Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop


I was tagged by a fellow writer, Brad Anderson, to participate in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Brad is currently working on a science fiction space opera, the third book in a series called the Triumvirate Trilogy. The setting is near the tail end of a devastating war between the three major powers of this universe. Definitely  seems intriguing and I'll be checking it out.

Product Details

Here’s how the blog hop works. A writer/blogger gets tagged, they write an intro where they shout out & link back to their tagger, and then answer the 10 questions listed  below about current work in progress. At the end, they tag five other writer/bloggers.

10 Questions About My Current Work in Progress:

1. What is the title of your book?

I’m at the very start of The Troubleshooter: The Most Dangerous Dame. It is the second full length novel in a continuing series about a hardboiled private eye character in a dystopian future world.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I've always liked the film noir style, with all of the jargon and colorful characters included. The idea rolled around in my head as I read novels like Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins series and watched films like Dark City, The Matrix, and of course the biggest film influence: Blade Runner.

The idea was to take both of those unrelated genres and combine them. A blend of old and new, noir and sci-fi with a dystopian twist. So you get your slick hustlers, cool dames, fedoras and trench coats along with your flying cars, synthetic humanoids, and post-apocalyptic futures. The reader is taken along for a ride with Mick Trubble: a hard drinking, chain smoking, slick talking man whose job description is shooting trouble. In the installment that I'm working on, Mick is recovering from revelations from the last book, only to find himself engaged in a deadly game with a person who comes from his murky past. It's going to be a blast, and I can't to get deeper into it.

The Troubleshooter: New Haven Blues (Volume 1)
The debut novel

3. What genre does your book fall under?

It's hard to fit it to one particular genre, since it blends elements of noir, detective, sci-fi, dystopia and dieselpunk. But I like to call it 'dystopian noir' for short.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Michael Fassbender as Mick Trubble
Uma Thurman as Selene
Shahid Kapoor as Poddar
Ethan Hawke as Frankie Newman

Lance Reddick as Tommy Tsunami
Olivia Wilde as Ms. Kilby

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

30's noir meets science fiction in this dystopian tale of a man whose job description is shooting trouble..

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?


7. How long did it take you to write your first draft?

I'm just starting the first draft of Most Dangerous Dame, but New Haven Blues took me around three months for that very rough first draft. When you add in the time to almost completely re-write it, you're looking at about five months, give or take a week or so.

8. What other books would you compare yours to within your genre?

I haven't read the Harry Dresden novels yet, but from what I've read of the series, it has a similar 'urban noir' style, only those are of a supernatural angle. There's also the E.M. Faustus novels by Christoper Davison which I recently came upon, which is also a noir blended series. I'm sure there are more out there, but I haven't run across them yet.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The novel started off as just a writing exercise to try out stream of consciousness storytelling. I just took things I liked from similar themed movies and novels and ran with it. Once it was finished, I knew immediately that it had potential for a full-length novel. From there it all about shaping it and expanding the ideas and characters.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

It's a fast paced story laced with colorful characters, dry wit, and plenty of action. What I've liked from the readers is that it's been praised by readers of old school pulp and noir as well as readers of science fiction, detective, and adventure lovers. There's also a lot of humor that readers have enjoyed. Mick Trubble gets himself in some pretty ridiculous situations at times.

All Right, Who’s Next in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop?

Victoria Selene Skye Deme is a highly talented writer and friend. Known mainly for her volumes of captivatingly surreal poetic collections, but she has a groundbreaking prose project in the works as well. In fact, she so fantastic that a major character in The Troubleshooter is named and styled after her. How cool is that?

David W Moore is a friend and writing peer that I've come to know across various online sites. He has horror novel being circulated to publishing houses at the moment, as well as a sequel in the works. Definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Christopher Davison is the author of a hardboiled detective series not unlike my own, although his comes with a paranormal twist. If his interview answers are as wild as his writing then we should be in for a wild ride!

I recently met C.L. Davies, who writes in the genre of science fiction and dystopia. Her debut novel was Automaton, any eye-opening take on the gaming and online relationship culture. I look forward to hearing about her other projects, as well as what's forthcoming.

Tiyana White is a writer I came across while doing a reviewer search. Her upcoming project is called Element 7, a dieselpunk fantasy novel with a very intriguing premise. I personally can't wait to hear more about it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Looking Back: Bard Constantine's Year In Publishing -2012

If I were the type to make resolutions, I'd resolve to make better use of this blog.

But since I know that's probably not going to happen, I'll share what I've learned this past year about my experience with indie publishing.

What I published:

That would be one short story, two novellas and a full length novel. Not too bad, all things considering. Makes me wonder what I can do if I actually applied some sort of writing schedule that included writing at least four days out of every week. I'll try to find out the answer this year...

 What I learned:

  1. Writing is easy. Editing is hard.

    I can't stress enough how tough editing is. That's why every article on writing strongly suggests that you never edit your own work. It's how the brain is hotwired. You read your manuscript the way it should be read, not actually how it is. So it's only natural to miss mistake after mistake, even after countless efforts. It's a frustrating experience, especially when you catch errors after you publish your work.

