Writer of Horror Fiction

Posts tagged “editing

My article over at Indie Inside has gone live!

I’d mentioned that I’d written a brief article for Pat Douglas, a fellow author, over on his website, http://indie-inside.com.  It has gone live now, and I hope you’ll click on the full link and head on over there: http://indie-inside.com/the-joys-of-the-other-stuff-guest-blog-w-patrick-dorazio/.  For anyone who has become a writer and believes that when they get published that they can just sit back and bask in the glory of being famous, this article is for you.  It’s also for anyone else who ever wonders how you can get the word out on a writing project.  Whether you self-publish, get with a smaller publisher, or manage to swing for the fences and get with one of the big publishers out of New York, much of the promotional work responsibility is in your own hands.  There is tons you can do to help promote your stuff, and my article goes over just a small smidgen of that.  So pleased check it out…it might make you cringe, but perhaps it will bring a smile to your face…because I tried to be funny (just a little bit-probably failed, but give me a B for effort).

A cool website to check out.

Just a quick note here on a website a friend and fellow author, Pat Douglas, has put together.  He gets a lot of traffic there because he puts up interesting articles and all kinds of cool stuff, along with promoting his own writing, naturally.  An article I wrote will be appearing there tomorrow, and I hope any new or aspiring writers find it interesting.  Just a few thoughts on the writing world in general and promotion in particular.  You can check out articles from plenty of different folks in the writing world there.  Just hit the link and mark it as one of your favorites: http://indie-inside.com/

Review of Kody Boye’s “Sunrise”

Back in October of ’09, I wrote a review of Kody Boye’s Sunrise.  Kody, who was under the age of eighteen when he wrote his book of the zombie apocalypse, clearly had talent, but his story was somewhat raw, which was something I expected from such a young man still learning his way in the world.

At that time, I stated that the criticism I would have of the story would go hand in hand with what I find appealing about his writing style: his youthful idealism and exuberance.  He wrote of romance in the time of the world ending with a great deal of zeal and perhaps with what some might call immaturity, although when seen through the perspective of someone who was not yet an adult, the perceptions he had should be understandable.

Kody Boye has changed since then.  Now, as an adult, he has taken the time to revisit his first novel and revise it in ways that are more in keeping with his increase in adult experiences and relationships.  In its earlier version, I would have been very comfortable stating that the story was all about gay characters and their experiences during the zombie apocalypse.  Now, with the revisions that Kody has made, I would say that this story is about the experiences a group of people have during the zombie apocalypse.  Some of the characters are gay, and it remains a theme in this book, but while it remains a key part of Dakota and Jamie’s experiences and their existence as main characters, it doesn’t detract from a story of the apocalypse, of human relationships, and how people manage to not only survive, but to thrive during times of great peril and tragedy.

Essentially, this story starts out with Dakota, a boy who has just turned eighteen, hiding out with his friend Steve, an Iraqi war veteran, in Steve’s apartment in the weeks following the start of the zombie apocalypse.  With their supplies running out, they are forced to find a way out of their town with hopes of finding a safe haven.  They end up at a modified apartment complex with several members of the military and several civilians there, including Jamie, a corporal who forms an almost immediate bond with Dakota.

Several key characters are introduced and developed within the pages of this book, and much is revealed about them as they fight and struggle to survive the undead…and the unique, intriguing new creatures that appear later in the book that may or may not be a new hybrid creation.

Kody’s writing has matured, and while some of his youthful abandon and exuberance has perhaps disappeared on these pages, it has been replaced by a sure hand that understands more about how adult relationships work, grow, and evolve.  No, how some of them evolve is perhaps not perfect, but nothing ever is.  Some of the imagery Kody creates seems a bit extravagant here and there, though he does paint a vivid picture that allows you to feel that you are a part of the landscape he is creating.

Sunrise is a tale of the apocalypse, of relationships, and of the struggles we all face to find love, understanding, and a place to call home in a world filled with death and destruction.  Kody Boye has matured as a writer and is someone to keep an eye on.  I see great things in his future.

Sunrise  can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/Sunrise-Kody-Boye/dp/1468149652/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326921549&sr=8-1&tag=vig-20

My interview with Hydra Publications

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with Frank Hall, a good friend of mine who runs Hydra Publications, a small press from Indiana that focuses on speculative fiction.  I did an interview with him, which was a lot of fun, and we chatted about my projects, past, present, and future.

It was a lot of fun, and it is posted over at their website.  You can check it out here:  http://www.hydrapublications.com/2011/12/26/interview-with-patrick-dorazio/

The Dark Trilogy is now on Kindle!

Just a brief while after it hit smashwords, my trilogy is now on the kindle!  I am pretty thrilled about this one because it is FINALLY on the kindle, without the errors that the faced the original release of Comes The Dark that led to my publisher and I agreeing not to do any more kindle releases until the entire trilogy was ready to go.  And now, it is ready to go!

