Monday, October 23, 2017

Greg Owen #3 - The Prodigal Girl

This morning I begin work on the third mystery in the Greg Owen series, this one’s called The Prodigal Girl.

I’m keeping all plot details to myself, because I consider just about everything that happens in the book to be a spoiler.

The Greg Owen novels tend to run 60K and this one will be no different. I’ve got a high-level outline prepared and am feeling good about the story and character arcs.

I think I can write the first draft in 7 days.

Now that goal comes with a caveat. I have jury duty on Thursday. Because of my legal background, one or both attorneys on the case will want me nowhere near the jury box, so it's unlikely I'll get selected. But still, I will probably spend a chunk of the day Thursday at the courthouse, during the time I would otherwise be working. In the unlikely event I am selected for jury duty, then my goal of writing this book in 7 days goes completely out the window.

Either way, I’m off to the races again. It took me 3 weeks to write (not edit) a fantasy novel, so you might be wondering why I think I can write a Greg Owen book in 1 week. Here are some reasons why it’s do-able:
  1. I don’t have to create a whole new universe. Greg Owen’s stories take place in a world that’s exactly like ours. No magic, no strange creatures, no people/clans/lands/religions, nothing like that I have to give serious thought to and invent myself. He owns a pool hall, has a daughter, and is trying to make a living in a real-world setting. All things I can relate to.
  2. This book will be half as long as The Bastard’s Refuge (TBR).
  3. I’ve written a ton of mysteries already, so I understand the formula on a more intuitive level. TBR was my first heroic fantasy novel.
  4. I know who Greg is. I know who the supporting characters are. With TBR, I had a general sense of the characters before I sat down to write but the first draft was as much about discovering who they were and what they would do as it was telling the story.
  5. The Prodigal Girl is already up for pre-order! Now if that’s not reason enough …

Time to get cracking.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Latest Insane Idea

Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year. It carries none of the sentiment other holidays do. People get to act wacky and break from the routine of being their "normal self" for the day. That character from that movie I've always loved? Tonight I get to pretend I'm them for a few hours. It's a lot of fun. And I love a good scary movie too, though good scary movies are difficult to find.

Anyway, I'm toying with the idea to write a horror novella and release it on Halloween.

Yes, today is October 20th and I have not written a word of it, nor do I even have an idea of what it would be about, so it's an absolutely, utterly ridiculous idea.

But, ohhhhhh, is it tempting.

I love giving myself random challenges like this. And in this new world of indie publishing, I could do it too. It's possible to write, edit and release a novella in 11 days on Amazon.

Could I do it?

I think so.

Should I?

That's another question, with probably a different answer. Or at least, a much more nuanced answer.

Going to give this a lot of thought today ...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Off-Topic: Sixers Fans Need To Chill Out About Markelle Fultz

76ers fans, I'm here to tell you that Markelle Fultz will grow into a good NBA player and it's WAAAAYYYYYYYYYY too early to worry about him.

Here are three reasons why you should not be worried.

