Still Taking It A Bit Easy

Still Taking It A Bit Easy

Greetings all,

In terms of an update, I’m somewhere around twenty-five percent through the First Draft of Discovered. However the last two weeks have been pretty tough. By God’s grace, I’ve been protected from COVID, but I’ve wanted to support my wife and kids. This means that my writing and marketing time is what it’s always been, but the blogging energy is low. So I’m asking for a few more days of patience.

You’ll see a Testimony post tomorrow, and I’ll update the Book Cover of the Month bracket, but I just wanted to use this post to say I’m ramping up. That means this post doesn’t have much in the way of content, but I didn’t want to just ghost, which I did by skipping Wednesday’s book review, and I’m sorry for that.

I should be back to my regular schedule starting tomorrow.

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for reading,

Matt

The 2022 State of the Weech

The 2022 State of the Weech

Greetings all,

Welcome to year five of my eight-year commitment to go all in on becoming a successful author businessman. This is my fourth annual State of the Weech, where I talk about how the previous year went and talk about my plans for 2022.

The most important thing I did during 2021 was improve my marketing. I’ll talk about Hazel more in a moment, but without Hazel, I went from being pleasantly surprised I sold a book to regularly selling nine books a month. I’m convinced that this path is a good one. No, it’s not a fast track, but most good things aren’t “overnight” things. Steady effort in a solid direction usually yields good results, and I’m happy with what one year or so of effort has brought.

I released Betrayed. It didn’t have the response I was hoping for, but without being able to go to conventions, it’s hard to get word out. What I know is that anyone who’s said anything about it loved it, which is encouraging.

Then there’s Hazel. Now that was a success! Currently, Hazel sells about 38 copies a month. I expect that to calm a little. I tend to sell a lot of a book early, and then things die down. However, I’d be happy if Hazel continued to move at this pace. I know Collin and I appreciate every single one of you who’ve tried it.

I managed to finish the discovery draft of Discovered, the final book in the Oneiros Log, and I did a read-through of 1,200 in preparation for a draft I’ll do once I get Discovered to Alpha Readers.

So those are things I have done, but now I need to repeat something I mentioned recently.

I’m still writing as much as I can, but without conventions to bolster sales, money for editors and art is a serious concern. This means I’m going to make whatever progress I can, but I don’t have any real certainty on when things will come out because that just depends on how much I can save, how much I spend in marketing, and how many sales I get. So where the past years I had some pretty solid ideas on when I’d get products out to you, I don’t have that same ability this year.

But I am still working, so allow me to tell you about those projects.

Hopefully in 2023 (but don’t quote me on it): Discovered, the final book in the Oneiros Log. The discovery draft was OK, but it needs some work. I hope to finish the next draft in the next 100 days, which is when hopeful Alpha Readers can count on reading the early version. I do hope to get it out in 2023, but that depends on the things I mentioned above, as do the other projects.

The 1,200: I talked about this recently. I’m actually pretty proud of where that is now, but it does need some work. So each time I get a draft of Discovered done, this is the project I’ll skip to until Discovered is out. This will be the next release you can expect from me baring how long it takes to save up and what smaller projects I might get done.

Visits From A Man Named Nobody: This is my weekly Christian Science Fiction series. It’s larger than I thought (at least this draft). It’s growing in the writing, and I’m discovery writing it, which means it’ll have plenty of kinks to work out. I don’t honestly know when I’ll finish it, but once a draft is done, it’ll take its place in line for release. You can read it now if you want. I’ll do revisions and edits on it before its published through Amazon.

Perception of War: Images of Truth: I’m honestly frustrated I haven’t found a chance to finish the discovery draft. Other projects are more urgent, but as soon as Discovered and The 1,200 are out the door, this puppy is getting some work. This is a very ambitious project, but I can get the writing done, and I plan to. Again, this project is massive! So while I’m going to work very hard on it, it’s going to take time.

New Utopia: This is another older project that’s probably been sitting in a drawer for too long. It needs love, but the the next draft of this story (pitched as Mistborn meets Avatar), won’t be done until Discovered and The 1,200 are as far as I can get them and the Discovery Draft of Perception is done.

Mercer: Now this project could move in a lot of directions because it’s a series of shorter works. I call this Dresden meets Bones, and I love the premise and basic ideas. I haven’t really played with this much in a while, but that’s only because I owe fans of Oneiros a conclusion to their story. I’ll probably start chipping away at this once in between the above projects. So you might see Season One, Episode One before New Utopia.

