I met Cathey at AwesomeCon a few years ago (probably my first year as an official author), and she’s been one of my most stalwart supporters since.
This review actually has some opportunity, as Cathey asked a few questions (not bluntly, but the questions were implied, so I felt the need to answer.)
Was I/am I influenced by Matrix, Edge of Tomorrow, The Sixth Sense, Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb, and/or Metallica’s Enter Sandman.
The short answer is no, none of those stories directly influenced (at least not consciously) any of those stories, but I am a fan of many, so I’d like to take the time to speak about them.
The Matrix: This movie was one I went to see because I had already developed a habit of seeing movies every weekend. Honestly, by that point, it was the only movie I hadn’t seen. I was one of ten or so people in the theater, and by the third time I saw it, the line was enormous. This original movie (I have entirely different opinions on the sequels), struck me because of it’s visual breakthroughs and clever concept. It took the hero’s origin story to a new place. While The Matrix didn’t directly influence Caught, it did teach me that great stories are often re-imaginings of old concepts.
The Edge of Tomorrow and Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb: I must admit I’ve never seen the movie, and I’ve never been a huge fan of Pink Floyd. I don’t hate them or anything, they just never make it into my playlists.
The Sixth Sense: The plot twist for Caught is something I felt particularly happy with, and the responses from readers validate that feeling. To have someone mention Caught with a story with that great a plot twist is simply humbling. The trick, however, was what The Sixth Sense taught me in instinct, and Brandon Sanderson explained in a simple phrase: “I want my readers to realize what’s happening just before they turn the page to read what’s happening.”
The biggest payoff for me when watching The Sixth Sense was as the big reveal was coming, and I realized it just as it happened. I call this the, “I should have known!” moment. Whenever I have a plot twist, I aspire to create that feeling. Honestly, I think Cathey gives me too much credit here. This implied comparison is probably the highest compliment I’ve gotten for Caught since it’s been published.
Metallica’s Enter Sandman: The nightmare sequences are what I imagine brought this comparison. When the song first came out, I didn’t like it. It was a bit dark for me. As I grew, I gained appreciation for the band and that song in particular. The visuals in the video and driving beat of the song would, in my opinion, make a great edition to a soundtrack if Caught were ever made into a movie. (Netflix, I’m waiting for your call!) I honestly hadn’t given the song much thought, but once I saw it in this review, I realized how fair the comparison is. Alas, if the question was did I consider this song while writing Caught, I’m afraid not.
I loved having a review this complete and thought provoking. I’d love to respond to more musings and theories about Caught or other stories in the Oneiros Log. (Remember Repressed goes live Jan. 1!)
Cathey was honestly so kind in her review, and I can’t thank her enough.
Thank you all for support like this. It makes the tough times something I can endure.
Last week was a whirlwind for me a in a lot of ways. But for those interested in marketing and for those interested in my life as an author, I thought it’d be nice to simply give a look at the results for my giveaway.
I knew I had Bob’s Greatest Mistake coming out (it’s out now, and still 99 cents until May 15). I wanted to get Bob some visibility, and I knew this option from KDP was available. When I do anything, I like to have reasonable expectations. I also want clear, measurable goals.
Get Bob on the top 100 list.
Get at least 100 downloads.
Get 25 reviews.
Getting Bob on the top 100 list for his category gains the visibility I wanted. The more I can get Bob in front of viewers, the more likely it is someone will give him a chance. Giving copies away now and getting him on that list could gain those I call loyal readers.
Knowing how many followers I have on various social media, Choosing a small fraction of that number (about 10 percent), I felt was reasonable. It still meant there were people at least rooting for me and willing to help out. If those downloads become reads, that’s even better. But…
…. if those reads become reviews, now we’re talking. If I earn 25 reviews on Amazon, first, it means 25 more people actually read my book, which is awesome! Also, This gets me more visibility on Amazon. This number should be enough to start getting Amazon to recommend it to other readers.