  1. It's the NBA. Fultz is only 19 years old. All rookies experience an adjustment period where they learn the significant differences between the college and pro games. Fultz missed a chunk of Summer League due to injury and then missed half the preseason due to injury. Like all other rookies everywhere, he just needs time and reps. Do not make the mistake of comparing his rookie campaign to that of Simmons or Embiid, both of whom got to sit out for 1 and 2 years respectively and study the game, before lacing them up.
  2. He's changed his shooting form. I don't know whose idea this was, but if I was the shooting coach of the 76ers (Brian Colangelo, please give me serious consideration for that role if you need somebody.) I would NEVER have tweaked Fultz's form. He shot at a 41% clip from deep in college! With all the open looks he will get on this team, due to Embiid's ability to warp time and space on the court and courtesy of Simmons's uncanny vision, Fultz can thrive in this environment. Admittedly (and oddly) Fultz was a below average free throw shooter in college, so perhaps that's why he/they/someone getting paid a lot more money than me thought this was a good idea, but rather than tinker with a form that is good deep and fundamentally change the way he shoots, why not just see if his foul shooting improves over time? Even if he's only a 70% - 75% free throw shooter, that's okay on this team. Redick and Embiid are both great from the charity stripe and we've got other good foul shooters that can come off the bench if the other team employs the Hack-a-Shaq style at the end of the fourth quarter in a close game.
  3. He's playing off the ball now. In college, Fultz was the guy with the ball in his hands. He created scoring opportunities for himself with his change of pace, herky-jerky style of movement. Now he's on a team where he's not the primary ball handler and has to find scoring opportunities while moving off the ball. That means learning how to run off screens like it's a track meet and also learning how to catch and shoot. Yes, Fultz was always a scorer, but this is a different kind of scoring, a different way of literally thinking about the game and seeing the floor. It requires a change in mindset and habit, and a trust in his teammates that they will get him the ball to score. All of these things take time. (If somebody asked me to write a romance novel, for instance, I could get it done but it wouldn't be on par with my other work.)
(Speaking of which, if anybody out there wants to give me a six-figure advance to write a romance novel, here's my email address: 

If Fultz were facing only one of these challenges, it would be reason enough not to get alarmed by his (extremely limited) play so far. But Fultz is facing all three, at the same time. Adjusting to the NBA game while changing his shooting form and learning how to play off the ball? Frankly it's amazing he's played as well as he has.

Give him some time! One day Fultz could be the 2nd option on this team, maybe even the 1st. Only time will tell. Until then, trust the process. If Embiid stays healthy and the kids learn to play together, the 76ers make the playoffs this year and, in a diluted Eastern Conference, might make some noise when they get there.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What now?

Over the past month I've built up a lot of writing momentum. Writing is inertial, so rather than take some time off I've decided to pivot immediately to something else.

I've mentioned this before, but earlier this year I wrote a psy thriller, The Young Woman Next Door, that I wasn't crazy about. While working on The Bastard's Refuge, a few ideas came to me that would make the psy thriller so, so much better. So that's what I'll be working on this week. The changes will only require a few days to make. If I keep pushing, The Young Woman Next Door should be ready to launch in November.

I also want to finish book 3 in the Greg Owen series, this one's called The Prodigal Girl. I just put it up for pre-order on Amazon. Here's the cover:

I don't want to give any details away about the plot, because EVERYTHING is a spoiler.

Last but not least, I'm exploring marketing options for The Bastard's Refuge. I want to launch that story in November but I need to build some anticipation for it before I do. I've got a few different ideas ;-)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

HF Novel Update 10/14/17 (Day 28)

Editing Time: Zilch.

Didn't get to the book yesterday and that was probably a good thing. When I woke up this morning, I thought of a couple tiny things I wanted to tweak, but those can wait till after the proofing is done. These are really minor, minor changes, ones that don't significantly impact the story. As in, ADD THIS ONE THOUGHT HERE and OVER THERE.

But honestly, I could publish the story without making those changes. Between now and when I release, I'll continue to get ideas about how to "improve" the book but I know from past experience that this will happen no matter what. It doesn't mean these things must be done to make the story "perfect." Hell, I still think about how I should have done XXX in the 2nd book in my paranormal thriller series, and that story has been out for 3 years now and it's doing just fine.

Any more changes I want to make at this point to The Bastard's Refuge are probably just my subconscious's way of stalling.

So with that said, the book is effectively done.

I failed in my challenge. It took me 28 days instead of 21 to write a publishable book. Oh darn ;-)

It's funny when I look back at the first post I wrote about this challenge. It's either prophetic, or just a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I quote:

"So what if I fail?

If it takes me 28 days as opposed to 21, I'VE STILL WRITTEN AND EDITED A FULL LENGTH NOVEL IN A MONTH."

