Tentative Release Date!

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Ok, Book Fans, I’ve given myself a tentative release date for Immortal Light: Into Shadow.

Based on how quickly the editing process is going, I’m going to go ahead and be stubbornly optimistic; I’m going to say we can have this process complete by the end of November of this year. Of course there are other variables such as my editors and Scott Raney’s graphic design wizardry, However, I’m setting the officially unofficial date as…

December 1, 2013

Are you with me, Team!? YEAH!!!

I truly hope I can meet that deadline. I don’t really see why it wouldn’t be possible if I can get my first edit done soon, but keep your fingers crossed all the same.

Cheer me on and I’ll keep you posted.

-JDS

Finished!!!

ILISI did it!!! I finished Book 2. I’m calling it Immortal Light: Into Shadow. I’m super excited to share it with you, but first I have to edit.

Feeling the pressure of a self-imposed deadline, I put my shoulder to the wheel, as it were, knuckled down and finished Immortal Light: Into Shadow. We came in at around 570 pages before the first edit. I imagine that number will go down, but who knows. I am so excited  about this book. In my opinion, it is leagues above Wide Awake and takes the story and characters to a whole new level of adventure and complexity. We’ve moved away from the adventure wrapped in a love story.

I want to share some of my general feelings about how this book. Mostly I want to talk about the evolution of the characters and story.

In The Beginning

When I started writing this book, I knew I had to take it up a notch in all respects. Wide Awake was a great, albeit, simple way to introduce Lucy and Benjamin and their world, but it wasn’t enough to really tell their story. I’ve added a layer to the storytelling in Into Shadow. If you’ll recall, we met a few new characters in the last few pages of Wide Awake. All of those people have a story and I’ve added some of those stories to Into Shadow in the form of chapters that take you back three-thousand years. I think this was a gamble at first. I even batted around the idea of releasing that back story as a separate book or even web-posts on this blog. In the end, I decided that they were more integral in linking all of the pieces of story together as included chapters; that is why the book is 100 pages longer than I planned.

Characters

Into Shadow reveals a lot of new layers to characters we know and love. I was afraid of failing to grow Lucy as a hero; I wanted her to become, for lack of a better term, epic. Even by the end of Wide Awake she hadn’t really evolved or changed. She was still a lost stranger in a new world . She starts out Into Shadow in the same way, but by the end, I firmly believe she is well on her way to becoming epic.

Not only have the existing characters evolved, but I’ve introduced a few new characters. I won’t go into details, but the new characters add a level of intrigue to the already existing story that I hope will be interesting and not frustrating to a reader who simply wants to get on with the story.

The Story

In my opinion, it’s important to not only evolve the characters, but to allow the story evolve and grow. As a character’s experience expands and leaves the old self behind, I feel it is important to allow the world of a story do likewise; it must expand and grow. For this reason, our characters will leave Coos Bay for good as Lucy progresses in her quest for the queen and the lost city of gold.

What’s Next?

Editing is next. Lots and LOTS of editing. I’m already well into my first edit of this book. I hope to be finished editing by the end of August. If that goes well, I’ll hand it off to my official copy editors, Sarah and Patti (my wife and my mother respectively :)) for a final dissection. If they suspend their lives to do this, they could have it done by the end of September, but since that won’t happen, maybe by Halloween. From there, I’ll place the book into the hands of my beta readers.

Release

If I plan to have the book ready by Christmas, the beta process will be quite expedited. I’ll have to play it by ear.

Don’t forget about my re-release of Immortal Light: Wide Awake. Graphic designer Scott Raney is working to redesign the cover so that I can have three congruent designs. Visit him at his website HERE to check out his work. He’s a talented artist and I’m super excited to see his ideas.

So, that’s Immortal Light: Into Shadow. I’m so glad you’re all sticking with me. I’ve received so much support and encouragement. This has been a great experience for me and I hope the end product satisfies your anticipation.

