Hi There!

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Naruto is (c) Masashi Kishimoto, of course

Thanks for visiting Welcome to Bridgetown!

This is the official blog for my writing and other creative endeavors.

I wrote few books I call The Bridgetown Trilogy, which are also under a larger umbrella called The Mendaihu Universe.  They can be found in e-book form at Smashwords!  They can also be found as trade paperbacks on Amazon!  Please check out the Buy Stuff tab above for links!

Welcome to Bridgetown is where I talk about writing for the most part.  I’ve been learning the ropes as a self-published author, and I’m more than happy to Pay It Forward by sharing any knowledge I pick up along the way.

I also have another blog called Walk in Silence, which is where I talk about my other obsession: music.  I might talk about anything from new releases to old records to goofy videos to college radio to internet radio and anything in between.  You can find it here.

My blog schedule here at Welcome to Bridgetown is Monday and Friday, with the occasional fly-by or extra post.  I try to post them first thing in the morning, but they may run a few hours later if there are scheduling issues.

Please enjoy!

Fresh Perspectives

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One of the first things I chose to do the day after The Balance of Light was released was to set one of my guitars to an alternate tuning.

No, really.  All my guitars have been in the usual standard EADGBE tuning for years, and over the last few years, I’ve noticed that I’ve been playing the same damn chord progressions and melodies for far too long.  I love writing new songs, but I haven’t been inspired enough to come up with that many new riffs that I haven’t already used elsewhere.  I figured it was high time to change it up.

My six-string Taylor acoustic is now in the DADGAD alternate tuning.  This is for two reasons:  one, so I’ll finally force myself to learn how to play it that way, and two, so I’ll pick up that guitar more often.  My sister’s a big proponent of this tuning as she loves the versatility it provides.  I’ve been meaning to do this for ages, and now that I have the time, I made the move to get started on it.

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So what does this have to do with writing, anyway?  Why am I posting this here and not at Walk in Silence?  Well, mainly because I’m doing the same exact thing with my writing, now that I have the time to dedicate.  After years of focusing on the Mendaihu Universe and everything that goes along with it, I suddenly find my brain with a lot of extra processing power again.

So this means that I’ve decided to take some steps that I’ve been wanting to take for quite some time now.  The pre-writing work for Meet the Lidwells! has included a full outline — something I’ve nearly always avoided in the past.  I’m also playing around with the post-production work early on, since I already have a good idea of how it’ll look and where I think it might sell.

I’ve been reading a lot of different authors and genres lately.  I’ve been picking up on the varying styles and moods.  I’ve been figuring out how to write a much smaller standalone book with a much smaller cast.  I’ve been paying attention to how different races and genders are written.  Part of this is so when it comes time for me to write something similar, I’ll do it correctly.  Part of it is also because of my fascination in how stories are told from different cultural perspectives; I’m so overly familiar with how Americans tell stories that my own start to sound a bit…bland, so I’d like to try writing my stories from a slightly different perspective.

[Noted, I’m sure someone somewhere will complain that I’m falling into SJW territory, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I won’t write my novels purely for political reasons, because I already know I’ll fail miserably and they’ll read like crap.  The only reason I want to write from different perspectives is because I want to.  End of story.]

What else do I plan on doing to freshen up my outlook?  That’s a good question.  The Day Job does kind of keep me from playing around with my writing schedule, though there’s still room for shaking it up a bit.  I wake up early on the weekends whether I like to or not, so perhaps instead of draining my phone battery trawling the internet or watching several repeat cycles of the local news, perhaps I could use that time for creative endeavors.

I’ve also been extremely lax on my artwork, especially over the last year or so!  I’ve got some fresh pencils and pens that I’d love to start using again.  The art process has always been an enjoyable and calming one for me and I don’t utilize it nearly as much as I’d like.  I’d also like to be a better artist than I currently am, to be honest.  I’m okay, but I could be a hell of a lot better at it.  Same with my photography.

