Month:

April, 2013

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and the topic turned to writing, as it usually does with this friend, as he’s also an author.

We began discussing my work (because it’s always all about me, all the time, in my world, dammit) and he made several comments. First was that he didn’t like several of my books because they didn’t have character arcs. Which gave me pause – I was, like, “So what? Who says there has to be a character arc for a book to be good?”

And then he gave me this long dissertation about how the most popular stories of all time had character arcs, where the main character undergoes a radical change during the story, basically realizing how wrong he/she’s been about something, and becomes a better person for it.

He became enraged when I said, “Sounds like every bad movie ever made, and all Disney flicks, good or bad. A tired formula that’s overused and as predictable as a politician lying.”

You see, he’d learned about character arcs in school and reading books on how to write well, thus any novel that didn’t follow this pat formula had to be deficient.

Which is idiocy. A good book is one that entertains me, and is well written. Period. I don’t need some hackneyed morality play every time I turn on my kindle. I don’t need some thinly-disguised archetype that the author is trying to pass off as original thought. I don’t need a paint-by-numbers novel where we have the usual crap espoused by lit majors and their professors shoehorned into a new premise. In short, I don’t need a novel to follow a set formula to be “good.”

Most readers are probably like me. Fairly bright (although you wouldn’t know it to read some of my reviews, but don’t get me started) and somewhat world-weary and jaded. They buy my stuff, when they do, because they like a tale well told. They don’t require that every book be one wherein the avaricious businessman learns about the true value of love by the time the denouement comes creaking to the fore, nor that the hero vanquishes his adversaries in a bare-chested climactic struggle and we all learn something important about ourselves. I know I’ve driven some readers nuts because I kill off favorite characters with ease, and could give two shits about what’s considered good form for novels. I write stories I would want to read, and I tend to groan out loud whenever they veer too far towards the expected. Witness JET, which is deliberately overblown and a tad cartoonish. I’ve gotten flack because it isn’t “realistic” enough, which is fine. I didn’t want it to be realistic. I wanted it to be breakneck paced and entertaining, and life usually ain’t. So much for realism. I’ll take fiction any day in this case.

All of which was heresy to my friend, who has invested years in learning how to write a “good” book – character arcs, beats, etc.

None of which matters if you’re doing it right. (It’s also one of the reasons I had a conceptual problem as I started reading scripts with an eye toward screenwriting – they basically all follow the same form: identify the protag within the first few pages and articulate the “theme” of the story so the dim can reflect back on it later and have a contrived “a ha” moment, establish an essential struggle or challenge he/she must overcome while highlighting his/her weakness (he’s a workaholic with no time for his wife or kid, she’s going through a mid-life crisis, whatever), and then populate the film with beats where the little morality tale plays out with absolute predictability and the bad guy gets his comeuppance by the end. It’s as absurd as Tom Cruise throwing his gun away at the end of Reacher to go mano a mano with his evil nemesis – my reaction is invariably, wait, people still write this crap? And an audience consumes it? Really?)

Another thing my buddy was absolutely certain about was adverbs. They are to be eschewed. Used rarely, if at all. Again, because that’s what he was taught or read in Stephen King’s book. I won’t get into it too much here, but that’s a stupid rule. It’s like saying commas are bad, and should be avoided. Or adjectives are bad, etc. How about, OVERUSE of adverbs as a lazy TELLING vs. showing device in DIALOGUE TAGS, is bad, and leave it at that reasonable guidance? Hrmph…

Needless to say, we don’t agree on much. Then again, I sell quite a few books. He doesn’t.

Which you can tell bugs him no end. Because he’s the one with all the learning. He likes to use words like anodyne and solipsist in everyday conversation, if that’s any clue. Mainly to show that the hundred grand of college he smoked weed through gave him something besides a mass of student loans to reflect upon while working his assistant manager position at Coffee Barn.

Except all he really did was memorize a bunch of dogma, without questioning it, and then become intolerant of any approach other than the one he’d adopted.

Which is, well, dumb.

