Do Writers Read Their Own Books?

It’s an honest question. Do we read our own books after they’re out there in the wild? After spending all those hours slaving away at it, pulling it apart and putting it back together, wondering if anyone else out there is ever going to read it…do we want to pick it up again after we call it complete?

We most definitely do, for various reasons. I can’t say if other writers read their own books for the fun of it, but I would not be surprised if some of us do. After all, a good portion of us write these things because these are the kinds of stories we like to read.

Over this past weekend, inspired by finishing off my cleaning and sorting of the Mendaihu Universe papers, I uploaded an epub copy of A Division of Souls to my Nook and started reading it during our relaxing weekend down in Monterey. I haven’t picked up that particular book since I self-published it back in 2015.

I’ve distanced myself from the Bridgetown Trilogy since then, by choice. The major reason being that I had a few unrelated stories I wanted to write and release first. I also wanted that distance so I could look at it with a fresh viewpoint, that way I could reconnect with certain parts of it for the potential Book Four.

I’m already picking up things I’d like to change with it, of course. Perhaps a bit more editing. A few formatting issues that might have gotten missed. Quicken the pacing a bit more, especially in those first few chapters. But other than that, I’m surprised at how solid it all is despite that. Spending so many years on a single project can sometimes become a desperate fall into a rabbit hole, but I can see I managed to avoid that. It’s very heavy immersion, I’ll grant that. This was my Epic Urban Fantasy project and written that way on purpose. Just like Meet the Lidwells! and In My Blue World were written fast and compact on purpose. Just like Diwa and Kaffi was written in a deliberately even and relaxed pace.

And I’ve reread those books as well! I read MtL for the fun of it because it was such an enjoyable and quick project. I reread IMBW because I wanted to make sure I did a good job on it, a few months after I released it. And I’ve been rereading D&K over and over again lately for revision purposes. A common piece of advice that many authors (and agents and publishers) give is that you’ve got to be able to reread your own work countless times and not get sick of it, and I totally get that.

I’m not planning on doing a New and Improved Edition of the Bridgetown Trilogy because of this current reread. At least not yet, anyway. (I might eventually do one to fix the few very minor issues that I catch, but that’s not going to happen right away. Right now, all I want to do is reread the trilogy and see how it sits with me, and what I can glean from it for later books in the Universe.

Still, it is kind of fun to read these things and get that occasional feeling of pleasant surprise and pride: I wrote this? Daaang! Heh.

FREE E-BOOKS!

Hey there!
Did you get an e-reader as a present this morning?
Want some free e-books to add to your library? 
Come on over to Smashwords, my books are FREE until the end of the year!

This includes my latest, Meet the Lidwells! https://bit.ly/2H3s8wh

This also includes the entire Bridgetown Trilogy!

A Division of Souls — https://bit.ly/1U2UVpc 
The Persistence of Memories — https://bit.ly/1MqYxyb 
The Balance of Light — https://bit.ly/2KjJnzn

All FREE, no DRM, and in multiple formats!

Meet the Lidwells! A Rock n’ Roll Family Memoir
The Bridgetown Trilogy

BOOK SALE TIME, WOOHOO!

It’s time for another insane Smashwords sale!  This time, I have…

HOT DANG, IT’S FREE E-BOOKS!!

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From 7/1 to 7/31, all three e-books in the Bridgetown Trilogy will be ABSOLUTELY FREE!!  If you haven’t gotten these yet, you have the entire month to snag them!  I’m still quite proud of them, and I’d like to keep sharing them with you.

Book 1, A Division of Souls:

Book 2, The Persistence of Memories:

Book 3, The Balance of Light:

 

And if that’s not enough…

I’ve also decided that for the great month-long Smashwords sale I’m going to put Meet the Lidwells! up for 50% off.  My latest release can be yours for only $1.50, kids!  Can’t beat that with a drumstick!

Meet the Lidwells Cover F Outside 2

Meet the Lidwells!:  A Rock n’ Roll Family Memoir

 

This is for THE ENTIRE MONTH OF JULY, and only at Smashwords.  My ebooks are always available in multiple formats:  mobi, epub, pdf, and a lot of other formats, whatever works for your e-reader!

