More Progress on Marty

It’s been a little more than a month since my last update. On June 9th, Marty was just over 63,000 words. Today, the first draft of Marty sits at 84,018 words. About 21,000 words in the last month. It’s amazing what I can do when I set a goal for myself, isn’t it?

I’ve still got my target set at 90,000 words, though I know, for absolutely sure, I’ll go well over that. The remaining chapters I’ve outlined (which is just creating the chapter with a title, so I remember all the points I wanted to make when I get to them), will surely be more than 6k words. I don’t know where I’ll end up, but I’m sure some of the first draft will end up in the Trash folder of my writing app. It always does.

My goal is to have the first draft by the end of July. If I stick to my daily writing sessions, that should be no problem. Editing usually takes a few months, then all the other nonsense that comes along with a new book, which I’m sure you know so well, if you’ve been following along on my blog here.

And, in case you missed it last time, the tentative title for the book is simply “Marty”. It’s a simple story of two best friends and what they go through in their lives together as they grow up.

Making Progress

I’ve been chugging away at the first draft of my next book, throwing a few thousand words at it a few days a week. I’m trying to find a balance between using my free time in the morning for writing, but also reading. I’m sure it’s been said a million times in history, but it’s hard to be a good writer if you’re not a good reader. So, I’m trying to be a better reader, while still finding time to write.

As of this morning, I’m a little over 63,000 words into the first draft. I’m targeting around 90,000 words, give or take. That’s around the average for a full-length novel, though some of mine fall a little shorter than that.

It’s really up to the story and the characters. Have they said all they wany to say and done all they needed to do for the story to be complete?

For me, a second draft usually adds a few thousand words, as well. I find spots that need to be fleshed out more. Sometimes I find entire chapters that need to be deleted. Sometimes I find something I’d previously written and deleted in the trash and revive it. It all depends on how I feel as I read through the first draft.

Often, the first draft for an author makes little sense. It’s just a way to word vomit everything that you want to get out. Then, in the second draft, you try to make sense of it. For me, though, that’s never been the case. My first draft is usually pretty close to what the final version will be. If you’re familiar with my work, you know I write in a stream of conscious. My characters talk and interact the way I do, because that’s how I see life. If a character thinks something, they say it. And I try to make my dialogue as natural as possible. I write how I think people actually talk, even if that, sometimes, isn’t grammatically correct.

In case you’re curious, I’m revealing for the first time that the tentative title of the book is Marty. It has nothing to do with the paranormal or ghosts of any kind. And, I promise, nothing is haunted this time around. While I recognize not everyone loved the shift in genre from my norm to the paranormal with Dudley Road, I felt it was a story I needed to tell. But, don’t worry, we won’t be going down that route again!

I’m hoping to have the last third of the first draft of Marty done by the end of July. It’ll still be a while to get through additional drafts, beta readers, artwork, editing, etc. etc. etc. But, all progress is good progress!

A Slight Hiccup

A little over a week ago, I was on a bike ride, just up the street in the center of town. The light at the intersection was red, so I did what I always do. I rode up as far as I could, alongside the cars, in the space between the car and the curb.

Normally I can get up to the light and wait for it to turn green with the first car in line.

This time, the light turned green when I was about five or six cars back. I had just approached the rear passenger door of — what I think I correctly call as — a dark green Grand Cherokee. As they sped up, for some reason, the drive moved slightly to the right and clipped my front tire with their rear bumper.

I fell headfirst onto the pavement, landing partly on my head, partly on my shoulder.

I was stunned, literally, for a minute, before I could stand up. I shook it off, but I knew I was hurt. The guys in the work van behind me asked if I needed a ride, but I thought I was okay.

Once I got off the road, I called my wife, but couldn’t get in touch with her. Then I called my sister-in-law, who works for the fire department in our town, which was just up the road. She came and got me and brought me back to the fire station, where the EMTs gave me a once over. I filed a report with them, then went over to the police station and filed a report there, as well.

Sister-in-law drove me home, and the pain got worse, so I went for x-rays with my wife.

I fractured my collarbone and a rib. Which, if you’ve ever done yourself, you know is one of those “we can’t do anything, just wait for it to heal, here’s some Tylenol” injuries.

