Tag Archives: writing

Let The Good Times Roll

(J.D McPherson reference!)

Well, I promised a big announcement in January.

First of all, I’ll note something that’s not really a surprise, it’s a question of simple math: I published Welcome to Newtonberg in 2012.  So 2017 is the fifth anniversary of that book.

Has it been a success?  Financially, no.  I mean, I’m certainly not out any money since it cost little to publish it. I did all of the file preparation, design, and editing myself (along with a small group of beta readers looking for both typographical errors and continuity problems).  But any profit to speak of is minimal.

However, I’ve always said the entire process was more about getting the books out there: getting the stories told.  And in that respect, it’s been successful.

But 2017 doesn’t just mark the fifth anniversary of Welcome to Newtonberg: it actually marks 25 years since I wrote the first Newtonberg story.  “A Tear for Billy” was written one afternoon in 1992 in the computer lab at Buffalo High School in Buffalo, Texas.  It was written on an old IBM PC Jr (remember those?) using whatever word processing program was available (it might have been WordStar, but I honestly can’t remember).

“A Tear for Billy” wasn’t a great story, but it established the town, and over twenty years later, it served as the springboard for All That Remains.  For these reasons, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for it, no matter how pretentious and horrible it may have been.

I can hear you saying to yourself now: “Great.  Wonderful.  What’s the announcement?”

There are two, really:

  • Announcement #1: In Fall 2017, I will release a special “25th/5th Anniversary Omnibus Edition” of The Road To Newtonberg, a one-volume collection of all three Newtonberg stories. While there won’t be sweeping changes to the content, I will take the opportunity to correct a few errors that I’ve found, clarify a few plot points, and set everything up for…
  • Announcement #2: I am currently outlining/researching my next book. I can’t promise it will be published in 2017 as well, but I’ll try my hardest.

    While not set in Newtonberg, it is connected: it involves Ray Murchison. Who is Ray Murchison? He’s Rick Murchison’s younger brother, and Stu Murchison’s father. I won’t give much away in terms of the plot, but let’s say it involves first love and a lot of 1980s pop culture references in the small town of Schaefer, Texas (about 75 miles from Newtonberg).

    (For those of you have been following this site for a while, you might remember a vampire book in the works at one point.  Turns out I don’t do supernatural well.  While getting the characters established for that book, I found out that the main character, Ray, didn’t really want to go fight vampires.  He had another story to tell — this is it.)

What’s that I just heard?  A collective sigh from readers silently complaining to themselves that they’ve already paid for three separate books and now I’m asking them to pay again for a one-volume edition?  Well, actually… no (and yes).

If you downloaded the eBooks, I will also be updating the eBook files on Amazon and SmashWords.  So you can go back to those sites, log into your account and download the latest version for free. (In fact, if you bought it from Amazon, you can log into your account and go to “Manage Your Content and Devices”. It will let you know there that an updated version is available.)

If you bought the physical books, I’m afraid I can’t offer free copies of those.  I will be updating the text files at CreateSpace so all subsequent printings will have the same corrections/updates that are in The Road to Newtonberg.  However, if you purchased the print books and want to read the corrected versions as eBooks, contact me through my email or Facebook and I’m sure we can work something out.

Still, if you are considering upgrading your collection to the one-volume edition (or if you only bought one or two of the books originally), I plan to offer the print version of The Road To Newtonberg at $14.99 retail, which is only $5 more than one book in the series on its own.  The eBook will likely be $3.99, which is only $1 more than Back to Newtonberg on its own, and $1 less than buying All That Remains and Back to Newtonberg individually (since Welcome to Newtonberg is always free for download from SmashWords)

So there you have it: my big announcement for 2017. To quote Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters (the original, good version from 1984 — not the remake):

“I love this plan! I’m excited to be a part of it! LET’S DO IT!”

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Filed under All That Remains, Back to Newtonberg, Notes from the Author, The Road to Newtonberg, Welcome to Newtonberg

Waiting For Such a Long Long Time

(World Party reference!)

When I last made a blog entry, I mentioned that I was “embarking on a new journey professionally.” That is true. I am doing something totally new to me, although it still involves helping people find the information they need.

While I learn the job, it is seriously cutting into my writing time. However, this is a sacrifice I believe I need to make right now for myself and my family. Once I know how to do the job right, and to the best of my ability, I will be able to get back to the work I am leaving unfinished for now.

For now.

I will get back to Newtonberg eventually. And as for that vampire book — well, they’re eternal, aren’t they? They’ll still be there when I need them, and vice-versa.

I’ll be back eventually. I promise.

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Liar, Liar

(Alexz Johnson reference!)

“Well, that’s it for this time. I promise it won’t take as long for the next update!”

Not quite, eh?

Not only haven’t I written a blog entry since then, I’ve barely written anything. This might not be the “Great Writer’s Block of 2005-2012”, but it’s definitely a dry time for me, idea-wise.

I am now embarking on a new journey professionally. I have left my library job of over twenty years and I don’t know what the future holds. Hopefully writing will keep me grounded. After all, my best friend is waiting for that vampire book she challenged me to write.

(The historical book I mentioned has been moved to the back burner for now. But it’s still simmering.)

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This Is What We Find

(Ian Dury and the Blockheads reference!)

