Some Retrospect on Book 4

Over the weekend, the proof files got approved and I bumped up the release date a little.

In other words, please welcome my baby: the wrap-up of the first arc, and the fourth book in The Index Series: Revival.

Press Release

Hard Copy

Kindle

I released four books since 2009. And now that I’m back to the usual daily grind of promo, day job, studying, photo-retouching, and all those other things I do, I’m starting to slowly realize that I released four books, and I’m somewhere between surprised and having a conniption about what I’m going to do next.

This series, this story of non-human people in outer space dealing with very human problems on their scale and in their lives, has been something that I wanted to write since I was a kid. The fact that the story is written and published is more than a little surreal. In fact, I feel like I should pinch myself, just to make sure that it’s happening. Even though the hard copies of the books are all within my line of sight, it’s still difficult to believe that yes, I’ve actually stopped just dreaming and started doing all of this.

But there we go, and here we are. So now what do I do?

Well, first things first…PARTY! It’s the first complete arc. Instead of one volume, I have four to offer, and two more waiting in the wings to get released. This has been a labor of love, and a whole mess of work for more than just myself. My editor, Gayle F. Moffet, has labored over every installment since the second, and I have half a mind of having her overhaul the first, if only to have it up to par. This series, right now, is as much hers as it is my own, because if not for her eyes and red-pen feature on Acrobat, I shudder to think of what would’ve happened to my books otherwise.

And second things second, I have to think of the next arc. It will be three books; I have to start on rewriting the fifth one sooner rather than later (because holy plot holes, batman), and of course…artwork!

And speaking of the artwork…

You may have noticed that Jenna Bacci was billed as the original artist for the cover of Revival. That did not turn out to be the case, and instead, the back cover of Revival features the artwork of Tiffany Chaney, from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This is due to circumstances beyond my control; Jenna is getting ready for college, and working on all of that has been her priority. I’m cheering her on, whichever school she will attend. Tiffany Chaney has been hired to work on the character art for The Index Series, and she will work on the second arc as well. The front covers of Lineage and Revival have both been created by Marion Meadows (yes, the same Marion Meadows who’s on stage with the sax), and hopefully, he will stay aboard as the cover artist for the upcoming arc.

There’s a lot more research to be done for the second arc as well. I will not give away what I’ll be researching just yet, but let’s just say that if you think that this is the last you’ve seen of Morrhia, you’re wrong. And if you’re gleefully thinking that she’ll be back…well, I can’t really tell you what she’s up to, can I? :)

The most important retrospect, though, is how self-publishing has grown since 2009, when I released my first book. Think about it: 2009 wasn’t that long ago, only three years. And if only a year earlier I would’ve said that I’d be going self-pub, I would’ve heard, “That’s great if you want to have your books gathering dust in your closet.” Heck, I actually heard that from a published author as I was tossing the option around. But if I were to be a first-time self-pub right now, the amount of information about self-publishing is astounding. When the Kindle got cheap, it’s like someone poured Miracle-Gro on self-publishing, and suddenly, its view has shifted into a very viable, very lucrative, and very freeing way to get your stuff into print.

It’s been a hectic, madcap, exciting, and completely exhilarating three years in the publishing world, and know what I say? Full. Speed. Ahead.

K.G.

To Jump the Gun, or Not to Jump?

That is the question, and the answer will be decided by majority opinion.

This is the thing. Revival, the fourth installment of the series, is finally done. It’s been rewritten, professionally revised, has a gorgeous cover courtesy of two amazing artists, and is good. to. go.

The print version…ain’t.

This is the thing: I was setting out to release the print book and the e-version at the same time. But while working on formatting the file for e-release, I found and fixed very tiny errors. Which means that the book has to be re-uploaded for print.

Which sucks, but what can I do? Perfectionist me is a perfectionist.

The e-book is fine. I did a sample conversion to check how it would look in Kindle format, and it passed with flying colors. I had to splice in a couple bits (Letter to the Reader, series list) and futz with the layout, but it should be fine, and it’s ready to get released, well…immediately.

You can see my quandary, can’t you?

So, ladies and gentlemen, a poll for you. Comment with an option.

Option 1:  Release the e-book now, then release the print version whenever CreateSpace approves it

Option 2: Release both at the same time, as soon as the print version is up to par.

Option 3: Release both on the scheduled release date, May 13th
Yes, I’m actually letting my fans take charge of the book release! The option with the most votes gets done. Have at it! Comment and tell me why, if you’d like.

K.G.

PS: Gayle, your vote is tallied.