This happens on Tuesday the 16th. Until today, I could not raise my left arm above my shoulder without blinding pain. It’s prevented me from being able to write anything in the last week and a half.

But, that said, I’m typing this, now. So there’s no excuse to not get back at it and finish up this first draft. I’ll be a little behind the completely arbitrary schedule I made up for myself, but that’s fine. And, hopefully, I’ll feel back to 100% soon. And also, hopefully, won’t be terrified to go back out on my bike again.

On to the Next!

I’ve found myself with an abundance of free time, so what else to do other than start my next book, right?

Dudley Road has been selling better than I imagined it would, the reviews are mostly very positive, and it’s helped the sales of my other two books, as well. Overall I’ve been very happy with how that’s all going. Could I be marketing better? Sure. But that’s not something I’m good at.

With that said, I’ve started my next book today. I had the idea for it a couple of months ago — which trumped all of my other existing “new book ideas” notes — and decided today was the day to get started on it.

I wrote for about 3 hours this morning and knocked out the first five scenes, clocking in at a first-day writing total of 5,465 words. Not too shabby for the first day.

I didn’t set myself any specific goals around word count, timelines, etc. I just want to write and see where the story takes me. I told myself that this time I’d plan it out and be organized with character backstories and plot summaries and everything that organized writers do. But I can’t. I’m what they call a pantser (as in “fly by the seat of your pants”) and I love that I write that way. It’s how my brain works best.

As I get further into the book, I’ll disclose more about it via my blog here, as well as my social media. But so far, so good.

Thanks to all of you who picked up a copy of Dudley Road. It means the world to me to have the support of people who’ve been with me since A Sour Chord came out nine years ago. Hopefully there isn’t as big of a delay between Dudley Road and the next book as there was between A Sour Chord and My Last Days. But that’s a story for another time. Thanks again!

All Sold Out!

On Wednesday of last week, I posted this silly photo to a Facebook group for book lovers.

The caption was something to the effect of “oh, poor me, what a horrible problem I have in having to sign these books and write witty and unique inscriptions. Woe is me. Send help,”

Completely in jest, I obviously wouldn’t offer it as an option on my site if I didn’t mind signing and inscribing books.

I had no intention of trying to sell any books.

But I did. As soon as the first person asked where they could get a signed copy and I posted the link to my website, the orders started pouring in. My email was dinging all night, overnight, and into the morning.

I’m very thankful that my experience as a web developer lead me down the path of building some “buy other books and save” functionality into my site, because it worked. People were buying two and even all three of my books, saving 15% on all of them. I also offered free shipping over $25, but realized, once I did the math, that I was losing money on that deal, so I upped the free shipping to $35.

I sold out of every copy I’d pre-ordered of Dudley road, in both hardcover and paperback.
I sold out of every copy I had on hand of My Last Days, in both hardcover and paperback.
I haven’t even gotten the first-time-in-print copies of A Sour Chord yet, but I sold out of that whole batch, as well.

So I ordered more. Unfortunately, Amazon takes about 12-14 days to print and deliver them.

And I sold out of all of those, as well. In all three books.

So I ordered more.

This cycled repeated 5 more times during last week. I’d order more, they’d sell out. I put up a notice on the site saying that all books were out of stock until the end of the month, and while that slowed sales down some, it didn’t seem to deter everyone, as the orders have still come piling in.

I’m so humbled, for a number of reasons.

First, complete strangers not only bought my work, but they wanted me to personalize a signature to them. Strangers who’ve never heard of me before took a chance just based on my book covers, as well as my descriptions.

I also did something I’ve never done in the almost 10 years since I published my first book; I made a profit on the whole endeavor. There’s so much cost that goes into publishing a book yourself that folks don’t think of, but it adds up. The artwork for the cover, editing (is the biggest cost, by far), the book trailer I had made, the books themselves, the boxes to ship in, shipping costs. The list goes on and on. But, as of today, I’ve earned more than I’ve spent. It’s not much more than I’ve spent, but it’s in the black for the first time. And while I don’t do this for the money, it certainly doesn’t hurt to motivate me for the next book (which, for the record, I’ve already begun planning out!)

Others have bought directly from Amazon, including the Kindle version, which has been wonderful, as well.