Leah Saldawn and The Nick of Time: This probably the “older” project that’s farthest from being out. It’s a teen/young reader book that I think is cute, but it’ll have to wait behind those much larger projects.

I’m still working my way toward 60 sales a month. Because of Hazel, I have three averages: My total sales per month, Collin’s and my Hazel sales per month, and my non-Hazel sales per month. The goal for sales per month is still 60, and that’s always been an initial goal aimed at growing after I meet it. I lose less and less each year, and I’m hopeful I get to that first profitable year soon.

If I’m being honest, I’m never going to stop writing. The eight-year goal has always been more about putting in hard-charging, never-back-down energy. It’s spending money on marketing and things like that. I’m hopeful that bears some fruit, but if all I do is write and publish stories I enjoy, that’s OK. I’ll work as hard as I can, and if after eight years, I’m not earning an income, well, I’ll slow down on the costs of publishing and focus more on the writing.

It’s hard to fathom that Bob Drifter came out almost seven years ago! Man it’s been fun!

If you’re interested in helping, the best way to do that is to purchase one of my books, read it, rate it, and review it. You can take it to the next level (if you like the book) by recommending it (or buying it) for a friend. In addition to God’s will, which I will always cheerfully submit to, this dream of mine isn’t possible without loyal readers.

I want to finish as I always do, by praising God, and thanking Him for all of you who read and enjoy my work. I’m blessed to have anyone enjoy my books, and a lot of you are just so wonderful to me with emails and help with reviewing drafts. Thank you.

God bless you all, and thank you for another year. I hope your hear has been amazing.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

I’ve Finished Reviewing 1,200; I’m 12% Through The 1st Draft of Discovered!

I’ve Finished  Reviewing 1,200; I’m 12% Through The 1st Draft of Discovered!

Geetings all,

Maybe if you haven’t tried it already, you can read Betrayed while you wait for me to get Discovered finished.

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on my progress on things so far, but that’s not because I haven’t been working.

I’d originally picked up 1,200 just to let my mind rest before I got moving on the first draft of Discovered, but then I just fell in love with 1,200. I was genuinely happy with how good I felt it was. I think there were some things that concerned me, but while reading it, I just really felt horrible for setting it in a drawer for this long. (This was either the third or fourth book I finished writing.)

It still does need a bit of work. I have to change the main character’s name, which is currently Steve, but with Oneiros having the success it’s having (relatively speaking), having two characters with that name would be troublesome. Then there are a few ideas I had that would flesh out a few details, but this book is great, and I’m excited to be putting this book out hopefully in 2022, more likely in 2023 (more on why below).

I started working on the official First Draft of Discovered maybe two weeks ago. I just finished Chapter 5. Given how many challenges we’ve had in the past few weeks, I feel like I’ll pick up speed on that, but it does need work, so please don’t be surprised if my Twitter account has big gaps. Those will be spots where I’m adding content (chapters or scenes) that I feel need to be added to help the flow of the story. It’s currently taking two sessions per chapter, and I usually get one session in a day.

Yeah, at 42 chapters, this means it’ll take at least 84 days to get this draft done, and that’s probably not enough time. I’m thinking 100 days is a safer estimate. Writing is obviously still a part of my life, but it falls way below God, my family, and the job that actually provides for my family. I do wish I had more writing time, but I promise I’m making the use of the time I do have.

Once I’ve finished that First Draft, those of you who want to be Alpha Readers can expect to see a post on this blog letting you know.

If you haven’t seen how it all starts, this is the book you want to read.

While Discovered is in Alpha Readers hands, I’ll get to work on the official First Draft of 1,200. In full honesty, I feel like I’ll want to get that draft done before I do the Alpha Draft of Discovered. Those of you looking forward to how this book ends deserve to understand why. First, I like to have projects rotating on a pretty regular basis, and I need to finish one draft of one book before I work on a new draft of the other. But even if I jumped on Discovered as soon as Alpha Readers got back to me, I’m not sure I will have saved up the money I need for the Developmental Draft. Discovered is already over 100,000 words, and that means getting edits done on that book will cost more than its predecessors. So rather than just sit and do nothing while I save up money for edits, I might as well get progress on other titles. This is the main reason why I’m going to finish another draft of 1,200 before I jump back to Discovered.

