Read the War to Persevere Before Anyone Else

Hello there, I have great news. Over the weekend, I finished the second proof of The War to Persevere, Book II of The Fundamentalists. The book is now in its final production phase, which includes proofing and a final edit.

If you’d like to read the book before it is released at the end of the year, I am looking for readers who are willing to provide feedback. Email me at geoffliving [@] gmail.com for a copy.

The Next Book After War

Before I get into more details about the War to Persevere, I’d like to invite you to write a book with me.  I have begun the pre-production work on a third novel (my seventh book over all, god help me).  This next book is a present-day lampoon of the blogosphere. The book is under contract, and is tentatively slated for publication in the spring of 2016.

 Many of the folks I know are aspiring writers, too.  You are welcome to join me, and write along. It helps to go through the process with others.

The great bulk of this writing will begin during National Novel Writing Month or nanowrimo.  Don’t worry, NaNoWriMo is a good time to get into the discipline of writing everyday. I won’t be writing the whole book in a month, nor would I expect anyone else to.

If you are interested in writing with a group this winter, or just want updates on the novels before they are public, please consider joining my Goodreads group, “Living in Words.”

What’s The War to Persevere About?

persevere-cover-v2

Some of themes in War include women’s right to fight in the military, delineating dogma from faith, and power as a corrupter.  It’s definitely a new book, and moves away from some of the themes of religion in Exodus (or more likely resolves them, separating religion from despotism).

This new book incorporates a lot of feedback that I received from readers of Exodus, including:

  • Characters you can like a bit more (as well as others you can hate!)
  • More modern language
  • Faster paced action scenes
  • More show, and less tell

In all, War is clocking in at 41,000 words. This makes it a very short novel or a long novella depending on your definition of a novel.

And that’s all the writing news I have for you. Thanks for reading along.  The floor is yours.

5 Tips to Help You Write a Book, Too

Many people dream about writing books. I did for the first 34 years of my life. Seven years later, I just sent the draft of my fifth book to my editors last week. Thanks to independent publishing, writing a book is something anyone can do.

The trick is to demystify the aura of writing a book (featured books image by Moyann Brenn), and just do it. Publishing a book is similar to any other significant undertaking — such as learning a new language or hobby, training for a marathon, or surviving your first year in business.

Let me explain. The first time you finish writing a book, it’s a huge deal. You can’t believe that you actually did it, and you go and paint the town red.

After the fifth book, it’s less of a moment. I shut down my computer, and let myself read a little more of Plague Year, an awesome post-apocalyptic nanotech thriller. Then I went to bed a little earlier than normal. Woohoo!

Why the lack of emotion about completing the War to Persevere, a book I like better than my last two, Exodus and Marketing in the Round? A book drains you like any other major effort. So while this may be my last book (I doubt it, but you never know), one thing is certain: Rest is a great reward for me (A trip to Hawaii wouldn’t suck, either).

Now I see writing and publishing a book as an achievement, but one like other major undertakings in my life. With that mindset, here are five tips to get you started:

1) See Your Book

7178862419_f5a01c0f12_k

One mark of successful novel today is a movie adaptation. When I consider a plot, I like to consider it as a movie.

A screenplay’s wordcount represents a fraction of a contemporary novel. And that’s much better than it used to be. Today’s novel is not yesterday’s, meaning that modern novels are shorter, more direct, less esoteric and more entertaining than your classic piece of literature.

Still it helps to think about how the plot would work on the big screen. While a hypothetical movie adaptation shouldn’t dictate character development, it does help me to eliminate unnecessary content that I really don’t need.

If you are writing a business book, a classic overarching theme/thesis and supporting chapters works well in this case. Theming a book with an overaching arc makes a huge difference froma readbility standpoint.

Hobiton image by Alison Thomas.

2) Peer Support

13442427384_584d3077d7_k

Most people view writing as a solitary activity, but it doesn’t have to be. To help me get into the writing groove last autumn, I participated in NaNoWriMo and the Google+ Writer’s Group to help me work through kinks and barriers. It helped to discuss the mechanics of writing with peers at times. Though I didn’t complete the book for another eight months, peer support helped me realize my situation was far from unique.

One caveat here: Be careful sharing plot details and book concepts. I have been burned in the past by other authors.

3) Discipline

14596986941_d34c361094_k

If you commit to doing something, then it can happen. Every day activity makes a project like a book (or getting a training certification or…) become a reality. I maintain momentum by staying in motion. Discipline yourself and write each day or at least most days. One rest day per week is OK, but anymore than that causes my writing process to lose momentum, and forces me to write as opposed to it being a natural process.

With War, I stopped writing at the end of January because of my grandmother’s death and SxSW. I didn’t get back on the writing wagon until June. Life happens and I don’t regret that, but I must acknowledge that decision to focus on other activities caused the book to fall to the wayside.

