Hello From Des Moines

I’m at the Indie Author Book Expo at Valley View Mall in West Des Moines. This is my first opportunity to do one of these fairs and my first time that I have gotten to do an in-person event.

If you’re out in Des Moines, come out and see me and the other authors out there. I’m signing copies for sale, so get them while they last lol.

What I’m Working On Now, June 2019 Edition

A while ago, pretty shortly after I started this blog, I let readers know some of the bare-bones basics regarding some of the projects that I wanted to work on and that I was working on. I thought now might be a good time to update that, just to keep myself, much less any readers, in the loop about what’s coming down the development pipeline.

I’ve mentioned these projects before in some of my writing journals, but to keep from being too repetitive, I decided to put them all in one place as a reference. I’m not going to mention working titles or big details about plots, etc. However, I think you will get an idea of what the gist of each of the projects are below.

I also think, looking at some of the items on this list, that you’ll see that I’ve been bouncing around with several different genres and subjects. I appreciate writers who want to stick to one thing, but I enjoyed too many different styles and genres of writing to stay in one wheelhouse. I want to create and I want to spread my work to others – that’s basically my life goals regarding writing.

And Now, The Projects

  • Project A: This is a book about a young man who is a football player and the son of a famous college football coach who is also obsessed with soccer. I first got the idea to write about what I thought the first American Lionel Messi might be like and it turned into one of the richest characters I’ve ever written about.
  • Project B: This is a short novel about a young teen who shoots two of his classmates during a psychotic break. After five years imprisonment, he is looking to rebuild his life with the help of his brother, but former high school classmates start turning up dead around him…
    A former NaNoWriMo project, this is one of the shortest books I’ve written, around 50,000 words. I want to make this one nice and tight, not much longer than it is now, which I think will be a good plan for a thriller.
  • Project C: For someone who never messed around with poetry, the idea of me putting together a poetry collection is a real trip. The poetry enthusiasts of Writers On The Avenue in Muscatine were so much into poetry that I decided, starting around 2010 or so, to give it a whirl as well.
    However, I think this is some of the most interesting stuff I’ve written, and a way for me to connect to where I grew up. A big theme in this collection is the Mississippi River, how I’ve experienced it, and what it means to me. I first got the idea of this project well before I knew I was going to eventually leave the Mississippi River area, but I think it’s been a good reflection of what I will be leaving behind. (People leaving their homes for various reasons appears to be a reoccurring theme in a lot of my work).
    I had originally decided to try to put this out as a whole project, but some recent advice from a poet I’ve met has convinced me to try and get some of these out individually. So I’m going to start looking into those markets, with the intention of getting those poems published and thus generating interest in the larger collection.
  • Project F: This is the fantasy project I was inspired to write based on my Game of Thrones obsession. The basic theme that I’ve been playing around with is this: So, I started thinking of a scenario, of a new fantasy world, where civilizations representing the concepts of magic, chivalry, and science and progress would clash and face each other. The more that I’ve watched Game of Thrones and what they’ve done right and wrong, the more this idea of writing fantasy intrigues me. I’ve started to look over fantasy map building sites and think about what these civilizations would be like.
  • Project S: What started out as the idea for an analysis of one Game of Thrones character has now turned into an epilogue for the series that is running over 27,000 words as of this writing. Obviously I have no interest in monetizing this whatsoever. I’m going it as an exercise and as a way to get over how ridiculous the last season was.

Also, there are the following projects that might get letter designations as well, to help keep them straight.

  • Project R: A story of a fictional indie rock band and its history from the early 1980’s to the early/mid-1990’s, my love letter, so to speak, of the indie rock that caught my ear so many years ago. This will likely turn out to be a trilogy.
  • Project W: A thriller, just the germ of an idea. But, it’s pretty intense, pretty heavy material. This might wind up simmering for a while.

As part of my greater efforts to keep myself publicly accountable for my writing successes and failures, I also want to list when I am planning to get these projects done. So, feel free to cheer me on or have a laugh at me, depending on my successes and failures. Putting my goals in print makes them more real for me.

