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2014-09-28

PK2 Cover and News

This has been an exciting week. First, I would like to share some very exciting news (to me anyway) concerning WorldCon 2015. I have been asked to be on a self-publishing panel at WorldCon 2015. This is not a 100% confirmed deal but it looks like this is going to happen. The director of programming for next year's WorldCon not only likes the idea but is open to more than one panel and possibly a workshop. This is a big deal for me as an indie author.

I did not ask nor did I suggest this idea to anyone. The email came out of the blue. It's a big deal because it means I've been recognized. It's one of those little things that carries a lot of weight. At my day job, I try my best to recognize those who do a good job. It's a form of positive feedback which research has shown has a greater affect than negative feedback. I've already booked my hotel and as soon as I can do so I will be booking the flight. If you're thinking of going to WorldCon - GET YOUR ROOM NOW! Many of the hotels are already sold out and rooms are going fast.

The panel invite brings to mind another point--if you're a serious writer you need to form contacts with other writers. Had I just been satisfied with publishing my books and never attended Launch Pad the invite would never have happened. Going to Launch Pad brought me into contact with other writers. Staying in touch with them and getting together with some of them at DragonCon most likely led to the invite. If you are serious about writing, start forming a network of relationships with other writers. If it's within your financial means, expand your relationships outside of your local area. I know people scattered all over the world.

My wife has been having to spend more time than usual over at the nursing home attending to her mom. She has lost her ability to stand even with a walker and now needs more care. This has impacted the time she has for proofing Peacekeeper 2. She's hoping to be finished by the end of next week but that's an aggressive schedule. This delay has allowed me to get a good cover for the book as well as finish the prologue. If all goes well, Peacekeeper 2 will be available before the end of next month. I want to thank everyone for their patience. Writing, editing, copyediting, proofing, finding a cover, and formatting the final product all takes time. I promise you - PK2 will be worth the wait.

Speaking of the cover: Here it is--

This is almost how it will appear when the book is released. I've requested the font of the main title to be changed. Comments from my blog readers are welcome. It's not too late to make additional tweaks. I have to thank Heather Zak, the wife of my best friend from high school, for the work she's put into the cover. AJ (Arnold J. Zak) found the background image which she then modified. I'll give a free book to the first person who can identify the background picture.

There have been some other exciting developments at my day job as well. I very much enjoy my new job and (once again) the recognition I've been receiving from upper management and the corporate home office have made it even more enjoyable. I won't bore you with the details especially since this post has now gone on for too long.

I will continue to post updates on Twitter. If you don't follow me and you would like to my Twitter username is: author_farren

2014-09-21

Are Writer Groups Necessary?

Yesterday, I attended (for the second time) a writer's group. Prior to the meeting, the group's leader handed out a prompted writing assignment. I did not do it because I was finishing up with Peacekeeper 2. At the meeting each of the attendees who did the writing prompt read their work and received feedback. I then handed out the final chapter of Peacekeeper 2 for feedback. Some of it was quite good. I got my papers back and when I got home I flipped through them to see what people had said. A couple had taken the time to make punctuation changes. My wife is my grammarian. She worked at a newspaper for 27 years and has a good grasp of how things should be written. I showed her the one copy with a bunch of suggested punctuation changes and she disagreed with quite a number of them. So did I.

It was interesting to compare the notes from all the other attendees with one another. A couple simply wrote 'Nice article' or 'Good world-building' at the top with little to no comments in the body. Others wrote great feedback while another attempted to proof the entire handout for punctuation.

So here's the point. I attend two writer's groups mainly so I can interact with other writers and be exposed to different styles of writing as well as receive feedback and suggestions on my own works. But you must also consider who is providing the feedback. One member of both groups holds a master's degree in creative writing. Her feedback carries more weight than the others. I am unsure of the background of the other members and so I listen to their feedback but I don't always necessarily follow their advice. Each writer has a style of their own and one person may not agree with how a paragraph is written or even if it needs to be there.