Here is the description:

Patrick D’Orazio’s Dark Zombie Trilogy (Comes The Dark, Into The Dark, and Beyond The Dark), was originally released on the Kindle in an unedited form under the first book’s title, Comes The Dark. It is being re-released with the entire trilogy as it was meant to be read: edited and expanded, with additional chapters not appearing in the original Kindle version, along with the Dark Stories that have appeared in the author’s blog that provide a full fourth book of additional stories about many of the secondary characters appearing in the trilogy, including Megan, George, Jason, Michael, and Ben. The Dark Trilogy, Revised, Expanded, and with Additional Stories is over 250,000 words of an intense saga of the zombie apocalypse.
The end came with a whimper, not a bang. The mysterious virus came out of nowhere and engulfed the world in a matter of days. Everyone who was infected seemed to die…and rise again. Governments collapsed, armies disappeared, and entire civilizations turned to dust as the human race tore itself to pieces. Jeff Blaine had a good life: a beautiful wife, adorable children, and a nice house in the suburbs. He liked his job, loved his family, and spent his lazy suburban Sundays out on the deck, barbecuing with the neighbors. Things were perfect until everything fell apart. And no matter how hard Jeff tried, he could not spare his family from the horrors scratching at the door. Now, with his family gone, his life in ruins, the only thing left is raw anger and pain. As the world continues to sink into darkness, Jeff does as well. So he ventures out into the desolation with no better plan than to destroy as many of the monsters that stole his life away before they destroy him as well. But soon Jeff will discover other survivors unwilling to give up. They will force him to decide whether or not to give in to the venom that gnaws at his soul. Should he continue to fight to survive, or succumb to the things in the darkness?

Just click on the picture below and it will send you on over to Amazon so you can pick up a copy:

It slithers towards the light, from Beyond The Darkness…it is almost here!

Well folks, the short delay on Beyond The Dark is almost at an end, with the formatting being completed tonight on the book, there is very little else to do but to put the cover and back cover together and wrap it around a proof, make sure it looks like it should, and then get it out there!

In addition to the final book of my trilogy being released very soon, the Kindle and other ebook form of the entire trilogy will also be released.  It will be entitled The Dark Trilogy: Revised, Expanded, and with Additional Stories.  I know it is a mouthful, but just call it The Dark Trilogy, for short, heh.  My publisher and I have discussed price points for this electronic release and agreed upon $4.99, which will be for over 250,000 words, including the three books plus every last story that appears in the Dark Stories page of this blog…and another little one that doesn’t appear here as well.  250,000 words is a hefty sum, so that price should be a pretty decent one for the zombie fans out there who have e-readers.

I would say that Beyond The Dark should be ready for createspace within the next couple of weeks (and I think perhaps sooner), and then amazon maybe a week or so later.  The kindle version should also be available very soon.

For any of you good folks reading this who haven’t checked out any of my trilogy, check out the first three chapters of Comes The Dark, which I have moved to its own separate page for easy access.  It will give you a taste before you buy.  And then, feel free to hit up my bio page and you can click on the links showing both Comes The Dark and Into The Dark, with Beyond The Dark to soon be joining them.

For now, here are copies of the front cover of Beyond The Dark and a rough up of the back cover as well.  Stay tuned, more will be coming soon as the release happens!

Some updates on the trilogy, meandering thoughts and whatnot

It’s been a while since I posted just some random thoughts, or even some updates on my experiences in writing.  Most of my blog posts have been book reviews and updates on stuff being released, Dark Stories, etc.  So I thought I would post some comments based on how things are looking these days.  It’s been around six months now since Comes The Dark came out, and this whole process of writing, promoting, editing, and all that wonderful stuff has changed for me since the book’s release.  It used to be that I was always preparing for something to happen, and it seemed like a distant dream.  For several years, when I meandered down the path of writing the manuscript that became my trilogy, it almost seemed theoretical that it would ever be published and that this whole effort was being done for nothing more than a “see, I told you I could do it!” perspective.  But then it became real, and the first book was released.

Things went great with that, and have been great, no doubt about it.  Sure, there have been a few negative reviews, which are almost like a badge of honor for a writer.  Having someone tell you that you suck and please stop writing is sort of a tough one to handle at first blush, but you can either ignore it, or try to extract something from that which motivates you to do better.  You can’t respond in kind, by lashing out, because it does no one any good, especially me.  Even trying to explain why you did something in your book that someone really didn’t like is pointless, because the inevitable truth that you have to embrace as a writer (especially of genre stuff, and in particular, sub-genre stuff as this zombie stuff has been called) is that there will always be people for who your work does not resonate, and in fact, they do truly hate it, because something you said, did, or didn’t do really rubs them the wrong way.  And if you try to absorb all that criticism and validate it in your mind, it will drive you crazy.  You will have one person who sights that you poured on the emotions far too heavily in one scene, and then someone else will come along and point out that your characters seemed emotionally withdrawn in that exact same scene.  I would never say that you can’t extract something out of the critiques you get, but you have to be true to yourself in the end, and let the chips fall where they may.  And trying to get everyone to like your stuff is a tough way to go through life, and there will be a LOT of disappointments along the way.  I want people to enjoy my work…otherwise, I wouldn’t have tried to get any of it published.  But knowing that you have done your best, no matter what, has to stand for something.

