Detection, which is proofreading with some light copyediting. That service is something you can use at the end of the journey. She didn't look at my novel until a week or two before it came out, but it was well worth it. She does deeper editing work, too.

Here's another thing helped me with proofreading. About ten days before my novel came out, I asked my friends on Twitter and Facebook if anyone wanted to read my novel a week early to help me with proofreading. It never hurts to ask, right? About five people stepped forward and found a good number of errors (and saved me some embarrassment here and there). These angelic beings ended up in the Acknowledgments section of my book.

Rex: So, first novel is finished and released. Is there a sequel on the horizon? If so, when? Any interesting projects planned for this year or next year?

Moses: I'm realizing what they always say, that the best way to promote your novel is to write the next one. So I'm working on the sequel to The Black God's War. The working title for the next book is The Gods Divided. I hope to get that one out in the first half of 2012. We have our second child due in late January, so I'm hoping to get the book out by then. To adventure! :-)

Thanks for inviting me over to your blog. I can't wait to check out your book!

Rex: The pleasure was all mine. Thanks for stopping by and talking with me about your fascinating novel and the journey you took to publication!

End of Interview

Moses and I went two different routes with editing. In The Black God's War, Moses started with a 1) copy edit, and then got a 2) line edit with reviewer notes on the first quarter of the book, followed by another 3) line edit with overall feedback from an up-and-coming editor and a 4) final proofing pass. Along the way, he had roughly a dozen beta readers. After these paid services, Moses had 5) five more volunteer proofreaders read over the manuscript after it was done. The quality definitely came through in his book, and he’s had great reviews because of it. Total cost for the editing process came to 1,500 dollars.

My upcoming novel Lucifer’s Odyssey went the other route that Moses mentioned thinking about for the sequel. Derek Prior did a full literary edit (three passes, each looking for different things—two developmental passes and a line edit) and at the time, the substantial edits were cheaper per word than they are now. Lucifer’s Odyssey was 104,000 words when I submitted (and it was cut down to 84,000 words after the rewrite). With Derek’s prices, the multilevel edit of his novel would have been 1,680 dollars at current prices, but for me, the literary edit was only .009 dollars per word and the edit came in at 918 dollars. The same edit would come in at 1,456 dollars today with Derek. After that, I had five beta readers on the novel, three of whom have advanced English degrees. They caught hundreds of typos, small problems in story arcs, etc. And each have asked to beta read the sequel. That seems like a good sign!

So, what does this all mean to other debut authors? Well, hopefully this interview gives the reader an idea of the kind of money that other speculative fiction authors are spending on editing and how many passes are actually required to remove typos, poor pacing or character development and other issues from a debut novel using professional editing services. However, your mileage may vary. For me, these services were invaluable because they taught me so much about good writing practices like sticking to a tight POV, story pacing, and how to ferret out passive verbs. For you, you might only need a decent copy-edit, line-edit, and some beta readers, or a combination of those three.

For those wondering about the payment model that fee-based or flat-rate editors use, most good editors require full payment up front before starting work to prevent an author from taking all of their advice and product and not paying. That’s why it’s important for authors to only work with reputable editors. If you are working with a new editor, you may want to ask for a half-now, half-later model to ensure both parties honor their ends of the contract.

Relevant reading and service providers:

Stages of Production: Courtney Milan talks about the process of editing and formatting one of her books.
What to Expect From an Editor (pt 2): Harry Dewulf's 2nd blog entry about what an editor should be doing
Moses and Dionysis Walk into a Bar: Moses Siregar's Blog
Red Adept Editing Services: Slightly more affordable substantive editing at .0075 dollars per word.
Homunculus Editing Services: Derek Prior is an editor that both Moses and I have used. His rate for substantive editing is .014 dollars per word, but I believe he is worth every penny and then some!

Questions to other authors:

So authors, did you use editors on your last novel? Did you use beta readers? If so, how many of each did you use and how did you feel about the finished product?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Blog possibly moving

The Rex Files might be moving to a new location. But first, I need your feedback.

Do you find it easier to follow a Blogger blog or a WordPress blog? There has been some debate on the Kindleboards forums, and I am not sure if I should be moving everything to the WordPress or posting Writer Information here and maybe Reader Information there?

What do you guys think?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Angels vs Demons (new Novellette)

I've added information on a new novellette (10,000 words) called "Angels vs Demons: Perspectives of a Violent Afterlife" to the site. I expect the novellette to launch on Kindle and Nook on October 1. The information for the novellette is included below:

Title: "Angels and Demons: Perspectives of a Violent Afterlife"


Heaven and hell are vying for human souls in vortices between humanity and the afterlife. When Lucifer and his demons overwhelm Archangel Michael and Gabriel, heaven is faced with the possibility of losing all souls on the planet.

Reincarnated in heaven, Michael must fight his way back to Earth to stop more demons from swarming the planet and help his brother Gabriel track down the devil before he tricks humanity into harvesting billions of souls into his fiery kingdom.

Lucifer's Odyssey is still looking good for an eBook launch for September 1. Beta readers are currently pouring over the edited version and giving feedback. I will try to have the paperback version up via Lightning Source to all major outlets by September 15th at the latest.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Excellent fantasy/sci fi blogs

There are dozens of blogs out there for reviewing sci-fi and fantasy books, and I've trended towards a few favorites that I plan on revisiting frequently. In no particular order, here are some of the blogs I visit:

Frida Fantastic(Link)

Frida Fantastic has been a review site that I've frequented since I first found it months ago. She uses a five-star scale, and can be pretty brutally honest, which you'll find is a trend I appreciate. She doesn't just do book reviews and sometimes offers great advice on finding the right books.

