Book News: The Distomos is En Route!

In case you are wondering, my novel, The Distomos, is on its way!

I have two hundred copies heading my way to be numbered and signed. There has been a surprisingly large demand for them. It’s been a little overwhelming, if not a bit humbling. Maybe a bit crazy, too.

This weekend I finished the eBook version of The Distomos. This means that if the shipment arrives on time, we’re looking at the first week of March for both the physical books and eBooks to go on sale!

While it will still be some time for the books – both physical and electronic versions – to appear in such stores like Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble, they will be readily available to order from the distributor. I’ll have that information to give you when it is available.

Until then, let’s bask once again in the amazing cover created by Matthew Therrien.

The Distomos

ABOUT

Mankind has taken to the stars; maintaining their empires through the belief in God. Peace and prosperity are kept through Church-appointed Templars: the police of the galaxy. But when the Distomos, a secret weapon from the Church falls into the hands of the enemy, two ex-Templars, Kieran Rhet and Normandie Jade, are hired to get it back.

With only a matter of time before interstellar war begins and the Distomos is used, friendships, courage, and faith will be tested when all seems lost.

—–

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Novel Announcement: The Distomos

If you’re looking for news about my novel, you’ve got it!

My novel, The Distomos, will be published in early 2015.

The Distomos

You can read more about it, including the synopsis, here.

I’m very excited to get this thing off the ground and into your hands. Until then, I’ll keep you posted!

Keep on Space Truckin’!

The Format Wars

A short while ago in a novel pretty darn close to home. . .

The Format Wars
Episode I
My Novel

It is a period of civil war. Curved quotations (“ ”),
striking from my word processor, have won their
first victory against my novel.

During the writing, straight quotations (" ")
sporadically appeared, creating a difficult
editing process. Teamed with inconsistent
hyphen lengths (- en dash) (— em dash), when
sentences are broken up, editing difficulty ensues.

Pursued by a drive to make things perfect,
UncannyDerek races to format the book
aboard his computer, custodian of the
novel, that can finally be published to
restore semblance in his life. . . .

Format Wars

But Really

I originally had wrote my novel in one font. While changing fonts while editing, I somehow overlooked how the quotation marks and apostrophes. Apparently not all of the quotation marks and apostrophes change when you “Select All” and change the font. It’s quite a bugger. So I’m going through my novel line-by-line AGAIN to make sure it’s all consistent.

When you self-publish, there’s no one to fix these issues for you. You have to do them yourself. I’ve spent most of my day going through my book to change them over, but my eyes can only take so much!

Another thing I foolishly missed was the dashes, or hyphens, while writing. There are two different types of them (as shown in my opening scrawl). I have to make sure they’re consistent too.

Ah, the little things to focus on before the book hits the printer.

Let my folly be a lesson for you all!

And for the record, I’m using curved quotation marks for my novel and so should you.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Onwards & Upwards! To Self-Publishing!

It hath been decided!

For the quite some time, I’ve been butting heads on whether or not to find a publisher or self-publish.
Rocket Science
I’ll admit though, it wasn’t as fun as watching Blitzwing and Astrotrain getting their heads butted together.

After some careful deliberation, I have decided to self-publish! It was a difficult decision to make. Let me write out my thought processes for both.

Why See a Publisher?

I obviously didn’t go this route. So why DID I consider it?

There were a few reasons why I personally thought to go this route. First and foremost, I knew it would give me the biggest distribution. Getting picked up by a publisher would obviously mean better sales and a mass market. It also would give me some pretty hefty credentials for future projects (which I will have) down the road.

Secondly, it’s good for the ego. Sure, that sounds selfish and greedy, but to be officially published by someone would be amazing. I definitely had a-many dreams about meeting with publishers and discussing my book in great length. It made me excited.

As weird as this one sounds: I wanted to get a rejection letter. I enjoy critical analysis of my work. While I know a rejection letter would not go into any detail at all, I personally take rejection as a sign of having to do better – which is something that motivates me. Albeit, I know it de-motivates others. But that’s how I work!

While I’m still not confident with royalties on self-publishing, I know a lot of the hassle and finances would be covered by the publisher. They want to make money, too. Seeing a publisher would take the financial strain off.