Thanks for everything! Hang in there with me. Into Shadow is nigh at hand 🙂

Graphic Designs on the Horizon

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I have some EXCITING news! As I wind up the writing process on Book II, I’ve decided to look into re-releasing Book I (a second edition already!?) along with Book II. There are a few reasons for this, but the main reason is that I’m working on a partnership with graphic

designer Scott Raney (www.scottraney.com). He’s a talented designer and I’ve asked him to design a theme for the entire trilogy so that there can be some continuity with the look and feel of the books. I’ve left it almost entirely up to him to come up with a design. He’s going to read IL: Wide Awake and then, if he’s up for it, we should have some pretty awesome design work for the trilogy. Please, go check out his work and if you have an interesting project you need designed, shoot him an email.

Again, I’m SUPER EXCITED for this development in the book creation process. Stay up to date by subscribing to the blog or you can always follow me on Facebook by clicking over there to the right.

Write a SUPER SHORT and EASY Web Review…

I don’t think I did myself any favors with my last book review post. I think the teacher in me came out a little more than it should have. I could almost hear the collective “Ah, HECK NO!” from all of you who read that post.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I needed to do some damage control.

A book review, at its very core, is nothing more than your opinion and recommendation. All you really have to do is tell us why we should or shouldn’t read the book. Honestly, it’s that simple.

So, here it is; my new, SIMPLIFIED BOOK REVIEW instructions! Thank you, thank you, please hold your applause until the end.

WRITING A WEB REVIEW

A Web Review is generally designed to be published to websites such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble. It’s where you, as a customer, return to give your two bits about your purchase. It is the easiest form of book review because it’s all about your opinion. A Web Review is usually super short and very much to the point. I’ve read book reviews that could have been published as small novels, but I’ve also read book reviews that told me everything I needed to know in less than 50 words.

The essence of a good review is your recommendation or discouragement for us to read the book. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. Tell us what you thought of the book by doing any of the following :

1. Explain why you did or did not enjoy the book (give specific examples if you can)

2. Summary and opinion – Without spoiling the outcome of the book, give us a brief synopsis so we understand what to expect.

3. Tell about your favorite elements of the book (characters, scenes, settings, voice, etc.)

4. Warn about glaring issues that you have with book (poor writing, bad grammar, lots of typos, inappropriate subject matter for the genre, etc.).

What you can write is, in no way, limited to this list. Here’s an example of #1 above:

I really enjoyed Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton because it brought all of my boyhood fantasies to life. It is a well-written book that takes characters into a theme park with real dinosaurs. It is great because it combines science with adventure. It’ll bring your heart rate up as you anticipate the next Dinosaur attack. If you enjoy technically superb science fiction with gripping adventure, I highly recommend Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.

Update…WHOA!!! Has it really been that long!?

Well, it has really been a long time since I’ve updated this thing. I should hire an assistant to do this for me, but that would cost money and as we all know, teacher/writer/musician/photographer really just means I’m a renaissance man of the lowest paying jobs in the world. So, yeah, quarterly updates it is.

As I finish up the school year and the book, I’ve been looking for inspiration and motivation and a way to de-stress. What that boils down to is that I’ve been watching so much Star Trek that Sarah actually requested no Sci-Fi for our movie night last week. Star Trek–as odd as it sounds–is sort of my go-to catharsis. In the the past three weeks I’ve watched Star Trek II (I actually watched this one twice in two days), III, TOS (3 episodes), 2009, and even Into Darkness (which was AWESOME!!!!), and that’s not counting the Enterprise episodes we watched a month ago. I don’t know if anyone else has a preferred method of unwinding, but if you do, let me hear it in the comments, I’m curious.

I’ve done it, yet, I haven’t finished. While I’ve reached my goal of more than 115,000 words (currently sitting at 118,000+) I still have yet to finish book two, but WAIT! Put down the pitchforks and torches, I’m almost there, really, I am. I imagine about three more chapters to finish it up. Two weeks, maybe three… I think that’s feasible. I guess we’ll find out. Once school is out, I’ll have a lot more time to figure out the time line for editing and getting it out to the betas.