I will be the first one to admit that I have a lot to learn about writing, and a lot to learn about the editing process.  I know that there is always room for improvement, but at the same time, sooner or later, you have to step back and tell yourself that all that can be done has been done.  I’m not sure when that point is, but I think sooner or later I will find it.  It probably has something to do with being a bit OCD now and then, and not having the ability to walk away from a story and just leave it be, knowing that I’ve done all I can with it.

With all that said, I am taking another swipe at having some edits done to my trilogy.  The third book, Beyond The Dark, is complete and I am satisfied that it is the best it can be, with no further tampering from me.  I have had several edits done to it, and I know well enough to leave it be after that, because better editing minds than mine have worked it over and slapped it on the grill.  If it keeps cooking it will be overcooked and no one wants that.  But in conjunction with the edits being completed on that book, I have had an editor have another go at Comes The Dark and Into The Dark, and those edits will be implemented with the paperback and electronic versions of the book that are sold after the release of Beyond The Dark.   In fact, there will be several releases in March  for the grand finale of the trilogy.  Here they are, briefly:

Beyond The Dark is being released as a paperback and on Smashwords, naturally.  The edits, as I mentioned, are complete, and I am very happy with them.  I honestly think that this is the most compelling of the three books, for many reasons I won’t divulge here.

Future versions of the paperback and smashwords versions of Comes The Dark and Into The Dark will be the revised versions, though we won’t be advertising that.  The new copies sold will just have some new editing touches that won’t change anything with the stories, but will do a bit to get rid of some of the typos and grammatical errors that were in the original releases.

The Dark Trilogy, Revised, Expanded, and with Additional Stories will be released for both the Kindle and smashwords.  As I mention here: https://patrickdorazio.com/2010/11/22/announcement-about-the-kindle-version-of-comes-the-dark/, there was a snafu with the kindle release of Comes The Dark.  It was the raw, unedited version of the entire manuscript for the trilogy.  We pulled that version off the market, but not before a substantial number had been sold, and as you can guess, many of those kindle readers assumed that Into The Dark would end up being an entirely new story, not one that had appeared already in the version they had (mind you, there were some new chapters added and it was edited, which the raw manuscript was not), so we did not release Into The Dark on the kindle, nor are we releasing Beyond The Dark as a stand alone on the kindle either. Instead, we are releasing, as the title describes it, the entire trilogy, plus all the stories that appear here, on my blog, under the page heading “Dark Stories”.  It will be around 250,000 words and include a lot of stuff that didn’t show up in that raw and unedited kindle version that went out.


Maybe that will allow my OCD to relinquish control of me and let this trilogy rest for a bit after all that is said and done in March.  And that is the key, I think.  I need to focus 100% of my efforts on new stuff, and not on revising, editing, messing with, or otherwise tweaking stuff I have already done.  Granted, I have written my fair share of short stories and have outlined and even started writing new novels over the past few months, but the focus has been splintered with a LOT of it devoted to the trilogy.  I will continue to promote the Dark trilogy via the net and in other places, but it has been crazy for the past year, with so much effort put into something I had already written, and re-written, several times.  But that is what it takes to get a novel out there, and ready to go for public consumption.  I will even mention that another publisher came along and chatted about buying the rights to the trilogy and doing a re-release, which was very flattering, but a very daunting prospect.  The idea of once again diving into this trilogy of books, which has consumed so much of my time, effort, and energy over the past few years, was terrifying.  I just couldn’t do that.  I love these books-they will always hold a special place in my heart, and I love talking about them, promoting them, and doing whatever is needed to make them appear more polished and professional, etc.  but as far as writing, editing, etc…that all needs to be in the rear view mirror for me.  I need to focus on other projects and throw myself into them like I did this one.

With that in mind, I though I might give some vague ideas of what the future holds.  Because regardless of the guy on Amazon who pleaded with me to stop writing, I plan on doing some more…and I hope to get better at it-perhaps enough, someday, that he might change his mind, or might be able to brag to his friends that his comments were the ones that motivated me to get better and I actually did!  I guess there are crazier dreams out there.

I will finish off the Dark Stories.  I still have a handful of these stories to offer up to you, and I intend on finishing them before the release of Beyond The Dark.

There are about 15 submission calls for short stories that I would love to tackle.  Realistically, I will probably go after no more than 5-10 of them, but I will give it my best shot.  Another stab at keeping my writing diverse and not just tackling zombies, but other horror stories, sci fi, fantasy, and other genres as well.