Review Haven: Fantasy and Sci-Fi (Link)

Review Haven is a pretty recent find for me. One of the first things I noticed about the blog is that it provides a rating system of 1-10, and it doesn't trend towards only giving 7+, which seems to be a bit of a problem when looking for indie reviews, especially. Adam pulls no punches and I appreciate that.

Android Dreamer (Link)

Android Dreamer is a somewhat eclectic collection of sci-fi and fantasy and a great place to look for decent cyberpunk, which is one of Matt's favorite genres. He reviews books on a report card scale and offers pretty in-depth commentary. He's a recent find and from correspondence, he seems like a great guy.

The Scattering (Link)

This was one of those unfortunate stories of a gifted blogger getting in over her head. Grad school and review commitments ended up stagnating the blog for a long time, but she's getting back on track with discussions of recent big name fantasy authors and generous helpings of indies. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

What about you guys? Have you found a great sci-fi or fantasy blog that you'd like to share? If so, I'd love to hear about them!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Release Date Set

My editor and I are in the final stages of our substantive edit, and we've managed to set a date for the release of my debut novel Lucifer's Odyssey on September 1, 2011. We hope to have advanced copies sent to book reviewers on August 14th at the latest. If you are a book reviewer for speculative fiction or independent authors, please send me an email at rexjameson@gmail.com, and we will add you to the reviewer list for the early copies.

Title: Lucifer's Odyssey
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Series: Primal Patterns
Release: 09/01/2011
Word count: 84,000


Lucifer languishes in an earthly prison, awaiting the apocalypse that will finally free him after 200,000 years. Before breaking loose, he discovers that the armageddom he set in motion will destroy the capital of Chaos, his home universe.

He travels back to Chaos and stumbles upon a bloody civil war devastating his homeland. The realm’s magic wielders are firmly under the control of a rival clan, and without their protection, Lucifer's family is in mortal peril. As old demon clan rivalries blossom and a new hostile universe expands across the known multiverse, Lucifer is faced with not only protecting Chaos from annihilation but also saving his rightful place on the throne.

Chapters (1-3): MOBI | EPUB | PDF

This is an extremely exciting time, and I couldn't have gotten here without the support of so many great friends, family, and the great folks at the Kindleboards. Be sure to check back here every week or so, as I plan on having contests for autographed paperbacks. Also, be sure to check out the Pink Snowbunnies in Hell anthology, which should be coming out August 15, 2011, and features one of my flash fictions Don't Mess with the Meadow.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I got in!

So, my flash fiction "Don't Mess with the Meadow" made it into the Pink Snowbunnies in Hell Flash Fiction Anthology, and I'm totally stoked at my very first publication anywhere! What you may not have known was that Jeanne Miller and I also worked on a flash fiction together and it unfortunately did not make it in.

Thanks so much for working with me, Jeanne. It was a pleasure talking and working with you, and I hope we can figure out a way to collaborate on something again in the future. I've included our rejected flash fiction below, along with Jeanne Miller's website.

Always Bring References

Jeanne Miller (Web: http://www.thepetmedium.com) and Rex Jameson

“A snowbunny that is afraid of the cold and wants to ski in hell? You can’t be serious… Mr. Snuggles, we don’t give job openings to just anyone…”
Alex fumed at the devil’s disciple across a vast expanse of desk between them, but his interviewer was implacable and unyielding.  There were a lot of choice curse words that fought against his lips, but Alex breathed deeply, closed his eyes, and pressed harder. This wasn’t the time to blow up. He had waited for this interview his whole life.
“You think I like these long ears, man? This fluffy tail? No, they’re ridiculous. Was it my fault I was born pink, cute, and fuzzy? No, Derrick, it’s not.  I’ve tried hair coloring and tattoos, but people just think I’m even more adorable. And why would I make up that I suffer from frigophobia? It’s in my file.”
Alex readjusted himself and moved his white tail through a slit in the back of his cushioned chair. “I have always belonged here, but I know how this looks. I understand there are no free lunches in Hell, and I have to pull my weight. That’s why I’ve brought references!”
He slammed three newspapers down and slid them across the long desk.
The disciple pulled the stack of papers slowly across the remainder of the glossed surface and read them aloud.
Las Vegas Chronicle:  Three people were killed today as they stumbled through traffic to rescue a rabbit stranded on the highway.  Onlookers reported that the pink bunny looked frightened and frozen in shock.  At least one mammal expert contends that the hare may have been a rare breed.  Consequently, some local residents are praising the deceased as martyrs for endangered animals.  Others are calling the loss of life a terrible waste.”
Derrick looked up at Alex, but he didn’t make any remarks about the article. Alex nervously thumped his paw against the floor but stopped after Derrick raised his black eyebrows and chuckled.
“Houston Journal:  Was a crazed, suicidal bunny really the cause of a freak accident today on Highway 36?  Two SUVs slammed head first into each other, and eight people lost their lives after a pink animal ran in front of a vehicle, causing the driver to swerve into oncoming traffic.  Experts believe the events leading up to this head-on collision may be the first example of video evidence showing a rare snowbunny grabbing onto an automobile’s windshield wipers with its teeth and screaming obscenities into the cab of the car. Not everyone is impressed with the Youtube video, however. Representatives on both sides of the aisle are calling for an early opening to rabbit season this year.”
The disciple soberly gazed up at Alex. He didn’t seem impressed.
“There’s more,” Alex promised. “Keep reading!”
Derrick unfolded the next paper.
Bangor Maine Today:  Terrible news today for friends and loved ones flying American Airlines. Flight 733 crashed today while making an emergency landing in Bangor.  Of the 156 passengers onboard, 155 died on impact.  The lone survivor, copilot John Metzger, is listed in critical condition.  Police are still questioning the man concerning the conditions of the plane before the accident occurred, but he appears to have suffered severe brain trauma. An unidentified source inside the TSA has disclosed to Bangor Maine Today that Mr. Metzger adamantly claims a pink rabbit leapt into the cockpit and bit both pilots in the neck.”
Alex leaned forward on the table and hoped against hope. His big brown eyes pleaded with his interviewer. If this didn’t qualify him, then what would? Derrick put down the paper, smiled and wiped a tear from his eye. 
“My boss and I are very familiar with your work, Alex. We’ve actually been watching you for quite some time.  You’ll be happy to know that we preapproved all of your requests months ago.  Special accommodations for frigophobia issues? Not a problem. It’s always warm here.  A ski slope? We’ve never approved something like that, but we purchased the snow machines from a local rental company three weeks ago in anticipation of your application.”
“Since my Las Vegas killing spree?”
Derrick nodded. “Welcome to Hell.  You’ve earned it.”
Alex’s mouth quivered as he stood up and hopped around the table. “You won’t regret this, sir. You won’t regret this.”
Derrick grabbed two pairs of ski goggles, pulled the straps of one of them around his head, and passed the other to Alex, who was in tears.
“Alex, you know there is no crying in Hell—not for employees, anyway.”
“I’m just so happy…” Alex said laughing and rubbing his eyes.
“Well, you’re in for another treat, my friend. We’ve lined the ski course with new arrivals from PETA and some improvised explosive devices. You think you’re up for it?”
“Derrick, I was born for this…”

