WWIV Book 1

FOUR WWIV Books are now available on Amazon.
Click here for more information.

Friday, May 30, 2014

When do you want your world to end?

Not often is a person given a choice like I am offering above. But that's today's question: Do you want your personal SHTF event in the summer or in the winter? Either way, I'll give the perspective as we find it here in the Upper-Midwest of the U.S.

Your first choice is Summer.

What a great time of year to live in Minnesota, or Wisconsin, or North Dakota – right? The summer days are long; typically June and July have more than 15 hours of real daylight this time of year. And that doesn't include the hour or two before sunrise and after sunset. So much daylight will make your travels easier if your cars don't run, and you're stuck on foot or bike or horseback. You can see any form of trouble for almost 18 hours a day. Cool!

But, there's a downside to all that sunshine. Remember, I'm taking away ALL power. That includes your electricity. Gone is your refrigeration you depend on to keep your limited amount of fresh food fresh. Some of the smells you'll have to deal with as the temperature rises will be unimaginable. Have you ever smelled warm rancid bacon? How about spoiled fruit when the maggots have arrived? Yeah, these smells are going to be prevalent during the summer.

There's another catch in choosing the warm sunny months to start your dystopian adventure. July and August can get hot...and with the heat comes humidity. Have you ever tried to sleep in a hot box with no air moving through? The sweat builds on your abdomen and slides down your ribs. And there is just no way to get comfortable. What little clothing you will wear, will stick to you like glued on sheets of soggy paper. And you'll always be hot and sweaty and uncomfortable. At least until winter arrives.

Thus, your second choice: Winter.

Last winter we endured about 50 days where the air temperature fell below zero sometime during the day. Personally I witnessed a -35 degree morning. At least ten days last winter the temp never rose above 0. When it wasn't bitterly cold, it snowed. And it snowed a lot! I mean a whole bunch. If I remember correctly we had almost six feet of snow. The season's total was right around 70 inches. Almost a foot and a half more than normal. So when it wasn't cold, it was snowing.

And let's not forget about wind chills in the winter. There were numerous days where it was considered down right dangerous to be outside this past season. Actually, that happens every year up here. A point where exposed flesh can freeze in as little as ten minutes (five in extreme cases). That's going to cut down on your ability to travel and forage for food during those periods.

Perhaps you'll make a nice fire and sit quietly inside most of the white months. That's a good idea. Who doesn't like a nice warm fire? Again, there is another downside waiting for your sanity. It's called cabin fever. Maybe you know it as stir crazy. No matter what the name, it's awful. Slowly, a little bit each day, your sanity erodes. To the point where you don't know what day, or season, or even year it may be any more. Better hope you have friends holed up with you. Otherwise you're going to be having a nice long conversation with yourself.

In my debut novel, WWIV - In The Beginning, our end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it event occurs in August.  So for that novel, I chose summer. Book two (Kids at War) takes place almost six years later, beginning in late April/early May. Book three (title yet undecided) will take place in fall, some 12 years after the event. The options are limitless for me. I can take anyone and place them anywhere I choose, during any season of the year. And all they have to do is try and survive.

As time moves forward, everything will become more difficult for my characters. At first, there will still be a little gas and some running cars. Six years after, not so much. Sixteen years after whatever happened, happened, none will exist. Food will diminish almost daily too. Eventually, in the not so distant future, if you want to eat you'll either have to kill it or grow it...or both.

Seasons will be important during these dark times. It may be the difference between life and death.

Reminder: Beginning next time (for at least the summer months) I will be posting once a week. Look for a new subject every Tuesday beginning June 3rd.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

5 Fun Facts About Me: e a lake

I'm doing something different in today's blog. I'm giving other writers, and any readers that follow this blog, a chance to know a little bit more about me. So, here goes.

1. I came late to the writing party

What I mean by this is I was 50+ before I ever gave serious consideration to writing a novel. And then it took another three years to start. I had a great idea from a series of dreams I had seven or eight years ago. Still, I didn't know anything about the author game. I'm an accountant; be serious I thought. But after a few years of chewing on the dreams, I gave it a go. And I couldn't be any happier with my decision.

