Tuesday, December 23, 2014

That Time I Finished My First Draft

Now what? After close to a year of living and breathing with these characters, I have finally finished the first draft of my (spoilers ahead) Young Adult, SciFi novel. At just under 65K words, I feel pretty good. From what I know, that's pretty much the "sweet-spot" for word count when it comes to YA SciFi, and I didn't even try to hit it. I wasn't constantly checking my WC, it's just where the story ended. I let it happen. Organically as they say. Throughout the process, people told me to "just finish it" and to "just get it done". Well... I did that. I kept on, even when I wanted to stop keeping on, and I finished. It wasn't always pretty (often wasn't), but the story is down, ready to be molded into something much more. It feels great.

Now what?

I've read a lot of articles, many from published authors, regarding this very topic. Almost all of them suggest that the best thing to do is to step away from your WIP for a month or two, maybe more, and then return to your baby with fresh eyes. It'll be as if you're reading it for the first time, they say. Honestly, that sounds a helluva lot easier than I know it'll be.

I've been with this thing almost every day since about this time last year. I've done a fantastic job making it a part of my daily routine. Even if I was only able to write for five minutes on a given day, I would make sure it'd happen. On the busiest of busy days, I'd find time. So, what now? Just step away? I can't imagine anything more difficult for a creature of habit like myself. It's become an ingrained routine.

What if I step away and then can't find my way back? It's a legitimate concern. Am I the only one who has thought of this? What if I lose my touch, man?

What if I'm forever remembered as "That-Guy-Who-Wrote-a-First-Draft-and-Then-Never-Got-Back-to-It?"

I don't think I'd ever be able to forgive myself.

BUT, I will step aside. I will heed your wonderful advice, oh wise authors of books past. I will try and do something else.

I'll let you know how successful this all is. If I was a betting man... I'd give me a week. I should be able to stay away from it at least that long, right?


Find me on twitter, sharing my experiences writing my book, @RimerTom

Monday, December 8, 2014

That Time I Passed 50,000 Words

It finally happened. That elusive 50,000 word marker that seemed to be miles away when I started writing this thing, is finally here. I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo, mind you, but 50,000 words is still a huge checkpoint along my way to finished manuscript-dom. If you remember correctly, I took almost the entire summer, and most of the fall, off from my novel. I returned to it very recently with a second wind. A fresh set of lungs.

I read a quote recently... and I can't remember it verbatim or track it down anywhere... but it went something like this: Writing a first draft is a lot like tossing a bunch of sand into a pile, so that you can build sandcastles later on. I have no earthly idea who said that (probably some crazy person) but it really resonated with me. So much of what I'm doing right now is just getting the story down, making sure things happen when they're supposed to and that characters are in position, when they're supposed to be in position... saving the day whenever it is they're supposed to be saving the day. That kind of thing. My daily routine is always to re-read whatever chapter I was working on the previous day, just to get back into the story, only stopping along the way for minor edits to said chapter. Then I move the story forward. That's my mantra with this first draft. Get it down. Get it down. Get it down.

Okay. So, here's my "pile of sand":
Annnd, here's my "sand-castle":
No wait... that's not right. HERE is my "sand-castle":
Better. Probably not quite that old, though. That' s a really old book right there.

Still lots to write, but I'm making progress. I actually just passed 51,000 words if we want to get technical. 37 chapters, out of a probable 49 or 50, done. 200+ pages. Not too shabby, Tommy. Not too shabby. 
Please keep checking back for more updates and find me doing the Twitter thang @RimerTom

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Why I Stopped Writing My Book... and Why I Started Back Up Again.

I never really had any sort of writer's block. I'd been motoring along quite regularly, meeting weekly goals I'd set for myself in terms of number of words a day, chapters in a week, etc. I was blogging, interviewing, and educating myself on the publishing world. Figuring I knew what I'd need to do once the book was done, how to get it published. All that. Everything was pretty freaking awesome in Tom's-Book-Land.

