Feb 24, 2011

New Edition! (sorry, not you, Bobby Brown)

I should probably clear up something on a more technical front. I've done some massive reconstructions on my original trilogy, turning them from 3 huge books into 6 normal-sized ones. In the process, I've apparently confused the snot out of folks, however. As an apology, please allow me to try and reconcile this.

The original Trilogy - "The Aerthos Trilogy":
Book 1: The Morrow Stone
Book 2: Reaper's Flight
Book 3: The Fall of the Shepherd (unreleased)

The new series - "The Chronicles of Aesirium":
Book 1: Reapers' Return (available as eBook, pending proof for Paperback)
Book 2: The Morrow Stone (pending review for eBook)
Book 3: The City of the Dead (available as eBook)
Book 4: Reaper's Flight (available as eBook)
Book 5: Into the Blink (to be released Spring 2011)
Book 6: The Crook and the Blade (to be released summer 2011)

Note: What WAS Book 1 of the original Trilogy has been broken up and expanded (a la Director's Cut) into Books 1 and 2 of the new series.

Note 2: What WAS Book 2 of the original Trilogy has been broken up and expanded into Books 3 and 4 of the new series.

Note 3: I have discontinued the printing on Books 1 and 2 of the original series, and am in the process of replacing them to match the format and content of the 4 currently-released ebooks.

Note 4: I'm not trying to emulate George Lucas here; I swear.

I hope this answers any questions you may have; I'll update soon when all four books are uploaded into Amazon and ready for purchase. Thanks for bearing with me on this; I promise I'll be posting something clever and witty very soon.

Feb 18, 2011

Full Steampunk Ahead!

The universe has been a great place to chill lately. Not that I've been taking the time to do so, but clearly, if I did... it would so totally be a delight.

I've been given some great advice recently about rolling up my sleeves and getting some established work done; I'd been essentially spinning my wheels, waiting for the right artist to fall into my lap with respect to designing my ebook and paperback covers, and it's been so slow going.

But my new best author friend Jen walked me through her recent success story of accomplishing her publishing goals just by e-publishing, and in an effort to "pay it forward", has been showing me the ropes.

And, voila, I give you The Chronicles of Aesirium - "Reaper's Return" (book one) and "The Morrow Stone" (book two).

I've converted books 3 and 4 to ebook format, and will be working on the covers this weekend, so they should be up within a week. Book 5 is in the hands of my editors, so final launch date is pending rewrites, et cetera. Book 6 is still in first draft stage, but I'm pausing while book 5 gets processed. But they should both be up by the end of spring, barring other complications.

I've got the prices more in line with where they ought to be, and as I dive back in, it is nice to see the positive reception the new designs are already receiving.

I'll be honest, I really question the value added by traditional publishing models. The success of ebook authors like Amanda Hocking, JR Rain and Jen Ashton should really stand out as examples of exactly why book stores like Borders are struggling or imploding.

I mean, honestly, are books no longer being written? No. Are they no longer being purchased? Not at all. So why are these large chains collapsing? They haven't changed their business model.

Well, as of now, I'm changing mine as well. This will result in various potentially inexplicable comments from me over the next few weeks (with a brief interlude while I attend the Emerald City ComiCon 2011), but I assure you, all will be revealed.

Yes, it's full steampunk ahead, my pretties. Get your tickets now. It's gonna be a fantastic ride.

Feb 14, 2011

Caught Between the Scylla and New York City

How Arthur's Theme and The Police's "Wrapped Around Your Finger" got mashed up in my head I'm sure I couldn't tell you. But that's how these things go sometimes. The best that you can do... (the best that you can do...) oh wait. More lyrics. Ah well.

So, in the process of shaking off the monday morning lazies, and trying to remain under the radar at my day job is turning into a full time process of its own today. However, no one particular stream of coherence is ruling the roost thus far, so I suspect this blog is one part killing time and three parts conscious efforting towards a specific consciousness. I am uncertain as of yet precisely what this will bake up, but I'll be the first one to taste it, don't you worry.

Recent conversations have engaged upon me a particular awareness of attempting to balance two particular lives. In my case - lest ye fear for my eternal soul - it is the precarious juggling of a full time job, complete with marginal benefits, and the aspirations of being a full time author. The former is an occupation which I have spent the past 20 years cultivating. It bears fruit, it possesses some degree of shade, and though it is a frightfully horrific sight, it persists as a utilitarian success story. It provides for my family, offers me an ongoing sense of achievement, and bolsters my genetic needs for being a provider. Well, sort of. The economy being what it is, my wife and I both work; my job just happens to make a slight bit more (which I say as point of fact, and not out of an obligatory sense of competition).

