Sorry for the hiatus! The last few days have been insanely busy between all four books, and it’s been hard to post anything of value on my blog.
Three Fun Announcements
First, Goodreads.com is holding a giveaway for two SIGNED copies of Lighthouse Nights, and two SIGNED copies of The Brandywine Prophet. Neither book has been released yet… so it’s even more exciting! The contest ends on August 31, but it’s INSANELY easy to enter if you have a Goodreads account.
Lighthouse Nights Giveaway
The Brandywine Prophet Giveaway
Second, I had an awesome shout-out today on The Write to Make a Living! Take a second to check out Stacey’s blog : )
Third, I have officially decided to do a mini blog tour for The Accidental Siren in September! If it goes well, I’m considering a giant, four-book extravaganza for the month of November. Should be pretty epic…
One Serious Announcement
I have a mammoth task ahead of me. Somehow, I need to perform a complete rewrite on The Day I Wore Purple before the middle of October. How is this possible? Mt. Dew, Adderall, 3AM writing sessions, and time management.
Unfortunately, this means I have to slow down on a couple of my favorite things:
-Instead of one blog post every day, I need to cut it back to one post every one-three days.
-I’m going to slowly cut down on my Wattpad time… which sucks, because it’s one of my favorite places to be. I’ll still read EVERY comment and message… probably the minute you send it! But replies might not come as quickly as before.
Yes, this sucks… but “real life” is knocking at my door, and I desperately need to finish this book before that happens! Notes of encouragement/funny memes will be greatly appreciated during this time.
That’s all! If you’re lucky, I might just post a rant tonight… Kindle formatting is driving me CRAZY.
It’s been an interesting (if not a little mind-numbing) week for my Four Novels in Four Months project! My eyes burn and my right hand has merged with my mouse… but other than that, I’m doing well.
The past few days have been a great learning experience about the “blogosphere.” (Wow… is it sad that “blogosphere” is a real word?) Part of my Kickstarter cash has been going toward review copies for bloggers, and not only have I’ve been having AWESOME success with that, I’ve been meeting some really cool people. Thanks to my newfound knowledge of blog tours, I’m going to organize a big push for all four books to hopefully spread the word across the interwebs. I’m going to start putting together a raffle too… so if anybody has suggestions for prize donations, please let me know! I’ll know more about the blog tour for my next post.
Anyway, here are some brief updates about each book:
The Accidental Siren
I’m still waiting for the Amazon numbers for the first week of sales. If I wasn’t already thankful for my Wattpad friends before… I certainly am now! The day of the Siren release, thirty of my fans took the time to spread the word across the internet and to their family and friends. One woman pitched it to all of her co-workers. Another girl made signs and went to the mall. A fellow writer asked celebrities to retweet my announcement… and it worked!
If you haven’t been reading my first wave of reviews… things are looking good. (Okay, I’m being modest… things are looking GREAT.) Please take a minute to check them out, then share them online to spread the word!
Also, I have 9 ratings on Amazon, and they’re all 5 stars. I have 22 ratings on Goodreads, and those are all 5 stars as well. Some of them were written by friends and family, but most of them came from real people with no connection to me at all.
I’ll be spending the next couple weeks preparing for the second release of Lighthouse Nights. Because I already bugged my family and friends to buy this book a year ago, I’m not going to go crazy on my own Facebook and Twitter accounts. However, there is still work to be done! I need to talk to reviewers, send out review copies, update Goodreads with quizzes and quotes, create a trailer with Wattpad reviews, update the Amazon information, pray it’s released before the end of August, etc, etc, etc.
The Brandywine Prophet
Well, that’s the semi-final cover! The first test copy has been ordered, and I’ll let you know how it looks in my next post.
Despite the fact that this book is long and targeted at adult readers, a handful of my Wattpad friends read it diligently from cover to cover. Feedback will be up soon.
I’m also working on a personal essay for the Afterward. It’ll talk about my influences and the reasons I think the major themes in this book resonate through all of my work. Out of all four books, this is the one I’m most excited about!