Maybe my brain knew all along I'd need a little bit longer with the book than I thought. When I set out, I was picturing a 90K story. The book grew into 110K.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

HF Novel Update 10/13/17 (Day 27)

Editing Time: 4 hours

I'm happy with where the manuscript is, though the story is wearing me out. I had planned on editing for 6 to 7 hours, but I just didn't "have it" yesterday.

Now this is where you might be thinking, "Evan, you should have set the MS aside and come back to it later. You've only edited for a week and you're already burned out!"

To which I would respond, "I always get burned out editing, even when I set the book aside for a month or longer. And by quick check, I've spent ~50 hours editing this mofo. I suspect that, no matter when the editing happened, I'd be burned out after 50 hours of it."

Today I won't get much time to edit but that's okay. To borrow an artist's expression, I feel I'm tickling the story at this point. So I'm ready to step away from the book and fire it off to the proofreader. I don't want to look at this story again till I hit PUBLISH next month.

Because this is a new genre for me and I'm releasing it under my real name (which has no other writing credits on Amazon), I do need to do a ton of marketing before the book launches. I'm considering trying Instafreebie for the next 30 days to build up some anticipation for the release. After the launch, I'll try some ads as well.

That's all for now.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Coming Next Month

HF Novel Update 10/12/17 (Day 26)

Editing Time: 5 hours

I was hoping to get more work done yesterday, but I crashed "early" last night. Cumulative fatigue. I've been burning the candle at both ends, staying up way too late after the kiddies go to bed to get work done. So last night I punched out at 10:30.

Through the weekend I'll work my way through the manuscript again. At this point the story is right, everything is where it needs to go, and the characters are fleshed out. My goal on this pass is to fine-tune the language and cut out the fat, hopefully turning a 114K manuscript into a 100K - 105K novel.

Later today I'll post the cover ;-)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

HF Novel Update 10/11/17 (Day 25)

Editing Time: 6 hours

I didn't get through a huge chunk of the story yesterday, but the edits were quality. Several paragraphs were simply tossed out. In many places, five or six sentences became three or four, with the ideas expressed much more clearly and powerfully. All good stuff.

Today I have a couple rewrites then will finish the "3rd" draft. For the next three days (Day 26 - 28), I'll go through the book one more time from beginning to end and tighten things up as best I can. I'm also considering getting a proofreader. The Bastard's Refuge is almost twice as long as the other books I've written, so I suspect I'm missing twice as many errors.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

HF Novel Update 10/10/17 (Day 24)

Editing time: 6.5 hours

I'm mostly through the story for the third time now. Smoothing out some of the rough edges, catching continuity errors, and cutting anything that disrupts the flow of the story. I keep saying it, but this book is close.

On target for having a publishable draft by Day 28.

The cover art should be done today. As soon as I have it, I'll do another quick post where I share it. Very excited.

I am thinking about making the book available for pre-order on Amazon, with a release date right around Halloween. This is strictly for marketing purposes, not to give myself more time to polish the manuscript. I've never released a fantasy novel before and I'm doing it under my real name, so I need to build some awareness before the book goes live. I'll do that mostly through social media and maybe targeted ads as well.

Monday, October 9, 2017

HF Novel Update 10/9/17 - (Day 23)

Editing Time: 6.5 hours

Total Word Count: 113,470

This book is coming along. I’m in that weird creative space right now where I fluctuate between thinking it’s awesome and terrible. The truth lies somewhere in between (and hopefully more toward the awesome side).

I spent a lot of time editing today. Every time I cut out some of the fat, though, I find a stretch that needs a little more. Clarity around a character’s motivation. Description so the reader isn’t just picturing a couple talking heads in space. Oh yeah, THIS happens later so I need to foreshadow that a little better HERE. Oh wait, this character hasn’t shown up in 75 pages so I need to remind the reader they exist so they care about him/her.

So, it’s going. Like I said, every time I cut words I find something else to add. That's why the Total Word Count is hovering right around 113K. I had expected the book to be shorter, but it’s looking more and more like it will be around this length. 