I’ve gotten more reviews through an Advanced Reader service I signed up for that my first two books combined, and while they’re not all five stars (you can’t be perfect all the time, right?), this one in particular really made me so happy:

The book ‘Dudley Road’ was intelligently written. Each chapter commanding your attention and ensuring that you kept turning page after page. It had the right amount of creepy without being over the top scary, the right amount of suspense and mystery.
Overall, Dudley Road is a masterpiece and if you are a fan of mystery with a little horror, this is the book for you.

“Intelligently written” and “masterpiece” for a silly ghost story. How? Why? What? Is this real life? I’m printing and framing it.

I’m sure this level of sales won’t continue forever, and that’s fine. I spent about 2 hours every day last week signing and packing books. It’s exhausting, but so rewarding. A big time author I know and am friendly with signs and ships books himself with the help of his manager. He posts photos of him with literal palettes full of books and I don’t understand the how of it all. It’s crazy pants.

So, if you’re reading this and you’re one of the folks from The Book Lounge Facebook Group who ended up here from my silly little post, thank you so much for your support. I really hope you enjoy my book(s) that you bought and come back for more the next time.

I’m so grateful and humbled and appreciative of everything that’s happened this week.*

* except for losing my wallet yesterday. I am not appreciative of my doofusness.

A Sour Chord now available in print!

It’s been almost a decade since I released A Sour Chord. When I did, I published it only as a digital book. Primarily because I had no idea how to do anything but a digital book.

Fast forward to today, where I fully understand printing and everything that goes along with it.

So, I’m happy to announce that A Sour Chord will finally be available in both paperback and hardcover in early April.

I know some of you, over the years, have reached out asking for a physical copy because, like me, you prefer holding an actual book to holding a Kindle. So, now’s your chance to grab your copy!

You can order your paperback and hardcover here or you can build a bundle of my books that you’re interested in and save 15% on your entire order here.

The Legend of Dudley Road

It’s just four weeks until my new book, Dudley Road, will be available. Pre-orders have been going great and I’ve already beat the goal I had set for myself. Which was simply outselling My Last Days’ pre-order numbers!

Since launching the campaign, a few folks have reached out to me to ask how true the real events are that the book is based on. So I thought I’d clarify some.

Dudley Road is an actual place. Virtually every teenager who grew up in or around Billerica, Massachusetts, knows the urban myths surrounding it.

I first heard the myths in high school, which I detail in the first few chapters of the book. Back then, we didn’t have easily accessible internet to just go look things up on. Google literally didn’t exist yet. Therefore, we had no way of knowing what was real and what wasn’t. Or if any of it was real.

That’s why we went exploring, initially. My friends and I had always been into oddities, hauntings, ghosts, etc. So, when I heard the story, I knew they’d be game to go check it out with me.

I’d love to detail exactly what events in the book are real and which are spruced up to make the book more interesting, but I don’t want to spoil anything before you’ve read it. I’d love to say “everything up to page 201 is real”, and while there is an aspect of “everything up to this page is real”, there are also a lot of real things that happen after the book changes from non-fiction to fiction. So it’s not as cut and dried as I’d like it to be.

With all that said, here are some photos I took of the haunted convent when I went back to visit one day in 2020, right as I was starting writing the book. Yes, it took almost 3 years to write the book. It’s a lot of work!

I won’t go into great detail about what each of these photos are, because then you won’t read the book and I’ll be sad. But under each photo, I’ll briefly describe what you’re looking at.

One of the many shots I took of the street sign. One of which would become the cover of the book.
One of the many shots I took of the street sign. One of which would become the cover of the book.
The security fence wrapping around the convent. Almost every night we went there, it was wide open. It seems they've since started closing it up.
The security fence wrapping around the convent. Almost every night we went there, it was wide open. It seems they’ve since started closing it up.
Another view of the security fence, and driveway leading into the compound.
Another view of the security fence, and driveway leading into the compound.
This house is likely unrelated to the convent, but we always thought it was a security lookout. We'd wait until the lights went off or motion stopped to sneak by it.
This house is likely unrelated to the convent, but we always thought it was a security lookout. We’d wait until the lights went off or motion stopped to sneak by it.
This is what is widely believed to be the haunted convent. It is not. This is St. Thecla's Retread House that now sits on the same property.
This is what is widely believed to be the haunted convent. It is not. This is St. Thecla’s Retread House that now sits on the same property.
Another view of the building.
Another view of the building.
The state park marker at the head of the trail leading into the woods, where we'd find the fallen down house.
The state park marker at the head of the trail leading into the woods, where we’d find the fallen down house.
This is what is referred to, in the book, as the "turnaround spot". You'll be more familiar with it when you read the book.
This is what is referred to, in the book, as the “turnaround spot”. You’ll be more familiar with it when you read the book.