And then I... stopped. Time happened. I can't pinpoint any one reason that I stepped away so suddenly, I just didn't have any time. Things got busy, I kept putting it off and then, I just stopped. My wife kept asking me when there'd be more time for my book and to let her know if I needed time to just step away and write, but it didn't happen.

And then the doubt starting creeping in. The second guessing of whether or not this was even really a worthwhile endeavor, Why am I even doing this? Is my idea really original or new? It's cliche, isn't it? My protagonist sucks... I don't even like her.

And that was it. My life rolled on, I worked all summer. Went away on vacation right before school started up. The teaching thing happened again come September. My book, the one I'd spent so much time on (36,000 words worth) was done. Forgotten. This blog, naturally, went with all of that. I'd moved on.

I mean, I can't say in all honesty that I ever completely stopped thinking about it. It was always kind of there... more of, I wonder what would have happened to those characters had I continued writing. Where would the story have ended up? That kind of thing.

Jump forward a few months. I'm sitting at my desk last week and I decided to start reading my old "book". I got a couple of chapters in.

Hey, this actually isn't all that bad. I mean, that thing there sucked... but, that one, yeah, that's pretty damn good.

I couldn't let it go. I read through all 140 pages, all 36,000 words... didn't make any edits. Just read. The next day, I wrote the next chapter. The first chapter I'd written in months.

My book was alive again. The story. The characters.

I have to finish this thing.

And so we're back at it, me and my novel. I've written a couple of new chapters and this sucker is rockin' again. I won't claim or promise that there won't be more bumps in the road. Hell, I might even get hung up and stop again. I probably will. But, I will finish it. It's going to take me a long time, but I. Will. Finish.

Many of the author's that I've interviewed on this blog have told me that's the hardest part. Above all else, just finishing a story, a manuscript... that's the toughest thing to do. So many people have the ideas, but don't have the time or the drive to get it done. The desire? I don't know.

I've got it now. That desire. I've got a new plan of action too. More of my focus now will be on the novel and a little less on this blog. That's not to say I won't be giving blog updates here or there... just not as many. I'll be tweeting out more regular updates if you're interested. The thing is, if I'm ready to write and I have the time, I really should be giving it all to the story... not to interviews or blog posts about nothing really of much importance. You'll hear from me, but... less.

So, let's do this. Let's go finish this book. Only some twenty-ish chapters and say, oh... thirty to forty thousand words to go. I think. Sort of.

Not so bad, right?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

An Interview with Matthew C. Martino, author of Lets Fly

Well, I've finally got my own book back on the tracks. The, as of yet, un-titled, YA sci-fi novel that I've been writing got an additional three chapters this past weekend after an extremely long hiatus. Hopefully this summer brings me much closer to finishing this thing, but honestly, who knows.

Right. Enough about me, let's meet our newest author interviewee. Today, we are speaking with Matthew C. Martino, author of Lets Fly.

-Thanks for joining us today, Matthew. For starters, what do you want our readers to know about your book, Lets Fly?
MATTHEW: A pleasure, Lets Fly is not just another aviation book. I was looking to cut out the corporate and ‘geeky’ style that other aviation books approach by using a simple approach and using layman terms which make the book readable by pretty much anyone.

-This isn’t the only book you’ve written, right?
MATTHEW: No it isn’t. I also penned a book for aspiring business people which I dubbed Go For It. This one I wanted to aim mainly at young people. The target market remains open to anyone who has an interest in starting their own business.

-How did your own life experiences/interests help in writing Lets Fly?
MATTHEW: When I was a little boy in Africa I used to spot planes and then I moved on to collecting model aircraft. once moving to the UK. My journey towards my first flight really drove me to writing the book, as it seemed impossible at times.

-You were born in Zimbabwe, eventually relocating to the U.K. Can you share with us anything about your childhood and growing up in Africa?
MATTHEW: Growing up in Africa obviously isn’t the best kick start, however I got good life values including being polite, well-spoken and respectful and these are ethos I can use in my day to day life. Also growing up in Zimbabwe made me able to use the little that I can to get far.

