Weekly Update – December 13, 2016

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins:  Audiobook recording in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: In the editing process, on-schedule for a winter/spring 2017 release.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: In the editing process, will be included as a bonus story with Power Play.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: First draft in progress. Got back to work on this over the weekend, and I’m now in the thick of the climax! Woo! I am hoping to get the first draft done by the end of the year, but book six already so close to completion I might put work on book seven aside for a while and focus on another project for the start of 2017.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: Rough plotting in progress

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

  • Friday, January 13 – Monday, January 16: Arisia 2017 in Boston, MA. J.M. Aucoin will be in the dealers room at table A18 selling and signing books and talking about writing.
My OtherWhere set-up, under the supervision of my dog Beatrix.
My OtherWhere set-up, under the supervision of my dog Beatrix.

MISC.

I had my final show of the year Saturday, the OtherWhere Market in Lowell. It was a nice way to end the year, especially in light of the excited young  lady whose mother bought for her the first two Action Figures books. She was absolutely thrilled to find a superhero novel featuring a young girl as the protagonist, so much so she was literally bouncing as he mom purchased the books. That was a great ego boost and great way to wrap my 2016 show season.

Weekly Update – December 6

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins:  Audiobook recording in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: In the editing process, on-schedule for a winter/spring 2017 release.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: In the editing process, will be included as a bonus story with Power Play.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: First draft in progress. Didn’t get anything done this past weekend because my wife and I were moving into a new place. On the upside, the routine of moving stuff between floors in the same building gave me plenty of time to figure out all the details of the climax.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: Rough plotting in progress

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

  • otherwhere-promoTHIS WEEKEND! Saturday, December 10: The OtherWhere Market at Mill No. 5 in Lowell. I will be there, sharing space with my wife. This will be Storied Threads‘ last show for the foreseeable future, so come visit and grab some great holiday gifts from us.
  • Friday, January 13 – Monday, January 16: Arisia 2017 in Boston, MA. J.M. Aucoin will be in the dealers room at table A18 selling and signing books and talking about writing.

MISC.

I’m talking to my cover artist Tricia for the front and back of Power Play. Going with a bold but simple concept for the front cover, but the back cover image might be the scene stealer.

 

Weekly Update – November 29

abs-displayI spent my Saturday at Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester, which hosted a small, low-yet, but fun Small Business Saturday event featuring local authors. There were readings, a lot of shop talk, and a few book sales, so I’d say a good time was had by all — certainly by me.

Thanks to Trisha Wooldridge, who put this event together, and fellow participants Jessie OlsonCameron GarriepyLisa Shea, Brian McKeown, and H.L. Dancler (in absentia).

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins:  Audiobook recording in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: In the editing process, on-schedule for a winter/spring 2017 release.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: In the editing process, will be included as a bonus story with Power Play.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: First draft in progress. Got a little more work done over the weekend, despite the chaos of the holiday. I might not get a lot done this weekend because my wife and I are moving (not far, just to a new unit in the same condo complex), but that only motivates me more to get the move done and over with ASAP.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: Rough plotting in progress

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

  • otherwhere-promoNEXT! Saturday, December 10: The OtherWhere Market at Mill No. 5 in Lowell. I will be there, sharing space with my wife. This will be Storied Threads‘ last show for the foreseeable future, so come visit and grab some great holiday gifts from us.
  • Friday, January 13 – Monday, January 16: Arisia 2017 in Boston, MA. J.M. Aucoin will be in the dealers room at table A18 selling and signing books and talking about writing.

MISC.

Speaking of Arisia, I received my panel assignments last week, and I am quite happy with my schedule. Here’s where and when you’ll be able to hear me yammer on about writerly things (plus each panel’s official description):

Writing Swordfights, Knives, and Hand-to-Hand Combat

Saturday, 2:30 PM in Otis

Violent encounters are a good way to up the tension in your story. Our panel of martial artists will not only explain the phases of combat, what goes through their mind prior to ‘going at it’, and what makes a realistic swordfight, knife-fight, stick-fighting or hand-to-hand encounter, but they will also demonstrate a few basic moves, answer questions, and help one lucky attendee work out the mechanics of their work-in-progress.

Getting Into Character

Sunday, 1 PM in Faneuil

From the way you walk, to the way you talk, getting into character is key to making your cosplay shine. Our panel of performance-minded costumers share with you their secrets for bringing their costume to life.

Writing a Worthy Adversary

Sunday, 8:30 PM in Douglas

Nothing brings a story to life like a worthy antagonist, but how do you figure out the yang for your protagonist’s yin? What is your villain’s backstory? What are some of the ways they can twist, torment, and temper your main character? And how can a good antagonist act as your protagonist’s mirror? Boo! Hiss! Come learn how to write bad guys your audience will love to hate.