  • So, here are the current projected deadlines for those projects:
  • Project A, begin querying agents and publishers: Sometime in early-mid summer 2019.
  • Project B, finish major redrafting of the rough draft (more of a second rough draft rather than a more focused revision): End of summer 2019.
  • Project C, finishing creating rough draft poems: End of 2019.
  • Project F: None at this time, but I would like planning for the project to be well underway by the end of 2019.
  • Project S: Maybe posted by the end of the month (tentative)
  • Project R: None at this time
  • Project W: None at this time

Finally, don’t forget my first published project, The Holy Fool: A Journalist’s Revolt. That project was years in the making and getting it out this year was a major life accomplishment for me. Get to the My Work page on this blog for all of the links if you want to find out more about it and (possibly?) buy it. But, there’s other ways you can support it, too.

Anyway, that’s what I’m working on. If you’ve got any questions or comments, leave them here and I’ll be glad to answer them.

Writing Journal 5.25.2019: As my summer vacation begins, I get the feeling that my writing vacation is coming to an end

Hi, everyone. As I mentioned during the last journal entry, I have decided to add fiction planning time to my writing journal to reflect the work I am doing to plan and research for projects. I believe that is just as legitimate work as is putting the words to the paper (or hard drive) and revising what you have. So, it makes sense to add that to the journal, although when I changed the journal to the latest format, I wasn’t doing too much planning for projects, so the numbers shouldn’t be totally off.

So with that, here’s the numbers for last week.

+1,158 words written.

Days writing:  2 of 7.

Days planning/revising: 2 of 7 for 60 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 4 of 7 days.

As anyone who has been watching media could guess, Game Of Thrones ended last Sunday, so that’s all over but the shouting, the memes, and the memories. It’s even inspired me to try some fantasy fiction myself.

I am now officially in the summer vacation mode. After the long weekend, I’ve got two more days of in-service work to do, but honestly, working in-service days I can get done in my sleep. After that, I’ll be moving my wife into her new temporary digs and settling into the summer months running around kids and transitioning into a new thing.

Now that I have a long period of time where I will be doing little except running kids back and forth and trying to keep things ship-shape while the wife is away, I’m going to get back into the mix of writing and doing things to promote my work and this blog. Here’s a few things on the list.

  • First, get back to writing in a serious manner. I have a lot of work to do, both on the projects that are in the pipeline (see below) and the projects that are in the pipe dreams, so to speak. I want to spend this summer getting quite a lot done and moving myself forward regarding my writing career (since I won’t have to worry about teaching until the first part of August at least.). You’ll see what I have to do below.
  • I want to get more active on my Goodreads account. (Yes, I am on Goodreads.) I have a former high school classmate who reviews all of these books and does a great job of it, and he’s running the local United Way organization. There’s another former colleague of mine who manages to get on there more than I do; he’s one of those teachers who is all in regarding their work, bless them, and his wife is just the same, but they are good people and I admire them anyway. Regardless of that, I’m a writer who teaches, and what’s my fracking excuse? I should be reviewing books left and right and posting those reviews. I’ll post them on Goodreads; I should post them here as well.
  • I need to produce some more work. Almost two years ago, when I started this fracking blog, I wanted to be a published writer. Against all of the odds, I managed to make that happen. But, I’m not resting on those laurels. I want to make my writing career as big as I can make it. But, this goes beyond making money. I no longer write because I want to be famous like Stephen King or some rubbish like that. I’m writing because I literally cannot picture myself doing anything else. The only way I see myself is as a writer, prosperous or not. I can’t do anything else with my life.
  • It’s going to be a fun summer.

    Look, I have an event less than a week from now. Would you be willing to spread the word? [Obligatory plug, if you will (see below)]:

I’ll be hosting a book talk on my novel The Holy Fool at the Rock Island (Ill.) Public Library at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 1. I’m going to be there courtesy of the Midwest Writing Center, which is hosting the event.

One thing to keep in mind: My favorite English football team, Liverpool FC, is playing in the Champions’ League final at the exact same time this book talk is going to start. I may have to call off this talk early so we can all frack off to the nearest sports bar and see the results. We haven’t won the title in 14 years; I’m not going to miss that. Who knows any good sports bars on the Illinois side of the Quad Cities?