Book one of the WWIV series (In The Beginning) is doing so much better than I ever dreamt it would. For that, I am truly thankful. I'm also fortunate because people are beginning to ask when book two (Kids at War) will be ready. Some indie authors never get this far. So for all the success I have experienced, I thank my readers.

2. I hunt...A LOT

I mostly bow hunt, and mostly white-tailed deer. There's just something about a midwest fall afternoon in the woods. I wouldn't trade it for anything. My hunting mostly consists of sitting and taking in everything interesting around me. Watching squirrels play, hawks floating on thermal currents, the occasional raccoon or turkey. It's just the way I prefer to spend my falls. If I'm lucky, I even get some venison for the freezer every third year or so.

I drive my oldest son absolute bonkers because I rarely have a tale of game taken or a dramatically missed shot. Mostly, I say something like "Well, I saw a nice buck, but he wasn't in my comfort zone." Or, "I had a nice doe wander by, but I never got a clean look at her."

3. I am NOT a Prepper

This may shock some of you. One would naturally assume that a person who writes novels about the end of the world as we know it would be a prepper. But I'm not. That doesn't mean I'm ignorant to intelligent preparedness. My wife and I have a bug-out plan. We just hope what happens in the WWIV series isn't what hits this great land of ours. Sure, we could bike or walk to our preplanned destination, but we'd much prefer to take a vehicle. Remember, I'm almost 55...I'm old (not really).

Trust me, I believe some level of preparedness is necessary. Just how much? Well, I can't really say because I am not an expert. My novels in the WWIV series deal more with common people than actual real life preppers. If you at least have a plan in case something happens, that's probably better than 90% of the folks in the world right now.

4. I have a heart, I just can't write like it

Want to know who makes the most money in this biz? It's those romance novelists. That's where the big bucks are in this biz. But, and this is a big qualifier, it's a hard genre to break into and rise in. Romance is where you find a lot of authors and a lot of heady competition.

And then there's the other thing: the mush factor. I can be as romantic as the next guy...sometimes. I'm just not overly romantic. As such, I'd have a hard time writing about people's feelings of love (and lust) and all that kissing and hugging that goes along with such romance. Somewhere buried in my first Smith book, one person expresses their love to another. You want romance? From me? That's all you're going to get; that's all I'm capable of.

5. I plan on writing a large number of books

I am not a one and done author. I have plans; big plans. I have one published novel and four completed manuscripts in various stages of editing and rewrites. There are eight titles planned for my WWIV series and six for the Smith Chronicles. I also have plans for two or three stand alone titles at the point in my new journey. That makes at least sixteen or seventeen novel I plan to produce over the next three of four years. And that's just to start. Who really knows where this will all lead.

Okay, I know I probably didn't disclose anything too shocking here, but it's a start. Now, you know a little more about me. The writer me and the real person me. I hope you enjoy these five fun facts; it took me a long time to come up with five things I thought were worth sharing.

I'll have another post for you this coming Friday morning. The long Memorial Day weekend threw me for a loop this shortened work week. Starting this June, I will be posting in this blog once a week – every Tuesday. In July i will post weekly as well, but I'll be covering something a little different. I will be introducing you to three issues that I feel strongly about. Each week I will cover each issue in depth and let you know why it's special to me and how I plan to help out in each area.

Until next time...keep reading.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Big Brother: Is he watching YOU?

Okay, if you live in the United States you know who Edward Snowden is and what he did. I don't care to discuss whether he's a Patriot or a Traitor. What I care about is the idea that Big Brother may be watching you, heck - us - and there is little anyone can do about such a program.

Some of you don't believe me right now. You say, innocently, "I have nothing to hide. Why would the government ever want to watch me?" Other folks are jumping up and down, screaming at the top of their lungs, "Dang Right! About time this clown posts The Truth." And some of us (called sheeple by the two ends) are blissfully unaware of anything going on anywhere but our won little perfect world.

If you've ever watched the CBS show Person of Interest you know how confusing this all can be. The government is watching you. Some other special interest (or Country) is watching the government watch you. And perhaps you even have a concerned citizen's group watching everyone watch each other. Holy crap; it gave me a headache just writing that scenario.

