Writing Update – 2/24/2017 (New purchases & interviews, and New projects)

First off, I want to thank recent (and semi-recent) purchasers of In the Land of God. I also want to thank whomever left the recent five-star review on Amazon. I don’t know what is more affirming, seeing a new sale (hurray, people were willing to pay for my work!) or seeing a positive review of something I wrote (hurray, strangers don’t think my work sucks!)

I also want to thank Grand Valley TV for a chance to be interviewed by Kyle Bindas (which should be ready to watch in the near future), and the Grand Valley State University Book Club for the chance to speak at their meeting on the 16th. I honestly can’t decide whether the speaking event was exciting, or nerve-wracking. Maybe a little bit of both? Exciting-wracking? Nerve-exciting? I don’t know. You’d think a writer would be better at concision and precision.

Anyway…

Now that the Oscar-style thank you speech is out of the way, on to new business.

For those of you that don’t know, I wrote a post a while back about my next novel and an upcoming anthology of horror stories. To elaborate, the next novel that I’m working on (sort of) is a tragic romance set during a future global conflict. It is set over the course of a summer and consists of three, interconnected plot lines. One plot focuses on a soldier caught up in the war, a priest who is confronted with the reality of his nationalism, and a young couple fresh out of high school grappling with the harshness of their coming-of-age. I’m sure it sounds all very pretentious and gloomy, but hey, it’s a story I’ve been kicking around in my head since high school and I figure there’s no time like the present to write it.

The other project, the anthology of horror stories, will come from myself and the cover artist for In the Land of God, Micah Chapin. To give an idea of what it will be like, the plan is to have stories that range from Weird Fiction (a la H.P. Lovecraft sans overt racism), to existentialist horror, to apocalyptic horror reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s. I’ve written a few of the stories, and truth be told I haven’t talked with Micah about that project in a minute, but there’s more headway with that project than with the second novel.

Part of it is good old procrastination, and part of it is just…life getting in the way. Wrapping up my college career, work, and just living tend to be pretty big obstacles to getting writing done (not that I would trade any of them for more time to write. Although a Faustian deal for better time management skills would be alright. I kid.)

Perhaps the biggest reason those projects have gotten neglected is because I just banged out the rough draft of something I’ve never done before, and no, it is not fan fiction. After being inspired by Hamilton (it’s so damn good) and current events, I decided to try my hand at writing a play. Why a play? Well, why not? That’s not much of an explanation, though. Here’s a better one. I want my writing to have a cinematic feel, I think cinematic writing is easier for modern audiences to digest. That’s not a dig, the reality is we live in an extremely visual society, and we have for the better part of a hundred years. Why not make your writing accessible for your audience? Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t take a paragraph or two to wax philosophic, but the majority of the story should create a vivid film in a reader’s head. Plus, if I’m being honest, it’s more fun to write that way. Where were we? Oh, right, writing a play. Anyway, my takeaway from the rough draft is that it’s a completely different animal. The formatting is different, the conventions are different, even the process of getting the final product in the open is a different beast. I self-published In the Land of God not only because of principle, but because it was feasible to self-publish. You can’t really self-publish a play. I mean, you totally can, but the real name of the game is getting the play produced. That’s easier said than done, and it means either throwing my hat into the ring for a contest, or finding a theatre willing to produce the play. The other difference is that getting a play produced is different than getting a novel published. Sure, a novel relies on a lot of moving parts (an editor, possibly an agent, a publishing platform, people to get the novel into the hands of readers, readers in general), but a play, right out of the starting gate requires more people to make it a reality. It sounds like I’m pulling a 180 in terms of my philosophy, but in all honesty it doesn’t feel that way. I still love the independence of writing, but I also realize that it’s a different situation because it’s a different genre. Apples and oranges, spaghetti and pizza.

