Curse Update: Copy Edits, 2 Books

Posted by John Brown on July 12th, 2014

CurseV2FinalV1My copy editor just delivered the marked up manuscript. I will be making the edits over the next few days. Once those are made, it’s time to publish.

Ah, but publish just one book?

Nope. It looks like this is going to be two:

  • CURSE: The Dark God Book 2
  • RAVELER: The Dark God Book 3

Each book would be about 120k words. Novels can range from around 30-50k words like many middle grade novels (or most of the books written by Louis L’Amour) to the 50-70k length of a lot of romance novels to the 70-100k words of many thrillers to the 300-400k epic behemoths that George R.R. Martin and Sanderson have recently written.  I think most adult novels are around 100k.  I think most fantasies are in the 80-130k area, although many epics can be in the 200′s.  The bottom line is that both volumes will be chock full of story.

This is all part of a strategy to tell the same long, big story as originally planned, but do it in quicker chunks so that the series can become viable financially more quickly, but also so readers aren’t waiting so long between books.  I have tormented those who enjoyed book 1 and wanted more far too long. I want to remedy that in the future, and more frequent installments will allow me to do this. Getting these two volumes out will help set the expectation, I think.

So a release of CURSE in July seems more than feasible. Then we’ll release RAVELER early August. Why August? Because we need to commission a new cover illustration. The soonest the artist can have it done would be August. Stay tuned. I can’t wait to see what art Victor comes up with next.

And if you want to get in on the new release sale for both, please sign up for the notification in the left sidebar.




Saving Mr. Banks, Elementary, Captain Phillips, & Lone Survivor

Posted by John Brown on June 23rd, 2014

Saving Mr BanksOver the last two months I’ve been able to squeeze in a couple of hours to watch a few shows and some episodes of a TV series. I was plesantly surprised to have actually had a wonderfully good run. If you haven’t watched any of these, you’re in for some awesome entertainment.

Saving Mr. Banks

I didn’t think I’d like this movie. I enjoyed Mary Poppins as a child and enjoyed it again with my kids. But a movie on Disney getting the rights to make a movie? Boring. Except I was completely wrong. This is not a story about some woman selling the rights to her story. It’s about why she never wanted to sell the rights to Disney in the first place. It’s about her childhood and the real source of Mary Poppins. And to pull that off Saving Mr. Banks has to tell two stories: an often funny one about P.L. Travers who does not want to license her story and Disney’s final attempt to win her over, and a poignant one that reveals why Travers was so resistant. And it leaves the last twist, one that expands the meaning of the title in the viewer’s heart, to the very end. I loved this movie. I loved Hanks as the affable Disney and Thompson as the irascible Ms. Travers. Loved all of the other characters. If you enjoyed dramas like Miss Potter or The Blind Side, you’ll love this too.


I thought: another Sherlock Holmes series? Puh-lease. Yes, the two films featuring Robert Downing Jr. and Jude Law and the BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman were superb. I loved both. But another Sherlock? Surely this is going to be some cheap attempt to capitalize on the success of the other two, something that is direct-to-DVD quality. Who is going to do it as well as Downing and Cumberbatch?

Boy, was I wrong (yet again!)

Elementary is delightful. Sherlock, played by the talented Johnny Lee Miller who made Eli Stone such a joy, is a modern day Brit living in New York. He’s in the final stages of drug rehab, living with a “sober companion.” The companion is Joan Watson, played by Lucy Lui. The Captain of the NYPD is one of Sherlock’s old friends an appeciates his skills and so brings him in as a consultant on various cases.

So how could they do anything different? Yes, you have the quick powers of observation and intellectual acrobatics the other Sherlocks have. But the female Watson and the whole recovering addict angle takes the stories in a new direction. This Sherlock has a past that haunts him. And this Watson is maybe a bit quicker than the other two, as wonderful as they are.

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it, but there is room for three Sherlocks and Watsons. I can’t tell you which of the three pairs I enjoy more.

Captain_Phillips_PosterCaptain Phillips

As soon as the news stories about Somali pirates started breaking back in 2008 I knew it would lead to some thrillers. Heck, Abdul Hassan, “The One Who Never Sleeps” was one of the first zings I posted on this site. What I didn’t know was that the big thriller would be based on an actual story: the 2009 hijacking of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. Phillips is played by Tom Hanks, who always gives a great performance. But I also found the portrayal of the pirates interesting as well. As I did the many unexpected details of how these pirates operate and how the incident was brought to a close. If you like realistic thrillers, you’ll enjoy Captain Phillips.