And yet, here most of us sit. Completely unaware of anything...anything!

When it comes to Dystopian writing, you have a lot of choices. The three groups watching everyone above is just one such choice. Orwell created the Thought Police in 1984. Some would say we're not too far from that today. In other worlds, such as the one the Huxley created, government is more of a loving big brother that "helps" you out. Gives you everything you need to survive. Even drugs to help curb any form of anxiety. Now who doesn't love a big brother like that? Even though they are actually manipulating you into the exact behaviors they desire.

Now, let's go to the other end of the spectrum; No Government. There's a scary thought, right? No one watching out for you. But who will fix our roads, our traffic signals? Who will run the DMV, the library? Who will patrol our streets and keep us safe? Answer: absolutely nobody!

You want scary? Don't tell me about the government spying on my pathetic boring life. How about if no one is there to help you. No police, no Army, no National Guard. Just you and those cool friends and neighbors of yours. That's it.

Wait, here comes a hurricane. Here comes a tornado. Here comes the largest winter storm known to mankind. Who is going to help us through this crisis? Who is going to give aid to whatever homeless people there will be after this natural disaster? Not the government. They are gone, people; they have gone home and joined their friends and family. We are all in this together...without one lick of help.

Edward who? That guy who is holed up in a dystopic country run by Vladimir Putin? Really? I bet he understands now what an evil government looks like.

So tell me, you think too much government is terrible? Hmmm, just wait until the day you arise from bed and the corrupt institution is no more. Maybe then you'll understand what you should actually be fearful of in this great big wonderful world of ours.

Have a great weekend all!  Get some sun, grill out, and read a great book.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Reviews: Good, Bad, & Ugly

One of the things that lots of people tell you is that reviews help sell books. Well, I've done a little research on the subject and I have to tell you – maybe, maybe not.

As of May 13th, I have 15 reviews of my book (WWIV - In The Beginning). Of these reviews five are 5 star, six are 4 star, three are 3 star, and one is 1 star. Slightly more than half of these are purely organic reviews; meaning the reviewer actually purchased the book and felt strongly enough to post a review. The remainder are from the site Story Cartel. This is a site where in exchange for an honest review, one receives a free copy of the book (in digital form).

Let's examine the facts and numbers thus far.

The novel is in its seventh week of publication. Thus far, approximately 850 readers have purchased or "borrowed" my creation on Amazon. Eight of the reviews are from these purchases. That's about a 1% hit ratio on purchased copies. I'm not exactly sure where that stands against normal or average, but I am led to believe a 1% review rate is fairly common.

I get a little scared by a book that is ranked #365,000 on the Amazon sales chart and has eighteen 5 star reviews, along with five or six 4 star reviews. If the book was published recently, their sales ranking would seem to indicate they sold a book ever three days or so. If the novel has been on Amazon for two months (for instance), that would indicate maybe 20 copies have been sold.

Something is afoul with the numbers above. Remember, 1% is a good organic review rate. If a book has sold twenty copies, how can it possibly have eighteen 5 star reviews? Short answer, the author has been hard at work getting as many friends and relatives to review his/her book as possible. Hey, it's not illegal; it just skews the numbers.

These reviews later come into question when 1 star reviews come along. Believe me, you're not legit if you don't have at least one 1 star review. Many times they sound like this (and I'm paraphrasing):

I have no idea what all the people who gave this five stars were reading. The book is full of typos, run on sentences, and tense issues. I guess he/she has the best friends in the world. I don't recommend wasting your money on this book.

Again, there is nothing wrong with having family and friends write some reviews for you. You're only trying to get noticed in a huge ocean with many many fish. No one blames you for your effort. Just be careful what they write (honest reviews are what you need). In an effort to be completely transparent, my older brother bought the book with his own money on Amazon and penned a 4 star review. His exact words to why only 4 stars...I don't give anyone 5 stars. It had better be history changing for that.

