Thursday, June 6, 2013

The night shift is winding down...

Challenges. I love them. But sometimes? I just want to say forget it and walk away. For years now, literally years, I have been working on the same book. Inspired by my time working the overnight shift at a drug store, I started writing a zombie novel that encompasses one single night on the graveyard shift on the night the infection really takes hold in the town of Missoula Montana. There's no huge sweeping military assaults or convenient ammo stashes in the pharmacy, just normal, screwed up people trying to survive. One thing I did do that seemed ambitious was make the choice to write it James Patterson style, with short, 500-700 word chapters, usually switching characters for each.

I have still not finished this book. I'm closer, finally. I have all but the last few chapters completed and I've started in on the third and mostly final draft of revisions for the first third of the novel. I dig it. It's a fun little horror novel and I cannot wait to finish it up, but it's frustrating to think of how long it took to get this close to finishing a 100,000 word book.

I'm just a slow typist and time has become exceedingly rare for me lately, to say nothing of my other novels in progress.... four at last count. So sometimes I just want to quit and console myself with the idea that there's lots of other great books out there to read. But I have so many ideas. They fill my brain and threaten to destroy me if they aren't released unto the world.

And finally having a cover to attach to the book helps. It's a real doozy from Deeply Dapper and I love it. It, more than anything motivates me to finally finish this damned book.

Walk Write!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Progress Report

Well, it's taken a while but I'm finally back on track with my writing. Sad to say it, but, while life is still doing its darndest to derail things it was actually Neal himself that did it this time. For the last few years, I've stored my writing on an SD memory card with the words "current novels" scrawled on the front in marker. Not the most high-tech method of safekeeping, I know. I still occasionally emailed myself backup copies or saved it on whichever random computer I happened to be on, but for the most part it was that one little slip of blue plastic that held all of my work.

Man was that stupid. Obviously, as it was bound to happen, that card got... lets say misplaced rather than lost. It sounds nicer. I fond a few other version of GRAVES, the zombie book I'm trying to finish up but they were all woefully out of date. Like six thousand words out of date.

After much scavenging and a bit of cussing as well, it finally resurfaced a few weeks later and all was right with the world. And yeah... I went right back to saving it exclusively on the card again. Stupid me. 

Then something miraculous happened. My wife broke and let me buy something I've been wanting for a while - a wi-fi enabled hard drive. Seagate had a 2T version on sale at Staples for a decent price and we went for it. Initially, the plan was to make it easier for us to watch our downloaded movies on any computer, which works like a dream, by the way. We even found a channel on the Roku that allows us to watch movies and TV shows through the TV. (If they're the right format) I love it.

And I finally started saving my novels in a location that I can't drop in a cup of coffee or lose under a piece of paper. Now obviously, I need to have a backup location as well - I have Dropbox and Apple Cloud accounts I never use, but for now being able to access and write from any spot in the house and have it all saved to a central location is EXCELLENT.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Reviews - A New Way Of Looking At Things

The totally awesome Blythe Woolston posted an interesting blog the other day about reviews. Unlike  other authors, who recommend NOT reading reviews, she uses them to fuel her writing and make her a better author. It seems like there's about a 60/40 split on that logic, from what I've seen. I don't have that many reviews right now... In fact Mr. Pale has gotten a grand total of one so far, but her idea is something I'm totally going to use eventually.

In an attempt to create a subjective picture of the reviews for her novels, she takes the reviews, clumps 'em together and creates a Wordle of them. What's a wordle? That image above. The program takes your text and assigns a size based on frequency of use, then assembles it in an eye catching little bubble like that. I dig it. It's actually a semi-useful tool for writing to spot over-used words but it's also just a great way to waste time playing with colors and layout.

The great thing about doing this with reviews is that it gives you a picture of what words are used without the context, allowing you to focus subjectively on the overall impression of the reviews. No personalizing with the reviewer or anything like that. Very interesting idea.


Just after writing this, I noticed that I'd actually gotten a second review of my book on Amazon, which is great. Amusingly, my reviews have both been quick two or three sentence things. Mr. Pale would approve of the brevity.  So I made a Wordle.

My book is GOOD READ. 'Nuff Said! hahaha

Monday, March 18, 2013

Thoughts on the reading of books now.

