Odds and Ends

I had three possible posts I was getting ready for today, but none of them are ready. So, I figured I’d do a quicker blog covering some odds and ends…

I.  Print Edition Progress

The Print Edition of In Forgery Divided is compiled and a proof has been ordered.  There are certain design issues that cannot be checked or corrected until I’ve recieved my print proof (for example, I need to know what the cover looks like with a matte finish; from past experience, I know there can be contrast issues that don’t show on a computer screen).  It should arrive just in time to have it with me while attending Ravencon.  (Probably a good thing I applied too late to be a guest, there — I’m probably going to be going through the proof while I attend panels).

Of note, I am breaking my own pricing policy with this book.  In my Self-Publishing Roundtable series, I note that most physical bookstores won’t agree to carry your book unless you charge enough for them to make a profit — another writer\blogger calculated that if you (the writer\self-publisher) are earning a $2 royalty per sale in expanded distribution, the bookstore can earn a profit selling it.

However, to get that royalty amount, I would need to charge at least $20.80 (I used Amazon’s royalty calculator to narrow it to the nearest penny).  This is mostly because the book is that much bigger than my past books.  BUT… I’ve decided not to cross that $20 line; I’ve never seen traditional publishers charge more than that amount even for the most expensive of trade paperback books, so I won’t either.  Instead, I will keep it at the same cost as Book I, charging only $18.99 a copy.  I don’t exactly earn many royalties selling it at a price like this, but I’m still making a print edition made available for those of you who want one.  Just don’t complain about the price, please — I really can’t go much lower.

II.  Sales

In Forgery Divided had the strongest launch of any book I’ve released, at least in terms of day-one sales.  Sales have remained fairly steady (though there has been a surprisingly steep dive in sales so far, today).  Of course, a few good reviews can really help with that, so please review!

The most surprising thing, though, is that it really has lifted sales for my other books.  In Treachery Forged, book I of the series, hasn’t sold this well since May of 2014.

Even The Kitsune Stratagem (which has always disappointed me with its weak sales, even though I believe it’s my best written book to date) has posted more sales than it has since December 2014 (and may end the month even better).  I guess it proves the old adage correct — “Nothing sells Book I like Book II.”

The third bit of sales news is a peculiarity:  All of my sales have come through Amazon.  This is peculiar because it’s also available from Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.  In my past books, these stores haven’t been all that large of a percentage of my sales, but they were significant enough to be worth listing there.  So far, not a single sale on any of those has shown up.  I don’t know if this is because my past customers from those stores haven’t gotten the word, or if it’s because these ebook stores just aren’t selling anything, any more.  I’m strongly considering listing my next book with KDP-Select (the exclusive-to-Amazon program), just to test some of that program’s marketing tools I’ve sacrificed to keep my books available in wide release.

III.  Ravencon

As I mentioned earlier, I will be attending Ravencon from April 29th to May 1st.  As you might imagine, it’ll be a bit difficult for me to release a blog that weekend, but I’ll see if I can’t get something ready before I leave and set it to auto-release.  And, of course, I still should have a post for next week, as well.

IV.  Coming Plans

I’m not 100% sure which book, in my “to by written” list, will be next.  I hope to move straight into Book III of the Law of Swords series, but we’ll see.  I like the idea of it, but I was feeling a bit burnt out on things by the time I finished In Forgery Divided.

Hopefully enough time has gone by that I’ll be able to work on it again, but if I find myself staring at a blank page for weeks on end I’ll probably move to something else rather than just let my writing stagnate.  I also hope to eventually get The Merrimack Event out, but of course it still needs a round of editing and some cover art, as it has for over a year now.  My mother has offered to try her hand at the cover art (It sounds a bit lame to say “my mother made my cover art,” but she does have a resumé to suggest she can handle it.  She had collegiate training in artwork and design (had she not transferred to a different college to finish her degree, she would have earned a minor in it), and has continued her education in artwork all of her life.  Her career had included design for fashion in the past, and now uses her art background in her award-winning quilt designs.  I’m just not sure it all translates well to cover design), so we’ll see how that goes.

In the meantime, of course, I’ll be continuing this blog and working on… whatever I decide to work on.  See you all next week!

Post-Publication Quality Control… (Oops)

Voltaire once wrote: “The perfect is the enemy of the good enough.”  (Well, he said something like that — translations get a bit wierd.  And he probably wasn’t the first person to say it, but I couldn’t find anything proving that.  At least it’s not another misattribution, however).