Bob made it as high as #31 on Amazon’s Free Paranormal Thrillers category! Honestly, Bob’s never sniffed a ranking that high before. This achievement alone would be enough to consider this campaign a huge success, but it didn’t end there.
I had 140 downloads for Bob. For those who read this post, I offered little demonstrations of appreciation for each benchmark, and we hit 100. Not quite enough for a karaoke song, but still, so many people turned up to give Bob some love! This puts me past the 500 mark in terms of “sold” books. Sure, they were free, but at the end of the day, people picked my book. There are lots of free books out there in the world, and you all chose to give mine a try. That matters. I appreciate it! It means the world to me. I even sold a few copies of Bob’s Greatest Mistake and Caught. Again, even if this was all that happened, I’d call this a huge win. That said, the 100 copies people picked up in five days was more than 1/4 of the books I’d sold in the last three years. Like I said, success!
It’s too early honestly to talk about reviews. While I did post a review that appeared during the giveaway, I’m not convinced that copy was downloaded during that this. I’m pretty sure that was an individual who bought the book earlier and finished it in a very timely manner. If I hit that 25 review benchmark, it would be the first time I’d run a campaign of any sort and had remotely this level of success. I’m eagerly refreshing the page and looking for reviews, but I still think it might be a tad early for anything to come up just yet. This is even more likely if anyone is as remotely loyal to their TBR as I am. Sure, Brandon Sanderson has automatic head-of-the-line privileges in my TBR, but everyone else has to wait their turn.
I’m still in awe of your support. I’ve been at this for a tad more than three years. The blog’s been going for a bit more than a year (I think). It’s just amazing to see how far it’s come and how willing you all are to lend a hand. I can’t repay it. I can’t thank you enough, and there aren’t enough words to express my gratitude anyway. I can only hope that I continue to post content you’re interested in and write stories you love. I hope you enjoy the first part of Bob’s journey as much as I do.
If you have any questions on logistics, feel free to ask in the comments. For now, I just wanted to sing the praises of a successful campaign.
I came home from work yesterday to a wonderful surprise. I have a new 5-Star review for Caught on Goodreads. I’m always grateful for reviews of any type. Feedback is how authors get better. That said, when those reviews are positive and with a bunch of starts, well, that makes my day! Check out the review here to see what one reader thought of the new book!
I’m just stunned typing those words. I’ll ask you to bare with me as I’m simply musing right now, and my fingers happen to be over a keyboard.
I’m weird. There’s no arguing that point. I think the thing that made me feel most odd was that I’ve always known what I want to be. I remember talking with Collin Fogel, the cover artist for Bob, about the stories we would tell. We were in junior high. I remember role playing with my friends Sean and Ben, who later became my best friend and then my brother-in-law (though we’ve considered each other brothers before I even gave my sister away at the wedding).
All my life I felt weird because everyone talked about how they didn’t know what they wanted to do. I was always like, “Dude, I’ve wanted to do this since I was 8.”
On the second anniversary of this wonderful occasion, I want to talk about Bob (the book). Bob started out as a short story that no one wanted to publish. I’d put it aside to write something new because that’s sort of how I work. One day, me and Ben were talking (I never shut up around him). I mentioned off hand that I always thought it would be cool if the “every day normal” version of a grim reaper had to fight the “big and scary ‘IT’S YOUR TIME'” version of death. I think I said, “I always saw them eventually fighting.”
Ben, in his infinite wisdom said, “Dude, you have to write that book.”
So what inspired the original short story?
The first (of two) reason was in fact, Drew. In the book or in real life, Drew was pretty much a center piece of the family. He was getting on in years. Some days I’d go upstairs and sleep next to him just to keep him company (he was usually just waiting for my dad). Drew was a member of the family. Now, I’ll never argue whose dog he was. That dog loved my dad, and my dad loved him. But the credit for picking that dog goes to yours truly. (While I’m being arrogant, I’d like to point out I have this odd habit of paring things that belong together. Trust me on this, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.)