I want real organic reviews on my material. Complete honesty makes me smile. More than one person has found my book "unrealistic" when reviewing. I get their point. Perhaps they wanted more action all along. Maybe they wanted the road warrior gunning down bad folks everywhere. No matter what they wanted, what they write – I respect and appreciate their honest input. I'll try to turn them into 4 and 5 star reviews with future books.

Oh yeah, my 1 star review? Well you can read it here. I'm not hiding anything. The reviewer, Harold, wanted something different. And that's okay. At least he didn't say the book was terribly written or full of mistakes. I'm happy with his review because he expressed an opinion and had good reason for it.

Here's to more Harold's in all of our lives. Honest people, willing to give an honest opinion.

Have a great upcoming Memorial Day weekend everyone!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Location, Location, Location

It's the mantra of every real estate broker throughout this big, beautiful world of ours – it's all about location. But what is "it's" and why is location important? Especially when it comes to writing.

I make no bones about it in my writing; I choose locations that are familiar to me. Very familiar.

In book one, WWIV - In the Beginning, the story begins in the same city in which I reside; Woodbury, MN. The path that Bill Carlson takes as his route goes along the highways and byways of west-central Wisconsin I have traveled too many times to begin to count. I've been to all the towns I mention in the book: Stillwater and Marine on St. Croix in Minnesota. Hudson, Milwaukee, Frederic, Balsam Lake, Stevens Point, Luck, and Bayfield in Wisconsin. I used to live by Milwaukee when I was first married. My wife and I have actually lived in Hudson as well.

The location of book two in the series, Kids at War, takes place near Dalton, Wisconsin. No one will recognize that name. Try and find Portage on the map. Dalton is about 20 miles northeast of Portage. Actually, the farm that is the setting for Kids at War is only a mile south of Dalton. It's a 100+ year old farm that has been in my family for over 40 years. There's real Amish neighbors, real out buildings, even the real woods as written in the book.

Are you getting this? I love familiar locations.

If we switch to my next series, The Smith Chronicles, book one takes place in the made up village of Golden. Golden is based on an actual location that I've been going to in northern Wisconsin since I was a baby. My paternal grandparents bought land in Golden back in the 40s. I visit this local no fewer than seven or eight times a summer. It's so remote, so beautiful, so peaceful, so off the beaten path that mere words cannot do it justice. Here's a short video clip introducing you to Golden:

So why do I choose locations that are so dear to me? Why not move out of my own little world and expand my writing horizons? Simple. I'm a rookie at this writing thing. Having written only about 500,000 words thus far, I have another 500,000 to go before I really get the hang of this writer stuff (at least that's what others say).

I have enough to worry about creating characters, content, narration, dialog, description, and so on. I feel if I already know my location, can close my eyes and place the action in a setting I am so comfortable with, well I'm halfway home. Plus, look at it from my point of view. I've been going to Golden since I can remember. There isn't an inch of land I haven't explored within five miles of the place. The farm near Dalton? I've covered every inch of the 120 acres there countless times. I've explored every road leading in and out. Even visited with many of the neighbors. My dystopian fantasies live in these places. Whether it's northern or southern Wisconsin, I've written hundred of pages in both spots.

For book three in the WWIV series, I will be traveling outside my comfort zone. This novel will take place in Salt Lake City and the mountains just east of that community. It's a beautiful area, though I've only driven through and that was only once. To help learn the area better, and thus create a solid location for the novel, my wife and I will visit the area later this summer. We hope to spend a week exploring the various locations I plan on using in the book. I'm really looking forward to this trip.

To me, location is just as important as the book's characters. They always say without believable characters your book will fail. I truly believe the same can be said about a book's location. That's why I use places I know...and love.

Have a great weekend. If you want a short (but deep) read for the upcoming days, might I suggest Ayn Rand's Anthem. Be forewarned, it's a book that will make you think...in more ways than one.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Editing: A Crucial Piece to the Creative Process

How many times must I suffer through a slew of One Star reviews of my fellow Indie Authors? And almost all of these single star snarks end with something like this: "this book could have used an editor, or even a proofreader. So many spelling, punctuation, grammar and tense errors. It turned what could have been a good story into a terrible attempt at literature."

