Category Archives: Uncategorized

General Update

Man, it’s been a while. I always tell myself ‘this time I’ll keep blogging’, and then three months pass by. Obviously, I’m not much of a blogger. I hope to do better, but if I’m going to write, I’m more likely to write books and stories than blog posts.

Alas.

Anyway, I wanted to send out some quick updates on where I am with various projects.

First, Book 2. The editor is almost through her first review, and she thinks it’s very enjoyable. So that’s a huge relief. There’s still a lot of work and notes to go through, but probably no huge re-writes.

Second, also for Book 2, the cover artist is aiming to get the cover art done by October 1st. This is just the front cover, not the whole outside (that can’t be done until I have a word count). But it does mean that in a few weeks I should be able to display the artwork in all its glory.

Three, I’ve already started writing Book 3, in an effort to get ahead of the curve. The story is in excess of 12,000 words so far. Don’t have a final word count in mind, and I’m trying not to come up with one. Let the story write and see where it ends up.

There are a lot of other things I want to talk about right now, but they all deserve their own posts, or they’re not ready for discussion yet.

Until then, keep reading and keep writing.

Cheers!

-Michael

The Coffee Shop Betwixt Life and Death

The following is a monologue I wrote for a fun event earlier this month.

**

Hello, kind traveler, and welcome to the last coffee shop you will visit. Here, at the Coffee Shop Betwixt Life and Death, we invite you to sit back, take a moment, and decide if you wish to return through the front door, or take the elevator to your final destination.

Now, do not be hasty. This is an important decision. Chose your drink wisely, for the flavors are not just for the tongue, but the soul as well.

Wish to remember young loves and lost romance? A rose tea latte will bring back the stirrings of the heart.

Have a desire to speak with your long-departed mother? A café au lait will bring her back to you.

Perhaps you wish to feel a pang of excitement? Then, I might suggest a hip matcha latte. Just trust me, it’s exciting.

If you have a philosophical mind, some smoky herbal teas will bring back your memories of wisdom, assuming you have any.

Take as long as you’d like, but be warned. Here, at the Coffee Shop Betwixt Life and Death, you are a patron because you have a choice. Time is fleeting. Stay too long, and that door behind you might just lock itself.

So, my dear, what memory do you wish to pursue? Love or Anger? Happy or Sad? What emotion, what vision do you wish?

I’m sorry, you had a question?

Oh, you misunderstand. You drink to decide if you will go back or forth, not if the elevator will take you up or down.

If that is your worry, then I suggest a cup of black coffee. It will not give you wondrous visions, but it will sober you up, so to speak. It may tell you that you have chances yet to save your destination, or reveal that you are too far gone to one extreme or another.

No, black coffee is not fancy nor flavorful, but it is sometimes what you need to make the important choices.

What’s that, you ask?

Well, if you add cream and sugar, it wouldn’t be black coffee, now would it?

Here at the Coffee Shop Betwixt Life and Death, these things matter!

Manticon 2018

My time at Manticon 2018 was a great success. So much so, that I have a hard time coming up with the best part about it. I keep remembering this conversation or that exchange. And I don’t want to bore you with a minute by minute account of the weekend, so instead, a quick list.

10 Great Things from Manticon 2018 (in no particular order)

Timothy Zahn

I got to sit next to Timothy Zahn, an award winning novelist whose tableau of books on his table was impressive. I spoke with him a couple of times, took a picture with him, even got him to sign some books for me. Then, as icing on the cake, he bought a copy of my book. I was flying pretty high after that.

Czech Writer Jan Kotouc

Another writer I sat next to, Jan is a Czech science fiction writer. It was interesting to hear about his stories. And he’s running an Indiegogo campaign to translate his stories into English. I’m looking forward to seeing it in print, and reading science fiction from a new point of view.

The Other Writers

There were other writers there I got to interact with. One group writes a post-Civil War steam punk graphic novel. Another author writes a lot of stories and goes to conventions all over the state. He gave me some good advice on some things I could do in the future. Always nice to interact with other authors.

T-Shirts

One of my favorite T-shits is a writing themed shirt. I’ve gotten more compliments on it than any other I’ve ever had. So, for the convention, I bought a few others. I figured it makes sense to have a theme. They were a big hit. People who came by the table Friday came back Saturday and Sunday to see my shirts. So, that’s a win.

Digital Picture Frame

I’ve been looking for something to grab attention, but big static displays always worried me. As soon as Book 2 comes out, they lose some of their value. So I got a digital picture frame and loaded it with some wallpapers, things to try to grab attention. It did get some attention, though I might want to work on some of the wallpapers. At least, changing them out isn’t a problem.

The Source

A local comic and game store had some tables there. I talked with the general manager, who gave me some info on how to get my book into his store. I’ll have to give that a shot sometime.

Fans of the Story from Last Year

People who bought my book last year came up and asked about Book 2. It was nice to get that sort of feedback.

Fans of the Story from Two Days Ago

Two people bought my book on Friday. By Sunday, both came to tell me they were almost done and that they looked forward to Book 2. I was smiling after that.