Saturday is the 1st, so I’ll do one of my annual State of the Weech posts, where I talk about current and future projects. But my hope is this post helps you sort of see the two major factors in how quickly I can release material (time and money). Even if I did find more time to write (which I would love), I don’t have many options on how to generate more money for edits and art (covers, chapter icons, and other things).

That’s where I continue to ask for your support. Please don’t misunderstand. Those of you who follow this blog are always so amazing. We’re a small clan, but I’m just humbled by how loyal and kind you all are. Hazel is definitely doing her part, but I only earn a percent of a percent of her royalties. I honestly am only just about to get the first royalties from that release here in a few days.

The best way to help me is to help my sales, which means telling your friends about my work, convincing them to try it, and posting reviews and ratings on all the bookish places. I’m in a place now where if I’m going to do anything for the business of writing, the writing needs to pay for it. We budget a bit each month for this dream, but at this point the marketing is still costing more than the books are earning. We’re moving in the right direction, but we still have a ways to go.

All this means I have to be patient. I wanted to be releasing four books a year, and now I’m in a place where it might take two more years before I get any new titles out. That really hurts, but in this world, the art matters, not the pace at which it’s released. I hope you’ll be patient with me as well.

I hope to have this draft done by mid April, when I hope Alpha Readers will be ready and willing to see that early draft. I’d love to try and get it to you sooner and get Discovered to Sara’s hands even sooner, but that would require things that I don’t have direct control over.

As always, thank you all for your wonderful support, and thanks for reading,

Matt

The Discovery Draft of Discovered Is Finished!

The Discovery Draft of Discovered Is Finished!

I really do love these posts! I’m not sure why, but I’m strangely surprised when I finish another book. The thing is, every book is a new challenge. Life provides challenges. But if you just keep chipping away at a goal, you’ll get there eventually. Discovered is proof of that.

Discovered is about 100,000 words, and it took me just about 15 months to finish this draft. This draft always takes the longest, because I’m working from scratch. The other drafts will take between 40-80 days each, with about a month between each draft.

Discovered is the final book in the Oneiors Log, and it brings the story to a close that is also a new beginning. While I don’t personally plan on doing more in that universe, it brings the saga to the point I saw it at when I started writing Repressed.

Sal and Kaitlyn have POVs, of course. This time, Kira steps as a main POV character, and she joins Mariana (from Betrayed) and one of several new characters, Daniel. I really love Daniel as a character, and I hope you will, too.

Just like always, I’ve written some quick notes to myself on issues I already know are in this draft. I’ll let it sit for a month to clear my creative pallet. I’ll get to work on the first draft of Discovered Oct. 21, on month after I finished the discovery draft. I must say, this is a particularly rough draft. It needs a lot of work, and I want to take my time to make sure I conclude this saga the right way.

So what else am I working on?

Well, I’m working on a secret that I’m very excited about, but I can’t announce anything just yet. If everything works out, I’ll quickly have some big news (at least it’s big to me because of how meaningful it would be).

What I can tell you is about the other project I’ll be working on.

I’ve been fiddling with Images of Truth (the first novel in the Perception of War saga), and I really do want to jump on that, but I don’t think that’s the right call.

As much as I want to finish writing a new book, I have several titles that are finished but not published, so I feel the right thing to do is try to get one of those projects out into the world. That means it’s time for me to start work on a draft of The 1,200.

The 1,200 is a story about homeless veterans. When I first started that story, I learned through research that San Diego has more than 1,200 homeless veterans, and that fact gave birth to this whole story. However, I was a very different writer back then (2009), and the world was a very different place. So as I start working on that project, I’m going to take a very critical look at it. I’d be stoked if I could go through the book and prep the next draft before I move back to Discovered.

Another note on 1,200: If you’re a fan of Bob Drifter, pay close attention to that book. There’s a treat or two in there for you. It’s not earth shattering, but I think it’s nice.

I don’t think I’ll publish 1,200 before Discovered. In a manner of speaking, they’re both in the same stage of development. It could happen, but I doubt it. But I’d be very pleased if both books come out in 2022. I fully expect Discovered to be out in 2022 (maybe early 2023). Part of it depends on how many revisions both stories require, and the other part depends on how quickly I can save up money for edits and the cover.

The best way you can help me is to buy my books, rate and review them, and convince others to buy them. I save about $170 a month to go to the Weech dream, and about $115 of that goes to marketing. While that’s going better, it’s not where it needs to be. Without sales to bolster my saving, it’ll be slow going to get product out because I need to save for two rounds of edits and a cover for each project. I truly hope you’ll consider helping in this way, but even if you just buy and read my work, you’re wonderful.

