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Third Life: New Cover

Well, it finally happened. One of many nightmares indie authors have. The original stock photo I used for my Third Life cover was being used by another author with an upcoming release. This author private messaged me and after revealing she purchased hers as a premade I decided to just make a new cover so neither of us had to show up to the ball wearing the same dress. It was a fun experiment for me. I’m not the most artistic person but I know how to have a little fun on photoshop.

I went to unsplash.com and found a stock image that I thought looked pretty creepy. It also perfectly captured the gridded and high walled streets in the Formation (the main tribe in Third Life). From there I removed the person in the image and put the figure in a new layer so they stood out a little more, since they’re the only individual who steps out of line in the Formation. I really played up their individuality by upping the crap out of the contrast.

I added the three hearts over their head–you’ll find out why when you read the story. . . screw that you’ll find out now, everyone in the Formation gets three lives. (wait I might’ve mentioned that in my last post anyway lol).

I cropped the sky because it was too bright and distracting and added the text, messed around with the layers until I got a cool reflection under the title and bam! I have a new book cover.

What do you guys think of it?Third Life FX

Third Life: Edits have begun

Welcome to the land of no names. I started my edits on Third Life this morning. It isn’t long, only 20k words so more or less 80 pages. It is fun though. Only two characters have names, the protagonist, and his brother. The rest are nameless, and eventually faceless, except the two leaders of warring tribes. They don’t have names but titles.

I am really excited about this story because it’s the first time in a while that I really let my imagination run free. It’s not that the audience wasn’t on my mind; it’s more that I care about them in the edits and not so much in the rough draft. Part of the issue I had with the Absolute, and part of the reason I lost the excitement of it is it just sorta lost its way. When I originally wrote it, it was more the kind of content my mind goes to on its own. A story with a big question that could never actually happen.

It became something bland. Something that reads like I was overly concerned with pleasing everybody that it just became boring.

Thid Life is definitely not for everybody. I’m not even sure if it’s any good, but I know I’m excited about it. I built a world of rigid discipline. A world where life is cheap, people get more than one, and its sole purpose is to serve a higher purpose. The two tribes fighting believe in opposing purposes, one to the world and the other to the longevity of those who are living.

What I am most concerned about is my info dumping. I was so excited to create this brand new world that I think I got carried away, particularly in the first chapter, with explaining every detail. It’s also difficult to edit because I want those details there, and part of the reason I think the info dump might work is that it occurs during moments of “blank stare,” which is a side effect of adults in the Formation (the tribe the main character is a part of).

I hope to finish my first round of edits this weekend and send it off to some beta readers. I’m always looking for more so if that’s something that interests you please shoot me an email on my contact page.

I was forcing the Absolute because I really felt like I needed a full-length novel out, but I think it would be best if I give it a brief pause and work on some of my novella ideas. I also think that would be best for the people who actually read my work because it means more content!

Know your ending

I know the title of this post seems obvious. The most important part of a book after all is the ending. People can disagree with me all they want but I will stand my ground, you can come back from a shitty beginning and middle but there’s no coming back from a shitty end. The culmination of all your hard work into a rushed pile of garbage is something you want to avoid. It would be much better to smear fertilizer all over the page and let a beautiful vegetable garden sprout on the final pages.

Lol sorry, I didn’t mean to go poetic at the end. I’m a little out of it this morning. It’s been a long week at school and it’s only Tuesday. But I digress.

As I mentioned in the title, before you start writing you should know the destination. This is not a call to outline the entire book, just know the cardinal direction of it. That way you can spend the entire novel trying to get there.

The reason I am emphasizing knowing your ending is that one issue I have when I write is that I think I know my ending then I write myself out of it and have to come up with something new.

The reason I am posting this advice today is that yesterday I finished my rough draft of Third Life and since I now have a physical ending that I’m in love with I know how to fill the rest of the story with actions, clues, and props that will make the ending POP. Honestly, this is more a post to remind me that I need to focus more on my endings before every aspect of the writing process. Far too many times I have changed my ending mid-story and while being flexible when writing has opened me up to some pretty cool twists it’s also sent me down some pretty miserable rabbit holes.

The Absolute for example used to be about a writer who wanted to kill God. Now it’s about a painter remembering the importance of family. Both of these stories have absolutely sucked lol (part of the reason I’ve taken a break from editing The Absolute).

Wow, this post is already longer than it needed to be. I’m just gonna end it here and repeat the title. Know your ending before you start writing. It makes the process SO much easier.

Review: Neverwhere

Wow that was fantastic!

I listened to the audiobook because my brother recommended it to me. Neil narrates it himself, which I thought was really cool.