Monday, June 13, 2011

Progress Updates

We're wrapping up the 12th chapter soon for Lucifer's Odyssey in the redraft, and the story is looking great. I have put the first three chapters up on the Novels page, so if you are wanting a sneak peak at what is in store, feel free to check it out. We're thinking this first book will be out by September, now, instead of my initial projected dates. Sorry for the delay.

I did a collaboration on a flash fiction with Jeanne Miller for a second entry into the Pink Snowbunnies in Hell Flash Fiction anthology. We'll see if either of my two submissions make it into the collection. If not, I'll be sure to link them on the blog so others can read them.

No changes have been made to Dead Winter, and that one will need redrafting as well. Depending on reader wishes, I may push that one back quite a bit and focus on a 2nd Primal Patterns book instead.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Updates On Redrafting and Anthologies

Lucifer's Odyssey is currently on Chapter 9, and things are going really well. I've also submitted a flash fiction to Debora Geary's Pink Snowbunnies in Hell Flash-Fiction Anthology.

As for this blog, I've updated the Lucifer's Odyssey novel page with the current results of the rewrite up to Chapter 3, but I hadn't written an official post about it. It doesn't look like I'm going to hit my original July 1st target. August 1st is more realistic.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

New Redrafted Chapter 1 posted - Lucifer's Odyssey

So, I've redrafted the first chapter and have been working closely with my editor throughout the process. I think he has done a fantastic job, but I'm also a bit biased.

To those who have read my old first chapter (or tried to) or any new visitors to the blog, how do you feel about the current pacing, point of view, character development, etc.? Are Derek and I on the right track?

Lucifer's Odyssey - Chapter 1

Monday, May 2, 2011

Editing Updates

After getting comments back from the editor, I've decided that Lucifer's Odyssey needs a full redraft of most, if not all chapters. I've taken down the sample chapters and will put a few of them back up when I get through the redrafts.

I have rewritten the first chapter without the major info dumps in a way that I hope will increase the pacing. As for other updates, the short stories are up to 7,500 words total, and I haven't touched Dead Winter for a couple of weeks. I'll keep everyone posted on the progress, however.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Switching gears

I've decided to switch focus from the Dead Winter novel to a collection of short stories. "Glimpses of the Afterlife" is going to be a compendium of short stories that envision 4,000 to 10,000 word accounts of the afterlife as told through angels, demons, and human beings.

I hope to get the collection of four to five stories out by the time I release Lucifer's Odyssey this summer. "Afterlife" should be priced at $.99 and give readers an opportunity to sample my writing style before taking a leap on a novel.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Looking for Speculative Fiction blogs on Indie SF/Fantasy?

Frida Fantastic is a new blog that specifically filters through indie speculative fiction. Frida tries to review at least two books a month in the categories of science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history in literature.

If you are an author of speculative fiction, you can submit your book, but understand that she is likely to have a very long backlog and she never claims to read all books that come to her. Interested in submitting a review of speculative fiction? Frida is also soliciting guest reviewers.

The Scattering is another blog that specifically reviews and writes about indie speculative fiction. Independent authors that would like to submit to her blog can go to this page. Her focus appears to be in Science Fiction, but check out her site and you may find work that is similar to yours.

Good Book Alert has a half dozen reviewers interested in some good science fiction and fantasy, and they too specialize in indie and small press. They just got started on 4/13/2011 but they have been a part of other communities like Good Reads and Critique Circle and have authors recommending them already!

Are you guys following any speculative fiction blogs out there? Care to share what else you've come across?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lucifer's Odyssey Full Cover

I posted this on my Facebook, and several followers have commented on it. Special thanks to Ben White who pointed out some issues with the back cover and helped make it even better.

Cover art is by Christopher Steininger.

Editing has started with Derek Prior. Everything is still looking good for a July 1, 2011 release.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dead Winter

Unfortunately, my dissertation work has impeded me from focusing completely on The Winter Phenomenon, but I am still writing, and the novel is now up to 46,000 words. From the direction that the text has taken, I have come to feel that future books are inevitable on this particular setting, and it will definitely be a series.

However, in that case, "The Winter Phenomenon" appears to be a more fitting series descriptor. The novel title has been subsequently changed to "Dead Winter", and the second in the series is likely to be "Cold Winter" which will detail Travis Winter's story. "Warm Winter" is either going to be Ursula or her son.