For those of you who follow this blog and already read my work, I just can’t express what your support means to me. You’ve helped me keep publishing books for six years now, and there’s now way I could do this without you. I’m not a best seller; I don’t even make a profit from month to month. But I lose less money every year! I just keep moving forward, and having those few of you who support me means everything. I get emails, and you offer to Alpha and Beta read for me. It’s just overwhelmingly touching. Thank you.

So it’s off to work on The 1,200. Until then …

Thanks for reading (always),

Matt

I’m About to Start the Beta Draft of Betrayed: A Thank you to Beta Readers

Greetings all!

I’m happy to report I’m about to begin work in the Beta Draft of Betrayed. This will be the last content draft and the last set of revisions. After this, I send it out for proofreading and then polish it up for publishing.

I’d like to just take a moment to thank my beta readers!

First up is Bia Bella Baker, author of the HECCTROSSIPY series.

Next up are Tamy and Don Way. I actually met them outside an Ikea, and they’ve been supporting me and my work ever since.

I just want to thank them for taking the time to read Betrayed and offer feedback. The good news is they all liked it! Yes, they all had constructive feedback that I have to comb through and consider as I do this final draft.

I’ll say this much, Kira has been a challenge to write, and she’ll be challenging. Her arc is powerful, and I’m of the opinion that if I don’t get it right, the series will suffer greatly. I’d argue the next most important arc is Kaitlyn. Dom and Sal aren’t nearly as challenging because they’re more simplistic in nature.

I’ll start work on that early next week. While I was waiting, I got some more work done on Discovered. I’m just a bit over halfway done with the discovery draft of that story, and it’s looking solid.

I’m doing everything I can to get Betrayed out as soon as I can. It’ll take me at least a month to finish. Then I’ll need to give Sara time to proofread it. Then I have to apply those edits. So I’m hoping for a February or March release date. While Sara proofreads Betrayed, I’ll switch right back to Discovered, so it shouldn’t be nearly as long a wait for that book as it was for Betrayed.

Again, I just want to thank my beta readers and let you all know where I’m at. I can’t thank you all enough for the support you give. I hope you choose to stick with me and continue to enjoy my silly little stories.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Betrayed is With My Editor, Discovered is Being Drafted!

Betrayed is With My Editor, Discovered is Being Drafted!

Greetings all,

caught-front-coverI’m happy to announce that I’ve saved up enough to send Betrayed to Sara for edits. This means that once I get the edits back from her, I’ll be able to apply that feedback in my Developmental Draft. I’m three drafts away from getting that story out! Sara said she’ll need about two weeks to get back to me.

That gives me time to continue working on Discovered, the final book in the Oneiros Log. I’m already 10,000 words into that story, and I’m very pleased with what I’m seeing so far.

In Betrayed we meet two new characters, one of which is featured in Discovered. In Discovered, we meet four new characters. I’ve already decided I’m particularly proud of one of these new characters. Obviously, I think highly of all my characters, but every now and then one really charms me.

Oneiros, Caught is Book One, was originally just a bit of fun for me after working on The Journals of Bob Drifter. After talking to my brother about a few things I’d included in the back story, he really wanted to see where the story goes. The readers I’ve met agree.

Betrayed takes us from a place where Oneiros feels like they can live happily as a sort of super-hero family version of the A-Team to being literally hunted. The government has targeted Oneiros, and they’ve selected one of Dom’s old friends to lead that mission. This whole book humbles the family and shows that there are still deeper levels to the events that brought them into being. As is true of any of my stories, no one is safe. The events of this book forces every member of the team to truly look at themselves and each other. It was a hard book to write in a lot of ways because of how much these events test the team.

kaitlynDiscovered closes the loop in my opinion. Once I decided to write all three books, I always imagined it being the opening to a new super hero universe. Sure, there are other events that could happen, but I don’t currently have any plans to write any more stories in this universe. My dream would be to give the trilogy to Netflix and let them take the story from there.  So this story reveals the true origins of the team and the conflict with the mastermind behind it all.

