If you're new to the tour, then let me quickly explain it so you can get a feel for the enormity of the set. It goes a little something like this: an author is given a set list that pertains to his or her personal writing process. The questions are addressed on said author's blog, at the end of which he or she passes the baton to another author to do the same on their blog. In the intro, the author makes mention of who it was that handed the tour off to them. In my case, Douglas Dorow shot me a request seeing if I'd be interested in following his act. Of course I would. And here I am (thanks, Doug!). By the way, if you haven't read Doug's debut novel, The Ninth District, you should. Even one of my characters is reading it! Anyway, on to my part of the show!
WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
This is one of those questions I hate answering at picnics and awkward run-ins with people I haven't seen in a while. It must be the only thing they can think of to ask (if they even know I'm an author). Not that I mind talking about my projects. Far from it! The thing I hate about the question is the trying to answer it, knowing the person asking doesn't give two tiny farts what my new book is about. By the time I've reduced my story to a "this movie" meets "this movie" with a twist of "this book" staring "this character" from "this show", the person is usually giving me the smile and nod treatment while not so discreetly looking for a way of escape - (envision "I don't care! I don't care!" as they throw themselves awkwardly out a three story window). But, oh! when one of those few, sweet people comes along, that person who considers themselves an actual "fan" of your work, someone who has actually read you... Wow. Now that is a fun conversation indeed. And it is to those "fans", however few and far between, that I compose this leg of the tour (with hopes, of course, that someone new might be tempted to sample one of my stories).
Right now, I'm halfway through the sequel to my novel Progeny (click the title to view the trailer). It's taking longer than I would like, but that's my life right now. Between reading books on Special Forces unarmed combat, the history of the Navy Seals, browsing weapons encyclopedias, and unfolding this giant tourist map of Bermuda every time my characters have to go somewhere, I also have to write the book in the midst of life. And unlike those authors I envy, my writing is not my main source of income. Which means I have to work. Ugh. And I also have three kids, the oldest of which just started kindergarten and the youngest who is starting to take her first steps (ie. diving face first onto the floor). So...life is chaos. And sometimes in the whirlwind I get to settle into Remnant: Progeny Book II. Aw heck. Why not? I'm halfway through as I said, so I guess I'll just go ahead and reveal the artwork right here and now. So surprise for all you Progeny fans that have been waiting for a taste of what is to come!
Okay, where was I? Oh, yes. What am I working on? So that's one thing. I was in the middle of a sci-fi conspiracy mystery novel when I decided I just had to get the second Progeny installment done. I'm looking forward to finishing the sci-fi story though, as it's an idea that I've been putting off for over ten years. And thanks to Elysium and The Island and movies such as these, people will think I stole the concept from them, when in fact...I did not (and the first published version of Progeny was in 2005 - entitled Noahic - so no one can accuse me of stealing that idea from Lost either!).
It's hard to talk about Remnant without giving anything away for those who haven't yet read Progeny. What I will say is that this book brings some of the peripheral characters from Progeny into the forefront, and we get a very up close and personal look into each of their own stories. I hope that those of you who who enjoyed the first book will appreciate the darker, even more supernatural turn the sequel takes.
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN THE SAME GENRE?
That's a tough one to answer so I guess I'll just be honest. It doesn't. At all. Just kidding. Hmm... It depends, because my stories tend to cross genres. I have the aforementioned Progeny series that sort of meshes action/adventure into supernatural horror thriller, but the thing that probably sets it apart the most is the magnitude of research that is presented between the pages. There are very few novels that I've read that contain so much information, but if the topic is something that interests me, then those are the novels I buy and keep on my shelf, planning to refer back to them if ever I should feel the need. I wrote Progeny in that way, hoping that the facts would fascinate people as much as the story. Many people loved it because they found the subject matter interesting, while those who didn't care about pre-history, megalithic mysteries, the mind-boggling Giza ground plan, and the fact that Antarctica was once mapped when free of ice, complained that they wanted more character development. The Solomon Key was written in a similar way, both books colossal in terms of what went into them. Frankly, it was exhausting doing the research. And while I loved every second of it, time doesn't exactly allow me that luxury anymore. So that would be the primary thing that sets those two books apart from others in the genre.