The Day I Wore Purple
Oh boy… I still haven’t started the re-write yet… but it’s coming! I think I need to start Red-Bulling it through the night, or maybe a week alone at a cabin in the woods. I’m still taking notes… and I think the end result is going to be pretty amazing.
I’ll start posting character bios and snippets on my blog soon.
That’s all for now! I hope you’ll take a second to scan my blog… I haven’t been this consistent with anything in my life : )
Continued from Part One: Digging for Truth
Now that we know how to dig for Truth using “What if” questions, how do we identify the Truth when it’s uncovered?
First, lets look at the qualities of Truth.
Truth is Universal
It doesn’t matter if your story is a romance between a flying turtle and a jelly bean. If you tell your story with honesty, everyone will be able to identify with it.
Truth is Often Unique
You may be searching in familiar territory (Love, death, hope, obsession, terror), but when you discover Truth, it will something special… something only you could find.
Truth Can Be Provocative
If you reach a question that makes you think, “Whoa… I don’t know if I should go there…” chances are, you’re on the right track.
Truth is Always Captivating
Because it’s universal, unique, and provocative, people are captivated by honesty.
“Death is sad,” is not Truth. It’s an observation that is often true, but not always.
What happens if you’re Nate Fisher from the third season of Six Feet Under? Here’s a man who threw his life away by marrying the woman he knocked up. He hates the banality of his new life. He might even hate his wife.
But then she goes missing. Several episodes later, nobody can find her. Death is the only explanation.
“Sad” doesn’t even come close to describing Nate’s emotions. Neither does “relief.” Nate (and the Six Feet Under writers) had to dig deeper to find Truth with a capital T. Through his wife’s death, Nate discovers that he actually loves her. He feels guilty for wishing her out of his life. He misses her despite his newfound freedom. Truth, in this instance, is a horrific crucible of emotions that never would have been unearthed if the writers had stopped at “sad.”
If I was writing a scene about death before my father died, I WOULD have stopped at “sad.” I wouldn’t have been able to write about how my nightmares became comforting because my reality was worse. I never would have known about the hatred I’d feel towards doctors for limiting a patient’s morphine intake. I didn’t know that the worst part about my father’s death would be the fact that he’d never see me succeed as a writer.
Now, scroll up and scan this post again. I bet you were mildly interested in the first half (or you wouldn’t have gotten this far)… but I bet you were fully immersed in the last two paragraphs.
THAT is the power of truth.
Want more writing tips? Check out my new book, Put the Cat In the Oven Before You Describe the Kitchen.
1. Deadwood – Doc Cochran
Thanks to his special position in the city of Deadwood, Doc Cochran witnesses the slow death of the only decent man in town. At this point in the show, we know very little about Doc’s past, only that he served as a doctor in the Civil War and that he lost his license for experimenting on unearthed cadavers. As the minister is experiencing his final seizures, Doc demands answers from God.
“If was a more adaptable primate or one of your regular petitioners, I suspect I wouldn’t feel this pain. I guess I—I’d have a wad of cartilage covering the patella, protecting me from this—this discomfort. Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, Just Please, God. Take that Minister. What conceivable Godly use is his protracted suffering to you? What conceivable Godly use? What conceivable Godly use was the screaming of all those men? Did you, did you need to hear their death agonies to know your—your omnipotence? Mama! Mother find my arm! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy they—they shot my leg off it hurts so bad. It hurts so bad. Admitting my understanding’s imperfection, trusting that you have a purpose, praying that you consider it served, I beg you to relent. Thy Will Be Done, Amen.”
2. Six Feet Under – David Fisher
“Please God, help me. Take this pain away, please. Fill this loneliness with your love. Help me God. Please help me.”
3. Forrest Gump – Jenny Curran
“Dear God, make me a bird. So I could fly far. Far far away from here.”
4. Magnolia – Jim Kurring
“Oh, Lord, why is this happening to me? God, please help me figure this out. I’m lost out here! I don’t understand why it’s happening. God, please, God! Whatever it is I did, I’m going to fix it. I’m going to do the right thing. Please, help me find the gun!”