In other novel news, I haven't heard back from Christopher about the Lucifer's Odyssey banner ads, but I'm not worried. Everything should be set for its release in July. As for "Cold Winter", that could launch as early as October to catch the Halloween and Christmas holidays!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cover Art for Lucifer's Odyssey

Christopher Steininger and I are nearing the final version of the cover for Lucifer's Odyssey. Here is the current incarnation:


Large Images

I have requested a few small changes, but for the most part, this is what the cover of Lucifer's Odyssey - my first novel - will look like. We're currently working on banners too. I'll post them when I get them in my hands.

In other news, I have been busy with work, but I did manage to add another 2k words to The Winter Phenomenon. As always, feel free to check out the samples on the Novels page and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Winter Phenomenon (Chapters 2-4)

So, I didn't get any real feedback about posting sample chapters with sex scenes in them, so guess what? You're getting them.

The novels page has been updated with Chapters 2 - 4 of the Winter Phenomenon. I added another 8,000 words today and completed a first draft up to Chapter 10. The story is pretty solid in my mind for the remaining 20,000 words or so, but I'm open to major changes.

So, let me ask you a question.

How do you like your main characters? Alive and well, slightly hurt, or extra crispy?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Updates on both novels

Lucifer's Odyssey

Christopher Steininger has begun a detailed version of the cover art for Lucifer's Odyssey. We have been going through sketches for a week or so, and we're both in agreement that it's time to start on the final (hopefully) version. I'll be sure to post the final up as soon as it is available.

Beta readers are currently working up through Chapter 10. I can't thank you guys enough for taking a look at the novel before it goes into the editor. If you are currently in need of a next chapter, let me know. Unless he gets done with his current works, Derek Prior should start editing the novel on April 10th.

The Winter Phenomenon

Making a lot of progress on The Winter Phenomenon - a series that is completely separate from Lucifer's Odyssey. This is a sort of post-apocalyptic urban fantasy. I think that's the right description of it. There's a LOT of sex right now, and enough sexual tension to choke a walrus, but all of it is hopefully flowing well with the story right now.

I may end up posting Chapter 2 and 3 to the Novels page soon, despite the sex scenes, unless I get specific complaints within the next couple of days. I'm currently working on Chapter 8.

If I maintain this pace, I'll definitely hit the planned December release of The Winter Phenomenon, but I may even get a chance to start on Book 2 of the Primal Patterns series.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

So, I just wrote my first tweets

God help all of you because I was born without a filter. For now, it will probably just be release announcements or fiction news. I hope it doesn't devolve into a play-by-play of my day because that will probably just involve descriptions of chasing cats and/or my fiance around the house.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Lucifer's Odyssey overhaul

Lucifer's Odyssey has had a bit of a cosmetic facelift, and I couldn't have done it without many of you readers. Some of the comments I had gotten back were that the first and second chapters were too long, and you were right. These chapters are now separated into four total chapters. Similarly, the third chapter has been broken into two chapters.

Along with other chapter splits, Lucifer's Odyssey has expanded from 11 chapters to 17 chapters, which will give readers more resting points and hopefully result in easier reading. But chapter splits are not the only changes that have been done.

Additional comments from readers were that people were getting lost in the description from Chapter 1 and especially Chapter 2. The introductory paragraph in Chapter 2 has been updated to remove the name given to the vortex that was created and instead tries to focus on what happened when the shit really hit the fan.

In addition, some readers have told me that they were having problems following the timeline of when Batarel and Lucifer arrived in Chaos, and I've added a more explicit description which I hope flows naturally at the beginning of Chapter 2. Additional buildup has been added to hopefully explain why the demon revolt was so inevitable as well.

The interrogation of Michael has received changes. When Sariel had noted how closely the captured man looked like his brother, some readers were a bit unnerved by the nonchalance of the reaction, and that's because I hadn't done a good job at describing what was really going on. Hopefully the setup is a bit clearer in Chapter 1 and the flow is enhanced.

I've expanded the Novels section here on the blog to include the first five chapters instead of the first three. If you would like to sample later chapters, send me a message at rexjameson@gmail.com.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

He said, she said, but I shouted

I was reading over an old favorite post from 2007 on Nathan Bransford's blog, and I wanted to get your feedback on the issue.

After I finished Lucifer's Odyssey, I tried to get several friends to read it. Often after giving out the first chapter (or even worse the whole thing), my friends would just not read any of it - at least that's what they claimed. I tried to pry them for info, and one of them finally told me "I would really you rather just use said or asked instead of using action words everywhere. It makes it hard to read."

So, I did some digging and found the post linked above. I also found this gem on Nathan's blog, and here's what I have tried to do in my book.

  1. Use said and asked as the main drive of dialog.
  2. Do not use non-tags for more than 3-4 lines of dialog. When I'm reading, nothing distracts me more than non-tagged dialog that extends beyond the page barrier, forcing me to try to read back a page to figure out who is saying what.
  3. Use actions, where appropriate, to break up usage of said/ask to enhance a scene - never to simply avoid said/asked.
  4. If the conversation is at normal volumes, never resort to words that you feel are normal volume but with emotion like scoff, blurt, etc. To me, this breaks up the dialog and forces me to concentrate on the action word.

The worst thing I feel I can do, as an author, is use action words out of context that confuse the reader. Before you ask, I have read this type of usage in many indie books. For some reason, authors tend to use shout or yelled just because they consider the characters in an excited state and this rarely translates well when I'm reading.

So, what do you guys and gals think of this method? How do you structure dialog? Have you ever read a piece of dialog that just blew your mind with how awesome it was? Do you remember why you felt it was such great dialogue?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Winter Phenomenon (Chapter 2?)

