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Small Progress and Research

Currently I’m waiting on the last round of edits for Neon Fever so while I wait I’ve been doing lots and lots of research on self-publishing and let me tell you, it’s hard.

I “think” I’ve narrowed my approach some.

I’m gonna release the e-book version through Amazon KDP as it’s the largest e-book market by a long stretch and go with Ingram Spark for all other distribution. From what I’ve read, this will give me the widest possible reach for my book, including the ability for book stores to order copies of my book for sale in store, which is pretty cool.

I’m going to continue to research this as I still want to learn more about marketing, pre-sales, and if I dare, book signings.

As a side note- I’ve been really digging into Warhammer 40k lore. It’s such a rich and interesting universe and I’m getting lots of juicy inspiration from reading in depth about it.

I’ll update with more info soon. Thanks for reading!

-JD

A Taste of Things to Come

Today I uploaded the first chapter of my debut novel “Neon Fever”.

I’ll be posting more chapters, world lore, character backstory and insight and more so make sure you subscribe to keep up everything. This year is going to be a big one!

Click below to read the first Chapter now!

Shout Into The Void

I wish I had some sort of update to put here. Something of substance that would help motivate me in my writing but sadly I have none.

Aside from some vague world building before bed or watching random 40k videos on YouTube I’ve done almost nothing towards my writing.

Why tell you this?

I think it’s important to share these moments, so other writers struggling can see that it’s not just them. Life happens, depression happens, blocks happen.

And that’s okay.

Forcing yourself to be creative can be good, and sometimes it can be bad. This doesn’t mean writing “isn’t for you” or anything else that your brain may tell you. You’re human, it’s okay to slack, to fall behind, to lose focus.

Just keep that in mind, don’t let the darkness win.

“Ad astra per aspera”

-JD

Two Days in a Row?

Impressive I know, but having a usable laptop again means I can relax in the living room and watch movies while writing updates on my blog!

So what’s going on?

Well not much honestly. I’m trying my best to acquire and compile as much information on self publishing as I can to try and be successful. It’s stressful but also exciting! I have so many ideas that are probably cheesy and won’t work but you’ll never know if you never try right?

I have decided that I’m going to try a combination of Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark for distribution. I’m not as worried as others about profit, I just want to be able to get my book in front of as many people and from what I can tell, that would give me the best odds.

The other idea I definitely want to try is to go to local and regional book stores and get them to buy/order my books or maybe even give them some to sell for free (is that a thing?)

I have other ideas to market it, but some of those I’m saving till the time is right.

Cat tax-

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

-JD

Big things on the horizon

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. Life has been a little extra recently but I’m back and more focused on my writing then ever.

Okay so here’s the bad news. I’ve had a set back (kinda?) for the progress of my debut novel “Neon Fever” which is to say, the agent I’d been talking to finally responded and passed.

To say this was a gut punch would be putting it lightly.

But, with this information I’ve come to the decision that I’m going to attempt to sell my book myself and self-publish it.

Now I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I know it’s a lot of work but I have some really cool ideas on how to market and get the book out there and I’d like to give it an honest try.

That being said, I’m going to need YOUR help as well.

I’m going to be making a lot more updates to the site here as I progress in this journey and word of mouth, sharing, reviews, anything you can think to do to help get the word out about Neon Fever would be greatly appreciated!

Talk to you again soon.

-JD

Life Update #1

So it’s been a while since I posted anything here and I figured it was time to do some updates on what’s going on.

I wish I had a bunch of changes to report, but unfortunately not much has been going on. I’m in my third semester of my creative writing degree which is cool. Classes have been challenging but helpful and I’m excited to see where it takes me and my writing next.

Another positive thing, I currently have 2 full requests and a large partial out with agents. While this is great and wonderful, it also brings with it a new level of fear and insecurity to my work. Will they like it? Will they think it’s trash? I half expect them to come back and tell me the idea just doesn’t work and I need to scrap it and move on.

I know this isn’t a realistic expectation, but one I can’t help but think of anyways.

But who knows, I could get an email today asking for a phone call, life is funny that way sometimes.

As far as current work goes, I’m in a bit of a slump.

I haven’t put any words towards my next books in forever and it’s depressing. I need to set a solid goal for getting the first draft done and really work on making sure I hit that mark but I have no idea what would be considered realistic. I’ll have to think on it.

That’s about all I have for now. I’m gonna make sure to do a better job of keeping things updated here and make sure I give this site some love a little more often.

Thanks for tuning in and I’ll see ya next time.

-JD

Interview – Caitlin Starling

On my quest to read more science fiction as well as read more in general, I stumbled upon the novel “The Luminous Dead”, a wonderfully crafted Sci-fi / Psychological horror and debut novel of Caitlin Starling.

As I dream of having a debut novel myself, I wanted to reach out to Caitlin and pick her brain about her novel, her writing process, and how she came up with the idea for such a unique and interesting story.

Caitlin was generous enough to lend me her time and I was able to get some wonderful and informative questions.


