WWIV Book 1

FOUR WWIV Books are now available on Amazon.
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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Self-Publishing: No Formal Training Required

The title of this post pretty much says it all. Today, it is easier than ever to become a published author. And I am, almost now, living proof of such.

I began my quest a little more than 13 months ago. There was a novel I wanted to write (Golden 5). I began January 23rd and wrote until my fingers became numb. I continued writing almost every day. Occasionally, I took a day or a weekend off. But not until early March did I actually stop; not until my "masterpiece" was completed. Then came the big question – now what?

You see, in all honesty, I never planned on publishing anything. I wrote the manuscript because it was on my bucket list, because I had this great story in my head, and because I had another reason or two. But never, ever did I plan on this seeing the light of day.

And then came book two in that series. People around me, we'll call them beta-readers, loved what I'd written. I'd give them 20 chapters and they'd come back the next day and only say, "where's the next 20?" Okay, maybe I was onto something.

And then came the suggestions for a series to introduce my style to the literary world. Something to release before my masterpiece (at least what I consider to be my masterpiece).

After months and months of early mornings and later nights, I finally had Book One of the WWIV series ready for an editor, a professional. Someone who'd seen all this stuff (for lack of a better word) before. Someone who would see through my smoke and mirrors, and make me out for the amateur I am.

To say I was nervous is to say that Lake Superior is big, and deep, and cold. Nervous wasn't the right feeling. Perhaps I was even scared. Scared that this little folly into becoming a self-published author would come crashing down when his honest, and I was sure biting, review of my novel came back.

Next time I'll go into greater detail on his (and others) responses. Suffice it to say, I was shocked alright. But shocked in a good way. It seemed, that maybe – just maybe – I was good enough to continue forward.

Trust me, it wasn't years and years of dreaming about becoming an author that drove me to this. It wasn't my college major (Accounting, not English Lit) that steered me in this direction. It wasn't even my great command of the language and all its grammatical nuances that led me here. It's something much simpler than all of that.

I am, and probably always have been, a good story teller. Really, that's all I have for you. I tell good stories. And for that, I thank my Dad!

Until next time, find a great book and read!


Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Trailer: Is this Dark Enough?

If you would, please take a moment to view the link below. It's a 1:18 (one minute, eighteen seconds) video for my soon to be released novel – WWIW - In the Beginning.

Promotional Book Trailer - WWIV Book One

Here are my questions:

1. Does it do anything for you? Does it pique your interest in the book?

2. Do you get a general idea what the book may be like?

3. Does it give you a dark, foreboding feeling for the future?

The video is self-made. To create it, I used iMovie 11. I purchased the images from Dreamstime. And I found the music free on the web (thanks to Kevin MacLeod from incompetech.com). Thus, it cost me little to create.

I ask these questions for a purpose. I am in the process of making another trailer to promote this same book on YouTube. The video will be similar in that it will lay out the basic premise of the story for the viewer. The music will be equally dark, but the background will be different. This new video will be approximately 45 seconds in length (subscribe to this blog to be one of the first to see this new video when it's ready).

As an independent writer, I am trying to find the proper mix of paid and free marketing for my materials. It's a delicate balancing act, at best. On one end of the spectrum, you can go the totally free route. And if you have enough cash to spend, you can buy your way into almost anything.

To me, it seems wrong to spend an embarrassingly large sum of cash to promote my self published and independent material. Something just doesn't feel right in doing that. There's plenty of places to spend your hard earned money in other areas. Professional editing starts at $500 for a thorough and complete review. Then there are payments for cover artists, YouTube campaigns, Google Adwords, Twitter Ads, costs for a website, and so on.

All of this leads to a high wire, tight rope act. On top of researching and creating all the above, I always have to remember to carve out time for 2,000 or so words a day on a new manuscript. And somehow stay employed at my current job.

And I wouldn't trade this awesome exciting endeavor for anything in the world!

Keep Reading everyone.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dreams of Dystopia

As weird as this is going to sound, I have dreamt up everything I have written thus far. No, not as in sat around and thought "what strange thing can I come up with next?" Actual dreams, real dreams - as is sleeping at night and having marvelous dreams.