When I think of Urban fantasies this is now the first book that will pop into my head. Neil built this incredible world below London, that weaved in and out of our reality seamlessly. I think he benefited from calling on existing infrastructures like the London Underground to give a sort of map, but he worked it into the story beautifully. There were no info dumps, everything was concise and hung tight to the plot.

It also benefited having chapters follow different characters like the Marquis and the cutthroats Croup and Vandemar because I saw how vast London Below was and learned certain rules of bartering I probably wouldn’t have learned without those chapters.

The story is plot-driven, following the quest of Door, and Richard tags along once he is accidentally brought into this world. Richard starts as a fly on the wall for the reader to see London Below but as the story unfolds he becomes an active participant in the quest.

That’s why the story is never boring. It’s an active story. The team is never waiting for their quest to find them they’re actively seeking answers and all their accomplishments are earned.

My final note might give away the ending. I’m sensitive to giving away spoilers so if it bothers you stop reading here.
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By the end of the book, we become Richard trying to open a door to London Below. We want to re-enter too.

Review: Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires EverywhereLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’d probably give this 3.5, I guess. I don’t know. I didn’t like this book, but I feel like I should. Ng is a phenomenal writer but I just couldn’t get into this book. The first chapter was amazing and I thought I was in for something special.

There was a clear theme of ignorance in the “progressive” town of Shaker Heights that only outsiders and Izzy could see. The reason I couldn’t get into this book was that all the supporting characters felt a little thin. Like they weren’t actually people just there to show how ignorant and selfish the people of Shaker Heights were.

Mia was obviously a fantastic character and had multiple chapters dedicated to her backstory and why she became the artist she was/why she had the feelings about the central conflict that she had. By the end of the story it felt like there really wasn’t a choice. Mia’s side was clearly in the right and the Richardsons and the McCulloughs were too ignorant to ever really support. I don’t know. I know there are really people like them in the world. I know why this book is so popular and it deserves the success it’s had.

I just couldn’t get into it.

View all my reviews

Upcoming Story: Third Life

So, I had this vision of a character who walked around all day with a gun to his head. The world operated on a strike system. Ya know, three strikes and you’re out sorta thing, except in this case out is—

Anyway, I never went anywhere with the story idea. When I thought about it throughout the day it never felt like a story, it seemed more like a painting. A cool concept that would require too many “whys?” to actually get the plot off the ground.

Last week I finally decided to do something about it. As I think I’ve mentioned before I’ve been on a bit of a short (long) story kicker and have a few projects on my computer that are in the 50-70 page zone. Not ideal for a marketing standpoint, not something I’m ever going to build a career out of, but long enough to tell the stories that have been on my mind lately.

Third Life

This is the working cover for the story. Please be polite with your criticism of it.

When I started writing the story, I kept the general concept. The world was based on discipline, everyone inside it operated within a strict framework and any wavering from their orders would cost them.

The deaths became less graphic in my writing than they were in my head. People weren’t literally carrying around the device that would kill them if they strayed. Instead, it turned into an old video game style death. Lose three hearts and you just sorta blink out of existence.

What really took this story off the rails though was all the “whys?” Those pesky whys really make or break the story. This may be a piece of shit but damn it’s got some layers to it. Some I try to make obvious, others less so.

As some of you know my current obsession with writing has been technology vs. nature. The QT Pi series I’m working on is ALL about that. This story is unique in that it isn’t necessarily the nature of our planet.

It’s not much of a spoiler to say this since the whole concept is built around lives inside a video game, but this doesn’t take place in our world at all. It’s a nature verse technology fight in a realm of technology.

I’m trying not to say too much cause I’m worried I’m gonna give something away, and it’s probably all sounding like gibberish, but I’m really excited to share this story with you. I think the next few projects I publish will be short 50-70 page stories. I’ll probably bundle them all together too, all while I continue editing The Pathetic Tycoon and The Absolute.

50 page stories

I’m curious what people think of longer stories. Not quite novella length but larger than anything they’d find in a lit journal. I have two stories I am working on now, both in the 10,000-15,000 word range. I think they are cool, unique ideas that stand alone. There is no point to make them any longer if the story is served in that length so adding extra words to meet some quota word count seems self-defeating.

What’re your thoughts on these stories? Are they enjoyable? Should they be published online for free or listed on Kindle and KU. Should they be used to entertain newsletter subscribers? Do you enjoy writing them yourself?

I like how effective they are at delivering a theme. Like my one story deals with balance, life and death, loss. The main character isn’t on a journey to save his family; he’s on a quest to make sure he says goodbye properly.

The story I’m further along with is my usual technology vs nature theme only it has more twists than I’m used to at doesn’t villainize one side or the other. It’s more this is the existence of a fictional landscape and they’re finding balance.