I’ll keep plugging away on Discovered until Sara sends me her feedback on Betrayed. That means I’m hoping to be about 24,000 words into Discovered when I switch back. I might want to finish the Discovery Draft to Discovered before I do any revisions. It depends on how well I think that story is going (right now I think it’s great). If I do get right to work on Betrayed, I’d hope to have the Developmental Draft done by the end of July. This means I still have a bit of hope that the book will be released in 2020. Either way, Discovered will come quickly on its heels.

I wanted to take a moment to update you all on those projects. I thank you for the support and encouragement you’ve given me through the years. I hope to keep writing for a long time, and anyone sending positive vibes or posting reviews or recommending my books to others is a huge boost to my morale. Thank you so much.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

You’re Not Stuck! COVID Delays Don’t Mean You Can’t Do Something As An Author

You’re Not Stuck! COVID Delays Don’t Mean You Can’t Do Something As An Author

Greetings all,

handcuff
Image by Achim Scholty from Pixabay. 

I want to share a frustration I have with people sometimes.  People can let one obstacle beat them. I can’t go to the gym, so I can’t work out. Really? So lack of access to a gym prevents you from doing pushups or sit ups?

 

I don’t have any ground beef, so I’ll order out. Why? Does ground beef constitute the entirety of your food options?

That doesn’t mean that people don’t face obstacles. It doesn’t mean that those obstacles aren’t frustrating at times. However, we as human beings choose. We choose to let our circumstances defeat us, or we choose to endure our circumstances and move forward in the ways God provides.

As a nation, America is face with more restrictions on their lives that they’ve ever face. The malls are closed. There are no sports. And, for me, all the conventions I had lined up were cancelled. That’s a huge bummer!

IMG_2318Since conventions are my number one method of sales (and not profit), this means I’m at an extreme disadvantage. The hardest hit is that no sales means no income, which means I can’t save up money for edits on Betrayed. I can’t save for a cover. Even the money I had been budgeting is set aside because we want to be prepared for any true financial issues.

So the challenge question: Does this really mean I can’t do anything as an author? No!

You can too. First, for you hopeful authors who constantly say, “I want to write, but I just don’t have the time!” What, exactly are you spending your time on now? Maybe you’re blessed to still have some form of employment. That’s great. However, it’s not like there’s a game you “need” to catch anytime soon. It’s not like there’s a new movie you “just have” to see.

You can write that book right now.

caught-front-coverWhat about people like me? Well, the first thing I’m doing is working hard on the outline to Discovered (which looks to be a big one, by far the biggest of the trilogy). The other thing I’m doing is working a bit more on marketing. I’m building more campaigns for Amazon Marketing. Even if no one is buying now (and they are, even I sold a book or two this week), when things start moving forward, I’ll have a new armada of advertisements ready to go.

I’m blessed to be able to telework during this time. I’m still working. Heck, I might be doing more work than I would be doing if the building were open. This means time is still an issue. It might still be the biggest issue. However, what time I do have to myself, I spend on some form of writing. I might also do something else, but I chip away.

In the Navy, a common phrase you’ll hear is, “I don’t care what you can’t do; tell me what you can do.”

This attitude, this frame of mind, is essential. This time in our lives is definitely a challenge. We’re all worried. We wonder if we’ll get sick. We wonder if our finances will hold up. However, if we focus on our problems, we turn a blind eye to the solutions that are out there.

frustrated-4201046_1920
Image by Steve DiMatteo from Pixabay.

The challenge I offer you is this: Whatever you do, make sure you understand you’re making a choice. Even refusing to do anything or “failing” to make a choice is still a choice.

Naturally, you have the right to choose whatever you want. My problem would be if you try to avoid or lament the consequences of that choice as an excuse for why you can’t do something.

The guy who says, “I could write that book, but I’ve been meaning to watch the entire ‘How I Met Your Mother’ series for years now,” will get no beef from me. However the guy who complains about how he never has time to finish a book while watching that show may get a different reaction from me.

So here are a few things you can do if your finances prevent you from buying a cover or paying for editing services:

Draft another book.

Make revisions on another manuscript.

Study marketing.

Work on building your marketing plan.

Build your email list.

Send your readers an email (man I’m terrible at that).

This period of stress in our lives does create problems, but it doesn’t mean we have to give up on our goals.

I wanted to share these thoughts to motivate you to get moving in some way. This isn’t unique to writing either. Maybe spend some more quality time with your kids. Maybe turn this into an “in home” second honeymoon. Chip away on those home projects you’ve “been meaning to get around to.”