I've made my first pass over The Winter Phenomenon which I hadn't picked up since August of 2010, and I quickly realized that I had a bit of a dilemma. For Lucifer's Odyssey, I provided three chapters in the Novels page that anyone could check out, and I had planned to do the same for The Winter Phenomenon, but there is a pretty long sex scene in Chapter 2.

So, what do you guys and gals think? Should I post the 2nd and 3rd chapters up for all to read, even though they might be a bit racy? If not, it will mean that only Chapter 1 will be available unless you request a copy of Chapter 2 or 3 directly through email (rexjameson@gmail.com).

In good news, I finished up a first draft of Chapter 4 of The Winter Phenomenon, which has some excellent twists, I think!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lucifer's Odyssey Editor and Cover Art Ongoing

Lucifer's Odyssey is coming along. I was able to take another look at Chapter 1 over the weekend and do some light editing for consistency in dialog in 2-11. However, the bigger news is that I have chosen an editor and cover artist.

Cover Art
The cover artist is named Christopher Steininger. We have been discussing the artwork direction for about a week, and he was able to get me some mockups this weekend. So far, there have been two samples, and Christopher has just been phenomenal. These samples are included below in miniature - to give you an idea of how they'll look as thumbnails on Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, etc.

We're still hammering out the designs. Currently, another wing is being added (he has 8, and so we're showing the 4 on the left side) and the wings are going to be shifted right. Lucifer will be facing fully forward on this next one, and the wings will no longer be wrapping around again in front of the viewer. Some other small adjustments are being made as well (like the title is currently slightly more difficult to read in miniature).

The editor I am going with is Derek Prior. Derek is a speculative fiction writer and editor and has helped out various writers on the Kindleboards within the past year. Editing starts on April 10th and may take up to two months, depending on how much work needs to be done. I'm currently working on synopses for each universe and doing light passes over the novel to ensure Chicago style is being enforced (which will help us focus on more indepth reviews of the document).

I'm currently planning for a summer release on Amazon, Kindle, and Smashwords. I may also do a paperback version on CreateSpace for POD options.

What do you guys think of the cover art so far?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Broken Peer Review Process in Fiction

Over on the Kindleboards, we tend to get at least one thread a week about a dilemma where an author is asked to review another indie author's work. In many (if not most) cases, this ends poorly for the reviewing author because when an author is desperate for reviews, their work tends to have a lot of issues with it (whether typos, flow, or whatever).

Thus, after reading the terrible book, the reviewing author is put in a delicate position. The original author is now wanting a review to be posted, but the reader didn't like the book. From reading the Kindleboards, this has resulted in a lot of retaliatory strikes by the offended original author - even if the reader simply sends a personal message describing some of the problems. Almost a "screw you for telling me that you couldn't get through my book!"

To me, this seems really odd. I come from a field where peer review is not just something that has to be tolerated, it's a way of life. Our papers generally only range from 10 pages to 60 pages in 8-10 pt font for journal articles, but the work to generate that paper might have taken tens of thousands of man hours. You submit your paper to other people that worked on the project or people you trust to give honest feedback, and those people rip your paper apart, and you know what? Your paper is far better, and you get better as a technical writer.

Submitting to a conference or journal might not seem in any way equivalent to self publishing a novel, and you may even argue that because of this difference, indie authors shouldn't have to deal with it well. However, I would argue that indie authors are ignorant of what peer reviewing does for each author involved, and how it can help an author accomplish their goals.

In submitting to a conference or journal, peer reviewing helps an author or set of authors achieve their goal - namely in conveying their research to the conference committees in order to get published. In peer reviewing a book that is to be or has been published, peer review can result in achieving the writer's goal of conveying the purpose and scope of their book to a wider audience in order to naturally get excellent reviews and further the appeal of their work.

Why is it that fiction authors can't see the peer review process for what it is and should be? As a book reviewer, you are there to help the writer become better - to help their books become better. Instead, fiction authors appear to have their egos so tied into how awesome they wrote their book the first time that they can't accept outside help - even if it's for their own good. I don't have a lot of experience in this issue (from a fiction point of view), but I'm getting the feeling from the Kindleboards and from people shying away from commenting on my chapters (which I know need work), that this appears to be a major issue and that authors are genuinely afraid of giving negative to mild feedback.

How do you guys feel about this issue? Do you think the review system is fine as-is? Any chance this will ever go away with indie authors?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lucifer's Odyssey: Author Apology/Notes

I posted a similar question to the Writer's cafe which can be found here, but since some of the readers that come to my blog are in no way associated with the Kindleboards, I felt I should post the topic to my blog as well.

After some comments from readers of Chapter 1 concerning conflicts between Lucifer's Odyssey and the biblical canon, I have done some introspection and am looking into composing an Author's Apology or Author's Notes section that explains to the reader where the story is coming from and why aspects of the canon were changed.

You can find the draft of this note here:
Author's Note - currently located before Chapter 1.

Do you think it is a good idea to include such a note at the front the book? Do you feel that such an apology is unnecessary?

And you thought Winter was coming to an end

Well, you were wrong. Tonight, I revised the first chapter of The Winter Phenomenon, which will likely be my second book.

The Winter Phenomenon is similar to Lucifer's Odyssey in a few key ways. First, there is magic, and we're once again following a person that others in the story would consider a bad guy. But while you could easily argue, after reading Lucifer's Odyssey, that Lucifer was simply Jehovah's nemesis, the same is not the case for The Winter Phenomenon. In Lucifer's Odyssey, if you are rooting for Jehovah, then Lucifer simply has to be your bad guy; Lucifer is the guy on the other side.