-The majority of our readers are new authors looking to make it big. Talk to us a little about any roadblocks that you have encountered in the publishing world and if there’s any advice that you can give to the rest of us.
MATTHEW: I think the biggest roadblock will be proofreaders, editors and publishers telling you your book is no good. Don’t let this get to you and although self-publishing is an option, I would recommend you still send your manuscript out to publishers as they will better your content. My other advice is to invest in marketing your book.

-You’re also an actor?
MATTHEW: I have had a few moments in front of the camera but I now fancy my chances behind it.

-Are you currently working on any new projects? What’s next for Matthew Martino?
MATTHEW: At the moment I’ve been having a bit of a time out from producing films. I’m working on forming a new arm of Lets Fly Academy which will retail pilot books and equipment. I’m also in talks to back some film organizations for initiatives to assist young filmmakers.

-Anything else at all you’d like to share with us about Lets Fly or any of your other works?
MATTHEW: I would like to ask any feedback or input regarding Lets Fly, Lets Fly App and Lets Fly Academy, I made this trio to better life for aspiring pilots and aviation geeks so I would like to know what information or resources they would like me to add to make it more useful to them.

-Brief teaser for Lets Fly:
Lets Fly: ‘Get your wings and let your career take-off’

-Where can we buy Lets Fly?
MATTHEW: Lets Fly is available on Amazon, Book Depository, Good Reads and other aviation book stores.
Great stuff, Matthew. Looking forward to reading more from you and learning about how your life lead you to the skies. Thanks for sharing Lets Fly with all of us!
More to come soon, folks. Find us on Twitter @BookTalkGuy and @RimerTom

Friday, June 20, 2014

An Interview with Ken Williams, author of Fractured Angel

Well, folks. We're back. We have yet another author that we'd like to shine our spotlight on and direct your attention toward. His name is Ken Williams and his newest book, Fractured Angel, is being published by independent book publisher, Sakura Publishing.

-Hi Ken! Thanks so much for agreeing to speak with us today. Your newest novel, Fractured Angel, is due to be released on June 7th, 2014. In writing this book, much did you rely on your own experience in working with the homeless? Is homelessness a theme that can be seen in any of your other works? 
KEN: All of my novels are inspired by events in my life, from the Vietnam War to working with the homeless in Santa Barbara for thirty years.  The heartbreak of seeing literally hundreds die on the streets has inspired all my writings and infused my novels, screenplays, poems and non-fiction articles with a gritty realism that, at the same time honors those who have slipped quietly into the gentle night.  In fact I began my writings as a journal when, during the AIDS and crack epidemics I was losing so many clients monthly that I found that I was beginning to forget the individual in the face of so much death.  I was bound not to let the voiceless and the disenfranchised die without someone documenting their passing.  As long as I remembered them in my journals and now dedicate my writings to them and their tragic lives and deaths they will remain honored and not forgotten.

-Have you always been a writer or is this a fairly new adventure for you?
KEN: I began writing screenplays when a Hollywood screenwriter encouraged me to use my knowledge of the streets to write them.  Having heard a lecture that I gave he came up to me and told me the stories that I included in the presentation were eye opening and extremely moving.  Novels soon followed, as did articles for the local media and now an online news service.

-Many of this blog’s readers are new authors still attempting to navigate the pitfalls of the publishing world. What advice can you give to those of us just trying to get started?
KEN: My advice to new writers:  Be prepared to have constant rejections, and be humble enough to learn from your mistakes.  And by all means KEEP writing.  Writing is a skill.  Like all skills the talent diminishes when not used. Don’t give up hope but don’t expect overnight success.  Writing is a marathon, not a sprint.  Good writing comes from within, it is not a luxury but a necessity something that builds within you that seeks an outlet.  Listen to that drive and write!  You must also learn to trust your publisher and editor.  The publishing of a novel is a partnership.  Never forget this.  If you don’t trust your publisher then you are in very big trouble.  You need to remember that you both have the same goal in mind and be humble enough to not think you know everything.  Egos sink more potentially successful projects than any other vices.  If you can’t communicate successfully with your publisher how can you hope to do so with a general audience? And live life!  Not only your material, but also the inspiration to write comes from the people around you.  Don’t think you come up with new material all on your own.  People: how they live, survive, their joys, triumphs and sorrows are the stuff of good literature.  A good writer also uses their own frustrations, desires, fears, heartache and setbacks to reveal emotional truths. Too many writers I know quit living and play the role of a writer thus depriving him or her of the challenges we all face in our daily struggles for existence.

