I’ve Finished the Discovery Draft of a Project I Didn’t Know I was Writing until I Finished it: Anthology Announcement!

I’ve Finished the Discovery Draft of a Project I Didn’t Know I was Writing until I Finished it: Anthology Announcement!

Greetings all,

So I had this plan, where I was going to let Repressed sit and work on The Journals of Bob Drifter 2nd Edition. I was even going to start revising 1,200, mostly because it has just been sitting in my digital file cabinet for years.

light-bulb-1042480_960_720Then I had this idea. That idea was like a hungry 4-year-old. Write me. Write me. Write me now.

That idea hit me two weeks ago, and I typed the words “The End” earlier today.

The story is called “The Worth of Words.” Set in a future version of an alternate (Earth-style) planet. They’ve limited speech so strictly that anyone over the age of 7 must wear a collar similar to those that shock a dog when it barks. People have to pay for the right to speak at all. Excessive gestures and public displays are fined or even punished by death courtesy of the drones that fly around and monitor everything. The main character is a mother, and former monitor (police woman) who has assembled a team to take down the server that controls the entire system. It’s essentially a heist story.

If you were subscribed to my newsletter, you got a secret link to the first 2,000 words or so. (Basically the first chapter). I’d love to know what you thought if you read it.

The next problem that occurred to me was, “What do I do with it?”

Then I did what I always do (and that usually gets me in trouble). I had an idea.

I love anthologies. I’m excited about the Slush Brain anthology, but I want to try my hand at editing one of my own (because I clearly don’t know how to stop loading my metaphorical plate).

So I’m making this announcement:

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All images used in this blog were taken from Pixabay.

I’m publishing an anthology. The title: The Power of Words: Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories Inspired by the First Amendment.

 

Any and all interested authors may submit a short story (20,000 words or less. That 20,000 word limit is hard and fast). It doesn’t matter to me if you’re a NYT best seller or someone who’s never been published. If you’d like to contribute, send me your short story inspired by the First Amendment OR (for those less interested in politically charged themes) the title.

Terms:
I’ll read the entries and select the seven I like best. My intention (though I’m not 100% on how I’ll execute it) is to offer those seven 12% of the royalties for the digital and online sales as well as 100% of whatever they make selling physical editions. (Meaning if they order the book and sell it at a convention, they just keep what they make). Those who I don’t select can still do whatever they want with their work (I mean, it is there’s after all).

I’ll take care of the publishing, editing (PROOFREADING), and cover cost.  I’ll also do an edit personally. Like any edits, they’re recommendations. Each author will retain ultimate say over what they create. Marketing and promotion will be on all the authors (PLEASE don’t rely on me for that stuff…I’m NOT good at it.)

I think those are some pretty fair terms myself. So, if you’re interested, feel free to send me your submissions. I’ll start accepting said submissions Nov. 1, and submissions will close Nov. 30.  Please don’t send anything before or after those dates. I already have one book and two shorts to revise. Not to mention the rest of this trilogy I promised I’d have done by 2019.

I love anthologies. I love the First Amendment. I love writing prompts. So the combination of these things just seemed too right to do any other way. I’m honestly scared. I don’t know who will enter or how to pull this off. I’m a man of ambition and action though. I also tend to accomplish whatever I set my mind to. One must take chances. One must try. I hope to get several great stories. I hope to pull my hair out picking JUST seven more. Whatever happens, I already have one story I’m proud of. So, in a way, I’m playing with house money on that front. It’s possible this anthology might not happen. But it could also be great. I’ll keep you all updated though.

Anyone interested in this is still free to comment below, email me or contact me via social media. I’m excited by this project, and I can’t wait to see what comes of it.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

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Sharing the Joy: A Few Friends of Mine Won Some Awards!

Sharing the Joy: A Few Friends of Mine Won Some Awards!

I was surfing the social media waves today when I noticed a few friends of mine have earned some recognition. I love it when people I respect get some props, so what better way to offer my congratulations than to post a brief announcement for them on my humble little blog?

The Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Award Contest released their winners.  They give awards in pretty much every category you can shove a book in.

Without further chatter from me, let’s spread the good news.

21192864_10156178007845931_2953333170833284155_nAnaerfell by Joshua Robertson and J.C. Boyd: Winner of the contest’s bronze medal in the Young Adult – Fiction – Fantasy – Epic category. Just to point out a humble/not humble fact. Every book I’m about to mention was a book I discovered by it’s cover. Anaerfell was  put in my February Book Cover of the Month and is still one of the most voted on books in the bracket’s history. Joshua and I became friends during that bracket. To put a final touch on the coincidence, Anaerfell is actually next on my TBR list.

21272158_1316997008409745_2922550445147677218_nMagic Price by C.L. Schneider: Winner of the contest’s bronze medal in the Adult – Fiction – Fantasy – Epic category. A few years back now (has it really been a few years Cindy?), I was surfing the aforementioned social media waves when I saw the gorgeous cover. I sent a message saying as much.  We got to talking, and I tried her book out. Here’s the review on THAT particular book. That book’s sequel was actually one of the best books I read in 2016. This book’s magic system is flat-out awesome, and Ian is an amazingly sympathetic character. If you check out the reviews, not the content warnings on this. There’s some steamy stuff in there. As if that wasn’t enough, Cindy plucked another medal from the contest!

21230799_1316996651743114_8640255488860905993_nFlash Point by C.L. Schneider: Winner of the contest’s silver medal in the Adult – Fiction – Fantasy – Urban category. Flash Point was in my March Book Cover of the Month. I’ve read it. The review is actually scheduled to drop on this blog Wednesday. I didn’t read the book that won this category’s gold medal, but I’d stand behind how well Flash Point did. Flash Point is an urban fantasy with great mystery, action, and dragons. I’ve missed Dresden Files, and Flash Point filled that hole for me. Dahlia is a deeply complex character (a strength of Cindy’s). There are still four months left in the year, but this book is currently on my top three for the year.

These authors are wonderful people, and the books I’ve read are great. I expect Anaerfell to be equally enjoyable. Any time someone I care about gets credit or accomplishes something, I want to leap in the air an pump a fist. This is just blog version of that. If you haven’t tried these books out, add these awards to my firm recommendations.

Thanks for reading,
Matt

Writing Update: The Discovery Draft of Repressed is Done!

Writing Update: The Discovery Draft of Repressed is Done!
kaitlyn
All images are the intellectual property of M.L.S. Weech. Any reuse or distribution without his consent is a violation of copyright law.

I bring tidings of joy to all fans of my work! The discovery draft of my next book is done. I’ve made a few Facebook posts about the project, but now that I have something written, I can talk about the project a little more.

Repressed is a novella featuring Kaitlyn from Caught. It takes place three years after the events in Oneiros Book One. Below isn’t exactly the book blurb, it’s just a quick summary for my wonderful blog followers:

My name is Kaitlyn, and I have superpowers. No really, I’m an empath. About three years ago, I met some people, and well all have powers now. The five of us who survived the day we met, not all of us made it, live together. The thing is, they think that because I’m a teenager, I’m not ready to help them save the world.

* * *

When Kaitlyn decides to protect a new girl from bullies, she gets a taste for using her abilities and secret training like the heroes of the comics that she loves to read. But as she starts to do more, she learns her powers don’t work exactly the way she thought they did.  Things get even worse when she learns that hero work isn’t as easy as the comics make it seem. When hatred and ignorance come to a boil, Kaitlyn has to decide what it really means to be a hero, and her decision puts the lives of three other classmates at risk.

END SUMMARY

caught-front-coverThis isn’t the sequel to Caught.  If you need to position it in your mental timeline, consider it Oneiros 1.5. I wanted to do more (shorter, not short) fiction, and I also needed something to bridge the (even larger) gap between book one and book two in the actual trilogy. That, combined with my love for this character presented me with too many opportunities to pass up.

