The Obligatory NaNo Post

In retrospect, maybe I should’ve taken a break from writing this year.

I really don’t want to have to admit this, but there’s simply not enough time in the world to make everything happen the way you want to. I’m swamped with my photography work; I have not yet unburied myself from the cruise photos – still have to go through the 70s Night and comedy show shots, and that’s the second half of the cruise…so maybe, progress? – and I have two more post-cruise shows’ photos to get through as well. Next week I have two shoots. The week after I have another shoot. It’s also concert-planning season, so if I’m going to have gigs, now is the time for me to think about where they will be and send off portfolios and samplers to make it happen.

Where does writing fit?

Oh, and I’m still toying on that translation I’ve started last year. Yes, it takes a year to translate three books by hand from one language in another, and it’s something I love doing.

It’s not something I like admitting, when I can’t do something, but this year’s NaNo may well prove to be a bad idea in the regard of my overall creative workload. I won’t say that I don’t like it – I love every minute of it – but I simply do not have as much time to contribute to it as I have before, and that’s something I’m loath to admit. I love my series. I love my storyline. I don’t love not being able to give it the time and devotion that I want to allocate to developing it and making it grow.

The reason I love NaNo so much is because it motivates me to be industrious when it comes to the series. I do the bulk of my storyline exclusively during NaNo, and the wordcount requirement makes it imperative to get as much of the storyline down as possible. It’s absolutely fantastic for when I’m trying to get a big story out, such as what was with Books 3 and 4 of the series. Most of the plot was put down during NaNo, and it made for an easy edit job and an easier publishing down the line. I chose the two most complex characters to do a background on – Rhyssius and Morrhia – and this is going to take me a lot of time. I have set up the bulk of the story, but I need to put two and two together, and bridge them from two individuals to what they had ended up. The problem is, there is a lot of back story there, and there’s also a side-story to weave in about how the quaint semi-medieval world had ended up becoming connected with the rest of the universe. A lot of continuity that I had hinted at before needs to be brought to fruition.

It’s just…time! All of this takes time! And time is something I have precious little of. Taking on an incredibly complex storyline – hell, continuing it, all considered – is not an easy endeavor when you have a job, a business, and a backlog affiliated with the business.

How I’ve ended up with a word count that’s a full day ahead of schedule, I don’t know, but it’s good insurance because I would need to be ahead. One of my shoot gigs is actually an all-day endeavor, as opposed to me just being a weekend warrior for it and writing on the go with my laptop. So if I’m not writing for an entire day, I’d at least have a good cushion that will keep me on track.

After all, in the eight years I’ve done NaNo so far, I won all eight times. I want to continue the win streak, else I’d think myself extremely remiss. My entire life as I know it had changed ever since I wrote the first book – how much will it change if I keep at it?


David Gaughran on Author Solutions

David Gaughran on Author Solutions

So guys. Remember Author Solutions? Penguin’s “self-publishing” option, which is little more than a glorified vanity press with entirely too high a price? 

I do. So does David Gaughran, and he wrote the post linked above. 

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why you research the hell out of your options when you self-pub. My books have had a grand-total publishing cost of maybe $30. For all FOUR of them. Why? Because I researched and I went with what I knew worked for me. My books have the same market as anything that Author Solutions produces. The difference is, Author Solutions makes its money with P/R services – all of which I can easily get cheaper elsewhere. 

And their prices are downright insane.

I’m sorry, exactly why should someone pay four figures for something that, for all intents and purposes, is free? The $30 I paid was for proof copies only. Nothing else. 

Research, people. It’s important. 

Freshly interviewed!!!

The lovely Ellie Burmeister, who is the author of How to Get a Literary Agent in Two Murders of Less, has arranged a fantastic Q&A with me about The Index Series. I present the interview here:

Mind you, I strongly recommend Ellie’s book to anyone who has known an author, is an author, or has always wondered what it’s like to try and become an author. You don’t have to be immersed in writing to enjoy it, but the books ia brilliant and hilarious look into what it’s like behind the scenes of the book-writing world. Find it here:


Author Interview – Robert Downs

Robert Downs messaged me while I was on Goodreads one fine day, and despite various things happening, I am hosting him here.

Mr. Downs is the author of Falling Immortality, which, despite its title, is a very intense mystery-thriller starring PI Casey Holden. This goes without saying: I love any sort of mystery. So while I peruse the book, I bring to you the author!

1. First things first, you describe your latest release as MANfiction, and define it as the opposite of chick-lit. Did you start out planning to write in that genre description, or did the book direct itself?