Against all of my instincts, I'm becoming converted, almost against my knowing to the digital eBook cult. This is kind of maddening to me; because I thought the idea of eBooks was intriguing, but also a little bit stupid. How could anyone ever possibly choose a plastic hunk over a rich, textured, beautiful hardcover book?

Then we moved to Maine. This was planned to be a brief trip, not more than five years until we either set up a permanent residence or moved on to something better. So my entire library of books and comics and everything else I'd surrounded myself with was left behind in Idaho. I brought a few select titles, A couple Lawrence Watt-Evans, a Marshal Karp, Douglas Adams, Stuff that I loved to read over and over, but there was a snag. The other source of my books (The roughly 200 a year I read) had to come from library borrowing.

Turns out that libraries in small town Maine are kind of few and far between and have erratic collections and hours, mostly falling right between my times at work. My wife decided my best solution was to get an E-Reader. After a bit of research, I went with the original nook reader, primarily because is used the epub file format rather than the format and programs that the Kindle went with. I also like the layout of the reader better than the Kindle.

It took some getting used to but I eventually fell in love with books again and got quite used to the experience of reading on the device. There was also something seductive about the idea of making a few clicks and having a new title ready to read. Hey Presto!

I built up my library quickly, mostly through cheap collections and promotions and trading files with online friends, much like swapping paperbacks. Every now and then, I'd be browsing through my collection and feel a pang of desire to see the real covers, judge a book by them and the heft of the paper, whether I wanted to read it based off of the blurb on the back, but overall I was pretty happy.

Since then, my digital reader zoo has been enlarged. The old original nook, its bezel cracked and chipped after hundreds of books was set aside, replaced by a pocket edition Sony reader and books side loaded on my iPod touch. I also started listening to a lot of books on tape on my long commutes. Then I picked up the newest nook, the Glow edition. Man, I love that little thing. Lightweight, intuitive, quick, and I use the glow feature all of the time. I used to use the iPod for in bed reading but adjusting the super bright light was a bit of a pain and I hated the strain my eyes felt but the new nook allowed me to pretty much wander the darkened hall of my house as I prepared for bed, reading and winding down after a long day. I even use it as I wander the block-long driveway to get the mail.

I was the kid growing up that walked into street signs because he was reading constantly and I was back again.

Recently, my wife laid a bit of an ultimatum down on me – Go through the books on our slowly growing and overflowing bookshelf. For, although I've been good, I cannot fully resist books. They're drawn to me – Old pulp novels in back corners of antique shops, book drop off bins in grocery stores, yard sales, co-workers and friends unloading their old books on me. I take everything.

The problem is that I don't read everything. Despite my moaning about my missing library, I let the collection of books build, mostly unread. But now, change is on the wind. We are planning a move back to the West in about a year and things have to be thinned. So before another book may be bought, these orphan books must be read. If they find a permanent home with us, great. If not, they have to go, but I have to read every one first.

My nook has sat in its case for a week now, almost two. Its last screen the last page in a Robert B. Parker novel while I read through odd paperback editions of “Romance Thrillers” and gothic suspense and westerns from the forties. Some are quite good, some are Nora Roberts. I adore the texture of the paper and the simple joy of holding my place with a finger. I still love REAL BOOKS.

Then I'll go to bed and realize to read my book without waking the wife, I'll need to dig out the fiddly book light, or I'll try to hold the book in some awkward way that I'd usually find quite simple with the nook and be scuttled. I'm really surprised how the natural movements I've developed with the reader are at odds with a paperback.

My solution? I have no idea. The simple fact is that I'm happier when I'm in a room filled with books. If I visit someone and I don't see at least a few novels strewn about, my respect for them drops a notch or two, whether I mean it or not. I think a happy balance would be keeping the rare stuff, the old pulps and the nice hardbacks that I love, maybe enough for a two story library and keep the rest on my reader. That oughtta work.

How about you? Have you converted to digital exclusively? Is it from convenience or do you actually like the way of reading better?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mr. Pale Finally Steps Out!
Today, my post apocalyptic alternate history noir crime pulp NoirVella is available on!
Buy it for less than three bones HERE!
Paperback coming soon.