The biggest opportunity was for me to test myself, which I want to do with every project I take on. You’ve seen my reviews regarding YA novels (Here’s my last one in case you haven’t.) It’s not accurate to say I hate the genera, but I’m certainly not a big fan of some of the overused themes. A part of me felt that if I was going to stand here and talk about how much some of those themes bothered me, why not take a crack at the genre? It would force me to stretch, and resist some of what I think a lot of YA shortcuts. The main issue: the stupidity or ignorance of parents.

I see this too much in YA, and I didn’t want to fall victim to it, especially since four out of the five members of Oneiros are adults. So I took it upon myself to add that challenge to an already interesting plot. As if that weren’t enough, not only do I have to keep Sal and Kira working as loving, attentive parental figures (not to mention Dom, Brandon and Chris, who all have at least some brief appearances in this story), but they’re powerful psychics. That’s a challenge that I think I’ll have to do even more work on in subsequent drafts.

Why do this? Because one of the reasons I love writing is it’s always a challenge. I want this book to make me a better writer, and I want the next book to take me even further. Writing outside of my normal genre (if anyone accuses me of having one yet) does that for me. I don’t have any other plans to write YA in the future, but I still get to practice first person, and it opens the door for more in that world soon.

What does that mean for Oneiros? Well, I just don’t know when to stop. While there’re a few intense moments in Repressed (and even a few Caught easter eggs), this is a YA novel. In my opinion, if your main character is a 16-year-old girl, you’re writing a YA novel. Rather than fight it, I embraced it. My hope is the people who love Caught will appreciate seeing their favorite characters again as a way to tide them over until I finish books two and three. Also, this book sets the stage for one of the major points of conflict in book two. You see, Kira and Sal have very different ideas on how Kaitlyn should be raised. Those issues get touched on here, and they’re explored more in book two. We also get a sense for how truly powerful Kaitlyn is, and what that amount of power costs her.

SomethingAlwaysRemainsWhat’s next? Repressed is about 35,000 words at the moment. It’ll go in a digital drawer for at least two weeks. I like to step away from a project. It gives me time to separate my emotions from a project. I just finished it, and I feel like a genius. The reality is there are some things to work out and typical Matt issues to smooth away. I won’t be idle in that time. I’m hoping to have Sara’s edits on Bob Drifter back, and my main goal is to try and get the second edition out before I do another draft on Repressed. While I wait for that, I’m going to start looking at 1,200, a story about a homeless veteran who’s using his abilities to help other homeless vets keep their sanity, that is until a monster who feeds on magic shows up.  I still, ambitiously, would like to release Repressed, 1,200, Oneiros Book Two and Oneiros Book Three out in 2019. I’ll work on them with Oneiros being the top priority until they’re done. Having this draft done means I have at least one release already locked in for 2019, four to go. (Did I mention I also plan to release a few more novellas? Like I said, I don’t know when to stop.)

I hope my stories keep you all engaged the way my favorite authors keep me clamoring for more of their work. If that’s the case, I hope a post like this lets you know how committed I am to continue entertaining you.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

 

 

The Art of Writing vs The Business of Being an Author: A request for discussion.

The Art of Writing vs The Business of Being an Author: A request for discussion.

As I grow as a business man, I learn more about some of the decisions writers make, and I felt it was appropriate to discuss some of these issues in an open forum. I’m really just taking a few minutes to gain a sense as to what the rest of the community of authors out there thinks about a few things that have come up during conversations or conventions.

