I have a nearly complete outline for the second book in the All for Owen series. Its the first day of November and you know what that means? National Novel Writing Month.
For those of you who aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo, it's that time a year when writers become gluttons for punishment by attempting to write an entire novel in one month. This is the first year I've had the will (idiocy?) to try it.
Wish me good luck. Hopefully in December I will have good news.
And because I hate referring to a work in progress as book two, I'll give you the title.
This is a scary time for me. I just released a new book and it's too early to tell how the public at large is receiving it. I have a basic outline for the next novel, but I'm not going to start writing -- not yet.
Since I've been reflecting on where to go next with my writing, I've realized that I need more published stories. I need to expand my readership and I think it's going to take a departure from Dystopia to do that. And yes, this means I'll need to work on multiple writing projects at a time, including the next book in the All for Owen series.
So here are some ideas I've been playing with. Let me know which you would be interested in reading about.
1. A modern-day story about the recession in 2008. An unemployed graphic designer and a billionaire meet by chance and decide to start a business just for fun. it isn't about making money, its about blowing money. I have some fun ideas for this, but I don't want to say too much, because it would ruin the story before it's even written.
2. A pre-depression era story about a young engineer who is working with a famous inventor in Paris. When the inventor dies, the young engineer is forced to move back to the U.S. to find a lowly job at a newspaper. He learns to manipulate the small town by throwing in some of his own news stories here and there. Again, I don't want to say too much.
3. I've also been playing around with the idea of writing a comedy about a group of ghost hunters who are forced to make up ghost encounters in order to get finding to continue their paranormal investigations. But I will need to work on being funny, so this project scares me a little.
Reviews on Amazon.com are a huge commodity in the world of publishing. Reviews are the difference between a perspective reader buying one book or moving on to another. Many readers make a decision to buy a book in a split second and those decisions are heavily based on the reviews - both the quality and quantity of reviews make a big impression.
There are two major indicators of a book doing well.
First, when a reader is looking around Amazon for a new book, one of the first things they will do is look at how many stars the book has.
Secondly and more importantly, a browsing reader will look at how many reviews the book has. This is the most important indicator of a good book because, let's face it, every book in existence has a bad reviews. I'll bet Harry Potter has it's fair share of terrible reviews. But the fact that so many people have read it and taken the time to review it, means that the book is worth reading.The controversy of reviews is actually a good thing. If the book was terrible, you wouldn't see very many reviews.
Self-publishing makes it difficult have have a precise release date. Amazon has a lot of bells and whistles that take time to get working. I compensate for this, by publishing sooner and hopefully, by the release date, I'll have everything squared away.
For those of you who follow my blog, and want to be the first to read All for Owen, I have a little secret... It's live.
Be the first to read and review it, and I'll love you forever.
You can download the ebook here
Or, get your hands on the paperback here
There's only a week left until All for Owen is released into the world. I can't wait to move on to the next project, not because All for Owen wasn't fun to write -- it was -- but because I just need the mental stimulation of thinking about a new story.
I had mentioned a surprise regarding the release date, so here it goes.
Yes, the official release date is October 16th, but I want to give my friends, family, and die-hard fans a little incentive for being awesome.
The All for Owen ebook version will be absolutely free to download on Tuesday, October 15th, under one condition:
Most of my fabulous Beta readers have come back to me with feedback on All for Owen. I can't believe how much better the story is. There are still a few readers who I am waiting to hear back from, so in the meantime, I've talked my lovely wife Stephanie into reading the entire book again, this time out loud to me. We are finding a few typos in every chapter. It feels good to tighten up the prose.
As far as the release date goes, we are still on track for October 16th, though I have a surprise in store for those of you who really want to get a copy early.
You may have seen the book trailer Jay Jensen did for The Cause. We got together one evening with an actor and Jay filmed an awesome trailer. How did I manage to get a pro like Jay to make me a professional trailer when I had absolutely no money to pay for it? He did it for a couple reasons:
1. He is an awesome guy.
2. I told him if I made any money from The Cause, I would give him a cut. I couldn't promise anything, but there was a little bit of hope.
If you haven't seen the trailer yet, watch it.