My sister and I finally got permission to buy a dog, and we went to the local pound. I will never forget that day as long as I live. We were roaming the cages looking at these dogs. In one cage, was this knee-high dog who seemed to want to kill us. We passed a cage and saw another dog who took one look at us and immediately wet the floor. I took a step back and saw this little, brown cocker spaniel. I am not lying. He looked to his left, looked to his right, then looked right at me as if to say, “You’re seriously thinking about one of these two?”
We picked him, named him, and took him in the car. (Yes…he pooped in my car, but I got over it. He was actually a very loyal traveling companion.)
There’s a bit of debate in the family over where his name came from. You see, I fancy myself a football guru. In those days, there were two quarterbacks at the top of their game: A young Brett Favre and Drew Bledsoe.
Yeah, the name Drew was on my mind, but for the record, I have been and will ever be a 49ers fan. So, to put a long-time family discussion to rest: Yes, I liked the name Drew, and I first gave it thought because of the Patriots quarterback. (Note: This was well before the Tuck Rule and the soon-after hatred I bear for that organization.) But Drew just sort of was. He was never a Fido or Barkey. He was never a dog. He ate what we ate. He went were we went (I mean traveled…he pooped outside after that one time in the car). He was a member of the family. So when I sat down to write about what it must be like for someone who has to watch death, I thought about the relationships and what we lose when people die. I wanted to feel like some parts of us always remain.
Which brings me to my second reason:
Well, I won’t get too deep. It’s been nearly 20 years, but it’s still a bit hard to talk about. My family’s seen some rather hard times. I’m not trying to compare our troubles to others, only speak on how our troubles affected me. There were some very special people in my life that I had to say goodbye to. I won’t go into the details because I’m a private person, and not all of this information is simply mine to tell. But watching those people leave my life ripped a part of myself away. That pain found its way into Bob’s story. These people didn’t die. They simply had to leave.
So as I wrote the full version of Bob, I realized what I was writing about. Inevitably, you have to say goodbye to the people you love. Being in the military, I’ve done that quite a number of times. If anyone’s figured out how to make it hurt less, they’re smarter than I am. It hurts. Every time. Moving, deploying, death. It just fucking hurts. What I wanted was a little way for me to feel like some part of them is with me, and some part of me is with them.
Why am I saying this now? Well…because sometimes, the people we miss actually come back. Last year, when Bob was but a mere “new release” one of those people I had to say goodbye to and I reconnected. This individual had a nickname for me, and the first words the person asked were if that nickname was still approrpriate.
I only cried a bit more than I am as I type this.
You see…I’m weird. I’ve know what I wanted my whole life, and I can say my dream came true. I have new goals to pursue, and WAY more to learn about this dream occupation of mine, but I also know the happiest time in my life. It’s not any one time. It wasn’t JUST that night when I got that Facebook message. It was all the times I felt a bond form that I knew nothing would break. I remember the first time, the first WORDS I ever read to The Junior (Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, she was 1 night old). I remember teaching The Boy his first Jutsu (The Transformation Jutsu. Now he uses it to hide and ambush you with tickles. Listen, I like Anime, and a young man needs to learn his techniques). I remember the MOMENT Ben became my best friend (We were talking about a particular day on the bus, and how he was ready to stand up for me). I remember climbing trees with Collin.
I could go on forever. And that’s the point of Bob. Life goes on. The human soul, in whatever form you think of it, never goes away. It actually grows. I believe our souls grow each time we form a bond with someone new. Those bonds never break. Even the mortal limits of existence can’t erase a person, and that’s special.
So I created Bob. This guy who has the honor to take that essence of what makes us special and Pass On those memories to others, so that we never really leave.
I want to take the chance to thank all of those who’ve read it. Thank you for reading. Thank you for reviewing it. Thank you for showing interest in my work. I’ll never pretend that I don’t throw myself (figuratively) into my work. I do. Ever book I write has some part of myself in it. That’s because writing is just another form of sharing one’s soul with the world. Thank you for allowing me to share that part of my soul with you.
Happy birthday, Bob. I shall always strive to live because that’s the point of life.