Alex Winter, however, is a bad guy. He's the great-great grandson of the Butcher of Lyons, and people have been out to kill him since he was only a baby. Every one of his family members has been killed off by the time he was five, he was forced to live on the streets and in orphanages, and the experience has left him deeply scarred.

Not wanting to die like his sister, defenseless in the streets, Alex trains to be a duelist under a different name, and then at the age of 15, he begins killing the most celebrated wizards and witches of the era, live, in front of all of Nagusia - the capitol of the magical world. Today, I debut the first chapter of The Winter Phenomenon.

The Winter Phenomenon - Chapter 1

It's full of plenty of flaws and who knows how it will look tomorrow, but feel free to take a look. The chapter will be permanently available in the Novels page, along with other chapters from other works. As always, feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lucifer's Odyssey Updates (Chapter 1 also revised)

The second major revision of Lucifer's Odyssey is complete. Though I feel pretty good about the overall story, several of you have expressed concerns about Sariel's biblical changes in Chapter 1. Before I send this off to an editor, I'll definitely do another pass and see how I feel about.

Additionally, Chapter 1 has been updated after I realized that I didn't actually finish Chapter 1's revision during the last round. The pdf has been reuploaded, and you can read the latest changes by clicking the Novels link above, or by clicking the following:

Lucifer's Odyssey - Chapter 1

I'll start from Chapter 1 and read the entire thing through before sending it off to an editor. Let me know if any of you guys feel there are flow problems in any of the three sample chapters. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More updates on Lucifer's Odyssey

Chapters revised today: Lucifer's Odyssey (10)
Happiness with revisions: 8/10
Chapters left to revise in this pass: Lucifer's Odyssey (11)

The 10th chapter is a bit long at 36 pages now, but the changes in flow should help - I hope. I feel really good about the changes I made to the grumpy old architect. He won't be anyone's favorite character, but he should be at least more interesting.

In additional news, I'm talking with a talented artist about cover art. I think everyone is going to be pleasantly surprised with the results once we get started. He seems interested, and his work seems right up my alley.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Update on Revisions

Chapters revised today: Lucifer's Odyssey (2, 5, 7, 8, 9)
Happiness with revisions: 8/10
Chapters left to revise in this pass: Lucifer's Odyssey (10, 11)

To those who are reading Chapter 3 and 4, the next chapters (5 through 9) are in pretty good shape, so let me know when you are ready for the next one.

Also, don't be shy about problems you are finding with setting, characters, etc.!

Edit: I went ahead and revised Chapter 2 finally. It needed a nice, hard scrubbing. I've uploaded the new version to the Novels page. Feel free to check it out!

Extra Edit: Lucifer's Odyssey is now over 100,000 words long... O_O

Sunday, March 13, 2011

To sex scene or not to sex scene - that is the question!

Over the past two days, I've revised Chapter 5 and 6, and man, has it been an up and down battle. Chapter 5 was simply a disaster. I rewrote the first few pages completely, and I'll have to revisit it again because I went through a similar process that I did when first writing many of these sections. Namely, I just kept chanting "Okay, okay, okay, just fill in the gaps. It will all work out."

Chapter 6? The front of it seemed to be a bad carry over from 5. I actually started on it right after 5 hoping that it would help me break on a good note, but instead I went back to sleep. After awaking the next day and working on some other work related stuff, I came back to the chapter, and I'm glad I did - it got really good later on.

Chapter 6 has what I hope are some great humor scenes and is also really the first of what will probably be many sex scenes in my books - unless I stop writing. Every time I start to do a revision of this chapter, I sort of cringe because while I'm revising other chapters I tell myself that one day I'll probably have to go back to Chapter 6 and completely remove the sex scenes.

Thankfully, I don't feel that way after reading the chapter again. Maybe some of the people reading the book will feel differently, though. You guys and gals will have to be the judge. Anyway, I have no plans of writing romance books or putting an image of my six pack on one of my books (ROFLCOPTER - this is very much sarcasm), but I hope that I can continue to write these short scenes into books and not throw readers off the books completely.

Has a sex scene ever gotten you to stop reading or writing a book? If so, what really set you off about it?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lucifer's Odyssey - Chapter 1 (Revised)

I woke up at 2 a.m. with an idea in my head for the bar scene. I tossed around in bed for an hour or so, and my brain just kept going and going about Chapter 1 and some of the comments that you guys had given me.

There's some preamble that I should mention here. Chapter 1 used to be large enough to choke a horse. One day, I decided it was all terrible, and so I erased the entire chapter and started over. Twenty some odd pages was more manageable, but there were a lot of ideas that went away with the revision.

That being said, the explanations for what the demons were doing on Earth, how they got there, what they did when they got there, etc. were lost on the chopping block. I felt it was time to address them once again. The result is that Chapter 1 is up to thirty pages - nowhere near as full as it used to be but still hefty and hopefully better.

For those that gave comments or just want an introduction to Lucifer's Odyssey, please feel free to check out the newly revised Chapter 1 below. Comments are always welcome - even if it's just to say that I've managed to ruin your faith in authors or something :D.

Lucifer's Odyssey - Chapter 1

Happy reading!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lucifer's Odyssey Chapter 3

I've gotten some great feedback from Galena, Ketzl, and Suva! I'll definitely want to look into the bar scene in Chapter 1 and try to flesh that scene out a bit more. Thanks alot! You are all awesome! Feel free to leave comments on this thread so you don't feel so alone in critiquing the chapter. Believe me, the harsher you are on me, the better it is in the long run. Or... maybe I'm just a masochist. Anyway, Chapter 3!