Will any of this end up in my future novels?  Sure, why not?  My reading a crapton of music biographies inspired the interview format for Lidwells.  My immersion in music inspired a fresh outlook on my writing.  My photography is sneaking into my side project of creating book covers.  And my knowledge of art has definitely helped me visualize scenes when writing.

Now that I have more time, I’m really looking forward these new perspectives.

Am I a Professional Now…?

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Our local bookshop…where my trilogy is available in e-book form!

Don’t laugh; I’d been asking myself that question since September 2015, when A Division of Souls first went up for sale online in e-book form.

Can I call myself a real professional writer at this point?  Well.  Depends on who I ask.  And I’ll get positive answers, indifferent answers, negative answers, ‘you’re not there yet’ answers, ‘oh bless your heart’ answers, pedantic answers, and everything in between.

I’ll be honest — I haven’t asked anyone that, and I don’t plan to.

Sure, I’ll ask people for their opinion on works in progress.  That’s what beta readers are for.  I’ll ask for creative advice if it’s needed and/or warranted, because I want the end result to be done right the first time.  I’ll definitely ask for advice about self-promotion, because it’s one of my weaknesses.  I’m doing all the homework expected of me to make sure I’m doing it all correctly when it comes to the legalese and financial stuff.

But I decided pretty early on that asking someone else about my professional status is kind of self-defeating.

Again, I came to this conclusion by comparing my own writing career to that of a musician’s.  I understand that particular field reasonably well because of my lifelong obsession with music and my willingness to read all kinds of music bios and academic texts (and meet the musicians if possible!) to learn even more about it.  I find that putting my writing life into this kind of perspective has made my choices so much easier and less painful.

But my point being:  Sure, why the hell not call myself a pro now?

  1. I’ve got three completed novels out, released through well-known, respected independent avenues.
  2. I’m already working on my fourth, with future books at pre-planning stages.
  3. All parts of the production have been done by my own hand — editing, cover art, formatting — mainly because I wanted to do it that way.  I want to learn the business.
  4. I’m still learning the fine art of promotion, but I’ve already done a lot of homework on it and am now acting on it.
  5. Same with the legalese and the economics side of it.  Both are definitely daunting, but I’m willing to learn so I can do it right.
  6. I’m now attending conventions not just as a fan, but also as a panelist.
  7. I set myself some high standards from the beginning, so as to not make my work look like I’d thrown it together at the last minute.
  8. Importantly: I know I’m not a commercial writer.  I tried writing that way, and it didn’t pan out.  I’m fine being a college radio author instead of a Top 40 radio author.  In fact, I kind of prefer it that way.
  9. Most importantly:  This is a life-long career goal of mine.  I’m duty bound not to do it half-assed.

Sure, it’s all DIY, but it’s a professional-level DIY.  This is me being inspired by the American punk bands of the early 80s putting out their music on their own, passing out cassettes or starting labels like SST and Taang and Alternative Tentacles and Ace of Hearts.  They were never going to hit the charts during their heyday, and they usually had a small following…but they had a STRONG and loyal following.  They also all had a very strong bond with each other, like an extended family.

Once I realized the writing field works in almost exactly the same way, I knew I could do succeed as a professional author.

An indie author, but a professional one.

And I’m fine with that.

Soldiering On

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No idea what anime this is from, but I love the cocked hat.

So yeah!  I spent most of Friday, one of the most important days of my writing career, stuffed up, coughing, and feeling like crap.  Yay winter illness!

Well, I wasn’t completely flat out, thankfully.  I managed to get some work done on the Lidwells outline and spamtweet the news of my book release a few times.  I did get some more done this weekend as well, and I did head to the symphony today with A. despite feeling a bit loopy.  I’m not as stuffed up as I usually get with this sort of illness; it’s mostly been a scratchy throat and a congested head.  Wouldn’t surprise me if the sinus floodgates opened up in the next few days, though.  Bleh.

Still…the important thing is that I did some writing work.  One step closer to my goal of getting another novel out in a decent amount of time.

You should take care of yourself first, you say.  Don’t overdo it.  Take a day off now and again.

