Joshua C Cook

Author, Husband, Father, IT Manager

Category: goals

Getting it done.. or Why I have more patience with big name authors

So..

As anyone who reads this knows (all 3 of you haha) I’ve been working on Blood of a Fallen God or #BOAFG (Hashtag powa!) since the beginning of the year. The last book I actually finished was Bridgebreaker back in September of LAST year. Now part of me feels like a bit of a failure in terms of not getting the book I’m working on out yet.  Guilt even.

As I’ve alluded to in the past, this book is a different animal, it’s far larger, and that’s putting it mildly. The first draft is shaping up to be three times the size of the first draft of Bridgefinders. This is also a far more complex book in terms of world building, characters, and plots and subplots. Being my first full stab at epic fantasy, set in a fantasy world that’s very different than our own, I don’t think I fully understood how much more detail I needed to interweave into the story, without delving into the trap of doing four or five pages of description, which no one really likes. Now I have all those descriptions but for me, as notes.

However all of this has done something that has made me rethink some of my past thoughts and criticisms of some of my favorite authors.

I love Game of Thrones. Both the books and the TV show. I enjoy both and don’t take ‘sides’ on the which is better drama. Both are enjoyable for me for what they are, full stop.

But…

I’ll be honest, before tackling this book I had gotten impatient with George RR Martin, really impatient. He’d been working on this next book for years now, how can it take so long?? I mean I’m a less than tiny fish in the book world, but I can push out two books a year! (Self satisfaction is bad stuff.)

Yeah.. Epic or High Fantasy, is.. complicated to write. When you’ve got that many characters, with that much going on, just cross checking to make sure what’s going on over here, makes sense based on what happened six chapters ago with totally different characters gets complex. Then that short conversation two characters had back at the beginning of the book needs to work with something that happens at the end, etc etc.

 

It’s a web. And as a beginning/struggling/wanna be writer, I’ve already learned the hard way that if you make ANY mistakes there, a reader will find it, and use it to bash you over the head 1001 times, just because they can.

I had the same thoughts back when the late Robert Jordan was writing the Wheel of Time series. Loved the books and was impatient to read the next one.

But here’s my mea culpa, it’s complicated, and can really take up a lot of thought and mental power to keep it all straight even WITH copious notes.

 

As for the sign above…

I’m still working on the first draft.. I’m VERY close to done, but not there yet. Finishing does mean just getting it written.. finishing means rewrites, editing, clean up, proofreading, beta reading, another round of clean up and rewrites, cover art, etc. etc.

And THEN I can finally submit to Kindle Scout (Click the link to see what I mean by that..) and hope for the best.

I’m proud of this story.  I think it shows my growth as a writer, and not because of length. But because I think the characters are more alive, the plot is better, and there’s more.. emotional impact peppered through the story to keep the readers interested. I’m really looking forward to the first time someone gives me feedback on it.

But first..

 

I need to finish the damned book!

 

–Josh

Updates For February

So February has rolled around, and it’s as good as time as any to see where I am for this years goals so far, and what has been getting in the way of making more progress, if anything.

  1. Blood of a Fallen God – This is moving forward, though not quite as fast as I’ve hoped. The main issue though is just day to day life has been a bit busier than I thought it would be. But I AM making progress on the first draft.
  2. Bridgemaker – The third book in the Echo Worlds series. I’ve really fallen behind on this one. I’m not good at working on more than one book at a time I’ve discovered, so I think I’ll pause on this one until I get the first draft of BOAFG done.
  3. Outline for other book. – I’ve worked out a short outline for a story called ‘Timetable 93’ I’m really not sure if this will be a short story, or something longer, but we will see.

 

On top of working on the first draft of BOAFG, I’ve been brainstorming cover ideas. I THINK I’ll need to work with an artist to get what I want for the actual art though, so looking into that. If anyone reading this has any suggestions please (like really, please!) reach out to me.

Other news:

  1. The scammers I mentioned so many times before had another run in with a different person, and lo and behold I got mentioned and had a huge spike in blog attendance, though it was short lived.
  2. Unsure if what happened after was related, but I found it amusing. I got a message via email, through the blog from someone claiming to be another author. This person said they had read some of what I’ve done and had a suggestion. The suggestion was to give up. Stop writing, pull what I had written off Amazon, and stop pushing ‘total crap’ so ‘better authors than you can get attention.’ They also proceeded to say that people like me were what was causing them to sell less by flooding the market with junk, and it was making it harder for ‘True talent’ like theirs to get noticed.

