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Month: November 2013

Confession: Almost Finishing NaNo

“In striving for perfection, we achieve excellence.” –Vince Lombardi

TargetGoals are set for a reason. They are something to strive for, but sometimes life just gets in the way, and you can’t always get what you want. Sometimes it pays to back off, recognize the “why” behind what you are doing, and hit the reset button.

At a little over 40,000 words for the National Novel Writing Month challenge toward the goal of 50,000 I could finish. I could dedicate today to only writing, write a ton just to reach the elusive goal, display a badge on my Facebook wall, and a celebratory blog post proclaiming my victory. But what would I really win? It helps to look at my original goal.

Kick start the finish of a series. I have an ongoing series, and I want to put it to bed, so to speak. There are some reasons, many of them personal. This is my first commercial “success” novels, more specifically the first in the Samuel Elijah Johnson Series, titled Redemption. The story is rather personal, and the series a bit autobiographical from time to time. That chapter in my life is over, and since I finished Temptation (the second in the series) I’ve written two other novels not related to this one. The time has come for it to be over. I needed an incentive to get it done, and NaNo has accomplished that: I am nearly there, and happy to be as close as I am.

Solidify good writing habits. As far as word count and finished work goes, this has been my best year so far. The first NaNo I did was to help develop good writing habits. This one I used to solidify those habits, evaluate my time management strategy, and keep the work going in spite of distraction. I did that this month.  The result is a revamping of my strategy and a reset of how I do things, based on when my writing is most productive.

Focus on the finish, not the editing. Surprised? Yes, I am the guy who preaches over and over to just write the story, get the first draft down, and edit later, but I do the same things you do. I fail in the same ways, wanting to rework that paragraph or sentence to death. My best writing has come when I write fast, and don’t look back. The story flows, the prose is true, the dialogue real. Not to say you do not need editing: hell, everyone does. Mostly you need to write.

So even though I did not finish NaNo this year with a badge or a sign, I win. I shot for the moon, and still landed among the stars. Early next week, Confession will be done (the first draft at least). And for me, that is enough.

And I may start a new trend after Christmas. Who’s up for Janowrimo?

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Re-releasing Temptation

Why did I re-edit Temptation? I know, I am the guy who always says write the next book, don’t re-write your first one. We could all keep revising our first works until we have them perfect. Of course, by then they will not be perfect, nor will we have written anything else. We will have killed our muse.

But a fan and a cover designer offered to make new covers for Redemption and Temptation to promote branding and to help improve sales. Show Natalie Collins some love, and if you need covers, let me know and I will help you get in touch with her. Knowing that Temptation needed some edits, I took the opportunity. How bad were they?

Let’s just say that not every editor you hire is a pro. Like many others, I fell victim to this pitfall of self-publishing. There was no one to blame but me.

The story also needed tightening in places, some wording was … well, just poor. Also I am writing the sequel now, so it was a good thing to revisit the story and the series: remind myself why I love these characters so much.

That being said, the series is ending. Confession, my WIP will be the final. Things come full circle. Church, prison, and answers. He’s found Redemption, faced Temptation, and now it is time for Sam to discover his past. Confession, coming early 2014. Watch the video trailer for the series below. Thanks for watching, following and reading.

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The Answers You Are Looking For

I have a Facebook Event! We are celebrating the re-release of Redemption and Temptation. Are you part of it? You may find some of the answers you are looking for here. 

What the hell is that? Well, I have no clue, but it sounded like fun, so I jumped in. Part of the fun is author trivia, so this post is your landing zone: start here, and you may find the answers (and prizes) you are looking for. Not the droids, the prizes!


My current labor of love is a fundraiser for Boston Children’s Hospital. Half or the royalties from my story “The Angel” in Happily Ever Afterlife published by Untold Press gets donated. We also have t-shirts for sale. If you click here, you can donate directly. So what inspired the story? Read here.

I’m finishing up a novel titled Confession. It is the third in the Samuel Elijah Johnson series. The first two books will be re-released next Wednesday November 27th, just prior to Thanksgiving. Something happens on Thanksgiving every few years. If you are friends with me check out my Facebook profile here. We aren’t friends yet? Send me a request, and like my author page here.

The first two novels have brand new covers. They were designed by a fan, Natalie Collins and are designed to improve series branding. Follow this link to see the old and new covers side by side.

Recently I wrote a standalone novel not related to this series, titled Stray Ally. A strange accident on the freeway, accusations of murder, and an encounter in the Idaho wilderness all propel Todd Clarke into a new friendship with a dog named Sparky. But Sparky is no ordinary dog, and there is more going on than he could have imagined. A military commander he once investigated for Aryan activity and links to domestic terrorism is after him, and he’s not sure why until another chance encounter gives him the answer.