YES!

Finally, at last, Book 4 rewrite has been wrapped up.

Whew.

Now what, you might ask? Well, first things first, I want to see if I can get something written for the anthology. These stories have been swirling in my head for a while, and I will at least attempt to put them down. I will hunt for contributors at a later point, too, but right now let’s see what my brain can produce.

Revival has been sent along to Gayle, and now, the line editing begins. Believe me, this is the easy part. Artwork for the cover is In Progress; the front is set, but I need to create the back. That would take a bit of thinking.

The rest of the books are on Amazon.

K.G.

Updates! New cover! Book 4!

So apparently someone found me by Googling “kg creative writing my best toy”. Wha-huh? Okay.

Now. It’s March in New York City, it’s pushing at the corporate tax deadline, so this is coming to you on a very quick tea break, because lunch has become something I work through. Phone just doesn’t stop ringing, and paper just doesn’t stop flying at this time of year in my world.

So! Onwards to the news du jour in writing, my series, the world…you get the idea.

I’m not keeping an eye too closely on sales right now, and I have realized that Goodreads also has e-book uploads available. I have messaged them and asked them to take down Book 1’s e-book upload.

Now. Considering that I’m effectively ceasing distribution of Book 1 through any medium other than Kindle and print, if you have a Nook and would like to read the first book in the series, per KDP Select terms of service, I can’t distribute it through electronic means other than Amazon for 90 days. Kindle has computer-ready reading apps for every operating system, so please download. Google “Kindle for PC” or “Kindle for Mac” and enjoy. Kindle comes in app form for your mobile device of choice too. After the 90 days, please contact me directly; I’ll be able to take a look at the TOS and tell you for sure when/if I can re-release Book 1 for Nook. I will not go back to Smashwords, and I will explore iBook uploads at a later point as well.

I won’t be able to keep an eye on the numbers in KDP Select much either, damned tax season… But I’ll keep everyone who’s reading posted on how it goes. Part of me is debating pulling the entire series off Nook and enrolling it, but first let’s see how March pans out.

The first prototype for the cover. Image copyright (c) Marion Meadows, used with permission.

Now! I’ve been noodling around with the prototypes for the cover of Book 4. Jenna is working on the character art that will comprise part of the wraparound, but I have yet to see what’ll unfold. I do know one thing: Marion Meadows’s scenery artwork knows no comparison. Case in point, have a glimpse at the first prototype…and I will likely keep it as the main cover, and work around it with the character art.

The fonts may change, and I definitely want some characters in there. Jenna, however, rocks that bit, and I got a glimpse, via email, of what to expect for one of the characters of whom it can be said that she is much-maligned.

The other thing is, I’m trying a new style with the font. Considering that The Index is so named because it’s a collection of the characters’ stories, I had always delineated them with Book 1, Book 2, etc. This time, I’m showing the number in the series by background Roman numerals, and I think I will carry this style forward to the second arc. It’s a little more…I won’t quite say grown up, but it’s definitely a step up from the previous version.

This brings me to the marketing angle of all of this. The postcards that had done a great job with Book 3? I will recreate them with this cover image, and harness the QR codes for sales purposes. If I can, somehow, miraculously, turn this around before Newport Beach, I will be good for maybe, hopefully, turning a good sales number for the launch.

Now, far as the launch…

Ladies and gentlemen, this one is for you: if you would like to beta read/review Book 4, please let me know privately. You may do so via Facebook, Twitter Direct Messaging, email, or a comment to this blog. I won’t be able to give you an e-book as a pre-release, but I will happily give you a PDF. Please keep in mind that the rewrite/edit is ongoing, and it may be a while until you receive the file. But if I can at least know who’s interested, that would be great. And remember: post your review, whether on your blog, the Amazon page for the book, or Goodreads.

Also! If there will be opportunity, I am thinking of engineering a blog tour for the launch. Again, if you’d like to have me, just message me.

I will have some copies for giveaway, and if financial opportunity allows (because the promo copies from CreateSpace, though cheap, still cost money), I am thinking of holding giveaways for the entire first arc set. Four books, ladies and gents, and it is a story that has been my heart and soul for the past six years. Additionally, Jenna has told me that she wants to re-do the covers for Books 1 and 2, so there’s a pretty good chance that the covers that you will see on those two books will be wholly different from the covers that you see in Amazon right now.