And don’t forget:  If you liked the books, please post a review on Good Reads!  And thank you for reading!

A Division of Souls Ending, Director’s Cut

As promised, here’s what I call the “Director’s Cut” of the ending of A Division of Souls.  This one’s been in my head for at least two years.  And yes, this was written to fit Failure’s “Daylight”, as expected.

I actually thought about writing a prose version of this ending for the book, but it would have just been extraneous.  It’s a completely visual segment anyway.  So, using my dusty and woefully underused BA degree in film, I decided to instead write this in screenplay form.

Hope you enjoy!

[SPOILERS AHEAD, OBVIOUSLY.]

Continue reading “A Division of Souls Ending, Director’s Cut”

A Division of Souls: The Graphic Novel?

One of my many ideas for the Bridgetown Trilogy, if I wasn’t going to turn it into a wacky multiproduct entity (No, there won’t be any Saisshalé-O’s breakfast cereal, sorry) was to give the books a visual approach.

Part of this was inspired by the frequent comment that my style of writing is very visual.  I went to the Miami Vice School of Writing Cool Scenes Using Music back in the day, and having a degree in film studies from Emerson College, so I’d say that comment is spot on.  It’s just the way I read and write: I see the scene visually and try to describe it that way.

A year or so ago I thought I’d try my hand at laying out the first scene of A Division of Souls, just for the fun of it, just to see if I could pull it off.  In retrospect I could probably rein it in a bit in terms of pacing, but I like how it ended up.  There’s a distinct hint of Dave Sim’s Cerebus in there (specifically latter half of the Church & State storyline), which heavily influenced me back in my college days.

Hope you enjoy!

Continue reading “A Division of Souls: The Graphic Novel?”

March 2017: a platinum celebration

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Hi all!  It’s March 2017 and it’s a platinum anniversary.  Of what, you ask?  Well, it’s been twenty years since I started writing The Phoenix Effect out in the food court at Solomon Pond Mall before my day’s shift at the record store. It’s the anniversary of the Bridgetown Trilogy, after so many failed starts and misguided attempts to a solid story that evolved through multiple revisions and rewriting into the self-published e-books that are now available to the world.

It’s been twenty years since I went from okay, I’ll write something when I have the time or I’m in the mood to a much more productive outlook of I’m gonna write something every damn day even if it kills me, and made the decision to become a serious professional writer.

So!  What do I have planned for this auspicious occasion?  Well!  Glad you asked!  I’m going to have a bit of fun this month and provide you with fun behind-the-scenes stuff related to the Mendaihu Universe that I’ve accumulated over the years — outtakes, trivia, origin stories, pictures, music, drawings, and more.  I may even write and post the ‘director’s cut’ ending of A Division of Souls, which has existed only in my head for at least three years!

And to top it off, I’ll also be releasing the trade paperback of Book 3, The Balance of Light!  W00T!

Hope you enjoy the festivities!

 

 

 

Creating Covers

So tonight I decided to play around a bit with the cover for The Balance of Light, even though it’s still quite some time before it’s going to see ebook or print.  This one was tough, because I had an idea of what I wanted, but looking for the right picture was going to be a tough one.  I wanted something to balance out the blue/yellow night view of A Division of Souls, so I knew it would have to be yellow/blue and morning.  I had the color scheme down, but the picture was the tough part.

I’ve said before that I really love this part of the self-publishing process; I mean, really love it.  Like, to the point that I may possibly do this as a side-job in the future.  I love looking for that perfect shot.  Trying to get the perfect crop balance.  Figuring out whether to adjust the color or give it a bit of an effect.  Playing around with fonts and text placement.

I’ll be honest, it’s like I’m making fake album covers.  It’s something I used to do as a teenager with my mixtapes and the Flying Bohemians tapes.

Let’s take a quick look at the three covers I’ve made so far:

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The cover for A Division of Souls was meant to invoke a few things:  the setting (a metropolis, teeming with people), the time (at night), and mood (tense and mysterious).  It’s also to serve as a tie-in to the very first scene.  In short, my aim was to say: this is what the book’s going to make you feel.

