Santa must be reading my blog!

Or maybe he just knows what a boy wants.

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I’m already up to page 7!  Only 506 pages to go!  It’s pretty dry so far, but it’ll probably pick up steam really soon.  I’ll start listening to the Brahms today.

Hope Santa was good to you too!

Free ebooks in return for reviews: Some results

It’s becoming harder to get customer reviews for books nowadays.  That’s probably related to the general downturn in the ebook market.  Here I mentioned a program, run by my epublisher, to give away ebooks in return for honest reviews.  Once you sign up, you start getting a weekly eZine containing a list of books you can download for free.  Download a book, read it, and leave a review.

This model seems to be OK with Amazon, which has cracked down on some aspects of the customer review racket.  It appears to be a requirement to state that you got the book for free in return for an honest review.

Anyway, the approach is working for my novel Where All the Ladders Start.  Most reviews are pretty terse, like this one:

I received this book for an honest review. I loved this book. The plot and characters were amazing.

Well, what more do you need to say?  But wait!  It turns out that Laura Furuta has more to say!  Namely:

When I first started reading this story I was not really sure what to expect. I read the description and was thinking it was just another mystery book. I was wrong! This is a story about a P. I. who works in an America that has been changed. Not only that, also there are forces at work that are determined to see he fails with his latest case. I really enjoyed the story from the first chapter to the very ending page. It has the right combination of mystery and plot to keep you guessing. The characters also really shine as well. The main characters are very well written and even some of the secondary ones you will remember and love. This is one book that I recommend if you love mysteries. It will keep you guessing. I received a copy of this book from eBook Discovery in exchange for an honest review.

Even better!  Now all I need is a few more sales . . .

Here’s the cover, in case you forgot what the thing looks like:

Ladders cover final jpeg

That sinking feeling, redux

After My Name is Lucy Barton I decided it was time for something different, something manly.  No one is more manly than Jack Reacher.  So I tried the latest in the series, Make Me. I soon started getting that sinking feeling when you realize that the Jack Reacher novel you’re reading is just like all the other Jack Reacher novels.  A setting deep in the heartland, far from the police.  Personality-free female sidekick.  A dark conspiracy that, when finally revealed, makes little sense.  A super-villain with no name, no past, no particular motive for his bottomless evil. Complicated set pieces in which Reacher kills or maims multiple foes due to his understanding of firearms, fighting, human psychology, etc.

Maybe I need to go back to the beginning with Jack Reacher.  I’ve read about half a dozen of these books, and the best of them was The Enemy, an earlyish novel written in the first person and set back in the time when he was still in the military, before he began his lonely wanderings blah blah blah.

In the meantime I have started re-reading Emma by Jane Austen.  No sinking feelings so far.

Cover for my new novel

. . . which is called Terra, you will recall.  Subject to further fiddling.  Comments are welcome.  You will notice that we’re looking for a parallel universe vibe here.  What is that ray gun doing against the backdrop of a bas-relief from ancient Rome?  Guess you’ll have to read the novel to find out.

Terra cover

So what’s that new novel of yours about, anyway?

I’m glad you asked.  It’s called Terra — have I mentioned that?  And it’s the follow-up to The Portal.  Here’s the marketing blurb I wrote for it yesterday:

Larry Barnes thinks he’ll never use the portal again.  The strange device that took him to a parallel universe has disappeared, and he is back living his normal life — until one day a beautiful woman appears and begs for his help.  She tells him that the mysterious preacher he met in his travels is in trouble on another world, and only Larry can save him.  Against his better judgment Larry enters the portal with her, and soon he finds himself in a desperate battle against a secret priesthood that wants to kill the preacher – and Larry.  As he struggles to defeat the priests and return home, Larry begins to sense he may have powers that he never dreamed of, and he begins to understand that his fate is inextricably linked to that of the preacher . . . and the portal.

I don’t like these sorts of blurbs; they seem to suck everything that’s interesting or different out of a book in order to fit it comfortably into its genre.  Maybe I can do better.  Should I bring in the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics?  That would probably help sell some copies, don’t you think?

Did I really write that sentence?

I have finished the third draft of my novel.  It’s now five thousand words longer and considerably better.  I think I’m pretty close to being done.  Here is how this works, in my experience:

  • First draft — I figure out what I want to say.
  • Second draft — I say it.
  • Third draft — I clean up the mess.

Here’s an example of the mess.  I came across this sentence the other morning: “After a few hours we stopped to eat and feed the horses.”  Wait, what?  How can you feed the horses after you have eaten them?  I guess maybe that wasn’t what I had in mind.

Was I asleep when I wrote that sentence?  Drunk?  No, I was just working through the action and not paying enough attention to the style.  So that sentence is fixed.

Now I need to read through the whole thing again.  You know, just in case.

“So, have you finished that novel of yours yet?”

Shut up.  Really, just shut up.

The plan was to get the sequel to The Portal done in 2015, but 2016 finds me about three-quarters of the way through the second draft.  This isn’t like a George R.R. Martin delay, and I don’t have editors and publishers and translators and millions of readers waiting on me.  It’s just a personal thing.  But still.

What I don’t want to do (and I’m sure Martin doesn’t want to do) is to publish the thing before it’s ready.  I can feel the temptation to declare victory and move on.  But the list of things I want to tweak in the next draft is growing….

So I’ll get there–maybe by March.  Maybe before George R.R. Martin.