I have three writing projects I want to complete this summer (check things out here if you want more details on them.).

These are the projected deadlines for those projects:

  • Project A, begin querying agents and publishers: Sometime in early-mid summer 2019.
  • Project B, finish major redrafting of the rough draft (more of a second rough draft rather than a more focused revision): End of summer 2019.
  • Project C, finishing creating rough draft poems: End of 2019.

I am psyched about this summer. There’s so many things to do, and so much to take care of, before I get back into the grind of school sometime in mid-August. I’m looking forward to many cool things before everything cools down.. 😀

Writing Journal 5.12.2019: The week I admitted that I was essentially taking May off

Yeah, I basically have been taking the entire month off. It’s not quite like the old procrastination days, but it’s sort of like that.

+398 words written.

Days writing: 2 of 7.

Days revising: 2 of 7 for 60 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 2 of 7 days.

There are occasions where I realize I’ve been working on a project for an extended period of time (in my case, three projects) and have gotten burned out trying to move them forward. It is not a permanent condition, but one where I want to take a mental break before getting back at it.

If you’ve been following me for the past few weeks, there’s been three issues that I have dealing with that I think have had a direct influence on my not writing. They are, in no particular order:

  • The impending end of Game of Thrones and how obsessed I’ve become with the TV series. I have to admit here that unlike some people who avoid all spoilers, I am obsessed with spoilers and leaks and every bit of information that I can find out about the show. In deference to those who hate spoilers, I will not post any here. [EDIT: This journal entry was delayed because S8E5 was on right in the middle of it and I had to catch it.]
    What I will say, however, is that I’ve found the show to be far better than many of the fans online have said. Even though not everything has been perfect, I’ve really been satisfied with the season and the storytelling. And honestly, it’s also made me curious and interested in trying fantasy writing myself.
  • The end of the school year. We are just down to 10 days left with students. (There’s two other in-service days, but I can work those in my sleep.) Since we’ve had to extend the school days, they’ve felt so much longer than normal, especially the closer we get to the end of the year. However, I am so glad that we will be getting out of school before June, which is more than I can say for some districts in Iowa.
  • Some personal uncertainty and lack of clarity regarding my wife’s work situation and our family’s situation about whether we would be staying in our hometown or moving somewhere else for work. This uncertainty was a big load on my mind and my family’s mind, but it got resolved this week. Even though I typically don’t post on personal stuff here, I will make a quick follow-up post on this mid-week. Don’t worry, however – things are looking good for us.

On an unrelated note, just a reminder that I’ll be hosting a book talk on my novel The Holy Fool at the Rock Island (Ill.) Public Library at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 1. I’m going to be there courtesy of the Midwest Writing Center, which is hosting the event.

In lieu of progress on my projects, since there was essentially none, I’ll just do a quick reminder of what they are.

  • Project A: This is a book about a young man who is a football player and the son of a famous college football coach who is also obsessed with soccer. I first got the idea to write about what I thought the first American Lionel Messi might be like and it turned into one of the richest characters I’ve ever written about.
  • Project B: This is a short novel about a young teen who shoots two of his classmates during a psychotic break. After five years imprisonment, he is looking to rebuild his life with the help of his brother, but former high school classmates start turning up dead around him…
  • Project C: For someone who never messed around with poetry, the idea of me putting together a poetry collection is a real trip. However, I think this is some of the most interesting stuff I’ve written, and a way for me to connect to where I grew up.

    The projected deadlines for those projects:
  • Project A, begin querying agents and publishers: Sometime in early-mid summer 2019.
  • Project B, finish major redrafting of the rough draft (more of a second rough draft rather than a more focused revision): End of summer 2019.
  • Project C, finishing creating rough draft poems: End of 2019.

I did get this written more or less on time, so there’s always that silver lining. 😀 I’ll write more later.

A Few Events That Are Coming Up (AKA Stuff I’m Doing Having To Do With Books)

It appears that I have started something that might begin to approach a book tour for my book, The Holy Fool.

the holy fool cover shot

There’s going to be a few events that I will be hosting or at having to do with writing, and some of them having to do with my book. So, if you want to put them on your calendar and can actually go to or travel to the Eastern Iowa area, I’d love to see you there.

