Writing Update: The Developmental Draft of Stealing Freedom is Done! A Call for Beta Readers

Writing Update: The Developmental Draft of Stealing Freedom is Done! A Call for Beta Readers

Greetings all,

What the heck is Stealing Freedom? Ok, I just changed the name of Worth of Words. You see, with The Power of Words anthology a full go, I felt the title was just a bit too similar and, honestly, presumptuous.  This anthology has four fantastic stories, and I don’t want readers to feel like there’s one story with three others, but four stories that match one important theme.

As usual, the next draft is a beta draft.  This means I’m wondering if anyone would like to read a free story and provide some feedback.

If you’re  a fan of speculative scifi and you like a good heist story, you’re exactly who I’m looking for.

Power of Words Cover_FRONTHere’s a blurb if you’re interested:

In the year 3753 on the planet of Leznova, all forms of communication are extremely regulated. Drones patrol the skies, seeking out gestures and expressions, executing punishments to any who violate the Communication Act of 3748. Every person over the age of 7 is fitted with Communications Monitor Collars, which send progressively stronger jolts of electricity into any who speak without permission. Should any wish to speak, they must purchase words at increasingly higher fees.

Ardelia Sabine wants it all to stop. She’s simply a mother who doesn’t want her daughter to be forced to stay silent. Formerly a monitor, a police investigator, she’s developed a plan to corrupt the server that regulates the policy and keeps the world silent. She leads a team of brilliant criminals, one of whom is the man she married after capturing him ten years ago. This band of thieves, led by one who used to chase them, must get into the most guarded server room on the planet. They do so knowing it isn’t likely they’ll all survive the effort. To make matters worse, a rival from Ardelia’s past seeks to make an example of her and her betrayal of the monitors. He’s fixated on stopping her, and he’s confident he’s already derailed the most critical part of her scheme.

END BLURB

What I need. I have a form that I send beta readers asking them to rate a group of categories for each chapter or segment of the book.  I’m asking readers to get feedback to my by June 1. I’m anxious to get the anthology finished and laid out so I can get it published by Oct. 1. I’d need your help to do that. I will say that both my alpha readers and my editor both had some wonderfully nice things to say about the story. I’m obviously biased, but I think this is a real treat if you like the above stories.

Please feel free to email me if you’re interested.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

 

Writing Update: I’ve finished the Alpha Draft of The Worth of Words

Writing Update: I’ve finished the Alpha Draft of The Worth of Words

Power of Words Cover_FRONTGreetings all,

I’m happy to report I’ve finished another draft of The Worth of Words.  I’d like to take a quick moment to thank my Alpha Readers: Ben Duke, Grace, and Eduardo. Your feedback was invaluable, and I’m so glad you all liked this version. Your input made it possible to take this story one step closer to being what it needs to be.

I’m awestruck with WoW. It’s a thrill to see where I was and where I am now, and stories like this help me feel like I’m on a level I hadn’t previously reached in my time being published. When I get the story out, I hope you all feel the same way I do about it.

I’ll send WoW off to Sara for a developmental edit. In the meantime, I have two new submissions for The Power of Words anthology to edit and make a decision on. I also have another draft of a previously signed author’s contribution. That’s how I hope most of February goes. I’d like to get the Beta Draft of Repressed done by the end of March.  If I maintain this pace, I should be working on Betrayed (Oneiros Book Two) in June. I’ll step away for the anthology, but there won’t be that much more once I select the last few authors and start layout and design. If you’re still interested in contributing, please feel free to send a submission. I won’t close submissions until I’m ready to go into layout and design.

I just wanted you all to have a quick glimpse regarding where I’m at in this passionate pursuit of mine. I hope to have one of my usual book reviews up next week, but the timing worked out to put this update on Wednesday.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Three Authors Confirmed! The Power of Words anthology is taking shape!

Three Authors Confirmed! The Power of Words anthology is taking shape!