Why Stay Away From a Publisher?

I was still reluctant to see a publisher for a few reasons as well. The biggest reason was creative control. For example: I have an idea for my book cover which I know they won’t adhere to. However, it’s my novel, not theirs. It’s my artistic ideas. While this is arguably quite nit-picky for a first-time author, it’s still a big deal for my overall idea.

Money also isn’t everything. While I like the idea of making money from my novel, it’s not my ultimate goal. It’s not even a real desire. My desire is to write. Money comes second. While I know it’s not financially viable to continue a path of self-publishing (under the assumption my books suck and sales slump to zero forever and ever), money isn’t my driving force here. A publisher thinks otherwise, and that’s totally okay, but not what I want. I desire to write a novel. Sure, if my first novel did well and they’d pay me to write a second, that’d be great. But it’s not what I’d want. Let me be me.

My other big reason to stay away was just reading about trying to submit a book. Looking into many different publishers, some require a literary agent, while others require a book to meet certain criteria. For example, one publisher wants to publish science-fiction, but did not want religious overtones. Another was willing to publish fantasy and horror, but refused to take upon zombies books unless they were unique. While my book doesn’t include zombies, it does include religious overtones. Certain publishers want to market a book based on their image – which is totally fine – I just don’t have to send my book there. Other publishers I considered actually had their submissions closed until they decided to reopen again (seriously). However, if I were to send a copy of my manuscript in only to find out it’s “too religious” by their standards, or that their “not accepting submissions at this time,” then I’m out the money from getting my book printed, plus postage. (I figured it’d average around $60 per publisher submission).

Reading about it all made me feel as dizzy as Starscream after Gears spun him around for a bit.

Gears Spin

Why Self-Publish?

In case I hadn’t said it enough, I’m big on creative control. With self-publishing, I get to control everything about my novel. From how the cover looks, to the price. It’s pretty freeing.

I can also get published faster. Most publishers were asking for at least three months to review the book. It’d take still another few months for it to get published after that. With self-publishing, the road can be paved right away and I can get started.

Challenges are fun. I really enjoy them, even if they’re super-stressful and nerve-racking as publishing a first novel. Especially if they’re financially stressful. I just enjoy being stressed I suppose? I’m a sick man.

But it’s also quite self-fulfilling. Being able to publish all on my own is quite an accomplishment. I accept all of the responsibility on whether the book succeeds or not. It’s exciting and strengthening. I hate asking for help, so I feel being able to do this on my own is what I need to do.

And I’m not in it for the money. I have to stress that again. Why? Because realistically, I won’t break even. At least I don’t expect to. I’d be surprised if I did. So that poses the question again: why self-publish?

The answer: because I want to do this for me.

Shockwave Dance

And maybe Shockwave.

While my reasons for self-publishing may not be the “best” reasons in the world, they’re the best reasons for me.

Keep on Space Truckin’!

NaNoWriMo – Good or Bad?

It’s November and everyone is jumping on the NaNo bandwagon. Thousands of people from around the world get synced-up online on November 1st and start writing the first of 50,000 words to become an author!

But before we start, here’s a full disclosure: I totally did my own NaNoWriMo in January of 2012 (as I couldn’t partake in November). Later, I did something similar when writing my current novel. I did a Thirty-Day Challenge, where I didn’t force myself to have a word count. Instead, I would spend a part of the day to plan and organize my novel.

So what’s up here? I did NaNoWriMo (kinda) then I didn’t. So what?

Let me BLOW YOUR MIND

After getting over 54,000 words during my “JaNoWriMo,” and eventually reaching over 70,000 words a few months later, I SCRAPPED THE BOOK. Why? Because it was garbage, that’s why!

I can remember reading it over and just hating everything I had done. All of the characterization, plotting, the pacing, descriptions – oh, god, it was terrible. I still have a copy of it (unfinished) just to remind me how bad it was.

The problem with NaNoWriMo, which a buddy of mine, author Sean Munger, touches upon on his blog, is that it promotes bad habits. It promotes vomiting out word count over actual quality. While it may make a book, it doesn’t make a good one.

It stinks!