With two of my latest writings, The Demon Signet and Remnant, I've adopted a peculiar method. My first draft I'll write in the style of your usual action/adventure stories. But then, in the second pass, I'll make sure I'm reading a Stephen King novel. Why? Because I love the way Stephen King gets into his characters' heads, the kind of off-beat way he makes the most absurd situation seem terrifyingly real by making his people real. You may not believe the story, but you believe the characters. That's something I don't see very much of in the action/adventure genre. Usually, the story is all about the scene and the chase. But I like to try and apply a Stephen King-ish veneer to those scenes (with apologies to Stephen, of course). It's not that I'm trying to emulate King's writing or even his style, but writing while I read him helps expand the scope of my story, forcing me to remember the people in my book and not just what they're doing. So whereas my first pass will have the action scenes, etc, I find my second draft expanding the characters, their inner thoughts, trying to make them relatable and realistic to the reader. I like to think of the effect (or at least the one I'm going for) as a Hollywood action movie shot in an indie sort of style. Something over the top and loud but filmed in the gritty, up in your face camera work that gives it that added sense of realism. So I would say, at least with my most recent action stories, that is one cognizant difference that I'm going for. I must say, however, that while I've gotten reviews like, "Unlike anything I've ever read before!" - reviews praising what would be the difference between my writing and those in the same genre (at least in the reviewer's mind), I've also gotten reviews like, "Tries too hard to be like so and so and doesn't pull it off." I've never read the so and so they're referring to, so proves they don't know what they're talking about. What I'm guessing they're really trying to say, however, is, "this book is too different from all the other ones I read. He tries to be like them but isn't." So I guess some people are looking for something original and others would prefer all their genre authors to stay in a nice little box they can continue to understand.
WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I WRITE?
Again, hard question to answer as it varies per story. The overall question would be, why do I write at all? The answer to that is simple. Because I have to. I can't help but to write. Writing is a way for me to make sense of my thoughts. In my head, concepts, scenes, characters, philosophies, scenarios...they're all tangled together in a big ball of twine (or like an extension cord, which was once explained to me by an electrician I used to work with as being one of life's axioms - no matter what you do, it will always end up twisted and tangled). Writing out my thoughts is how I find the loose end and unravel the whole mess, setting it out in an orderly, coherent fashion. As I said, I have to write, and while I've always liked to write, that need isn't what got me started. I remember writing stories on notebook paper when I was a kid, but my real passion was movies. I always wanted to direct a movie or be in a movie. Well, when I was 18, I found myself at a Bible college in California, not exactly on the road to Hollywood. I knew I'd never have hundreds of millions of dollars to produce a picture for the big screen, so I decided to write my own movie. And that turned into Noahic (please don't read that!) which ultimately turned into Progeny (read that instead!).
But the reason I wrote Noahic and the reason I wrote Progeny was very different. Whereas I wrote Noahic to take the place of those scenes in my head that I'd never see in the theater, I wrote Progeny because I needed to. And that's the difference between Progeny, The Solomon Key, and everything since. Those two books chose me. The subject matter so enthralled me and so consumed me, that I needed a way to flush it all out, to see it put down in a practical story setting.
So why do I write what I write? Depends which books you're talking about. Other than those two (or since those two), I write because I get an idea or a scene in my head that just builds a nest up there, continuing to grow until it's so annoying I have to do something about it - mainly move the creature out of my head and onto paper. There are a few nests going on in my head right now, and I have to force myself to be patient, knowing I will get to each of them in time.
And right now, I write for myself. I write what I think I would like to read. I know that can be exclusive, as certain subject matters that I deal with may not be for "everyone," but writing for a niche or a certain target audience wouldn't be enough to get me up at 5 in the morning (which usually proves futile anyway, since at least one of my kids seems capable of detecting the exact moment my feet hit the floor). Someday, when I have more time, I plan on writing a character series meant for a broader audience (because let's face it, not all thriller readers go for giants and fallen angels). But for now, I write what interests me and for those who share such interests.
HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?