This time is stressful and challenging enough. Let’s use it to look for opportunities.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

 

Standards and Deadlines: The Balancing Act

Standards and Deadlines: The Balancing Act

(All images taken from Pixabay.)

The phrase is “Minimum viable product.”

Home under construction
Sure, it has wood and rooms, but I wouldn’t want to live here.

There is a sense to the phrase, but people abuse its meaning at times.  The better concept is, “Create the best product you have in the time you’re allowed.”

I probably am more guilty of this very problem then I’d like to admit. While I have people who read this blog and my work, I don’t have droves of fans waiting eagerly for my next book. So what’s the rush?

Well, for me, I try very hard to release four titles a year. That’s simply not happening this year. Even before COVID-19, it was dicey to even try and get Betrayed out. Without making money on conventions and events (let alone book sales), I can’t pay Sara to edit. So that project becomes “stuck.” I can still work on other projects, so that once things start moving again, I still have direction.

So my goal is always to release good stories in a timely manner. It’s been that way since I was a journalist, and I don’t anticipate that viewpoint changing at all. But I have seen people shove out product without so much as a casual proofread. They do so and say, “Minimum viable product.”

So we’re forced to ask ourselves, “what is viable?”

lazy-1458443_960_720
Just because you did anything doesn’t mean you accomplished anything. 

I suppose that depends on the reader. If I’m cranking out stories devoid of editing and formatted like a blind man with a new inDesign account, but the readers are still buying and giving good reviews, I’d declare I’m doing it right.

What happens though is that people put minimal effort into their work and then want to complain they aren’t selling.

First, sales is way more about marketing and advertising than product.  I have every belief that if I could just find a way to gain attention in this oversaturated filed, I’d do well. I’d offer a hefty percentage of my sales to the person who offers me actionable information on how to do that, but I digress.

Second, I’ll always believe that effort yields results. While I’m not quitting my day job yet, I’ve improved every year I’ve been doing this. It’s a slow, agonizing process, but all the things worth having tend to be that way.

Each writer has to balance his own process. If you’ve edited your story 20 times and paid editors and tweaked that story to oblivion, then you need to release that story.  You’ve put in the effort, now let it go, and let readers decide if it’s good or not (that’s their job). If you’ve cranked out a draft 30 minutes ago, maybe let it sit a few weeks. Read it again. Find Beta (or even Charlie or Delta) readers. Hire and editor. Hire a professional editor. Listen to the feedback.

youtuber-2838945_1920I’ve talked about my writing process a few times. It works for me. I still make a few mistakes, but today’s self-publishing world makes fixing those mistakes pretty easy (and free).  However, I don’t just release anything and think, “Oh, I can make edits later.” I do know I can do that, but I don’t let that be an excuse to be shoddy in my work.

On the other hand, I have to get the product out, and so do you. Sure, I’m going to keep waiting for the next King Killer book, but I might even forget about it if it takes another five years to release. My anticipation is already nearly gone. However, I would still drop what I’m reading now to grab that book if it came out tomorrow. Most of us don’t self-published guys don’t have that sort of loyalty. We need product to be seen. We need to be on the “new releases” page. We need to build a library.

I’ve heard and seen data that says that’s not right. However, there is still a balance. You can’t have follow-on readers if you don’t have follow-on stories. It’s that simple. There is something to be said about taking a break from writing to market the work you have out there, and maybe that is a good option to look into during this crazy time in our life.

So, the factors to balance are: getting the product out, ensuring the product is of good quality, and marketing the product.

I’m not here to tell you how much time to put into which factor; I’m here to tell you what those factors are. I’m not anywhere near where I want to be in this pursuit, but I’m a lot farther than when I started. If you want to even get to where I am, you have to allot some time for each of these. I’m still learning. I’m still figuring my breakdown out, but if you don’t have one at all, that’s the problem.

My advice in this regard:

concept-1868728_1920Write a freaking book! If you aren’t writing or you haven’t finished the book, you don’t have anything at all to do. There’s no point. Now, while you write that book, you should start building a following. Start a blog. Do character interviews. Build an email list. Use the email list. But, don’t stop writing the book.

When you have a book ready, keep building that following and write at least two more books. Again, I understand that more product doesn’t mean more sales in and of itself. However, if a guy buys your book and wants more from you, shouldn’t you have more to offer?

So there are some who only have that one book they want to write. That’s a completely different circumstance. You’re probably not trying to make a business out of it. But if you are, I offer this advice for you to take or leave.