With Sparky and the help of a few friends will he be able to figure out the Colonel’s plan and stop him in time? All Clarke knows for sure it that none of it would be possible without the help of his Stray Ally.

This novel will be published next spring by Tirgearr Publishing.

I am not just an author. I also work as an editor. I work for Tirgearr as Senior Editor, and will be the managing editor for a series coming next year. It’s an erotic romance genre. What’s the difference between erotica and erotic romance? The focus on character development and story of course. You will have to stay tuned for the details coming soon!

Until recently, I worked at a museum, designing exhibits, doing archival work, digitization of records, and many other duties. Click here to like the museum on Facebook, and find out the area I lived in before moving to Boise. I still do research for the museum, and am writing and producing a documentary for them this year. Watch the trailer here.

I love music: listening to it while I write and edit. I listen to a wide range. I used to play several instruments. I learned piano as a kid, moved on to the saxophone in high school, and even attempted to learn guitar when I was in college at Boise State University. I wasn’t any good.

I can dance though. And I do like to play the air drums. My favorite albums to air drum to this year are; Blue October Sway and Daft Punk Random Access Memories. Want to see a video of me air drumming? Well, okay. If I must. Click here. Just kidding. Click here.

My wife’s hobbies include playing an instrument and photography. Recently we combined the two to create and image that Natalie used for the rear cover of the print version of Temptation. See that image here.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and the Event.  Did you win?

Links to Troy’s other work: Broken Bones on  Smashwords, Amazon, Nook, and Kobo. Redemption on Smashwords or Amazon. Temptation on Smashwords or Amazon. They are both coming soon to Nook and Kobo. Satanarium (co-authored with Poppet) hereDragonthologyTwisted Tales , Happily Ever Afterlife, Twist of Fate, , and EFD 1.

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It’s Social Networking not Social Net-Twerking

Stop ‘twerking’ all over social media

Advertisements. We all love to hate them. We Dub Step remix the funny ones, cry at touching ones, and cringe when the ones we hate blast out of our speakers when all we really want to do is keep watching our show. They’re an interruption, but have always tried to be an entertaining one. What better reason to watch the Super Bowl than for the zany commercials?


Social media is different, and there is a reason. We expect advertising in newspapers, magazines, and on the TV and Radio. On a deep level we understand they pay for programming, even if we don’t like it. But social media is just that: a social network for being—well, social. So advertisements are considered interruptions, even rude if improperly done. So how do you cope? Just forsake social media ads? No! Social media, specifically Facebook, drives people to publishers and books more than any other avenue right now.

Stop shaking your stuff all up in our faces. Don’t post drive by ads in groups or on hashtags. First, they don’t do any good. Most of the time, they are just passed over. Look down the feed for two things: first see if there are any likes, shares or comments on posts or favorites and retweets on Twitter. If there aren’t any, you are just posting to a group or #hashtag with a whole bunch of other drive-by-posters. If there is no meaningful interaction, chances are all the real folks have bailed, and you are trying to sell apples to apple growers. Stop the madness. You aren’t doing your book, business, or the social platform any favors.

Also, see if your post from the day before is just a few spots below the one you are posting now. If if is, don’t post. Nothing is worse than seeing a group filled with posts only by one person.  Well, maybe a stick in the eye is worse, but it is pretty bad.

Talk to me Goose! Advertising on social media is not about being intrusive, or even an entertaining interruption, but starting or joining a conversation. You need to look for places that are discussing either reading, the subject of your book, or something related to you and what you do. React to relevance, do not try to force your way in. If you do advertise, say something relevant to the conversation or the group about your work. Don’t just post links and disappear. You will be ignored, banned, perhaps even hated. In social media, not all publicity is good publicity.  Talk, converse, and realize that sometimes, less is more.

Don’t lick a hammer to get attention. If you dedicated a six months to a year of your life and over 60K words to talk about something, the likelihood is you had a story to tell and you told it. Now convince us we need to read it because it matters or should matter to us. Be visible, but don’t draw attention to yourself through foolish antics. Let your work speak for you, but be ready if someone wants to reach out.

Sounds simple right? It is and it isn’t. The social media world is one where the rules are ever changing, and the herd is migratory. Traditional marketing media is not dead either, just gasping for breath and struggling to adapt and survive. So think about the message you are sending next time you are about to flex your advertising thighs, bend your advertising knees, stick your groove thing out there and shake it baby, shake it. You may draw the wrong crowd, or you may chase all of them away, frightened and looking for an eyewash station.

Now back t’work. Until next time.

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NaNoWriMo: Time Management

“Diligence is the mother of good fortune, and idleness, its opposite, never brought a man to the goal of any of his best wishes.”