So when I did my Thirty-Day Challenge (which was for a different story), I took my knowledge from my JaNoWriMo and applied it to my busy lifestyle. I simply dedicated time to creating the project, rather than actually writing it. I would spend an hour or so getting 1,000 words of characterization down, rather than the novel itself. And I didn’t write every day (nor give myself a word count like 1,000 words a day for when I did). It made for a dramatic improvement to my story-telling and my skills of writing, pacing, and oh-so much more!

So NaNoWriMo is Bad?

There’s a silver lining to it all. I found that NaNoWriMo certainly didn’t make a good book, didn’t promote good writing, and didn’t promote good writing habits. What it DID do was get me to write and learn from my experiences. There’s a lot more to writing than just plugging yourself down and firing off words to reach a numerical goal.

I learned a lot about how to characterize and plot. My NaNo-Novel was a pale comparison to the newest one I wrote. The pacing in my newest novel is exciting and pulls the reader in – because I planned for it to do that.

Even if you plan out your novel before NaNoWriMo, you’d be surprised how many little things you will miss. Even with plotting out my novel like how I did, I had to go back multiple times and make sure things remained consistent and flowed together. NaNoWriMo doesn’t really give you time to pause or reflect. You’re just supposed to punch in a word count and call it a day. Coherent writing is important, but it’s not reflected in NaNoWriMo.

But as I said, NaNoWriMo got me writing. That’s important because it helps you hone your craft. You learn little tricks and the proper way to create sentences (And yes, I know this blog is littered with errors. Pot, meet Kettle).

The way I look at it is NaNoWriMo is the biggest Creative Writing Class you’ll take all year. It’s great writing practice, but terrible if you’re looking for quality.

And for all that is good in the world: if you do partake in NaNoWriMo, do NOT give your novel to publishers! You’re congesting them with a bunch of sub-par books! Stop it!

Thanks!

That’s my take on it. But have you participated in NaNoWriMo? What kind of learning experience was it for you? Did you go anywhere with it? Do my opinions sound ridiculous? Sound off below!

Poetry Overlords Mk II

Since my last blog entry, I’ve been stuck exploring the intriguing comparisons between poetry and music. I don’t know why, but I just am! And if you haven’t jumped on the “Follow UncannyDerek on Twitter” bandwagon, you’re missing out. Sort of.

Here’s the TL;DR version from my last blog:

Reading poetry out loud is a lot like performing music.

New Thoughts. Little. Yellow. Different.

Now what?

This next part is going to stir some debate, I’m sure, but try to follow me here.

As a musician, I personally find that with music I could record absolutely anything and put it out to the public. I could guarantee it would be understood and appreciated by people.

Take for examples, Fantômas – Suspended Animation (2005) or Devin Townsend – Devlab (2004). Both albums are ambient noise and rather chaotic to the listener. But I really enjoy both albums. There’s no real “sense” to each album and they’re both dramatically different from one another. For the average listener though, there’s no real construct or sense to them. For the most part, I’d confidently say that many people would dislike those albums.

Breaking down the instruments and themes, sure, one could find the inspiration and technicalities built within the albums. That being said, both albums can be difficult to listen all of the way through.

So, Poetry?

Right! So, this is where things get debate-y.

As I said, with music, it could get published despite how normal or bizarre it sounds (as with my examples found above). There’s an audience for everything in music. But with poetry and literature? I think it’s a bit more complicated than that. Sure there’s an audience for everyone, but. . . well let me explain.

There is a certain “universal standard,” per se, that is set with literature in which I think music is removed from. Due to “rules” in literature, a missing period could make or break a sentence. Paragraphs can’t be scattered too far as it could confuse the reader. The lack of capitalization could misplace titles or nouns. I could go on.

Now hold on a second because I know you’re already beginning to think of counter-arguments to mine. That’s good, because I had them too.

Let me yank out a few popular lines from Gertrude Stein’s Sacred Emily which appeared in Geography and Plays (1922).

Color mahogany.
Color mahogany center.
Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.
Loveliness extreme.
Extra gaiters.
Loveliness extreme.
Sweetest ice-cream.
Page ages page ages page ages.

So to start: this is a Canadian blog and she spelled “colour” wrong.