Man, this is…happening. Holy crap, I have a book series, and I’m about to launch another one, aren’t I…

Major, major, major thanks to Marion Meadows (yes, the same guy who plays the sax, in case anyone wonders) for letting me use his artwork for my books. It’s truly stellar. He also dabbles pretty heavily in photography, and you can buy his 2012 calendar, featuring various shots taken in Hawaii, right here. Warning: will not be held responsible for anyone’s urge to drop money on a flight to Maui. (and yes, I almost did that, until I balked at the price. Dammit!!!)

Also, I should perhaps mention that the bulk of this has been written in November of 2009, when I boarded a plane and ended up in Montego Bay, Jamaica, with Warren Hill and the rest of the Jammin’ in Jamaica attendees. This festival/music retreat had not repeated since, which I am quite sad about, because…the Ritz-Carlton resort in Montego Bay defies the definition of beautiful. And I have to thank Warren for organizing that one event, because I was able to win NaNoWriMo 2009 while gazing at a beautiful beach.

As far as the anthology – I’m now wondering. If I submit any of the short stories to magazines and online publications, would I still be able to publish them in the antho? Maybe?

I’m also starting to wonder if the Haunted Nightclub series I have been thinking about is even feasible. I do not want it to come off as fanfiction (because really, I’m WAY past that age), but I definitely see it happening in a surreal, dream-sequence-type of story. I just really don’t want to cross certain lines in a story like this, because it will obviously feature and concern some real individuals (though deceased). So…yes, time for me to do some thinking, and some planning.

Oh, and… Gayle is writing a small side-story to Book 3. :) Its start is hilarious, and I cannot wait to see what she had cooked up after Jason and Kai have their initial repartee.

Until next time…

K.G.

When You Just Have To (Re)Write

My editor and I have a very cool arrangement for how we overhaul my books. She gets a PDF of a chapter, opens it up, rips it into shreds via the markup and highlight tools, then tosses it back to me. Then I pull that PDF side-by-side with its Word-document twin and work it over per her instructions. Some instructions I follow, others I discuss with her. Sometimes, I overhaul it so completely that I have to re-send the entire chapter back to her.

It’s incredibly effective. It’s also the style of editing that I had adopted for my own business clients as well.

The thing is, though, is that I fillet my work before it ever goes to Gayle, and thus, am several chapters ahead. As it so happens, this way I get to see where my book had gone into, and what I have to do to make it an effective story. Gayle gets the refined draft, hardly ever the rough one. This way, I can also correct storyline inconsistencies before the story ever gets to the editor’s desk.

Usually, it’s a pretty smooth process, albeit time-consuming and eye-crossing, like most editing tends to be.

And then you have moments like I had recently, wherein you continue to edit, and then come to the realization that pretty much the entire second half of the book needs a full-scale consistency overhaul, a.k.a. a massive content edit. Or, better put, a rewrite.

…egad.

Rewrites are a funny thing. They’re definitely a step above a conventional copyedit, and are a very necessary thing in most cases. I have said it before and I will reiterate myself: a first draft is a first draft only. Few times, if ever at all, does an author get the novel right on the first go. Chances are, the first go is not the best book in the world, and it is often full of plot holes, bad grammar, and underdeveloped storylines.

Surprise rewrites of the breed that mine had happened to be are a completely different animal, though. They just happen after you had edited through a good portion of your first draft, and are feeling that you can clock through the rest of the manuscript without a major overhaul. It kind of creeps up and bops you over the head, and then you’re surprised and wondering how you can possibly overhaul this much.

You know what the answer to that is? Slowly, and without discarding what you have already.

Granted, I’ve done it before when, upon the initial re-read, the first half of Book 1 had struck me as so cliche that I couldn’t keep it in the book. I’m talking a full-scale I cannot believe I wrote that sort of moment. Thus, I spent the better part of three years rewriting it. It was an interesting deal; I had to work mostly from scratch on that first half, but the scenes that were already there had given root to what it had ended up becoming. For the most part, though, I was writing the entire beginning half all over again.

With Book 4, though, the content is all there, and even in the current state, the action ramps up and cools off at just the right pace. The thing is…it’s a series. And considering that, 1) this would wrap up the first arc, and 2) the second arc is already mostly written, the main purpose of this overhaul is to make it all cohesive. My task is to both wrap up all the loose ends from Books 1-3, and springboard the plot properly into the next arc. Book 5 is its own little set of adventures, and the beautiful thing about Book 5 is, when laid out in Scrivener, all those plot holes hidden in the wall of text that’s usually the end result of novel-writing in Word are suddenly as obvious as spotlights.