Once you have three books out. Plan out your release schedule and strategy. Make a business plan.

Execute your plan and evaluate how it’s working. Continue developing new product.

Some of that I did. Some of those things are things I failed to do. I’m convinced a large part of my struggles are do to those failings.

Whatever you do, stay at it. Keep working. If you choose to turn away from the goal, make it a choice you’ve made and a choice you’re ok with.

I hope this gives you encouragement and edifies you. Whatever happens, stay safe out there. My prayers are with you all.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Finding the Time: If You Want To Be A Writer, Write

Finding the Time: If You Want To Be A Writer, Write

Greetings all,

Wedding
I kissed the bride.

I’m not sure what post it was in, but a few posts ago I mentioned my wonderful life and how that life has altered my schedule. I had been and remain adamant that anything in life deserves a level of commitment. That level of commitment should reflect the importance you give it in your life. I’d advise anyone to take a serious look at the things they say they want to do in their lives and evaluate how much effort they make to do those things.

It’s a good way to put things in perspective too. If you keep investing your time in other things, maybe those things are actually more important to you. This isn’t a judgment. It’s your life, and you’re free to spend it doing whatever you want. If you look at that life and realize you spend a lot of time doing X, then you can either realize that X really is more important or change your habits.

Being married has been a huge adjustment. I’m about 10 months into my marriage, and we’re still figuring things out. It’s not just me. My kids’ lives are very different than they were before I showed up, and they’re even more different after I became their father. My wife’s life is different. We’ve talked several times (Julie and I) about what we want to find time to do and how we can pull it off.

So I offer this bit of rambling to you who say you want to write but can’t “find the time.”

First question: Do you really want to write? Really? Do you want it more than sleep? Do you want it more than football? Do you want it more than video games? Do you want it more than time with your wife? I’m not saying you have to sacrifice everything. However, there are only so many hours in a day, week, or month. You can’t give time to something unless that time comes from somewhere. If the things you’re already doing are more important than your desire to write, it’s no shame on you. I think you should simply think about other ways to find time. Maybe take a vacation day here or there. Maybe do some sort of writing retreat. Maybe look at the situation and say to yourself that you’re happy with your life the way it is. If you can’t let writing go, then don’t. But that means working to find that time. Before moving on to any step be aware that finding time means investing time. If there’s nothing in your life you’re willing to do less of, then writing isn’t that important to you, and that’s OK. But if you do this seriously, and you’re heart is set on writing, then you’ll find the thing you’re currently spending time on that isn’t that important.

Me and JulieThings more important to me than writing: God. My family. Being a good employee. Those are areas of my life that I won’t give up to find time writing. I love writing. It’s been part of my life forever, but I won’t take time from those things to find more time to write.

Things I really, really like: Football and video games. Those are things that I’ve found can compete. However, when I realize I’ve spent more hours playing video games than I have writing, it’s usually a convicting moment for me. Football is a fairly seasonal thing, and commercials are awesome! They let me do social media things or work on a cover. I wouldn’t necessarily tell people to write during commercials. I think that divides too much of your attention, but there are somethings you can do that will let your dedicated writing time be all about writing. If I’m up against deadline, video games are usually the first to go, and I can reduce my football. I love my 49ers most, so I tend to want to watch that game, but the rest of the games are things I can set aside if I need more dedicated writing.

Easier said than done: So above, I mentioned my family. That’s a lot of time. Homework time. Dinner time. Family time together. Bible time (at least in my house). Laundry. Cleaning up. Bed time (at least in my house). This takes up the better part of most evenings and every other Saturday. So time at my house is such a premium.

I don’t get a ton of writing done at home these days. I usually get a bit on Saturdays. Most of my writing time is done during my authorized lunch time. Rather than what I used to do (enjoy a mindless hour on Youtube), I use that time to write.  After we get the kids to bed (my wife an I alternate bedtime), I might have to not play video games so I can get more writing done.

The boys
The boys.

My point is, the time is there. When I feel myself getting frustrated at the amount of time I have to write, the first thing to do is make sure I’m not wasting time I could be writing. However, I’m not a crazy person. Those video games are usually how I calm my self down (animated though I may be during the games) before going to bed. Who doesn’t need relaxation now and then. Writing is actually pretty relaxing on one end, but it activates my mind. When I used to try to go to bed right after writing, I found I couldn’t shut off my brain. I still have my normal goal of 1,000 words (of something) a day. That might be editing like I’m doing now with Betrayed. It might be outlining, like I will be doing with Discovered. I love drafting most.  Tuesdays and Fridays are set aside for blogging right here. No, I don’t have nearly as much time to “write” as I used to, but I still managed to find the time I’ve always believed I “need.”

