Friday, January 31, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 31-Jan-2014 / What I learned from Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and The Following

I don't watch much television.  In fact, aside from the occasional nightly news (local, not the 24-hour news cable networks) and some late night funny men such as Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon, and Jimmy Kimmel, I don't watch any television at all.

We have one television, and either my wife or kids seem to always be in control of it.  I'm okay with it.  Instead, I watch Netflix on either my Kindle or the app on my Android phone--I love it!  Netflix has opened a lot of creative doors for me, in terms of keeping in touch with movies or TV shows.  A few of my favorites are The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Dexter, The Killing.  And so many more.

I recently watched the first season of The Following.  I hate to say it--because I feel Kevin Bacon is a strong actor--but I didn't like it very much.  I have a number of reasons for it.  First, there always seemed to be this high-speed pursuit to catch the bad guys and there was never any let up.  Contrast this with The Walking Dead.  In every single episode, you have the threat of the latest zombie attack.  But there is a down time too.  A breather, in other words.  You need that in your stories.  The Following had very little and I was exhausted after each episode.

Another reason I failed to like The Following is that there was no character arc throughout the season.  Kevin Bacon's character never really changed.  Sure, some of the minor characters did, but not enough to carry the story.

The final reason The Following didn't do it for me is that I never knew what the killer Joe Carroll and his followers were all about.  What was their passion, aside from killing?  It was never really clear.

Enter Breaking Bad.  Walter White, a high school science teacher who gets struck with cancer and a bad case of poor insurance.  He wants to provide for his family.  He then discovers the best way he can do it: make meth.  Over the five seasons--I haven't seen the final season yet as it does not come out on Netflix until February 24th--Walter White has some great character arcs.  There is also the threat of getting caught.

It all makes for a great story.

The edits for Shadowkill are moving along at a steady pace.  Right now, I'm roughly a sixth done with the edits and it's coming along nicely.  As far as what I want to accomplish this year, I've kept my same list of goals, but I'm emphasizing two things: publishing more and getting healthier.  The latter involves losing a certain amount of weight.  How much, I'm keeping that to myself.

(As I re-read this post, I fear that I give the impression that I watch a lot of Netflix.  I do not.  I watch a little each day, but I'm usually doing it while I'm working on chores or for a few minutes just before going to bed--I know, I know, The Walking Dead is a poor show to try fall asleep to, but I haven't gotten any nightmares . . . yet.)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 24-Jan-2014 / My latest Kindle Countdown promotion

Last week, I had a Kindle Countdown promotion for Beholder's Eye.

It was a grand success.

Okay, I did not sell millions of copies (or even hundreds, for that matter), but I tripled sales from the last promotion in November.  In fact, I sold more at $1.99 than I did at $.99--go figure.

The highest my Amazon ranking for Beholder's Eye was 18,637.  When it crept up into the forties, I was excited.  I envisioned breaking into the thirties.  Then I did it.

Okay, I thought.  I'd love to get it into the twenties.

I did that too.

I thought the teens was something I could never do.  But I put out one final tweet--keep in mind, on my last promotion, I tweeted a lot; not so much this time--with about 10 hours left and in that time I sold 8 copies.  That was enough to push it into the teens: 18,637 to be exact.

Shadowkill is still going strong in the edits.  I'm pushing to be done by the end of February.  Now that I have a self-imposed deadline, something happens in my mind that cements it and envisions what is needed to succeed.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The amazing power of Walt Disney World

Having just spent an amazing time over the Christmas holiday down and in Orlando, with five full days at the Walt Disney World themeparks Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios, one word went through my mind: fun.

Then, as the days went along, I grew utterly amazed at the power of Walt Disney's longtail.

As writers, we hope to one day have an arsenal of stories that will make ourselves financial secure--some have only done it with one or two stories, but those are quite the rarity.  Most writers who can crank out thirty or forty or fifty-plus novels can be financially set, when you look at the longtail.

The longtail is the trail of works you've created.  Take Walt Disney.  There were rides featuring Peter Pan, Swiss Family Robinson, Dumbo, Monster's Inc., and the list goes on.  Most of these movies were made far before I was even born.  And yet they still cause one to wonder and have fun.

In your writing business, don't think short term.  Create for a lifetime.  Long-term.  Not just next month or next year.  But the next few decades.  Where do you want to be?

Now start creating it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

5-star review of "Write. Publish. Repeat." by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

I've read a lot of books on publishing, and most are either not worth the space they're printed on or it's just a retelling of someone else's work.

"Write. Publish. Repeat." by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant is not in that realm.  Not only do they give practical advice for indie authors, the advice is proven.  It's not theory.  Because of it, I find myself changing how I'm doing things with my books.

This book is not a get-rich-quick scheme.  Like they say many times throughout the books, writing takes a lot of hard work.  You will not achieve overnight success.  But over time, if you write . . . publish . . . and repeat it all over again, success has a way of finding you.

Be sure to add "Write. Publish. Repeat." to your library today.  I give it five out of five stars--I even rank it up there with On Writing by Stephen King and even The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.  Let Write, Publish, and Repeat be the mantra for your successful writing career.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 17-Jan-2014 / The advantage of snow days

I've listed in Minnesota all my life and there is one thing that always changes: the weather.  From severe sub-zero temperatures to near record highs, all in the matter of days.