Okay, I’m kidding. But we can see – as readers – how some of the lines, when they are read individually, seem like incomplete thoughts. The final line, “Page ages,” is repetitive and has no commas. It looks strange to the reader and requires some attention when performing it out loud. Should “Color mahogany” have a colon to read “Color: mahogany”?

While Stein’s poem can fit under the same category as the Fantômas and Devin Townsend albums posted above, I feel it is much harder to cater to a literary audience than a musical one due to what some could say “universal standards” put in place with reading.

Someone listening to an album can (mostly) understand when they hear guitar, drums, saxophone, trumpets, piano, or vocals.
But when someone reads or performs poetry, grammar and understanding can get lost in translation.

To ALMOST Conclude

I can play a guitar solo – regardless how awful it would be – but people would still understand it as a guitar solo.

I can perform poetry – regardless how chaotic it would be – but people would have a difficult time understanding it.

With these “universal standards” put in place with reading, such as periods needing to come at the end of sentences, I feel many readers and listeners to poetry may just miss the point. As someone who goes to poetry readings, I often get scoffed at when telling people I’m going. Is it because they think poetry is pretentious, or is it because they simply don’t understand it? Would a “universal standard” to poetry help? Is there even a way to create such a thing?

There’s nothing really conclusive here. It’s more meant to stir the pot and flesh out more ideas.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Poetry Overlords

Not too long ago, I attended a poetry reading in my city. I’ve attended many over the years, but one thing had always made me cringe: the way some poets read out loud.

Stopping Here

My feelings towards this are entirely subjective and based on the fact that I am completely insane.

There are a few poets who do drone on monotonously when they speak. I do enjoy that when droning is actually part of the poetry they are performing (more on that soon). But other times, it simply does not work and whittles me down to nothingness (I’m over-dramatic).

I’ll touch upon this image later. But first,

I Gotta Backtrack

In my first year of University, I attended and performed at a poetry reading. I remember “covering” Robert Herrick’s famous “To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time” (aka, “Gather ye rosebuds”), and gave it my own personal meaning. I had not known the poem was so popular (and to this day, I still haven’t seen Dead Poets Society).

Anyway, I explained to the audience what the poem meant to me. I read it how I felt it should have been heard given my explanation to why I chose the poem.

Fast Forwarding to the Now

When I attended the poetry reading the other day, as I said above – the way some poets read make me cringe.

I feel as if the words being read could have an entirely different presence or meaning had only the poet changed the tonality of their voice or had someone else read their story for them.

As some people may already know, I’m a musician. I enjoy lots of stuff, ranging from ambient noise, to death metal, to classical, to jazz. I’m all over the map, really.

While writing the other night, it occurred to me how writing poetry is similar to writing music. You need the right words or “notes” to make everything flow together properly. But it was the idea performing poetry which struck me. I ended up writing out something about jazz and poetry. As an aside, I should add there were no poets the other night that did drone on at all. My ideas just came to me as I wrote my own dribble.

Poetry & Jazz?

From my notes:

Performing poetry is much like performing jazz.

As with music written down on paper, there is no sound when reading poetry. The poet is left to be a slave to the words on the page in front of them. It is up to the poet – or musician – to emote what is on the page.

When read out loud, poets will interpret the sounds like how a jazz musician performs a song when they feel it out loud. It transcends the page.

Like jazz, poetry has an infinite amount of emotions and relies heavily on the performer.

In a way, one would not be reading poetry out loud, but rather singing it.

“Jazz isn’t dead. It just smells funny.” – Frank Zappa

Whoop-de-do

Big whoop, right? So what I’m saying is when reading poetry out loud, one should approach it like a jazz musician – add their own feel and emotions into it. When I read Herrick’s poem out loud many years ago, I gave a rationality to why I performed it the way I did. I made it more than just words.

While I said how monotonous droning does work for some poets, others just do it because it may just be “words” to them. Now that is one big assumption on my part (see image above), and poetry can be entirely subjective. But I’m sure it would not hurt for someone to add extra feel to their performance. After all, I, for one, do not welcome our new poetry overlords.

Don’t forget to yell at me over on Twitter.