Imaginary Friends: Crafting Memorable Characters

Monday, 10 AM in Marina 3

Even the most gripping plot will fail if you don’t have memorable characters. How do you create a sympathetic protagonist? How much backstory should you give them? How do you develop interesting supporting characters to accompany them on their journey? There are many ‘tricks’ you can use to flesh out characters, as well as ways to juggle multiple character viewpoints. Come learn how to write characters so realistic your audience will be talking about them long after they finish your story.

Weekly Update – November 22, 2016

I’m about to get a bit political here, so anyone who cares to respond I’ll tell you now: I welcome contrasting viewpoints and additional information, but if anyone goes off on a tangent or cannot keep their posts civil and based in verifiable fact, I won’t approve them.

As an independent author who relies on Amazon.com for the vast majority of my book sales, I am naturally concerned that the online retail giant has wound up on a list of businesses Americans are being urged to boycott because of its connections to our president-elect and his family.

What concerns me is why Amazon ended up on this list. It states that the company’s “business” with the Trumps is selling clothing and shoes with the family’s brand on it.

This, to me, seems like a bit of a reach. For starters, Amazon carries EVERYTHING. That it sells stuff with the Trump name attached is hardly surprising and doesn’t to me speak of a formal business partnership between the two entities in the same way Trump and Macy’s had a partnership — and note that I said “had,” because Macy’s dropped the Trump clothing line like a hot rock.

Now, could Amazon also purge all things Trump from its virtual shelves? It could, and there is precedent for Amazon removing items following a public outcry, but it wouldn’t necessarily be easy. A search of the site pulls up nearly 200,000 items with the Trump name attached to it in some way, from books to clothes to some amusing yet disturbing novelty items (the pen holder that allows you to insert your favorite writing implement in Trump’s ass, for example) — and only a tiny fraction of these items are in any way produced by a company with direct ties to the family, so it could take time to find and remove only those products. But I digress.

What I think is worth bearing in mind as you decide whether or not to participate in the boycott is that Trump and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos are NOT on friendly terms whatsoever.

The Motley Fool has a lengthy piece about the relationship between the men, and it does not paint a picture of two guys who like each other, much less do business with each other. Trump has chastised Bezos for buying the Washington Post, which was very critical of Trump throughout the campaign, and the president-elect has talked about using the power of the federal government to investigate alleged (or perhaps, imagined) anti-trust law violations by Amazon.

After the election, Bezos tweeted, “Congratulations to @realDonaldTrump. I for one give him my most open mind and wish him great success in his service to the country.” Some have interpreted that as at least tepid support for the candidate — Fortune.com called it a “neutral” response — and used it to fire up their anti-Amazon sentiments because it wasn’t outright condemnation.

I’ll make it clear here: I did not support Trump, at all, and still don’t, and I would be delighted if Bezos took a principled stand and purged Amazon of all its Trumpernalia, but I doubt it’s going to happen — not without a powerful display of opposition from the public (I’ll get to that in a minute).

So the question becomes: how do you, the consumer, respond to all this? How do you support indie authors who rely heavily on Amazon’s reach in the American and global marketplace without necessarily supporting Amazon itself?

Well, for starters, I’d say don’t just stop spending money on Amazon. What I mean by that is, a boycott doesn’t work simply because people stop supporting a business; it works because they let the business know in no uncertain terms that reasons X, Y, and Z and WHY they aren’t spending money there anymore. There needs to be context, so I’d say the first thing to do is go to that boycott list I provided, use the contact information to make your voice heard, and let Amazon know directly and explicitly why you don’t want to give them your money anymore.

I’ll also note that as a rule I do believe in boycotts as a protest tool, but they need to be constructive, productive, focused, and come with two expectations: you might cause unintended collateral damage in the process; and that the entity being boycotted might not accede to your message.

And if the latter happens here and Amazon doesn’t dump all things Trump, what do you do? How do you keep indie authors alive without going through Amazon?

Again, you’ll need to put in some effort here. A lot of authors use Amazon exclusively, but not all of them. There are numerous other retail outlets available to indie authors so you can check them out, and the best way to find them (aside from the almighty Google) is to hit up your favorite authors via their websites, blog, and social media platforms. They’ll be happy to hook you up. Some might even sell directly through their website, such as I do (he said in a shamelessly self-serving way).

I encourage everyone to follow their conscience, regardless of which path it takes you down. If you choose to avoid Amazon like the plague and buy through other retailers, great. If you decide that boycotting Amazon would only hurt indie authors and don’t want to punish them in the process of making a statement? Also great.