Lone Survivor

I reviewed the book Lone Survior back in 2011. You can read my full report there, but the bottom line is that it was an awesome read. However, as with all awesome reads, you become a bit wary of the films based on those books. I’m happy to say the filmmakers did a great job on this one. They paid huge attention to detail because they wanted to honor the fallen soldiers by getting it right.

Lone_Survivor_posterIn order to get it right, they brought Marcus Luttrel, the author, and a number of other SEALs onto the project as consultants. The SEALs put the actors through some basic training before they even began shooting. This was to not only help the actors get to the point where they handle their weapons and gear as someone seasoned might, but also so they could feel what is was to work as a team, an important part of being a SEAL. The SEALs stayed on to provide input as well during the shooting.

But the details went beyond that. I have never seen a military film that felt as real to me, especially when it came to the characters. SEALs are warriors. But that doesn’t capture the variety they come in. And in the opening 25% of the movie we see sides to these men that many movies do not portray. It was so refreshing! In fact, without the groundwork laid in the beginning, this film wouldn’t have had near the impact it did. Yeah, the action is ACTION! It’s thrilling. You have never seen some of the shots the film portrays. But the action means nothing without the men.

And this story is about the men.

It’s about what it means to be one of those guys and gals who put their lives on the line for the rest of us. And if you want a special treat, when the film is over, you’ll watch all the extras.

The f-word is used about five million times in this movie. I usually don’t like a lot of vulgarity in my entertainment. But I cut the folks some slack in this case because I felt the story was worth it. Besides, I didn’t consider it entertainment anyway, more documentary.

If you are interested in what it’s like for Special Operations forces, if you want a story to help you see what so many are doing for the rest of us, I don’t know that it gets any better than this.

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Curse Update: Line Edits are Done!

Posted by John Brown on June 18th, 2014


Yes, it’s goofy GIF worthy. It’s time to party.

Holy cow.


The beast is finally finished. Now I send it to my copy editor to brush a bit off here, comb a few strands of hair back, and shine a few buttons there.

It is done.

This means release is weeks away.

I will be announcing an early bird sale to those who have signed up for the Good Stuff Notification. If you want to be sure to get in on that sale, sign up at the top of the left sidebar.


Author Janci Patterson Goes Indie

Posted by John Brown on June 18th, 2014

Everythings Fine by Janci PattersonI met Janci Patterson a few years ago when she was shopping her book Chasing the Skip to NY publishers. It’s about a girl named Ricki. Her mother flakes and runs off,  and so Ricki goes to live with her estranged Dad who happens to be a bounty hunter. I was hooked right there. But it gets better. Ricki gets to ride along and help and, wouldn’t you know it, develops a crush on a guy the dad is chasing.

I loved the premise. Traditional publisher Henry Holt loved it too and thought Janci had done a great job telling the tale, so they made her an offer that Janci accepted. It was published in 2012.

Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?

Well, Janci just released another book called Everything’s Fine, a mystery about a girl named Kira. Her best friend commits suicide immediately after her first date with her longtime crush, Bradley Johansen. Kira’s devastated and wondering why. She’s sure the answers are in her friend’s journal. As she searches for it she quickly learns she’s not the only one who wants that journal. Someone else is trying to keep the secrets the journal contains hidden.

Another great premise. And this book won the Utah Art’s Council award for Best Young Adult Novel. Clearly, Janci can tell a story. But Janci didn’t take this one to NY.

She’s publishing it as an indie.

Here are her own words explaining what helped convince her going indie was doable.

A Paradigm Shift

For years I refused to think about self-publishing. This wasn’t because of the stigma, honestly, but because of all the work I watched my self-publisher friends put into creating, shipping, and marketing their books. I couldn’t do that! I told myself. I wanted to be a writer, not a publisher.

When it became obvious to me that self-publishing was the next logical step in my career, I was terrified. Having published with a big publisher, I wasn’t willing to skip steps in the publishing process–it was my editor’s keen eye and the rounds of revision we did together that transformed CHASING THE SKIP from a messy dJanci Patterson - Chasing-the-Skip-webraft into a product I was proud of. I wanted to be just as proud of my independent work, and for that, I knew I’d need help.

I knew just enough about book and cover design to know that I couldn’t slap them together on my own and expect them to be instantly good. But when I did the math on what I’d have to pay an editor and a book designer and a cover designer to put out even one book (let alone the several I have waiting), I knew that I couldn’t afford it. Self-publishing felt even more impossible than selling books in New York–I knew how I wanted to do it, but I didn’t have the resources.

So it was with this trapped feeling that I attended the Precision Editing Group’s workshop on indie publishing last fall. The workshop was packed with great information, but the thing that impacted me the most was a presentation by Heather Horrocks. She was talking about the importance of editors, and as a side comment, said something to the effect of, “yes, all my books have now been edited, but when I first got started, I didn’t have an editor because I couldn’t afford it.”