BobsGreatestMistakeThe Amazon formula: At Awesomecon, I spoke with a few authors about a practice that I find a bit underhanded. It’s one thing for an author to release segments of a book. One wise piece of advice I’ve heard about long-form authors is to release segments, and then release an omnibus book when everything is done. However, the more sly tool I’m opening for discussion is the habit some authors have of publishing a book. Amazon tracks “Hot New Releases” for 90 days. What some due (and it works for them, so how mad should I be), is then slap a new cover on the book and re-release it. Thus restarting that 90-day tracker and keeping the book appearing on the relevant pages. As I look at covers every day, I see this on occasion, and I hear about it more (admittedly more than I actually see it). The first topic of discussion is: Is this practice bad form or what it takes to get out there? What do you authors think about the practice as a whole an any who do it? What information do you have on the subject? (I have word of mouth and a few discussions here or there.)

Writing the story that’s in your head or the story that might earn you more: Having done more research now than I have, I understand just how small the Fantasy/Science Fiction audience really is. (Horror is that much smaller.) I have a few friends who jump at opportunity. I’ll be honest here. I don’t have any issues with writers sitting down and producing quality work for any reason. Getting other products out and bylines completed is a great strategy. I’ve had people loop me in on anthologies. I’ve only volunteered for one, and that was because I had the idea kicking around my head already. I can’t seem to write anything but the story playing out in my head. This is why Bob came out when it did, and was then followed by the much darker Caught. To be honest, it’s hard to keep my mind on Oneiros because Perception of War is playing like an X-D theater in my mind. Writing Kaitlyn’s short story has done a good job to help get the Oneiros juices flowing, which is one of the two major reasons I decided to make that my main project. I’m also aware that some genres simply sell better. I have friends that insist I’d be a best seller by now if I wrote romance. I’m not actually against any writer producing any quality work. I just don’t have a lot of “romance-specific” stories running around my head. Also, those novels are much tighter, fast-paced stories. I have to force my self to keep the word count down. How many of you struggle to write in a metaphorical box? This may mean you’re writing to try to satisfy an audience or produce a story for something for the sake of a byline. Again, I can’t stress enough how OK I am with it, I simply don’t have that ability. I have to write what’s in my mind and in my heart.

ElelefinalGetting Product Out in a Timely Manner: This leads me to the third topic (and I think I’ll stop here even though I could go on much more).  I love epic fantasy. Most of my projects are large. But it takes time to write 400,000 words (or even 100,000).  So when an idea for a shorter format story came to mind, I went at it. What this will do is something I feel is a financially beneficial decision to keep me in the lighter shades of red while I produce the deeper, wider-scoped stories I love most. I would’t be able to do this on the spot. Even Sojourn was a tangental project that was made harder for me because my mind wanted to focus on Images of Truth. The main reason I was able to work on it as quickly as I did was Elele is in both books.  This other world captured my fancy. The theory is I can do one “large” project a year (like Caught or 1,200), and one or two smaller projects. I’m holding off on releasing until I build a buffer of sorts that allows me to release product more frequently, but that’s the ideal pace for me. I still admit I don’t prefer this method at the moment. I like to work on a thing until it’s done (or the draft is done) and then step away to something else. Based on where I am with Oneiros and 1,200, my newer short-fiction saga (called Mercer in case you’re wondering) is what will be my “step away” project while I’m in between drafts of the Oneiros log (not to mention trying to get 1,200 out there).  The question here is, what is your ideal pace, and what do you all think is a solid “release” year?

I’d ask any author to comment below. If you could, please state what you have out and some record of where you are in terms of being a business author.  What are your thoughts on these topics? What works for you?

I thought this was a good chance just to open the doors to the community and get a dialogue  going on these subjects. If this goes well, I’ll make it an occasional post.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

More Art for upcoming projects!

More Art for upcoming projects!

Greetings all!

SomethingAlwaysRemainsOne wonderful thing about being an independent author is that it gives you creative control. I like control. (Mayhaps a little too much)  That control allows me to share what I love with people I love. I’ve mentioned a few times that Collin, the artist who did the cover art for all versions of The Journals of Bob Drifter, was my best friend in junior high. He’s still a dear friend to this day. My brother in law did the chapter icons for Bob.