I have two novels outlined, and I will admit that one is a fourth book in the same universe that the Dark Trilogy takes place in.  In all, the plan would be for five books total, with the fifth book being the final chapter in the tale.  The other novel is another horror tale that includes both our dear friends, the zombies, as well as their arch nemesis (well, at least I think so), the vampires.  And no, neither side are made to look like the good guys.  This one will hopefully be a very dark, very grim tale.

I have at least two or three other novels floating around in my head, including an overhaul of a book I wrote back in college.  High fantasy, as it was originally written.  Granted, the book was bad, really, really, bad.  But my new slant would be to do an overhaul with a few winks, a nudge here and there, and not try to take it so seriously.  Would it be outright comedy?  That remains to be seen, but I think I would like to take a swipe at doing my best to overhaul this sucker.  Another would be a YA adventure story, which is one that got into my head over the past few months and I really want to run with it.  It would be something very personal because of the elements of the story and the main characters, but unfortunately, I really don’t want to divulge much else because again, I haven’t done much with it yet.  But one of my longterm goals is to write YA fiction, and this would be my first step into that arena, perhaps beyond a few short stories I plan on doing before the novel would get done.  The final book floating around in my mind, and that I have created a description that would fit nicely on the back cover of the book, would be a futuristic novel.  It would actually have noir elements, would be at its heart a mystery, and takes place a decade after the zombie apocalypse has come and went-the humans won, and the zombies were wiped out…but someone out there knows the secret to creating zombies, and wants to bring them back…the main character’s job would be to stop them, and discover why they want to do such a crazy thing.

Again, this is all just ideas floating around in my head.  It is always fun to come up with ideas that you believe can be turned into novels, and then doing your best to putting them down on paper and get rolling with them.  They don’t always continue to speak to you after you start the writing process, and you realize that a good idea was actually only that-an idea.  But the ideas can morph and change into something completely different, which is also part of the fun.  You have the opportunity to change a story mid-stride and make it into something you never expected, but really gives you the juice to go the distance with it.

I guess that is it for now.  Sorry for the long explanation of things, but a lot on my mind lately, and a lot of things going on.  And for better or worse, I wanted to share it all with you. 😉

Check out my article on Flames Rising’s website about “Comes The Dark”

The folks over at Flames Rising let me take a swipe at talking about Comes The Dark and my writing experiences in general.

For folks not in the know, Flames Rising is an online resource for fans of Horror and Dark Fantasy entertainment. This horror fanzine offers reviews of Games, Fiction, Movies and more ranging from Top-Selling authors to the coolest Small Press and “indie” publishers. The popular Interviews at Flames Rising include Horror authors, artists and other creators of dark entertainment.  So you should be checking them out!

And more to the point, check out my article, here:  http://www.flamesrising.com/comes-the-dark-essay/

Announcement about the Kindle version of Comes The Dark

I wanted to post this as soon as this was official.

Press Release: Library of the Living Dead

November 22, 2010

The Library of the Living Dead would like to announce that the current Kindle version of Comes The Dark, by Patrick D’Orazio, is no longer be available, as of today, in anticipation of a revised and edited version being released to coincide with the paperback release of the third book of the trilogy, Beyond The Dark, in March of 2011.

It was recently discovered that some of the copies of the Kindle version of Comes The Dark included an early, unedited version of the entire Dark trilogy, including Comes The Dark, Into the Dark, and Beyond The Dark.  Because of this discovery, the Library of the Living Dead will not be releasing the edited versions of Into The Dark and Beyond The Dark separately as kindle books.  Instead, it will be releasing a Revised and Edited version of the trilogy, which will include all three books along with several bonus short stories from the realm of the dark trilogy that will be exclusive to this new kindle release.

The release of the paperback versions of Into The Dark and Beyond The Dark will go forward as planned, with Into The Dark being released in December of 2010, and Beyond The Dark being released in March of 2011.

More details about the Revised and Edited Kindle version of the Dark trilogy will be revealed before the scheduled release date.


Those who purchased the Kindle and got the entire trilogy got a glimpse of the raw, unedited version of the book.  Given the reviews that have been posted that were based on that, I can’t complain.  This wasn’t how things were exactly planned, but it works out quite well, giving my publisher and I the chance to re-release the entire trilogy on Kindle in a few months with some really nice bonus materials.  That plus Into The Dark will be out within the next few days, which I am really excited about.


A few updates on my new book and other stuff

I thought it would be a good idea to pass along a few updates on things.  First off, I wanted to thank Frank and the other folks at That Book Place for their hospitality this past Saturday.  The book signing with Ben Rogers was a great experience and their book store is a fantastic place.  If you are ever near Madison, Indiana, you HAVE to check it out.  Great used books and they can order up any new ones that you are interested in as well.