I would LOVE to find ways to get it down to 100K – 105K because there is a part of me that thinks fantasy readers would appreciate a “shorter” read than usual. No 750 page door-stopper that’s the first in a series of undefined length. I might be way off in that belief, but there’s only one way to find out.

I’ve decided to publish this book under my real name. The cover art will be finalized in a day or so, though I still don’t have a good Series Title yet. Titles are hard.

That’s all for tonight. Go Sixers.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

HF Novel Update 10/8/17 (Day 22)

Didn't get to the book today. Reality happened.

Deo volente, I will edit for an hour tonight.


While passing the time doing chores, I thought a lot about the psy thriller I'm reworking as well as another one. And then an idea for the third book Greg Owen book came to me too. This always happens. My brain is like that airport in Die Hard 2. All the ideas are circling overhead, dangerously low on fuel and impatiently waiting their turn to land before they crash and burn. I can't bring them in fast enough. If only I had a proverbial John McClane to (SPOILER ALERT FOR A 27 YEAR OLD MOVIE) light up the runway for me using a lighter and airplane fuel.

This is not to say all these ideas are good ones. A few won't get past the initial holy-crap-this-is-awesome stage, and a few won't get past the outline stage. That's how it seems to go for me. With all that being said, I've never understood when other writers complain about not having any ideas. I have the opposite problem. My brain looks for ways to turn everything into a story.

As I was watching Bladerunner 2049 this weekend, I thought, Wouldn't it be a cool story if a guy made a perfect copy of himself so he could observe and see himself as others do? Then he would be able to notice and improve all his flaws ... but what if he couldn't deal with watching himself. And what if the copy couldn't deal with Prime Guy watching him all the time either? After a while, all they both see are the flaws and they become totally depressed. Prime Guy realizes that it's better to have a partly-delude sense of self and Copy doesn't want to be like Prime Guy ...


Saturday, October 7, 2017

HF Novel Update 10/7/17 (Day 21)

Editing Time: 4 hours
Total Word Count: 112,624

I can feel work beginning to slow on this book now. The second draft is done. Now I'm going to spend a few hours each day and whittle away. My goal is to have something publishable in a week. I think that's do-able.

Working title: The Bastard's Refuge
Series title: Dunno
Author Name: Still not sure

HF Novel Update 10/6/17 (Day 20)

Editing Time: 6 hours
Total Word Count: 111,414

Yesterday was a productive editing day. The total word count keeps going up, which I did not expect, but I'm finding out that I don't have to cut as much story as I thought and the tweaks I wanted to make required more story. My best guess now is that I'll have a second draft that comes in around 115k.

At that point the story will be "right" and I'll start polishing. With a manuscript that long, I'm sure I can chop out 10k. Maybe even 15k. What I've found over the years is I tend to overwrite, sometimes by a wide margin. Figuring out how to reduce a six sentence paragraph into four sentences or shortening a 25 word sentence into a 15 word sentence almost always improves my story. Or just remembering that Character A's motivation was already made clear in the last chapter, and I don't need to take a paragraph to remind readers here.

That's just how I work. One day I hope I can write more cleanly, but isn't that every writer's dream?


10/7/17 marks Day 21 of the challenge. My original goal was to be done today, but that's not going to happen. I still have story to add and then I'll be at the point where I'm analyzing every word and trying to tighten the prose up. After a while (or pretty quickly, depending on how cynical I'm feeling) the law of diminishing returns rears its ugly head. I could spend weeks, if not months, tinkering with a story but I wouldn't significantly improve it in ways that readers are going to notice.

So gazing into my crystal ball, I think it will take me another week to truly finish the book. That means I should be ready to publish by 10/14/17, or Day 28, of the challenge.

I love failing when it means I've written in a book, especially one this long, in a lunar cycle.


In other news, I am wrestling with the idea of publishing this book under my real name. I don't want to start another pen name (because it's a pain in the arse) and readers have come to expect a certain type of book from Evan Ronan. I'm not sure my thriller / mystery readers will be interested in sword and sorcery for the most part, so from a branding and marketing perspective it might make sense to have a clear separation.