And now for something a little… different. Welcome to Dudley Road

Three years in the making. Just over 83,000 words. More memories and nostalgia than I can recount. But we’re finally here. I’m so pleased to announce the release and pre-order of my next book, titled Dudley Road.

It strays from the genre I’ve traditionally written in, but this was a story I just had to tell.

You can pre-order a paperback, hardcover, audiobook or any combination you’d like at this link.

Here’s the book summary and the exclusive (and admittedly a little cheesy) trailer:

Everyone knew the urban legend. We lived it.

I’ll never forget the summer of 1997, not for as long as I live. We’ve all heard the disturbing tales and creepy urban legends about the decaying old building sitting on Dudley Road. But when my friends and I finally gathered up the courage to visit, we concluded they were nothing more than silly stories.

We were wrong.

When we left, we took something with us – and now they want it back. I’m being haunted, and they swear they won’t rest until I return it to them. I try to ignore them… but when paranormal events start terrorizing me; I know they’re dead serious.

And when my friends start going missing one by one, I’m terrified that I’m next…

Step into a chilling horror story where spirits lurk in the shadows and nothing is as it seems. Based on real-life events and dripping with hair-raising suspense, Dudley Road is an unforgettable and bone-chilling read that’s perfect for anyone who loves to be on the edge of their seat. Grab your copy today… if you dare.

Book Update

It’s been a bit since my last update, so I wanted to give you all a quick update.

I’m waiting on final revisions of the artwork now, which is the last step holding me up from putting up the pre-sale on my site.

I’m also about 40% done with recording the first draft of the audiobook. That’s been far more time consuming than I imagined it would be. I’ve been doing roughly one hour of recording every morning, before work, before my voice gives out. It’s also frustrating that I can’t sometimes even read the words I wrote out loud without flubbing. Thankfully, it’s easy to delete and do another take!

One note that I’ve decided on is that the audiobook, narrated by me, will be an exclusive on my site. There’s a number of reasons for it, but the strict guidelines for Audible might be too much for me to comply with. I may have a professional narrator record it for Audible. But if you want to hear me tell the story, you’ll need to buy that version of the audiobook directly from me.

Stay tuned, details about the book, and pre-sale links will come shortly!

Off to Beta Readers!

If you haven’t been following along on social media, the book is now done. Last Friday, I put the finishing touches on it and read it one final time.

My editor gave me (literally) hundreds of great suggestions throughout, and gave me a big vote of confidence on parts I was unsure about, which I loved.

As of now, the book’s in the hands of about half a dozen beta readers. What’s a beta reader? Glad you asked.

Beta readers are people who volunteer to read a book before it’s published. They usually are presented with a questionnaire the author prepares, asking questions such as:

  • Did you relate to the main character?
  • Did the ending provide you with satisfaction?
  • How did you feel about <part the author is unsure of>

The author often, takes that feedback and incorporates it into the final draft that gets sent off to be published.

All of this is excellent news. And, while it’s happening, the artwork for the book will be completed. As soon as the artwork is done, I’ll put up a pre-order on the site. When will I share details about the book? I knew you’d ask. Soon. I promise. Why am I keeping it such a secret? I don’t know. I’m a weirdo.

Thank you for your patience. I know it’s been a while since you got something in your hands of mine, and I appreciate your patience and support while this one’s been cooking.

Another update is coming soon!

First Draft of Book Three is Complete and Off to The Editor!

I know what you’re thinking; “about time!” or “you’re still working on that?” or “you, again?”. Trust me, I know. It feels like it’s been eons since I started working on this book. My next book should be about how to come up with excuses and avoid things that bring you joy, which is what I’ve been doing for quite some time now.

