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A Saturday Night Revelation

Over the course of one's writing career, one must tackle obstacle after obstacle. Whether it be querying to an agent/publisher or just getting that first draft onto the screen, one must overcome obstacles if one is to grow in this business.

I learned that on Saturday night.

In my scant few years as an author, I've learned about showing and not telling (I have a HUGE problem with that), pacing a story so it moves fast (it's why I don't write romance), and I've learned about an author's voice.

Now let's be clear with something. Before a few months ago, I had no idea of the differences between active voice and passive voice. I truly didn't: The Fitchburg Public School system must have forgot that part. Either that or I was distracted that day. Who knows? I just had no idea about it. Sue me.

Eliminating passive voice can be tricky if you have no idea what you're doing. Once I found out that I had a bunch of passive voice in my work, I went back into the soon-to-be released OBLOERON: THE RISE OF THE DARK FALCON and removed it to the best of my ability; my editor has it now. I then went through the next two books that will be released in the first half of 2011 and removed passive voice.

And then on Saturday night, I went into one of my previous-published books and did a complete re-edit.

Commercial time: While I read/edited ONE HERO, A SAVIOR on Saturday, I found it to be one of my best works. I don't give this book enough credit, I think. It just doesn't have a huge audience because of the Christian overtones, but hey, whatcha gonna do? The prose is descriptive, the sword fights fast-paced. The reader can feel themselves in the world. End of commercial.

Of course, this was a book I wrote four years ago and released three. The big question is, why didn't I have someone else look at it before I published it?

My answer: I don't know. I'm not using my lack of knowledge as an excuse. I failed, but in the great scheme of things, it's not a huge failure -- especially in this grand time of digital publishing. With an eBook, an author can load a completely fixed version and have it ready for sale a couple of hours later. You can't do that with an ink and paper book: You have to wait months.

The huge failure on my part would have been if I did not take the knowledge I know now and did not apply it to the past. That would have been the failure; the failure of keeping crappy writing in the market instead of doing everything in my power to correct it.

(And yes, that means I see myself going through THE OBLOERON TRILOGY and TURNING BACK THE CLOCK to see where I messed up and fixing it. Oh, the life of an author.)

Now that I know this, I can keep it out of my writing the first time. I hope.

www.johnfitchv.com
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We have a few things to discuss in this edition of Crossing Swords.

First off, Happy Halloween. Any time you get to portray someone else and get sweet stuff for absolutely nothing is a good day in my book.

Secondly, the past month of so has been one of epic rollercoaster proportions, so I'm not sad to see it come to an end. I've had lingering medical issues taken care of -- in one four-day span, I had the great pleasure of hitting my local emergency room twice: once on a Monday night to have my tooth looked at, and then early Thursday morning to have an abscess drained; this past Monday, I had the tooth removed -- so for the first time in a while, I'm pain-free, minus the occasional back pain/knee pain episode. What can I say? I'm getting old, and I'm only (age redacted). There is also the fact I don't have health insurance (yet), so that's a pain in the patella.

That same Thursday was emotional. In edition to the abscess being drained, I got a rejection e-mail from a potential publisher on my space sci-fi novel, then a couple hours later, received an e-mail from my local independent bookstore saying they would be interested in stocking Turning Back The Clock, my newest release, and have me do a reading. Woooohooooo!

So what did I decide to do? I decide to read a couple of chapters, and lo and behold, what did my eyes see? A couple of grammatical errors. Curses!!

The problem there is that it would have been easily corrected if I hadn't sent the book to the "publisher" for a proof -- and had already paid for said proof. I made the corrections and re-submitted it, then paid again. I love my life at this point, kids.

Then this past Wednesday, I received what I was hoping would be my final proof (at that point, I was up to three proofs after I had my girlfriend and a friend of mine each take a look at the book for errors) and approved it. I then wrote up a ton of press releases proclaiming today was a Happy Bookday for Johnny, and that every member of Red Sox Nation would want to buy my book and celebrate. As I was posting the prologue and first chapter to my Facebook pages, I noticed something -- a very hideous, glaring error that was all my fault. Apparently, for the past three years, I have been operating under the delusion -- for the prologue, at least -- that the American League Championship Series is played in August, not October. Epic fail.

Suffice it to say, I was not pleased with myself, and I was pretty close to tears. The only thing I can say is that my eyes told my brain that it was right, or that I subconsciously thought I had written October when I sat down to write this book. I made the change again, paid again, and I approved the fourth proof yesterday afternoon. There will be no additional changes.

Am I happy? I am in the regard that I have a 307-page book for sale now, and that it is finally out there for public consumption. I am truly happy about that: I feel it is the best thing I've ever written. What I'm not happy about is that the book became the bane of my existence for the past month, and I figure that now I have to sell about 55 books, give or take a few, before I break even and start to make any money on it. Hopefully a few signings and some hefty orders from local booksellers will help me out in that regard.

Bring on November.

***

Let's see, where are we? Oh yes. Since today is Halloween, that means that starting at midnight -- the one approaching, mind -- National Novel Writing Month in here! I'm proud to announce that I will be participating. Its my first shot at doing this "contest," and I'm very happy to be taking part. A 50,000-word novel in 30 days? That should be nothing after Turning Back The Clock, which, for the first draft, was 102,000 words written in five weeks.