Anyway…

My point is, I wrote a play, and it feels pretty good to have done something and done it so quickly. It still needs work, and it needs to be expanded (it’s only about 61 pages long at the time of my writing this), but it feels like I have something. Part of me wants to embark on writing a musical, but at the same time I feel like a toddler that took his first steps and got so excited he signed up for a marathon.

If you have any comments, leave ‘em below, and you can follow me on Twitter by clicking the link up top. Also, if you have any tips when it comes to getting a play produced, feel free to leave them below (trust me, any help is greatly appreciated).

Thanks for reading.

A luta continua

In the Land of God is available on Amazon as an eBook and paperback.

 

Upcoming Projects: Horror Anthology; Tragic Romance in WWIII; Serialization of In the Land of God 

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I’m sure some would tell me that working on multiple projects at the same time is insane, and I agree, but there’s nothing criminal with insanity as long as the insanity doesn’t harm anybody.

I’ve mentioned one project in the past, an anthology of weird fiction and horror fiction short stories that will be written with my cover artist/designer, Micah Chapin. One of the short stories, “The Watchers” is available for reading here (for free), and it will most likely be included in the final anthology. Nothing is set in stone yet, but we intend to open each story with an illustration, and the stories will exist in the same universe, or share a common theme. We hope that these stories will be entertaining, but also thought-provoking, making the reader question things like morality, mortality, and the reality of our existence.

The other project I’m working on is my next novel concerning a concept I’ve had since the end of high school. I don’t want to divulge too many details, but it’s a tragic romance set in the midst of a Third World War. More details will come as work progresses, but I’m pleased to announce that I have already written 10,000 words, words that I have forgotten about since they’ve been crammed into a digital drawer on my hard drive.

Why wasn’t that my first novel instead of In the Land of God?

This named (but unnamed) story is a bit more complex than In the Land of God. In the Land of God is fairly linear without too many deviating plot points; this story is neither of those things. Yes, it’s still linear, but it jumps around to more characters with each chapter focusing on a different story. These various stories interconnect at times, subtly, with less focus on dialogue and more focus on action and nonverbal exposition. To be quite frank, I’m astounded 17-year old Adam came up with the idea in the first place.

Chances are, it won’t be as long as In the Land of God since it takes place over the course of a summer instead of over the course of 30-plus years, which means it might be a faster novel to write. I’m hoping to have it ready to go by the beginning of summer 2017, but let’s not all hold our breath for that release. There’s still a fair amount of work to be done. I just know that it will be easier to complete with one novel under my belt. I’ll have to see what the winter looks like in terms of school, work, and life.

 

I’ll drop this hint: it would be appropriate for this novel to be released at the start of the summer.

 

The anthology…well, who knows when exactly that will be ready to publish? I haven’t talked to Micah about an estimated release date, but I’m hoping for a Halloween 2017 release date. That seems appropriate for this kind of anthology.

All I know is that it will be easy to bounce back-and-forth between these two projects. For the novel, I already have some written material and the same goes for the anthology. With the anthology, I can write one story then refocus my attention and write a chapter or two for the novel. Here’s the other positive: they’re both speculative fiction projects. Now, the novel is firmly rooted in reality (for the most part) and it will be literary fiction, but it will be easier to jump between mindsets considering the stories take place in unknown, alternate futures.

 

Well, alternate for the time being. We’ll have to see just how alternate a post-apocalyptic future is in the coming months and years.

 

Here’s one last project I plan on doing that involves In the Land of God: I plan on making each chapter available for free on here; each week a new chapter. I must figure out when I want to start the serialization, and the day I plan on releasing each new chapter. There are 42 chapters, some longer and some shorter than others, so it might make more sense to release two or three chapters at once as opposed to once a week.

I’ll just have to see what works out.

One last thing, I had a radio interview on December 1st and I still have to upload it to YouTube to embed in a blog post. That should be up in a few days (if not tomorrow).

Do any of these projects stand out to you? Any you don’t care about seeing? Make sure to leave your feedback in the comments section or find me on Twitter (@ahahnjones).