Okay, this is where you have to realize that my "process" is not up to me at this point. You will read a lot of different authors who say to do this that and the other thing, and I totally agree with them. However, most of these authors have been blessed to write full time and don't have to spend two hours a day driving to and from work and then have three kids chasing them around the house screaming, "Carry me! Carry me! Carry me!" I mean, I can't even remember what year it was that I last slept straight through the night, so...forgive me, but my writing process at this point is what it is. I wish it wasn't, heaven knows I'd be done three more books by now, but hey, like I said, it's life (and for the record, I do love my kids...even more than sleep).
Instead of telling you how I manage to do things now, on planet Chaos, I'll tell you how I've done things in the past when I've had more time and solitude and then mix it with what I've learned since. First, I started out as a "seat of the pants" writer, or "make it up as you go." I stopped doing that for the most part because I hate rewriting, and I always had to spend more time rewriting those stories than I did writing them. It was too much work. And yet, I think the only story I truly outlined was A Man Overboard, and that was only because the story was complicated and I had to make sure it all made sense in the end. But even that was just going to be a short story about a guy that gets thrown off a cruise ship, stemming from what would be that terrible feeling of treading water in the middle of the ocean at night while watching the ship's lights fade in the distance. I had to get it out. And so that's what I started to do, and then the story kind of developed a life of its own. Once the life got too big, I had to sit back and outline it.
Now, for the most part, I have specific scenes in my head, and I write chapter to chapter until I get to those "bench mark" scenes. Sometimes I have no idea where the story will end up, I'm just trying to get to that scene. Once I'm there, I pick my head up and try to get my bearings, trying to spot another scene. Oh, there it is, and I put my head down and continue to go chapter to chapter until I get to that scene.
The best writing habit that I would endorse is to write every day, either for a certain amount of time or to hit a certain number of words. There was a time when I was out of work and I was able to do this. It's how I wrote The Demon Signet. I'd get up and go to Starbucks or the library and write for two or three hours or two or three thousands words every day. That way, the story remained fresh and I could spend my time writing forward rather than having to backtrack, trying to pick up my own trail again. Now when I write, sometimes there are days (even weeks) between when I get a chance to settle down with my laptop, and I spend half the time trying to remember what weapon so and so had, what he or she was wearing, etc. It's very annoying. Much better to keep your mind engaged with the story if possible.
I also used to write a chapter over and over until I thought it was close to perfect before moving on to the next. I hated starting a new chapter when I knew the last one wasn't finished. But that also hampers the progress of the story. So now I "plow" through. After my first pass, I'll go through it again, looking to apply those other coats of detail I mentioned before. Once my second is done, I'll print it out and go through it a third time with a pen. Then I'll make a kindle file and have my wife read it on the Kindle for me, making notes and highlighting. Once she's done that (and I make the one or two changes I agree with:) I send it off to the editor.
And that's my writing method.
Next up is Helen Hanson. Her techno-thrillers are Kindle best-sellers. The name of her site is "Geeky Thrillers for Nerds." CIA, mobsters, hackers... Not sold? You can sample the beginning of both our novels, A Man Overboard and 3 Lies in the free sampler, Mystery Thrills & Spills. And so the tour continues here. Hope you're having fun!
The world seems crazy. We got Ebola, Russia, Israel, Depression, Iraq, police states... Every time I turn on the radio it seems another component of apocalypse is assembled. Or maybe I'm overreacting. Probably. Maybe. Guess we'll see.
But that's not what this post is about. This is just to let the few of you out there know I'm still working hard to bring you the next chapter of the Progeny story. I'm almost halfway done. If you were one of the people who hoped to see more character development of the peripheral characters, then you should be happy with Remnant. It's shaping up to be a bit more supernatural and spooky than Progeny, and I hope you will enjoy that added aspect. It's still unclear whether the series will be three or four books. But I plan on releasing the cover art for Book II very soon.
In other news...