Patch Maker

There was a booth there from the Threadmancer, an embroiderer who makes patches, some to designs, some custom. Why am I including this one? Because she is willing to start making patches for me from the Renaissance Army series. I think it’d be cool to have a collection of nice looking patches, much better than what I can do with Bitmaps.

Costumes

Manticon is an official Honor Harrington fan convention, and as such, brings a lot of fans who are part of their organization. The Royal Manticorian Navy has uniforms, medals, and rank structures that simulate their fictional counterpart, and they take pride in a lot of their uniforms. It’s fun to see all of them together.

Definitely a fun time. Now, on to Books and Beer!

Goals for 2018

I didn’t mean to wait until halfway through January to post about my 2018 goals, but somehow that happened. In some way, the lateness flows into my main goal for 2018: to be more of a writer.

I don’t just mean write more, though I do want to do that. What I mean is I want to be involved in the writing community more. I know people who get short stories published and set up literary events. I want to go to more conventions and blog more.

A friend has said several times that self-publishing is like a business, you have to work on it every day. While I am proud of my accomplishments as a writer in 2017, I can’t say I have stepped up to that challenge. So my goals for 2018 have to do with improving that.

Specific Goals for 2018

Attend four conventions: I am already signed up for Manticon 2018. I want to find three others to sell my books at.

Blog regularly: There are a lot of things I want to blog about, so I’m going to have to make this a priority. I’m already using a habit website to help me track a lot of improvements for 2018, including blogging.

Publish Book 2: I want to get Book 2 out and get started on Book 3.

Finish my fantasy Trilogy: I have finished Book 1 of a fantasy trilogy, and I want to finish the whole thing before I start revising and editing. I want to work on that some.

Find and take advantage of other opportunities: Going to require some research, but there’s no reason I can’t get into more writing relating groups, organizations, etc.

Simple, right? At least on paper. There’s still a lot of work to do on all of them in execution, but I’m ready for the task. To the writing-mobile!

-Michael

Birthday Check In

Yes, it’s my birthday. And since it’s been a while since I posted, I wanted to take this opportunity to check in and let you all know I’m still here, working hard on Book 2.

Book 2 is largely outlined, with only a few gaps to connect. I’ve got about 70,000 words written and plugged into yWriter. And I’ve got all the Kickstarter-created characters figured out. All in all, it’s just some hard work to get the draft finished.

I’ll try to post more on here in the future, but it might be spotty until Book 2’s rough draft is done.

In the meantime, Happy Birthday to me! Last year I had just finished my Kickstarter campaign and was happily on my way to publishing Renaissance Calling. What a good year it’s been.

Cheers!

Accidentally Published on Amazon

The story of how I accidentally got published.

So the fun thing about setting up books with printers (in this case Createspace and Ingram Spark) is you have to decide a publication date. Since I have never done this before, I was a bit optimistic about when I could get everything proofed and prepared. When I started setting everything up in February, I believed I could get it all done by early March. March has turned into April, since the hard cover turned out to be a bit longer to proof than the paperback was.

While this was happening, because the paperback (from Createspace) was already approved, I forgot to change the publishing date from early March. So two weeks ago, I realized that Renaissance Calling was already on Amazon. I had been unofficially published and I didn’t know it.

Surprise to me.

Shortly thereafter I got a 5-star review from a Hall of Fame reviewer. That was a nice start.

So, as things stand the eBook and paperback are on Amazon. The hardcover has been approved but is still tricking through the internet to get posted (the hard cover printer isn’t affiliated with Amazon, so it takes a few weeks to get put up).

Anyway, you can now buy Renaissance Calling on Amazon.

I am, officially, a published author.

A different type of writing

Right now, I’m going through a bit of a rough writing spot.  I fulfill a requirement for my Kickstarter, I need to write a number of segments of mechanical (think social studies) styled articles. Which, let me tell you, is a different type of writing.

As a reward in my crowdfunding campaign, backers are slated to receive the ‘Backer Booklet’, a small book that rounds out the world of Renaissance Calling.  The topics chosen for the book were selected by four polls run during the campaign, and they all turned out to be pretty similar in their scope:

  • From State to Kingdom: History of Minnesota
  • Life in Walker County: How the Protagonist grew up
  • The Kingdom of North Mississippi: The setting of the story
  • Countries of Atlantic America: A survey of foreign powers

Some of them could easily be Wikipedia articles, and the rest could be found in some scholastic journal.   All world building.

It may sound easy, since you’re not writing with dramatic prose or worrying about ‘show don’t tell’, but I’m not coming up with sixty pages of mundane facts.  ‘Life in Walker County’ is not a counting of population and agricultural production. It is a look into the life of the main character, explaining the world she grew up in.  It needs to be interesting and informative.

One easy assist it to add in graphics. I’ve got maps and flags planned, and I’m leaning towards commissioning a few pieces of artwork to round it all out.  That definitely goes a long way to keeping it interesting.  But it can’t save a book where the writing is too mechanical.

At the moment, what I’m working on is getting the information down, so I have a good starting place.  It will be dry, sure, but I can worry about crafting the words later, once I know what the data is.

I can tell you this, though.  I’m looking forward to getting back to some good, old fashioned fiction writing.

-Michael