In writing, it is often used to refer to the phenomenon of never being happy enough with your finished work, and constantly revising it, to the point that your manuscript can never be good enough to publish (or submit to an editor, or… well, you get the idea).

The way to combat this is to work out all of the truly major errors, and then to set limits as to how long you take to polish out the rest (for example, “I’ll give myself until (insert date here) to make as many changes as I can” or “I’ll make one last pass and then I’m done.”  You can fudge this a bit — say, you need one or two extra days to complete a pass through, or you want to go back to make some quick changes to one particular scene one last time — but you can’t go over “deadline” too far or you’ll never finish).

There may be a few errors left in such a manuscript, even after a good proofreading, but believe it or not that’s average — in studies done comparing indie publishing to traditional publishing, there are an average of six typos or other mistakes that make it to publication by traditional publishers, even with all of the extra manpower they can afford.  One of the advantages eBooks have over print is that, if the author (or publisher) can catch these errors after the book is released, corrections can be made.

Now that “In Forgery Divided” is released and dozens of new eyes are on it, I put out a call on Facebook for people to track down any typos.  I’ve recieved a few replies, and in those few replies some minor errors (emphasis on minor) have surfaced that need correcting — about two dozen all told; a little more above average than I’m happy with, but not horribly so.  (Note: I haven’t asked permission from these people to use their names, here, but I am very thankful that they were willing to help).

So, tomorrow (or perhaps you could call it the day after tomorrow) I will be uploading a slightly revised version of “In Forgery Divided” to the various online stores where it is available for purchase (this will be happening after midnight, to minimize sales disruption). The book is quite readable as it is, and nothing substantive will change, so feel free to buy it now if you haven’t already.  My understanding is that, once I’m done uploading and the revision is approved, anyone who has already purchased the old version will get the revision the moment your Kindle (and thus far, all of my reported purchases have been for the Kindle) syncs up with Amazon.

If you’re expecting to notice any changes… well, unless there was a particular typo or missing word that caught your attention, you won’t. The changes are all insignificant to the average reader.  The book has already been edited, proofread, etc., so there aren’t even that many of these changes, and I wouldn’t bother mentioning it — I wouldn’t even bother doing it — except for one thing:

I made a mistake in the back matter.

Some of you may not be familiar with this term; it is a technical term writers and publishers use, but is not often used in common vernacular. The term, paired with “front matter,” refers to all of the material which is included inside the (virtual, in this case) binding which is not actually part of the contents of the book. This would include (if the book has them) the title page, copyright page, acknowledgements and dedications, frontispiece (either as an illustration or as a map), table of contents, maybe a foreword or afterword depending on how the book is structured, even things like cut-out coupons (in the old pulp novel days), etc.

I hope you can see why a mistake in the back matter might be a bit… frustrating to have to correct.  In my case, the mistake is the announced title for the (still to be written) third book in the “Law of Swords” series.  I used the wrong version of this upcoming novel’s title, and must swap that out for the correct “newer” (scare quotes for a reason) title.

Now, by now I’m hoping my readers understand the system in place for this novel’s titles.  The forged, from In Treachery Forged, became the Forgery in In Forgery Divided.  The Divided in that title will become “In Division” for the third book’s title… and the word following “Division” will be used in slightly modified for the fourth book’s title, etc.  I made a mistake with the 3rd book title because the title of the 4th book was also changed.

Now, in writing parlance, I am something in-between a plotter and a pantser (a plotter tends to write detailed outlines they try to follow; a pantser starts with little or no plot in mind and develops the story “by the seat of their pants,” hence the name).  While I started writing In Treachery Forged with a “seat of their pants” plot, I made plans for the future as I wrote.  By the time I was done writing, I had outlined the series to its conclusion for an expected total of five books.

This was back in 2007, before the industry changes which made self-publishing practical (yes, In Treachery Forged is that old.  Stick around and you’ll hear why it took so long).  I started reading guides on making pitches to agents, attending conventions where editors were present (at a Marscon one year, my mother went around following Toni Wiesskopf, the publishing editor of Baen Books, from panel to panel taking notes.  I, meanwhile, was tracking down all the other authors and editors at the convention — there were too many of these panels for me to attend by myself), etc., etc.  Basically, while I was revising and polishing In Treachery Forged, I was educating myself on just how to “Get Published!” in the traditional way.

