Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Self-Publishing Movement Continues Strong Growth in U.S.

Analysis of U.S. ISBN data via Bowker reveals that the number of self-published titles jumped to over 390,000.  This is up 59 percent over previous year, and over 400 percent above 2007 numbers.  
Ebooks comprised 40 percent of the ISBNs that were self-published in 2012, compared to sales of just 11 percent back in 2007.
More than 80 percent of self-published titles were brought to market with support from just eight companies, which include Smashwords and Amazon’s CreateSpace.
What direction are ebook sales heading?

Publisher’s Weekly posted an article about the possibility of buying ebooks directly from grocery, drug, and other storefronts in the coming months.  This is all due to a deal between Txtr, the German ebook company with backing from 3M and ReaderLink.  The plan is to sell the inexpensive Txtr Beagle ebook readers at stores such as Wal-Mart and Walgreens.

According to the Txtr Beagle website http://us.txtr.com/beagle/
the beagle downloads ebooks via Bluetooth from a smartphone and will have enough power via two AA batteries for up to one year, based on reading 12-15 books.

You can read up to five ebooks at any one time on the beagle. This doesn’t mean that you are limited to only reading those five books; you can store an unlimited number of ebooks on your txtr cloud library.

The Beagle weighs just 4.5 ounces; has a small 5-inch Electronic Ink screen; and has 800 x 600 pixel resolution.  The Beagle was originally announced as costing only $13 in the US, but now It seems that the $13 price is only being offered in Europe as a phone subsidy package.  The Beagle as of right now will be available in the US for $69.99.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Using the Subconscious Mind to Plot out a Novel while you Sleep.

A week ago I had a conference call with my freelance editor and at that time we decided the novel was ready for his final edit.  I took a few days off of my normal writing routine and then took a look at what I'm calling book 2 in the current series.  I'd previously written 18,274 words in the first draft and laid out the beginning of an outline.

After thinking through the plot lines I'd originally created I decided to go a different direction. After 5 days of work done mostly during early mornings before my day job, and a few evenings I'd gotten a good start on the next novel.

As luck would have it the day job  got increasingly active, and now when I arrive home from work I'm spent. I learned something in a writing class a few years back, that I've come to rely on when time does not present itself for the pursuit of writing.  What I learned is the use of my subconscious mind, while sleeping, to further develop the plot.

The way I go about using this technique is to engage myself in the story just before I fall asleep.  I begin by thinking about what I've written most recently and what areas of the book I'm struggling with. While I sleep and rest my mind my subconscious mind takes over.

It may be a day later, or a week, or a longer period of time, but the answers come. Often times it's while I'm in the shower with a clear mind after a nights sleep that the river of thoughts begins to flow.  Early in my writing career I used to rush to go write these thoughts down.  Now I trust my mind and know if they are good thoughts that are useful to the story I will remember them.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Peter T. Cormack the author of the Steel Souls series.

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Peter T. Cormack the author of the Steel Souls series.

Tell me about yourself.

I learned to read when I was three years old, and haven't stopped since. I was raised in a very small town called Lake Isabella, nestled in the southern tip of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Like many of the young people in that area, I chafed under the perceived boredom of the extremely rural setting. While others turned to television, I found my solace in reading fiction. Eventually, in 2001, I escaped to the University of California, Irvine. After graduating in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, I worked for Blizzard Entertainment as a World of Warcraft Game Master. I was eventually promoted to Quality Assurance Analyst (game tester), but quickly realized that was not my style. So, I tried something completely different. I went back to school, learned a little about teaching English as a second language, and found a job as an Assistant Language Teacher in Japan. That was interesting, but only lasted three months, after which I moved to Columbus Ohio, where I worked as a Geek Squad Agent (computer repair). That’s when I was introduced to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and realized I could write as well as read. Sadly, things didn’t work out in Columbus, so I ended up returning home, finding an amazing relationship with Jesus, the best wife in the world (Love you Shelly!), and a boring job as the “IT guy” for a local healthcare clinic. Due to a confusing set of circumstances where I thought we’d be moving again, but didn’t end up doing so, I find myself without a job, and two full-length novels. What else is a guy to do but jump in and become a full-time author? I’m really enjoying it so far, but it’s by far the most difficult job I’ve ever had - and that’s saying something!

When did you know you wanted to become an author?

Although I've been reading my entire life, and it is pretty much my favorite thing to do, I didn't seriously consider becoming an author until 2010. That year, I was talked into participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which is a self-competition which challenges people to write 50,000 words about anything they like. I'd had a story idea bouncing around in my head for a while, so I decided to go for it. I completed the challenge, and that was the first time I realized that being an author was a possibility for me. It wasn't until this year that I decided to really take the plunge, though.

Is there a central theme to your books?

Although I wouldn't say I have a cohesive "theme" throughout my work, there are elements that I enjoy seeing in other books, so I try to put those in my novels as well. Technology is definitely my favorite of these themes. I'm fascinated by almost all areas of science, and I love to imagine how today's technologies can be pushed to even more amazing lengths. In fact, I write a weekly column all about the technologies I use in my books, and where they come from. It's called Monday Musings, and you can check it out every Monday at my blog! I also really enjoy what I like to call the "extra physical" factor. Some people would say "spiritual," others "metaphysical," but I simply think of it as anything that can't easily be explained by traditional scientific understanding. The Force in Star Wars, magic in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, and the science of souls in my Steel Souls series are all examples of this. My current work, the Chronicles of Threa (to be released later this month), doesn't have as much of this aspect as usual, but my next novel (which I will be writing in November) is chock-full of it, so look forward to that! Finally, I think every story needs to have intense action. Although I do sometimes enjoy the more philosophical works, there's nothing like a good battle scene to move things along and draw the reader into your world.