HNI Musser Public Library

  • At 11 a.m. Saturday, March 30, I’ll be giving a book talk on The Holy Fool at the Musser Public Library in Muscatine, now located at the corner of Mulberry Avenue and Second Street. In addition to the book, I’ll be discussing this blog, my experiences with writing as an author, as a journalist, and as a teacher, among other topics. I might even have a few copies of my books around. We’ll be up in the large third floor meeting room there.

Writers on the Avenue

  • At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, I’ll be a presenter at the monthly meeting of the Muscatine, Iowa writing group Writers on the Avenue. I’ll be giving a presentation on revising and helping lead a writing exercise regarding revising (bring your own work if you want), but there might be people asking about the book, too.

800px-Rock_Island_Public_Library_from_northwest

  • From 2-4 p.m. Saturday, June 1, I will be giving a book talk at the Midwest Writing Center, located at the Rock Island (Ill.) Public Library, 401 19th Street, Rock Island. Thanks very much to the center and its executive director, Ryan Collins, for hosting the event.

I’ll make sure to make an update post as time goes on and add any events that are coming up as well. I’m looking forward to all of them.

Writing Journal 2.10.2019: Weird week leads to a slow week

(You notice how I’ve been using photos of winter scenes? It’s snowing a lot.)

The numbers are not too much to write home about, but here they are:

+469 words written.

Days writing: 2 of 7.

Days revising: 4 of 7 for 180 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 4 of 7 days.

Yeah, not really impressive given last few weeks. I have been making progress, but not as much as I want. Work has gotten in the way some (even with all the snow days, imagine that.) And the fact that there might be another snow day or two during this week will not help, either. Oh, well, I’ll be teaching in June anyway.

I’m just doing one post this weekend, so I’ll try to get in everything going on all at once.

Promo items/Stuff for The Holy Fool

  • I mentioned that I will be having my first promotional appearance for my book this Saturday. It’s still on. All of the information is here.
  • I want to set up a book talk at my local library here in Muscatine. I think it would be more of a book discussion than a signing, although I would be giving a copy of my book to the library as well. Once I get that sorted out, I’ll let everyone know date and time.
  • Now that I have books in hand, I want to start doing a giveaway or two through my Goodreads page. As soon as I have that locked down, you will hear it here first.

Writing Stuff

(I went over all of these books here, just to get you caught up).

  • Project A: Wrapping up my latest revisions on it, likely within the next week, after my beta reads. After that, I will be proofreading when I have time and begin considering markets for it. Some possibilities would be publishers/agents who are interested in books with sports themes or LGBTQ characters.
  • Project B: This will likely pick up when I finish the latest revision on Project A. Length of time on this would likely be 2-3 months. I’ll also likely need some beta readers to review as well. After that, I start considering publishers/agents.
  • Project C: I’ve compiled a collection of poems in one location. My initial thoughts are that I will need a bit more material before I consider shopping it around. Length of time to complete a full compilation before starting revisions would be maybe 6-9 months.

That’s about all I have for now. Keep reading me and everyone else, and if you are in the Midwest and getting as much snow as I am, stay safe.

 

I Have Books

Another short blog post to let people know that I have books.

Just got the delivery from my publisher this week. So, I do have physical copies of my book in paperback format. A couple are already spoken for, but some are not.

It may take a while for some of these to get out, given the polar vortex sitting over Iowa and a couple of other states, but it will happen. I’m also planning at least one giveaway through my Goodreads page.

I’ll have some word about at least one book signing coming up soon, and perhaps some other items coming up. I’ll keep you in the loop when plans are set.

Being The News Rather Than Writing It

It was an interesting experience walking into my local newspaper as the subject of the story rather than writing one myself.

But, it was a good article about the publication of my book. Go ahead and read it here – the reporter did a great job to be honest.

Anyway, that’s all for tonight – I’ll probably check in before the weekend and the weekly journal. Take care and keep warm if you’re in the Midwest like me – apparently it’s going to get really cold soon.