First off, I am fortunate when it comes to dreams. I have 'movie dreams'. They have a plot, a wonderful cast of characters, a beginning, some sort of escalating conflict, and usually quite a climax. I know these dreams don't last as long as they seem in my sleep. They are probably a few seconds, perhaps several minutes. But they are wonderful dreams.

The main character in The Smith Chronicles, John Smith, came to me in a dream. The setting came to me in that same dream. And over a number of peaceful slumbers most of the storyline came in dreams.

I have learned over the years that your dreams try to disappear once your conscious world kicks back in. Most of the time I'm no different. Most of my dreams are gone by morning. Gone like a breath in the wind. My recurring dreams, John Smith dreams, stick with me all day. Day after day, week after week, month after month. That's when I realized I needed to start the manuscript. When the dream never ends, you'd better try and get it down on paper.

That process took quite a while. I'd never written much since high school. And that was a long time ago. Many years in my past. I tried a few times. The exact number I don't recall, but I know it was more than half a dozen. Words were terrible. I couldn't get it in the correct context. Ideas became jumbled and frustration set in. This went on for almost six years.

Late one afternoon, January 23, 2013, I finally decided to run things from a different POV (point of view). As much as I tried to tell this from Smith's POV, it never worked. That's when I discovered I needed a better set of supporting characters. Someone else's POV the story could be told from. Enter the White sisters and bang, I was off.

I wrote almost 6,000 words before I stopped that evening. Many fellow writers say if you get 2,000 words a day out, you're doing well. But this was different. The story flowed, smoothly, wonderfully. I couldn't stop.

Four weeks later I was 85% finished with the 125,000 word manuscript. An ending, a great ending, was needed. I came up with three or four pretty good options. Just as I settled on one, you guessed it, I had another dream. A great dream. The book would continue; it would become a series. Two months and 150,000 words later, book two was roughed out. Thank God for dreams.

I still have a lot of editing and re-writing to do on both novels, but they'll get there. Book one should be out sometime before late summer. Book two will follow in the winter of 2014/2015. Until then, I continue work on my introductory series, WWIV. Yes, more dreams.

I never thought of becoming a writer ever before in my life. Now, the theme invades my dreams every week, if not every night. To sleep, perchance to dream. Thank you Shakespeare.

'Til next time, keep reading.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Lovers in Dystopia Lands

Recently, I have read a number of dystopian novels. If you check out my reading list at  http://ealake.com/musings/reading-list-2014/  you will notice I spend many nights in this genre. What can I say - I read what I am.

One thing about some of these books has been bothering me lately, greatly bothering me. While I love the general tales these books tell, I don't buy into their versions of couples and love. Please allow me to expound on that thought, so I'm not thought of as a heartless curmudgeon.

Going back to Orwell's 1984, we see Winston Smith hooking up with his own antagonist, Julia, in mid-book. She hands him a note one day, no words have ever been exchanged between the two before now, that simply states "I love you."  Okay, not overly romantic, I'm still with it. Winston and Julia go on to have a sexual relationship without a lot of emotional entrapments. I'm still with it. When Winston and Julia are busted by the Thought Police, he turns on her easily. Okay, now I love it.

The idea of romantic love in an oppressive (and depressed) world is fanciful in my mind. People will be looking to survive, exist. If they do pair up, it will be for protections sake and possible reproduction. Thus, Orwell's emotionless romance of the lovers was perfect for Oceania.

In three novels I have read recently (excellent examples of the Dystopian genre), love has come quickly, far too quickly for my tastes. Further, it's true pure romantic love. The kind that makes a third grade boy screw up his face and give you a big fat "EW!!!!"

And as extra insight to my thoughts, I wasn't a fan of the Katniss-Gale-Peeta love triangle much either. Loved the books though.

Wait - before someone takes me wrong, let me defend myself. I'm a normal human being with the same wants and needs of most normal people. Without being to personal, I have three grown children of my own. I like hugging and kissing as much as the next guy. Just not so much in my literature.

