New Paintings, and I Got Interviewed!

"Budding for Spring." 4 x 6 inches.

“Budding for Spring.” 4 x 6 inches. Done as a birthday present for my wonderful mom.

Good morning everyone! I have a couple of new acrylic paintings to share. Sorry I haven’t gotten much writing done, but that’s changing this afternoon, God willing. There’s stories to be finished in them there hills.

In other news, I got interviewed about my artwork by the New Falcon Herald, a local newspaper. The article should appear in their April edition. It was a very welcome surprise, and will hopefully lead to more commissions. Might even be able to support myself with the artwork, sooner or later!

"Sentry." 4 x 6 inches

“Sentry.” 4 x 6 inches. Donated to Crosses for Losses.

I am also working on a fourth science fiction story for Amazon Kindle. It’ll be the fourth episode of the¬†Arrivers series, which is made up of the three stories on my Author’s Page now.

Happy Friday everyone!

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I Have Another Story Out!

“Refugee,” the sequel to my sci-fi story “Escaping,” is officially out! ūüôā Hope you enjoy it! It’s 99 cents now, and much longer than the first entry.¬†http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D49LERC

Tobias Carter and Reverend Rousseau find a woman stealing medical supplies from their doomed warship. Should they trust her claim that she’s trying to help them, or is she part of a larger threat to them and the rest of the crew?

“Escaping” is still free through Saturday, so I’ll post the link here as well:¬†http://www.amazon.com/Escaping-A-Short-Story-ebook/dp/B00BRRUWMG

I think these tales are swiftly growing into a serialized adventure. With luck I can start offering more tales like this.

Thanks for your time, everyone!

Revived is Finally Revised

My first novel,¬†The Wolfglen Legacy: Revived, has finally been revised. Once I give it time to breathe (leaving it alone for 3-4 weeks) and then do a final polish, it will be ready to send off to an agent. Almost every necessary tweak and critique has been done, and it’s ready to go. I still can’t believe I actually pulled this off.

[EDIT: I should add that my deadline for December 3rd had to be pushed back to the 6th, thanks to my laptop crashing on me. But the point is that I finished on time, and now I can go see The Hobbit with some friends on opening night! Yay!]

In celebration, I’d like to share the theme song from¬†The Avengers. You know, because it sounds very triumphant.

Craziness, Quirkiness, and Storytelling

There seems to be a lot more craziness in speculative fiction with the self and independent publishers getting so much more attention. Craziness meaning “everything and the kitchen sink and Cthulhu and steampunk and superheroes and werewolves and…” all crammed into one novel. And honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredible that writers have new opportunities to break away from the mold and unlatch their stories from genre conventions. It gives them more chances to be original, to entertain readers, and give their creativity free reign. I’m just worried that the focus of speculative fiction will move from “tell great stories and be original when possible” to “take all that is adored by geek culture and mash it together.”

When the story starts to look less like a harrowing tale of fantasy or science fiction and more like a written collage of everything featured in the last five episodes of Felicia Day’s “Flog,” I get a little nervous. Nothing wrong with Felicia Day, though. She’s awesome.

I’m a little wary of these types of fiction because there is a higher danger of the story’s quality and the characters’ depth falling prey to quirkiness and ADHD worldbuilding. That doesn’t always happen, of course. Some masterful craziness has been done, like China Mieville’s incredible 2000 novel Perdido Street Station. And I am confident that there is someone out there who can tell a great story about a ninja zombie pirate and his Victorian-dressed steampunk weapon-wielding girlfriend fighting psychic dragons in an alternate 1945 New York City that has been devastated in the wake of a Martian invasion.

But do you see how exhausting and confusing it is to get through all of those ideas, just to give the setting and larger story conflict? You’ll have a lot on your plate trying to tell a quality story through that Sargasso Sea of adjectives and mishmashed details.

Again, I’m not saying “Don’t write that story. Ever.” Merely asking you to proceed with extreme caution. Be sure you have a captivating story first, one that can uphold the weight of everything you intend to add.

Or maybe I’m just slow to catch up. Heck, the wildest thing I’m doing is putting dinosaurs in a far future fantasy world, and I’m wondering if even that much is a stretch.