As for the content of the book,  I’ve gone through a few versions of a few different  characters and scenarios (which drives Sarah nuts because I’ll tell her one thing will happen and then the characters decide that’s not what they want to do and I change it as I write). This book is going to be a lot more complex than the other in that it follows more characters in more time periods. There’s a lot to it, so I hope it goes over well with the Betas.

I’m excited to finish the book. I think it’s going to be great. I can’t wait for you all to read it. Stay tuned for a beta-reader opportunity. If you think you’d like to be a beta-reader, hold that thought because I’ll need a few more after Sarah and my mom read it; I’m thinking late summer or early fall.

Thank you all for your support and I’ll try to update more frequently.

-John

Update January, 2013

First of All…

January has been great to me. The first piece of wonderfully surprising news is that… Sarah and I are going to have baby number 5 this summer. Yes, it was a shocking surprise, but we are happy and excited.

katIn book news:

I’ve been receiving all kinds of feedback on IL: Wide Awake and I must commend you all for being so constructive.  I have been writing vigorously on book 2, I’m taking into consideration all of your comments and questions. I’m trying to wrap up loose ends when necessary and create more action and intrigue where I can. Book 2 is all about advancing the mystery of Zharem and Lucy’s task as guardian. This book will see Lucy through a lot of changes in her new but familiar life as a new wielder of the Immortal Light. Big questions from Wide Awake will be answered, such “who is the queen?” :0, I know, right? that’s a big one, but let’s not forget, this is a true bridge book; there will be things that are…how do I say this…a little bit uncomfortable for you as the reader. How exciting is that!?

Book Club Visit:

I was able to visit a local Springfield book club this month and I have to say that I HAD A BLAST!!! Many of the memebers are already close and dear friends of mine, but it was so much fun to hear them talking about IL: Wide Awake and ask me questions about everything from the inspiration for character names to the writing and publishing process. It was one of the most positive experiences I’ve had thus far. Thank you to everyone in the club. You made my month!!!

Ask me your questions:

Remember, there is a page right here on my website where you can ask me anything about Immortal Light. I mean anything. There is no limit to any related inquiry; I will do my best to answer them all. However; if it leads to a spoiler, I probably won’t answer it, sorry. Then there are the inevitable questions that I may not know how to answer. These would be things that you may have interpreted from my writing that I never really considered or intended. Don’t worry, I love it when my readers see things in the writing that they can hold personally. I’m just glad that I could facilitate your reading experience 🙂

That’s it…

Anyway, there is some possibly bad news. While things are going well in the writing process, I’ve discovered that it may take me a little longer to finish than I’d hoped. BUT WAIT! Don’t grab your torches and pitchforks just yet! I’m still optimistic about my Thanksgiving week deadline for publication. IF I miss it by a week, two weeks, or a month, it will be worth it.

I apologize for not updating Facebook as much as I had before. I’ll try to keep up on that. If you check out the word count tracker over on the side bar to the right of your screen, you will see that when I started tracking that three weeks ago, we were at a little over 39,000 words. Now we’re sitting at just over 54,000 words!!! I told you I was on a roll 🙂

Anyway, that’s it for now. Thank you all for your support and hang in there, we’ll get through this together 🙂

-John

Win the Day and Finish Book 2!

WTDI have a new goal!

As many of you know, I am a proud alumnus of the University of Oregon. I earned both of my degrees from that school and I am still involved with Oregon Athletics as a photographer for DuckTerritory.com.

I know this seems very tangential, but I’ll bring it all together in a second.

chip

The Oregon football team lives by a mantra devised by their coach Chip Kelly. That Mantra is “Win The Day.” It means play your game for today; today is the championship. Every day is a one-time opportunity to own it. The concept is super simple, but, in my personal life, I have found it to be one of the most powerful motivators I have.

Well, here and now I’m setting up a Win The Day goal. I need to finish book 2 of the Immortal Light series, and with family, work, exercise, and shooting Oregon sports, I find that writing takes a back seat all too often. So I’m making a goal and documenting it right here for all of you to see.