Thanks for reading, and I hope you stick around.

A luta continua.

In the Land of God is the debut novel of Adam Jones. It’s a story of multi-generational strife in a Midwestern family set during the First World War and the Great Depression. It’s available on Amazon as an eBook for $2.99 and as a paperback for $9.99.

Reflections on Self-Publishing (or Would I do it again?)

In case you haven’t been following my blog, here’s the lowdown: on November 22, 2016, I self-published my debut novel, In the Land of God through Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace.

I think every writer wants to imagine they’ll wind up on a bestsellers list, go down in history as some kind of literary genius, and be an overnight success. So far, none of that has happened with In the Land of God (but I did get a five-star review as my first review!)

Now that the dust has begun to settle and I can shift into a lower gear, I have a little time to think about the frenetic process to turn the manuscript into a novel. It took me about two-and-a half years to write the damn thing, then I edited it in about two months. Every day I’m thankful for a friend and editor like Andrew Fisher that read the thing in about two weeks and gave me the kind of feedback that made the story so much stronger.

Cover creation and design happened in one night, and I think the only reason I wasn’t pulling my hair out was because I had a beer in my hand and Micah Chapin’s insane commentary to keep me on the level.

I almost went nuts the night of the launch trying to get it ready for release. It’s a testament to my restraint that I didn’t toss my laptop across the living room.

It’s out in the world now, the literary baby Moses tossed into the Nile River hoping for the best. It feels a bit like sending a kid out into the real world; you hope it’s ready for criticism, that it will succeed, but ultimately, it’s out of your hands. It doesn’t belong to you anymore.

Although the process was hectic and stressful, it was a rewarding and educating experience.

Here are some of my takeaways.

First, I will continue to allow only a handful of people to see an unpolished manuscript. Not for any proud reasons, but because I think you run the risk of having too many opinions when you’re trying to get editing done. Have one editor, and a few other people to serve as beta readers, otherwise you’ll get flooded with opinions and you can’t please everyone.

Second, I will give myself more time with my next novel. I don’t think editing in two months was a horrendous time frame, especially since I knew what had to be changed, discarded, or kept, but I lacked discipline. Thus, it made the final week a mad dash to the finish line and I hated it. Part of that is because I was trying to juggle school, work, editing and life in general. Nevertheless, I will give myself more time for the next one.

Third, I’ve grown to admire self-publishing as a way of getting a book into the hands of an audience. It’s a 1:1 exchange: the writer gives material, and the reader pays for it. There are no greedy middlemen trying to get a slice of a pie they didn’t help bake. Why should they get most of it when all they did was turn on the oven? Self-publishing is anathema to that tired old model. It’s also a streamlined process.

I could have spent time shopping around for an agent, or a publisher, hoping someone would pick up my manuscript. If it got picked, then I would wait for the deliberation (“How can we market this?” “When should we sell it?” “Chance of success?” etc. etc. etc.), then be told what must be added/changed/removed, then wait for it to be released. Oh, and I’d be responsible for most of the promotional legwork while getting 15% royalties on a book that won’t be marketed heavily. Oh boy, where do I sign up? And that’s if it gets picked by an agent or publisher. I could have spent months hoping to find someone only to be rejected every step of the way (kind of like trying to find a date in high school).

I’m not militantly against traditional publishing, and if the opportunity presented itself I would seize on it, but I’m comfortable with that route not being the one I chose for In the Land of God. We are living in nontraditional times, so why embrace a traditional path?

Here’s a less rhetorical reason: agents and publishers want to see that you have a following. I have about 30 followers on WordPress, and a couple hundred on Facebook and Twitter; in short: probably not enough to make it worth the risk of taking on a new writer. I think it’s a little shortsighted to nix a book because an author isn’t a social media genius, but I understand the reasoning. Still, the more I think about it, the happier I am that I self-published my first novel.