How long have you been writing for?

Well, back when I was 8, I wrote a thirty page (large type, with pictures) Sailor Moon fanfic… 🙂 But I really started focusing on writing in high school, around 15 years ago. That’s when I started doing NaNoWriMo and started sharing my writing with other people. 

What made you decide you wanted to write for a living?

Honestly, I didn’t think it was a realistic option for a long time. It wasn’t until I wrote The Luminous Dead and realized I wanted to try to find an agent for it that I started looking at it as a career. I realized I wanted to be able to keep writing, despite other life obligations – and that made sense most if I kept making sales and really treated things like a business instead of a hobby.

That said, I still don’t write for a living. I make a decent amount, but I still work a day job full time, both for the benefits (health insurance is a lot more expensive if you buy it yourself) and for the structure. Eventually, I’d like to drop to part time or maybe even try writing full time, but that’s not in the cards for at least another few books/years.

What was your inspiration for “The Luminous Dead”? 

I’d been playing a lot of the running app Zombies, Run!, which tells its story entirely by radio transmissions from your base to your “headset” – your character never talks, but you’re getting to know all these other characters with varying goals, and I realized I loved that type of storytelling. I’ve also always loved characters in video games like GLaDOS (from Portal), who are ostensibly filling the roll of a tutorial/guide character, but have their own motivations.

The cave setting came from a dream I had (and I still have no idea why I dreamed it, it’s the only time I can remember dreaming about a cave!), and the suit proceeded naturally from what I needed, plotwise, to keep my main character isolated but capable of doing the very difficult tasks that she would usually need a large support team to manage.

“The Luminous Dead” was your first published book, but did you write books before this?

More or less! I finished NaNoWriMo four or five times during high school and college, though I never queried any of them, and I also wrote a few novel-length fanfics post-college. The Luminous Dead was the first book I thought was good enough to show to agents.

A lot of authors get discouraged at how long it takes to find representation, how long did you query “The Luminous Dead” before you found Caitlin McDonald? 

From first query email to signing was 14 months, I think! It was nervewracking at the time, but absolutely worth it.

What’s your proudest moment as a writer so far? 

As a writer, probably when I nailed the large-scale rewrite that my editor asked of me for The Luminous Dead (which took it from a creature feature to a much more psychological/social horror story).

As an author, nothing tops the day I found out I was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. I’ve been nominated (and won) other awards since, but that first time knocked my socks off.

What would you say your writing process is?

I’m somewhere in between a pantser and a plotter. I pants until I run into an issue, and I plot until I run into a hole. Then I switch modes and the problem tends to sort itself out. I’m capable of writing straight through (thanks, NaNoWriMo!) but generally I like writing the start of a story, jotting down notes, and then getting distracted with another project. By the time I get back to the original project, my ideas are usually a lot more nuanced, leading to much more interesting, less frustrating to write first drafts. 

Who are the biggest influences to your writing?

I have a lot of very eclectic influences, including farming memoirs! I read outside of my genres quite a lot, and am always attracted to writing that captures interesting details that I don’t always come across. 

I also have a lot of authors I just adore, but I don’t know how directly they influence my work. Tamsyn Muir and Martha Wells come to mind. Actually, both have shown me that you can get away writing some really interesting, gnarly stuff, which has made me more confident in tackling my own weird and complicated ideas.

What can you tell us about your upcoming work?

My next book is The Death of Jane Lawrence, out next fall from St Martin’s Press. It’s in some ways very traditional gothic horror/romance – you’ve got a marriage to a mysterious man with a crumbling family estate outside of town, secrets, ghosts, a single light burning in a top floor window… but it also deals with esoteric magic traditions, Victorian-era heroic medicine and surgery, and the development of calculus.

It’s gone through a few fairly major rounds of revisions to get it to where it is today, and I am so, so proud of it and excited to have it out in the world. It’s twisty and fucked up and delightful.

If you could give any piece of writing advice to new writers, what would it be? 

Have fun whenever you can. Writing can be tough, and publishing even more so; it’s easy to get stuck in your head. I got a lot of my practice in by writing with friends with no intention to try to publish that work, just to have a good time and delight whoever I was writing with. Without having that pressure to produce something that would change my whole life, I wrote a lot of words and learned a lot of skills.


I want to thank Caitlin again for her time and her answers. It’s always a pleasure to hear writers talk about their craft and what inspires them and it’s a huge inspiration to writers like me when we can talk to people who are in the shoes we hope to walk in one day.

Make sure you check out Caitlin’s work and follow her on Twitter at @see_starling

Short Term and Long Term Goal Setting

As the pandemic rages on and I continue to work my job from home, I’ve come to the stark realization that I’m sure a few of you have hit during these strange and unusual times.

I really hate my job.

Okay, so maybe I don’t “hate” it, but I can honestly say that I’m considerably unhappy with it.

