Thursday, November 1, 2012

Redemption on the River - Three Reviews

I've been submitting Redemption on the River to book review sites.  It's a rather painful process and the lead times are long, but the results are starting to come in.  Here are the three latest:

Review at Literary R&R

Review at A Bookish Affair

Review at Book Him Danno

I particularly like the review at A Bookish Affair.  The reviewer stated that she didn't like Silas (the protagonist) at times, and at certain points she cried "Nooooooo" and thrust her fist in the air, causing her cat and husband to look at her askance.

First, I figure it's a good thing if a reader is moved to shout "No!" out loud at the book she is reading, even if is "No" rather than  "Yes!".  The reader must really be engaged with the characters to burst out like that.

Second, I have to admit that, at times, Silas isn't very likable.  To put it in modern parlance, he can be a butthead.  He isn't perfect (who wants a perfect hero?) and he is very much his own character.  Some, actually many, of the things he does I hadn't planned for him.

He developed a mind of his own, did what he wanted to do rather than what I wanted him to, and I like to think that the book is better for it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Redemption on the River Genesis Picture

Throughout the (ahem) five-year process of writing Redemption on the River, I kept throwing old drafts and various other pieces of detritus into a dark, obscure corner of my office.  Today I dragged it all out and took a picture:

The pile represents the 12 drafts of the book, review copies from beta readers, notebooks, moleskins, the loose-leaf manuscript returned from my editor covered in red, her 76 page report, the laptop that I killed in the process, the replacement laptop on which I finished it up, and the desktop in my office.

In other news, the book recently received its first review from a dedicated book review site.  Link to the review on Romantic Historical Lovers.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Paperback is Out and It's Promotion Time

The paperback of Redemption on the River is now available through Amazon.  I must admit that it is remarkably satisfying to hold the physical book in your hand and riffle the pages.  Also, it's a bit surrealistic to leaf through it and see the words that you are so intimately familiar with looking up at you from the black and white.

Now it's time to get exposure for the book.  (Why does that always conjure up a mental image of a barefoot, bare-legged man in an old raincoat?)  Another word for it is promotion, which also has a somewhat negative connotation to me—it brings to mind street corner hawkers of strip shows in Las Vegas.

Our initial sales push to friends & family has about run gone well, but one only has so many of those.  (And, THANK YOU, friends and family!).  From now on the book has to make its own way out there in the wild.  I've been submitting it to as many book review sites and blogs as I can manage, and I'll continue to do so.  I'll also submit it for contests, spread the word around the workplace, and hand out Redemption on the River business cards/bookmarks.

Reviews and mentions by folks who have read the book are still the best ways to help out.  These breakdown into two broad categories:  Point of sale and general exposure.

Point of sale reviews are at places like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBookstore, etc.  These are very valuable, of course, once people get to that page, because favorable reviews will help them to decide to push the "Buy" button.  But, as important as they are, point of sale reviews don't do much good unless people are finding the book's page in the first place.

That's where general exposure (promotion) comes in—people have to find out about the book before they ever can decide to go check it out on Amazon.  Reviews on Goodreads, Shelfari, etc,  mentions/plugs on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, emails to friends/family, and good old-fashioned word of mouth recommendations of a good book to read are the things that will get exposure for Redemption on the River.

Sorry if I've gotten a little evangelical on you.  I've written what I believe is a good book, and I would like to see it reach a wider audience.  If you agree, I'd sure appreciate assistance.  If you have any ideas regarding ways to spread the word I'd love to hear them.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Paperback is Very, Very Close

     And I mean that literally.  Redemption on the River's first two proofs from Createspace are scheduled to arrive tomorrow.  If there is no problem with them (knock on wood) I should be able to activate the listing on Amazon to offer the physical, hold-it-in-your-hands-and-turn-the-pages, book for sale that night.

     It's another milestone.  When I started the entire write-a-novel project I told myself, and anyone who cared to listen, that if the result wasn't good enough to seek publication then I wouldn't do so.  Furthermore, if I did seek publication and didn't achieve it, then I wasn't going to be one of those authors who paid a vanity press to print 500 copies, then inflicted 23 of them on friends and family, and the balance sat in boxes in the attic for the rest of time.