First off, in defense of my indie friends, I have seen such reviews on pieces of lit that did have editors. John Green (the author of The Fault in Our Stars) talks about opening up a copy of his very own novel and discovering a typo. Unbelievably it was in the Author's Notes section. My editor, Rob Bignell, told me one day he could pick up almost any book in any given bookstore and find an error somewhere. So just be aware, there's errors out there. Lots and lots of them for all to enjoy.

I myself have since discovered two or three errors in my first novel (WWIV - In The Beginning) – after it was already published in Amazon Kindle format. Hey, we all make mistakes. Let the first among you who have messed up there, their, they're cast the first exclamation mark!

If you want to create something, have it look as professional as possible, and have the public take you seriously then you need an editor. Which type do you need? Well, that's a good question. As far as I know, there are four basic types of editing that you can have done.

  1. Developmental - This is where an editor helps you develop your ideas.
  2. Substantive - Identifying and solving issues with flow, POV, pace.
  3. Copy or Line Editing - Going through a manuscript line by line, identifying all types of fun issues
  4. Proofreading - A last run through hoping to find any unidentified problems and making sure the story makes sense.
I've over generalized above. All of you editors out there can hold your hate mail for a minute longer. 

The point is this: No one sits down and writes the perfect manuscript. No One! Got it?

I'm pretty good at getting the story down on paper. I'm also good at correcting grammar, spelling, and POV issues in one of my three self-edits/rewrites. The thing that nags my skill is the last few fine details. I need someone to point out my tics, my repetitions, my occasional misuse of a word, and my ugly habit of starting too many sentences with the word "It". That's where my editor comes in handy. He, my editor, also acts as my first proofreader as well.

After I get through the substantial list that Rob sends me back, my manuscript still isn't ready for publishing. It (see - what is "it"?) needs several more sets of eyes for anything that both Rob and I may have missed. Trust me, Rob is thorough. But even he is human and misses small things here and there.

Here's a classic mistake I made; and Rob didn't miss this one. I created it after editing and before proofreaders. The sentence went something like this: "Brit was holding onto to dear life..." See the error? of course you do, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Originally I had written "on to". I realized on one of my many read throughs that I meant to say "onto". So, I added "to" to the "on" and went along my merry way. All the while forgetting to delete the second "to" in that sentence. 

Trust me – we all need editors. No matter what purpose they will serve, they are needed. I could probably use one for my twice weekly blogs, right?

(NOTE - I did not go back and edit this posting after I finished. This is just one go through only fixing obvious spelling errors. How many gramatical and word errors can you find?)

Have funa nd enjoy your weak;


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Dystopian Trends - Part Two

Last time, I spoke about the apparent (maybe) decline in the Young Adult portion of the Dystopian genre. One of the points I touched on was the teen-viewed writings featured by Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth. If you love dystopia and haven't read either of these authors, I highly recommend you do. You won't be disappointed.

Today I'd like to focus on several other current trends in this genre; my genre more specifically.

First off, most popular writings nowadays deal with a dark world after some type of post-apocalyptic event. In The Hunger Games we learn that some type of wrath has been bestowed upon the population by the tyrannical government. There was an "uprising" of some sort that the people needed to be protected from. More accurately, the people needed to be taught a lesson by this government – thus the need for the 75 years of the Hunger Games. Sure Big Brother, I have some land 30 miles east of downtown Milwaukee for sale too.

Thus far in Divergent, I haven't found any one event that has led the populous down the dystopian driveway they find themselves in. Perhaps it comes later in the book (I'm only 2/3 done); perhaps it follows in second or third book. It really doesn't matter to me. All I need to know is that the old world is gone, and these people live in a new, greatly changed world.

In the first two (and eventually four) novels in my WWIV series, you are never told what actually happened to our world. Oh sure, as with any event there's plenty of speculation. But never once do I actually tell the reader what really happened.