Unfortunately, I didn't make a truck load of money on The Cause. I considered the release to be successful and yes, I did make some money, but not enough to pay Jay what he really deserved.
The time around, I wanted to do things differently. I decided to film and edit the book trailer myself. It took me about 20 minutes to realize I'm not made for film making. I think I had some pretty awesome ideas, but I am seriously lacking in execution.
So now, I'm at a loss.
Does anybody buy books based off the book trailer?
I'm pleased to announce the All for Owen release date is... (Drum Roll)
If you're excited, that's great, because I'm excited too.
As for the blog tour, I'll be sending out advance reader's copies to bloggers soon. If you or someone you know wants to write a review, host a giveaway, or just talk about All for Owen online, let me know. You don't have to have a professional blog and tons of followers. All you need is to be interested in joining the tribe. Comment here or message me, and we'll get things rolling.
There are a few issues that I'll have to fix before it's ready for publication. This copy is really for beta readers to go through and suggest changes. It is also a good time to inspect the cover art.
In the mean time, I'm putting together a marketing plan, including a blog tour. If you have a blog and are interested in being a part of the blog tour, let me know. I'd love to provide giveaways. I'll be posting more over the next few weeks on marketing and how you can be a part of the action.
This week I've been going over All for Owen in search of typos. I know this is going to sound crazy, but It's been kind of fun. I've tried several new techniques for editing and It has really helped a lot.
In the meantime, Beta readers are reading through the manuscript. I've already had some great insight and advice come back. If I can keep up with all the suggestions and corrections, All for Owen should be in good order by the end of the month.
I finished draft 3 last night at 11:00 p.m. I was so excited I couldn't sleep.
I've already sent All for Owen off to one beta reader and I've contacted 3 others. If all goes well, all my readers will have a copy in their possession by next friday.
As for me, I'm playing the waiting game. Once beta readers are finished, I'll take their feedback and make changes. Hopefully, these changes won't be too intensive. Next is the typo hunt. I really want to hit typos hard.
Now, I also need to start the marketing machine. I'm planning a blog tour for October/November. And I need to make a book trailer. All that is coming.
For now, I'm going to spend a nice relaxing weekend with my family and forget all about writing.
I've posted several renditions of possible book cover's for All for Owen. Now I've settled on one. Here is the full cover, front and back. Keep in mind that the book blurb will probably need more attention, so it is likely to change. Other than the blurb and a bar code that will be added later, this is the completed book cover.
I'm happy with this cover. I even created basic matching covers for the next two books in the series. (More to come on book 2 later.)
I've been getting questions about when All for Owen will be published. All I can say is, as soon as possible. I'm pushing through the editing right now then I'll send it off to beta readers. I can promise, that I will keep you posted.
The one part I really loath about writing and publishing is writing the blurb for the back of the book. Trying to explain the premise of a book in a few short paragraphs and still make the book sound awesome is difficult. Seriously.
Since the world of publishing is beginning to move past Dystopia and post-apocalyptic novels, I'm probably going to have to self-publish All for Owen. This is fine, because I really love having all that control over the publishing and marketing process. The problem is, the book blurb is such a pain.
After a long Labor Day weekend, and a lot of brain strain, here is my book blurb:
Seventeen-year-old, Jason Lowe thinks he can hide forever in his forgotten neighborhood – pretending like the world had never ended. He is the only one to get the plague and live. At least now he’s immune.
When the masked creatures called Angsts discover Sunset Street, they bring the plague with them and infect most the residents.
The Angsts give the boys of Sunset Street one shot at saving their community – to travel across the barren valley and trade for vaccines. But everything rests on keeping Sunset’s least valuable resident alive, twelve-year-old Owen Rosner.
I'm not a fan of this summary. Really, I think this could be so much better, but I honestly don't know what else to do to make it better, without giving away important pieces to the story.
Revisions feel like walking through knee-deep mud. Just when I think I've got a scene down pat, another issue sucks me back in. The good news is I'm getting better at it. The story is getting better too - much better.
Here goes another goal.
By the end of August, I will send "All for Owen" off to beta readers. By that time, this should be a pretty solid story.