A certain conclusion was reached from all of this:  Most publishers wanted to know that you had sequels planned before buying your book.  Many publishers would ask to see your outlines for these plans.  Few publishers at the time would buy an unknown, debut author’s proposed five-book series, however — with some exceptions, they were looking for trilogys, and the longer you planned it to go beyond that, the less likely a publisher would take it.

An axe was taken to my outlines.  While I couldn’t cut it back to trilogy-length, I was able to cut the length down by one book.  The story elements in Book Four were divided between books Three and Five, so book four no longer existed (and, incidentally, the final book’s title was changed as well).  I thought the plot was weakened, and that I’d still wind up with absolutely massive tomes for the new books three and four, and it still didn’t bring be down to that ideal “trilogy” length, but I’d cut out as much as I could.  “In Division Imperiled” was re-named “In Division Deceived” (the errant title in the backmatter).  I wasn’t happy about it, and saved my original plans while I started submitting to publishers.

Fast forward about six or seven years; while I’d originally expected it to take two-three years to find a publisher in that climate (as I’d been warned about through my research), I wasn’t published yet and hadn’t even gone through a quarter of my “submit to these publishers” list.  I started with the bigger names, of course — Daw, TOR, Baen, Pyr — and had a number of smaller presses on my list as well.  I knew some took longer and others shorter to reply, but I was expecting an average turn-around time for a rejection of 3 months, and an acceptance of 1-2 years.

The numbers I had read about were wrong.  Every single submission I made took longer, by far, than the “3 month average” I had read about.  One publisher held the manuscript for six months, one for a year and a half.  A third held onto it for over four years… and I had to pull it from them because they still hadn’t made a decision!

During those years I was waiting, a game-changing revolution was going on in the publishing world:  A practical system of self-publishing had been introduced.  And better yet, authors were having success at it!

I had my head in the sand.  I really wish I’d considered the idea before; trying to get myself published the traditional way was interfering with my ability to write new books, and it might have even been more profitable had I released “In Treachery Forged” just one year earlier.  Ah, well — playing “what if,” while a good way to come up with a plot for a novel, is not a viable life strategy.

At a Marscon, one year (several years after the Toni Weiskopf one), I arranged a one-on-one sit-down discussion with the editor\publisher of a small press publishing house.  It was that editor (who later shut down the traditional publishing wing of her publishing house and became a self-publisher herself; curiously, many of the authors she’d published also went the self-publishing or similar route) who talked about how the self-publishing revolution was changing the industry that finally got me to see what I was missing.

It took a while to get everything I needed together (cover art, editing, etc.), but by December of 2013, In Treachery Forged was out.  A little after that, I released Kitsune Stratagem, and started the process (which has been discussed here, before, ad nauseum) of getting the still-delayed “The Merrimack Event” ready.  Then, FINALLY, I was ready to start writing the sequel.

I found the old file with my outline.  Both versions of the outline, in fact, with both sets of planned titles.  And even though I’d had several years of seperation to detach myself from my original plans and to think about it all, the five book outline was still MUCH better than the four book outline.

And so “In Division Deceived” went back to being “In Division Imperiled.”   Just not in the back matter.

In case you were wondering, Book Four went back to being “In Peril Revealed,” instead of the four-book outline title of “In Deception Betrayed.”  I’m still undecided about the ultimate title of the fifth book (or even whether the series will stay at just five books; new plotlines have arisen that weren’t planned for; while I’m hoping to keep to the gist of the outlines I have already made intact, I’ll have to completely revamp them to account for these new subplots.  If enough new material gets added, I may have to plan on a sixth book)

And, like I said earlier, don’t worry about buying it in the meantime — you probably won’t even notice the changes.

In Forgery Divided RELEASED!

Links are still coming in, but In Forgery Divided has been released through Amazon Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc.!  Hurray!  (Please buy and review; reviews are extremely helpful)

I suppose, in a sense, this book made it by “deadline.”  It was uploaded on April 2nd (though the first live link didn’t appear until after midnight, so April 3rd).  In another sense, it’s well over a year overdue (I originally projected that I would have it out in January of 2015.  As I hadn’t even started writing by January of 2015, that was never going to happen).

