The Indie-Author's 12 Days of Digital Christmas Song

(Remember, don't read it, sing it to the tune!)

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
an eReader with built-in Wi-Fi.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
2 blog reviews.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
3 guest posts.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
4 Facebook Likes.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
5 top ten Google search resuuuuuuuults.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
6 eBook formats.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
7 new comments.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
8 @Mentions.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
9 genre choices.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
10 ads that work.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
11 websites linked to.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
12-thousand eBook sales.


Staying home with my darlings

I love my children – I have four of them.  I’ve been a stay-home dad for the last 6 years.  At one point or another I’ve stayed home with at least one of them and at the most, three at once.  Things have calmed down somewhat, now that my three boys are all in school, but with the arrival of my sweet little princess last October, I’ve got another four years to go until it’s her turn to start school (sniff).

But as each of my children grew and eventually started school, it seemed that another darling would enter my home.  You see, a funny thing happened when my wife and I decided that I should stay home with our kids:  my brain woke from a twenty year coma.  No, no, I’m 100% healthy.  It’s just that I haven’t been – how should I phrase this – the most ambitious amongst us humans during my adult life.

But in the latter part of 2007, one year into my newly acquired role as Mr. Mom and with a sudden influx of personal reflective time, I discovered a hidden passion that had previously laid dormant for most of my life – the writer within.  And although a piece of me left whenever one of the kids left to start school for the first time, I slowly became acquainted with my new children – my darlings that came to life in my head each time I turned on my laptop and began typing.

When you’re a parent, you discover things about yourself that you may not have known before, or may not have needed to use until those precious little sweethearts started to fill your home.  But when you become a stay-home parent, and the realization that your children’s lives depend entirely on you every minute of the day, it’s almost like a slap in the face – a rude awakening.  And if you aren’t committed 100%, then your children suffer.

I’ve noticed this on a much smaller scale with the characters I’ve developed within my books.  If I, as an author, am not on my game and mentally committed, then my characters suffer and ultimately the entire story suffers.  I guess you could say that being a stay-home parent has helped me refine my skills as an author when it comes to nurturing my characters through the writing process, and giving them what they require to flourish.

But the sad inevitability that happened when my children eventually left for school also happened when I had to “let go” of my first novel and release my surrogate darlings into the cruel, unforgiving world.  Stay-home dad or writer, I guess I’m doomed no matter what.

So, although my fathering skills in everyday life have now been tweaked to accommodate the needs of a toddler who now wears pink (yikes!), it’s been a true pleasure to breathe life and hope and aspirations and accomplishments into each and every character I’ve written about.  I’ve grown and seen my darlings-in-prose grow along with me during my authoring journey, and sometimes I can’t help but feel protective of them.

My only wish is this:  just as parenthood has taught me how to develop and become a better writer, I can only hope that by being a writer, perhaps I’ll learn to more easily let go and release my own kids into that same cold, cruel world when those inevitable times come knocking upon our door.  Until then (sniff, sniff), I’m going to keep writing my books, keep raising my kids, and keep fathering more darlings into the wonderful world of fiction.  


I just wanna read!

What's the purpose of reading a novel - a fiction novel, more specifically?  Entertainment, enjoyment, and sometimes fulfillment, would be things I look for in a well written fiction book.  I don't want to read something that requires a Ph.D to figure out what's been going on for the past forty pages.

I personally believe that brainy, overly wordy (pretentious) books should be left to the non-fiction genre, or reference section dealing with subjects like philosophy, the universe, and how to understand women.  But if we're talking strictly fiction books, whether fantasy, adventure, horror, why try to be all literary when writing one?  Everyone knows that commercial literature sells, just look at the movies.  Harry Potter, anyone?