This is the approach that I would recommend for attempting the Surprise Rewrite:

– Read the remainder of your story. By this time, it had already sat around for a while, and after you’ve already started the edit, you have a pretty clear idea of where this story is going to go. If you have a look at the rest of your story with your editing framework in mind, you suddenly end up viewing your writing in a much more critical frame of mind.

– Take notes, and lots of ’em. Whether Post-Its are your poison, the Notes feature on Scrivener had struck your fancy, or you like OneNote from MS Office, you have to take notes. Make them as detailed as you like, but make sure that you will be able to understand them two months after you take them.

– Go slowly. Scene-by-scene, paragraph-by-paragraph, it matters little how you do it, but make sure that you take as much time as possible. As I’ve said before, editing a mass amount of text at the same time can and will make your eyes cross. You can and will get lost in your own story. If you have to rewrite or insert a scene, make sure that that’s all you do for a given block of time.  It will, without fail, take you a lot of time to get done this way, but your story quality will be glad for it.

– If you’re straight-out rewriting chunks of your story from scratch, don’t discard the original portions. Don’t. They won’t come in useful just for nostalgia moments, but for future inspiration as well. As I learned the old-fashioned way, you literally have no idea where your next story idea will be coming from. Copy-paste your discarded segments into a separate file, and store it somewhere in your archives. When you have writer’s block some months – if not years – from today, have a read. You never know.

As it is, I have inadvertently started the overhaul earlier today. I touched back onto a couple of points in Book 3 and realized that if I wanted to have a turning point for one of my characters, then that was the perfect way to engineer it. It may cost me half of a dialogue to do it, but it’ll be pretty great.

As far as deadlines, I’ve had a small chat with Ragan Whiteside, a hell of a talent on the flute and a great fan of my books, and realized that, realistically, there was no way to get this done early. So, with that said, the deadline for the release of Book 4 is…my 27th birthday, May 13th, 2012. 

I think it’ll be a hell of a way to celebrate.

K.G.

Good gravy.

It finally sank in just now: I won National Novel Writing Month five times in a row.

In addition thereto, I have two published manuscripts, one in progress for publication prep, one pending a heavy edit, and another awaiting completion. Which means…hoo boy, I have work to do.

As a part of writing a series, it’s an inevitability that one is going to get scrambled within their own plotlines. There’s nothing new or unexpected about it; it happens with every story that gets stretched to continuation. Especially while working on Manuscript #4, which won me last year’s NaNoWriMo, I got into the habit of writing and inserting author’s notes, reminding myself to double-check on my sources, that is to say a previous manuscript. And let me tell you, that helps. There are some plot holes that are reminding me that the story is either open to a lot more flexibility or is requiring a lot of re-tweaking for it to make sense.

So, on my agenda:

– Finish out the prelim edit of Book 3. I stopped at around Chapter 9 because of 1. NaNo and 2. generally being busy.

Simultaneously, begin editing Book 4. The reason why it’s simultaneous is because Books 3 and 4 are very closely tied together, so whatever happens in one will influence the other, and I have the final outcomes already in mind.

– Leave Book 5 alone until the above is done.

The last one is a toughie. You, my friends and readers, know me: I am a singularly determined person, and I don’t leave things incomplete. Book 4, though it was like pulling teeth after some time, stands completed, even in its unrefined form. So to leave Book 5 just lingering there…that’s going to be interesting. And in addition to that, there’s Christmas gallivanting to be done.

Why yes, I’m spending another holiday at the Note. :)

So, with a long deep breath and some caffeine, off to work I get.

K.G.

*PHEW*

97,815 words.
219 pages.
A lot more [redact this!!] notes than I should have…

but Book 4, Draft 1 stands completed.

\o/

Which means that I can finally take a look at Book 3 and start editing it. This also includes fleshing out some parts of things with Gayle, because Book 2 seeded a lot of the events in both Books 3 and 4. Now, I already had Book 3 earmarked with some additional scenes, which I will happily input. However – later time. I cannot possibly fathom getting on that in the next 48 hours; if I do, I am going to fully and completely fry myself.
…I’m gonna go pass out now…

K.G.

The finish line is near!

Of Book 4, that is. :)

I powered through the battle scenery after a surge of inspiration and entirely too much caffeine. I am now putting together what is – no joke this time – the last necessary scene to Book 4. This will complete the NaNoWriMo entry/win of 2009 that I celebrated with Warren Hill in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and will be the official Rough Draft.