Regardless, it’s out.  And I’m exhausted.  Tomorrow I’ll register the copyright (it IS protected under US copyright law, but until I register I can’t take legal action, and you must file within 30 days (or maybe it’s 60 days?  Something like that) for the full protection, but you aren’t supposed to file until after you’ve published.  Yeah, it’s stupid, but the Copyright Office is a bureaucracy, so what do you expect?), then start myself on the print edition.

Some Statistics:

This is my largest book, to day, running at over 165,000 words by Microsoft Word count.  While I don’t have an exact page count, yet, the print version will probably top four hundred pages long.

Writing the book took almost nine months.  My editor took four months for his pass.  My own review of his edits (which also was a self-editing second pass of edits) took three months.

Fun news:  The book somehow sold three copies on Amazon before I was able to find a live link.  Two of those sales, oddly enough, were in the U.K.  (I’m not certain it’s hit Amazon.au or Amazon.ca yet; those are #s 3 and 4, resepectively, for the sales of my other books).  The book went live first on Amazon, then on Kobo, then on Smashwords.  In fact, it’s gone live on Inktera — which is a little remarkable, as you have to go through a 3rd party (in this case, Draft2Digital) to get to them.  As of when I’m first typing this, it still hasn’t gone live on Nook — they’re the slowpokes, this go around.

Links for sale will be edited in below as I find they’ve gone live, or you can go to the Fennec Fox Press website (where I’ll also be posting links as they go live).

Purchase from:

Amazon

Smashwords

Nook (eventually, a day after everyone else)

Kobo

Apple iBooks

Inktera

DriveThruFiction

24Symbols

 

NOT An Official Release Date For In Forgery Divided

Well, I’m just about finished getting “In Forgery Divided” ready for release. It’s close enough I’m TEMPTED to set the release date as April 2nd, but, well, I’m really very terrible at setting schedules.  I always run late, and it always seems as if I’ll NEVER finish.

There are things that might delay me, however, like… oh… allergy season (I never used to be bothered by allergies, while everyone else in my family has had severe issues.  The last few years, however, I’ve started developing them, and they seem to hit me worse than they do any of my relatives.  Although possibly that’s just because they’re more used to dealing with them).  I’ve already lost several hours of work the past few days because my allergies were making it impossible to read off of a computer screen.

But… well, it might be out as early as April 2nd.  (It will NOT be April 1st, even if it’s ready in time; I don’t want to have people mistake the release for an April Fools gag)  And if it does run past that date, it won’t be much longer.

Edit:  Comments closed due to spammers.  (I’ve had to close more posts because of spammers than I’ve gotten real comments.  Geez)

The Fennec Fox Press Mailing List

Back when I first published “In Treachery Forged,” I — like all of the self-publishing gurus suggested in their marketing advice — set up a mailing list. That list still exists, but I haven’t posted anything to it in over a year and a half.

At the time I created the mailing list, I envisioned having a quarterly newsletter that would give people news on upcoming releases, the occasional Smashwords coupon, and maybe other things as well, and between newsletters it would be the first place you could see cover reveals and learn of new releases.

Unfortunately, the long delay between the release of “The Kitsune Stratagem” and today, when I’m a couple weeks from releasing “In Forgery Divided,” kind of killed that plan.  After all, how many times can you apologize for a delay before it starts to sound like you’re just making excuses?

So… there’s not been a post to the mailing list since then.  There are only about two dozen members (fewer, actually, checking the reported numbers), but I still feel horrible about leaving the mailing list hanging for so long.

Well, now that “In Forgery Divided” is about to be released, I am going to revive that mailing list… and this time, even if I don’t have anything to say other than that my next book isn’t ready yet, I’ll try to keep the quarterly reports coming.

The Fennec Fox Press Newsletter (#3) will be resurrected this Saturday, February 19th.  While I don’t expect there to be any news that you haven’t heard here in this newsletter, please feel free to sign up for future new releases.  From now on, cover reveals (at the very least) will be made over the mailing list first.

The Cover Art is In!

I originally was hoping to get this all the way back in October… but then again, I wasn’t ready for it back in October, anyway. I’m very close to finishing the edits, and I’ll need to tinker with this image a touch (it needs to be cropped slightly — you won’t even notice, as all I’m doing is removing the bleed edges that are built in for the print edition — to adjust the proportions for the e-Book cover. I also need to put in the title, my name as author, etc.), but here it is!  The cover for Book 2 of the Law of Swords series, “In Forgery Divided”:

cover-volume2Final

Many thanks to Alex Kolesar of No Need for Bushido!