I'm putting a poll on the front page of my website asking whether people would rather next see a sequel to The Solomon Key (thus completing the Solomon Ring trilogy) or a sequel to A Man Overboard (thus possibly starting a character series), or whether they'd like a whole new story or a whole new series. Or if they'd like more creature novellas. Feel free to vote. And don't forget, you can grab the free mystery sampler on Amazon or the front page of this site. Thanks everyone. One last thing, if you haven't read Larry Enright's Walter Stickler novel, check it out. And Russel Blake's Upon A Pale Horse is also a killer read. Jeremy Robinson's Island 731 was a great beach read that I knocked out in a couple days, and I'm currently reading The 13th Hour by Richard Doetsch. I'll let you know how that is. Happy reading, ya' all.
I had to put down the sci-fi thriller I was working on. I just wasn't feeling it right now. What I was feeling was the urge to start on the Progeny sequel. So that's what I've done. Many of you have been asking about the sequel, and, well, here it comes!
What is the story?
That's top secret. No, not really, but without giving too much away for those who haven't read Progeny yet, the sequel will take place between the last chapter and the epilogue. It will focus on those left behind, leading up to the phone call that Progeny ended with. Book III will then pick up from that phone call.
There were more than a few reviews on Amazon wishing there had been more character development for the peripheral characters. Well, this is where we will get all that.
There were also some VERY angry reviews (that are kind of scary, actually - the vehemence and rage that some people have in their hearts over a story they probably didn't even pay for quite disturbing from a societal perspective) suggesting that I hate women. I'm still trying to understand those comments (not really). Some of them made absolutely no sense whatsoever. The women in the story, for those of you who haven't read it, find themselves as victims of unique circumstance. The story is as much about freeing them from those circumstances as it is our heroes trying to get home (I would destroy the credibility of such reviews here, but I cannot do so without giving away what happens in Book I for those who haven't read it yet). In any case, the sequel will feature some tough, complex female roles.
In Book I, I wasn't able to flush out some of my favorite characters simply because I did not have the space to do so. With all the information that was needed to establish the reality base for the story, I had to keep out certain things that I otherwise would have loved to include. And I know that this is the very reason some people didn't like Progeny - because there was too much information for them - but the book was not written for them. As I'm going through Progeny again, making notes for the sequel, I'm finding myself amazed all over again at the bizarre and unexplained information that I spent months and months researching for the story. The people who love the book are those who, like me, find themselves fascinated by the information, checking out the bibliography and Googling the facts presented. Obviously, those who couldn't care less about how in the world the pyramid complex was built (and when) would find all this information boring. But, like I said, Progeny is for those who find the topics intriguing. Like I do. Which is why I wrote it.
With that said, however, Book II will not contain as much information since our resident archaeologist will not be there to inform us of all that is strange when it comes to the mysteries in our world's past. This will be an action-packed, suspense thriller with giants, demons, and deep characters. There will be a mystery that is uncovered that will help propel the story into Book III, and there will even be a love story in there somewhere, but Book II will be built upon the foundation of facts that was presented in Book I.
I'm excited to revisit the island, to flush out some of the other characters, and to include some of the scenes and characters that didn't make the edit into Book I (and even some scenes from Noahic - the precursor to Progeny). The cover is being worked on right now, and I'm really excited about that, too. As to how long it will take me to write...I have no idea. The story should be more of a joy to work on and less of a project, but I have these three things here with me, crying, pooping, climbing into my lap, begging me to play with them...what are they? Oh, yes. Children (they don't all poop and cry - just the new one). And that other thing I have...called a job - which sucks (but I'm thankful I'm employed). And then there's the wife. Who says she supports my writing but can have a funny way of showing it sometimes:-) All things considered, hopefully it's sooner rather than later...so stay tuned. I'll post the cover art as soon as I have it.
Happy New Year, everyone!!! Hope you had a great holiday.
This novella was not planned. I had no idea I was going to write it. I mean, I had already started another book, for goodness sake.
But...I was in Cape May, sitting on the beach when these darn seagulls kept flying over to us, trying to steal food...or something. We didn't always have food with us. It was pretty annoying. I had to nap armed with a rolled up shirt in-hand so that whenever I felt the hovering presence about to land on my head, or a shadow fell across my face, I could snap it at the scavenger bird and send it away. I think I may have gotten one a couple times. One of my family members actually got nicked on the nose by one of their beaks, drawing blood! I've never seen seagulls act so aggressively annoying before.