Power of Words Cover_FRONTGreetings all,

There’s only one month left till the (hopefully final) deadline for The Power of Words update. If you’re interested and want to know the requirements and submission method,  please feel free to click here or just send me an email.

I did have a chance to review the submissions that were sent in so far, so I’m happy to announce that three authors have been confirmed for the anthology!

The contributors so far are:

TW Iain:

Here’s his bio. Writing is an escape, and an outlet.
The job, the family, the things that make up a normal life — these are no place for wild, dark ideas. And so, in the quieter moments, TW Iain emerges. He taps away on a laptop, or on a phone, sometimes at a ridiculously early time in the morning, and gives these ideas their freedom. When he’s not writing, he’s lurking in the shadows, thinking about the next story.
Maybe he’s always existed, in the school-boy who filled exercise books with stories. Maybe he was there one winter, when a first novel emerged around shifts at a four mill (a first novel, like many, that does not deserve to see the light of day). Maybe. But he came to the fore at the start of 2015, and work on these stories became serious.
Since then, TW has published three novels and other shorter works in the Dominions series of dark Dystopian thrillers, and the first novel in a new sci-fi/horror series, Shadows. He also posts a free short story every fortnight on twiain.com.
31A2xkYb5aL._UX250_
Image taken from TW Iain’s Amazon Author Page.

TW’s story is called Ghost Stream.  Here’s a summary:

In the Citadel, everyone listens to the Voices, and it is Cass’ job to monitor this, swimming in their streams. But then she stumbles upon the mythical ghost stream, and discovers how this can be used to influence the Voices. With attacks to the north, and a silent protest in the heart of the Citadel, those above her are not happy. And when she works out how to add her own voice to the ghost stream, she knows they are after her.
But is staying silent ever an option?

 

You may recognize the name.  His book Expedient was featured in one of my Book Cover of the Month brackets. So I was just thrilled when he sent a submission. His story went straight to the theme of the anthology. I was excited to read the submission, and I’m happy to say I just received his revisions.

Richard T. Drake:

Here’s his bio. Richard T. Drake is the author of the Hollow World series of Epic Fantasy novels.

At age seven, in the dungeon-library of his 19th-century boarding school, Richard discovered the classic fantasy gamebook The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and became so lost within the infamous ‘Maze of Zagor’ that he needed to draw a map to find his way out. His love of epic adventure and fantasy has been growing ever since.

Author-Photo-1080-PX-1024x683
Image taken from Richard T. Drake’s website.

He graduated from gamebooks to tabletop role-playing where, as game master, he would invent worlds, draw maps, and weave adventures for his friends. As heroes fell and legends grew, Richard discovered a love of epic storytelling.

Over the next few years, he set to work crafting an original fantasy universe, envisioning a vast array of planets and galaxies bound together by powerful magic, ancient covenants, and the schemes of primordial gods. Finally, the Hollow World was born.

When he isn’t writing, Richard keeps busy with the other staples of a heroic fantasy lifestyle: dressing up in superhero costumes, playing MMORPGs, and collecting an absurd number of action figures and comic books. He’s also a black belt ninja.

You can learn more about him and his work at www.richardtdrake.com.

His submission is called Catalin’s Gambit. Here’s a summary:

In a shadowy tavern in the slums of Syrentium, one meeting will decide the fate of the city.

Catalin Ruic, a young woman raised in the throat-cutting alleys of the docklands, is about to come face to face with the most powerful and dangerous man in the Circle of Kingdoms.

Her plan goes beyond bravery; it is practically suicide.

But the stakes are too high for half measures. Catalin is the last protector of the lives of her people, and perhaps the very soul of Syrentium.

This is a clever negotiation story I felt had great tension and conflict. It’s clever because lots of authors use fighting for tension. It takes a lot of skill to build tension in a simple conversation. Richard has done that. He’s currently working on revisions based on my initial feedback.