The cover was also supposed to tie in with the other two books, which means that I also had to think ahead:  what were the other two going to look like?  I knew I’d have to keep a few visual motifs going…a city would have to be involved in all three, somehow; the images would need to evolve, just like the story itself.  In this case, I created multiple ‘lightboxes’ in my Shutterstock account and started looking for pictures that would do exactly what I needed them to do.

The time it took to throw this one together was surprisingly quick, to be honest.  Looking at it now, I can see a few things I should fix, but for the most part it went smoothly, once I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

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The cover for The Persistence of Memories was a bit trickier, and I think it looks better as an e-book cover than it does as a trade paperback cover, but I do like how it came out.  The same rules applied here…in this case the setting was twofold: it takes place both on Earth and on Trisanda, so I chose to do a ‘satellite’ point of view that shows both the city below and the stars above.  Time seems to be fluid in this shot.  It seems to be late night in the city below, blanketed by the similar blue (not exactly the same but close) of the first book, but in the heavens, time is irrelevant; it’s all light and dark at the same time.  It also creates a dreamlike mood, where you’re not entirely sure what’s reality and what isn’t.

The placement of the title was purely serendipity, to be honest; I did not expect the top two words to be in space and the bottom two to be in the planet’s atmosphere.  It just turned out that way and worked out quite nicely.  Funnily enough, once I’d noticed that, I was torn on exactly where I should place it…the other outtake had the title dropped a tiny bit lower, so the “of” is resting right on top of the gray cloud line instead of hovering over it like it is.

 

I haven’t made a solid decision yet on what the Book 3 cover will look like but this is what I came up with tonight:

tbol outtake 3b

 

I’m still playing around with the font color for the title, as well as the placement of the text.  The picture hints at the metropolis of ADoS, but the mood and the time is different: we’ve gotten through the late night of Book 1 and the witching hours of Book 2, and now we’ve come to the morning after of Book 3.  The yellow of the sunlight is supposed to hint at the yellow font of Book 1, and I’m still trying to figure out which bluish hue would be good for the title (to hint at the blue cityscape of ADoS).

True, it does kind of hint at new-agey books, but that’s kind of the point…the characters and the planet itself has gone through a spiritual awakening of sorts.  And like Book 2, it serves a dual purpose: the physical awakening from that dreamlike state, and the spiritual awakening.

*

One thing I learned early during this process was that I shouldn’t merely look for something that ‘looks cool’, no matter how tempting it may be.  The last thing I needed was to look for something shiny, because I didn’t want the casual viewer to say ‘wow, what a flashy cover’ but not completely connect with it or remember it.  I wanted something unique.  Something that stood out from other covers, not because it was the flashiest, but because it was different. Something to catch their attention because it stood out just enough.

These first three are my first attempts at doing book covers, and as you’ve probably noticed, there are no actual people on the cover.  This was a conscious choice; not only is it because of the large cast, but because I also wanted to invoke the idea that it wasn’t just my characters being affected by the story, but planet itself.

My next couple of projects do involve a much smaller cast, so there’s a very good chance I may use people (or silhouettes) on their covers.  I did a brief Shutterstock search for those and found a few ideas to work with, and I’m looking forward to these when I get to that point.  The main drafts of these stories haven’t even been written yet, or at least not completely, so again this was a bit like creating fake album covers!  In the process it’s giving me something fun to look forward to.

 

 

Everyone loves free books!

For all of July at Smashwords.com, you can get *both* A Division of Souls AND its sequel, The Persistence of Memories, for exactly $0.00!!

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Book I in the Bridgetown Trilogy, A Division of Souls, is currently free.  So if you haven’t experienced the first book in the Mendaihu Universe, have at it and have fun!
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/565782

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Book II in the Bridgetown Trilogy, The Persistence of Memories, is part of a month-long promotion at Smashwords — all you need do is insert the coupon code ‘SFREE’ when you purchase this book and it’s all yours!
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/625392

Hope you enjoy them both!

Meme Extra: F is also for Dylan Farraway

In doing the A to Z Challenge last month, even though I couldn’t come up with anything for X, Y or Z, there were numerous characters and ideas that I didn’t hit, due to something already laying claim to that letter.  So without further ado, here are a few more entries that you may enjoy!

