The $1000 Pledge – September Update

I am still clawing my way to reach my $1000 donation goal to @MCCNewYork Homeless LGBT Youth Services. Click here to find out more. 

VISIBILITY

September has been a fantastic month for the book’s visibility.  The “Tales of Our Cities” event in Jersey City has opened up a world of opportunities for speaking, reading, and selling.  This has helped push the number of reviews for Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan to 41 on Amazon.  With some luck, more events are in my near future.

PRODUCTIVITY

Book Two in the Captain James Hook series is done on my end, at least for now.  Jeremy Marshall has the reigns through the winter season and will add his ideas to the pot.  I’ll jump back in sometime in March to push it along for a June release.  Until then, my job is to teach, post, coach, and kick around other project ideas.

The $1000 Pledge – June Update

If you need to read up on the $1000 donation goal to @MCCNewYork Homeless LGBT Youth Services, click here.

June has been another spectacular month for the book.  Much of the attention drawn in April helped push Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan to its 38th review on Amazon.

New Paperback Edition

The book interior of the paperback edition received a complete overhaul thanks to Adobe InDesign for CS6.  During this month, I taught myself how to use it and I couldn’t be happier with the result.  Check out the new book interior (and read the whole first chapter) here.  You can read more about my Adobe InDesign journey here.

THE COMPETITION

For a long time, I was intimidated by a story written by J. V. Hart, titled Capt. Hook: Tales of a Notorious Youth.  You might know J. V. Hart as the screenwriter for small film projects like “Hook” (1991), “Dracula” (1992), and “Contact” (1997). The book never did much, but it was supposed to be the first in an ongoing series.  This month, Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan surpassed J. V. Hart’s novel in number of ratings and higher ranked ratings on Amazon and Goodreads.  It is cause to celebrate.

PRODUCTIVITY

 

Book Two in the Captain James Hook series has 57,000+ words and is in a serious need of editing.  The goal is to whittle my mad ravings down to about 45,000 words of enjoyable text.  I am hoping that the July update will have the words “I’m done with Book Two” in it somewhere.  We’ll see.  The challenge of writing at this speed scares me a little and I recognize that it’s a good thing.

When is it okay to change an existing work?

This week, I received an Amazon “Kindle Quality Notice.”  It stated that Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan had internal errors in which “at least one” reader reported.  The errors weren’t related to formatting or appropriateness in content.  It was about an alleged typo.   Now, to be fair, some of my readers have found keystroke mistakes before and their input is always welcome.  Still, a man is innocent until proven guilty, so I investigated.  

DISCOVERY

The Kindle Quality Notice stated: There are typos in your book. You can see examples of this error at the following location(s): Kindle location: 577; Error description: “I led.” should be “I lied.”

This seemed like an open and shut case until I opened the document and read the whole section.  It is at the start of Chapter 8, when Peter meets James for the second time.

“I’m Peter Pan,” the child said proudly. He was standing on the mast as if it were the floorboards of the deck. I had seen him fly before and although this was nothing new, I was still amazed.

“I’m James,” I told him. It didn’t bother me that I had to reintroduce myself. “We’ve met before.” His blank expression told me of his genuine surprise that we knew each other. “We played weeks ago in my room in Port Royal.”

“Oh,” was all he said, as if bored already. I decided to retell one of the adventures in my literature books as if it were one of ours.

“Did I say my room?” I led. “I meant we played in a magical forest.” His head turned and bent to the side with interest. “You and I had a jolly time robbing wealthy carriages and saving England from the evil prince and his sheriff.” His eyes burst with excitement as I retold the whole adventure.

This wasn’t a typo.  Although “lied” would fit, I purposely chose “led” because young Hook leads Peter in the conversation.  Looking  back, there are other things I would love to change about my writer’s voice from that time, but that word isn’t wrong.  The question is whether it is distracting.

WORD CHOICE

The problem develops from one of an alleged typo to one about a word choice.   James leads Peter in this conversation, but do enough people read it that way or do they see that word as an oddity?  If it gets in the way of the flow of the story, then it doesn’t serve its purpose and it doesn’t belong.  However, the story is nearly one year old and this is a change that is not necessary.  The Artist in me is offended a the idea of making an unneeded change to my work.  The part of me that wants to sell books is more eager to appease any request.  What to do?

VERDICT

I decided to keep it as it is.  If this were a genuine typo, I’d change it, but the section above is narrated by an older James Hook and his voice has to show through.   He would have no problem saying that he “led” his one-time friend this way and that, not as a boast, but to demonstrate his superiority without expressly saying so.  That is good form, after all.

The $1000 Pledge – May Update

STOP! If you know nothing about my $1000 donation goal to @MCCNewYork Homeless LGBT Youth Services, click here.

May was a banner month for Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan, which has now reached over 12,000 readers.  The book has received over 30 reviews on Amazon, still averaging 4.8 out of 5 stars!

meeting the goal

The profits from April and May will be a major contributor the $1000 donation goal.  However, we’re not there yet.  The first quarter of the year was slow, but the second quarter of 2013, leading up to the one year anniversary of the book’s first release, has shown progress and promise.

Productivity

The Captain James Hook trilogy is mapped out and on an accelerated schedule.  Book Two is at 50,000 words and is nearly ready to be honed into something readable.  Book Three is loosely plotted and will be drafted over the summer.  I am still looking for a fall release, but my ambitions have changed.  Both Book Two and Book Three will be released before the end of 2013.  As with everything that I think I can do, once I realize I can do it, I want to do more of it and at a greater frequency.

THE RUBBER-NECKED GIRAFFE

This week, I talked with someone else who is also producing material that he is publishing and marketing himself.  He used the expression of a “rubber-necked giraffe” to describe the idea of being discovered by a consumer because they looked back at your body of work after finding one of your items.  The model only works if you have more than one thing to offer.  Whether it is books, music, or photos, a constant stream of quality output is necessary to succeed.

Immersing story in genre.

Stories should be shaped by the elements of the genre.  

 SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY

When you tell a story in science fiction and fantasy, make sure you are using the genre to tell the story more effectively. Authors often use space ships, orcs, and aliens as window dressing for a story that could have just as easily been told on the streets of an American city. If the fantastic elements don’t enhance the story, then it doesn’t belong in the genre. The easiest way to tell if an author has done this is to try deleting the science fiction or fantasy elements in the story and see whether the message of the story is as effective.

 MYSTERY

Mystery writers know this rule and it is a lesson that all writers should follow. Don’t start writing until you have the ending in mind. The ending should be obvious from the beginning without giving away any surprises. This practice takes time and plenty of rewriting, but it is important.

FOR EXAMPLE

In Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan, thirteen-year-old James Hoodkins is torn from his home, nearly drowned, beaten, forced to kill, and made into a pirate all as a result of his chance encounters with Peter Pan. The fantasy elements of magic and a secondary world (Neverland) concentrate and enhance the story in a way that would be diminished if it were taken away. The ending, in which an adult Captain Hook confronts an eternally young Peter Pan, is obvious and anticipated.