I wrote a query letter already. It's a pretty awesome query letter too, if I do say so myself. I'm interested to see if the world of literary agents will agree.
I was tempted to post it here, but I don't want to ruin the story for you future readers.
A lot has happened in my writing over the past month. I didn't bother counting the hours I spent working out the last five chapters of All for Owen, but let me assure you, it was a lot. And I can say I am officially finished with the second draft.
So what now?
I need to take a break from All for Owen. I need to try to forget the story and work on something else. A couple Beta readers to read this draft and give me feedback. When they are finished, I'm going through it myself. This pass is going to be extreme. I'm using the "One-Pass Manuscript revision" technique. I'm not gullible enough to believe that one more pass is going to get the story to a publishable level, but I'm going to revise like this is the only revision. Character, plot, mood, dialogue, grammar, everything is up for scrutiny. The words "I'll fix that later" are not in my vocabulary.
After I butcher the manuscript, I'll fix it and send it off to as many beta readers as I can find. I guarantee, they will still find things to fix, but at that point, I'm hoping they will be minor changes.
After that pass, it's all proofreading, and more proofreading, and more proofreading...
The huge amount of work that lays ahead is daunting. It seems like writing is never finished. But for now, I need to forget it all and work on something else - maybe writing that murder mystery game I've always wanted to try.
I've been doing some serious thinking on what I'm going to do with "All for Owen" when I am finished. The story is progressing nicely, and it will be ready in one form or another this fall.
Originally, "All for Owen" was outlined to become a serial novel. Somewhere in the process of writing, I bagged that idea. I fell in love with the story and thought to myself, "this is going to be big." I started thinking about publishing traditionally. Recently, I've taken a second look at my original idea of the serial novel, here's why.
Readers don't have as much patience as they used to.
I published "The Cause" in 2011. It was much more successful than I had anticipated. In fact, I actually have a small audience of genuine readers out there. But one book isn't enough to keep readers, well, reading.
The solution is to write more books. I'm working on it, bit it's hard to keep the attention of readers when there is a two-year lull between books. In today's world, that just doesn't cut it.
So what do I do?
"All for Owen" is returning to its roots as a serial novel. Expect part one to be published October 2013. Expect frequent updates. Expect to enjoy the story at the same pace that I'm enjoying writing it. Expect more stories, more frequently.
It should be no surprise that I missed my last goal. The second draft is turning out to be more of a creative fight than I have expected. I'm on chapter 18 of 35 now. That's right, I've added about four chapters, but it is so necessary.
All for Owen has really come alive this time around. The characters are much better. The description is much better. Everything is much better.
Since I've picked up the pace again, I'm going to give myself a new goal. (Beta readers be ready)
This date has no significance, other than I honestly think I will be able to have this draft finished by then, and I should be ready to finally to send it to readers.
I've learned a lot of writing techniques and approaches from reading David Farlands "Daily Kick in the Pants." I've never met David, but I've been reading his writing posts for years. I feel like I know him. I really respect his ideas and his willingness to help new authors. I can't express how much I've learned from him.
He is in a little trouble now. His son was in a terrible long boarding accident and the medical bills are going to be astronomical, especially because he doesn't have health insurance.
This is a picture of his poor son, Ben. He is in a coma right now and they are not sure what he is going to be able to do after he wakes up.
Today, several authors are sponsoring a book bomb for David Farand's book "Nightingale." For those of you who are not familiar with a books bomb, it just means that everyone is buying his book on the same day - today. This will push his book up the charts and hopefully, get the novel more recognition. And that means more money to cover the bills.
So if you are on the look for a new book and you also want to help out a great guy, go to Amazon.com and purchase a copy of his book HERE.
I've found that I write best when I have setting into the right kind of mood. Music is crucial for getting myself in the zone. The problem is that there are different moods for different scenes.
For example, in one of the first scenes of All for Owen, I want to convey a very specific feeling to the reader. I found this song "In Heaven" by The Pixies that set the right tone. You have to listen to this specific live version because it has a very unique quality. Kim deal sings it in this version rather than Frank Black, who usually sings this song.