My mom used to say that all the time, back when I was writing down in the Belfry in the dead of winter, congested and irritable but committed to the cause.  Yeah, some days it was cold enough down there that I worked on the family computer upstairs, but I was stubborn…I wanted to get these books done!

There were some days when I probably should have heeded my mom’s advice and taken the day off to read my comic books or goof off on the PC for a few hours.  On the not-so-bad days I’d get maybe a few hundred words done rather than the thousand I normally aimed for.  On the yeah-I-shouldn’t-be-doing-this days I’d hit more like a hundred and call it done after an hour.  There’s also the fact that I was writing after a full day of physical labor at the Day Job (which could be ten hours, six days a week, during Q4).

Nowadays, I don’t get sick all that often, since the climate out here in San Francisco is a bit warmer and not as pollinated.   I’m not running myself ragged with a physical job anymore, nor am I supporting a smoking habit.  It’s rare that I’ll feel ill like this…maybe once or twice every two or three years at most.   And I rarely overexert myself to the point where I need to sacrifice an evening of writing.

Point being…if I can soldier on and continue to write, even if it’s light work, I’ll do it if I can.  But if I’m going to feel like crap tomorrow, then yeah…I’ll know well enough to let it go and nap it off instead.

*kaff kaff*

The Balance of Light is now available!!

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Book 3 in the Bridgetown Trilogy is available at all fine e-book retailers online, including:

Smashwords

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

[Not on Amazon yet, but the Kindle format is available at the Smashwords site.]

 

 

 

 

And don’t forget, you can also shop indie!  My e-books are available at numerous independent bookstores that sell them via Kobo.  Here’s a few great local Bay Area stores for starters:

Books Inc

Green Apple Books [Our neighborhood indie store, one of the best around!]

Copperfields

Out this Friday!

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Woo! It’s finally DONE!

The Balance of Light, the third book in the Bridgetown Trilogy, will be released as an e-book from Smashwords and other nifty e-book retailers this Friday, 10 February!

This one was the culmination of a hell of a lot of years of writing, a nearly five-year hiatus, and close to five years of revision and rewriting.  Ten years ago I wasn’t even sure I’d get this far, but here we are…three books released out into the wild, and all done DIY.

It’s been one hell of a ride, folks.  Sure, I’m glad it’s over and I can now, finally, dedicate the majority of my time to new projects.  But right now I’m just feeling a bit of pride that I believed in this project and saw it through to the end, however long it took.  I learned a hell of a lot along the way — the writing and publishing knowledge that will stay with me throughout my writing career.  I met a lot of cool friends and fellow writers as well.

Yeah, I think I’m gonna stick with this gig.  It’s grown on me. 🙂

HARK! I will be at FogCon 7!

YAY!  I will be at FOGcon 7 this year!

I know it’s super last minute announcement, but I’d been hedging about whether or not I’d be able to go, for various reasons.  However, thanks to personal plans (and Major Editing Projects) coming together with perfect timing, I’ll be able to make an appearance.  I may have even signed up to be on a few panels and may even do a reading…!

Which means I have one month to do some serious homework and preparation for this, my first official con as a participating author instead of just an attendee fan.

This should be quite interesting.

FOGcon 7 will be in Walnut Creek, CA, on March 10 – 12, at the Walnut Creek Marriott.

 

Hope to see you there! 🙂

Fly-by: We (maybe) have a cover!

Heya!  Been busy working on the formatting of The Balance of Light (which took a lot less time than expected) and the cover layout (which took a lot more time than expected).  I still have the back cover/Smashwords site blurb to write…which is going to be a pain in the butt, but it’s gotta be done.

But LO!  Check it out:

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I already knew this was the picture I wanted and cropping it to size was quite easy; a simple 3:2 ratio (and yes, I may have once again physically used a ruler against my monitor to get it right, as I can’t be arsed to do the math in Ps).  The original picture is a LOT brighter and yellower, so I had to use Photoshop to turn down the brightness and pump up the contrast a bit until I achieved that lovely golden color.  The header and the author line are in the same placement and font, so no big there.

