Archive for the ‘Writing Craft’ Category

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I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone that downloaded my novel, Whispers of the Wakinyan earlier this month. I am always satisfied at the thought that my stories are finding their ways to readers and are (hopefully) being enjoyed.

Like any author, I try to write stories that are different, compelling, and entertaining, while interlacing some creepy and bizarre tidbits of things that I’ve actually experienced to keep them authentic.

For those of you that know me personally, you know that many of the things that occur in Whispers of the Wakinyan  are things that were re-imagined from my own life. I’m not saying that I was tormented by a Native- American spirit monster by any means, but in reality, some the things that I remember from some of my early childhood years isn’t explained much easier.

I waited to post this for a couple weeks for a reason and many of you may have already guessed why that is.

If you have read and enjoyed Whispers of the Wakinyan, please leave me a review on Amazon.

The Amazon search algorithm is pretty sophisticated, but one thing that is sure to bring my work up in more searches is more interaction from readers and positive reviews!

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Your interest and readership means the world to me and I honestly hope that you enjoyed the story as much as I did when I was writing it. My new novel, The Artist and the Carpenter will be dropping soon and I am hoping to have some good momentum in order to launch it at a higher level in the Amazon search algorithms.

Also keep in mind that Joey Gordon is returning soon and his summer vacation this year is going to put him and his family face to face with something darker, stronger, and more resilient than even the Wakinyan!

THANK YOU AGAIN AND TAKE CARE– Jim

Here is the link for anyone who has yet to leave a review for Whispers of the Wakinyan :

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As I found myself typing some of the final chapters of my latest novel, I noticed something that I never had before. I was experiencing a unique type of what Steven Pressfield would classify as “resistance”.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that there is a writer out there who hasn’t experienced “resistance” in one way, shape, or form; the most common forms being procrastination, self-sabotage, and the dreaded (somewhat generic and all-encompassing) writer’s block. We all have been guilty of checking emails, or browsing social media when we could actually be throwing down some words on the page and occasionally, we may find ourselves wanting to write only to find that our creative wells are in need of filling.

The type of resistance that I found myself contending with was simply NOT WANTING TO FINISH THE BOOK! Now, I had heard of some writers having a bit of post-project depression when they are trying to decide what their next project is going to be, but this was something new for me altogether.

If, anything I have more projects than I do time, so when one is completed and I still have words to type to meet my daily goals (currently 1500-2000 words a day depending on work and family commitments) it’s on to the next story I go.

I think the best way to describe the feeling that I was having while nearing the end of the project was like coming to the end of a binge-worthy Netflix series, I wanted to finish it, but just didn’t want it to be over. The only reason that I could think of this project being any different from any of my past ones is that save for maybe one, (my novelette, Not Only the Dead) it is the most personal.

It was because of these feelings of personal attachment that toward the end of the novel, I found myself consulting my mental checklist almost as much as I was writing. This feeling was one that I was more familiar with, because regardless of the level of attachment I feel to a project I try to check all of the open story arcs in the earlier sections of the book/story/screenplay and make sure that they are either effectively resolved or that every bit of them are removed from the manuscript so as not to leave any loose ends.

Some people use whiteboards or computer programs for stuff like this, but I prefer to keep them all jumbled and quasi-organized in my head, so that I have an excuse to act brain-dead for the last two weeks of any project.

Is there a better way?

Sure, but I still manage to get the job done.

So with all that being said…

I have a confession, faithful readers   —

I still have one chapter and a prologue to write before I can wrap up The Artist and the Carpenter.

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See how this particularly annoying form of resistance works? I ended up writing a blog instead of wrapping the project! Either way I hope that you enjoyed my little “creative detour”.

 

Until next time, faithful readers!

As many of you know, Whispers of the Wakinyan is now live in the kindle store as well as in print on amazon.com.

BOOKS AVAILABLE HERE

Many exciting things have happened in the 48 hours or so since the book was released. Book sales are off to a great start in both formats and Whispers of the Wakinyan has also been downloaded several times through the Kindle Direct program, that allows members of Amazon Prime to download thousands of titles free to their kindle or ereader.

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It may seem somewhat strange for free copies of a work to be welcomed, but the download and consumption of free copies helps to both boost the ‘title rank’ in Amazon analytics and also qualifies the book to receive royalties from the Kindle Select Fund, which is distributed to all participating titles according to the number of pages read by subscribers.

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Also, I have been invited to enter Whispers of the Wakinyan in an Amazon UK contest that is open to new book listings. With this being said, please remember to read and review to help take Whispers of the Wakinyan to the top of the rankings! Prizes include exclusive publishing opportunities and a higher rate of exposure.

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Some of you out there may have noticed a new addition to my amazon author page. Whispers of the Wakinyan, the first installment in the ‘Things That Follow’ series, is LIVE in kindle format and will be available in print VERY SOON. By that, I mean that by the end of the week copies may be available for order from amazon.com and this website.

The original release date for Whispers of the Wakinyan was exactly one month ago today. As you may imagine, the publishing process is not all sunshine and roses. In fact, it is some-what arduous. That for me, at least, resulted in some late nights and last-minute frustrations. I found that Murphy’s Law was in full effect and that anything that could go wrong usually did. Even some of the things that initially went right turned out to be wrong later!

First, I want to touch on the importance of document formatting. In my opinion, if there is any chance that you think you may publish your work, please do yourself a favor and download a word template that has margins set to your desired print size. These may be downloaded for free from many writing sites out there (I got mine from createspace).