Not sure yet.

Working title: The Bastard's Refuge

Thursday, October 5, 2017

HF Novel Update 10/4 and 10/5 (Days 18 and 19)

Editing Time: 10 hours
Total Word Count: 107,037

10/4 Update -

Yesterday I only edited for a couple hours. What I realized, going into the editing phase, is that I don't have a specific plan. I know there are about 11 big ticket items that need to be fixed from a story perspective, but rather than attack them one by one, which would require jumping all over the place to different parts of the manuscript, I just started reading the book from the beginning. Got about 50 pages through, fixing typos and the big picture stuff as I came across it. It was slow-going. Real slow. I realized that my brain needed a break from the story. So I switched gears and went back to tinkering with a psy thriller I've decided to fix and publish.

10/5 Update -

Already got 5 hours of work in as I'm writing this and plan to do another 3 hours after the kiddies go to bed. It was a wise decision to take a break yesterday from this story. (Sometimes I get it right!) I was really fresh today and the editing hummed along. I've gotten to about the halfway mark of the story. The prose still needs tightening up in many places, but I'm saving that for my next pass. The big picture stuff (oh yeah, the characters decided to do THIS instead of THAT) is more important than the prose in this stage of the process. And, arguably, in every stage of the process.


Editing is a strange thing. I both love and hate it. When I'm thinking about it and not actually doing it, editing seems incredibly daunting. The internal monologue goes like this: Oh, right, I have to fix that. And then that. Oh crap, there's also that other thing in Chapter 5. And this. And that. And I should really go back and add this. AND CUT THAT OVER THERE! And I just got another idea! The last line of the book should be "X, Y, and Z." And this over here ...

When I'm not actually editing and only thinking about all the things I have to do, my mind is focused on what's wrong with the story, instead of what's right. It also feels like I have to fix a million things and it's going to take forever. The To Do List continues to grow in my mind till it feels like the book will never be finished, or finished satisfactorily. It skews my perspective and so it should come as no surprise that I get incredibly down on the book.

But then I stop thinking about editing and start actually doing it. And suddenly my perspective changes like somebody flipped a switch inside my brain.

This morning before I started, I thought, "This book needs so much work! I have to change almost everything!"

But then after I got to work, I thought, "The beginning is actually pretty good. So is the transition to the 2nd act. And the fixes have been relatively easy, most of them quick and painless."

Sometimes I think the hardest part of being a writer is just figuring out when to listen to your internal voice and when not to.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What slowed me down during the writing process?

For the last 19 days now, I've been full steam ahead on a heroic fantasy novel. As mentioned in yesterday's post, I finished the first draft yesterday. Very pleased with the quick turnaround.

I had planned on getting back to the book last night to begin editing. That didn't happen. After 18 days of living, breathing, and working my way through the story, my brain needed a rest from it. I left myself plenty of notes, maybe 10 to 11 big ticket items that need fixing or tweaking. I'll start on those later today.

One of my goals during this process was to document things that slowed me down. After writing a 105k first draft in 18 days, I honestly don't know if I could have gone significantly faster than I did unless I started using speech recognition software. (I've given this some thought in the past.) But here are some things that slowed me down, some of which I had planned for, others which I didn't anticipate.

