Thursday, May 19, 2011

An experienced blogger now - Second Blog :-)

Tonight on the blog: More about Fat Duck, of course; My review of the movie Thor; My detailed disgust with how long my "Ripped..." edit-review is taking; A quick update on all my books, and...

Wow, the chat is busy tonight. Never tried to juggle so many conversations. Fun stuff though. Thanks, everyone for taking the time to spend with me :-)

Fat Duck: Let's get the most important item out of the way first: Fat Duck has been quite a character the last couple of days. First, he just plain won't take "no" for an answer about staying off the porch until evening. But then when I do successfully kick him off too late in the day, he forgets to come back so I can put him in his pen (on the porch). In short, today I finally got him to stay in the yard in the rain where you'd think a duck would like to be-but then he marched about a hundred feet down the driveway and stayed on the little strip of grass between it and a fifteen-foot drop to the pond. Tonight I had to herd him back to the porch where he finally remembered he belonged at night. He then walked right into his cage so I could close it. I did worry about him a couple of nights ago. He spent the night on the stone dam between our pond and brook. The fox would have a hard time surprising him there, but after he got bitten last week, I hate to see him out at all. He's been lucky, but I fear it has been more luck than wisdom. Of course, if he would just hang out in the water like Original Duck he'd be safe, but that would be too easy. When he first arrived last summer, I thought he was afraid of the water. In truth, he just doesn't like it much. I will likely post a picture of Original Duck for next Sunday (photos over at Facebook-couldn't figure out how to add it here).

Movie Review of "Thor": I got an opportunity to see "Thor" the movie this past week and have to say I enjoyed it. Unfortunately, the movie was divided into two major settings: Earth and Asgard. The problem, I thought, was that not enough time was spent to fully satisfy me on either front. I thought Thor's relationships on Earth were superficial at best, and the setting in Asgard was a little too ephemeral for me. I prefer a much more concrete place. It just seemed too much like a special effect and not enough like a fully realized world. As for the character appearances, I thought Chris Hemsworth looked fabulous and was obviously in super-buff shape. Natalie Portman was also beautiful, as always. Even Anthony Hopkins (as father Odin) seemed to be in great health. I often tell my children that if there is a clear hero and a positive ending, I'm usually happy with a movie. That was true here. A 6 on my scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best.

"Ripped From My Cold Young Fingers": Okay, the truth is I absolutely love what I do. I love creating stories out of the ether. I love creating characters and getting to know them both through invention and through following their motivations to a logical conclusion in any given set of circumstances. I, of course, especially love the fans, mostly because you're all readers to which I can relate endlessly about any number of authors and characters. Stick me in the middle of a book festival filled with writers and readers and I'm about as content as a man can be. I usually even like the process of editing. I know some writers who would prefer a root canal to editing a story after the first few drafts, but I'm usually not one of them. Anyone that knows me knows my work ethic and that I'm obsessive about getting the details right, about making sure the characters are as real and three-dimensional as possible. Most of you also know that I will work on the same novel for years if need be ("Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End," anyone) but my current edits review of "Ripped From My Cold Young Fingers" is really frustrating me. One of the main reasons I stayed with Focus House Publishing and my brother's team is that I wanted a lot of control over my stories, more than the big publishers would ever grant. I want the right to accept or veto editorial changes. What I never expected was that I would get so bogged down with those same edits. Let me describe: "Ripped..." has been done for several months. When I made the final decision to stay with Focus House a couple of months ago, the book received it's first edit. I received that edited version over four weeks ago and have been shocked at the gobs of time it's taking me to not just review and approving or denying each edit, BUT also I've wound up making so many of my own changes that sometimes I'm only managing to clear one to three pages an hour. That means that I will have likely invested over 200 hours just in edits. Worse is that I'm slated to go through this three more times, and I'm not even finished the first round (about 200 pages left to go!). Why four edit rounds, you ask: because the Focus House team is just as perfection oriented as I am. They figured that to give me as much input as I desired, it would require a lot more back and forth with the editors. In short, I think you're all going to love the finished product, but I'm struggling to put together enough hours to get it wrapped up. Fortunately, ebooks only take a few days from final version to get to market. The paper versions will be a few weeks past that (see last blog for the estimated release schedule of my next few books :-)

"The Santa Shop" and "From My Cold Young Fingers-Advance Reading Edition": Because we are all new to the ebook market, it came as a shock to find out that some authors/publishers are selling thousands of ebook copies per month. My ebooks are NOT selling nearly at that rate, and we all wondered why. In the last week, I have worked with the Focus House staff to add a couple of prologues and rework the book descriptions. You will be able to see the changes on Amazon, B&N or most other online bookstores within the next few days. We're hoping these changes will increase visibility and sales. If you have any ideas, please let us know. Of course, if you've read and liked my books PLEASE TELL EVERYONE, PLEASE POST EVERYWHERE ONLINE :-)

"Ancestor": This huge horror novel has had a long and storied history. I wrote the first draft over twenty years ago. The publishers at the time indicated it was much too long and needed to be cut down for consideration. At the time, I had a career, a new family and absolutely no time to redraft a book that might or might not have sold upon second submission. Well, its time has come. The Focus House staff and I are currently talking about the plot failures and about whether or not it should be released as one or two-plus books. I'm so swamped with edits that I really haven't had time to think through all the suggestions that they have made, but I can tell you Ancestor probably has too many characters, and The Ancestor needs to have his strengths curtailed to make his actions believable. I look forward to squaring it away so you all can see it :-)

"Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End": Okay, this first book in a young adult series has been on my drafting blocks for about five years. It has, of course, been finished for some months now (and is with one of the Focus House editors right now), but it is safe to say that I redrafted this novel no less than twenty complete times. And I don't mean twenty tiny rewrites, I mean I likely wrote twenty different books. I changed characters, settings, plots, premises, themes and even atmosphere (from more comical to more dark). This book has been through a middle school focus group and should be perfect for most young adult to adult fantasy readers. They gave it a "B" before I incorporated their suggestions :-) I really loved creating this book, and I'm hoping the edits don't get as bogged down as "Ripped..." has been, but either way I should be receiving the first edit draft back in the next couple of weeks. I'll keep you all posted :-)

"The Vampire Way": This is probably just a working title. While I was waiting for the edits on "Ripped..." I drafted a complete 60+-page outline for this book. It's a paranormal romance aimed at the teen to adult market. I think you'll love the new take on vampires (animals and even insects can carry the virus, and vampires turn into mindless zombies that have to be killed within 5 years). It's not a kind existence. So what happens when a whole group of teenagers in Groacherville, Maine are turned? Kayla is the center of this first-person story, and she is also one of the new vampires. I think this novel will likely be complete and available late in the summer, but with the current workload I'm not holding my breath.

"Heroes With Fangs": This is the first book in a middle-grade series based on the Zachary Pill books. Though I have done some basic outline work, there is a long ways to go. Focus House really wants to see this book on the market when fall school tour season starts. Fortunately, it's only planned to be about 200 pages. Unfortunately, I do have to sleep.

It's nearing midnight, so I guess it's time to do a quick edit and post. See you all Sunday. Remember I'm always available by email, Facebook, and chat on my blogging nights :-)


  1. The Focus House staff and I are currently talking about the plot failures and about whether or not it should be released as one or two-plus books. Really interesting sharing.

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