So...as I watched all my fellow beachers fighting with these pesky birds, a story started to unfold in my mind. I had a notepad with me for my book already in progress, but I found myself instead writing out scenes inspired by what was happening around me. I thought that maybe it might turn into a short story, ten pages perhaps, but a month later, I had a whole novella.
And now, that novella is published and available for .99 cents on your Kindle (Nook soon) and under $5 in paperback. It's supposed to be a fun read, nothing deep or fancy, just a quick escape to the beach... So, if you're interested, there you have it.
Also, PROGENY will be on sale for .99 in the Kindle Store and for Nook from Dec 25 through Dec 27! Merry Christmas!!!
So I understand that it has been a LONG time since I've blogged about anything. It's hard enough for me to sit down and spew forth something that someone else might care about, but the last few months have been insane! But I won't drag you into my personal life - it's off limits anyway:-) But I will redouble my efforts at trying to remain somewhat relevant in this blog-eat-blog world of spotlight reflection, if only to let you know I'm still alive and that I have books I want you to buy. I mean read. Because I want you to read my books so bad, I have once again taken up the .99 cent approach. Unable to bribe my way into a promo spot for the next two months on the site that has brought me pretty much all of my success, I decided to get the jets going in the tide pool. I don't expect the crashing waves of a surging front to bring thousands of new readers to my shores, but if I can just get some nice rolling waves in the kiddie pool, then that would be okay for the next couple months. SO... For the first time, ALL four of my novels are now available for both Nook and Kindle (and paperback, of course). And for as long as I feel like it, they will be .99 each. I'm not going to try and talk you into getting them. In fact, I'd much rather you pay $5 for them. It's the difference between me getting about .33 and $3.33 each sale. A lot of people will have to buy my books at .99 for me to be able to hit all those other bills that just seem to slip out of my salary's reach every month, but hey... it's not really about that is it? I don't write to eat - though that would be amazing, and I'm tantalizingly close to attempting a sellout just to do so, but for now... I write because I have to. I publish because I want to share my stories with people like me, that like what I like, that might relate to some of the craziness in my head. Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there who are not like me (which is fine, diversity is holy) that decide to read my stories. The evidence of these misadventures can be found in all the one and two-star Amazon reviews. But don't read them. Please. Unless you're so unlike me and my readers that reading them will prevent you from spending .99 and writing a scathing review on how terrible a person I am. For the .33 I will get from your purchase, I'll gladly trade it for your silence! Where is this all going? I have no idea. I haven't done this since our free sampler was released! Which, by the way, is FREE. Check it out on the main page. People I am unworthy to be paired with deserve your readership (and hopefully you give my A Man Overboard a shot, too)!
I guess I'll let you go now after that long and grammatically negligent paragraph. First, however, I'll give you a little taste of what's to come.
A fan of mystery thrillers? Not sure which book to try next (I know, I know...your to read list is probably long enough to reach the moon already, but there's always room for more;)? So why not try a free sample of eight great stories? You can download Mysteries Thrills and Spills straight from here. Have a Kindle or a Kindle app? How about a Nook? Kobo? Something? Well, just click on the links below to download the file and jump into the first chapters of multiple intrigues.If you want to know how all these people are, visit the main page of my site and you can click on any of their names to be taken to their sites as well as the Amazon pages for their books.
The ebook is complete with book descriptions, blurbs, links to buy, authors' sites, etc.
Go ahead, take a look and help spread the word!
Download MOBI file for Kindle or
Download EPUB file for most anything else
Here's your chance to gift your Valentine (yeah, I know, I'm exploiting the holiday...but what else is it for?) three free novels! That's right! My mystery/thriller A MAN OVERBOARD, along with Doug Dorow's THE NINTH DISTRICT and John R Kess' ELLY'S GHOST will be listed as free in the Kindle store Feb 14th through the 16th. It would make a perfect gift for that special someone who enjoys mystery, action, and adventure. And of course, you can always get it for yourself:)
Check them out and read the reviews and stuff to see if they might float your boat (or that of your lover!), and then be sure to grab them on one of the free days. Click on the images below to be redirected to the Amazon pages. They will be free in all Kindle stores, so if you're in the UK or something, check your respective sites!