To me, being a writer is about telling a story and getting that story into the hands of people. People can’t read it if it’s sitting in a drawer or left on a desk to gather dust. I know it’s not for everyone, and I got lucky having collaborators that were willing to work for royalties and not upfront payment, but if you’re a new writer that has a story you believe deserves to be read then give self-publishing a try. If one person reads it and enjoys it, then it will be worth it.

Will I do it again?

Most likely, yes.

I’m currently working on a weird fiction/horror fiction anthology of short stories with Micah Chapin, and I’m going to begin work on my next novel: a tragic romance set during a third world war that follows multiple people over the course of a summer. Unless something dramatic happens, I will self-publish those two books as well. Despite the stress and frustrations, I enjoyed the self-publishing process; the control, the creativity, and the freedom. I’d hate to see the things I love get emasculated and eviscerated for money reasons or to placate jaded critics.

Have you self-published, or are thinking about doing it? Start the conversation in the comments, or feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@ahahnjones).

Thanks for reading, and I hope you stick around.

A luta continua.

In the Land of God (five stars on Amazon) is now available on Amazon as an eBook for $2.99 and as a paperback for $9.99. You can keep up to date with news about In the Land of God on this blog, or on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

Black Friday & Cyber Monday (or How I learned to love the sale)

Friday Morning: A riot of soccer moms fills the the halls of a shopping mall, some punching and clawing at each other, others trying to keep their heads down and just praying the store isn’t out of…whatever. It looks like a cross between the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan and a football brawl in Europe.

Monday Morning: At home, millions of Americans sit at their computers, ready to jump on the latest deal and sneer at the plebes that still actually left their houses to get a deal.

Yes everyone, it’s that time of year again: Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when millions of the faithful celebrate Consumerism’s highest holidays. Maybe that’s a little cynical and exaggerated for me to say, especially about that first bit. The obsession with finding a good deal is a part of the American DNA, but Black Friday and Cyber Monday both take that to a new level; a consumer’s nirvana, if you will.

On a certain level I can’t blame someone for getting excited over a good deal. It hearkens back to the days when we were hunter-gatherers, and we got the opportunity to make a good kill. Except now the stakes are much, much lower. Now, instead of being worried about getting killed or starving if we lose the deal, we worry about paying extra money on a product we probably don’t really need or getting elbowed in the face by an overzealous shopper.

On another level, these two days are just consumerism in a nutshell: buy a lot of things that you don’t really need, but they’re there, so you might as well buy them. It’s not just on the consumers’ end either. Businesses have been slowly walking back their opening time for Black Friday, and some businesses have opened on Thanksgiving Day just to beat the competition.

Depending on where you stand, this is all either an affirmation of everything good and right with America, or everything bad and wrong.

So what does this have to do with writing?

If you’re an independent author then you have to face facts: you’re a businessperson.

Not exactly a Wall Street executive, or an international mogul, but you’re in business. It just happens to be the business of selling books.

And since you’re a businessperson, this means you have to take advantage of the spending frenzy on Cyber Monday. For example, on Monday I’m going to have some kind of sale for my novel, In the Land of God. It will be tremendously discounted if not free (via a coupon on Facebook)

Why?

Publicity. If you can get your book into as many hands as possible then the slight profit loss is worth it.

Admittedly, it’s self-serving, but it also sends a strong message to potential readers and to the traditional publishing industry at large:

a) I want to make it easier for you, the reader, to get your hands on a copy of my book

and

b) We, the indie market, will use the same strategies as the traditional publishers to ensure our success too.

Happy belated Thanksgiving, and feel free to leave a comment below or on Twitter (@ahahnjones). Are you an indie author, and have you used Cyber Monday to push your book? Did it work? Lemme know.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you stick around.

A luta continua.

In the Land of God is now available on Amazon’s Kindle Store as an eBook ($2.99) and a paperback ($9.99). Pick up a copy there, or via the CreateSpace eStore and check out the Facebook page for news about events, deals, and updates.