— Miguel de Cervantes

I sit here, at 4:47 a.m. knowing what can happen today, and what might happen, but not what will happen.

Oh, I have a plan. I always have a plan. Sometimes it is a good one, sometimes it isn’t, but it exists.

It all comes down to time management, something I vary between being good at, and totally sucking at. If you are super organized, never get distracted, and have no idea what I’m talking about, you don’t even need to read on. Besides, the rest of us hate you anyway.

self discipline

Discipline. Time management is about discipline. Making yourself do things, even if they are not what you want to be doing right at this minute. It is tough, and it sucks, because even when you work at home you have your favorite parts of your job and the things you wish you could put off until shortly after your death. Trust me, if you think any profession is exempt, you are sorely mistaken. If you like everything about your job, and can’t relate to this, see the above.

donotdisturb

Eliminating Distraction. This is a control what you can control moment. Shut the door. Turn off the wi-fi. Threaten the children with death following slow torture. Threaten your spouse with withheld … well, whatever it is they usually want from you: sex, money, cooking, doing their laundry, sex (did I already say that?).

 


multitaskingDeal with interruption.
No matter how good you are, or how well you plan, distraction will inevitably come, multiple times a day. If you are the kind of person that has no distractions, ever, during your writing time, also see the above. Most of us have cats, dogs, kids, spouses, phones, and bladders. You can shut these out to an extent, but when the dog pukes in your shoes, or you have to vacate your bowls or empty the coffee you drank all morning you will need to get up from time to time. Unless you wear adult diapers and are not averse to dealing with rashes or dog puked in shoes.

Learn to open “browser windows” in your brain, and leave them open while you piss, let the dog in and out, strangle children (plot material), or cook dinner. You need to be able to go back to what you were doing after the interruption and pick up right where you left off.

Reward yourself. Keep your schedule for a week, and then take some time off, even an hour. Treat yourself to a latte or a giant cookie dough ice cream shake from Arctic Circle (if you are into that kind of thing). A bottle glass of wine or scotch or whatever you fancy, just give yourself something for all of your hard work.

Now get back too it. You’ve wasted enough time reading this blog. Write on! I will be right back after I spend some time in the throne room getting rid of some coffee, last night’s pumpkin cake, and some egg nog.

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Marketing, Distribution, and the Future of the Book

What I Learned at THAT Camp BSU 2013

printvsdigitalOn Saturday, one of our sessions at THAT Camp BSU un-conference was about the future of the book. The beauty of an un-conference is that topics organically center themselves on what really concerns those in the room: the root of the topic. Here’s what we talked about.

Print vs. Digital: Obvious right? In the group were two librarians. In the print vs. digital world, the library is one of the most widely impacted institutions, right next to book stores. So what does a library full of e-books look like? What of preservation, one of the clear missions of the library? What do these modern collections look like?

The answer is that libraries morph into more of a community information and technology rather than just a paper book repository. Print books will likely never go away, but they will be more of a niche market novelty than the mainstream way to read and find information. Some books will always be better in print, and that too will never change. The role of print books is and will continue evolving. But e-books are the new paperback, and libraries and others need to recognize this and adapt accordingly.

BuyMyBookMarketing: Bookstores used to be the market, shelf placement one of the keys to sales. Change your last name or the title to earn a more advantageous spot? You bet. The shelves are now the size of the internet, and the plethora of self-publishing hides even the best of titles amidst thousands not nearly as well done. How do you stand out? How do you get your book on that shelf close to the front of the new virtual store?

The hour long think tank session raised as many questions as it answered. The point is that the old marketing strategy does not work anymore. Books are a unique product and need to be marketed accordingly. Authors need to join conversations, not interrupt them. Sales come from personal connection and recommendations. It is the best and worst of times. Word of mouth has now become world of mouth, but it takes a lot of skill and a little luck to strike the spark in the right spot to start the fire.

booksintrunk

Distribution: Who is the largest book distributor? Amazon is the current big boy, but do they have staying power? How many versions of the Kindle will appear before folks wake to other devices, other formats, and other outlets? And what about those print books that keep hanging on? How do you get those into the hands of eager readers when the once popular book store sells more coffee, toys, and trinkets than they do books?

Amazon likes to make money, and sees every loaned book from a library as a potential lost sale, so they don’t play nice. Book stores often won’t carry Amazon produced books, perceiving them as the enemy rather than accept the changing role of books and book stores. So how do you distribute your books? A friend of mine and I called it “Back of my Bronco” marketing, involving carrying copies of your books around in your trunk and selling or giving them away that way. Unless you travel a lot, this is marginally effective locally.

So what is the future of the book? We don’t know exactly. What we do know is that it’s changing, and if we are going to survive as authors we too must change with it.

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