In other news, the second book in my trilogy, Into the Dark, has been sent off to be formatted.  Yep, the editing is complete and my obsessive-compulsive need to read it fifteen times in an attempt to catch every last mistake (which you simply cannot do, no matter how hard you try) is done.  It is now in the extremely capable hands of Kody Boye, who is a formatter extraordinare.   Philip Rogers is currently working on the cover and has passed along a rough draft of the back cover of the book, which looks great.  While I have not seen the art for the cover, the theme will be similar to what was on the first cover.  The back also retains that same flavor and to say that I am excited to see what Philip comes up with is the understatement of the year.

I will be working on another “Dark Story”, which is actually a continuation of the previous one, and will be about George and Jason again, very soon.  I am hoping to have something posted within the next week or so.  I am presently going to focus on a short story that has been nagging me for a while and try to get it done in the next few days, then I will be editing the next DS for the blog.

And for you folks who have not seen the back cover synopsis for Into the Dark, here it is again, for your viewing pleasure:

Six weeks ago, the mysterious virus came out of nowhere and engulfed the world.  Everyone infected seemed to die … then rise again.

Jeff Blaine did his best to hold his family together and to protect them from the horrors scratching at their door, but in the end, they were ripped away from him like everything else that ever mattered.

Lost and alone, Jeff decided his only option was to destroy as many of the monsters that stole his life away before they destroy him as well.  But when he discovers Megan, George, and Jason, three other survivors not interested in giving up just yet, he reluctantly accepts that there might still be a reason to fight and live to see another day.

Traveling through the blasted landscape their world has become, the quartet discovers that the living dead aren’t the only danger with which they must cope.  Even other survivors who promise safety and security from the hordes of ghouls roaming the wastelands will test loyalties and their faith in humankind.

Jeff and his small band of newfound friends must forge a semblance of life in the newly blighted world.  And they will have only the light of their own humanity by which to navigate as everything around them descends into the dark.

More updates as they come up.  As I have already mentioned, Into The Dark will be released between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it is coming soon!

As time goes on….

I haven’t really posted something that was just my thoughts on writing since this whole process of the book actually being publish began a few weeks ago.  At this stage in the game, it seems to be all about promoting my work more than anything else, so I really haven’t talked about what is going on with my writing efforts nowadays (except for short stories that are being released now, or very soon).  So I thought I would take a few moments and actually contemplate where things are at the present moment.

I have given some thought to posting some of the extra “stuff” that I wrote for the three novels that start with Comes The Dark here on my blog.  Stuff that helped me develop the story and give it some background-stories about the characters that didn’t make the final cut.  Since there was so much of that, it might make sense to provide a few blog entries on the story of George and Jason, or Megan, as well as some of the other things that took place ‘behind the scenes’ as it were.  In time, when the book has been out there for a while, I may start doing that, although not on any specific schedule.  I will have to see what comes of things.  What really makes me think that it may be worthwhile to do this is the fact that one of these ‘stories’ has been accepted as a stand alone short story for an anthology called Eye Witness Zombie, being published by May December Publishers, and are  tales of the zombocalypse told from a first person perspective.  I had to do some modifications to make it first person, but after that was done, the story worked well as a stand alone.  It has ties with the second novel in my trilogy, which will be released early next year, but not enough that it actually reveals any (or much) of the plot of my novel.   I remembered originally writing this story in one fevered pitch-I pumped out about 16,000 words in one night, most of which was unintelligible garbage at the time.  It was a total tangent-loosely related to the novel, but off on its own, with a character who appears nowhere else as the central focus.  He had a very vague connection to two characters in the books though and that led me to write it that night.  The unintelligible garbage got reworked and inserted into the novel, then I realized it was a massive amount of words that took the reader on a journey that was off the primary path of the story, even if i felt it was a good story to tell.  So finding it a home after I cut it from the final novel made me extremely happy.  I really believe it is a story worth telling.  Now if only the other ones I have in mind are as well.  They will be more closely related to the novels with main characters at the heart of them, so it will be much more difficult to promote them as stand alone short stories, but giving them a home here on the blog may be the idea place for them.

In other news, as I have been doing since I started this blog, I have been writing a lot of short stories.  I am probably not the most prolific writer, but I do try to hit as many submission calls that my publisher has, as well as some others out there from other houses that look interesting.  I wish I had specific release dates on some of the ones that have been accepted, but whether they are coming out this year or next, I am pretty excited about  all of them (as most writers would be about their babies).   I am currently trying my hand at a bit of erotic horror, which is much like bizarro for me in that I have never written anything in this particular genre before, and doubt it will ever become my forte.  Then again, my bizarro story made the cut in an anthology, so if my erotica tale does as well, who knows?  I don’t know much, but what I have learned so far is not to pigeon hole myself as a writer.  I am keeping all doors open, especially as I help my son write his YA zombie/vampire/werewolf story.  The boy has no boundaries when it comes to ideas, so it is always a trip to hear him talk about it.