My goal for this project is, at the very least, 2,500 words per day. I should be able to do that no problem. Anything over that would be gravy. I'm hoping that on Nov. 1 I can at least double that. I will be starting right at midnight, and I've had a few weeks since I finished my last project -- a series of short stories revolving around my Obloeron fantasy world -- to think about the opening chapter. I will be reviewing my notes this afternoon, giving me the opportunity to get my thoughts in order before I jump into this project.

And so you know, I will try to update the blog a little more often, especially during this month: I really only blog while I'm in first-draft mode, so my goal is to update the blog at least twice, possibly three times, a week. Mainly I blog about what I'm feeling at the moment, a little overview of what I've written, and how much I feel I have left to write about. I try to make it as interesting as I can: This is probably my favorite part of the writing process -- the creativity, the crafting of words, the weaving of sentences and paragraphs and chapters.

***

This project will also be the start of a whirlwind year for this author, although I'm thinking the past six months or so have been the start of a whirlwind 18 months: I started and finished the third Obloeron prequel, I looked over my edits on the space sci-fi novel, brainstormed the Obloeron short stories, brainstormed the project I begin at midnight, wrote the Obloeron short stories in five weeks, went crazy with TBTC. Now that I've released TBTC and am only hours away from this new project -- it will involve zombies -- I have, in my head, my schedule for the next 12 months: I hope you're sitting down. Writing this project in November, then taking most of December off although I will go over Estee's edits on the sci-fi novel with her probably after I finish this project; she will then also do edits on the first two Obloeron prequels. In January, give the short stories their first read-through, and the same to the NaNoWriMo project, then start brainstorming out my next project. In February, go over her edits on the first two Obloeron prequels. In March, begin writing that new project, something that should take up my time until late May-early June. In April, release the space sci-fi novel. In late June, I will either do my own first round of edits on the short stories and the NaNoWriMo, then send them to Estee. In July, do the first read-through of the new project, then begin brainstorming the first Obloeron sequel. In August, RELAX! In September, send Estee the new project, then look over her edits on the short stories and the NaNoWriMo. In October, begin writing the first Obloeron sequel. In November, release the first Obloeron prequel, which is actually about a year and a half later than I wanted to do so. I will also be looking over her edits on the new project. The second Obloeron prequel will then be out in February or March 2011, followed by the third prequel in June or July. The NaNoWriMo, if everything goes right, will be out by Christmas 2011. I really haven't thought out the editing schedule past November, nor do I want to.

The punchline in all of this is that is coming from a guy who takes things one day at a time.

Throw in the re-issues of the original Obloeron Trilogy and One Hero, A Savior (those re-releases will be a little more low-key), and there may be John Fitch V releases every few months in 2010.

As you can see, I have plenty on my plate and plenty of material to last me two-plus years. So why am I planning two additional projects? That's easy: Because I can't stop writing!

Until we meet again, God bless, and may the blessings of the dwarves be upon you!

www.johnfitchv.com
My girlfriend, ever a supporter of my writing, recently suggested that I put my novels on Amazon Kindle, that fantastic hand-held device that readers can download eBooks to and read without holding a big, bulky book. I told her I'd look into it.

Last night, I uploaded two of my titles -- The Obloeron Trilogy and One Hero, A Savior -- to the Kindle database, and they appeared on the Kindle Store site earlier today. It was very simple; I wonder why I didn't think about it in the first place.

Now, before you open another browser window and head to the Amazon.com site, it's time to ramble for a bit...

This is, of course, an exciting time for me. I'm punching out novels like they are going out of style, I'm trying to do as much promotion as I can with my extremely limited budget -- my girlfriend also suggested I put out a Facebook ad, something I'm strongly considering -- and I believe I'm reaching more people through Facebook than I did through MySpace. Of course, word of mouth is what I'm banking on here: It takes one person to buy the books, read them out in public or tell their friends, and that just keeps the ball rolling: I was out at Slattery's the other night, and a friend of mine across the way said, "I've been reading the snippets of your books on Facebook; they are really good." That got several of the patrons there asking question; stupid me didn't give the web site.

Regular releases are also important, and I hope that I'll have a new release either before Christmas or just after the new year. Having a new release also depends on whether or not a publisher picks up the novels: I currently have three submissions out at publishers, and I have a few in reserve.

One of the good things about being an independent author without any ties to a contract is that you can pretty much do whatever the heck you want to do with your stories. I would like, however, to be signed by a publishing company instead of just self-publishing them through Lulu.com, where the prices for a book are generally higher than they are for a trade paperback of similar size with other companies. That is a drawback.

The good thing is that my books are also available in eBook form for a cheaper price. They can be read on your PC, Mac, or even on your iPhone. I'm just trying to do what I can to get the books out to the public; I just want to entertain a wide range of people, and do so at as low a cost as I can.

My web site, www.johnfitchv.com, has all the information necessary to purchase one of my books, as well as links to the Kindle Store. Head on over to my site and grab a book today!!

Comments are always welcome....

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