The second of my two lives in in being an author. Self-published thus far, but with Flying Pen Press working on publishing my books later this year. I'm taking this a step further and moving on ebook publication, as well, working with my new friend Jen Ashton to learn the ins and outs of finding success through ebooks. As it turns out, it's nowhere nearly as complicated as I once thought; I've already converted the first 4 of my YA Steampunk books into e-form, and once I get the covers nailed down, I'll start releasing them.

But beyond the basics of ebook construction and marketing, one of the things Jen's helped me come to see is exactly how much of our success in life begins with decisive ambition and resolve. Logic laughs at me here - it realized this truth years ago, and I'm pretty late to the game, as it were. But the fact is, what we get from life is based almost entirely (either directly or otherwise) upon what we think, do and maintain.

It's like this:

Three years ago, I'd never finished a full book. Several aborted starts, but never anything that flowed all the way from cover to cover. And now I have five novels, several short stories, and even more "next ideas" than ever before. And did this happen all at once? Of course not.

Ask any author how they write a book, and eventually it's going to boil down to this: One Page at a Time.

And that's the key to doing anything. The danger comes from looking at JK Rowling or Stephenie Mayer and thinking "yeah, that's how you get successful!" But the fact is, JK and Stephenie are like Lady Gaga or Justin Beiber - they're quite successful, but they're also the exception. For every Gaga or Beiber, there are thousands of people out there, struggling through in various levels of success; some you might hear of, but most.... well, you won't.

Having sold a few hundred copies of my books with essentially no marketing strategy to speak of has already given me a greater degree of success than many writers out there - people with incredible talent and dedication to the craft, and yet whose work may never even see the light of day. Hell, I've written a lot of things that will never see print. It's just how these things go, I'm sure.

But that brings me back to the title of this blog.

One of the things Jen and I were talking about the other day was about the kind of faith it requires to just "take the leap from the lion's mouth" - (yes, an Indiana Jones reference. If you don't like it, learn to cope.) and how that sort of thing - Faith - has been a sticking point for me most of my life.

But something occurred to me today - - -

Faith in a supreme being - a concept I in many ways have simply come to the conclusion that I may never fully resolve - is something that people either have or they don't. They may even have faith that there is NOT a supreme being, but that's faith, too. But for me? It borders on the faintest edge of hope. And though this screams in the face of my youthful aspirations, I have also come to the realization that a lack of hope in a divine being does not mean I want to live my life as an experiment in anarchy and remorseless hedonism. Life may exist to be experienced, but I also want to have a purpose, principles, a guiding path that governs my decision-making processes. Even if only to me, I want my life to mean something. I want to live well.

Doing that doesn't require Faith, it just requires choice, with a smattering of foresight and resolve.

So, perhaps faith in oneself can work along the same basic principles? Mayhaps one doesn't need to well and truly believe that they're going to be successful like Stephen King or Neil Gaiman; maybe just being resolved to write and write well is enough to define one's sense of accomplishment, and let the universe do what it will.

I used to observe - with some degree of disillusionment - that one of the most disappointing side-effects of religion was the idea of being good so that your god will reward you (or at least not punish you). But I think that holds a secret truth to any sort of faithful pursuit. In the end, it's not about the rewards bestowed upon you that will give you the deepest satisfaction.

At the end of the day, will you look upon your works with satisfaction at a job well done, or will you with fear and derision avert your gaze?

Something to think about, today. As for me, I've got a couple of jobs to do. More later, peeps.

Feb 4, 2011

Turn, Turn, Turn

One of the first grownup books I remember reading as a small person was a post-apocalyptic book called "Earth Abides" - fairly solid read, but what really got to me were the elements of personal philosophy that were interwoven between the chapters. One that to this day, so many years later, has still remained with me was the concept of perceived immortality.

Essentially, the idea was reflecting upon mankind's tendency to extrapolate their future purely from their past. Namely, that what they believed to be within the realm of possibility could only have been previously experienced, which inaccurately limits their ability to prepare for future eventualities. The examples thus were given: just because I've never broken my arm does not imply that my arm is unbreakable; just because I have not died does not make me immortal.

And yet, as a world and as individuals, we do that same delimiting comprehension of our expectations. "It's never happened, and thus it never shall."

What a load of crap that is, though.

Case in point:

Twenty years ago, I'd never recorded an album. I'd never written a novel. I'd never been married. I'd never had children. Hell, twenty years ago, I still had a full head of hair. Life does funny things to you whether you're paying attention or not - - - which was, by the way, the general intent of yesterday's blog, though I suspect the point may have been lost in my general sense of meandering.