I don’t really have a point here. Just thought I’d share what my week has been like, and why I don’t spend a lot of time in the company of fellow scribes. I prefer to read great authors to prod me into upping my literary ante, not memorializing story structures that are as tiresome as the Bee Gees on permanent repeat or rules that make no sense. Note that I’m not saying that rules aren’t important guidelines we need to know – just that rules are there to spur us to better and more effective writing, not to use as a filter through which the world, and all work, must be viewed.

Having said that, I’ll confess I’m a pedant, and it drives me batty to read stuff where the author clearly doesn’t know the basics of grammar or spelling. But that’s a whole ‘nother rant…

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I recently penned a short story for an anthology, titled and themed, “The End of the Road.” The goal was to create whatever those words evoked in the more than dozen authors participating. There was no word count guidance, no set formula, no topic or style, only those five simple words.

One overcast morning a few weeks ago, I tried my hand at my second-ever short story – a complete departure from my first one, Soul Balm, which was a Pynchon/Chuck P/Hunter S. surrealistic romp I still rather like, even a year later.

I have no idea where the hell this came from. It’s unlike anything else I’ve written, and was a complete “pantsing” experience, where I just sat down and started putting words on paper, or in this case, on-screen.

What follows is the final revision of my story for the End of the Road anthology, titled, Clay. The finished product surprised me. I hope it does you, as well, in a good way. Whenever the anthology comes out, I’ll post a link to it – there are any number of talented indies who may not be familiar to you, and this is a good cross-sectional representation of some of them, worthy of the time it takes to read their diverse work.

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Clay

Russell Blake

 

Curtis spit onto the red dirt as he watched the horizon for tell-tale dust clouds, allowing his eyes to wander to where he’d left his mark with saliva, the moisture already being sucked into the thirsty ground, hungry and demanding as it had always been, for as long as he’d been alive on it. It was a dirt that coated everything, became a part of a man, stained his fingernails and gritted between his teeth until at some point a body didn’t know where the dirt stopped and the person began. Dirt that was unforgiving, as were the denizens of this arid badland.

His father had raised him to understand that he was of the dirt, and would return to it, and that his time walking on it was temporary, stolen from a cosmos that would allow him just enough to learn the harsh lessons it taught before it reclaimed him, just as it had taken everyone before him, and would take all who came after.

A scorching wind blew across the plain as he squinted at the point where the sky became the earth, wavy and distorted from the never-ending heat that was his constant companion. They were coming. He knew it as surely as he knew the sound of his own breathing. It wasn’t a matter of if.

Footsteps shuffled behind him, and a tentative voice, small in the vast expanse, tugged at his sanity.

“You need to eat.”

“Been eating all my life. Missing a few bites won’t hurt me much.”

“I brought you some water.”

“Thanks. I told you to get going, and take the boy with you. What are you still doing here?”

“I…I don’t want to go.”

“Plenty of folks don’t want to do what they have to.” Curtis sighed, watched the wet patch drying like a magic trick, right before his eyes. “It wasn’t a suggestion, Meg. You need to leave. Now. Pack up, and head south, to your sister’s place. It’ll be safe there. Go out the back way, by the well.”

“Curtis–”

“Time for talking’s done.”

“You don’t have to do this. Come with us.”

“Never been much good at turning tail, Meg,” he said, running a calloused hand over the two day growth that darkened his chin. “Go on. While there’s still time.”

He felt fingers on his shoulders, as light as a butterfly flitting across his sun-bleached shirt, and then he heard her turn, felt her leaving as though something had sucked his soul out of him. But he didn’t look back. He couldn’t allow himself to. There were some things that made a man softer, better even, but those things had no place out here.

Not today.

When he’d first seen them, riding in too-tall trucks, arrogant exhausts matching their drunken whooping as they barreled past him, he’d been mending the fences so the dogs wouldn’t get out and cause trouble, or worse yet, get hit by the occasional rancher tearing down the nameless rutted dirt trail that led south, into a desert that offered nothing but suffering. His property stretched as far as he could see in both directions, and the road ran alongside it, tracing its boundary with mechanical precision. It had been there as long as he’d been alive, and as long as his father before him, and his father before that. The road. As permanent as anything in his world, as immutable and unchanging as the plain itself.