 

I have no idea if I’m talented as a writer. I don’t think in those terms, and never have. I write for me. I write because I enjoy the act of it. I write because I like sharing the stories. Sure, I’d love it if they sold better, who wouldn’t want another income stream? But that’s not WHY I write. So no, I won’t give up and go away.

That’s all for now, and I need to go work on BOAFG, I’m behind for the  word count for the week. 😉

2017 Goals

2017 Goals. Weird thing to be saying to me, if only because of the year. Like most kids I wondered from time to time what the future would bring, and here it is, 2017, and I still am not sure what the future is bringing! It’s a new year though, and so, new resolutions. Before I jump into this years goals, I’m going to look back at last years. in 2016 I had three main goals in terms of writing at least.

  1. Get two books out – I did this, Bridgefinders and Bridgebreaker.
  2. Do more YouTube videos – Forget it. I just hate doing them.
  3. Learn Photoshop more – Successful, and redid my covers for the aforementioned two books.

So 2 outta 3. I’ll take it.

2017 Goals are somewhat different, but only somewhat.

  1. Get two books out. – Working on it. I’m currently working on two books. The third book in ‘The Echo Worlds’ series, and a stand alone book.
  2. Get the standalone book accepted on Kindle Scout – I’ll write on this more later on, but I’ve decided to try for a chance to get a book published under the Amazon publishing arm. It can’t hurt, and it would be very awesome to get it.
  3. Control costs. – I picked writing as a creative outlet at least somewhat because I didn’t see it as a costly thing, financially. But it can be, and can add up quickly. In 2017 I really need to control costs and not throw good money away. the primary question ‘Is this going to have tangible benefits?’ before spending on it.

So those are the three 2017 Goals. Let’s see how it goes!

And remember as always, follow me on twitter, sign up for newsletter, like the page on Facebook, all that stuff. That way you’ll know what’s going on in my writing world.The icons to take you to those places are right there on the main page. Thanks!

 

Author Support

Author Support, and why it’s important.

Let me be the first to say, I’m blessed beyond measure to have a fantastic group of family, friends, and others who support my writing endeavors. Contrary to some, writing isn’t a walk in the park easy. Time, energy, money, all of that goes into the creation of a self-published book. Let’s talk about that shall we?

Time: Writing  is one time intensive project. Ideas come and go, thinking and mentally planning out the structure and ways of the story, the actual writing of the draft can take months. Then there’s the rewrite, then editing, then working out covers, back copy blurbs, dealing with and getting feedback from Beta readers, working out when to release, then the marketing work WITH release, etc. And if your an outliner, the actual physical creation of the outline, which depending on how you do things, can take days or even a week or two. This all takes time.

Time that you won’t spend playing a game, reading a book (though you make time for this.) watching TV, it can take time away from family, friends, all of that.

Energy: I’m of the opinion that good writing TAKES something from you. You give up part of yourself to bring a story to life. Mentally and physically writing can be one tiring experience. Yes sitting in a chair for several hours and pouring your self into a draft *IS* physically exhausting, at least it is for me. This is energy that I could be using for playing with my kids, going for a walk, things like that. That’s not to say that I don’t play with my kids (I do, often.) and I do go for walks. In fact, writing USED to be far more tiring, until I about 11 months ago starting working out again on a regular basis, that’s made a huge amount of difference. (I have some blog posts on that.) But the fact remains, writing eats energy. Why do you think so many writers cling to coffee or tea??

Money: No I’m not talking about vanity press, you should never pay money to someone for them to ‘publish’ your book. But covers (good ones.) and if your paying for an editor/proofreader, you can be looking at a substantial amount of $$$. Now I personally defray costs by just doing the cover thing. I use a word plugin, feedback from beta readers, and a few other methods to get through the editing and proofreading stages. Why? Because I’m cheap. I can’t afford to spend 1400$ or more to get those two things done. Nor would I want to.