And it really doesn't matter. Why? Because my characters are far too busy trying to survive in this new world. They don't have time to worry about or try to figure out what happened. They are too busy living, eating, finding shelter – surviving. These are more stories of our humanity than tales of "look what happened to the world because people were too dumb to..." (feel free to insert your favorite cause here. Global warming? Sure, why not?  Not responding to Russia's aggressive nature? Yeah, let's blame it on the Russians).

The point is this: whatever the cause of our troubles is secondary. How we (as people) will survive the impending struggles is the important part.

Hunger Games has it's varying Districts. There are five factions in Divergent. In WWIV, we have good and evil. Many goods actually; and a whole lot of evils. For instance, I have created a specific breed of trouble that will take over our highways and byways. They will go by the name of Road Bandits. In every dystopian society there will be good and bad. They may carry different names, but trust me – some are good people, and others are equally bad.

A dystopian world may have an evil oppressive government involved. That's what we have in 1984 and The Hunger Games. Or, it may lack that heavy handed element. This is what we see in Divergent and my WWIV series. People will be trying to survive. Some are seeking to rise in a world gone so mad. Others will just want to blend in as best they can and continue on with their lives, unnoticed by the surrounding world. And always at play is our humanity.

I've learned a lot in the past fifteen months. A lot about writing. A lot about dystopian writing - my genre of choice. For me, here is the bottom line. There is no one way things have to go. You have many options available. As a writer, you just need to be consistent and have your "new" world well thought through. That's what the readers want. Freshness, consistency (to your plot), and something they can see; perhaps almost feel. I'm still new at this. My goal is to make each tale better and better.

Thanks for reading this post. Might I recommend Orwell's 1984 if you've never picked it up? It's a classic dystopian tale.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Dystopian Trends

I started reading Divergent last week. You know the book, right? A new dystopian tale brought to us by the talented Veronica Roth. At 487 printed pages, it is quite the tome of reading joy. Especially if you love dark dystopian tales (and we know I do).

Currently, several Young Adult (YA) Dystopian novels have made huge inroads in the book and movie world. They are of course The Hunger Games trilogy and Divergent, which is also a trilogy with its companion novels Insurgent and Allegiant.  I have read all three of the first set, and am just about done with the first book in the second trilogy.

The popular trends seem to be YA oriented. I guess this gives a greater, mass appeal for selling books and movie tickets. But here's the slight rub – it's Young Adult. Better stated, it's about teenagers. With lots of teen issues and teen angst. As a 50+ reader (and movie goer) I sometimes get a little tired of teen angst, teen love triangles, teens in general. I raised three children of my own. Trust me when I say their teen years, though well over now, are still etched permanently in my mind.

I bring this up because I read an interesting article the other day about the apparent decline of this particular genre; the Dystopian genre - my genre.

I'm new to the game, just got in. I published my first novel (WWIV - In The Beginning) on March 28th of this year. It has sold well in its first six weeks. Far beyond any of my estimates and expectations. But then I read that the Dystopian genre is on the decline? That is troubling news for me. I just put my uniform on coach; I'm not even sweaty yet.

A little further research was necessary on my part. I couldn't walk away from the genre I love that easily. I can't (repeat in bold letters – CAN'T) write in many other genres. Romance is the number one slot out there. And my writing is far from romantic. Like Earth to the Moon far. Maybe even Earth to the Sun.

Alas, I found what I needed in several other articles. Good News! Very good news. When others speak about the Dystopian genre beginning a slow descent, they are speaking specifically of the YA portion of the genre. Not the 1984, Brave New World, Cormac McCarthy portion. There's always room for classic lit within each and every genre. It seems, there's just only so many sub, sub, sub plots the any genre can hold. After too long, the story becomes old, cliche. Whew, saved me there.

I have one novel and four manuscripts written thus far in the Dystopian world. Book two of the WWIV series will be ready for publishing by mid-summer. I want it to be as well received as book one has been. There is room for all authors I have learned. I read a lot of new, self-published Dystopian novels. Too many have teens are their main characters. I suppose, if you believe what I read earlier, they may not find the success they are searching for. Or maybe they will.

Remember Mark Twain's definition of an expert – "An expert is anyone more than 20 miles from their own hometown, carrying a briefcase." Some people say every creative thought has already been written in one form or another. It's my goal, now, to prove those people wrong. Chins up fellow Indie Authors. Keep writing and never, ever give up!