My First Interview

Well, for the first time in my life as a writer, I have officially been interviewed. Rob Killam, good friend and zombie connoisseur extraordinaire, has just had our exchange posted to the Pikes Peak Writers blog. Check it out! It is about my pitch appointment with a literary agent at the PPWC, and I’m glad Rob decided to interview me about it.

http://pikespeakwriters.blogspot.com/2012/05/pitch-under-fire-interview-with-john-k.html

Pikes Peak Writers Conference: Coming Up Fast

Well, as I have stated before, the Pikes Peak Writers Conference is coming up fast. Slightly under two weeks until we are there. Right now, it costs about $450, but I’m passing along the word that it’s one of the top ten writers conferences in the country, and is the friendliest overall. Seriously, a¬†Marriott¬†with a great view of Pikes Peak, you’re surrounded by professionals – writers and agents and editors with years of experience – and quality dining and service from the hotel. What’s not to love about that idea?

There’s still time to register. If you are a writer who wants to expand their career, make connections in the business, and meet with hundreds of other writers, this is the place to be.

With people like Robert Crais, Jeffrey Deaver, Donald Maass, Susan Wiggs, Kevin J. Anderson, Bree Ervin, Ronald Cree, Angel Smits, etc., there will be hundreds of fellow writers, either going for the first time to give their professional careers a shot of adrenaline, or returning veterans who have stayed with the conference since it was formed twenty years ago. And you will be hard-pressed to find a more pleasant city to hold an event like this.

Hope to see you there!

Why I Picked Traditional Publishing, part II

Self-publishing is great for those who are willing to pay out of their pockets to hire editors, cover artists, print-on-demand services for anyone who orders a hard copy of the book, etc. And that is no small task. There are a lot of balls to juggle when you self-publish that take time away from actual writing. All the marketing, formatting, financial records, and production falls into¬†your¬†lap. Even if you hire people to help, you’re still the boss. And some writers are great at handling challenges like that, ready and willing to do that extra work. To them I say bravo.

But that’s not for every writer. Writers are anything but uniform, and that goes for the challenges they’re willing to tackle. Self-publishing can be a tragedy for someone who might have done great with a traditional publisher, if they fall apart trying to hold up their own island by themselves. There is still a need for traditional publishers, because not all writers can carry that burden. The real tragedy is that self-publishing makes it very hard to be respected in that old-fashioned world. If you self-publish, then decide that traditional might be the next step…well, let’s just say there are few tales (in this industry) of prodigal sons who were lovingly accepted back “into the family.”

And as far as my own fiction writing goes, I know that the best chance to serve a reader lies with the experienced men and women of a traditional publishing house.

My other reasons for sticking with traditional publishing for as long as possible are legion. I’ll do my best to express them here, hopefully giving you food for thought. Again, I’m not knocking self-publishing, and I’m not saying my road is the best one for you. It’s up to you to decide whether to embark on the adventure of self-pubbing, or to say “there’s no school like the old school” and enter the imperiling realm of agents, editors, copyeditors, contracts, and royalty checks.

1. I have already been published traditionally. My work went public, even with critical and often painful editorial guidelines breathing down my neck (of course, my only credit so far has been a short story and a couple of articles, but it still counts). Having any street cred at all will go a long way to get a publishing house to pay attention to you. Some houses are more mindful of it than others, but the point is, it helps.

2. I am willing to hunt for a literary agent, and keep submitting queries and proposals until I snag one who will stand up for my novels.

3. I am willing to spend the time and effort to shape up a proper contract with a publisher, with hefty doses of advice from said agent.

4. If I get a contract I don’t like, I don’t need to sign it. Agents and publishers expect compromise and negotiation, so if I think I’m getting a raw deal, then I have every right to ask for something better.

5. Despite what a number of self-pubbing advocates say, traditional publishers¬†are¬†still doing marketing for their books. Granted, they expect you to get your name out there and sell the book through blogs, social media, and book signings. And they do rely more on that kind of marketing than they used to. But they don’t abandon you to the sharks; they still take care of putting ads in magazines, and send review copies to critics and review journals like¬†Publishers Weekly¬†and¬†Library Journal. Those review copies are¬†important,¬†especially if your book gets a favorable review.

6. Legitimate publishing houses pay for the editing, formatting, cover art, printing of the first hard copies, and everything else a self-publisher needs to pay for out of their own pocket. I’d rather just write the book, and trust them to take care of those other things for me.

Of course, with editing and my pitch appointment still in the future, it’s easier for me to be optimistic about going with a traditional publisher. I haven’t yet had my heart ripped out and seen my novel disregarded. But when April comes…we shall see. We shall see indeed. And I’m willing to risk a year or two of hunting for agents or publishers. I’m willing to risk poor reviews before the book’s release. I’m willing to risk my career on the decisions of an editor-in-chief deciding whether to buy my books. I don’t trust myself to juggle all the things a self-publisher needs to juggle. And I’m still willing to trust people who, if they bought my novels, would have a vested interest in my success.

Whatever path you choose for your writing, may you be blessed and joyful on your journey.