Wow.  Has it really been three months since I posted?

Well, I haven’t been idle.  I have been challenged — sort of — to step outside my comfort zone and write a different sort of book.  So I am working on my first YA novel. Of course, I had to put my own spin on it. More details once I’m further into it and more sure of where it’s going.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to encourage said friend to get back into writing herself.  I think it’s working a little, since she posted a few questions on Facebook for her “writer friends”, asking about their writing habits, preferences, etc.  I decided I’d post my responses here for anyone interested.

CAVEAT: This is just “what works for me.”  Your mileage may vary. Find what works for you and go with it.

MY FRIEND’S ORIGINAL POST:

To all my writer friends out there, I’d like to be nosy & ask you all a few questions. Feel free to answer in as much or as little detail as you’d like via comments or even via private message. I’m not picky about what kind of writer you are either. Whether you write screenplays, novels, articles, blogs, or anything in between, I want to know your answers.

1. What tools do you use? Pen & paper. Word processor. Typewriter. Computer. You get the idea.
2. What is your process? Music on or off & if on, what kind of music? Do you outline first or just dive in.
3. Where do you feel the most productive? Home, work, Starbucks, etc.
4. Do you set goals for your writing? Daily, weekly, monthly, etc. And if you do, what is your ideal goal?
5. Do you ever participate in events like NaNoWriMo?
6. Do you belong to any kind of writers group or taking any classes on writing?
MY RESPONSE:
1. I will usually brainstorm with pen and paper, but I have a “Notes” file that I put it all into since I often can’t read my own handwriting if I go back to it later. I generally do my actual writing on a computer in Word.
2. Music definitely on. What it is depends on what I’m writing. (Sometimes where and when I’m writing affects this, too — see #4 below for particular writing situations.)
You can get an idea of some music I listen to on my blog under “Playlist”. Right now it’s a lot of 70s and 80s (or 80s-style). Stevie Nicks. Alice Cooper. Fleetwood Mac. Night Terrors of 1927.
Outlining doesn’t work for me. That “Notes” file I mentioned in #1 — I keep track of certain scenes I want to include and a general overall story arc, but outlining doesn’t allow your characters to take off and do what they want.
3. Anywhere I can put on my headphones and zone out. Honestly, I had one of my most productive nights this week in the lobby of the local Agricultural Extension Office while my sister was in a meeting.
4. No goals other than to write. The only time I keep a word count is if I have a preset word limit (like a magazine article). Failing to hit a word limit is still failure, and writing should be fun, not a guilt trip.
While I don’t put a goal, sometimes due to where and when I’m writing I have to put a time limit in place. When I write on my lunch hour at work I will sometimes listen to a particular CD because I know when it ends, I have to stop. Forever Changes by Love is just about 40 minutes long, so it was a good one for that situation.
5. Never done NaNoWriMo. It’s still a “word count” issue, you just have longer to do it.
6. I don’t belong to a writer’s group, although I know of a few local groups. I tend to write on my own, then get feedback from a few selected friends and family members.
“I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.”
Well, that’s it for this time. I promise it won’t take as long for the next update!

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No More Mr. Nice Guy

(Alice Cooper reference).

First, a warning: this entry will probably sound like sour grapes. But it’s not, honestly. It’s just me giving voice to my frustration because I feel that my book wasn’t given a fair shot.

Local ReviewA local magazine published their review of Back To Newtonberg. It wasn’t a good one. (The review is included on the right, but I will not reveal the name of the magazine.)

I’m not upset that the reviewer didn’t like the book. What I am upset about is that based on her review (in which she got the name of the book wrong for a start), she didn’t read it. Or if she did, she didn’t pay attention to what she was reading.

I don’t claim that the Newtonberg books are great literature. Although I admit the influences of Garrison Keillor and Jan Karon, I do not pretend that I am even near their league as an author.

But I do know that I told the story better than this review makes out.

The reviewer’s plot synopsis bears no similarity to the actual plot of my book. She says “most of the content centers around Madge and the mysterious document she had received…nothing clues the reader in about what the document is.”

Um… Madge is DEAD. Has been since book two. The reviewer even points this out in one of the later paragraphs. And the document is her story (which makes up the bulk of All That Remains) that MIKE received and is shared with Nikki. And furthermore, it is a very small part of this book. The manuscript is referred to briefly in the first few chapters and that’s it.

The whole tone of the piece is very condescending. Maybe she didn’t mean it to be taken in such a way, but I read “OF COURSE the people of Newtonberg embrace her whole-heartedly” and “The Good Father Nichols” as if being said in a very snarky manner.

Look, I understand that not everyone will like the books. And I take to heart her comments about adding depth to characters and developing the plot a bit more.

But please — make an effort to at least present the facts correctly. Even Roger Ebert gave a fair review of the content of films he hated. When he reviewed The Brown Bunny, he said he disliked the film, but at least his readers knew the basic plot when they finished reading his column.

Being that this review might be the only exposure some people in East Texas have to my book (not to mention Galveston — where I have found out these reviews are reprinted as part of their local magazine), I hate to think that what they are reading isn’t true.

Rant over. I’m off to plan my next book.

A little down, but not out by a long shot.

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Filed under All That Remains, Back to Newtonberg, Notes from the Author, Publicity