Regardless of whatever decision you make, make it an informed decision and make sure your actions are clear in purpose.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins:  Audiobook recording in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: In the editing process, on-schedule for a winter/spring 2017 release.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: In the editing process, will be included as a bonus story with Power Play.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: First draft in progress. Got a lot of work done on this over the weekend, so it’s safe to say I’m back on the Black End War groove.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: Rough plotting in progress

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

I hope to hear about my Arisia panel assignments soon. If I don’t at least get on the panel I suggested (about writing fight scenes) I’ll be rather unhappy.

Finally, I’ll say this again even though I’ve remarked on it recently, but it’s come up in some of the writing forums I belong to so I think it bears repeating.

If you’re an aspiring author on the hunt for a publisher, remember that money is supposed to flow toward the writer. If an outfit calls itself a publisher but requires you to pay for editing, formatting, distribution, promotions, cover art, etc., they are NOT a true publisher but a self-publishing platform. More specifically, they’re a vanity press — a self-publishing service that masquerades as a true publisher for the purpose of enticing writers to cough up significant sums of money for services that a legit traditional publisher is supposed to cover.

If you decide that’s the route you want to go because you need things like editing and cover art, that’s fine, but do your research first, because some vanity presses claim various rights to the author’s work, and losing control of your own novel is a nightmare you do not want to contend with.

Also bear in mind that many self-publishing platforms such as CreateSpace do charge for support services, but those services are purely optional. CreateSpace also doesn’t claim any rights to the author’s work.

Weekly Update – November 15, 2016

Another quiet week, but I’m back to a regular writing schedule this weekend. Woo!

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins:  Audiobook recording in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: In the editing process.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: In the editing process.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: The only movement here is that I think I have a decent subtitle. Unless something better strikes me, book eight will be known henceforth as Crawling from the Wreckage.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: Rough plotting in progress

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

After chatting with a friend last week about murder mysteries, I remembered a spec script I wrote several years ago for a WWII-era murder mystery show (A Star-Spangled Murder) and took it out to see if it was still any good. It was, which was a pleasant surprise. If anyone happens to be in the market for a short, three-act show with interactive elements for a small cast, contact me.

Final thought for the week, inspired by posts I’ve seen on other writers’ various social media outlets: it doesn’t matter how many Facebook followers you have, it doesn’t matter how many Twitter followers you have, it doesn’t matter how many newsletters you send out each week, it doesn’t matter how many books you crank out, it doesn’t matter how many likes or shares or retweets you get. Success isn’t all about raw numbers. Stop worrying about quantity and focus on quality.

Weekly Update – November 8, 2016

Kind of a quiet week this week.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins:  Audiobook recording in progress — and is in fact close to done! My narrator had a sudden attack of the ick just as she was getting ready to finish off her recording session and had to take some time to rest and recover her voice. After Jen is done I have to listen to her stuff, take notes on anything I’d like redone, send the notes to her, and give her time to re-record sections, so there is still a lot of process ahead, but we seem to be on-track for releasing this in time for the holidays.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: In the editing process.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: In the editing process.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Got some good work in on The Black End War over the past week. I had to put it away for a while to give myself time to lay out the second half of the story, but I have a solid game plan and I’m eager to get the ideas down on metaphorical paper.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: On the back burner for a while so I can focus on book seven. Still toying with subtitles but nothing’s jumping out at me.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Because I’m a bit of a workaholic, I’ve been working on some rough plotting for book nine, which will feature Dr. Enigma and the return of a couple of old enemies. I’m also planning to transplant a few subplots I’d originally set up for book eight into this story. The subplots in question did not really have time to develop in book eight so I’ll be using them here.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book three: Yep, I’m also doing some rough plotting on the next S&L book, which is currently going under the working title of Blades of Glory. Once I have first drafts of AF seven and eight out of the way I plan to get to work on this next.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Weekly Update – November 1, 2016

Happy NaNoWriMo!

National Novel Writing Month is underway as of today, and if you’re participating, best of luck to you and I hope you enjoy the experience.

NaNoWriMo

A lot of you will do this and never do anything with the finished product, which is okay. A lot of people do it for fun rather than as a first step toward becoming a published author, but if you’re hoping to parlay your work into success through traditional, small press, or indie publishing, I’d recommend you check out this piece I wrote last year about the considerable follow-up work you have ahead of you.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: In the editing process.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: In the editing process.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War and Action Figures – Issue Eight: The weekend was a loss due to the last weekend of the Connecticut Renaissance Faire (I was working for my wife) but I got a little work in Friday on The Black End War.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins:  Audiobook recording in progress

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

I hope everyone enjoyed my Halloween short Reverie Radio. It’s gone for now but I suspect it’ll be back in some form at some point.