A corroding rust-colored iron gate, padlocked on the exterior, sat sentry over the cow catcher rails he’d helped install twenty-five years ago, as a teenage boy full of strapping energy and furtive dreams. The war had taken both out of him, and when he’d returned, he’d come back a man, hard, too much in this world, come back to his home to bury the father who’d raised him when his mother had passed to her reward.

Funny, that, he mused, wiping perspiration from his brow with his sleeve – that dying could be called a reward. He absently wondered who had come up with that sleight of hand, that euphemism, having seen death in its many forms on the battlefield, fighting an enemy for reasons nobody could logically articulate, an enemy that he’d been told he needed to kill in order to save. War for peace. War to protect against imaginary threats; better to be safe than sorry later. Everyone sure they were going to their reward, even as unspeakable violence robbed them of their humanity.

No atheists in foxholes, his master sergeant had been fond of saying before an insurgent round sent him back to Iowa in a bag.

But he’d never been in a foxhole. Firefights, ambushes, having to wipe brains and blood and bone off his face after his squad mates had earned their rewards – he was more than passing familiar with that. But not foxholes. Those were for older, nobler fights, where right and wrong were better defined, clearer, more absolute, or at least they were to those who wrote the history books. Not like his war. Not like the things he’d seen, the memories visiting him on bad nights, bringing the sweats, the shaking, the nagging coil of fear he’d wake up with, soaked, eyes darting around the darkened room trying to place himself, find something tangible to reassure him that his visions were only phantoms from a past now left behind.

A scratch in his throat reminded him that there was water waiting for him.

His eyes narrowed as he took another look, stoic as he clutched his old-fashioned Winchester lever-action rifle, then shifted and glanced over his shoulder.

A half-gallon jug waited, sweating in the middle of the drive.

His reward. Or at least a respite from the sun’s unrelenting blaze. Which was close enough right now.

He moved to the container and drank from it, then stopped himself after five greedy swallows. A man had to know his limitations. Wouldn’t do to allow himself to start thinking about more pleasant things – water, food, love, hope…that would just distract him from what he was there for, what he was going to do.

The second truck had slowed, its brake lights broken, and then reversed, the whine of the tranny as clear as a locomotive hurtling down a mountain track as it approached his position by the gate, flanked by his two dogs, Bart and Tag, brothers from a litter where the others didn’t make it. Survivors. Like him.

The driver’s window had rolled down and a red face had leered out at Curtis, music blaring from inside the cab, the kind that sounded like wild animals banging on a log and screaming their fury at the night sky – angry music for an angry world.

“Hey. What you got there, boy?”

The punk’s drawl was thick as syrup, the taunt in the last syllable as obvious and old as the ranch. Older, really, and an anachronism these days, or so one would have thought.

“Mending a fence,” Curtis had said, his tone neutral, looking up from his position as his dogs growled their sense of impending menace.

“You work for the folks got this property, boy?”

“It’s mine.”

Chortles of laughter emanated from the truck.

“Well look here. We got ourselves a high tone, don’t we? Must be awful smart to have a big piece like this – but not so smart you can get yourself someone to fix your fences, huh, boy?”

Curtis put down the bail of wire he was holding and stared at the drunk, waiting for the situation to either escalate or sputter to a close. He doubted the driver was courageous enough to tackle him. Rather, he and his companions were drunk and bored and looking for trouble, but not the kind Curtis could bring.

The driver caught the look in Curtis’s eye – unflinching, impassive – and hesitated, the taunts from his two friends insufficient fuel for the fire he’d need to take Curtis on.

“What are you staring at, boy?” the driver sneered, as if by speaking he could muster strength.

“Nothing.” Curtis spit, gaze never leaving the driver’s even as he leaned slightly to the side. “I’m staring at nothing.”