The Holy Fool And Other Publishing/Project News: Update 1.27.2019

All right, I just wanted to let you know a couple of things about what’s going on, project-wise.

  • The My Work section of the site has been fully updated with new links, etc. Check it all out.
  • I’m anticipating my first small shipment of books any day now, although the weirdness with the shutdown might have led to a delay or two. As soon as I get them in my hands, I’ll spread the word and I’ll probably sponsor a giveaway or two.
  • A lot of this I am anticipating is going to heat up (pun not intended) during late spring/summer. I’m hoping to make some book signings/appearances in my local area during that time to get the word out about what I’ve written.
  • I’m also probably going to be busy looking for publishers and/or agents to take on the other projects I have been working on behind the scenes. I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy working with Biblio Publishing, but they are not accepting new fiction projects at this time. So I will be checking in with other possibilities for publication. However, I am optimistic. I’ve been published before, so I think I can be published again.
  • With that in mind, I have been separating my works in progress into two different categories. The first category is Ready To Go – projects that I would be able to present to publishers and agents within four months or less with the intention of publishing next year. For right now, I’m calling them Projects A, B, and C.
    • Project A is the novel about a soccer player that I’ve talked about on and off. I’ve already had it beta-read and have made revisions to it with those comments in mind. I’m giving it another little shave to get the manuscript under 85,000 words, just to keep the story moving.
    • Project B is a long-dormant crime drama centered around a young man suffering from mental illness who kills two boys who had been tormenting him at his high school. The story picks up when he is released after five years in jail and how he struggles to be part of society again. I think the book has a few flaws, but it’s a quick read – currently under 50,000 words – and I’ve been feeling good about what I’ve been revising.
    • Project C would be a collection of some of the poems I have written in recent years. A couple of the ones I want to include have appeared in this blog, while others I have yet to write or am in the process of writing. I think that would be relatively easy to put together.
  • The second category is going to be Future Projects – stuff that is somewhere from planning stages to incomplete rough drafts. This includes 2-3 potential sequels to Project A, a series about a fictional indie rock band from the 1980’s-90’s, and probably two science fiction projects. In short, I am not lacking stuff to write about for some time to come.

So, that’s where I’m at with all of my projects at the moment. I’m feeling excited going forward with them, and I hope they can find an even bigger audience.

A Message To Anyone Who Reads My Book…

…Glad you picked it up.

If you bought it, that’s great. Glad to get a few extra bucks into my pocket while telling you a story that, I think, is pretty cool. Trust me, I wouldn’t have spent years writing it if I hadn’t.

There’s also the chance, however, that you might have read it in the library. I’m in the process of getting some a copy dropped off at my library and maybe a couple of others around the area. Some of them also do ebook loaning, so I’m interested to see if they could do that, as well.

The point being, I appreciate anyone who reads my stuff, no matter whether you pay for it or borrow it from the library. If you are wondering how you can help me out, even if you can’t pay for my books, I have a way for you to do it.

Tell people what you thought about it.

Yeah, you can do that on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, but there’s a couple of other places it can be even more useful.

On Amazon, they give you space on the product page to leave a review of the book or product. Let me put out a personal plea for you to write a review there. Let people know what you thought of it honestly. Tell them what you dug about it and if anything could be improved, and leave it up there. In case you got it from the library and don’t know where to leave a review, here is the link for my author’s page on Amazon. Just go to one of the book links there and do a review. Yeah, you’ll have to sign up for an account, but you probably already have one and it’s free anyway, right?

Also, feel free to leave it on other sites. For example, this is the site for my ebook on Barnes and Noble. If you sign up for Goodreads, you can do that same thing – here is my author’s page there. You can even leave a review for my book on my publisher’s site and you don’t have to sign in for anything.

And don’t feel like you have to write three or four different reviews, either. Cutting and pasting is perfectly acceptable. 🙂

The point is, I would truly appreciate it if people would start reviewing my book, even if they don’t have 100 percent positive things to say about it. The more people start talking about my book, the more people start noticing my book, and the more likely it is that people start buying it.

Anything you can do, I thank you for it.