  1. Names. I knew going in that names would slow me down. God, I hate names. They're like that annoying kid who watches everybody play video games and points out what they're doing wrong, but who will never pick up the controller themselves because they have no hand-eye coordination. I'm not sure that's exactly on point, but come on, you know what I'm talking about. It's not just names of people that slow me down, it's also names of places, of buildings, of religious sects, of lands, or parts of lands, of peoples, of rivers, of mountains, etc. You get the idea. There is nothing worse than being in the flow of a story and getting snagged on something that's, IMHO, relatively unimportant such as a name. I could call the main character Eddie or I could call him Stan ... hmm, let me think about that for 20 minutes while I'm busy losing my train of thought and not writing the story, and oh yeah, readers won't care what the person's name is if they like him. It's frustrating. I'm in the middle of writing a great scene where two characters are arguing and a new, third character comes in to interrupt them and ... oh shit, what's his/her name ... I don't know ... it can't sound like any other names in the story or readers will get confused ... well, what are they like ... what were their parents like to give them their name ... oh hell what was the next line of dialog going to be? To somewhat alleviate this problem, I used free online random name generators BEFORE I started writing the book so I had names for the principal people, places, and things ready to go. There are a ton of these free resources out there on the interwebs. I rarely use exactly what the generator spits out, but I will combine elements of different things the generator(s) give me.
  2. Descriptions. What does the Abbey of Bronze look like? Beats me. It's an Abbey that's nestled among a snow-capped mountain range. That was all I knew going into this story and all I could think of while writing it. Same went for Shadowkeep, the ancient ruin of a castle buried deep within the Kirc Woodland. The keep should be awesome to behold, imposing, and slightly alien to the characters, as if some advanced race built it thousands of years ago and then disappeared. Other than that? I had no clue what it looked like. Same goes for people. He looks like Gary Oldman in such and such movie. I don't have a great solution for this general problem of descriptions. That's one of those things I leave for the "second draft" or editing stage. Fill in a little detail over here, and oh yeah, during the big battle at the end THIS HAPPENS, so Shadowkeep needs to have a THIS AND THAT. Again, I hate getting bogged down by description, especially when the setting of a particular scene is not vital to a story. If I were to write, "The detective walked into the hospital ..." you already have an idea in your head of what it looks like. I don't really need to tell you. But if there's a murder attempt at the hospital, you would need to know that "after hours, the nurse's station was the only space lit on the entire floor, and the detective couldn't see into his client's room when he stepped off the elevator ..." 
  3. WAIT! I GOT A NEW IDEA! Sometimes you get ideas that diverge from, or conflict with, the outline. More often than not, these new ideas are better than what you had originally planned to happen in the story. The problem? You don't always know if it's going to work until you've committed to the idea, and then you have to make adjustments to your outline and keep changing things that happen before and after and all of a sudden you've gone down a rabbit hole and sometimes, albeit rarely, you realize the new idea isn't going to work. That happened to me in this book once. Not sure what the solution is here.
  4. Fatigue. I'm not talking mental fatigue, though there is obviously that to deal with when you're grinding away at a story at a pretty fast clip. I'm talking pure physical fatigue. When I write more than a couple hours per day, my typing quality begins to deteriorate. As in, it basically falls of a cliff. There is a typo in almost every sentence, if not more than one, and I see these as I'm writing and so I go back and fix them as quickly as possible because I don't want to lose my train of thought. On those long days where it's ass-in-chair for five or six hours, my fingers are no longer at their peak and I'm missing keys as I'm typing.
That's all I can think of now. More to come on the editing front, which begins today. Stay tuned.


To give myself a break last night, I revisited a psychological thriller I'd written earlier this year but shelved because I wasn't thrilled with the end product. It was a nice change of pace and got my mind thinking creatively in different ways. And something really cool happened--I think I figured out how to make this book better and worthy of publication. It involves some rewrites and probably the addition of 5k - 10k words, but I think I can do it quickly. I had written this book off but now I'm chomping at the bit to fix it.

Working title: The Young Woman Next Door

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

HF Novel Update - 10/3/17 (Day 17)

And that's a wrap on the first draft. I can't believe it! This morning, another idea came to me for one of the characters I was thinking about cutting from the story. I can now keep him because I have something important for him to do at the end. So I need him to pop up in a couple more places earlier in the book and then come back in close to the climax. It should work.