    Things have changed drastically in the publishing industry since I wrote the first words of RotR down.  First—ahem —I did decide that the novel was worth publishing.  Second, I realized that I had a snowball's chance in a very hot place of being traditionally published, which might be the subject of another post on another day.  Third, very often, and certainly in my case, independently publishing one's book via digital files and Print On Demand (POD) services is much the better business decision.

     There have been many milestones in the course of this project—completing the first draft, printing a draft (the 4th) for the first time, getting the feedback of the first beta readers (they were honest, just as I asked, ouch), etc, and another significant milestone is 24 hours away—holding the physical book in my hands.

    I never really expected that to happen, and it didn't have to happen to accomplish my goal, but I'm pretty sure it's going to feel good.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Redemption on the River is Published!

Yesterday, July 16th, 2012, was the big day. Approximately five years after I made the decision to make my best effort at writing a novel I filled out some fields, uploaded it to Amazon, pressed a button, and published my book. 

My primary goal was to write the best novel I could and I've done that. Whether it's any good is up to the readers, if any, to decide, but it's the best I can do, for now. The entire publishing industry has changed in ways I could never have guessed when I started on the first blank sheet of paper (or screen, actually). I told myself I wouldn't seek publication unless I thought the book was worthy of it, and if I did seek publication (via what's now referred to as traditional publishing) I wouldn't turn to a vanity press just to see it in print.

 But, the times they are a'changin', and for a ton of reasons all of which are too numerous to discuss now I decided that going the independent e-publishing route was best for me and my book. Which means, of course, that in my humble opinion I've written a pretty decent novel, and I can offer it to the world without embarrassment. I hope readers enjoy it.

 The blurb:

 "Silas Jacobson pulled a trigger, killed his father, and ended up months later face down in Memphis mud, trying to forget the girl who betrayed him. Silas buries his father on the farm, his guilt in himself and leaves home seeking to forget past mistakes. He travels on Mississippi steamboats and meets his best friend in a brawl, his worst enemy in a cathouse, and a mentor and lover at a New Orleans faro table.

 Fighting, fornicating, and cheating at cards are a grand time, but there's another woman, a girl on a mission of her own, who saves his life and offers the opportunity to redeem himself. Silas staggers out of the mud to go to her, but he finds that she's deceived him from the start. He'll risk his neck for her—he owes her that much—but love is no longer possible. His shot at redemption comes down to his conscience, the two women, a poker game, and the turn of a card. Redemption on the River is historical fiction set along the Mississippi River in 1848."

  The book is available in e-reader format right now at Amazon and Kobo. It should be up on Barnes & Noble very soon, at Apple's iBook store within a week, and the paperback should be available in a week or two.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Redemption on the River - Very, Very Close

The manuscript of Redemption on the River now stands at version 12.5.  It has now been through two complete proof readings (by Red Adept Publishing) and I've been through it myself twice more since 12.0 was printed.  The current hard copy in my hands is 12.4.

The book's cover artist (Scarlet Rugers) just submitted a concept that I really like, and so the cover might be ready to go before too much longer.

I'm not going to make the date scheduled by the book's formatter (52 Novels), but I warned them that I was somewhat at the mercy of proofers and cover designers, and I believe they'll understand.

Right now, looking at my schedule, I really, truly believe that I'll return from my four day trip on the 30th with the book done-done-done.  What I mean by that is that the manuscript will be frozen, finished, as well as the book cover, and I'll forward the files to 52 Novels.  Then, depending on their turnaround time, it should be uploaded to Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc, and released to sink or swim on its own merits.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

12th and Final Draft Exists

I've been working hard on Redemption on the River and it's very, very close to being finished.

Laurie the Editor worked on the 10th draft.  As previously reported, it took a while to digest her detailed edits on the manuscript itself as well as her 75 page overall report.  I finally got my act together, sat down, and managed to produce the 11th draft.  Many deep breaths were taken.

When I looked at the 11th, overall I was very pleased.  The book was much, much improved.  However comma I was unhappy with chapters 1 and 2.  They were rather abrupt, choppy, and didn't sound like me.  I didn't like them.  Not a good thing.