Until Thursday, read a dystopian novel. It might be more entertaining than you ever though.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Slapping Together Another Novel

First off, if my title today seems somewhat informal – I apologize. By no means am I attempted to downplay all of the hard work that many, many independent authors put into their novels. But if they were honest with you, I'll try to be honest at least, at times it seems like there's a lot more going on than just writing the next Great American Novel.

I have discovered that writing a novel (or a manuscript as it is called before it is actually published) is the best part of the job. I wouldn't go as far to say as it's the easiest step, but if you know where your book is headed, it writes itself. If you want to know what a tough step looks like, consider rewrites.

After you complete your 400 page pile of festering feces, you're going to need to go through and fix all the spelling errors, all of the grammar errors, make sure everything is in its proper tense, fill plot holes, correct names, locations and time lines. Are you bored yet? No? Great.

Because then you need to have someone besides yourself actually read your slightly improved third or fourth version. Trust me, I speak from five rough draft experiences, you won't rewrite just once before you hand this drivel out. I've made as many as four versions before I gave it to my first outside reader. Now this reader, my family in my case, will find a whole bunch of errors and glaring mistakes. I don't mean one or two, or even ten. Dozens, if not hundreds of errors that need fixing. And wait, it gets worse. Your beloved may even tell you they can't get into one of your characters, or a certain plot twist. Dang, and you were almost ready to hit the publish button on one of those DIY sites.

Okay, you get everything fixed; ready to publish? Not if you want to be taken seriously. You need to run it by an editor first. There are five or six choices of editors; enough for a separate post itself. Let's just say they will bring new light to your works. At some point you will begin to question your sanity. Why would a person ever want to get into this game? Because it's fun, right? Remember how you always dreamt of becoming an author? Yeah, this is what you bargained for.

From the editor your manuscript goes through one more round of beat-readers and you make final corrections. Now you just need to format this baby and you'll be all ready. But wait a second there Tex. You got a cover for your darling? A professional cover that is? Two things will make you look like an amateur faster than white socks at a black tie affair. Not using a professional editor and not having a professionally designed cover. Skimp everywhere else you want. Just be sure to pay for these two items. For Book One of my WWIV series, I believe I paid less than $500 combined. And just so you know, the novel is doing just fine on Amazon.

I mention all of this because I am about to make the big push to get Book Two (Kids at War) ready for the reading world. I have a fourth version of my rough draft that has been read aloud between my wife and myself. Virginia is 20+ hours from the Twin Cities. We just couldn't sleep the whole time while the other drove.

There are several timeline issues I need to deal with before I can do my last series of rewrites. Between the timeline analysis and the following rewrites, I have about two weeks of work I figure. Then it gets read again by my wife. If it's in the spot I am shooting for, the manuscript (and some of my hard earned money) will be shipped off to the editor. Now he'll use up approximately four more weeks helping me get it just right. His input is invaluable to giving the final product a polished image.

After editing, we move onto a round of beta-readers who will undoubtedly find a few more errors and perhaps have a question or two on plot. While it's being beta'd, I will work with my pal Laura and get the cover finished up. If I'm lucky, two months from today (approximately July 1) I will have everything in hand ready for formatting. If I stay at it faithfully, I can get everything formatted in about a day. That's all of the ebook files, and the paperback version.

At some point soon after the 4th of July, I will hit the "publish" button and Book Two will be ready for public consumption. With any luck, it will quickly climb the charts and post acceptable sales figures, comparable with those of Book One.

But I won't have time to enjoy much of any newfound success. By August I'll be on vacation doing research for Book Three and wrapping up rewrites on Book Four. (Yes, Book Four is already down on paper. The books are sequential according to time only. You can read Book Four before Three. They'll be published that way at least). The process never actually ends folks. You just keep getting back on the spinning wheel each time you want to start again. And that my friends, is part of what it takes to get your ideas from your head and into your reader's hands. And I LOVE IT!

'Til next time, help someone in need – they're out there.