Wyatt Earp rides again?

This blog is focused on writing in general, indie books in particular and the overall process of publishing and marketing fiction books. On occasion I have gone off on tangents, not directly tied to that focus; but primarily my intent with the blog is to talk about the challenges faced by the indie author.

Maybe this is obvious, but I will state it anyway—the first and most important challenge for an author is writing a book. It begins with that first step in the journey; when you just have a hint of an idea for a book, way before you have written anything—when everything seems so clear.

I have this idea for a book. The primary character will be a retired city bus driver who has experienced a severe brain injury in an accident and now believes he’s Wyatt Earp. He goes from town to town driving his own small bus and becomes entangled in numerous intriguing plots, all due to the fact that the government has mistakenly identified him as a Russian foreign agent. The actual Russian spy was his room-mate at the hospital after his brain injury. The real Russian is also looking for the man, now known as Wyatt Earp, because he had overheard the secret plans that involved the capture of the President of the United States and replacing him with a body double.

That’s the synopsis and it sounds brilliant, don’t you agree, mom?

Yes, the original idea is always brilliant—an instant best-seller. Hello fame and fortune, I’m over here just waiting. Then you start to write. After some time; when you still have not finished chapter 1, you start to wonder about the story, maybe it needs a little fleshing out—or maybe, it should just be a short-story?

Writing is hard. Most of my books will run 65,000 to 75,000 words. That’s not a short-story. If it is a bad story, that’s way, way too long. When everything is going well for me, it seems the story almost writes itself—two, three even four thousand words a day; and I’m waking up early the next day because I can’t wait to get to it. If it is not going well—well, it just doesn’t go. Zero words per day for many, many days. But no matter your mood or how your mind is functioning (or not) that day, you’ve got to try to do something. I know when everything is going smoothly, writing is a joy, when it is going the opposite of smoothly, it is hell. Oddly, for some reason my best stuff happens when it’s going badly. Could be it’s because the story is at a challenging point, so the pressure and tension come into play creating stress, but also creative energy and focus. Probably nonsense, but I write my best when it feels like I’m full of doubt about my writing. Writing is a creative experience, and I think we know very little about how the creative process works.

Four Corners War has just been finished. This is the third book in the Pacheco and Chino series. I began this book in 2015. Got started and quickly became stuck. It was years before I returned. But during that time I never stopped thinking about the story. For years it was on my mind. I wrote other books during that time, but Four Corners War was always there—nagging me to come back. That is part of the creative process—the mind never lets you rest until you have finished.

Not all books are great or even good. With the huge number of Indie Authors writing books today; some of those books might even be bad—but every one of those books took effort. And in most cases it was a work of commitment, passion and love that generated that less than perfect masterpiece. I have great respect for people who are willing to put their creative efforts on display for others—not knowing what those others will have to say.

I’ve complained about the process of publishing, editing, cover design and, of course, advertising/marketing because those are things that have great impact on success or failure. And like most things in life, writing a book incorporates who you are and how you think about yourself—so failure is devastating. But the truth is—none of that matters. There is only one thing that matters; writing the book.

To finish Four Corners War, after many years of frustration and doubt, took only one thing—effort. All I had to do was write the book—which is what I did. Four years later.

Thanks everyone for being a reader!

Long Journey

Release Date May 15th, 2019

Fiction No More will be released next Wednesday the 15th of May, 2019. This book took longer to finish and publish than previous books (with the exception of one; Four Corners War which I will discuss in a minute). I started writing Fiction No More in June 2018. My normal pattern is to write a book in about three months. That is the time it takes for me to write a first draft of the manuscript. Typically there has been about an equal amount of time to finish the book–editing, revisions, more editing, cover design, layout –the whole other shebang is usually another three months. For a total of six months from start to finish.

I read about authors who write a book in a month and have it published in another month. There are, of course, authors who take years to write a book. There is no correct amount of time–it takes what it takes. My goal is to write three books per year. When Four Corners War is published later this year it will be my tenth book–in about 4 years. An average of 2.5 books a year. So close to my goal. The odd part is that I have had books take three or so months from start to finish and now with FNM has taken eleven months. The reason one book would be one thing and another book (with the same author and same team of people) would be so much longer is not very interesting. It’s not more complications and re-writes; it is mostly just delays, one-time disruptions–all easily described as life interfering with schedules. But it is frustrating.

No doubt none of this is very interesting; but since you are reading a blog about writing, I’m working on the assumption that your interested in the messy details of writing. When I say “team of people” this is mostly editors. No author should publish a book without the assistance of editors. It would be nice to just take the first draft and run with it–publish as is. That would be a mistake for the author and the reader. Editors have a great skill in helping authors reach the goal of writing the best book they can. They don’t rewrite the book but they make corrections, offer guidance and are a necessary element in producing a good book. In the case of FNM the first editor to work on the book was in the process of moving–which didn’t go exactly as planned and he was delayed in completing his part of the project. The editor towards the end of the process was also delayed by some miscommunication on my part. All in all it was anything that could go wrong did–the result was delays.

So now the book will be published next week almost a year from when I started writing.

Now the real champ for length of time from starting to publishing is Four Corners War. I’ve written before about my mental block regarding FCW. This is a book that I started in 2016–yep three years ago. I had zipped right through the first two Pacheco and Chino books and was all gung-ho to begin the third. Got about a fourth of the way into the book and a cloud developed. On that dark day I just stopped writing. My mind went blank. I didn’t know where the story was going–nothing felt right. It was writer’s block. I was frozen. Bottom line is that I didn’t write anything for almost a year. To try and break out of that slump I began to write a new series with a co-author; the “Murder” books with Stanley Nelson. In a relative short span of time we wrote three books. The spell was broken.

Pre-Order Soon!

I returned to FCW and just recently finished the book–it will be published later this year. The total time for one of my books at three plus years hopefully is a bad record that I never break.