5. It’s a Wonderful Life – George Bailey
“Dear Father in heaven, I’m not a praying man, but if you’re up there and you can hear me… show me the way… show me the way.”
6. The Sopranos – Carmela Soprano
“Gentle and merciful Lord Jesus, I want to speak to you now with an open heart, with an honest heart. Tonight I ask you to take my sins and the sins of my family into your merciful heart. We have chosen this life in full awareness of the consequences of our sins. I know that Christopher’s life is in your hands… and his fate is your will. I ask you humbly to spare him. And if it is your will to spare him, I ask that you deliver him from blindness and grant him vision. And through this vision may he see your love… and gain the strength to carry on in service to your mercy. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
7. Amadeus – Antonio Salieri
“Lord, make me a great composer! Let me celebrate your glory through music – and be celebrated myself! Make me famous through the world, dear God! Make me immortal! After I die let people speak my name forever with love for what I wrote! In return I vow I will give you my chastity – my industry, my deepest humility, every hour of my life. And I will help my fellow man all I can. Amen and amen!”
I’m relatively new to the reddit forms. I’ve been posting my blogs on r/writing for a couple months and gained 129 karma (fake internet points).
A week ago, I ran into my first troll. His user name was ObstreperousYoungLad. After several years on reddit, he had over 3,000 karma.
Step 1: Be Polite
But if they continue on your next post...
Step 2: Ignore Them
But if they continue on your next post…
Step 3: Do a Quick Google Search For Their Screen Name, Find a Weakness, and Attack
Thirty minutes after my last message, he deleted his reddit account. Instead of 3,000+ karma and two years of posts, his pages says:
Now I feel terrible. If anyone knows ObstreperousYoungLad, please tell him to contact me at email@example.com so I can apologize!
Writers are always preaching about “the truth” in writing.
Until recently, this has been an abstract concept for me. I know what it means to “tell the truth,” but how does this relate to my story? Isn’t fiction a lie by definition?
Thanks to a long week of exploring, explaining, and defending my work, this concept has finally clicked in my brain. For the next two tips, I’m going to try to find a concrete way to explain it.
Part One: Digging for TRUTH
First, spend days, weeks, months, or years digging toward the REALISTIC core of your story. When you find it, expose it to the world through character and plot. Is the Truth taboo? Even more of a reason to expose it.
I explain best by example, and since I have intimate knowledge of my own work and the reactions to my work, I’ll use The Accidental Siren as an example. Siren is a story about a twelve-year-old siren named Mara Lynn. Mara is objectively the most beautiful girl in the world. James Parker is also twelve. He, like the rest of the world, has an unnatural attraction to Mara.
The idea for this story began as a simple “what if” concept: “What if there was a girl more beautiful than anyone in the world?”
If we stand on the surface of this idea, we might write a generic paranormal romance. But if we pursue Truth, we’ll find ourselves digging to the very essence of this concept. Essentially, we can find the Truth by asking ourselves, “What would ACTUALLY happen if a prepubescent boy met the prettiest girl alive?”
-dream about her.
-keep her for himself.
-feel bad for objectifying her.
–hate himself for objectifying her.
-lie for her.
-fight for her.
-kill for her?
-hit puberty sooner.
-ask friends about sex.
-read books about sex.
-experiment with his own sexuality.
-attempt to be different from other boys.
-find ways to prove he’s different from other boys.
-betray his friends for her affection.
-betray his family for her affection.
-betray himself for her affection.
-see her as unique.
-see her as supernatural.
-see her as God.
Hopefully this list helps to clarify what I mean by “digging.” If we stop after the first few layers, we are not telling the Truth, but rehashing clichéd stories.
Notice that the goal of this exercise was NOT to be provocative. I wasn’t looking to offend readers with this book. I just followed the Truth as far as a 28-year-old male from Michigan could. I drew from my past experiences as a twelve-year-old. Like all guys, I remember the experience. Unlike all guys, I’m willing to tell the Truth about it.
Stay tuned for:
Part Two: Identifying the Truth
I’m using my own story as an example. But are there any popular books, movies, or TV shows that you feel exemplify this concept?