Friday, July 27, 2012

Dead Stop : Coming in September

Welcome to the Textro Truck Stop…where they have hot food, hot coffee, and even hotter waitresses.

It’s a slow Friday night at the Textro, and business isn’t expected to pick up until the football game lets out in nearby Masonfield. Deke, backed up by his friend Harley, is here on a mission of romance. Rachel Sutherland has come to unwind from a bad day at the clinic. Thomas “Grandpa Tom” Burns and “Leaping” Larry Brown are dropping in for some diesel and coffee while, across the diner, Holly just wants to get her socially disastrous boyfriend, Gerald, home. Waitresses Stacey and Marisa are taking it easy, serving the few patrons while waiting for the game crowd to arrive.

But things are about to get busy in an unexpected and deadly way.

There is a storm coming in and the crowd that arrives with it isn’t from Masonfield…at least, not anymore. These surprise guests are from the nearby Mazon County Cemetery, and they have their own idea of what should be on the menu.

Now a dwindling collection of locals, waitresses, truckers, out-of-towners, and one astonished veterinarian find themselves in a desperate fight for survival against a foe they thought only existed in the movies. And as the night wears on they discover that if they don’t escape by dawn, they may not escape…ever.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Day at the Lake

I have now uploaded Dead Stop to Createspace, and my first author's proof has been shipped. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, but this step really helps in that process. Having my novel in book form makes catching errors that made it through the early phases of editing really stand out for me. I really recommend that other indie writers use Createspace just for this reason alone. But anyway, while I wait for the proof, I've given my brain a couple days off from writing and editing. Instead I'm just using the time to kind of cogitate and let the lessons of this latest project sink in.

My family and I joined some friends for an outing to Double Lake in Sam Houston National Forest. Unable to frolic in the water with the others, I amused myself by doing some photography. After all, one of those lessons I'm letting sink in is that if you're going to do your own covers, you're either going to spend money on cover art and licenses to photos, or you need to build up your own library of photographs for future use. So everybody had a good time swimming, fishing, and me doing photography.

I also kind of toyed with some story concepts that were inspired by my new surroundings. I have definitely got to get out more, because of that very inspiration. It's too easy for a writer to become a hermit, especially if that writer has mobility issues and kids. I'm gonna have to work on that. Hermits make better philosophers than fiction writers. And photography would probably be a good reason to do it. It's creative, inspiring, and only as physically demanding as you make it.

Photography = Good
Lazy Hermit = Bad

Gonna work on that.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Few Random Thoughts and Plans

As I struggle forward in the editing and cover art for Dead Stop, I realize how fortuitous it was that I managed to finish the rough draft before the kids got out of school for the summer. I'm considering the idea of doing nothing but writing during the school year, and setting projects aside once they reach rough draft status. Then I'll do all the editing during the summer when the kids are home and disrupting the kind of concentration I require for writing. It might work better for a guy with my abilities and weaknesses.

I've been approaching being an indie writer, and Dead Stop, in a sort of 'renaissance man' fashion. The idea of being completely responsible for the book, from one end of the process to the other, has a certain appeal. It has been, and still is, a real challenge. While my intent is to ultimately be able to do everything, I do now accept that there will be times that what I want is simply beyond my skills. So places to go for professional editing and cover art have been bookmarked...and all suggestions for such have been very welcome. (Thanks Alva, you also taught me something with the comment about 300 dpi. I didn't know that.)

One definite future use I will have for a professional artist is going to be the already published Shades anthology. I think it lends itself to internal illustrations and would definitely benefit from them. Just because a work is published doesn't mean it can't be improved. I think one or two black and white illustrations per story by a competent artist would be perfect. So that's something that is on my "someday list".

One another note, on the CMT front. As the disease progresses in my hands, I'm starting to have a problem with my little finger not going to the correct keys. It's just the one on my right hand so far, but I know it's something that I'm going to have to compensate for someday in the future. It doesn't worry me all that much, because ultimately typing is something you can do with two fingers if you have to. But it is something I need to start keeping a sharper eye out for when closer attention to quote marks, periods and commas, and brackets.

Oh well, that's it for now. Time to get back to rearing children and editing.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The People Have Spoken

I remember once telling a friend that when "everybody" was telling you not to do something, that maybe it was time to stop and at least consider the possibility that "everybody" might be on to something.

With that in mind, I kind of understand how that person felt because sometimes you're just not wanting to hear what a bunch of different people are telling you. In this case, after several eager presentations of the first candidate for cover art to a bunch of different people, the consensus is in. Everybody pretty much likes what I've done with the title, and the blurb at the top, but that the picture itself has just got to go.

And I listened, and I can see their point of view. I didn't want to...heck, I had a cover that wasn't terrible and it hadn't cost me anything. But sometimes you just have to admit that "not terrible" isn't the same thing as good. And this story deserves "good".

So, as I look over the second draft and consider some tweaks here and there, I'm also going to back up and reconsider my options for cover art. The story itself has a couple of scenes that would make a great cover, but that would be way outside my skills as a cover maker. So to go with those ideas would require a pro...which is likely not in the budget but I will do a little research in that area.

Another approach is to try and come up with something that is strong but graphically simple that conveys the tone and story of the book. Not easy, but I will definitely be exploring that option as well. I just don't think this is the type of book that would be served well by a blank cover of some color with nothing but the title and my name on it.

Sigh! Welcome to one of the dilemmas of an indie author. You see? Publishers, even small publishers, DO do things. It's just a different path among many.

Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Update: Alrighty then! Lets look at Cover Candidate Number Two!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Progress Continues

So progress continues.

The Dead Stop manuscript was officially upgraded to second draft this morning. For me, that's a big step towards finished since I do tons of revisions in each draft. I'm now at the point where I'll just be evaluating the use of passive voice, the way sentences flow and if the different paragraphs and scenes have the rhythm I want, and basically polish.

I've been working on cover art too.

Above is the latest upgrade in the current theme I have going. I intend to explore a couple of other cover ideas, but decided to keep polishing this one until I got the correct photos and elements for the others. In the process, i'm learning more about my photo editor. All this learning is going to give my poor old brain a cramp. And I still have so much to learn.

Now I'll have to start turning attention towards marketing as well. I want to give this book a decent start, so I'm going to have to come up with some strategies for that. Oh, work, work, study, study, study...