Sadly, writing doesn’t pay well. There are millions of self published books out there. Millions. I average 20$ a month most months. This is not a money maker! I write because I enjoy creating stories, and sharing them. Sure, I’d love to be the next Hugh Howey, but that’s not going to happen. (For those who don’t know who he is, Hugh Howey is a self-published sci-fi author who hit the big time.)

It boils down to this.. if your an author, get a support group. Get family, friends, others who will give you support and help. Nothing helps more than hearing from someone “I love your writing and stories.. never stop.” Feeling discouraged? Those people will get you back on track.

If your a family member or a friend of an author, give them that feedback, they need it. They may not ask for it, but trust me, hearing things like that always helps, always means something.

Author support. It’s important, it doesn’t cost anything, and in the end, only makes you a better writer.

Forward, Onward, or where have I been?

Forward to the light! Well, almost. OK, so my updates to the blog have been in fact fairly sparse lately, I will try to work on that in the future, and hopefully I will. I’ve got a LOT of irons in the fire as the saying goes right now, and all of that is taking up time. First off, I’ve been writing, and writing a lot. A lot. This of course is a very good thing, as I had hit a bit of a wall mentally, and wasn’t sure where I wanted to take things. I’m sure the wall was also partially getting out of ‘writer’ mode as summer time activities with the family took precedence a lot, and I don’t begrudge that.

But anyways, I’m shooting for mid august (or sooner) to be done with this draft of the next book in the Echo Worlds series, Bridgebreaker.  You will know by now I’m not an outliner, and I’m still not, but to help me get past the wall I took 15 minutes (yes only 15, I set a timer.) and jotted down everything else I wanted to happen in the story.  Not chapters, but just single compact sentences about what else needed to go on. This seems to have helped me a great deal, as I’ve plowed through a great deal of it already. Once I get done with the draft I’ll send a few days crawling over it with the help of my word add on ProWritingAid. I got it and hated it at first. Then as I learned to use it more, I’ve gotten to love it. No, it’s not perfect. And yes, it makes mistakes sometimes. But it’s really helped me with my addiction to commas as well as pointing out where I repeat myself often.

Embarrassingly enough I tend to use the same phrases rather often and close together to boot. The add on does a very good job of finding those, so I can modify the flow a bit. Once I’m fairly happy I’ll be passing the draft on to.. BETA READERS! (yay, and there was much rejoicing!) I have, currently, 4 very good, through, Beta readers on point. I’d like to have an even five, so if anyone wants to put their hat in, PLEASE let me know via contact me here on the blog. After beta reader feedback, or possibly during that phase I’ll get a cover made by the ever talented S.A. Hunt, who did my cover for Bridgefinders.

Then a few more tweaks, and the next step forward! 🙂

Other updates coming in posts: A new video on my quarterly goals (bleh), a before and after on marketing Bridgefinders, and a few useful links I’ve been hitting often. So basically, stay tuned!

Goals, Plans and Writing

Goals are important. Plans are important. Writing is even more important, if your a writer or at least trying to be one. With the release of Bridgefinders about two weeks ago, I seem to have fallen a bit on the productivity scale. I think I was throwing myself a bit TO much into the marketing of Bridgefinders, and less into the actual work of writing. While an upcoming post will be about the results of all that said marketing, for now I need to focus on setting goals for this quarter.

Taking a page from other ‘indie’ authors (which is to say, we who self publish. Though I cringe a bit at the semi cache of saying ‘indie’.) I’m going to do a vlog this week about my goals for the quarter. I’m going to do it as a vlog simply to force myself to get a bit more comfortable with that medium. You’d think someone who had a theater scholarship outta High School and had done a great deal of performance training would slip into it well, but that was nearly 25 years ago, and honestly I don’t like watching myself on film. But I’m working on it.. 🙂

I am working on the sequel to Bridgefinders, for now called Bridgebreakers (Do I sense a theme??) Also currently the audiobook for Bridgefinders is under development, Hope to have it done by the end of the month, really hoping. We shall see how that goes.

So I have a bit going on, but I’m still making progress on all of that stuff. Note: Not all my goals may be writing related, at least not directly.

So a short update today, but it’s Saturday morning, the last Saturday I need to work during Tax season (Day job stuff) and It gives me good time to write, so I better get started on that. Happy reading!

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