I will finish book 2 on or before April 18th, 2013 (my 34th birthday)

Book 2 is currently at 39,618 words. My word count goal is 115,000 words. That gives me 99 days to write 75,000 words. If we do the math–39…115…carry the one…divide by pi—I have to write approximately 750 words per day to reach that goal.

Now, let’s put this all together: If I want to Win the proverbial Day, I will not sleep until I’ve written at least 750 words each night. That’s about 3o minutes if I’m on a roll and 45 minutes if I need a prescription from Dr. Pepper.

So, that’s the plan. All you have to do is check on me every once in a while. I’ll be updating my word count ticker in the side bar and I might even add a WTD calendar to the website.

That’s it, that’s my goal. Book two will be finished and ready for editing by April 18th, 2013!

WIN THE DAY, Everybody!!!

Update

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GENERALLY SPEAKING

Well, it’s a new year and I can tell it’s going to be a good one…okay, if not good, it’ll definitely be interesting: an entire year of lucky number 13 🙂

There isn’t a whole lot of news right now in the book world for me. I’m doing my best to get Immortal Light: Wide Awake in the hands of people who will review it. I absolutely appreciate all of you that have read the book and reviewed it for me on Amazon and Goodreads and wherever. You are the best.

This is a very slow moving process (not as slow as it used to be, but it is pretty slow). I find myself chomping at the bit for new reviews and critiques and the like. In spite of the fact that everything moves at the speed of the internet, I’m just that kind of guy: impatient.

I had my first 4 book giveaways on the first of the year. Congrats, again, to those winners. I truly hope you enjoy the book if you haven’t already read it.

BOOK 2

I’ve been working on book 2 over the Christmas break. I’ve been batting two different formats back and forth and I think I’ve decided on the best one; I’ll find out when it goes to the beta-readers. I’m more than 25% into completing it and my goal is to have it done by the end of March, but it might be closer to the end of April.

I’m still looking for a title, so maybe if you volunteer to be a beta-reader, you could have some input on my new title.

Well, that’s it for now. Keep up the good mojo, fingers crossed, and all that.

Thank you, all!!!

-john

How to Write a SIMPLE Book Review…

book-clip-artIt occurred to me this morning that, while I’ve been asking all of my wonderful fans and readers to write a critical review of my book, I never considered that this might be difficult for some people for a variety of reasons. Expressing your opinion could mean a lot of things, the least of which isn’t discomfort in writing, knowing how to write a book review, having the time, and possibly offending the recipient of the critique.

This post is designed to put all of those trepidations to rest. I want to help you in writing a simple book review so that you can bless those authors whose books you read–like me 🙂

Writing a Simple Book Review

The coolest part of a review is that it’s mostly your opinion. Think of it as a conversation that started with a friend asking you the most common two-parted question in the history of book reviewing:

“Did you like it, what’s it about?”

We can all answer that question, right? A book review is little more than giving a direct answer to that very question. When you sit down at your computer to put your answer into words, just remember this simple formula: ISOR

Information, Summary, Opinion, Recommendation

Information

This is the simple part. Start by telling the readers of your review what book you read, who wrote it, and the genre of the book. Here’s an example:

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is a young adult drama set in the 1960’s.

That’s it! Pretty simple for an opening line, am I right?

Summary

The summary is probably the trickiest part of the whole review because you want to tell the reader what happens in the story but you DON’T want to give away the ending or any conclusions. The summary can be as brief or as detailed as you want it to be, just don’t give away the ending. For Example:

The story of The Outsiders deals primarily with the social differences between the rich “socs” and the poor “greasers” of a small Oklahoma town. The story is told through the voice of Ponyboy Curtis, a 14 year old boy who lives with his two brothers Darrell and Sodapop (that’s his real name). In the recent past, the boys’ parents were killed in an auto accident and the three brothers were allowed to live together so long as they don’t cause trouble. Trouble is exactly what comes knocking when a band of soc boys drunkenly attack Ponyboy and his skittish friend Johnny. In the scuffle and while the socs try to drown Ponyboy, Johnny stabs and kills one of them. Ponyboy and Johnny are forced to seek out the help of ex-convict Dallas Winston. Confused and scared, the two boys are directed to hide out in an abandoned church in nearby town until the dust settles. The boys soon discover that the dust may be thicker than they want it to be.