Heidi Angell:

This is particularly awesome as Heidi is a friend of mine I met during my online adventures as an author. She and I did a few panels together, and I’m pretty sure she’s a mind reader. We don’t really disagree on much. She heard about the anthology and was kind enough to send the first book in a new series she’s working on. She’s someone I respect enormously, and I’m honestly flattered she decided to join in on the fun.

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Image taken from Heidi Angell’s website.

Here’s her bio. Heidi Angell is a bibliophile, lexicomaniac and wordsmith. She is the author of The Hunters Saga, The Clear Angel Chronicles, The Hell School Series and Survivalist Bible series releasing Fall 2017. She also created Royal Prince Vince, Creative Exercises to Inspire, and A Penslinger’s Ponderings. When she is not reading and writing, she can be found spending quality time with her family. You can learn more about her and her work here.

Her story, Survivalist Bible – Genesis, is a fun zombie outbreak tale. Where most zombie stories feature people who are ironically suited for such things, her story features a character with no business surviving such an event. What does it have to do with words? Well, our square-peg-in-a-round-hole main character is writing a journal of events for others to reference in order to survive. This is more in line with the prompt of the title than the First Amendment, but that’s just fine. It fits the theme.

Here’s a summary:

Gabriel Llewellyn is a writer. He’d like to be happily wooing women during the off hours of a writing conference. Instead he’s leaping out of windows and fighting off people who’ve suddenly decided to tear apart anyone near by. However it’s happened, he’s left a message in hopes that people will be able to look back at these events and remember. His first words are:

Hello, 

My name is Gabriel Llewellyn. If you are reading this, then I am probably dead. Or infected. Or maybe I dropped it while fleeing the infected. I suppose it is hard to say. I hope it’s the latter. 

He’s not suited for survival in this world, but someone comes along to help him survive every time he’s supposed to end up dead, but how many times can he be saved before he has to step up?


I’ve already talked about my contribution here. I’ve already had a few alpha readers get back to me, and I’m pleased to say they liked it.

That makes four stories so far. I’ve had a few people reach out to me and say they intended to submit. I’ve had some stories I just didn’t feel were right for the project. My intention is to select four more stories, so please feel free to send in something if you think it fits the theme. I’d love to see it.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

Writing Update: The First Draft of The Worth of Words is finished! A Call for Alpha Readers

Writing Update: The First Draft of The Worth of Words is finished! A Call for Alpha Readers

Greetings all,

I’m happy to report I’ve finished the first draft of The Worth of Words! Technically speaking, this is actually the second draft, but this is the first draft I actually let other human beings look at.

That means I’m looking for alpha readers.

Worth of Words is essentially a science fiction heist story.

Power of Words Cover_FRONTHere’s a blurb for the story:

In the year 3753 on the planet of Leznova, all forms of communication are extremely regulated. Drones patrol the skies, seeking out gestures and expressions, executing punishments to any who violate the Communication Act of 3748. Every person over the age of 7 is fitted with Communications Monitor Collars, which send progressively stronger jolts of electricity into any who speak without permission. Should any wish to speak, they must purchase words at increasingly higher fees.

Ardelia Sabine wants it all to stop. She’s simply a mother who doesn’t want her daughter to be forced to stay silent. Formerly a monitor, a police investigator, she’s developed a plan to corrupt the server that regulates the policy and keeps the world silent. She leads a team of brilliant criminals, one of whom is the man she married after capturing him ten years ago. This band of thieves, led by one who used to chase them, must get into the most guarded server room on the planet. They do so knowing it isn’t likely they’ll all survive the effort. To make matters worse, a rival from Ardelia’s past seeks to make an example of her and her betrayal of the monitors. He’s fixated on stopping her, and he’s confident he’s already derailed the most critical part of her scheme.