And I Still Don’t Have That Cover Art Yet…

Okay, so I’ve got a series of posts which will go out as my cover art is finished, and still more ongoing blog post series that I intend to start\resume once “In Forgery Divided” is published.

But I’m struggling to come up with things to write allowing me to keep this blog active from one week to the next. I’d hate to start these series (or RE-start them) just to have to set them aside one week later for the “In Forgery Divided” push.  And I’ve already missed my regular Sunday blog twice in the last three weeks, so I don’t want to just skip it again.

So, I’m going to make a desperate plea (desperate because, while I know there are some people who actually read this blog, none of them ever comment here) for people to put in there suggestions for a Sunday Blog topic you want covered. If I actually get any, and if the cover is delayed for ANOTHER week, I’ll try and use them.

Administrative note:  Comments using the acronym “SEO” are banned.  Why?  Because, even though the people who actually READ this blog rarely seem to comment, I still have a ton of spam comments I have to deal with.  I was starting to get close to five spam comments a day on “SEO optimization” and whatnot.  Ugh.  If you DO legitimately want to talk about Search-Engine Optimization, contact me by Twitter or Facebook and I’ll consider it.

Tragic, Epic, and Heroic Commercials

So… that cover art that I was promised would be done two weeks ago still has not been completed yet (I’ve gotten two drafts in the past two weeks, both further along in completion than the previous week, but nothing final yet. Until it’s final, I’m not paying for it, and until I pay for it, I can’t post any of the cover drafts here). And I’m still working my way through the clean-up of the edits; that’ll probably take me another couple weeks.

I missed adding a blog last week (actually, I wrote about 75% of this post last week, but then forgot to finish and post it), and I don’t think it would be a good idea to miss two Sunday Blogs in a row during a period I should be trying to ramp up interest in my upcoming novel, so I’ve got to figure out something to add as a filler.

Well, I’ve got an idea inspired by the buzz over “Superbowl Commercials.” Now, I wish I’d remembered to finish this post and get it out there last week, when it would have been more timely, but it isn’t really about the Super Bowl. It’s about commercials.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that none of these ads aired during any Superbowl, ever.  Specifically, I was looking for good commercials which, in just a minute or two, maybe without even a single spoken word, were stories that fit the elements of an Aristotilian tragedy, a classical epic, and\or a heroes journey.

Tragedy

Let’s start with the Aristotilian Tragedy of these examples.  (And I’m using this link because that’s what came up in the Google search;  I could cite print books for all of these literary forms, but I couldn’t link to them).  As the link says, these tragedies include:  Plot, Character, Thought, Diction, and Spectacle.  Oh, yes, and a musical number.  And it ends with a catharsis.  Only the first two (plot and character) are truly required, but let’s see how many of them this commercial can get into its one minute and two seconds of length.

 

Plot:  It’s a fairly simple plot, but any sporting event has plots and subplot.  This may be only the last few seconds of one such sporting event, but you’ve effectively got all the details you need for the game there — it’s clearly a special game (homecoming, most likely, though maybe a playoff game), but the home team heroes lose to the visiting team (cast as the villains in the piece, sort of) in the last second.  The strange thing about this “plot” is that it’s complete in the first thirty-five seconds of the minute long commercial; the rest is denouement.

Character:  Lots of characters in this one.  You’ve got the home team hero, holding the ball.  You’ve got the “villain” who steals it.  You’ve got the coach, who recognizes what is going to happen only too late.  The cheerleaders, who are watching in shock.  There’s certainly no lack of characters.

Thought:  In this case, ‘thought’ refers more to theme than anything.  And the theme is one of loss.  Yes, it’s just the loss of a basketball game, but that’s still a loss.

Diction:  Okay, I gotta admit, there isn’t a single word written or spoken in the whole thing, which makes anything you could call ‘diction’ (the “expression of the meaning of the words”) hard to find.  I don’t think that should disqualify it as a tragedy, though.

Spectacle:  The spectacle, in Aristotilian tragedy, is the part least related to literature.   In essence, it refers to the special effects, the props, the staging, etc.  Now, everything about this whole ad is spectacle — the slow motion, the dark lighting, that spinning tiger’s head… it’s all spectacle.  But, in this case, it’s the spectacle that makes all the previous elements work.