Drafting: 3 hours
Daily Word Count*: ~5,000
Total Word Count*: 105,815

* Before I wrote this post, I started cutting scenes I knew had to go, so today's word count is an approximation. If you were to do the math, today's numbers and yesterday's numbers won't jive. If that upsets you, please email me at

I'm excited to be done but still have a lot of work to do on the story. One or two characters need to come out, and I'm not sure if I can keep the epilogue or if it has to be moved into Book 2. But the good news is, I have a pretty good idea what needs to be fixed. At this point, I don't think I'll have this monster edited in 4 days, but I'll give it a go and see what happens. Like I said before, I won't be upset if I "fail" to write and edit my first heroic fantasy novel in 21 days. If it takes a few days or even a week longer than expected, I'll count that as a win.

Going to take a break from this story for now but plan to come back tonight and start editing. I want to test my theory that editing can be done right away AND might even be easier and produce a better quality product if it's done right away.

Monday, October 2, 2017

HF Novel Update 10/2/17 (Day 16)

Here are the numbers for all you folks playing along.

Drafting: 6 hours
Daily Word Count: 11,612
Total Word Count: 102,291

I didn't finish the novel tonight. All I have left to write is the final battle scene, which should be no more than 3k - 5k. Too tired to write anything else tonight.

Peace out, girl scouts.

HF Novel Update 10/1/17 (Day 15)

No time carved out to write yesterday, so didn't get started till 9pm last night. Worked till I fell asleep.

Drafting: 2.5 hours
Daily Word Count: 3,365
Total Word Count: 90,679

Of course I wish I got more done this weekend but with a lot of life happening and no specific time carved out to work, I did manage almost 5k in two days. That's nothing to scoff at.

I think I've got another ~10k to go, which would bring the book in at a good length for this genre. So it's once more into the breach, dear friends. With a big push I think I can finish the first draft tonight.

In terms of next steps, a few scenes have to come out, but a few scenes have to be added, which will include a nice new conflict, so it will all likely even out. After those cuts and additions, copy editing might bring me down another 3k - 5k words. I enjoy this part of the process because I know the story forwards and backwards and can whittle away unnecessary plot points and characters.

If I do a find on the word "just" and cut that out wherever possible, I'll probably trim 1k words.

I just can't stop using the word just. It's just so difficult.

The book will run short compared to Game of Thrones and other similar stories, but it's not significantly shorter. Plus, as I'm new to this genre, I think readers will be more likely to give Evan Ronan a try if the first book isn't a door stopper.

Working Title: The Bastard's Refuge


While writing this book, I got an idea for a psychological thriller. (I know, right? Why can't I just stick to one thing?)

The psy thriller combines a lot of popular elements today: do you really know the people living next door? past trauma, strong female lead overcoming fears, danger to children, etc. I might blog about that one too as I write it. Not sure right now if that's the next book I write. I should probably get to work on Greg Owen #3. The first in that series is doing really well on Amazon (knock on wood) and the second is up for pre-order. I'd love to build that funnel of books out, so readers can read one, pre-order the next, read that one, pre-order the next, etc.

It would be nice to get both of the psy thriller and Greg Owen #3 done in October.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

My Ken Bruen Fanboy Moment

I love getting emails from readers. I answer each one. Always.

I think most writers feel and operate the same way. We spend so much time working in the proverbial dark, by ourselves, some of the time wondering if the story we're working on is any good, often thinking it's garbage. Then we publish and cross our fingers and wait for reviews. Percentage-wise, very few readers take the time to leave reviews. I understand why. They don't read books so they can then carve time out of their busy lives to leave reviews, which take time and thought. Readers just want to find the next book.

If the percentage of readers who leave reviews is 1%, then the percentage of readers who contact authors directly is even smaller. Maybe 10% of that 1%. At least that's been my experience. The mega bestselling authors almost definitely have a different experience. But still, when a reader email  comes through, I'm always excited and happy to respond.

Long before I was a writer, I was a voracious reader. These days I don't read as much as I'd like because I'm, you know, writing in my spare time. But at heart I'm still a reader and always will be.