Curtis’ inflection gave the driver pause, the few simple words rendering judgment he hadn’t expected. What had seemed like some fun suddenly wasn’t. The game had somehow changed, and even though there were three of them against one, something about Curtis’s demeanor served as a warning more clear than the rattle on a snake’s tail.

They stared at each other, Curtis taking the driver’s measure and finding it wanting, inadequate to the task at hand, and a moment passed between them that seemed to last an eternity – a moment where the driver looked into the abyss, and it more than returned the favor.

“Well fuck you, man. Too damned stupid to get outta the sun. What am I wasting my time for, anyway? This is bullshit,” the driver said, first to Curtis, then his friends, before he tromped on the gas, the big motor’s throaty roar trailing the truck as it sped to catch up with its twin.

Curtis had returned to work that day, patching the spot Bart favored when sneaking out at night, always the instigator, dragging the more obedient Tag with him on his adventures. No further sign of the trucks disturbed his self-imposed duties, and he’d continued with his task until the deepening dusk declared time out.

The following morning the swelter had hit earlier than usual. He’d known it was going to be bad before he’d stepped out onto his porch, the modest home a quarter mile from the road, a senile grove of trees providing meager shade in this, one of the hottest months.

The fence posts were flattened, tire tracks an unmistakable signature. His heart sank when he saw the forms of his two dogs, already bloating, a cloud of black flies swarming over their bodies a dozen yards from the gate.

The dirt got hard the deeper you dug. Three feet down, it turned to clay, unexpectedly, packed densely by gravity and some long-forgotten sea.

That night he’d found the truck at one of the bars near the county line, a place where the no accounts could fight and drink and tell lies, laughing about their exploits. He’d promised Meg he wouldn’t fight, and he’d meant it – one of the conditions she’d put forth for marrying him after a whirlwind courtship during a period where his anger would bubble up, seeking an outlet, a safety valve for his soul, and he’d prove how tough he was with the rednecks that always seemed in plentiful supply. She’d put a stop to that, and the rage had receded, banished in favor of something gentler.

No, he wouldn’t fight. He wouldn’t smash the driver’s face into the bar, grinding his nose into the scarred wood, slamming it against the century old mahogany again and again, or break the ribs of the driver’s friend and the jaw of his second. Only in his mind would he do that.

He’d poured gasoline on the truck, the smell strong in the night air, the din of inebriated laughter and honky-tonk music from the roadhouse masking any sound, and lit a piece of rag stuck into a whiskey bottle, the bright orange fireball when the tank ignited visible in his rearview mirror as he rounded the bend and returned home.

Yes, they’d be coming.

He was sure of that.

Coming to a place with no number, no sign to mark it but an old gate, crooked on its concrete posts, installed in better days.

And he’d be waiting.

At the end of the road.

 

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I was talking to someone the other day – alright, I’ll admit, it was to my reflection (I’m the only one who really understands me…sniff) – and the subject came up about whether it took talent to make it, or tenacity, the question being which was more important.

Gotta say, talent is important, but a solid work ethic is more so. I know lots of talented people who never reached their potential, but I don’t know a lot who failed to achieve at least some success who worked long hours at whatever they were doing, and did so in an even vaguely intelligent manner.

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HUGE NEWS: King of Swords was made the Amazon Kindle Daily Deal Monday, April 22, at $1.99! WOW! That’s a first!!!

BREAKING NEWS: The Voynich Cypher will be .99 Monday, the 22! Come on, cheapskates, belly up to the trough!

NEWS: I was just featured in the Wrightforbucks blog, in which he talks about how great I am. Some of it’s even true.

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In the arts, it’s tough to make it. That’s no secret. My little 22 month journey is surprisingly upbeat, but it’s also atypical. I looked at the market when I was getting ready to throw my hat into the ring, and figured that I could either write a blockbuster YA romance that would sweep the nation, or would need to have a good dozen books out to earn anything even approaching the kind of money that would make this worthwhile to me. Because I’ve learned that while money is nice, time is the most precious resource, and writing well is a time-intensive process, so it would take a lot of it.

