Sunday, January 27, 2013

Frame by Frame


It has been a very productive week.  Now that I have all the edits completed on Zegin's Infection, I went back and applied what I learned from Debra and did revisions to "The Wings of Leonardo" (WOL), "Invis", and "Jezi's Delima".  I received a rejection of WOL from Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show (Whew, what a title!)  So, I just turned it aournd and I submitted WOL to Escape Pod in the hopes it will get picked up for their podcast magazine.  Escape Pod is pretty cool.  They turn the stories into spoken podcasts for their subscribers to listen to.  I think it's a great idea and I'm actually pretty excited about the prospect of having WOL as a narration.  I also submitted "Invis" to Kasma SF Magazine.  I figure I'm paying my dues for having it so easy in the non-fiction market.

   Non-Fiction : 42 articles, 3 manuals, 2 Books - only 2 rejections
   Fiction : 14 rejections & no sales yet

What a difference!  But it is a totally different market and industry.  Basically, it's as if I'm starting as a brand new writer.  However, I do know that eventually I will sell something.  One of my goals is to not just get a sale but to be able to meet the criteria for joining SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America).  One sale will make me eligible for an Associate Membership.  Three sales of short stories or one novel will make me eligible as an Active Member.

Frames of Art

Sean Hill has been making great progress on the cover for Zegin's Infection.  He's been a pleasure to work with.  I really appreciate that he's willing to ask for and receive feedback about the art.

This is the first concept drawing that Sean provided to me.  To get to this point I provided Sean with a copy of the story and a small sample of the type of art that I was looking for.

(BTW: All of these pictures are Copyright (c) 2013, Sean Hill.  Please do not copy and/or distribute without written permission from Sean.)

The next piece that I received from Sean shows a significant amount of work.  This provided me with a view of the textures that he was using and content of the spaceship loading dock.  However, I felt that some of the perspective angles were not quite right and I provided some feedback to him by overlaying the red lines (from SnagIt).  Turns out he was already aware of the issues with the perception lines and had started on fixing those.
As can be seen in this next piece, the perception lines have been fixed and Sean is beginning to do more work on the interior of the spaceship.

When I received this next piece I had a "Oh, wow!" moment.  I love what Sean is doing with the textures.  I provided some feedback about the light sources and the hovering d-rack behind Zegin.

While Sean is not done with the cover art yet, I wanted to at least give a glimpse of the process.  One of the things that was hammered into us writers at the Edmonds Write On the Sound conference, is the need to have professional and quality editing and art for anything targeted for the eBook market.

It has become so easy for anyone with a story idea and a computer to just throw something together and throw it up on Amazon with the expectation that it's going to become a huge success.  However, the truth is that a lot of "junk" writing is appearing on the market with poor grammar, inconsistent story lines, and clip art covers.  The author might get some sales initially.  But sadly, as we all know, first impressions are the most important and the sales dry up.

Personally, I think it's great that writers now have a new medium for expression.  And with quality work, it is very possible to get to market in the span of a few months instead of the traditional 12 to 24 months for printed media.

I'm far from being an expert in this side of the fiction industry.  I'm learning as I go along.  And I'm hoping that this preliminary work, time, and investment will pay off.  I don't plan on breaking even with Zegin's Infection.  But I do plan on using it to introduce myself to the market.  If all goes well, more Zegin stories will follow (2nd is in the works), the audience will grow, and readers will find as much enjoyment in reading my stories as I have found in creating them.

Social Media Progress

Here are my latest statistics for this past week:

Klout Score: 48 (+2) Page Loads for the past month: 1041 (+125)
Twitter Followers: 761 (+148)
G+ Peeps Following: 218 (+9)

Great progress, especially with Twitter.  My goal is to have 1k+ followers by the time Zegin's Infection is ready for release.

I really appreciate the follows and I hope I'm providing a good forum and example of how someone can get published in the fiction market with some time and effort.

I'm Reading

Part of being a good writer is being a good reader.  If you're not spending time reading then you're not going to be able to be a good writer.  Plain and simple - fact of life.

I just completed "7th Sigma" by Steven Gould.  It was a good read and I enjoyed it.  But it did take me a bit of time to get wrapped up in it.  I would recommend it if you're a hard core Steven Gould fan.

Currently reading:
  • Impulse by Steven Gould
  • The Double Bubble Murders by Azalia Yadinah-Parker (a very entertaining short story well worth the price).
  • Write Good or Die by multiple authors and edited by Scott Nicholson.  Currently free and I highly recommend it.
 In the queue:
  • APE How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki & Shawn Welch
  • Master-Mind by Maria Konnikova (How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes)
  • Collapse by Richard Stephenson.  Proof that Twitter works.  I discovered this writer on Twitter.

Whew!  My short post became a lot longer than I anticipated.  Thanks for reading and feel free to drop me a line here, on Twitter, or on Google Plus to let me know if you're enjoying the posts.

Keep on reading.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What a Character!

The nice thing about writing a series of stories is that I don't have to let go of the lead character.  After all, he is a little bit like me.  At least on the geeky side.  Dr. Doyle provided a nice complement in her critique of "Zegin's Infection":

It moves fast, it's heading in a definite direction rather than wandering around all over the place, and it focuses on a competent character working in his area of expertise, which is always a plus when you're thinking about the core audience for science fiction. It's been observed, more than once, that science fiction fans have a serious "competence kink" -- they are far more likely to sympathize with competent characters who can rise to an occasion than they are with ordinary or less-than-competent characters. 