Like other readers, I rarely review. These days, I only leave reviews or blog about things I enjoy (might do another blog post on why that is). Even more rarely do I email authors directly. I've heard horror stories about SO-AND-SO being really rude to readers and BIG NAME WRITER being a dickhead, and I don't understand that. Readers are our customers. There is nothing more loyal than a happy reader. If they take the time to email, I should take the time to respond, even if it's only a hi-nice to hear from you-this and that-have to get back to work-hope you enjoy the next story.

Anyway, this is a long wind-up to sharing my experience with Ken Bruen.

This was a year or so ago. At the time I was kind of drifting as a writer. I'd tried doing books under a different pen name to chase a trend and saw some success with that, but I felt like I wasn't writing the kind of stories I was really passionate about. I had just read one of Ken's Guard books (seriously, pick one up if you haven't already), and was so taken by Ken's poetic, punchy style of writing that I felt recharged as a writer. Here was a guy who wrote with style, who wrote noir, who could make you laugh and make you think. He wrote books for adults. No superheroes, literal or figurative here. His books are such a joy to read.

So I emailed to tell him all that. I knew he was hard at work on the next book and didn't expect a response.

Of course he got back to me the same day. He was touched by my compliments and wished me success in my own writing, even asking what my pen name was and where he could find my books. I had reached out to thank him for writing such great stories, telling him that he had shown me what was possible with prose and narrative in a mystery/thriller book, and he turned it right back around to support me.


Ken Bruen has written many books, all of which I'd recommend. My personal favorite are his Guard series, featuring protag Jack Taylor. He's an ex Irish cop who was kicked unceremoniously off the force (for doing the right thing, naturally) and now finds work as an unlicensed private eye. Bruen's prose is a thing to behold. Spare, punchy, cutting, and insightful. He writes great books that one inhales as opposed to reads.

They've also made a TV series out of the Guard books, starring Game of Thrones's Iain Glen in the title role. Glen is fantastic as Taylor, a hard-drinking wreck of a man with an ear for poetry, a tendency to self-destruction, but ultimately a strong sense of right and wrong. The TV series has a different feel than the books, but both are excellent. Last I checked, this show was available on Netflix. Give it a try, you won't regret it.


And if you're hesitating to email your favorite author, don't. Most of us love hearing from readers and will respond.

HF Novel Update - 9/30/17 (Day 14)

Life happened yesterday. Needless to say I didn't get much done. Here are the numbers:

Drafting: 1 hour
Daily Word Count: 1,128
Total Word Count: 87,314

Today's productivity is anybody's guess. I have no specific time blocked out to write and a lot of things to do with the family and around the house. I might not be able to write until later tonight and then would only have a few hours to work.

The good news? The ending is close. I know what happens and mostly how it has to happen, so I'm not stopping to think much as I work. I'm just in the flow now. 

The even better news? Just because I couldn't write yesterday didn't mean I wasn't able to think about the story. And a funny thing happened ... there was a plot thread I had started earlier in the book but had forgotten/never bothered to pick up. I was thinking about scrapping it during the editing phase. But just as a thought experiment, I decided to play the what-if game. (I talk to myself a lot.) 

Soooo while in the shower (again, why do ideas always come to you in random places?) I thought of a way to pick that thread up. By doing so, I'm able to up the stakes for everybody, add a dimension to one of the main characters, add more conflict between the different good guys in the book, and turn one of the heroic fantasy tropes on its head. 

Now this means some teeny, tiny revisions have to be made earlier in the story, but I think those will take me no longer than an hour or two max during the editing stage.

The opening pages of a book are the most fun to write, because the idea is still new and fresh and you've got a ton of energy about what you think could be the best book ever!!!!! But then you get deeper into the story, realize you have to change this, remove that, move this to earlier/later, wonder why this character is even in the book, begin to question whether the book is crap and why you thought it was such a good idea in the first place, etc.

The second most fun to write part of the book for me is the stretch between 85% to the end. Usually everything is figured out and based on what has already happened, the book almost HAS to go a certain way. You understand your characters and at this point you're sprinting downhill just to get everything on the page. That's where I am now.

Good times.