This week has been far less productive in terms of book progress than it has in making a perspective shift. It's a challenging enough prospect to stand up and say "Oh hi there, I'm an author" after so many years of being so many other things, and I suspect perhaps it took a bit for the blood to make its way back into my head. But a series of powerfully well-timed conversations gave me the appropriate nudges into my present state of mind, and, as I know now so many other authors who find themselves either previously, presently or potentially in this same transitional state, I wanted to mark the occasion with a few declaratives.

First, it's essential to remember this - - you are as you decide you are. No one else has more power over your destiny than you do. Want it? Then be it.

Second, there is neither an expiration date nor an incubation period for happiness. Happiness is a choice, not a result. You want happy? Be happy.

Thirdly, if you want something done, get off your ass and do it. If you don't know how, ask someone. "The only thing stopping you is the stopping," as Jim Morrison once said to me in a really funny dream.

And lastly, never forget that this world is a pretty damned impressive place. If you're a student of life, a writer, a lover or a fighter, just take a moment to breathe it in, every chance you get. The only form of hell I can imagine would be the regret for a life unlived.

And on that note, I got some writing to do. Be back soon, hopefully with some news and a bit less soapboxiness.

Be well, peeps. Let me know how you're doing.

Feb 3, 2011

Busy Making Other Plans

Been a fun week for many of us; my day job has kept me up to my sideburns in conference calls and emails and the like due to the winter storms, blizzards, ice storms, and potentially lethal corporate human resources business decisions. To be honest, I've spent the better part of my week shaking my head at the power of corporations, and governments. I could say more, but that would risk violation of my code of business conduct at work. Just one more reason to strive for self-employement, I guess.

Worse than the impact to actual time I would have rather spent writing, it's kept my mindset so focused upon uncreative endeavors that it's requiring substantial effort to wrap my brain back around my author tasks.

But it reminds me of sleep. (warning: analogy follows!)

I have a certain knack to fall asleep on a dime. Like, just shut all systems down and be deeply REM-ing in moments. It's not like I'm narcoleptic; it's a conscious state of deep mental relaxation that permits me to slip almost effortlessly into a rest state. But this ability is a learned one, not a natural gift.

The key to it is building a practiced habit and series of "triggers" that my mind recognizes as a buildup to slumber; visualization, a particular playlist on my iPod, laying in my bed with a nice book, that sort of thing. As my mind notices these elements, it just slips right into sleep. Clockwork, baby.

The curiosity I have is how to train my brain in a different way, as well - how to train it to put myself into writing mode. I've tried using other playlists on my iPod, that sort of thing. It's becoming easier now than it once was - I tend to be easily distracted - but this week has been fairly all-consuming, and I'm struggling to get back into my preferred mode.

The big thing that weighs upon my shoulders is the fact that my day job - as a crisis manager for a major telecommunications company - requires me to be on-call 24/7. This includes setting up and hosting conference calls, email correspondence, or just being a central point of communication upstream and down in the middle of crisis events. When the sun shines, its' all reports and paperwork. When the snow/rain/ice falls, the wind blows, the ground shakes, or technology thumbs its nose at the business processes, then my life revolves around that.

When the system works, it's a wonderful sight to behold - managers, leaders and executives all pulling together to keep the employees safe and well-cared-for, ensuring that the customers' needs are met, etc. It's all grand when it works well.

But.... * sigh *

Anyway, all I can say at this time is that I was discouraged this week. Disappointed.

And that sense of being let down has distracted me somewhat more than usual. Today, I just want to get back on track with the multiple projects I've set myself to complete.

But it's not all gloom and despair. A new good friend of mine has given me a degree of inspiration I haven't felt in some time; and has been pure, undiluted awesomesauce in terms of challenging my conceptualization of my career path and direction. Essentially, I have seen a series of options that I hadn't really considered feasible or (yes, I'll say it) profitable. Some aspects of this will be forthcoming shortly; some will be flying well under the radar, as necessary. (don't fret - I simply mean that some of it may require the use of a pseudonym) However, the goal remains solid: becoming self-sufficient through writing.

A few things which have risen back from the grave include: a time-travel anthology, the children's story anthology, and a lot of other stories I've written that hadn't been getting much consideration. Oh, and the non-fiction "Collected Writings" tomes that had been once considered but set aside for the steampunk books.

The math is impressive - especially when considering I could potentially have at least 10 eBooks up by my birthday. And that's 10 of my own, not counting appearances in other anthologies.

Hmmm. Odd. Now I want to write. Gonna go grab some coffee. Want anything while I'm out?

Oh, and on that note: if you're an author and living in or planning to visit the pacific northwest - from Portland through Vancouver BC - - drop me a line. We should chat.