Weekly Update – October 25, 2016

Halloween, the best holiday of the year, is next Monday! I mention this because I’m going to be posting something special that day, so check back then — or click on that handy button on the right to follow this blog and get the post delivered right to your e-mail inbox.

Next I’d like to remind everyone that the Young Adult Book Heist has one more week left to run, so if you haven’t already entered, go take care of that now! Head over to the Facebook page to learn how you could win a Kindle, free print and e-books — including copies of Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins — swag, and more, or go to the sign-up page now to enter.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: In the editing process.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: In the editing process.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War and Action Figures – Issue Eight: After focusing on book eight for so long, I jumped back to book seven this weekend. Book seven continues to be a challenge because I’m pushing out of my comfort zones a lot on this one so it was nice to make even a little bit of progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins:  Audiobook recording in progress

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

Speaking of the Annie’s Book Stop event, here’s a link to an interview I did to promote the day if you’d like to go check it out.

Weekly Update – October 18, 2016

The New Bedford Book Festival is done, and all in all it was a good event — well-organized and well-publicized, and there was decent traffic. If anything kept people away it was the weather — not because it was bad; just the opposite. Both days were sunny and cool, so folks might have been more inclined toward outdoor activities. Nevertheless, I did well enough there I’ve already penciled in the spring show.

I also talked to a lot of cool people, including an aspiring author or two who I hope keep going on their projects so perhaps one day I’ll see them on the other side of the table at a future show.

I’d also like to give a quick shout-out to fellow writers and Cape Codders K.R. Conway (Cruel Summer, the Undertow series) and Ray Bartlett (Sensets of Tulum), who I chatted with at the show. Hope to see you guys again at a future event!

Before I move on, I’d like to remind everyone that the Young Adult Book Heist is still going on and will be throughout October. Head over to the Facebook page to learn how you could win a Kindle, free print and e-books — including copies of Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins — swag, and more, or go to the sign-up page now to enter.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: In the editing process.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: In the editing process.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War and Action Figures – Issue Eight: Still in progress and I have a writing weekend coming up, so let’s see how much more I can get done.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins:  Audiobook recording in progress

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

The NBBF got me thinking about the ups and downs of doing any kind of show at which authors sell their wares, in part because it reminded me how bad some people are at it.

I mean that as a gentle criticism, speaking as someone who is an introvert at heart. I find interacting with complete strangers extremely uncomfortable and in daily life I try to avoid it. I’ve managed to get over that psychological hump well enough that I can function at shows, but there other elements that go into succeeding at book festivals, conventions, etc., beyond being personable and having a solid elevator pitch.

For any fellow authors who do or are thinking of doing shows, here’s a quick hit list of tips for making the most of them.

  1. Show up. I’m always amazed at how often someone never shows up or, more often, does the first day of a two-day event and, if it’s a bad sales day, never comes back. I understand that it’s frustrating to stand there for hours and never move a single book — I’ve been there — but you can’t make sales if you’re not there.
  2. On a similar note: stay the whole day. I see people packing up and leaving with a half-hour or an hour (or more) even when it’s a good sales day. As long as customers are there, the potential for sales is there. You can’t make sales if you’re not there.
  3. Stay at your table as much as possible. It’s always good to see what else is out there and chat up other authors (networking!), but if you’re constantly leaving your table to do something other than represent your work, you’re not there when someone wants to buy something.
  4. Look like you’re happy to be there, even if you’re not. No matter how bored or frustrated you are, suck it up and put on your game face. If you look like you don’t want to be approached, no one will approach you.
  5. Conversely, temper your enthusiasm. I was at a show this year and got stuck next to an author who would literally shout at passing attendees, “YOU! You like books! I have books! Come look at my books! Take one home with you!” It drove away more people than it brought in — and often before they even got near my table. Try and engaging people as a basic human being before you start trying to separate them from their cash.
  6. Don’t get distracted by your phone. When you’re sitting there mucking about on your phone, you look like you don’t want to be bothered (see Rule #3).

scotchyI could go on (and on and on), but as I write this it’s Sunday night, I’m tired, and there’s a bottle of Macallan calling out to me. Hold on, single malt bliss, I’ll be right there!

Weekly Update – October 11, 2016

nbbf-promo-imageThe final countdown to the New Bedford Book Festival has begun! I’ll be there both days and I’ll have copies of all of my books available for sale, so stop on by, say hello, and check out what other local indie authors have available.

Also, remember that the Young Adult Book Heist is in full swing through October. Head over to the Facebook page to learn how you could win a Kindle, free print and e-books — including copies of Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins — swag, and more, or go to the sign-up page now to enter.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: In the editing process.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: In the editing process.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War and Action Figures – Issue Eight: I got a lot done on books seven and eight during my week off from the Storied Threads studio.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins:  Audiobook recording in progress

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.