As I continue promoting my novel and work on getting the second one ready to go for my publisher (the first round of edits are already complete and I have turned in my revisions, so that process is going great), I also need to start working on my next book, which I have been saying to myself as well as anyone else who will listen, that I have already started on it.  Given that it is outlined and I like the outline a great deal, the time is probably ripe for me to start pounding it out on the keyboard.  Outlines for me are guides that can be adjusted and modified as needed for as many sudden changes that need to take place in a book or story.  Many writers I know find outlines to be restricting and binding to the point that they hate them.  I guess I am not that type of writer, because while I love to have as many sudden inspirations that change everything as much as the next person, I need a skeleton, even a weirdly shaped one, to start pinning stuff to, which is why I outline so much.  So I build a blue print, which for others may be the equivalent of actually starting to write the story, since my outlines often take on a rather deep complexity, with minute details in them that sort of defies the idea of it being only an ‘outline’.  But since I don’t consider it writing until I start putting it into the actual MS word document, the term outline will have to due for whatever it is I have already done for novel number 4.

I guess that is enough rambling for now.  Tomorrow is another day for me to keep attacking this new erotic story and to beat myself up a bit more about the next novel, and to think about all the formatting stuff I need to do for the second novel…and some of the other submission calls and what their due dates are, because I don’t want to miss them.

The ongoing saga of becoming a published author…

Yep, it continues to be an interesting journey for me.  Currently, I am dealing with plenty in my life and the writing aspect is only one sub-section of that, but even with all the administration that goes into getting a book ready and prepared for the publisher, it is a fun experience.

I haven’t written for a few days due to other distractions, but I want to focus on it full steam over the next couple of weeks.  I am starting to feel the compelling need to begin writing my next novel, since I have been so short story happy that the idea and outline has been sitting there, collecting dust for a long time.  It is going to start beating on my brain pretty soon, demanding that I start paying it attention.  That is the thing about writing.  It’s all in there, in the brain, hanging out in various locked rooms, banging on the doors trying to get out.  Sooner or later, the wood starts to splinter and you either let it out or it overwhelms you, keeping you from doing anything else until you appease it and pay it some much needed attention.

In other news, I finally got my Amazon author page going.  Here is the link, but do NOT prepare to be dazzled…at least not if you are reading this around June 1st, 2010…when all of one anthology is listed.  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003O5GJBC.  Still, it is a beginning.  I still have not taken the plunge and gotten a Facebook fan page going just yet.  I will definitely do so in the near future…before the book comes out.

I reached out to an artist today to see if he would be willing to work on the cover of my novel.  Since nothing is official yet, I will remain quiet about who this artist is but he sounds interested, which is exciting.  He is an excellent artist and will do the cover great justice if he takes this project on.

I am currently waiting for the edits to approve for Comes The Dark, which will allow me to start getting blurbs going with several other authors and a reviewer who publishes their reviews on the net.  Now the blurbs are assuming that they like the book (fingers crossed) and as such will give it a nice comment.  I have done what needs to be done as far as other things that will appear in the book: introduction, biography, dedication, etc.  But until the edits are done, things are pretty much in stasis.

But as time rolls on, I get the privilege of seeing more of my short stories come out…promoting them, making sure they are listed on my Amazon Authors Page, and trying to convince anyone and everyone to check them out.  I am also waiting to hear back on several submissions outstanding…and I need to start writing again.

The real trick is to keep writing, despite how many distractions there are.  I could focus on all the mechanics of the book and just keep the writing to a minimum and feel like I am accomplishing something, but that really doesn’t cut it.  The first rule for me seems to be: write as much as you can, read as much as you can.  The rest tends to follow that.

This stuff is hard

As the world rolls on and I try to “become” an author through all the other processes involved with the translation of writing a book to having a book actually published, I have realized that this stuff is hard.

This belief stems from the fact that I have spent all day today trying to create an introduction to my novel, Comes the Dark because my publisher, the esteemed Dr. Pus, asked me to start putting together all the little things that surround the novel.  I have had the back cover written for a long time, which has undergone a few changes but has remained close to what I originally created back in 2008, which I foolishly believed I had finished the book…the first time.  But its the other little things that I am now focused on: my biography (not just for the back of the book, but to post on Amazon with the book), the introduction, the dedication, an extended description (once again for Amazon)…and various and other sundry things.

You see, a book is not just about getting it accepted by a publisher, getting it sent to an editor to do that voodoo they do so well, having an artist create a cover, and then slapping it all together.  Nooooo, it is far more complicated than that!  I am sure if you are in the biz, you already knew this and are having a nice little giggle under your breath at this point.  But for those out there like me, who are novices, you have to understand what all goes into this, even when you are dealing with a lean and mean publishing house like Library of the Living Dead.

I never gave much thought to the inside of a book.  Now I am not speaking about the actual story itself (duh) but the outline of the book.  The table of contents, the font used, the way it sits on a page…but there is someone handling that little tidbit, and as I have discovered, that person has to deal with all of your mistakes, just as the editor and publisher do.  How you format the manuscript makes a difference as to how they have to deal with the layout of the document.