You can even go more brief than that; summarize it in one or two sentences:

The Outsiders is the story of the rich kids and poor kids of a small Oklahoma town. When one of the poor “Greasers” kills a rich “soc,” the characters are thrown into a whirlwind of fear and confusion.

I would personally stay away from being too brief, like this:

Poor kid kills a rich kid and deals with the troubles of trying to hide out waiting for the dust to settle.

Opinion

This portion of the review should be easy for you; it’s what YOU thought of the book. This could be your general opinion: “I liked it because…” “I didn’t like it because…” It could also be a deep, critical, dissection of the book (unless you’re a pro or being paid, I’d stay away from this one–I don’t even like writing those kinds of reviews). Be sure to give a few reason why you did or did not like the book. Talk about the story, the writing style, the characters, the tone, voice, or cover art. Talk about anything, but MAKE IT CONSTRUCTIVE. Don’t say it sucked without a valid reason. Here’s an example of a simple opinion:

I truly enjoyed The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton because I related to the boys on both sides of the poverty line. The characters had personality and individual identity that often made me think of my own friends growing up. The story of The Outsiders is very real. There is nothing unbelievable about anything that Hinton writes. From the town to the events to the names of her Characters, the story is pulled right out of the American Midwest of the 1960’s. The Outsiders is concise. Hinton doesn’t waste her words on overstating her story. This is the story of kids and is kept simple in its telling, yet it is deep in its philosophy of human nature. While it is a human story, it is told so that all humans will understand it and relate to it.

While you may wish to go into a much more eloquent and detailed description, I say keep it simple if you aren’t a pro. Tell us what you thought in clear points.

Recommendation

This is what people really want to know about the book. Did you like it enough to recommend it to others? This is where you may talk about the type of reader you are and why you would or wouldn’t recommend it to others. For example:

If you are like me and love stories that delve into the real and emotional side of humanity while telling a completely relateable story, you will love The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I whole-heartedly recommend this book to all teenagers and people struggling to understand teenagers.

 So, now that we’ve gone over everything, it’s your turn to try it. You could start with my book Immortal Light: Wide Awake. 🙂 Remember: this is your opinion. BE HONEST! You’re only doing the author a favor when you’re honest. Don’t pad their ego, tell it like it is. BE CLEAR. Your points should be clear and concise so there is no confusion about how you feel. Finally, BE YOURSELF. When you focus on how you felt about the book, you will be more honest and clear. It also helps to try and BE POSITIVE, though it is difficult for some books. If you find yourself being too negative about a book, maybe it isn’t worth your time to review.

That’s it. Now get out there and help an author out with a review.

Good luck and thanks for sticking with me!

And the final count is…

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Wow! January 2nd was a big day for us. After 24 hours of giving my book away for free on Amazon, the final numbers are astounding–to me, anyway 🙂

Before I post the detailed breakdown, I would like to thank all of you who have supported me in so many ways. Some of you have written honest and constructive reviews, many of you have purchased IL: Wide Awake in paperback, more of you have purchased it digitally, and SOOOOOO many of you downloaded the book today.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you!

We still have a long way to go and I’m working on book #2. You can see my word count tracker over on the right side of your screen. I’m pushing nearly 20% into the book and I know exactly where I want to go with it, so don’t give up on me. I’m hoping for a publishing date late this year.

Now, without anymore ado, the FINAL DOWNLOAD NUMBERS for my January 2nd, 24 hour giveaway are…

Downloads by country:

United States and India – 365

United Kingdom – 33

Germany – 5

Canada – 2

Italy – 1

GRAND TOTAL – 406

That is truly outstanding for one day. Thank you again, and remember to post a review to Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, or any other web site that will take one.

Sincerely,

-John