I had my 30 chapter 93,000 word tome primed and ready to go in a standard word format.

I uploaded.

I watched.

I cringed.

For my binding size I chose 6”x9”, which is a very popular size for main-stream trade fiction.

I am sure that you all know where this is going…

I would liken it to pouring a gallon of a milk into a pint glass and then watching helplessly as the milk continues to gush over the sides and run all over the counter. Knowing the whole time that your wife will be so mad at you when she has to clean it up.

Sorry, I couldn’t help that last part.

And to my wife: just kidding.

All of my main and sub-chapter breaks were sprinkled throughout the document and each time one was put into place another was pushed into chaos!  Maybe, I am being a little dramatic, but still, if I had worked with the intended margin size from the get-go this could have certainly been avoided.

Second, and this also pertains to the subject of planning a binding size, know how many pages the finished document will be with title pages, table of contents, blank pages in the front, etc… BEFORE starting cover creation. It may seem like a no-brainer, but format changes like mentioned before can drastically change your binding size, which will in turn affect the bleed area (this is the small area on the outer edges of the cover, where text or images may be distorted by the bleeding of printer ink) and overall dimensions.

How do I know about all this?

You guessed it. This was another delay that I encountered in bringing Whispers of the Wakinyan to print.

However, the end result is something that I am very pleased with and I am sure that you will all be as well.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this post and please like or comment if my pain and suffering has or may have saved you some grief in creating your own project!

Please keep an eye out for the official release date. It is looking like it may be Friday, April 7th!

Product Details

If you haven’t already, please follow my amazon author page:

RIGHT HERE!!

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I was fortunate enough to be part of an author meet and greet/book signing on Sunday, March 5th in my home town of Menifee, California. The turn-out was great and the level of support from the community was fantastic!

This is one of many photos provided by my good friend Michael Perez, a top-notch inland empire photographer behind fotohaus studios.

Check out fotohaus at http://www.fotohausco.com

He took some great photos of the event, which I will be sharing with you all as soon as they become available.

I would also like to offer a very special thanks to the handful of attendees that signed up to be beta-readers for the sequel to Whispers of the Wakinyan, the work is untitled as of now, but will be the second installment of the ‘The Things that Follow’ series.

It would make sense that the process of editing and finalizing would be the most drawn out and pain-staking to a group of individuals (writers and other creatives) that are traditionally self-critical and border-line paranoid about how their work may be received.

Yet, despite this unfortunate reality, editing and proofing is not only the best way to make a work stand out, but also for an author to transcend from amateur to professional. Many literary powerhouses have passed on their wisdom about the editing process and regardless of what they say or how they say it, the end result is generally the same:

Writing down your ideas is only the beginning!

or the ever-popular euphemism,

Real writing begins AFTER the first draft is complete.

For me, the thought of editing is no different. I feel the urge to tell another story the second I wrap up the one that I am working on. But, how fair would that be to the characters that inhabit the pages, the meters within the stanzas, or the themes shrouded beneath the webs of prose that we, as writers labor so hard to create?

The answer:

Not at all.

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Editing takes determination and patience, but the resulting drafts are far more rewarding than half-finished or open-ended manuscripts that are not just unsuitable for the market place, but questionable for even sharing with a friend or family member!

As some of my more regular readers probably know, I have just completed a close-to-final edit on my upcoming full length novel, The Legend of Thunderbird, Coyote, and Joey Gordon. The time spent in editing that beast could have allowed me to create a couple of smaller sized works from concept to print (or kindle), but like the ideas outlined above:

The end product was totally worth it!

To effectively end this post, I would like to leave you with a couple of my favorite editing quotes:

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

-Stephen King-

“I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”

-Truman Capote-

HAPPY EDITING EVERYONE!

Have you ever noticed that sometimes a movie, novel, or other work of creative prose may have an outstanding premise, but ends up leaving you wanting?

Like dry turkey without gravy.

A peanut butter sandwich without jelly.

You get the idea.

When I used to encounter these common offenders in my pre-writing life I would ask myself questions like where did the author go wrong? Or, the story was so cool, but why did it leave me unconvinced and unfulfilled?

And then, late one dark and stormy night (aka sitting at my desk writing about a subject that was new and unfamiliar) it happened to me. I was feverishly writing a suspenseful paranormal   screenplay about extra-terrestrials through the eyes of a hard-boiled detective. I successfully dodged clichés (aside from hard-boiled of course) and everything was coming together, and THEN:

I re-read it.

AND CRINGED!

I took a break from my writing desk and stepped into my backyard, which for me always offers some distance from the worlds in my head by showcasing the world that we live in. In the foothills of a secluded semi-desert valley, I am always treated with scenes of local wildlife, bright stars, or air traffic from the local military base. I thought about what was working in my story and what wasn’t. I realized that the detective, who’s perspective the story was told through was just too strong and level-headed to create the tension that I was really looking for. His girlfriend, a journalist and rape survivor, was a much better outlet for a story about vulnerability and offered the reader more of a human connection.

I re-wrote the story through the journalist’s perspective and was amazed that it not only increased the overall tension, but made the thought of alien abduction all the more terrifying as she could relate it to her past experience of being raped. People usually don’t like movies for aliens or monsters alone (although in my opinion, they DO help quite a bit), the stories that are really successful and memorable are usually the ones that speak to audiences on an emotional or human level.

Of course, if a story isn’t working the way that you want it to it could just be bad (I have had a couple of those too!), but if you have a great premise and feel that your narrative is not as strong as it could be, a change in perspective could be just the thing that you are looking for.