Chapter 3

Lucifer and Sariel sit in a time-dilated pocket vortex, trying to figure out their next moves. Going back to Chaos would be a death wish but returning to Earth doesn't sit well with Lucifer either, and not just because the person trying to destroy his home universe has a power base there. Lucifer and Sariel's brother Michael mentioned an old conflict - one that Lucifer and Sariel have always regretted. After a year of discussion, the brothers decide to visit an old friend.

Chapter 3 - The Goblin Realm

Happy reading! And if it's not happy reading, be sure to let me know that it needs work. The more information you can give me about what let you down, the better chances I have of making it right!

The eBook Format is... HTML?

This sort of caught me off guard. I made my first websites when I was fourteen or fifteen, and I never would have thought that the publishing industry's new defacto standard would be CSS-driven HTML. For those writers out there that wouldn't know HTML from a hole-in-the-ground, let me explain how simple all of this really is.

In HTML, paragraphs are separated via the <p></p> tags. For instance, the first paragraph of this post would be written as such:

<p>This sort of caught me off guard. I made my first websites when I was fourteen or fifteen, and I never would have thought that the publishing industry's new defacto standard would be CSS-driven HTML. For those writers out there that wouldn't know HTML from a hole-in-the-ground, let me explain how simple all of this really is.</p>

An eBook is essentially a bunch of paragraphs chained together with a table of contents to each chapter. A table of contents is just a collection of anchor tags. I had been worried about paying someone for formatting a story for eBook submission, but this just seems too easy - especially since I don't use special characters very often. Still, even if I did, that is something that can be easily remedied with a global search and replace. As someone who has to use LaTex for paper submission to conferences, this is a cake walk!

If you are interested in finding out more about eBook formatting, check out Guido Henke's guide to formatting your own eBook.

Take pride in your eBook formatting

Have you had experience with posting your own eBook? If so, give me some feedback. Have you ran into any unforeseen problems?

Busy day

I revised Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 again today, and I think they are flowing a lot better now. Still curious about how other people are feeling about Chapter 1 and 2. Talking with others, it seems like it's really easy to get lost in this new world... or multiverse, I guess I should say. I have also fixed a few typos in Chapter 1 while I was writing this post, so if you noticed something completely odd, try downloading the latest version. Hopefully, it's better now ;).

If you have read Chapter 1 or Chapter 2 and would like to give some honest feedback, feel free to comment on the thread. I'm actually very humble about my writing. I know I need a lot of work, so don't be shy. I appreciate constructive criticism, but saying "Oh baby bearded Jesus, that is just awful right now. You need more revisions." is just as acceptable and welcome at this point! :D

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Interesting articles for authors at KatieSalidas.com

I've been perusing a lot of author blogs in the past two days, looking for tips and information on the industry. I came across two today from the same blog that I think are worth noting. One of them I've thought about a lot, and the other I probably should think more about.

Book Trailers
Avoiding the pitfall of passive voice

Take a look and be sure to throw some comments her way!

I may be addicted to Kindleboards

There's a lot of great material over there for new authors, and there are so many other people fighting to get their exposure that it's sort of daunting and inspiring at the same time. If you haven't visited Kindleboards before, the link is here:


I'm currently hanging out in the Writer's Cafe.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Would you pick up this book (as an agent)? #3

Special thanks to Galena for reading #2 and giving me feedback. Sign up already so others can learn and appreciate the feedback too! :D

His father once told him that he couldn't outrun fate, but as Lucifer looked around at the planet Earth, his prison for over 200,000 years, he realized that he could certainly hide from fate for a while. Of course, he wasn't intentionally hiding from his succession to King of Chaos; who would want to? His cousin Jehovah and his brother Michael had conspired against him by sending him premonitions of Michael's death. Being a good brother, he had gathered his favored demon legion and some of the most powerful demon wizards in the multiverse and traveled with great haste to avenge his brother.

Unfortunately, Lucifer had no idea that killing Jehovah inside of Jehovah's Order, a universe that his cousin had created in the outskirts of the cosmos, would not only cause Jehovah’s inevitable reincarnation into godhood, but it would also cause a chain reaction that would ultimately kill most of Lucifer's legion. Of the Chaos force that had arrived on Earth, only Lucifer, his brother Sariel, his uncle Batarel, and a few dozen guards now remain.

To complicate matters, Batarel and Sariel, both members of the Council of Wizards, the governing council that restricts magical learning in Chaos, refuse to tell Lucifer anything specific about the primal pattern that Jehovah used to create his universe. As the apocalypse - a powerful celestial armageddon that Lucifer and Batarel set in motion to make sure Jehovah's creation would be isolated and destroyed - closes in on the entrapped demons, none of them know just what the future will bring. In the world's last days, Michael - now reincarnated as an archangel - appears to them and tells his brothers and uncle the dark news: the armageddon will spread Jehovah's Order across the cosmos until it reaches Chaos, where it will destroy their entire families, their way of life, and everything fate had prepared for Lucifer.

Faced with the imminent destruction of the entire Chaos universe, the demons execute a daring escape through the cursed Earth atmosphere that burned up their legion many thousands of years ago and make for Chaos as fast as their wings can carry them. But Jehovah is not the only force in the universe that they have to worry about. It seems that fate has another course set for the Crown Prince of Chaos.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lucifer's Odyssey Chapter 2

In this chapter, Batarel informs the Council of Jehovah's wrath, and Lucifer returns back home to the cold arms of an angry mob. Meanwhile, wily Sariel does his best to avoid the popular wrath that is threatening to supplant the Chaos royal family. From being imprisoned on a planet called Earth to an even smaller jail cell in Chaos, the frustrations and anger of the Crown Prince are at their peak, and he seeks to unleash them on a powerful target in a rival clan - one who seeks Lucifer's throne.