Take a listen.
There is this creepy eery feeling that contrasts with the almost innocent lyrics. This is the essence of All for Owen, especially in the beginning.
Without giving away too much, there is an important task that the main characters need to accomplish. This journey (literal and figuratively) is captured in the moods of "Doors Unlock and Open" by Death Cab for Cutie.
Again, this has some really unique emotions in the song.
I like to create a mental soundtrack for my writing because it helps me write in the proper tone.
All for Owen should convey the innocence of some and the pure evil of others. Listening to songs like these really helps me get into the proper frame of mind. I'll try to post more inspirational songs as I go.
I'm rather disappointed in myself. I had been writing like crazy in the fall and the early winter, but January came and I lost that fire.
Maybe it was the grey of winter or the cold or maybe I just needed to take some time to think about something else. Regardless of what caused my pathetic streak of laziness, the sun is out again and I need to put the pressure on my inner writer.
Since I'm not accountable to anybody but myself, I need to make a deadline.
Here it is.
May 4th, 2013
This is the day I am going to have my manuscript written and rewritten and edited and re-edited. This is the day I am going to send out my first query letter. This is the day I'm going to begin my traditional publishing trip. I'm not going to work on All for Owen any more.
So why May 4th?
This gives my time to set shorter and closer goals within that time. I need to have beta readers read and give me input, I need to polish the blemishes. I need to rework the ending. There is a lot of work to do between now and May 4th.
Another reason I'm setting May 4th as my deadline, is because on May 5th, my brothers and I are going to hold our second annuall "Dude Fest." This year we're calling it "Cinco-De-Dude-Fest." We basically get together and do all the stuff our wives don't like to do, like play video games, shoot stuff, be slobs, and play long games like Risk. It will be a good way to celebrate the completion of All for Owen.
I'm rolling up my sleeves again and kicking my lazy self in the pants. I'm getting back to work.
Normally, motivating myself to write is easy. I've mastered this method called 'day dreaming'.
I like to imagine my book in it's final form and the "I totally nailed it" feeling I'll get when I read through my manuscript for the final time. I imagine my friends and family reading my manuscript and with tears of awesomeness running down their faces (yes, awesomeness can cause tears, but only in rare and extreme cases) they say things like "dude, you totally nailed it" or "that book changed my definition of awesome."
Another motivational trick is to watch YouTube clips of authors being interviewed or giving advice to new writers. I like seeing them as normal people, just like me.
Lately, none of these tricks have worked. I had been in the habit of writing almost every day for months, but now I hit a brick wall.
Maybe I'm just lazy, or I need to daydream more. Maybe what I really need is a vacation.
Needless to say, my goal of being ready for beta readers by Valentines day probably isn't going to happen. I will, however, make a point to write today and get back into the groove.
I'm working on the second draft of All for Owen. In fact, I am already on chapter 7.
The second draft is really fun to write. It's different from the first in several ways. I already know the story. I know the characters much better. I know what plot problems I want to fix. Etc...
This time around, I'm really focusing on Character development and consistency. So far, I'm really pleased with the direction this draft is heading. Assuming I keep the pace going, my goal is to have the second draft finished in three weeks. (February 5th.) That means I'll be looking for beta readers around Valentines day. Any takers?
So what am I reading?
This book is both inspirational and upsetting because Zusak's writing is just so good, it makes me realize how much work is ahead for me.
First the bad news. I didn't reach my goal of finishing the first draft of ALL FOR OWEN by Dec 21, 2012.
The good news is that the world didn't actually end, (whew) so I had more time. Today, I can announce that the first draft is finished!
It's weird because I really want to be happy and celebrate this momentous occasion, but it doesn't really feel like the big accomplishment it truly is. I had the same feeling when I finished the first draft of THE CAUSE. I guess I'm the type of person who climbs up a mountain, but instead of looking around and saying "Wow, I really did it," I look around and say, "Great, now I need to get all the way back to the car without killing myself."
I've started looking at the first two chapters and I know there are serious changes to be made. The really amazing part is that I have a starting point. I know the story now and the characters. So I'm going to take a breath, then head back down the mountain.