Music:  There is no spoken word, no “chorus” as Aristotle would think of it… but the music that plays throughout this commercial just sets the mood.  Lacrimosa, from Mozart’s Requiem (a song for the dead), is appropriately mournful, and the spectacle and the theme (or thought) are perfectly set up by this music.

Catharsis:  And here is where it uses the elements of a tragedy to be a good ad.  I’m not even sure the advertisers thought of it this way, but at the end of this tragedy, the “Catharsis,” the way to purge yourself of the tragic emotions that this commercial evokes, is to buy the shoe they’re trying to sell.  And all they need to do this is to show you an easily-recognized logo, and suddenly you know.

Epic

Now, ‘epic’ is a word that has come to mean a lot of things.  To be clear, I’m referring to whether or not a single commercial can fit the classical epic tradition.  The form of “epic” your High School English teacher used to refer to works such as Gilgamesh, Homer’s Oddysey, Beowulf, and the like.   Huge works, typically, that included specific elements:  A hero, who does great deeds, across a vast setting, highly stylized, with an element of divine intervention, ending with a heroes reward.

I had an English teacher who delighted in pointing out how the Princess Bride espoused all of these — a relatively short comedy, which you wouldn’t normally think of as an epic at all — but even that is massive compared to the one minute twenty second ad below:

The young boy in this commercial is our Hero.  You might say he’s on a quest to woo the maiden fair, or you might just say he’s a little preteen kid, but he is certainly — from a literary perspective — the hero of this piece.

Again, there’s not a single spoken word (beyond the name “Lily”), lending to a very stylized form of storytelling.  Arguably, this is a story which would have had a lot less impact if it had used words… (especially since this ad was for a European supermarket chain, and the language isn’t one I’m familiar with).

Now, let’s get this out of the way now:  You might consider this too “small” in scope and setting to be an epic.  After all, it’s really just two houses across the street from one another, with a brief scene in a department store.  But scope is relative; for a character like our Hero, someone who is still into making bed forts and the like, ‘across the street’ might as well be ‘across the galaxy.’  But what about the other elements of an epic?

Does he do great deeds in his quest?  Well, yes — he completes the snowmen for the girl he’s crushing on.  With remarkable likenesses.  In one night.  Sneaking past his overprotective (as seen by the father covering up his eyes) parents’ guard to do so.  Considering the scope of the characters, that was a tremendous deed.

But our Hero is still struggling to find a way to ask the girl out.  Obviously, he settles on a note… but how to deliver it?  He considers several options, but he either can’t find the courage or the technique he needs to give it to the girl face to face.  And there is where the divine intervention comes in… in the form of a Han Solo doll:  Searching for inspiration, he sees his little Han Solo doll pointing in the direction of his Stormtrooper helmet… and suddenly he knows just what to do.

And in the end, he is rewarded by the girl coming over (in Leia costume, accompanied by a Chewbacca-dog) for Christmas dinner, gift in hand.

Brings tears to my eyes… (literally, the first time I saw it).

The Heroes Journey

Many years ago, Joseph Campbell wrote the definitive work describing the Heroes Journey.  Now, I would recommend reading the whole book, but a simple summary of what he’s talking about can be found here:  It starts in a relatively ordinary world, but the hero recieves a call to adventure.  First he refuses, but then finds a mentor who guides him into the journey ahead.  He crosses the first threshold, finds allies and enemies, has setbacks, crosses a major hurdle, and then gets a reward.  After being rewarded, he starts on a journey back to his ordinary life, wherin he must use everything he has learned, and those things help him apply that knowledge to his once-again ordinary life.

That’s twelve steps; in a two minute commercial (far longer than most commercials in the US, but the example I’m giving was aired in South Africa), that just leaves you just ten seconds for each element.  Not possible, you say?  Well…

(incidentally, his may very well be my favorite of these three ads)

Let’s see:  We have a hero who has an ordinary life, who has made a living for himself without ever learning how to read.  It can be assumed that at some point, he decided to ‘refuse the call to adventure’ that is learning how to read, but there is this mysterious man in a poster who encourages him to learn how — his “mentor.”