That’s why the art I’m going to show you is particularly special to me. As and instructor, I see a lot of talent come and go through the course. Some want to be artists. Some want to make movies. Others even want to be writers, and I pride myself on looking for opportunities to help them.

Not too long ago, I met a young man who I thought well of. He’d been posting art on his social media page, and I knew I needed chapter icons, and I can only work my brother in law so hard. I could have asked Jessica, who did the chapter icons for Caught, but I want to share opportunities with people.

Matt Reynolds is a motivated young man, and a former student of mine, I was all too happy to talk about my idea with. He was happy for the challenge. I paid him the same fee I paid Jessica per image, and now I’m proud to present the chapter icon for Elele, the main character from Sojourn in Captivity.

 

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Art by Matthew Reynolds. Image owned by M.L.S. Weech. Any reuse or distribution without his consent is in violation of copyright law.

I first approached Matt in March of this year. As I said, I noticed he’d been posting some sort of new art on his social media page every day. I gave him two source images to use as inspiration, and he went to work. Three versions (and a total of five drafts) later, I have the image above to accompany the beginning of each chapter featuring Elele.

early-seferam
I’d kill to have a more updated image of Elele by now.

Elele is a Seferam, an alien race of the planet Orolon. To a human eye, Seferam all look pretty similar (if not identical). They’re black-skinned, with course black hair and large oval eyes. The thing is Seferam eyes are attuned differently to the electromagnetic spectrum (the same way Deer eyes are). They can see ultraviolet light. I came up with the idea while looking at some cool images of butterflies shot under UV light. That gave me the idea to have these creatures see that part of the spectrum. It’s how they identify one another.

Each Seferam has a unique pattern, called a Faline, on the front and back of their torso. The outer-most pattern (in this case the four teardrops you see) identifies one’s pod (or family). The inner-most pattern is unique to each Seferam. In this case, Elele has a seven-pedaled flower. Older Seferam (parents and grandparents) have more patterns between their family pattern and their individual pattern. Elele is a daughter, and she has no children, so she only has the two patterns. These patterns are based on fractal patterns I searched for and found visually appealing. I won’t share them because I found them online and was inspired by them, but I don’t own them or know who holds the rights.

Matt took those images and ran with them. I honestly love this image. I can’t thank him enough for putting in the work to create this, and I’m glad to give him credit as a work-for-hire artist.

Sojourn is finished by the way. The deadline for the other authors in the Slush Brain Anthology is Jan. 1, 2018. So you can expect Elele’s story to be out pretty soon that year. Please tell Matt what you think of the image. Young artists are amazing, and sometimes they just need a bit of exposure to get them the recognition they deserve.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Conventions from a Different Perspective: Shore Leave

Conventions from a Different Perspective: Shore Leave

Shore Leave was a few weekends ago, but I was a big backed up, and I wanted to do more than just update you on how it went (spoiler alert, it went well).

20245535_1081963961948376_2724749083115162963_nI met some great new readers.  Here’s a picture I took with a few. One was so kind, she continued to update me on where she was in the book each time I saw her. (She’d made it to Chapter 10 of Caught when I last saw her.) I’m happy to say I usually expect to sell enough books to make back what I paid for the table. This was true for Shore Leave as well. I even managed to get some autographs for my mom (she was a big Star Trek: The Next Generation fan).

I met several wonderful people at the panels I was on, two of whom (I happen to have their cards on my rat’s nest of a desk) were Kelli Fitzpatrick and Derek Tyler Attico. They weren’t the only people kind enough to let me hang with them during the panels, but I have their names handy, and I wanted to give them a shout out. Andrew Hiller was also just a few tables down from mine, and having him to chat with on occasion is always a good time. He was the one who gave me the opportunity to sit on panels he was unable to attend.

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All stock imagery from Pixabay.

I’m still working and learning when it comes to actually selling my books, but one of the things I like to do is peel back the curtain sometimes. You have to have a lot of conviction to just be a writer. Creating a book and revising it until it’s ready to publish is a mission of faith all by itself, but then putting yourself out there can be daunting. Remember, I’ve said conventions are my number one way to generate sales.