I'm guessing all you Select authors out there know exactly what I'm talking about when I mention a downside in listing your ebook for free. What is the downside? I imagine authors and publishers could argue back and forth over all the pros and cons that go with free distribution of a work, but there's one thing - one downside - that I notice every time I do a free giveaway.
The one star review.
Without fail, in the days proceeding thousands of free downloads, someone shows up on Amazon or Goodreads and slams that novel they got for free. Of course, they rarely disclose that they got the book for free. In fact, I had a reviewer once title their review, "A Waste of Money." Ha!
Anyway, after talking with other authors, I learned that this was just par for the course. If you were giving your book away, you could always count on a couple one-star reviews coming in shortly thereafter. Intrigued by this, I began checking out these angry one-star reviewers, peaking at their ratings, the other books they reviewed... Most of these people (that I found) have a helpful rating below 50%, and some of them have only reviewed a few books (or some stuffed animals). But aside from why a person who hated a book would spend more time writing a thesis on how much he or she hates the author and his or her work, there is one thing that I suspect to be the main contributor to this downside of free.
If I'm about to spend upward of five bucks on a story, I want to be as sure as I can be that I'm going to enjoy the book. That means I'm going to put a little effort into finding out about the novel before I buy it. And I think most people would do the same. If I see a book cover that catches my attention, I may check out the book description. Further intrigued, I check out the price. Five bucks. Hmmm... I'm gonna do a little more digging before parting with my bucks. I'm going to read the book reviews. I'm going to read some 5-star reviews to see who loved it and why. Then I'm going to read some 1-star reviews to see who hated it and why. Then I'm gonna try to find a 3-star review that may be more level-headed in their opinions. Once I've gathered this info, I'm sure I'll have a better feel for what to expect out of my purchase. Heck, I'll even try the product tags to see what kind of topics the story touches on... Once I do all this, I can rest assured that I'm making an informed purchase, thus increasing my chance of liking the book.
Because, let's face it, people are different. They like different things. What I enjoy, I know others hate, which means what some of what I write isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea either. But I'm also confident that those who share similar interests should enjoy my stories. That's the good thing about product tags and reviews, it gives the reader the opportunity to weed out the stories that deal with things they don't like and would rather pour bleach into their eyes than read about. That's the nature of the game. People will hate your work, people will love your work. Though why someone who hates your work feels the need to share that hate with the world is something that I find fascinating. When I read a book that I love, I want to share it with the world so that other people can experience the same joy I got from reading it. That's what motivates my book reviews, drawing attention to stories that I like. Why would I write a bad review for a book just because I didn't like it? What's the point? So people that would've never read the book to begin with (even if they had heard of it) can know how much I hated it? Why would I need everyone else to know what I hate so much? Why would I put time and energy into spiteful, hurtful, bitter reviews in an attempt to deter others from reading it - others that may never have even heard of the novel if not for my review? What good is my review (and the time it took to write it)? What purpose does it really serve? The good review I get. Completely. You're sharing a source of joy, of wonder, of happiness because you want other people to experience the same. "Hey, I heard this awesome song the other day. You should listen to it, I think you'd like it too." Rather than, "Hey, I listened to this song the other day...no, you probably never heard of it, but let me just tell you for the next half-hour how much I hated it and what I think of the idiot that wrote it."