    The fix? Pony up and pay for a professional editor. There are many like Moody Edits who charge reasonable fees and do fine work. Of course, even at good rates -like 2 cents per word, it can get costly for a pro edit, especially for the starving writer trying to get their work out. In that case, you might look at bribing or blackmailing a literary minded friend into at least proofreading your manuscript for easily noticeable errors. Other tricks include switching formats for each edit so that your eyes aren't looking at the same thing over and over. If you did your last edit on the computer, save it to your tablet and go over it again. You'd be surprised how those errors stand out by switching formats.
  2. Commitment Is Key

    One of the problems that plagued me in my earlier writing attempts was that point in writing when I got bored. The solution? Start writing another story. The result? A lot of unfinished manuscripts.

    I had to learn to fight past those moments and stick to the story at hand. It takes discipline, but it's certainly not impossible. Like anything else, it's a developed habit. Once you commit to a story, you have to stick it out until it's finished. Anything else is just wasting your time. And the sooner you finish a novel, the sooner you can get to editing. That's when the real fun starts. See the above.

  3. You Think Editing Is Bad? Try Marketing.

    Just when you thought it was safe to publish your novel... nothing happens. After the small segment (and I do mean small) of family and friends are forced to buy your novel, it falls on you to market it to readers beyond your circle. Some writers strongly believe that the way to do this is to spam everyone they know with endless advertisements of their work. Then they promptly go to any and every possible online discussion board involving their genre and do the exact same thing.

    Don't be surprised if that doesn't get you many readers.

    No one likes to be bombarded by desperate, attention seeking, living advertisers. There are other ways to market your material that will be less annoying and might actually endear readers to you and your work. A lot of this is time consuming, and can be quite frustrating as you learn to negotiate the chaotic world of marketing and promotion. And for the penniless writer trying to establish their work, the task is even more daunting and harder to accomplish.

    But take heart. Pay attention to helpful articles that are provided online from sites like Bestseller Labs and online newsletters like The Constantine. Many bestselling authors like David Farland and Warren Adler give excellent insight and advice at their online pages and websites. Learn from those who have done it well. Stay up on technological tools and resources available to indie authors. I have much to learn about the best ways to market and promote, but I'm an eager learner. If one masters marketing, then the battle is 50% done. (The other 50 is actually writing a great novel, but you know that already, right?)
  4. Patience, young Padawan. Born in a day, is not a Jedi.

    Say the above in your best Yoda voice. One thing I've learned is that if you've jumped into indie writing for bestseller status and easy cash, then you're going to quickly learn what agonizing heartbreak is. It's really quite simple. According to most stats, the average indie writer sells around 150 copies per title. Yeah, you read that right. What separates the average from the few that sell in the thousands and dare I say it: millions of copies? (Better concentrate on the thousands. Or better yet, more than 150)

    Quite simple: write a book that doesn't suck and learn the best ways to market correctly. That's easier said than done, because the average indie published novel is subpar at best. Too many writers take the easy route and glut the market with shoddy material and low quality work. To stand out, one has to try to be at least as good as anything traditionally published. I say at least, because the goal for the successful indie writer actually should try to be better. Then put in the hard work. You did the crime. Now do the time. The odds are still against you, but I firmly believe that if an author builds a body of high quality, captivating work then eventually a readership will develop.

    I gave myself three years to build my brand and gain a solid enough readership to make my writing at least somewhat profitable. It may take longer than that, but the point is that I'm already geared for the long haul, not some dream of instant success. Anyone can be a writer. It takes a lot more to be an author, which is what I'm trying to be.

    There's so much more to the writing experience than I can get into in this one article. Who knows? Maybe I'll share some more. Especially since I have this blog that I never use. Maybe this year I'll actually use it.

    But no promises.

Something New

I chose my new desktop background today.

I know... to most people that's not a big deal. But for me it is, because I only do it once a year. I select one piece of art and apply it to every computer that I use. It becomes a subliminal theme for me, an subconscious reminder of what I hope to accomplish.

Deep, I know. Before we all drown together, let's take a look at last year's desktop:

I thought it was fitting because I had committed myself to independent publishing for my novels. I was sailing into uncharted waters, so to speak. The pirate ship was a good representation of my indie status, and the night scene was a good indicator of my stealth status, flying under the radar as I established my brand.

Plus it's a fine piece of art. I'm quite taken with George Grie's surreal work, so looked to him again to provide the inspiration for this year. Take a look:

I really like this piece because to me it represents the struggle to maintain balance as a creative being. Reality and everyday life can be confining at times because the creative forces struggle to release, and like a uncontrolled inferno can actually consume if not controlled. At the same time, one should indulge their creative side or suffer the draining effects of unfulfilled passion and the stifling effects of imprisonment, shackled by the doldrums of everyday happenstance.

The ship must set sail, but at the same time must be guided by the sure hand of a captain who knows what's out there.

Yes, I know I'm crazy for putting all of this thought into my annual desktop change, but I thought I'd share the process this time. I figure I have a blog for some reason...