I also pay particular attention to how the group reacts to someone's comment. If the entire group seems to agree to a particular statement then it carries more weight. If there's a discussion or a disagreement, I'll listen and then chose what I feel is correct. Even something as mundane as punctuation has some leeway in how it is used. Do I put a comma here or not? Do I use a colon or a semicolon? Long sentence or short? Obvious errors in the use of punctuation are easy to spot. The more subtle ways of using a comma are a matter of personal choice. Some strict grammarians may disagree with me on this but English is a flexible and changing language. Writers can shape it to produce anything they want as long as the readers enjoy the story.

Bottom line: Yes -- I strongly believe writer groups are something every writer should be a part of. Don't think you are an expert on every subject and your writing is the best in the world. Listen to what others have to say and accept their comments as a way to improve your writing.

I am working on a prologue for Peacekeeper 2. My wife is making good progress and is about 50% complete. I hope to have the prologue done today and then I start putting her changes into the book. The cover is nearing completion. Looks like I am all systems go for a publication launch next month. I will post the cover on Google+, Facebook, my website, and on Twitter as soon as it is complete.

So what's next? I haven't decided for sure yet. As always, I'm going to take some time off writing before starting my next project. I have books to read and other things to do that get put aside while I'm working on a project. I'm leaning toward a YA novel about a boy and a dragon. I know this sort of thing has been done before but I think my take on it is unique. I also have a desire to do a third Dragonverse book. It will require making some minor changes to the first two in the series. Dragonverse needs a bit of a rewrite to stretch out the timeline or at least better identify how long it takes for the main character to develop his powers (feedback from a reader). I have possible stories for a sequel to Off Course as well. At the moment, I do not have any ideas for a sequel to When Ships Mutiny which is also a reader request. I am open to ideas from my readers though.

2014-09-14

PK2 - Final rewrite complete

At long last, the final rewrite of Peacekeeper 2 is complete. I am now waiting on my wife to complete her grammatical review, then it's on to a final review by another grammarian, and then the book will be published. There is a cover in the works but it's far from being close to a reveal. I am also working on a line to gain access to another photo that would be perfect for the book's background but so far I've not heard back from the photo's owner.

Readers of the GA series will remember the race called the Kyrra. The Kyrra first appeared in my mind back in 1977 when I was drawing science-fiction scenes and pretending I could be a writer. Recently, I picked up a book by Stanley Schmidt titled 'Aliens and Alien Societies'. My jaw threatened to disengage from my face when I read a passage where he mentions an alien race he created called--of all things--the Kyyra. The spelling is different, but the name of the race is the same. As best as I can determine, the book this is from (The Sins of the Fathers) was published in 2009. What are the odds of two authors creating an alien race with nearly the same name? I know there's no possibility he heard it from me and I've never read any of his books. Now that's a head scratcher.

A friend of mine, author Linda Nagata, has been working on a sequel to her award-nominated book The Red: First Light. I've been waiting for it for quite some time and assumed she was having a problem finding the time to finish it. I patiently waited. In a recent announcement she explained the delay. Her books are going to be picked up by a major publisher. I must admit, I am a bit jealous but I'm also a little concerned. Linda has been with a publisher in the past and some time ago decided to go indie. She's familiar with how publishers work and she's also familiar with the indie side of publishing. She's also a very smart person. If she believes going with a publisher is a good thing then I can only conclude that it is indeed the right thing to do. Only time will tell.

How would I react if an agent asked to promote my books to a publisher? I honestly don't know. I would most likely give Linda Nagata a call and ask her opinion. I have mixed feelings about going with a publisher which I've voiced in this blog in the past. Right now, sales are doing okay and I get a good royalty from them. If the books continue to sell then I might have a steady income for decades. Book rights are also a property and can be passed on to my kids. A publisher might sound like a wonderful idea especially when they dangle a large advance in front of you and make promises that the book will be well promoted. Most will follow through. But after a few years when sales begin to slump, then what? I have another friend who sold two books to a very large publisher. He received a good advance and then nothing - that was 10 years ago. He has tried and failed to get the digital rights for these books. Retaining ownership is very important because steady low sales will bring in a nice steady (although low) additional income. Once sales fall below a certain number with a large publisher, your book is shelved. The only way to make a living writing for a large publisher is to crank out more books. I've been averaging one a year so I could do that: it would be a tough choice. I do wish Linda all the luck in the world and I will stay in touch with her to see how this pans out.

That's it from my little world. Time to start putting some grammar changes in Peacekeeper 2.