I know I'm going on a rant here, but the psychology behind the reviewer is so interesting to me. Sure, there can be objective reviews about a book - ones in which the author doesn't know how to string a sentence together, but I'm talking about the reviews that slam a story because of the "message" the reader didn't like... Enter objective statements concerning subjective ideas and opinions...the ones that state the reviewer's opinion as THE fact and suggesting that any deviation from his or her belief is the product of intellectual depravity unfit for existence within their enlightened society. I know you've seen these reviews...the ones written from a deep and mysterious resentment. Indeed, some of these reviewers seem to believe the author has no right to write anything they won't agree with, when it's really the responsibility of the reader to find out ahead of time whether or not the story they're about to buy will offend them. If someone doesn't like erotica, then what sense does it make to buy erotica and then write a review trashing it for being erotica? Or if someone doesn't like religious fiction and buys a religious fiction book and then rants against it for being religious fiction...what sense does that make? For the most part, I think people understand this and respect the tools of discernment available to them. For example, my novel PROGENY could be considered religious fiction, though not to the extent that I believe most people will be turned off by its religious undertones (would anyone classify The Exorcist as being a religious story?). And indeed, I think the reviews bear that out. Are there some that hate every sentence within the book because of those religious implications? Of course, and they've made their objections loud and clear. But the fact is, if someone wants to buy Progeny, all it takes is two minutes of skimming some reviews to become fully aware that there are people enraged at the "religious" elements of the story. If a person is overly sensitive to religion or conspiracy or whatever, then those reviews should be a red flag for them, letting them know PROGENY is not for them. And so they move on. It would be nice, if these particular reviewers understood that their opinion on these things they don't like are just that - opinions. And thus if their reviews read, "I didn't like this..." Or "this wasn't my type of book..." okay, fine... But we all know that's not what I'm talking about. But I'm getting way off topic...
So what is one of the biggest contributors to the downside of free? Free. The fact that the download requires no commitment from the reader at all. They're not putting anything up for your free story. All they're doing is hitting a button. Because the story is free, there is no need to gauge the wisdom of the purchase. There is no purchase. Whereas spending 5 bucks will ensure that I know what I'm buying, a free book requires no such care. I can afford to download a book I'll hate. I'll take the chance because it doesn't cost me anything. Why read reviews? Why search the product tags? It's free, who cares? If I like it, great! If I hate it, well, then I'll go online and try and get as many people as possible to know how much I hate it! I'll try and ruin the book and its author for "tricking" me into reading something I wouldn't like. How dare an author have views that are not my own! How dare they list it for free and tempt me to read it! I want my money back...or rather, I want my time back! I can't believe I wasted all that time reading a free book that I hate! Who made me keep reading it anyway? The author must have made me finish the horrid thing! And now I must vent my frustration to the world and try to prevent anyone else (for everyone else must think as I do) from making the mistake that I made in downloading this free book that has views I find intolerable.
So...why do those one-star reviews pop up after free days? I think certain people download the book simply because it is free. They start reading it (and for some reason finish it) and discover elements within the story they weren't expecting (though what they were expecting from a free novel they didn't investigate is anyone's guess...). Making someone pay for a story is a sure way of making them really want it before buying it. Listing it for free is to invite people that really have no business reading your novel at all...people that don't like your genre and wouldn't normally pay two cents for it. They take a chance on it, which is fine. What I don't understand is why the chance ends up being a one-star review attacking the author and his or her work. For what purpose? On the other hand, there are many upsides to giving your book away for free. BECAUSE people are different (and if you're writing is good), chances are you will be bringing in many more fans than enemies. Most people won't finish a book they aren't enjoying and won't bother reviewing it. But there are those people out there that you're hoping to connect with...those people that, in taking a chance on a free book, will love it and come back for more. So all in all, I think it's well worth it. Ignore the one-star reviews, everyone knows what they are - which is why most of them get rated as unhelpful. If you read a book you like, share it with the world. We might like it too. If you read a book you hate...I don't think many of us really care.
I met Bill at a writer's conference, shortly after realizing that I'd had my eye on some of his books for over a decade. He taught a workshop and one of the main meetings. After hearing him speak, I thought to myself, "I gotta' meet this guy." I did, and I can't say enough about his personality - his acceptance, warmth, humor, and lack of ill-qualities you might expect from a "big shot." Bill was nothing if not graceful and genuinely interested in my "small potatoes" world (he's won 60 awards and sold over 8 million books and films), and it was great talking with him. He was very encouraging and has even kept in touch with me via email. He's become a rather large blessing to me, and so it's with great pleasure that I get to introduce you to him (if you haven't yet met him). He is a Christian author and so his titles are faith-based. But I hope that doesn't discourage anyone from meeting him here or checking out his work. He has a lot to say, and it's all worth hearing...for the "religious" and "non-religious" alike. So, without further ado...here's the interview. Feel free to leave feedback! (click the hyperlink to be taken to the interview).