So, after another period of rest, reflection, and recharging, I did another rewrite of RotR.  There were no significant changes to chapters 3-23, which I'm happy with, but I sat down with some new ideas and a clean sheet of paper for chapter 1, and wrote until it melded into the existing structure.  I'm pleased with the results, the flow is much better, and I believe it addresses and incorporates things that Laurie brought up in her edit of the 10th draft.

So, I'm nearly done.  The book, for the first time, feels finished.  I'm going through the 12th draft with a red pen and it's 99.4% simply proofreading now.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Last Big Rewrite Underway

Back in December I received Laurie's edit of Redemption on the River.  (Her services are not cheap, but are worth every penny.)  She had some nice things to say about RotR, complimented me on my overall authorial skills, and then went to great lengths in pointing out areas that need improvement.

Her edit encompassed everything from niggling little punctuation corrections to big picture, this-doesn't-quite-work observations.  I concurred with 85% of what she said, and over the course of the past few months have corresponded with her to ask follow-up questions, request clarification of some points, and run new ideas past her.

It has taken quite a while to wrap my head around everything, make major decisions about how to proceed, and regain my motivation to sit down and power through another rewrite.  My motivation is back, however, and I'm becoming increasingly jealous of time not spent on the novel.

Some of the changes are tough, though, and although nothing is really set in stone it sometimes feels like it after ten drafts.  At least one minor character is going away, others are changing, and some scenes are being outright deleted.  The most startling effect so far is that the protagonist, Silas, someone I thought I knew through and through, is changing too.

 His change is subtle, not big, and it's because of some little changes in the beginning.  It's like the initial placement of the starting dominos have been adjusted slightly, and as a result they fall in different patterns, and the differences get bigger the further from the start they fall.

Interesting stuff.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book Review - Empire of the Summer Moon

     A fascinating historical account of  the brief southern plains empire of the Comanche Indians, which dated from their mastery of the newly arrived horse to their final defeat by the US Army.  Their superb horsemanship and cavalry skills enabled them to conquer and hold the biggest, choicest portion of the southern buffalo range against rival Indian nations, then beat back successive waves of invaders in the form of Spaniards, Mexicans, and Texans.  They then largely held off the Americans for approximately thirty years before succumbing.  The final chapters revolve around Quanah Parker, the son of famous white captive Cynthia Ann Parker, who was a renowned young war chief among the last Comanche holdout bands, before he adopted many of the white man's ways while looking out for Comanche interests.

      Highly recommended.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Review - The Bullpen Gospels

Career minor league pitcher Dirk Hayhurst chronicles another minor league season with a mixture of humor, insight, hope, and near despair.  From beginning the season on the floor of his grandmother’s house to the last game many, many bus trips later, he gives an indelible account of players, coaches, and fans in the bush leagues.
Hayhurst doesn’t go too deeply into baseball minutia but spends much more time on the human stories around him, including his own troubled family.  The Bullpen Gospels is highly recommended.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Long Time No Blog

Yes, despite the best of my varying intentions it has been LTNB.  There are a number of reasons for that, but the biggest is that my editor returned her critique of Redemption on the River.

No, it's not that bad.

In fact, Laurie had many good things to say about my writing and the novel, and she's not one to mince words.  Also, I agree with 85% of her inputs.  The other 15% may simply fall under the headings of differences of opinion and author's pivilege.

Furthermore, for the small and medium-sized problems she pointed out I can immediately see what to do about them.  I'll be reading her report, see & agree with what she points out about, say, a particular scene, and I'll think, "Yes, your right, and I know just how to fix it!"

However, COMMA, she has pointed out two big things that should be fixed and I have been unable to come up with fixes.

As I said in correspondence with her, in order to fix them I run into the principle of Grandfather's Axe, which poses a question.  If I say I have my grandfather's axe, and that my father replaced the handle and I replaced the head, do I in fact have my grandfather's axe?  I say no.

So, whatever type of change that I come up with or has been suggested to fix the Two Big Problems (TBP's), it always feels like Grandfather's Axe.  Major changes are contemplated, and the result—in my mind—is that it becomes another book, not Redemption on the River.  I might as well just change the character names, but RotR on the back shelf, and start a new story.

What to do?