I will admit to introducing the idea of love in one of my series that will begin later this year. The Smith Chroniclehttp://ealake.com/books/the-smith-chronicles/, has a somewhat one-sided love affair as part of its storyline. However, the love in that series comes late in the first book, like two-thirds of the way into it. And, it is very one-sided. To be more precise, without giving away too much, it remains one-sided well into the second book. And even then the male protagonist is still somewhat 'love neutral'.

If we're worried about our next meal, or living another day, or sleeping out in the cold tonight - we really won't have much time for romantic love I'm afraid. At least in the dystopia I create, that will be the case. In these novels, we create a story environment that feels gray at best, sometimes dark as night. People will tell you, "he's just not a romantic". Well, some of that may be true, some not so true. I'm not a cynic towards love, I think of myself as more of a realist.

There's room for romance everywhere in our world. Heck, the Romance genre is one of the largest out there. So who am I to second guess people. I just prefer to keep it to a minimum and as dark as the concept of WWIV.

Until we meet again, always keep filling your mind with greats books,


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Who in their right mind would be Dystopian?

A while back, some two months or so, I was asked by my mother, "what made you choose the dystopian style?" It's a good question. The answer required some deep thought on my part.

I grew up in a small town just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. I still look back and say I grew up in my own 'Mayberry'. My childhood was simple and full of love from all my family (extended included); my parents were normal fun people. My siblings (one older sister, an older brother and one younger brother) were equally as normal as we went about our daily life in the 60s and early 70s.

The only 'cool' thing going on in our area was the constant protesting of the Vietnam War by the students of nearby UW- Madison (The U, I suppose). This was the age of hippies, you will recall. There were just as many odd characters as normal citizens in Madison at the time. For fun, my father would load us into the car and we would cruise State Street to marvel at varied citizens going about the normal lives.

My family of six was a tight knit group. We ate most meals together, attended various functions and sporting events together, went to church each Sunday together, and lived in a nice home my parents had built. We had an A-framed cottage on the Wisconsin River some 25 miles to the north, later a 120-acre farm owned jointly with some of my mother's cousins; so we had it all.

We had mini-bikes and later motorcycles, we had guns of all calibers which we used for target and sport, later we had bows and the latest archery equipment. One year we had season tickets to all Wisconsin Badger footballs game. At least twice a year during the dismal southern Wisconsin winters, my dad would take us to Badger basketball games. We attended every sportsman's show in the area. We were outdoors, a lot, and my brothers and I loved it just as much as my father.

So you can see, dear reader, my life was just normal. We had it better than most, I suppose. But to us, we were regular mid-western folks.

My first exposure to the dark side of literature came in high school. There, I was introduced to Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.  It was the best of times, and still, it was the worst of times. After that came Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago. I was hooked; between Dickens' biting words of the classes in London and Paris, and the dark Russian history, I craved more literature that spoke of the less than sunny side of life. Real people, real issues, real problems...real life.

A year or two later, a writing teacher (L. B. Rowe, yes, I can still recall his entire name) introduced me to a true classic and it most likely changed my entire outlook on literature. None other than the tale of true dystopian tales, Orwell's 1984. Grey skies, mundane meaningless lives, still set in the future (the year I first read it was 1976, so we were eight years shy of '84).

Fiction is a wicked master. You get to make things up, but you must maintain the reader's belief. Some works, such as SciFi, allow you latitude. But you still have to make it believable. I viewed Dickens and Solzhenitsyn as historians. They placed in full open view what had happened. Orwell pushed our minds to what could happen. Thought police, newspeak, The Inner and Outer Parties, Proles, Big Brother. He opened my mind to a new dimension of thought that I had never considered. He changed me, for the good I truly believe.

So, mom - we can blame George Orwell, if we must. Or we can choose to embrace dystopian literature for what it is - dreams without our normal every day boundaries. Some of what I write will be darker than other writings I create. The WWIV series gets darker with each novel. As more time passes, civilization, and life, become less attractive. In this setting, it can't be any other way.

The Smith Chronicles will be nowhere near as dark as WWIV. Yet, it is still a dystopian tale. I have others planned; little wandering story lines float through my mind constantly. Some will never see the light of day; others will take form and become manuscripts and eventually novels.

My hope, is that you will find my plots and style enjoyable. That is the plan.

Until next time, good reading.