I calculated what it would take to make a splash, and quickly realized that if I didn’t work 15 hour days for the first two years, to make up for the lost time (from when the whole kindle revolution really got traction and it seemed like anyone could do well), my odds of hitting it were pretty long.

I resigned myself to that schedule, and put nose to the grindstone, keeping it up seven days a week, with no breaks. I remember Xmas, 2011, and I was writing. New Years Day 2012, as well as 2013. Writing. No exceptions.

22 months later, I’ve got 20 novels out and another underway. I’ll finish this year with 25, maybe more. That’s the equivalent of two decades worth of production, and I don’t feel apologetic about any of the books I’ve released. There isn’t one that I feel like, “wow, I just phoned that one in.” I’m particularly proud of the JET and Assassin series, but then I go back and reread Fatal Exchange or Geronimo Breach and I realize that those are good books too – possibly even better books. Hard for me to gauge accurately – I’m just too close to it.

Point being that a lot of hard work went into this, and will continue to go into it. I took my first real 14 days off last month, and by the end I was itching to get back to writing – I’ve conditioned myself to where if I’m not writing at least three or four thousand words a day, I feel like I’m slacking.

They say once you do anything for 30 consecutive days, it becomes a habit.

I maintain that success is equal parts talent, luck and habit. It’s important to keep that in mind.

What’s the takeaway for writers? Everyone’s journey is different, but one thing I’ve noticed about every success I’ve looked at – and by success I mean authors who have long, productive, lucrative careers – is that they work their asses off. Even once they’ve hit. They still write a lot, or are polishing something, or are constantly looking for new plot ideas or better ways to skin the cat. They have conditioned themselves to be what they are – successes.

Sure, it helps that many are talented, but plenty are mediocre. Some are even plain old bad. But they’re consistent, and their fans like them, and they work hard churning out product to keep their fans happy and engaged.

Talent isn’t enough. Not by a country mile.

Hard work is as big, or bigger, a piece of the pie.

Sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news for those of you who bought into the image of the drunk writer who scribbles a thousand words every few days and hits the lottery on his first book. That’s about as realistic as me expecting the Rolling Stones to show up and play my next BBQ. It’s theoretically possible, but I wouldn’t bank on it.

In the good news department, April looks good to be another 20K unit sale month, with a daily average of more than 650 sales a day, so thank you Amazon! And this, without any books in Select. I have to say that it’s never been a better time to be an author, at least not that I’ve heard. But it takes diligence and determination, and a sprinkle of talent, as well.

Perhaps as important, it takes consistency. Consistency in your craft, consistency in productivity, consistency in application, consistency in demanding only the best out of yourself, consistency in marketing your wares – because contrary to the spectacularly bad advice masquerading as wisdom on the internet, your work’s not going to get itself discovered through some miracle. Sure, it’s possible, but so are many things that will never happen to you. You could be discovered by Spielberg while sucking on a milk shake in San Rafael. Anything’s possible. But I wouldn’t make that my business plan.

What’s the takeaway? Set realistic goals, develop a routine that you can live with and stick to for a period of years, pay attention to what’s working and what isn’t, don’t waste your time with busy work that doesn’t produce results, and write every day, no matter what, even if it’s only 500 or 1000 words. Get into the habit of aping success, and your odds of being one are much improved. The business of selling books takes a lot of work, so best to condition yourself to do it and love it, or you won’t last.

Will that guarantee you make it? Of course not. You want guarantees, get government work. But it will increase the likelihood that you make decent money at it. Which for many is all they want – to augment their income with some extra cash, or supplement their retirement with a little bonus every month. I know many, many authors doing that, some to the tune of $5-$20K a month or more. Many to the tune of $500, but they’re happy with that, as they were making zero a year or two ago, and they aren’t thinking of quitting their day job. Everyone’s different, and there’s no one size fits all. But there are some reasonable guidelines to improving your chances, and I just gave you most of em. Oh, and write a love story with some steamy scenes featuring a vampire. That can’t hurt.

As always: The book is dead…long live the book.