A manuscript is expected to be in a certain format, whether you are writing a short story or a novel.  The biggies, as I have seen them, are 12 point courier, double spaced, with an indent at the beginning of each paragraph.  But watch out!  Different publishers want different things.  Some want headers, others do not.  The gentleman who does outlining for Doc at the Library does not want the indents set automatically, but manually.  Italics that you use in a story may or may not be acceptable in an manuscript.  Some publishers want you to underline everything that is to be italicized, while others want the story to appear as you want it to be when it comes out as a novel.

In addition to the stuff I have listed above, I have the duty of seeking out blurbs for my book.  What are blurbs you ask.  Blurbs are the comments made by other authors that you want to appear on the cover and inside of your book.  So how do you get these?  Not by being bashful, of course.  You submit a request to the authors (hopefully, you already know them) and provide them with an edited version of your book if they are willing to take a swipe at blurbing your work.  Of course, you have to cross your fingers that they like what you have written and will get you something back before all the formatting and book design occurs.

Yep, this stuff is hard.  It’s fun, so don’t get me wrong, but writing a novel is just the beginning of this process.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention all the promotion and “pimping” I need to do as well…things like getting a Facebook fan site going, an author page on Amazon (both still in the works), promoting the book on this blog and promoting it via other blogs, as well as doing interviews, attending events like Horror Realm, and other stuff that will come about as I continue to move forward.
More on that later.  Right now, I need to keep rocking and rolling with all of this, while I try to find more time to write and read other folks stuff as well, which is something I love doing.  It keeps you busy, that’s for sure!

My experiences with the writing, editing, and publishing process.

Its almost surreal, this experience I have been going through lately.  Well, when I say lately, I mean over the past three and a half years.  July 2006-That is when I got “serious” about this writing stuff.  I, like many people I know, had always sworn they would become a writer some day.  We all have ideas, we all have plans to sit down and write chapter after chapter and create the great American novel.  Or at least, the novel that someone might want to read, even if it is just our wives or husbands and maybe the rest of our family members.  But honestly, how many of us end up doing that?

I have a friend who encouraged me every step of the way.  He was impressed when I told him that I had written a hundred pages, he was impressed when I finished my first draft.  He had started his own book, and trashed the efforts, countless times.  He could never get past chapter one.

Well, for me, the journey was about kicking myself in the ass and not playing around any more.  The disconnect was never after I had sat down and started writing, it had been moving from the idea stage to reality.  Once I actually started writing, I never looked back…

Now, please understand, I think it is fair to say that everyone writes differently.  You can’t say that there is a step by step process that everyone should take to become a successful writer.  Certainly, I can’t recommend On Writing by Stephen King enough.  That guy is a machine, and he is a regimented, highly organized writer who keeps to a schedule and perhaps even follows all the rules he has in place for how things are supposed to go.  Me?  I doubt I will ever be like that.

Some folks I know sit down with an idea and just start writing.  It flows from that point and grows from there.  They have a general idea in their head where they want to end up but don’t limit themselves by organizing their thoughts too much beforehand.  Me?  I over think EVERYTHING during the writing process.  Let me put it this way: I started writing my novel back in July of 2006 and I believe my first draft was not completed until January of 2008, a year and a half later.  Now let me say this: that was not me simply writing and writing.  That process involved outlining, revamping outlines, trashing big chunks of what I had originally written, and laboring over individual sentences at 3 a.m. as I tried to make it sound right.  By the time my first draft was completed, it was well over 360k words.

Let me repeat that for those of you in the cheap seats: 360k words.  Stephen King’s The Stand was originally released with 150,000 words cut from the manuscript.  It was still well over 800 pages (honestly, I can’t remember how many pages there were) but my book was about the size of the originally released version of the stand.  Now even with my meandering mind could I ever hope to top Mr. King, whose unabridged version sits at approximately 520k words.

So, move forward from my triumphant evening sitting at the keyboard, when I typed out that last sentence and officially announced to friends and family that I had finished my book.  It felt like a relief, like I could scratch off something on the bucket list, etc.  I was 39 years old at the time and I had written my first novel before hitting that big middle aged landmark.  I was over the moon.

Then I started to realize that even with all the editing I had done, all the effort to put together something presentable, that my story was monstrous.  I approached a publisher.  Someone I had been having a dialogue with previously, because I had been reviewing books they had come out with and they had been so kind as to send me review copies of other books to also review on Amazon.  The publisher was more than willing to look at my book, but…and this was a big BUT, could I turn it into a trilogy?  The reason for this was because at 360K words, it was far, far, far too large to ever be considered for publication with them.  He liked a maximum of 120K words per book, and that was even pushing it.