Lucifer's Odyssey Chapter 2

Would you pick up this book (as an agent)? #2

I've been reworking the pitch and trying to make it more personal and hopefully more engaging. What do you think of these changes?

His father once told him that he couldn't outrun fate, but as Lucifer looked around at the planet Earth, his prison for over 200,000 years, he realized that he could certainly hide from fate for a while. Of course, he wasn't intentionally hiding from his succession to King of Chaos; who would want to? His cousin Jehovah and his brother Michael had conspired against him by sending him premonitions of Michael's death. Being a good brother, he gathered his favored demon legion and some of the most powerful demon wizards in the multiverse and traveled with great haste to avenge his brother.

Unfortunately, Lucifer had no idea that killing Jehovah inside of Jehovah's Order, a universe that his cousin had created in the outskirts of the cosmos, would not only cause Jehovah’s inevitable reincarnation into godhood, but it would also cause a chain reaction that would ultimately kill most of Lucifer's legion. Of the force that arrived on Earth, only Lucifer, his brother Sariel, his uncle Batarel, and a few dozen guards now remain.

To complicate matters, Batarel and Sariel, both members of the Council of Wizards, the governing council that restricts magical learning in Chaos, refuse to tell Lucifer anything specific about what Jehovah has done here. As the apocalypse, a powerful celestial armageddon that Lucifer and Batarel set in motion to make sure Jehovah's creation would be isolated and destroyed, closes in on the entrapped demons, none of them know just what the future will bring. In the world's last days, Michael - now one of Jehovah's archangels, appears to them and tells his brothers and uncle the dark news: the armageddon will spread Jehovah's Order across the cosmos until it reaches Chaos, where it will destroy their entire families, their way of life, and everything fate had prepared for Lucifer.

Down but not out, the demons hatch a daring escape from the cursed atmosphere that burned up their legion many thousands of years ago, and make for Chaos as fast as their wings can carry them. But Jehovah is not the only force in the universe that they have to worry about. It seems that fate has another course set for the Crown Prince of Chaos.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Busy Reading for Busy Writing #1

My novels have come a long way since last year, and I have many blogs and websites to thank for getting me closer to where I want to be with my writing hobby. I want to give credit where credit is due, so here is short list of blogs that I've found especially useful.

*author's note: I have only submitted 4 query letters so far, and they were early last year. After my initial excitement wore down from having just finished the basic storyline, I realized just how much work the novel needed, so I've taken a step back and gone back to the basics. That doesn't mean that the following links might not be useful, just because I don't have representation. These blogs helped me realize that I wasn't quite ready for prime time. There is a lot more work left to be done. I hope you find these links as useful as I have found them.

Name: Nathan Bransford's Blog
Type: Blog
Link: http://blog.nathanbransford.com

Nathan was a former agent at Curtis Brown, a major literary agency, and he shares a lot of great knowledge about the state of the industry, how to write a query letter, synopsis, etc. Nathan has a great sense of humor, and a thriving community of posters who aren't afraid to disagree with his thoughts on the state of the industry. He has now made the switch to being a full time author and has left the agency, but he still has plenty of contacts and plenty of great info on his site.

Name: Query Shark
Type: Blog
Link: http://queryshark.blogspot.com

Most agents simply respond to queries with a "Thank you for submitting, but..." The Query Shark blog is an agent not only just responding to queries with form rejections but also outlining, in painstaking detail sometimes, the pitfalls that the query is falling into - or how well it shines and why. This is a great blog for digging into the mind of an agent and seeing just how differently they approach the querying process (and how you can learn from this to tailor your query letter better).

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lucifer's Odyssey Chapter 1

As a preview of things to come in this blog, I've included the current intended book cover and first chapter of my book Lucifer's Odyssey. As this is my first book, I have many pitfalls that I am falling into, but maybe they are worth overlooking. You be the judge!

In the coming weeks, I'll probably release the current first chapter of The Winter Phenomenon also and discuss other ideas that are currently on the table.

Lucifer's Odyssey Chapter 1 and Book Cover (Updated 3/6)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Would you pick up this book (as an agent)?

Writing that first query letter for publication seems to be a daunting task, but writing that tenth or twelfth one doesn't get any easier, from my experience - especially when none of them have worked so far. I've tried my hand at query letters to three or four different agents with online blogs, and so far, I've had no luck. Here is my current planned query for a 90,000 word science fiction novel called Lucifer's Odyssey. What do you guys think?

----------- Current version of my query letter format -------------

Lucifer’s Odyssey is a tale of gods, angels, demons, elves, goblins, mortals and immortals and their interactions in a complex, evolving multiverse – a collection of universes that result from projections of primal patterns. The story starts with Lucifer and his demon cohorts, who have been trapped on Earth for over 200,000 years by the young god Jehovah, a former demon and relative of Lucifer who has created his own universe in the outskirts of the cosmos.
The entrapped demons are waiting for an apocalypse to occur, an armageddon the demons set in motion long before they arrived on the planet, so that they can free themselves from their forced confinement and return back to their home universe of Chaos. Little do the demons know that their attempt at destroying Jehovah’s amazing creation will cause a doom upon their own universe and a series of epic battles that will forever shape the fate of every universe in the cosmos!

Writing despite distractions

I often find myself at odds with what I want to write, what I should write, and what I have time to write. My other career requires a lot of technical writing, theory, and exposition, and I find that my story-writing lacks in direction at times - often because of the months or even years that go between writing chapters or picking up a synopsis and proceeding forward with it.

This got me thinking about how other aspiring or established authors handle these worldly pressures - careers, friends, family, children, marriages, deaths, etc. How do you guys and gals find the gumption and time to piece together your novels, despite interruptions, and how long does it typically take you to smooth everything out?

For those that are full time authors, does sticking to a complete outline help? Do you even bother?