What books have inspired you the most in your life?

Wow, that's a really difficult question, since I've probably read thousands of books over the course of my thirty years. Also, I read books purely for pleasure and entertainment, so I don't really look to them for inspiration, as such. However, there have been a few novels which have sucked me in more than the others, and that’s pretty inspiring to me as an author. Battlefield Earth is one of those. I'm not a big fan of L. Ron Hubbard's other work, but that one book really captured my attention from the first page and, over 1000 pages later, I didn't want it to end. Another body of work - a series really - has captured my interest lately. The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher has amazing action, great characters, and so much of the "extra physical" it's insane. As far as being an author goes, Jim Butcher has definitely been a huge inspiration for me.

What’s a typical day in your writing routine like?

I write at home most of the time, so my actual “work” time actually involves me sitting on the couch in my pajamas, with the television on in the background, tapping away at my laptop. However, since I am the “stay-at-home” half of my marriage, I’m also responsible for the day-to-day chores, so I take breaks to do dishes, take out trash, empty litter boxes, etc. Pretty exciting, huh?

What is it that you do to relax?

My biggest relaxer is still to kick back with an awesome book, though I also enjoy hanging out with my beautiful wife Shelly, especially when we play computer games together.

Do you use an outline or do you write organically?

Although I really like how outlines can help guide my writing, I don’t usually have a solid enough idea of the overall plot to use them. So, I’m mostly an organic writer. That being said, I am working to be more purposeful with my planning so that I have a better idea of how my characters should act, my plot can be more intricate, things like that.

Have you ever had writer’s block and what did you do to push past it.

I get writers’ block all the time. It’s very frustrating. I’ve tried all sorts of different things. Taking a break, reading another book for inspiration, watching television, isolation, taking a walk, and so many more. However, the best cure I’ve found for it is to just write something. Usually, I’ll have a vague idea of what I want to say, but don’t know how to say it. So, I just start putting words on the page that maybe describe what I’m thinking, and don’t worry about whether they sound good, or even whether they make sense. Just keep writing!

Is there a certain time of day when you are most creative?

I’m really not a morning person, so I don’t really get “started” until nine or ten in the morning. Beyond that, I haven’t found any particular time of day that gets my creative juices flowing more than any other.

How many drafts do you usually write of a manuscript and what is your editing process like.

It really depends on how much I can afford, and how much time I have. My currently published book was really a work of love, rather than money. I was able to hire an editor for a brief coaching session, but didn’t have enough money for her to look at the rest of the book. So, I did my best on my own. I read the book over myself, catching a lot of problems in the process. I also read it out loud to my wife, and caught a lot more problems that way. Finally, I went through the entire thing one more time, after the session with the editor, which helped refine it even more. It’s not perfect, and a couple more revisions might have helped, but at some point you just have to pull the trigger, so I did.

What do you think of the recent changes in the publishing world?

I’m actually really excited. As few as five years ago, I wouldn’t have had a decent chance to publish my work. As much as I believe in what I do, I don’t think my manuscripts would have made it past the slush piles of the publishers. The way things are now, getting “published” is the easy part. Now comes the hard part: reaching out to readers, letting them know I exist, and that my book is worth reading. I realize that these changes mean that “sub-standard” work has more chance to get on the market, but with the way Amazon works, I’m confident that more readers will be able to find more work they like, by more authors than ever before. Amazon recommends books in the categories that readers like, and the excerpts are an excellent way to quickly tell whether the writing is the style you want or not. The upshot of this all is that we authors are no longer writing to impress publisher gatekeepers, but to impress readers. On the other side of the coin, readers can now make their own decisions about what is worth reading, and what is not. Win-win, as far as I can see.

Out of all the books you’ve written do you have a favorite, and if so why?

All three of the books in the pipeline are very different, and I like all of them for different reasons. Steel Souls was my first effort, and I love the concept. Chronicles of Threa reminds me of one of my favorite series ever - Redwall by Brian Jaques. And my third novel is still in that wonderful phase where it’s all in my head, and so is totally perfect.

What are you working on now?

At this particular moment, I’m working really hard at making my currently published novel visible. However, I’m also in the middle of editing my next novel, which I hope to publish later this month. At the same time, I’m planning my third novel, and I hope to write it in November. Busy stuff around here; keep an eye on my website to keep up with the latest!

Where can we buy your books?

All of my work can be found on Amazon. I currently only have one book published - Steel Souls, Book 1: Life in the Machine, but I'll be publishing more, so keep an eye on my Author Page! At the moment, the novel is only available as an e-book, but I’m hoping to put it out in paperback - through Amazon’s Create Space - at some point in the near future.

Thank you again for giving me this opportunity. 


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sad News in the World of Thriller Writing

Tom Clancy has  died at age 66.  Best known for his novel turned movie - The Hunt for Red October - Clancy was a master of the thriller genre.  Seventeen of his 28 novels made it on to the New York Times Bestseller list.

Clancy was born in Baltimore and was a former insurance agent.  He will be missed.