Sooooo, that leads us to the second part of this process-my efforts to turn my book into a trilogy.  Thankfully, that was not as hard to do as I had originally though, because as I started looking, I saw three natural splits in the novel-cliffhanger endings that set up the following segment of my tale nicely.  So that was done, along with some more compulsive editing.

Alas, this is where I began to actually learn a few more things about writing that became invaluable to me.  The first came a month after I submitted my manuscript to this particular publisher and the gentleman came back and said that he could not publish my book.  He was kind enough to provide me with feedback and the key thing I took away from that was this: I was doing a hell of a lot of telling and not nearly enough showing.  In other words, I was dumping a lot of information on people and not allowing them to discover the story for themselves.

I thanked that publisher and admitted to myself that he was absolutely correct in his assessment.  I also realized that my book was massively over bloated and I needed to mercilessly start to slice and dice it down to what it should have been in the first place.

So my editing journey continued.  The publisher had actually suggested I leave this story on the shelf and work on other stuff for a time and after getting published with other novels or short stories, then return to my story later.  I had given that some thought but in the end, I couldn’t help but return to the story that had been in my dreams and nightmares now for two and half years at that point.  It was the beginning of 2009 by then, and my novel had just gotten rejected by a publisher and as a side note, my job had just been eliminated.

So, I was unemployed and focused on finding a new job.  I did leave my book on the shelf…for about a month or two.  Then I went at it with red penned zeal.  I should probably say at this point that other people were reading what I had written.  They had been doing so for quite some time.  I definitely took a lot from their thoughts.  Mind you, I didn’t change everything based on their suggestions, but having those other folks to bounce things off of was invaluable.

I was bound and determined to get my book published.  Let me put that a different way.  I did not want to self-publish.  Period.  A writer by the name of Rhiannon Frater has written a trilogy of zombie apocalyptic fiction entitled As The World Dies.  She went the self-publishing route.  Her success is well known in the world of zombie fiction.  I can’t say that I know Rhiannon personally, but I do know her through the wonderful world of the internet-Facebook and message boards, etc.  Her success has been definitely the exception to the rule.  Rhiannon has a business savvy and loads of smarts that allowed her to self-publish and create something that was terrific and create something that people have bought.  Word of mouth has been a big part of that.  That is my plug for her work: go buy her trilogy.  Its fantastic.

But Rhiannon’s success is the exception.  There are good self-published novels, sometimes by jaded authors who got sick of trying to go the normal route to publishing.  They write terrific stories that will really blow you away.  But in addition to those novels, you are going to get a LOT more novels that probably were taken out of the oven way too early.  That is my polite way of saying that a professional editor would have gone a long way for those folks who so desperately wanted to get published and were willing to do whatever it took to achieve that dream as fast as possible. On top of that, you have to consider how much marketing responsibility you have taken on by becoming your own business entity.  Rhiannon was able to do it, but I daresay she is a unique person.  Did I write a book so I could become famous and read by thousands or millions?  No, but if I am going to get published, I would like to have a company standing behind me with not only an editor, but the ability to effectively market what I have written.  They can promote my book in the back of other books they produce, they can take me to trade shows, put excerpts from my book on pod casts, etc.  Being in a stable with other authors is also invaluable.  I have interacted with a much larger group of people because of my relationship with the Library of the Living Dead.  Not only is Dr. Pus, the benevolent publisher, someone who I have gained valuable insights from, but I have also had the privilege of bouncing ideas off of published authors like Tim Long and Steve North.  That guys like that (amongst many other terrific writers) are asking for my opinion on what they are currently writing is mind blowing.

Whew!  That was quite a tangent, wasn’t it?  So anyway, back to my saga.  I pulled down my manuscript and started slicing it and editing it about another million times.  The end result?  About 162K words.  At the same time, I introduced myself to the Library of the Living Dead and Dr. Pus, who was so kind as to create a section of his message boards where I could post chapters of my book for others to read and critique.  What a difference that made!  It introduced me to a lot of people.  Folks like those I have mentioned above, including Rhiannon Frater, who has not only been self published but also published at the Library as well.  Tons of other writers of both novels and short stories, as well as fans of the genre, were there, supporting me every step of the way.

So after I felt pretty strong about my novel, I submitted it to the Library.  But again, at 162K words, it was a bit large, but still could be turned into a trilogy that would make sense and worked quite well.  So I spoke to Doc about that and less than a couple of weeks ago, he agreed to publish it as a trilogy.

Once again, I was over the moon and thrilled.  But the journey, in many ways, has just begun.  Doc is assigning me an editor, who I will become very familiar with over the next few months (and beyond), I am sure.  We have chatted about artwork for the cover of the first book, the description on the back, and any sort of promoting that I can do, including creating a website (thus this blog, which is the tip of the iceberg for me).  I will be at Horror Realm in Pittsburgh in September, which will be occurring shortly after my book is released in September.

I will likely be talking in detail about my experiences with the publishing process in later blog installments.  Its been an interesting ride so far.