END BLURB

As with all alpha drafts, what I’m looking for most are people who will point out plot holes and inconsistencies. I’d be very grateful for anyone with experience in writing heist stories. I’d also appreciate anyone who understands hacking to any degree, as one of the characters in the story is supposed to be a renown hacker, and I’d like to avoid looking foolish.

I’d like about 10 alpha readers. If you’re interested, please email me. I’d like to receive feedback by Jan. 5. I’ll be working on a new draft of Repressed by then, but I’d like to jump right back into Worth of Words once I finish those revisions.

I’m honestly very proud of this story. I’ve been talking about this as well as The Power of Words, the anthology this story inspired, for about two months now. I honestly believe the Holy Spirit filled me as I crafted this story. I had the idea, and once I did, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t think about anything else until I started writing it. Then, once I started, I finished this project (20,000 words) in a very short period of time (I think it might have been less than a week).

150922-N-PJ310-002I teach journalism. I believe in speech and the protection of the people’s right to speak freely. This story was inspired by the fear of what would happen if people in power began to think the answer to problems is limiting speech.

So what’s next for me? Well, the editorial comments on Repressed aren’t due for a few more weeks. My next priority will be reading the other contributions for The Power of Words. I’ll be making my own editorial comments on those four stories and working with other authors who volunteer to be part of the anthology.

As always, I’m thrilled to know there are so many people who are interested in my work. Each story I finish feels like its own reward, but knowing there are people who are as excited about these stories as I am is a whole new level of euphoria. Thank you.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

A Power of Words Update! A deadline extension

A Power of Words Update! A deadline extension

Power of Words Cover_FRONTGreetings all,

It’s Dec. 1 (as I type this) and that means the deadline for The Power of Words has come and gone. I’d like to update everyone on where things are.

At this moment, I’ve had four submissions. Those submissions as well as my own story  add up to about 58,000 words. I have not had a chance to get to read any of the contributions. I’d always intended to start looking at them once the deadline passed. However, I feel the best course of action here is to extend the deadline.

My reasons:

Simple value. A print edition of a work only consisting of 58,000 words isn’t quite sufficient as a stand alone in my opinion. Anthologies I’ve seen usually have quite a lot more. I’d always intended to have eight total stories, and if I receive three more submissions, that should get the book to a size where the cost of printing and production are more appropriate.

Readers demand more. Anthologies are about giving the readers a diverse set of quality stories. I love reading them specifically because they introduce me to new authors I might not otherwise try.  I don’t tend to buy anthologies that only have a handful of authors because I want to meet a lot of authors.

Finally, I still believe in this with my whole heart. I feel strongly that others out there will find inspiration as well. My hope is more time will let others participate.

constitution-62943__340So, for those reasons, I’m going to extend the deadline for The Power of Words to Jan. 31. This will allow authors who want to participate to work on their stories. While I write every day, I am aware of the holiday season. This means travel. I want to make sure authors can work in a reasonable timeline. I will begin reading the other contributions and contacting those authors regarding this extension. I’m hopeful they feel as I do that the anthology should happen, and it should contain quality stories from at least eight authors.

In regard to how to progress from there, I think I’ll present some options to the other authors regarding the rest of the process (additional edits, work-shopping). I’ll consider it more as I contact those who’ve already submitted. I’ll post another update once I’ve reached out them.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

 

Some Questions Regarding The Power of Words Anthology

Some Questions Regarding The Power of Words Anthology

Power of Words Cover_FRONTGreetings all,

The deadline for The Power of Words anthology is approaching. I’ve received some submissions, but I don’t have seven, and I’d certainly like more to choose from. So what I thought I’d do is ask a few questions.

How many of you are actively working on a submission? You may email me or even comment below. This is a project I’m truly inspired by, but I’d like to know just how many people are working to participate.

The above question is the one that matters most. If only a few of us are interested, then those who’ve shown interest can discuss the best way to move forward. However, if more of you are interested, there may be some other factors. So, if there are more of you interested …

Will you be able to meet the Nov. 30 deadline, or do you need more time? I want this project to be successful for all related parties. I don’t want to rush anyone; however, I also don’t want to simply work with the “I’ll finish eventually” timeline. So if you do need more time, I guess the next logical question is how much more time do you need?