I’ve said it before (and will say it again every time I write a new book). Writing the draft is the simple part. That first bunch of hours where you just sit at a computer and blather your heart (and fingers) out until you get everything you want on paper. Those countless hours of typing, deleting, typing something else, deleting it, then going back to the first thing you typed. It’s so easy. It’s easy to just go, just type. Knock out five, six, seven thousand words in a day. I could write what I call “pre-first drafts” all day, every day. They’re more or less just barely structured nonsense, loosely resembling what your final draft will eventually become.

It’s the editing that kills you. Hacking and butchering and murdering everything you’ve written to that point. Rearranging entire chapters, complete sections. Changing your main character’s personality, changing plot points, changing outcomes, even changing the point of view you write in. The editing is the part takes a lot of time, a ton of will power, motivation, and dedication. It’s also the part that almost every author struggles with.

It’s where I make excuses. It’s where I put off, dreading how much work it actually is. It’s the least fun part about writing anything, especially a full-length novel. It’s hard, demanding, and mentally exhausting to have to reevaluate what you’ve written, and, sometimes, start fresh from chapter one, rethinking how you’ve done everything. It’s my least favorite part of the process, by far.

But it’s also the most important. You want to make sure you not only get the story out how you want it to be told, but you want to make sure your grammar is correct, any facts you’ve used are factual, your spelling is right, whether you needed an em dash or an ellipsis. There’s so many things you need to get done, where if you didn’t, you’d get ripped apart in the reviews for your book. Which would, guess what, hurt your sales. A lot.

Without editing, most books would be terrible. Especially with how most authors get out their first iteration of their work.

That said, I’m happy to report that my third book — which I’ll reveal more about once the rest of the editing process is complete — is complete and fully self-edited. Well, the completed first draft, anyway. It clocks in at 83,219 words, which is slightly shorter than My Last Days (91,783 words) , but slightly longer than A Sour Chord (78,151 words).

What’s next? It’s off to the editor I’ve hired. She’ll go through everything, check my grammar (which, as you know, is pretty good), find any plot points, tell me whether my main character is a horrid monster who should be re-written, and a hundred other checks. Then, I’ll get it back, incorporate her suggestions into the next iteration (my second draft), then send it out to some test readers. Those “beta readers” will give me their feedback and, based on the outcome there, I’ll either go to press, or do a third draft. The third draft is usually only if the beta readers collectively dislike something across the board, or they hate a character or something. It’s unusual, but not unlikely, to happen.

And while that editing is happening, artwork will be done, blurbs will be written, my author bio will be updated, marketing materials will be prepped, and I’ll decide on if I’ll record an audiobook version.

There’s still a way to go, but this is a huge milestone and one I’m thrilled to have crossed off my list. Checking my recurring task titled “Edit” off my to do list last night felt incredible.

And once everything’s done and you’ve got this new book in your tiny, loving, appreciative, review writing, hands, I’ll get to work on book four. Which I already have a list of ideas to pick from.

Thanks, as always, for coming along on this journey with me. I hope you like this next book. It’s very different from my first two, but I hope in a good way.

First Draft complete!

Hey there!

I know it’s been a while. You may have thought I’ve given up, but I’m still here, chugging away in my free time.

I’m happy to report that the first draft of my third novel is finally complete! It feels like it took forever, but it’s finally done.

It’s just over 80,000 words in its current form, though I think it’ll end up closer to 85k once I’m done editing and adding more to parts  

I’ve moved onto the editing phase now and have been working on sprucing things up as I go along. Adding a chapter here and there, punching up some dialog, adding in some additional color on things.

It’s been so long since I edited, I forgot what a chore it can be. But I’m moving through it.

What’s next?

I’ll finish up the first edit, then do another one. Once that’s complete, I’ll have some beta readers (readers who go into it knowing it’s not done and are willing to offer up their honest feedback). After that, another round of edits. Then a professional editor will have their way with things.

Once the final draft is complete, I’ll get the book jacket designed, write up the blurb for the back, write up the online description, and then get it up for sale.

I’m hoping to have that all done by the end of 2022, or early 2023.

Thanks for coming along on this journey with me. It’s been fun!

P.S. don’t ask what the new book is about or what it’s called. I’ll reveal that all in due time.

All I’ll say for now is that it’s nothing like my first two books. A completely different (hopefully not alienating to my audience) genre.

 

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