I’ve worked for the State of Florida as a programmer in some capacity for the past 9 or so years. I recently moved to a new department around a year ago, and while the work is interesting and the people are nice, I keep finding myself more and more dissatisfied with what I’m doing. I just feel burnt out and apathetic, which isn’t how anyone should feel while working.

In the past few years, I’ve entertained the idea that one day I would be a novelist. That I’d spend my days at home, writing in the morning and taking care of the house and spending time with my family in the afternoon.

I haven’t given up on that dream, I search for it every day. (Waiting to hear back from agents is the WORST)

But writing, editing, getting representation for, and publishing a novel is a very long and difficult process. I want it, really bad, but I know that if I want a career in writing, I need to diversify myself and my skills and expand out into a more traditional writing role until my books (hopefully) take off.

I’ve toyed with the idea of being a freelance writer in the past year or so.

The idea sounds exciting. The opportunity to work for myself and set my own hours and workload. It would also give me the ability to plot my own course for advancement.

Working for a static government entity for so long has it’s downsides, the biggest one for me is the nature of government all but forbids work based advancement.

I can bust my butt all year long, make huge advancements on projects, and be a team hero.

None of that matters though, because positions are static and pay rate is locked behind laws and policies. It makes it very hard for me to show up every day and give 110% when upper management barely knows who I am and would rather suck up and open positions above me in the name of saving budget.

But writing would allow me to be in control of that aspect of my career.

If I want to earn more money and take on bigger, more important jobs, I can do that! I can decide how much to push myself and directly see where that work pays off. I choose the clients and the projects that interest me or that pay in the range I want to get paid at. The only thing holding me back would be me.

I’m a very goal driven person, I like having a future road map planned, something to push forward with and to work towards. I like things with real world payoffs, not just “getting it done”

So I’ve decided that I’m going to work towards that starting today.

Short Term

For my short term plan, I’m going to read everything I can about copy writing, content writing, technical writing, etc.

I’m going to apply for every freelance gig I can get my hands on.

My goal is to make over $500 with purely writing by the end of this year.

That doesn’t sound like much I know, but it will help push me and keep me motivated as I learn the ropes of the trade and slowly build my name and portfolio.

Long Term

This one is a biggie, and I honestly hope I’m not setting myself up for unrealistic expectations but…

Come this time next year, I want to be able to quit my current job and begin writing full time.

I know. That’s a big goal!

But it’s honestly what I want to do, and even if I don’t make it exactly, I’ll still have good progress towards it regardless. It might take longer than that, but I want something close enough in the future to keep me pushing and motivated.

So that’s the plan. I’m gonna keep busting my butt every day to make it happen and I’ll be updating you all along the way.

As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!

Review- Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel

I’ll admit, when I first heard about Murderbot, I wasn’t that interested. Don’t get me wrong, I’d heard great and wonderful things. All the lists I browsed of great modern Sci-fi contained “All Systems Red”, the first Murderbot novella. But for some reason it took my a while to get into the idea.

One day this past January I decided to finally give them a chance, and I am so glad that I did.

I tore through the first four novellas in the course of a few days.

When I heard that later this year, a full blow novel was coming out featuring my new favorite rouge construct, I was very excited.

The Murderbot Diaries follows a SecUnit, built and loaned to companies for protection of various missions and surveys of far and distant planets. One such SecUnit decides it is done taking orders and living a live of confined servitude and hacks it’s own governor module, giving it autonomy over itself, which it mostly uses to continue it’s job of protection, make sassy remarks about things it disagrees with, and avoids both verbal and physical communication with humans at all costs.

The Good

Murderbot is back! The moody and mega introvert we all know and love is present and sassy as ever. As an introvert and anxious myself, I can’t help but connect with Murderbot and its disdain for almost all forms of communication with humans.

I was glad to see a lot of actually development of Murderbot in this novel. We get to see a good bit a growth to its character through out, which isn’t a whole lot in the end, but it’s definitely noticeable and I found myself pleasantly surprised by it.

One of my favorite parts of the Murderbot Diaries is how Martha Wells it’s afraid to put us in the thick of the world she’s created. I love the play by play narration of the technical aspects of the story and Wells does a great job of describing all the various systems, how Murderbot hacks in and out of them, and how the whole world she creates works on a technical level.

Wells does a fantastic job at world building as well. By this point in the series long standing fans will have a great and beautiful picture of the universe the novel takes place in, one that is vast and complicated but never overbearing.

The Bad(ish)

Being the first novel in the series this entry is much longer and denser than its novella predecessors. The story is richer and more complicated, but not always in a good way.

I found myself confused many times in the story about who did what, when, and how.

The story is good, with some twists and turns along the way, but I found myself unable to keep up sometimes.

I’ll also mention that Wells has several points where she attempted to sum up the events for the reader, so I may just be me. Your mileage may vary.

Conclusion

The Murderbot series is a wonderful and engaging Sci-Fi adventure series I recommend to anyone who’s interesting in the genre. It’s funny, exciting, action packed and quite tense at times. I have no doubt that you’ll end up like me and many others in saying, I love Murderbot.