Honestly, I’d never even heard of MANfiction until I read an article in Entertainment Weekly by Stephen King, and that was after my publisher and I were already into the marketing phase of Falling Immortality. My main character, Casey Holden, was very much in the driver’s seat of his storytelling, and I was the happy passenger, or medium, through which he told me his stories. I’ve been told I’m an excellent listener, and that was what I did throughout the entire rough draft, or at least when the writing was going well. I had decided early on that I wanted to write a first person mystery, as I’d had difficulties in the past of veering off in too many directions with my writing: creating too many characters and storylines. By placing a fortress around my creative abilities, I allowed the central character and story to shine through. I knew I needed a strong male lead to make it work (and I don’t really do anything halfway once I set my mind to a task), so I created the strongest male lead I could possibly imagine.

2. Walk us through Casey Holden’s head. He’s a PI; it’s a more intense and hands-on job than the average cop. Let’s get to know him.

Well, he’d probably beg to differ with you on the intensity of being a PI. Sure, he gets into roof fights and ends up in Dumpsters, knocked over the side of the head and dumped off a yacht, has sawed-off shotguns pointed at his head, and was shot by a doped up druggie with gold teeth and a lisp, but that’s because he’s a better detective than most people like to admit. He just has trouble with his focus at times, which isn’t all that different from the author. His moral code may differ from yours and mine, and his filter may appear nonexistent, but if he gets cut, he’s still going to bleed the same as everyone else.

3. Have you ever worked in law enforcement?

No, I’m a financial specialist for the government. Another gift I’ve been given is an extremely analytical mind, probably to my detriment in some cases. But it does come in handy when I write. I’m a huge fan of mystery and thriller novels, action movies, and detective TV shows. On some level that I’m not even aware of, I channel all of this knowledge, pull out the different parts that I like the best, and hopefully create something brand new. I haven’t found a character like Casey Holden yet, and so far neither has my publisher.

The greatest license a writer has is the ability to make stuff up. I take this license very seriously, and I use it to the full extent of my abilities. The thought of escaping into another world beats reality the vast majority of the time, which is why I enjoy writing, reading, and movies.

4. Let’s now shift gears a bit and discuss your method of publication. How did the story go from first draft into final?

The rough draft came rather easily, easier than any other story had up to that point, but as I realized later, the fun had only just begun. I went through two additional edits the first round, and I thought I had a completed story ready for publication. However, the agents and publishers told me otherwise. So I set it aside for a few years, wrote other stories, worked on my master’s, and improved myself as well as the craft of writing. I had my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, review my manuscript, and she discovered it needed a bit of additional work. I completed two more edits, and when she was satisfied, I sent it out for a professional critique, along with my submissions to agents and editors. This time I was more successful, and actually landed my publisher, Rainbow Books, Inc., who was crazy enough to take me and my book on. Incidentally, this same publisher passed on my book the first go round. Luckily for me, they didn’t remember me or my book.

5. What do you have planned for Casey Holden?

Did I mention that I never do anything halfway? A few of those stories I had worked on were actually sequels to Falling Immortality, and while most people might write one sequel, as they find a publisher, I had actually begun fairly extensive work on two of them, both of which are now with my publisher. Graceful Immortality will be the first of those two sequels.

Because Casey and I still have unfinished business together, I have begun work on three more novels in the series. But I haven’t put an expiration date on Casey yet. As long as I enjoy writing him and readers enjoy reading him, I’ll continue to tell his stories, but I do have an end book in mind, and I would rather have him go out at the top of his game than overstay his welcome, since I’m not sure his ego could take the abuse.

6. So. Tell us more about your writing routine. If you have one, that is.

I wish I did have one. That would probably make my life easier. Whenever I hear writers talk about writing a thousand words a day, or working for three or four hours at a time, I should start applauding, because that’s just not me. I tried the thousand words a day routine for about three
weeks, and I realized I was probably worse off than missing a day here and there.

I write when my head is in the game, and I stay away from it when it’s not. With that being said, though, I can certainly force myself to write, or at least put words on my computer screen, so I haven’t experienced writer’s block yet. But I have found that I need to input a certain
number of words into my brain before I can start spitting words back out on paper. Now that I’m in marketing mode, that’s taken the majority of my time and focus, so my writing has been sporadic at best these past six months. But I have produced words for interviews, blog posts, and
Facebook status updates, just not as many of the ones that I can place in a manuscript.

7. Casey already comes across as an intense character, but you said a curious thing in #5. To quote you, “I would rather have him go out at the top of his game than overstay his welcome, since I’m not sure his ego could take the abuse.” Not asking for a spoiler – seriously, I’m not! – but considering you know Casey best, what scenario would qualify as him overstaying as
opposed to coming out on top, in his frame of mind?

If there comes a point when he becomes less relevant, then he needs to have told his last story. And, ideally, we’d both like to hand in our car keys before that date. When readers don’t enjoy reading about him anymore, and when I don’t enjoy writing about him anymore, then he and I
have agreed we should end the charade. Like milk, he has an expiration date. But that doesn’t mean he’ll go down quietly, and he certainly has a few more stories to tell in the meantime.

So there you have it, ladies and gents, and while you’re at it, pick up Falling Immortality here on Amazon.

For more about Robert Downs, visit his site at