In my previous update, I wasn’t too worried about the number of submissions because I expected to receive the bulk of the contributions right around this period. Now, as the deadline approaches, I’m concerned that there just might not be that much interest. This is fine. Those of you reading this who are authors might have projects of your own you’re trying to pursue.

That’s why I felt it appropriate to send out a feeler and see what else might be out there. For those of you who have submitted, I promise I’m still hoping to do the anthology. Some who’ve submitted are authors I’ve already learned about through other projects and blogs. That’s amazing!

It’s still my intent to communicate with all who’ve submitted on the way forward. I feel strongly that eight stories is the minimum number for an anthology, but that’s just a personal sense. Regardless, I’ll send word with the situation and options once I learn more from this post and once the deadline passes.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Writing Update: The Alpha Draft of Repressed is finished!

Writing Update: The Alpha Draft of Repressed is finished!

Greetings all,

kaitlynAs the title indicates, I met my goal and finished this draft of Repressed. I’m happy with how it turned out. Before I go over some administrative notes, I want to make sure I thank my Alpha Readers.

First is Ben. He’s always first. He’s my best friend, and reads every first draft I throw his way, even while working a full-time job and helping my sister raise two wonderful, but active, children. Well…the Senior is all grown up, but I digress. Ben pointed out a few of the logistical conundrums this story had, and offered some advice I’ll account for when the book is completely finished.

Next is Grace, who I met at a convention. She liked Caught and wanted more. She was kind enough to not only send some general comments, but she also sent a document that highlighted some of the more egregious typos. She could have just sent an email, but she took time out of her life to give something I wrote a degree of detail I felt was above and beyond. I can’t thank her enough.

Whenever I write something, I try to stretch my abilities.  I knew that since this book featured Kaitlyn, who’s 16 at the time of this story, the novella would fall into the YA category, which I’m honestly not a huge fan of. But art and entertainment can do so many wonderful things. I’ve always believed that not liking a person or thing has more to do with understanding it than it being bad. So trying to write this story was a way of approach the genre. However, I’m not going to pretend I know everything about everything. I reached out to the Slush Brain, and Chess DeSalls answered the call. She was my “YA” expert, and I was very happy with her feedback. She’s a successful YA author, and I’ve even reviewed one of her books.

caught-front-coverPeggy has not only read every book I’ve published, she’s also helped me sell more books than anyone else. She read my call for alpha readers, and decided to get some advanced reading done. Peggy, Grace, and Ben were particularly helpful because they’ve all read Caught, which I’m honored to say spent a few days on the Top 100 for its category (psychics) for a few days this weekend, and I was very concerned about keeping these elements together.

The reality is anyone can write up a book and get it published. I don’t want to just throw crap on the digital wall. I want stories that inspire and entertain. I want to write stories people enjoy. These alpha and beta (two drafts away) readers are critical to making that happen. They provide honest, direct feedback that lets me make the stories better.  I can’t do this without them.  Thank you!

So what’s next? Well, I’m going to take the rest of this weekend to watch football and read Oathbringer (probably not the whole book, but a LOT).

Monday, I’ll begin the First Draft of The Worth of Words, my contribution to The Power of Words anthology (Happy to report I’ve received yet another submission by the way). I’ll update you all via Twitter and Facebook on my progress there. Sara and I have began talking about how long she’ll need for developmental edits. If I finish the First Draft of The Worth of Words, I’ll start world building and outlining Betrayed (Oneiros Book 2).

That’s what I’ll be up to through December. Again, I want you all to know what a blessing it is to have anyone even remotely interested in my ramblings. It’s amazing! I’ll keep working hard to believe blogs you enjoy and books you can’t put down. As always…

Thanks for reading,
Matt