Well, maybe it is just me - and my average I.Q. - that can't handle trying to follow the direction of the prose on the pages while looking up every fourth word in the dictionary at the same time.  Call me crazy, but I feel no satisfaction or pride in finishing an overly complicated and unnecessarily verbose piece of literature - I feel relief.  When I do feel satisfaction, it's after spending my valuable time reading a novel that compels me to keep reading, and keeps me wanting more until the bitter sweet end.

That's how all fiction novels should be, no?


Gotta getaway?

Everyone has their dream vacation.  Here's mine:

A small, isolated tropical island.  I'm alone.  There is an unlimited supply of fresh drinking water flowing from a nearby brook.  There's more than enough bananas to go 'round.  White sand.  Yellow sun.  Cool breeze.  My laptop.  My stories.  No internet.  No cell phone.  A one way ticket back home to my family when I'm done.



Everything needs a facelift now and again.  A manuscript, a house, a website (ahem), somebody's face.  That's just life; that's just what happens when things get old and worn out, or outdated.

The trouble with facelifts is that there's always extra effort involved.  Either by the writer, or the contractor, or the writer/ web-designer/ stay-home-dad, or the surgeon.  Energy needs to be expended in order for said things to change.  They're not going to magically transform without that extra effort.

So the question becomes: is it worth it?  Maybe, if you've been rejected countless times by numerous publishing houses, or water is starting seep in from the roof, or your website looks like something a grade 7er could build, or you're middle-aged and have more wrinkles than a catchers glove.

But who says you have to change?  Who says you'll be "better" after the change?  Who cares?  Don't change - it's too hard, and probably more effort than actually required.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained...  You'll never know, I guess. 


Getting unstuck

Okay.  Last post I talked about how to start the ball rolling when it came to getting from idea to actual prose.  This next post will deal with the Now what.

So you've written out your thesis sentence and expanded it into a couple interesting pages.  What's next?  You're not sure what to do, or where to take it.  Don't feel discouraged, this is normal, especially for the novice writer.

You just need a plan.

I personally don't buy the notion that some writers don't plan anything and just let fly at the keyboard.  While, in some instances this may infact occur, it doesn't lend itself to smooth editing and revising.  So how does one plan their novel?  The strategy I employ is being shared under the assumption that you're writing a fiction novel.

Again, I'm going to assume that you've established all of your characters and have developed each respective character arc.  Now it's time for the story itself, because as the old adage goes, It's all about the story!

I'm somewhat of a closet movie-nut.  And after I developed my story ideas, I came up with the plan to utilize a "story template" to implement before I began writing.  Sort of like a game plan before the game.  I know for me, it's super important that I know where it is I'm at while I write, or else I tend to get lost, or begin to contradict myself.

Then it hit me that my favorite movie had such a perfectly developed story arc and plot-line, that I employed its model, and replaced all the characters and motives and conflicts with those of my own.  The result was a much smoother and more accurate writing process. 

So don't ever be afraid to plan, or think that planning is passe, or that it means you're an amateur.  It doesn't.  It simply means that you're serious about writing a clear and flowing story that your readers will enjoy, and you'll end up saving time by having a focused blueprint at your disposal.

Until next time, write on!


It Always Starts Small

A fetus.  A mustard see.  A brick.  A step.  A word.

At first, everything has a modest beginning until ultimately growing into something complex and unique.  The same can be said with a story, or more specifically a novel.  If a new writer tries to write a book only thinking of it in its entirety, then the task suddenly becomes overwhelming.  But take it one sentence at a time, and it starts from a more manageable bit-sized form.

The majority of people wanting to write a book often remark, but I just don't have any good ideas.  I think that's because they're thinking of the whole novel - the entire, complex being that is the book.  Anyone can write a novel if they make the time, but more importantly, if they narrow down an idea into one sentence.

I have come to love using a thesis sentence when devising my stories.  The rule of thumb is to keep it down between 15-20 words.  The thesis sentence should encompass the main theme constant throughout the story.  A good example to show is a blurb from the movie MEMENTO.  This is a great example of a thesis sentence:  A man, suffering from short-term memory loss, uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife.