Then she proceeded to let me know what I needed to fix. ;)  But I really appreciated what she said about the main character.  Zegin is an expert at what he does - starship diagnostics.  Think of a futuristic MacGyver who knows how to program computers, minus the bad haircut.

It has to be a fine balance though.  If the character is too strong then the readers loose the ability to relate to him (or her).  Which is why the lead has to have a "achlles heel" - something that they are struggling with.  Superman has kryptonite, Batman has his internal dark thinking, and Zegin is a bit sensitive and worries too much.  But when there's trouble he's always willing to jump into the fray.

My only concern with the Zegin stories is the level of geek speak.  At times the story will get a little technical.  I try to counteract this with dialog as Zegin tries to convey his technical actions.  Early readers have stated that it does get a little geeky but that they were able to stay involved with the story.  I guess I'll find out once the first story is released.

Making Progress

It has been a good week.  I completed the revision of Zegin's Infection from Debra's edit and critique.  I'm very pleased with the end result.  It has a smoother flow.  And the additional content helps to provide more of a background story and will lead to some interesting stories in the series.  

The next steps are to wait for Sean to finish the cover art, get the title placed on the cover, and then get it formatted for Amazon.  And to finish up the writing on "Zegin's Abduction" - the next story.

Stats for this past week are:

Klout Score: 46 (+1) Page Loads for the past month: 916 (-38)
Twitter Followers: 613 (+112)
G+ Peeps Following: 209 (+10) 

My goal for Twitter is to have 1k followers by the time I release Zegin's Infection to Amazon.  That will be a nice round number for getting some statistics for Amazon sales.

Ongoing and Future Projects

Aside from the various story lines and adventures I have in mind for Zegin, I also have a full novel in the works.  I'm currently 5 chapters into "TransOp" - a near future story where corporations are the government and one company abuses their technological power to manipulate the general population.  And Steven Gould's new book "Impulse" arrived on my Kindle this week.  All I need is more time.  Cloning is out since my wife refuses to let me do it.

Keep reading.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ball Is In My Court


It was nice having some time the past few weeks to cough up a lung, sleep a lot, take lots of meds, and recover from a bad chest cold!  (Not)  As if the cold itself was not enough, I received the edits back from my editor.  Which actually, were quite good!  However, I just didn't feel like a rewrite and I reasoned that having a cold and a chemically induced stupor was not conductive for writing.  But now that I'm feeling much better I'm back on the court and swinging away.

Now that I have the edits back and I'm quite pleased with my editor, I think it's time to sing her praises.  I had spent almost a month putting the word out that I was looking for an editor for my first soon to be self published short story.  After receiving a few offers but not being pleased with the lack of experience in my target genre, I decided to seek out a recommendation from Steven Gould (Author of the book, Jumper).  Steven is one of my favorite authors but I had never been in touch with him before.  I found a "Contact Me" link on his site and I mentioned that I was looking for a good editor with experience in our genre.  Several weeks later I actually received a response and a recommendation to use Dr. Debra Doyle.  At around the same time, I received several recommendations from folks on the Absolute Write forums to use Dr. Doyle as well.  So, after some correspondence and a paypal payment, the Doctor started her work.  I'm very pleased with the edits and feedback that she provided.  She is very detailed but has great insight on the market and provided some kind, but spot on, recommendations.  So, now I'm editing and doing a bit of rewrite on the story.

A Picture is Worth...

The picture on the top right is the first concept sketch from the cover artist, Sean Hill.  Sean is a student of the International Academy of Design and Technology and was recommended to me by one of my co-workers.  The cover art work is progressing nicely and I'm looking forward to the final.  I'm quite pleased that he's one of those artists who is willing to get a lot of details on what is needed before starting the work and he's been great with asking for feedback during the process.

Social Marketing Progress

Klout Score: 45 (+1) Page Loads for the past month: 954 (-71)
Twitter Followers: 501 (+139)
G+ Peeps Following: 199 (+36)

The bulk of the growth has been on Twitter.  I'm amazed at the increase even though I haven been very active on the number of tweets I do.  I'm also finding twitter to be a great source of information for writing related sites.  However, at 500+ followers, I'm finding that watching the twitter feed is kind of like trying to drink from a garden hose.  To help, I'm using a product called YoruFukurou that I found on the Apple App Store.  I have no idea what the name means - a colorful metaphor? All I know is that it allows me to create columns that show tweets from a list of folks that I want to specifically follow.  Such as close friends, favorite authors, etc.  I've yet to find another twitter application that does this.

I'm also finding that I have to limit my time spent on twitter and Google Plus.  There is a ton of great content on the new G+ Communities.  But if I was to join every invitation sent to me I would have no time for writing, eating, or sleeping.  So I've kept it down to 6 communities - and I may be dropping a few of those in favor of focusing only on those that have the most impact on what I'm doing.

Wrap Up

Unfortunately, having a cold doesn't provide much opportunity for finding a humorous tidbit to share with you all.  Instead, I want to mention that Steven Gould has a new book out this week - Impulse!  It's a continuation in the Jumper series and I'm very excited about diving into it.  I highly recommend him as a writer.  And if you come across his book on the shelf in any bookstore, do me a favor and send him a twitter pic.  I'm sure he'll appreciate it.  He can be found at @stevengould

Thanks for reading folks.