4) Creative Mojo

14731174136_db70bb044f_k

Part of writing is maintaining creativity. Do whatever is necessary to feel free, and keep the words flowing. Here are 15 methods I use frequently. Or if I am still blocked, I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I find her exercises to be extremely useful.

5) Put the Book to Bed

14517644818_d085d5832e_k

These days I draft a book, then proof it, and move on. I put it to bed. I will never be 100% satisfied with a book, and there will Always be opportunities for improvements. Believe me, I know. I just read ExodusI, and want to rewrite it. Again. And I rewrote that damn thing several times over 20 years.

If you want to publish, then you have to let go. You are too close to the book. Finishing is important!

I personally use developmental editors to coach me. Get objective readers to help you shape your novel or business book, take their advice, make the changes, then press go. Lessons learned can be applied to the next book.

Those are my five tips for aspiring writers. What would you add?

The War Begins

When November began, I stated my intent to use the #NaNoWriMo writeathon as A method to start writing my next novel, The War to Persevere: Book 2 of the Fundamentalists. One month later I have written 15,000 words or just under a third of what qualifies as a novel.

Generally, I met my goal for #NanoWriMo,, and wrote most days, 21 out of the 28 days, and 13 of the last 14. Six of those missed days were in the first half of the month, so I picked up momentum as time progressed.

At the same time, I got lapped by many, many writers who delivered full novels this month. It was amazing to watch these tenacious writers complete their drafts. It was surely a grind for them as I could see by their daily updates.

Meanwhile, I felt like a jogger slowly starting the marathon. By the time I completed one quarter of the race, people were close to finishing. Oh well. Life running a business and fathering a toddler precludes writing a novel in a month. We’ll have to settle for the slow slog, and finish at some point this winter.

It does feel like the book may come in a little short, perhaps at 40,000 words, give or take, which makes it either a novella or a short novel. We’ll see.

70428057_a068eca2aa_z
The 5.56x45mm NATO round plays a prominent role in The War to Persevere.

It might be fun to reveal why the book is called The War to Persevere. Like Exodus (just $.99 on the Kindle for all of you Black Friday shoppers), which begins with a quote, War also begins with a quote:

We thought about it for a long time, ‘Endeavor to persevere.’ And when we had thought about it long enough, we declared war on the Union.” – Lone Watie, Cherokee survivor in The Outlaw Josey Wales

Not quite as noble as Exodus‘s Emerson quote, but absolutely as defining for what is to come. A great struggle begins, one that will demand changes for our heroes if they are to survive.

It’s quite fun writing the book! I’m glad I had the opportunity to work on it just as the holidays were arriving. We’ll see where we end up as the year ends.

Image by Mike Miller.

Get Your Writing Groove on with #NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month, or #NaNoWriMo, began last Friday. NaNoWriMo is an annual exercise where writers perform a mental marathon and write at least 50,000 words in a 30 day period. I decided to participate to help get The War to Persevere: Book 2 of the Fundamentalists underway.

First of all, let me just say that I think writing a novel in a month is a crazy idea. A fun noteworthy achievement for sure, but still a bit intense. Yet thousands do it every year! Amazing!

For me, #NaNoWriMo would take an incredible amount of preparation in advance of the actual writing to succeed, specifically outlines, research, character development, etc,. In fact, I don’t have an expectation of finishing. That’s in spite of having much of the book already sketched out and portions drafted.

The issue is quality. While I think this may be great for drafting, I wouldn’t consider anything I write in 30 days to be publishable. For example, with consulting and fatherhood, I tend to only write 500-1000 words a day. By its very definition, that would leave me short of the 50,000 word minimum.

But, others are faster and work more diligently than me, and may have more time to write. That’s a cool thing. In fact, some decent novels have been written in six weeks or less.

Instead, I am using the exercise and group momentum to get me back into writing shape. Here are some of the things I expect #NaNaWriMo will help me accomplish:

1) Everyday Writing: This is an essential part of writing a book. I really believe you can’t get it done unless you discipline yourself for a long writing marathon. For, given my business duties, I have to accept 500 words a day… So long as I actually write every day.

2) Expose Weaknesses: Until the draft is written, you can’t see where the holes are.So, in particular, I will be looking to expose missing gaps in the narrative, as well as where I need to strenghten the characters. It’s also an opportunity to take feedback from Exodus, and better myself with my sophomore novel.

3) Research Needed: Another core component of this phase will be identifiying areas that need research to make sure the manuscript is technically sound. War will feature quite a bit of steam technology so that means I have to beef up my knowledge of arms and engines. My intent is to draft, then go back and correct or rewrite chapters for accuracy’s sake.

Perhaps the best part of #NaNoWriMo is all of the dialogue from authors. There has been quite a bit of chatter in the Google+ Writer’s Discussion Group. Of course, the #NaNoWriMo site has tons of support forums. And finally, several friends have dialogued about it. This is a cool thing to work through with them.

What do you think of #NaNoWriMo?