No, the big pain in the butt was the title.

You’d think four reasonably-sized words in Geo Sans Light would be relatively easy to lay out, yes?  Well, the placement was simple enough.  All three books have the same general text layout.  The issue was the color.  Originally my idea was to do the opposite of the cover of A Division of Souls by having a yellow cover with blue text.  I posted it to my Twitter and Facebook for some input…

…and everyone said they LOVE the picture…but the title color needs work.

WELP.  Chalk this up to another learning experience, File Under: Your Brilliant Ideas May Not Work IRL.

Thankfully an artist friend of mine had suggested to work with the main colors of the picture rather than against it, so after much faffing about with the various hues (including a light green, which didn’t work at all), I thought I’d try something daring:  yellow on yellow!  Well, more like the light yellow I used on book titles 1 and 2, against dark gold.  Add a drop shadow effect just to make sure it pops out a bit more, and call it done.

Glad to say, I think it worked out quite nicely!

Let me know what you think!

Fly-by: finishing off a project

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Heya! I’m taking a few weeks off from blogging so I can get The Balance of Light completed and ready for self-publication!

I’m extremely excited to be within spitting distance of one of my biggest goals, to see my trilogy out in the wild like this.  It took a hell of a lot of learning, hard work, and stubborn dedication to get to this point, and it was totally worth every minute.

I’ll post once more when the book is ready to drop, and then we’ll be back to our regular blogging schedule.

See you soon!

 

Okay, now what?

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Hmmm….

I’ve got seven chapters left before I’m done with the final edit of The Balance of Light.  Once that’s done, it’ll be a week or two of formatting, processing, creating the cover, and releasing it out into the world.  It’s looking like that may end up being the first or second week of February at this point.

And then I’m done with the Bridgetown Trilogy.

Then what?

I mean, aside from my next project, Meet the Lidwells!, which I’ve been sneakily working on now and again during downtime.

Nearly everything I’ve ever worked on is more than five years old already; the Bridgetown story will officially turn twenty (!!) in March.  My trunked vampire novel, Love Like Blood, was brainstormed around 2003, written over the course of four years, and finally trunked by 2008.  Numerous other ideas, many of which I’ve also trunked or given up on, were created at our old apartment, which we moved out of in 2009.  I’ve been focusing so much on the trilogy that I’ve only got maybe two or three solid ideas I could work on — if that.

So what do I have planned, anyway?

Well, the biggest plan I have is to try to see how quickly I can turn a project around. I know I can do it — I’ve written and revised past works in a very limited amount of time.  I can definitely work to a deadline.

I also want to try writing something that’s not epic in length.  Lidwells is partly an attempt at that.  I’d like to write some standalone novels.  Not everyone loves a good doorstopper novel, so I’d like to appeal to the quick-reader fans as well.  This will not only teach me how to narrow my focus on the plot, it’ll also be a great exercise in concise writing.

I may even try a short story or two.  Technically I’ve written only one, and it’s pretty bad.  It was my ‘just to see if I could do it’ attempt during a very slow and broke-as-hell summer over twenty years ago.

But do I have any ideas rolling around right now?

That’s a good question.  Technically, no.  I only have the Lidwells project, maybe a reboot of Can’t Find My Way Home…and that’s it.  As I’ve said, this is why I’m making myself do the daily practice words.  I’ve already come up with snippets of scenes, snatches of bigger ideas, and random conversation that may be worth looking into later on.

It’s a bit daunting, to say the least.  Yeah, my subconscious occasionally pops in and reminds me that the only thing I can ever write in this lifetime is more Mendaihu Universe tomes, and if I don’t write them, I won’t have anything at all.  And that voice I usually ignore.  I’ve been in this Clean Slate situation before.  It’s completely natural to be nervous.

But hell, if Lidwells can pop up out of nowhere and take on a life of its own, I’m sure I can make that happen again.

Here’s to hoping.