Meaning that yes, I get to go through the lovely joys of editing and the overcaffeination therein. But a rough draft is a HUGE start. And this means that I can finally begin to edit Book 3 and that I am earmarking to release by Labor Day. By then also, I hope to receive the CreateSpace code that comes with entry into ABNA – if there’s no code, that’s  just as well – and you guys will have Book 3.

And Book 4’s earmark release is my next birthday, May the 13th.

The scene I’m writing is a cathartic one for one of my characters. Having finally solved a mystery that continued to ripple out impact and effect into present day, Rena has to address the Council and offer up an explanation as to why she made some of the decision that she made.

But worry not – the series does not end at Book 4. Book 5 plotting is well underway, all suggestions and ideas are welcome.

I feel the finish line so close now… and tackle it I will.

K.G.

Mother Nature is getting with the April showers phase a little late – it’s the latter end of May and it’s moderately warm, but humid and rainy all the same. So my hunt for inspiration outdoors is at a slight halt for the time being. But, not to worry, there is always plenty to keep me busy.

As an aside, I’m hoping it gets to 90+ degrees. I might be the only one hoping for that, but ideal beach weather is little humidity and intense heat for me. Here’s to hoping.

In other news…

I’m right back on my daily word count track and Book 4 is now at well over 90,000 words. The regular is 500 words a day, but if I can push for more, I always will. The points I’m at now are more the cathartic realizations that come for some of the characters mid-battle; some are more personal than others, and the exploration thereof is what carries the book to conclusion. It’s interesting to see exactly what I have created character-wise; after a certain point, they begin to grow and evolve on their own – they begin to write the story, so to speak. In other words, their actions seem so predictable once in a while, all that I need to say as a narrator is “This is the given situation.”

Now, some of you may know this, but other do not: I originally had it in mind to wrap the entire story at four books, right up until I hit Book 3. After I wrapped Book 3, I went back and read – not edited, just read – the entire work-in-process, all three volumes. It struck me just how involved and intricate the story actually was, and moreover, I saw that there’s an entire back story that could be told.

In plotting this entire thing out with a friend of mine, I recently found myself at much the same point. At the time, I kept thinking, “I’ll just do the Origins from here” – but, just so happens that as I was basting together extraneous scenes at the very conclusion of Book 4, I realized that there was a lot more that I was leaving unanswered – which very well could carry to be Book 5. Which, as my friend aptly pointed out, still left a lot of room for me to develop what Origins will be, because in just those extra scenes, I added this, this and this.

And of course, she was right. The more I write, the more potential that I (and the characters) unwittingly create to continue the story.

At this point, I have the series mapped out tentatively to ten books. Maybe even twelve if I can manage it.

Again, the crux of it…marketing. I will admit – bad me! – that I’m not putting as much effort into it as I should be. A lot of non-book things (i.e. the Great Vehicle Hunt) are keeping me occupied. I’m also awaiting another book review from Self-Published Reviews blog and a few beta readers as well.

I’m also doing research insofar as getting reviewed in Publishers Weekly – it’s a long shot, considering I am a self-pub, but so far, Book 1 has been perceived well and the first beta reader for Book 2 cursed at me because I again left it with a cliffhanger. And believe me, the cussing at me because the story leaves a reader wanting more is a good thing. :)

Until next time…

K.G.

Well, can’t avoid Those Scenes anymore. In writing all around the pre- and post-battle scenery of Book 4, I arrived at, well…the battle scenery.

Did I mention that it’s just yea-and-verily not my forte?

Well, as I always say, nothing ventured is nothing gained. I have a lot to think about here in terms of strategic mapping of what I want to happen within the story, and at the same time, to keep a proper narration flow. Gayle is awesome at reminding me to pace the story properly; multitasking is also a kicking motivation. The thing is, I’m not really keen yet on processing Book 3 for the first time until Book 4 has at least the first draft made final.

Argh.

In other words, right back to writer’s block I go.

In the meantime, I’m still plugging away at this age in jazz music piece that I want to see out and about; got stuck on that too. Special thanks to Oli Silk of the UK for helping me out on this one, both as a performer below the Median Age in Smooth Jazz and as a volunteer reader audience.

I also want to know why my workplace is empty at 9:45 on a Monday.

Not going to be one to complain, though. ‘Tis the off-season, so these sorts of pauses in the workday are common. It lets me relax, to boot.

Prepped and ready with my blog-chain post for May as well. It’s the topic I’ve been waiting for: the musical soundtrack to my story. It will be a hell of a long post, but I will also embed Youtube music links to the songs that resonate best with certain scenes. I will try not to spoilerize much.

K.G.