True though it may be, one still has to be willing to put himself out there again and again.  To help put it into perspective, I had a thought and acted on it (a bad habit of mine).

I decided to start tracking statistics.

I did that so people planning to do conventions knew that getting a table can work and be fun, but you have to be willing to work at it.

How I work. People are wonderful, and I think of them as compassionate people that are, at the very least, interested in the same things I’m interested in. Marketers (Steve, help me out here if I’m off) call this the funnel process, but I think of my process more like a series of doors.

Bob&Caught_Teaser Card FrontEvery person who walks by receives a little handout from me. People like cool, free things. I have cool chapter icons and covers, so I hand them out. When I do so, I simply say, “If you have a moment, I’d love to talk to you about my work.” That’s door number one.

When a person tells me they’re interested, I give them the pitch to each book. Then I tell them the sale I’m having (I always have a sale of some sort during a convention). That’s door number two.

If people like the pitch, I put whichever book in which they’re interested in their hand. That’s door number three.  If reading the first few pages doesn’t grab them, they probably say thanks but no thanks.

Every now and again, they show some level of interest. That’s usually when I direct them to door number four. I tell them about the electronic versions of my books and tell them about whatever e-sales I’m running. A great number of my online sales come from this.  I can’t get the numbers for The Journals of Bob Drifter yet, but I sold eight more copies of Caught in this manner.)  Yes, I want to make money, but what I want more is for people to like and enjoy my work. I don’t care if they buy the 99-cent (when it’s on sale) version of Caught, the free (with an credit) Audible version of Bob , or whatever. I write stories for people to enjoy, and I consider it my job to give them every option to choose from.

The thing is, it’s pretty daunting to hand out that many cards or book covers just hoping someone’s willing to give you a bit more time.

That’s when I decided to just keep count:

The first time I tracked it, I handed out seven book covers before someone listened to my pitch. The good news is, that person bought my book.

The next time, I handed out 12 bookmarks and gave five pitches before someone bought a book.  Sound pretty rough? Well, I don’t think 1-out-of-12 is all that bad myself. I’d actually be thrilled if that were the case.

broken-1739128_960_720I had to hand out 74 book covers and give 15 more pitches before I sold my next book. I won’t like folks, that was a pretty epic sledgehammer to my confidence.  I had that “I’m the nerdy kid at a junior high dance” feeling. I kept at it. Why? Well, for  one, what else was I going to do? Also, you’re going to get a lot of rejection and doubt in this field. You, frankly, need to be willing to fight through it.

The next time was a bit easier. I handed out 29 book covers and gave five pitches. Believe it or not, that fifth pitch sold two books.

Average it up and it took me about 31 book marks and seven pitches to generate one sale.   I don’t know what other authors do (and I’d be curious to hear about it in the comments below), but that’s actually a pretty good day for me. I would have done much better had I not left about 20 editions of Caught on the convention floor at AwesomeCon. (Just left them there. I completely forgot them.) For one, Caught was much more in demand at Shore Leave than it was at AwesomeCon (different audience). Also, bundling my two books as a deal tends to generate a few extra sales. Learning that made me want to crawl in a hole and cry for a while, but I had things to do.

I don’t consider myself super aggressive or even remotely aggressive. I try to be friendly, and I only communicate with people I think are at least willing to talk to me. My point is, you have to put yourself out there. I don’t think of it as 116 people didn’t want my book. That sort of thinking is poisonous. I considered each person I spoke to a new acquaintance made. Each sale was a victory in and of itself. If those sales result in good reviews, that’s all the more awesome sauce for my cool-guy taco.

music-545770_960_720So if you’re at an event, and you start to feel like that poor junior high kid who bought a brand new pocket protector just for this dance, get out on the floor and shake your tail feathers. Remember you love what you do, and you like people. The ones who get up and dance with you will be all the more special for it.

Thanks for reading,
Matt