* * *

Dylan Farraway - Kevin Spacey

Q: What is Farraway’s origin?

A: Along with Alec and Caren, Dylan Farraway was one of the newer characters in the Phoenix Effect reboot.  I’d originally pictured him as a takeoff of Chief Aramaki in Ghost in the Shell: bald and kind of weird-looking, bound to blow up at his staff on a daily basis.  I soon backed away from that idea and recreated him as an even-tempered, highly intelligent but extremely overworked boss.

Q: How is he connected to the Mendaihu?

A: Well…it’s kind of complex.  But I can say that he’s quite efficient at obtaining and retaining his various contacts outside of the ARU, so he knows quite a few Mendaihu and Shenaihu.

Q: That’s Kevin Spacey in that picture.  Did you base Farraway on him?

A: Actually, no!  It wasn’t until maybe about a month ago that I realized he’d be good at playing Farraway.  Just like when I chose Kathleen Turner as Madeleine Jakes…I had a general idea of what they looked like and how they acted, but didn’t have anyone in mind until recently.

Q: He has quite a close relationship with Alec and Caren.  Is there a reason for that?

A: In general, yes.  Farraway knew Caren’s parents quite well, having come up through the ranks around the same time they were high-level agents themselves.  He was never their chief, but he would work alongside them on many cases, and got to know Caren personally in the process, while she was at the ARU academy.  He’d become Chief Inspector at the Branden Hill HQ around that time, and had personally put in a request to have her assigned to him when she graduated.  So in the process, whoever Caren has worked with, he has connected with.  He was also the one to decide that Caren and Sheila should remain close workwise, ensuring she remained as part of the Team Two setup.

Q: Anything else?

A: He lives not that far from the HQ, actually…he walks to work.  He has a wife, but she unfortunately never made it into any of the stories.  He’s quite aware of Alec’s connection to Vigil; in fact, he deliberately says nothing because he knows it’s a safe and very lucrative connection for them.  He always plays his cards close…even with his agents, he never reveals everything unless absolutely necessary.  He won’t even reveal who his own outside connections may be.  He does have some psionic strengths (he’s quite good at clairaudience and clairsentience), but refuses to use them as a crutch.  He speaks softly, but he can really raise his voice quite loud when need be.  He drinks way too much coffee.

#atozchallenge: W is for Wilderlands

gatlinburg tn
Gatlinburg, TN – pic courtesy Business Insider

There’s a few passing references to the Wilderlands in the trilogy, though I don’t go into too much detail.  Sometimes Sheila will call Nick a Wilderlander…in other words, calling him a hick.  Other times someone will mention that their family used to go on vacations out that way.  But what is the Wilderlands?

When I was writing True Faith, I knew that this story would take place in a big sprawling city.  I briefly expanded on that in the worldbuilding phase, thinking of how the east coast of North America would have evolved over a good five or six hundred years.  In my world, many of the cities expanded, encompassing nearby communities or creating new ones to become megacity sprawls.  Sort of like Los Angeles or New York City and their surrounding boroughs.  This happens with smaller cities as well, including Boston, Phoenix, San Francisco, and so on; their surrounding cities and towns just became part of the bigger province.

Which left all the small towns in between.  I called these “outpost” towns, basically stopovers between the larger provinces.  Rural living never went away, it just became a little more compact.  Many of the supertiny villages are still out there, of course…they’re just part of the nearby outpost towns now.  In essence, not much has changed too much in terms of livability.  Some choose to live in the outpost towns, such as those doing agricultural work, or have specialized jobs that require a bit of distance from civilization for safety’s sake.  And as mentioned above, most of these towns have a brisk tourism business as well.

Originally in TF, the Wilderlands were thought of as the back of the beyond that no one ever traveled to if they could help it; it was pretty much considered where the outcasts and the criminals hid out.  This changed during TPE, having decided to show it as Earth’s homage of sorts to the wilderness of Trisanda instead.  It’s been that way ever since.

There is of course a bit of New England tied to the idea as well.  Having lived in a small town in central Massachusetts for most of my life, I wanted to include a rural setting in this universe that honestly portrayed what small town life looked like.  It doesn’t show up in the Bridgetown Trilogy, but it will show up in future stories, including the new one I’m working on.