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I was going to take a month off, read a load of screenplays, and focus on developing a screenplay for JET. That seemed like a useful pursuit, if somewhat daunting, given that I know about as much about writing a screenplay as I do about milking llamas. But never one to let my ignorance to deter me, I was all set, freshly rested from my vacation, and was dutifully reading my way through The Matrix (which is brilliant, BTW) when I got slammed in the noggin by an idea.

A book idea.

I tried to resist it, because I’ve already got a lot on my plate – with the new series I want to start, a plot for Fatal Deception mapped out, and a host of other BS, not the least of which is writing a script.

But it wouldn’t go away.

And then the kiss of death. I thought of a title. The perfect title for a different kind of novel – a bio-terror novel in the vein of Michael Crichton and Robin Cook.

Upon a Pale Horse.

An allusion to the fourth horseman of the apocalypse, Death, who brings with him pestilence, and is trailed by Hades. Revelation. End of the world stuff.

Now I have a title, and the basic premise for the story – a young attorney is propelled into a conspiracy involving the mother of all bio-weapons secrets, and only he is in a position to stop the effective end of the world as we know it.

Sort of a little bit of The Firm crossed with Marathon Man (only not really), with a big dose of Contagion thrown in.

When I get to the point where a title pops into my head, along with a high-level understanding of the plot, I’m generally screwed, because it will be all I can think about until I write it. Or at least some of it. So I did what I always do, which is write the first chapter, which was vivid in my mind – just to get it down on paper. That took me into the second chapter, again, solely to get the idea out, which then led to the third. So now I’m pregnant – I’m 7500 words into it, and I was just going to write a few paragraphs while I thought about the JET screenplay and how to best start my new series.

I’m telling myself I will absolutely not write any more of it until I have the new series at least penciled out – structure, plot, beats, characters – but I suspect it’s no good, because I’m getting that, “Oh, just one more chapter, just to see how it develops – no harm in that, is there?” feeling, which invariably ends like a three day drunk, with me rambling and incoherent, not remembering most of what I just did, and unsure whether I should regret it or celebrate it. Fortunately I think the chances of me waking up spooning a 300 pound sweating Samoan cook on a tramp freighter bound for Jakarta are pretty slim (unlike when I have a few cocktails, but that’s a whole ‘nother story), so things will probably turn out okay.

One of the reasons I’m kind of reluctant to write this kind of novel is because series sell better. Modern ebook readers seem to love series novels, whereas stand-alone books are a harder sell. And this isn’t a series. It’s a fully-formed set of new characters who are in this story, and no others. Which means from a commercial standpoint, I would probably be better off investing my energy in the new series and getting two or three books done by end of summer. But the muse doesn’t always give a damn about filthy lucre, or commercial viability, or maximizing resources, and sometimes you just have to lay back and think of England and not fight it. This is one of those times.

So until I lose interest or come to my senses, I’ll be working on Upon a Pale Horse, and temporarily shelving the other projects – they’ll still be there, so it’s not like I’m abandoning them. But I’ve found it’s best to write when you feel compelled to write it, not when it’s opportune, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Plus, the name is cool. I can do a lot with it. It even sounds a little more literary than my usual fare, which I’ve been leaning towards in my style of late. A good fit. Perhaps an auspicious sign. Hope so. I’ve even got a pretty good idea of how the cover should look. Not that I’ve really thought about this at all.

On other fronts, Blood of the Assassin and JET V – Legacy, are both selling well and are garnering universally rave reviews, which is gratifying, as they’re probably my best novels to date. I also have a lot of exciting things coming up I can’t talk about, but suffice it to say that after a blowout March and an extremely strong start to April, I’m happy guy. I won’t post hard income numbers, like some do, and I’m reluctant to even post sales figures (cough cough 22K+ cough) for March, but suffice it to say that it’s a big revenue number, and growing, for which I’m extremely grateful to my readers, who seem to be enthusiastically recommending me to others.