At some point this past summer, before the football season started, I was typing out the last couple chapters of my recently released mystery thriller, A MAN OVERBOARD. The story's climax takes place (or rather took place now) on October 17th. So this scene that I was writing is on the evening of the 17th. My character walks down into his den and flips on SportsCenter. In writing this scene, I quickly checked the Monday Night Football schedule to see what the last football game would've been. Denver and San Diego. Hmm... Now, this was in the summer while all the talk about Peyton Manning was still one of the top stories every week. How was he going to perform? Would he be ready? Would he be a bust? I went out on a limb and made a prediction, though a prediction guarded and protected by creative license...so there was no real danger in getting it wrong. But in my little scene, my character, upon turning on the TV, becomes immediately inundated with more talk of "Peyton Manning's fourth quarter comeback against the Chargers."
On the 17th, which was two days ago now, I realized that it was the date of my book's climax and I began composing a tweet about it. I was halfway through the tweet when the realization struck me. I'd gotten it right. And not only right but dead right. In the months leading up to the game, I secretly imagined how great it would be to actually have my scenario come true, but figured that the chances were pretty slim. But I was looking forward to watching the game just to see. It'd be fun to watch if the game looked like it could swing that way. Well, I watched the first half of the game completely ignorant to what I was watching - that this was the game I'd been thinking about for the last three months. The Broncos were down 24-0 at halftime, and I popped in a movie. When the movie was over, I put the game back on just to see how it turned out. The game was still on and the Broncos were down 21-24. But there was enough time left, and I knew they were going to win. You don't shut a team out in the second half and score three touchdowns just to come up short. And so I watched the Broncos beat the Chargers in what was "one of the biggest regular-season comebacks in NFL history." Unfortunately, I wasn't enjoying it as much as I should have, because I was still completely clueless that this was the game - that game.
So I'm in the middle of my tweet, and it hits me. "Wait a sec!" I get up, run to my shelf, grab my proof copy of A MAN OVERBOARD and flip to the back of the book. And read my prediction with a smile on my face. "Nailed it!"
It's not very often you get to predict something like that. I guess it was kind of gutsy using a real NFL game rather than just making up some random fictitious match. But, then again, how many people would really have noticed either way? And now that the game is over and the book is out, most people will just read the scene in full appreciation of the SportsCenter commentary but completely unaware that it was written before Peyton Manning took his first snap in the regular season donning the orange and blue.
Hopefully, this NFL prediction is the only thing that comes true in the novel. Though the more I watch the news (which I can't really stomach anymore), I'm less and less optimistic that something akin to my fiction could show up on my TV screen one day soon. I mean, I just woke up to read the headline: "U.S. Congress introduces bill ordering FEMA to conduct 'mass fatality planning'" And I've already known about "Department of Homeland Security buying up enough ammo to wage seven-year war." You can click on the link, but as you'll see, the MarketWatch announcement is no longer there. But that would be 450 million rounds of .40 caliber hollow points acquired by an American domestic task force. That's almost two bullets for every man, woman and child in the US. Along with the ammunition (that isn't used for target practice or on the battlefield - the use of hollow points is a breach of the Geneva Convention), DHS has also acquired tens of millions of dollars worth of bullet-proof roadway checkpoint booths featuring level-3 bulletproof glass, and assault vehicles (I've also read that they're cabling off the shoulders of many roads, making it impossible to pull a U-turn...but that's just something that I read). Also, the U.S. government has purchased $400,000 worth of potassium iodide pills...the kind of pills you take to avoid damage to your thyroid in the wake of radioactive fallout. Put these recent developments in line with all the Continuity of Government legislation that's been passed over the last twelve years (some of it Bush wouldn't even let Congress see) and you begin to wonder... What is our government getting ready for? Zombie apocalypse? 12.21.12? Civil war? Martial Law? WWIII? But I digress... this post is about much more important things, like being able to predict comebacks on Monday Night Football!