-One of the most difficult aspects of becoming a published author is finding a home with a good publisher. Fractured Angel is your debut with Sakura Publishing. Can you talk a little to us about how you ended up with them and how you knew Sakura was a good fit?
KEN: After years of rejection I received two written offers the same week and another publisher wrote me that he was interested in the novel.  Three offers in one week!  Perseverance.  In fact, Derek Vasconi, the owner and publisher of Sukura Publishing was the third offer that week.  For me honor and personnel connections are all important.  The way he approached me, with honesty and yet passion for the novel convinced me to pass on the first two and go with him.  Sukura was a great fit!  Derek knows not only the publishing world but also the Internet.  He is not only extremely professional but easy to work with.  From what I can tell he is also a good guy.

-Are you working on anything new right now?
KEN: I have just completed another novel, Seven Levels, Homelessness, A Combat Veteran, Mental Illness: A Love Story.  It is about a returning Afghan Marine Vet who is at a lose as to where he fits once back in the states and his struggles with PTSD.  Joining the L.A. Sherriff’s Dept. he finds redemption amongst the homeless in an abandoned warehouse used as an impromptu shelter.
I have also recently completed a rewrite of a New Fiction novel written as magical realism:  For the Love of Death. This novel is about a young woman who struggles in the aftermath of not only her failed suicide attempt but also a violent assault by her boyfriend.  She is forced to confront the very nature of sanity vs. the mysterious universe and what price she is prepared to pay for love?  As you can see writing for me is in fact a driving force and not something that I can simply put down.  I am always writing something in a variety of formats. 

-You’re a Vietnam Vet. Would you mind sharing with us a bit about the process of writing China White?
KEN: China White was written years ago.  It was an emotional scar that I had to find a way to expose to light.  One of the enduring myths—rumors—legends that we heard constantly in Vietnam was that the bodies of dead Marines would be cut open and their internal organs replaced with China White, the world’s most potent form of heroin.  The caskets would them be labeled as “Remains Unviewable”.  Once passed customs it would be arranged for someone to intercept the caskets and remove the heroin.  This particular rumor was extremely unsettling to us.  By putting it into words, it was my way of dealing with a variety of emotional issues from the war.  China White also deals with the after-effects of that war, not only amongst veterans but also the Vietnamese –American community.  This interplay between two American communities hugely impacted by the war yet neglected in literature.

-Brief teaser for Fractured Angel?
How would you go about trying to help your daughter who, suffering her first psychotic break at fifteen, is chased by her wounded mind to the streets of Santa Barbara? That is the dilemma that Lynne Swanson faces. Out of her element, and definitely out of her comfort zone for this professional woman, she is forced to seek the help of Kerry Wilson, a social worker for the homeless. Unfortunately for her, Kerry is a rough-necked loner that has no inclination to hold the hand of a woman who he feels is out for a lark at the expense of his homeless clients. The harsh and deadly realities of the streets in one of the wealthiest cities in the world and an attempt to close a homeless shelter just as winter sets in produces a dramatic race against time with the life of Lynne’s daughter in the balance.

-Where can we buy Fractured Angel?
KEN: Fractured Angel can be preordered at: http://sakura-publishing.com/product/fractured-angel/.  July 7th it will be available world wide via Sukura Publishing, Amazon and most book outlets. China White and my other novel and non-fiction book can be ordered at Amazon.

Thanks so much for speaking with us today, Ken. It's truly inspiring and an honor to hear your story and I know our readers are going to feel the same. 

Please check out Ken Williams today and pick up a copy Fractured Angel.  For all you new writers out there, I highly recommend you take a peek at Sakura Publishing and everything that they have to offer. 

Keep checking back for more!

Holy Cow, I'm Writing A Book?! 

Find us on twitter @BookTalkGuy and @RimerTom