It’s not my intention to suggest that editing isn’t important, because it is. But that one sentence blew my mind. I’d been working with the New York publishing paradigm for fourteen years. And in that world, there are very few ways to be published. You query agents. You send books to publishers. You do your very best to follow all of the guidelines and to do everything perfectly right, hoping to minimize the barriers that stand between you and success as a writer.

But this self-publishing thing was a whole different game. I sat in the audience at the workshop, stunned. That was the moment when I finally realized this truth: there are as many ways to publish as there are people who are publishing. There is no one right way to do it. There are so many things you can do that can help you succeed. It’s better to do something than nothing, because nothing is never the road to success. Even if that means you’re doing it wrong.

So when I got home, I made a list of my assets. Forget about what I lacked. Forget about what I didn’t know. What did I know how to do? What resources did I have access to? And, most importantly, who could I ask for help?

If you’re looking to self-publish, I’d suggest that you do the same. Because here’s the thing–your list of assets is going to be uniquely yours. You have a unique set of skills; you know a unique network of people. You don’t need to worry about who and what you don’t know. Instead, focus on what you do have, what you can do. If you’ve been writing for years, you probably have some book-related skills. If you’re part of a community of writers to which you regularly contribute, you probably have some friends who you’ve helped in the past, or can help in the present, who would be motivated to help you out in return. Start from there, and you can pick up the rest as you go along.

In the end, I did have my book edited (repeatedly!) and my cover designed by a graphic designer. I was able to do that because I had friends who believe in me who were willing to enter into financial agreements that didn’t involve them getting paid in full upfront. I wouldn’t have thought to work out those arrangements when I was focused on doing things right–it was only when I opened my vision to look at what was possible that I began to envision what shape my own unique path might take.

Each path to publication is different, not only for each writer, but also for each book. With all the options available to us, it’s not enough to focus on our feet, doing only the next “right” step. Opportunity is everywhere. Focus on what you have, and even if you don’t win the jackpot on the first try, at least you’ll be playing the game.



How to be a hero in your own house

Posted by John Brown on June 17th, 2014

I have four daughters.

My four daughters have long hair.

That long hair finds its way into our drains. (Yes, despite our telling them to get it into that thing called a waste basket.)

Said hair might flow down the pipes. But said hair does not. Life is not that easy. Instead, some evil house spirit catches the hair just as it begins its voyage and turns it from a luscious thing of beauty into a gunky demon of drain death.

You would think that Drano could defeat this black magic. But Drano gets its butt kicked every time. Drano is in the pee-wee league against this thing. Drano is like a kitten. And gunk demons don’t listen to kittens.

So for the last few years, we’d blast with Drano and then still have to stand up to our calves in water when we took a shower. Or wait as the sink decided it might finally slowly empty and leave soap scum, whiskers, and toothpaste on the sides for everyone’s viewing pleasure. And then we had to do the slow clean (I hate the slow clean).

Recently, I was strolling along in a hardware store and saw this.

Zip-it drain cleaning tool

Click on the picture. Get a good look. I bought ye handy yellow flex sword. And I did verily slay the monster lurking in every drain in our  house.

I am the MAN!

If you have drain issues, let me suggest you be the hero and buy your own sword. It’s called the Zip-It drain cleaning tool. If you’re a weird-o, in addition to being the hero, you can also use it to draw forth disgusting things to scare nieces and nephews with. Just saying.


Indie Thoughts: Your First 1000 Copies by Tim Grahl

Posted by John Brown on June 17th, 2014

Your First 1000 copies by Tim GrahlDo you know what’s awesome about Your First 1,000 Copies by Tim Grahl?

He bases his advice on tests. Tests he’s performed with other authors and tests he’s performed with his own book.

For example, what’s more effective: advertising and posting our on places like Facebook and Twitter or a mailing list? Do authors really need to have a social presence? Or is that a bunch of bunk?

Tim has tested this question and shares what he’s found.

What about marketing? What’s the best approach to take to win new customers?

I think you’ll find his answer surprising. As a side note, I have to say I find his definition of marketing more insightful and practical than any I’ve come across. And I got a business degree!

How do you set up mailing lists and which ones should you use?

Tim tells you.

What should you blog about?

Tim shares his front-line insights.

What’s the quickest way to find new customers?

Tim discusses that as well. And it’s all put together in his framework or system he calls “Permission, Content, Outreach, Sell.”

If you’re an indie author, I think you’ll want to hear what Tim has to say. There are three books on indie publishing that I’ve found super useful. Your First 1,000 Copies by Tim Grahl is one of them.

Posted in On Writing

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