Yes, the above sentence was written after the movie, but it's a great example of how a story can be formed.  I'm sure the writer of the movie had an idea, started simple, and then expanded.  The same can be done for anyone.  Think of something, anything, something that you might find intriguing or fun to write about, then write a short sentence summing it all up.  After that, expand the sentence to a paragraph.  Then expand that paragraph to a page.  Then that page to a chapter.  Then that chapter to a novel.

See, it's that easy.  Lol!  But seriously, if you are serious about writing a novel, don't worry about the finished product until you've narrowed down the basic premise of your story.  Things will start to flow from there.


Write. Publish. Repeat.

It's June, and that means that I'm this close to epublishing my first book.  I can't wait!  And it couldn't come any sooner.

The things you have to deal with when you're a budding writer, one of them being your brain hurts a lot and for an extended period of time (the last 3 years).  Now all it wants to do is move on to my next book which I've been planning as I've been putting an end to my first one.

It's kind of a neat feeling, actually.  My brain, knowing that I'm not in the creation mode of my first book anymore, has switched gears and begun to work out the details for my next book.  It's like two parts of my brain are working simultaneously.  One part is revising and editing, while the other is planning character arcs and plot lines for the next book.

I'm never at a loss for things to do nowadays which is such a blessing for me.  I used to struggle to fill the void of time, but now writing has come to the rescue and I've never been busier or happier.  :D


Just watering my blog

Are you like me and find that blogging and Facebooking and Tweeting have become more time consuming than actually connecting in person with our friends?  Maybe it's just me, but how do these people do it?  Do they have families?  Do they have jobs?  Do they have lives??

I thought the advent of social networking was supposed to make everything easier, save time - you know, speed things up a bit.  But what we're seeing is the opposite, I think.  Now we don't have enough time to maintain all of our cyber pages that are floating around.  It's becoming more of a chore than a fun activity.

The reality is that my social networking yard is becoming like my actual yard.  If I neglect it and forget to cut it or water it or fertilize it, then it gets overgrown, becomes overrun with dandelions, and forces neighbors to move away from me.

If I want blog-neighbors, than I need to maintain my blog.  I need to be consistent with my posts and make sure that they're neatly written and appealing, then, maybe I'll attract more people to come over for a visit.

But that will have to wait for now.  I've got to go water my lawn.


It's go time

Wow.  I've just finished writing my book and now the fun part begins.  That's right, you heard me--the fun part.  It's time for every writer's favorite 8 letter word that sounds like a 4 letter word to them:  Revision.

I'm actually looking forward to dissecting and editing my book.  It'll be the first chance to read the whole thing in its entirety--exciting!  I just hope that it flows smoothly and keeps building the way I planned.  I know that I'm already partial to the story, so I shouldn't have any troubles reading it.  My concern is maintaining that same effect for the would-be reader when they go through it for the first time.

Well, I'm off to proof read.  See you in the spring sometime.



My first book

Losing an arm in a freak accident is hard to deal with.  But when you've been touted as the next young Olympic hopeful for the last five years, it's devastating.  Not only did the accident take away Jason Dee's identity, it took away much more: his Dad.  But when he finds a cryptic letter written by his late Great-grandfather apologizing for the very incident that shattered his life, Jason's world turns from tragic to incredible.

Trying to drag out the last summer break before his first year of High School, Jason continues to struggle with depression while trying to adjust to life as an amputee.  But when he delves deeper into the meaning of the letter--and ultimately the meaning of his name--he unravels a hidden destiny unwittingly inherited from his Great-grandfather that is unchangeable and undeniably real.

Supposedly a member of a secret fraternity along with five other boys he's never met, Jason must somehow seek them out one by one in time to save all of civilization from a lurking evil.  But does he believe enough in himself?  Does he have the fortitude to be a leader, or will he keep on the path of least resistance?