If you haven’t read those two books, do so – you won’t be disappointed. Even if you haven’t read any of the predecessors for Blood of the Assassin, it’s written so you can jump right in with that book and it all makes perfect sense. I recommend it as the perfect place to start with my work, if you’re curious. Either it’s all a case of mass hysteria, a la Wham! or Crouching Tiger, where large numbers of people lose their minds and think something that blows goats is actually good (I think of it as Charlie Sheen syndrome), or there’s some redeeming value to the books, and they deliver as promised.

Of interest is that I’m not by any means the cheapest of the bestsellers in my genre, nor am I heavily promoted, like others occupying plum positions on the lists. I’m actually at the top of the indie author price curve, in nosebleed territory for indies, kissing trad pub pricing, so this isn’t the case of “People will try anything if it’s only .99” that we saw a few years ago.  In my case, folks seem to feel that $5-$6 is a fair price to pay for several days of quality entertainment, and I celebrate their discriminating choice. More power to ’em. I recently shelled out $7 apiece for a few 10 year old titles from a great author (James Lee Burke), and I didn’t have a moment’s hesitation doing so – even though I’m backlogged at around six months of reading on my Kindle, and growing. Which reminds me – if you want me to read or review your novel, I’m not accepting any more books at the moment, due to failing miserably to keep up with what I’ve already promised to look at. I know. I suck. Get over it, already.

That’s what’s going on in my neck of the woods. If I keep motivated by the story, April will be the month of Upon a Pale Horse in the Blake household, and I’ll be pushing starting the series off until May, which isn’t the end of the world, I don’t think. I’m taking it day by day, which is sort of a first for me – I usually stick to a very disciplined writing and production schedule, but now that I’m a veteran, at month 22 of my self-pubbing career, I figure I can bend the rules a little and write something that’s captured my imagination.

Here’s to hoping that I do it justice and it captures yours, too. Guess there’s only one way to find out.

 

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3 Apr 2013, by

JET V

It’s officially April, and I’ve only released one new novel so far in 2013. While there’s no excuse for this slacking, I can only hope that you are looking forward to reading the next in the JET series as much as I’m looking forward to releasing it.

To that end, I’m happy to say announce that JET V – Legacy is now live.

Readers of the series will find all the elements they’ve come to enjoy, along with some twists and a few surprises. I don’t want to give anything away, but suffice it to say that if you’re looking for something to read to help you nod off at night, this ain’t it. I’m particularly proud of the way the language shaped up, and believe that’s a trend now that I’ve crossed the two million words mark on my fledgling writing career. Seems like not only can old dogs learn new tricks, but also the odd bit of wisdom on the use of punctuation, adverbials, adjectives, and so on. Blood of the Assassin, JET IV, and now JET V all typify this hopefully elevated approach.

In JET IV we had Jet fleeing the country after taking on her nemesis. JET V picks up as she’s on the road, a few days later – or more accurately, less than 48 hours later.

It’s been a ball writing this, and I hope you enjoy it. If you don’t, simply lie to protect my delicate feelings. I won’t know the difference. Ask any of my exes.

In other news, I fleshed out Night of the Assassin some more, and added around 4K words, retooling some paragraphs and adding depth to El Rey’s early romantic dalliance. In fact, I got so carried away, I actually went back and re-edited all the tomes in that series, and they’re the better for it. I’ve already done that with Fatal Exchange, so next up will probably be The Geronimo Breach, although I started on that one and found that as of four chapters in, there wasn’t anything I could think of to change that would improve it. That’s a good sign, as I’m always scheming about how to make things a little better.

I also just finished a short story titled Clay for an anthology – The End of the Road. That was a new experience, as I’ve only written one other short story, and it involved Hollywood, sex, drugs, and a chimp. This is much darker – think No Country for Old Men kind of dark. It’s interesting, trying to hit a number of emotional beats all within 2000 words, and make them tangible and real. I’m very excited by that, and might just write one short story a month until I have a book’s worth. Stay tuned.

March was now officially my biggest month ever. 22K books sold. Can’t complain. As of now, it looks like April will be more of the same, so 2013 is being very kind to me, for which I’m grateful.

Anyhow, here’s the cover for JET V. I think it’s a stunner.

jet 5-final with credit-low res

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