Other places I find time: My wife drives. First, she likes it, and I hate it. So while she’s driving, I can get social media done or even some drafting or editing if the trip is long enough.

Stay up a “bit” later. Honestly, I’m 40 now. Man my body needs way more rest than I’m used to. I used to be able to be pretty much good to go off maybe  three hours of sleep. Not any more. I need five. Five is probably pushing it, but I have to get five hours of sleep to have a hope on Earth of waking up on time for work or church. On an occasional time or two (or Saturdays if I’m being honest), I pull of four hours of sleep, but I usually hate myself. However, I can probably find an hour when I need to after everyone else has gone to bed.

Wake up a “bit” earlier. If I’m being honest, this would probably be the more feasible option if I needed it. I’ve found that no one in the house likes going to sleep alone, but no one in the house gives two toots who wakes up first. My bias is I hate waking up regardless of the hour. If I could sleep for a whole day, I would. However, it’s an available option to me.

I wanted to share this to help anyone out there struggling. If one were to ask me, “Do you feel like you get enough time?” I’d probably say, “Not as much as I want, but at least what I need.” Still, before I was married, I wrote a bunch and had all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted. It wasn’t fun. It’s way more fun having three wonderful sons. It’s way more fun having a wife. So I take the lunch hour I used to waste on videos and get the 1,000 mandatory amount, and then I carve out other blocks if I feel I need to.

It’s really just about taking a good, hard look at your schedule and making a decision about what you’re willing to give up, which is why that first question is the most important.

So, busy authors who are more successful than I am, what do you do to find time? What ideas have you had that I haven’t mentioned above?

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Betrayed’s First Draft Is Under Way

Betrayed’s First Draft Is Under Way

Greetings all,

As you can see in the title, I’ve started the first official draft of Betrayed.

caught-front-coverMy Process: Just last week, I talked about getting that first draft down. I’m so aware of the issues with mustering up the courage to put a story on paper that I’ve developed what I call the discover draft. It’s my way of cheating the system. When I’m writing this draft, I’m just getting the story down, and I’m not held up on anything because I don’t really think about it as a draft. That discovery draft is a very rough version of the story (some are more rough than others).

So what I did was get Betrayed’s general story down. Then I started re-reading the story. I made notes. Some were just me telling myself to check certain details. Most, because this is an area I struggle in, of my notes are just me telling myself how much more description I need. I also take a close look at the plot points and the characters to be sure everything is satisfying.

So without giving too much away, my biggest (non-description-related) notes were about making each scene more satisfying. There’s definitely one character who needs more screen time. I also need to push in on  some of the relationships and how they’ve evolved.

I’m pretty happy with this draft, and I’m excited to see what people who liked Caught think of how the story progresses.

The horror element is dwindling, but that’s by intent. This is much more action and drama oriented than Caught. The struggle is making the opponent seem worthy when Oneiros is a group of psychically enhanced people. I think I’ve done that.

Betrayed features Dom. Sal is still there, and Kaitlyn begins to take more of a lead role. I explore the relationship between those three characters and Kira. There’s a lot of friction in there, and poor Brandon and Chris have to try and keep things together. The government has finally decided to react to Oneiros and its vigilante operations. An old friendship gets shattered, and (as always in this series) more secrets are uncovered.

Betrayed currently has a prologue and 31 chapters, so I expect it will take 1-2 months to get this draft done. Then I’ll put out the call for Alpha Readers. With my family life, it could be some time before I finish the final draft. I have to take the time it requires to make this a quality story for you, but I promise I’m dedicating whatever time I can to the project.

Repressed_ACX_CoverIf you haven’t read Caught, I’m hoping you’ll give it a shot. Repressed is a short story based on Kaitlyn, and it’s a nice little update on things. I have free Audible download codes if you’d like to give one or both a try (seriously, I have 100 for each). You can email me for those.

I’ll get Betrayed out as soon as possible, and I’m outlining Discovered, which will complete the trilogy.  Please be patient as I continue to adjust from being a single guy with little to do but write, to a married man and a father. I will figure it out. Things might not get out as quickly as I’d have liked, but they are coming.

Thanks for reading,

Matt