These past few days, those of us who live in northwestern Minnesota have had harsh blizzard conditions.  Conditions that cause the area school districts to cancel school altogether.  I'm taking advantage of these, as I do not have to get the kids up at the usual time.  This allows me more time to write.

Shadowkill is coming along nicely.  My goal is within the next month or so to be able to get it published onto the Amazon KDP site.

For those parents who also deal with snow days, take advantage of the extra time.  Instead of sleeping in--oh, I was so tempted to do this--I was able to write more.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 Lamborghini Veneno Roadster - one damn sexy dream car

With a price tag of around $4.5-million--and only nine in existence--I won't be getting one anytime soon.  But as I perused the latest ForbesLife magazine and saw this picture of the 2014 Lamborghini Veneno Roadster, I thought, "That's one damn sexy dream car."

Just thought I'd share.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Opposites attract

We've all heard the saying: opposites attract.  This is usually talked about in the real world, but it's also the same in the fictional world.

Lately, I've been watching a few different sitcoms on Netflix--all with eight or more seasons--and I've noticed how opposite many of the characters are.  For example, on the sitcom Family Ties, the parents we former hippies from the 60's who were about as liberal as they came.  Their son Alex P. Keaton, on the other hand, was a lover of Nixon and Reagan and was very right-wing.  In Wings, the two brothers who end up running the small airline were opposites: one was methodical and orderly while the other was carefree.

In your writing, look for unique ways in order to make opposites attract.  What if a girl born into the upper crust of high society fell in love with a boy who lived in the backwoods?  What if a small town cop was working a murder case and had to investigate it beside a high-charging FBI agent?

Examine your characters on a deep level and draw out these opposites.  Not only will they make your charactesr more real, your readers will relate to them better.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 10-Jan-2014 / Writing more (and blogging less)

This past weekend, I had to take an emergency trip to Rochester, MN.  Very unexpected, although with my wife's recovery and having graft vs. host attack her eyes--something she's been dealing with for almost two years now--it should really be expected.

Needless to say, I wasn't able to get my usual blogs up this week.  Then, I thought about it: why do I need to blog three days a week?  There are plenty of authors I know who don't.  Some blog more often and some who blog once a week at best--sometimes even less.

Honestly, I love blogging.  I feel I have the freedom to say whatever I want, write about what I want, and help a lot of people along the way achieve their dreams.

My big push for 2014 is to publish more.  And, with that, I may have to blog less.  I will still try get out my Friday "Happenings In The Outhouse", but if I miss one here or there, it's not going to kill me.

I've been diligently working on Shadowkill this week, editing, editing, editing.  My goal is to within the next 2 months to be able to publish it.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tales of a diabetic father: be overly prepared when traveling

During the Christmas break, my family and in-laws took a vacation to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando.

And with two diabetic kids to pack for, this was quite a feat.

I will expand on this in the near-future, but there is one thing I must advise right now: over-prepare when packing supplies for diabetics.  I can't stress this enough.  Whatever you think you need, pack a little more.

Both of my diabetes kids have Medtronic insulin pumps, and the various pieces of equipment needed is mind-boggling.  I thought I had packed enough reservoirs for the trip--a little tube to hold insulin inside the pump.  But, on our first day out, my son's needed changing because he ran out.  Now, luckily, I packed two full bottles of insulin, but I stupidly only packed two reservoirs.  I thought I had packed more.

Needless to say, I was able to reuse the reservoirs by utilizing the detachable pieces that go onto them, but that doesn't excuse the fact that I should've been more prepared.  We have another big trip around mid-February and I will make a note to bring with several extra.

A rule of thumb I now use is this: whatever I think I need, either double the amount or at least increase by fifty-percent.  If you think one full bottle of insulin is enough, add another one just to be safe.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 03-Jan-2014 / Getting back in the groove

After a long and much needed vacation, life has returned to normal--sort of, if life for our family has ever been normal over these past two and a half years.

I'll keep this short.

As of this date, I am just getting back into the groove of a near two-week writing hiatus.  It was the experience of a lifetime as our family visited Orlando and went to the Universal Studios themepark for two days and then spent another five at Walt Disney World.

We had so much fun . . . it's something I want our family--and others--to do again.  Hence, the reason I do this.

I'm concentrating on Shadowkill for the time being.  I'm currently about a dozen chapters in the editing process.

I'm also reading a book called Write. Publish. Repeat. by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt--I will review this book once it's completed, but if you haven't picked this book up and are considering self-publishing, this is the book for you.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Make No New Year's Resolutions

If you're like most, each and every year you make New Year's resolutions.  Do they ever get accomplished?  Nope.  By the middle (or at the latest the end of) January, they're all but forgotten.

Instead of resolutions, create goals.

Goals are specific and has a time limit.

"I want to lose 10 pounds in the next sixty days."

"I want to write a seventy-five thousand word novel in four months."

"By Memorial Day, I want to save $5,000."

"I want to train and prepare for the July 4th marathon."

Get what I mean?  Don't just say, I want to lose weight.  Be specific.  Set a time limit on it.