He crosses the first threshold at the very start of this commercial, buying some books on how to read.  He finds allies in his teacher, his wife, the shopkeeper at the fishmarket, his buddies at the cafe that he plays Scrabble against, etc.  He has setbacks  (spelling cat “kat”), but he crosses a major hurdle (getting the “gold star”) and completes his adult literacy class (the reward).  He starts his journey back to an ordinary life by opening the book his “mentor” had written, using his newfound literacy to read it… before finally meeting with said mentor, who turns out to be his son, who you can tell is just so impressed that his father would learn how to read just to read his book that he has to celebrate… and in a way that the ordinary man would appreciate:  With a Bell’s Scotch Whiskey.

Another ad that brought tears to my eyes…

Conclusion

Are you readers of this blog following what I’m doing here?  These are great commercials not necessarily because they sell the product (two of the products — Kaufman’s grocery store and Bell’s Scotch — aren’t even available in my country; the third, a type of shoe, is for a variety of shoe I don’t need) but because they really are stories, accomplishing in just one or two minutes what the greats of literature needed prolonged stories to tell.

You could sum it up as “size doesn’t matter when it comes to story,” but I’m not really trying to put a moral on this.  I’m just celebrating great storytelling.  And these ads tell great stories.

It’s such a shame that most advertisers these days think the likes of “puppymonkeybaby” (no video or link added because I don’t want to have to watch it again to find it) are great ads.  After all, they think, everyone’s talking about it (in horror and disgust, but who cares about that?), so it must be good.  Who cares about great storytelling when you’re the talk of the Superbowl?

Sigh.

Edit:  Comments closed due to spammers.

So, I’m Cleaning Up My Edits…

As I’ve mentioned the past couple of weeks, I’ve been cleaning up the edits for “In Forgery Divided” in preparation for its release (I’m still waiting on the cover art, as well. I was promised a copy of the pending-final-approval finished product “in a week” last Monday. Still 29 hours to go…). I’ve noticed a few things that should be mentioned (and those of you who follow me on Facebook might have seen a couple of these points before):

1. I’ve frequently heard “Your book will shrink by 20-30% as it’s edited.” When I edited book one (In Treachery Forged), this was largely true, but it hasn’t been true since. “The Kitsune Stratagem” increased in size, starting at just over 140,000 words and ending almost exactly 10,000 words larger. So far, about five chapters in, “In Forgery Divided” is keeping pretty darn close to the same number of words as it was in the first draft (despite a number of changes, the cuts and the additions seem to have balanced each other out). (I wish I could say what “The Merrimack Event” was doing, but I have yet to decide on an editor for it. In pre-editor self-edits, however, I did cut out about 30,000 words).

2. I’ve frequently heard “Those parts you struggled with the most when writing will be the best parts; the ones you thought were easy will wind up needing the most edits.” Again, this just hasn’t matched up with my experience. Through everything I’ve written, the things that I’ve had the easiest time with have had the fewest editorial comments (save some proofreading issues largely caused by my mild dyslexia; that doesn’t seem effected by the difficulty of the writing at all). The things I’ve struggled with the most in writing have had the most editorial comments. That pattern is (SO FAR) matching my experience with “In Forgery Divided” as well.

3. I didn’t really think of it as editing, but as I clean up the edits I recieve I’m doing a lot of editing myself. I’d say I’m more of a second-pass self-editor at this stage. I don’t just make the corrections my paid for (or bartered for, in this case) editor suggest; I read every word (well, more or less) and do my own editorial work. I don’t know if I do more edits than the paid for editor or not, but I do a lot of them.

4. I hate missing opportunities, but that can happen in the middle of a big project like this. When I was working to get “In Treachery Forged” released, I missed out on an opportunity to be part of a cross-promotional anthology because I was too busy. This time, an opportunity came up to volunteer as a beta reader for a bigger-named author — something which can really help a guy in the professional networking department. Unfortunately, I’m deep into the edits, and didn’t have time. I almost volunteered anyway, but by the time I figured out how I could handle it the author was full up.

5. Lots of people enjoy snow because it gives them time off. When you’re writing or editing, you get no time off; you lose time. You still have to work and you ALSO have to tire yourself (or injure yourself; pulled a muscle in my shovel arm) out shovelling on the same day. A blizzard can really kill your momentum.

I’m sure I’ll have more observations at some point. I may even get them into blog form, some day… but my blogs will continue to be a bit sparse until I finally get the book out.