Road to My First eBook (an introduction)

Road to My First eBook (an introduction)

I am finished.

After years of psyching myself up while at the same time learning to let go of doubt and fear and perfection, I fulfilled a promise made to myself from years ago. I finally finished something.

It’s taken me 5 months, and the length of it should reflect the time invested into it. But, no. Although, I’m not entirely sure that taking a long time on a project is a bad thing. Five months to write something should mean, according to most bloggers, that I have spawned a full length, 180,000 word, child booster seat usable, make War & Peace look like a diner menu type novel. Instead, it’s pocket-sized, and I’m okay with that.

“So, whatchoo been doin’, brah?”
Oh, I just completed a draft for a short story.
“Ah, that’s pretty righteous, Mr. Edgar Allen Bro. How long it take? A week or two?”
It took me five months.
“Oh…okay. Well, hey gotta go do my pecs. Catch ya later, Brotato Chip.”

For those of you who were wondering, yes. I did just equate people who win at NaNoWriMo every year to gym bros. And before you start crying foul about it, it’s a totally fair analogy, because in both scenarios, I think I’m making great progress at what I’m doing, until I see how far along other people are, then I just want to go home and bury myself in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

I’ve finished. And yes it has taken me an especially long time to do so, but I don’t care. One of these days, I’ll learn to set personal benchmarks and deadlines, but for now, I’m enjoying this achievement. This is big for me, realistically and spiritually. The race ended a long time ago, and everyone went home, but I’m crossing that finish line covered in sweat and puke stains come hell or high water.

The magic number was 10,000 words. That’s all. Just get to that level.

Hit 10,000 words so it could be trimmed back to 7,000 so it could be easily be digested in one sitting, and if I’m lucky, sold into anthologies and stuff. That was the intent.

September, 2017. The Beginning.

Kermit

I have this terrible habit of not finishing things. Call it Fear of Failure. Call it the pitfalls of being a Perfectionist. Say that I’m a chronic procrastinator. Throw all those things into a word salad, serve it with a steak, and I’d give my compliments to the chef. There is always that other thing. That story I need to at least get an opening scene happening for so I don’t forget why I wanted to pursue it to begin with. For me, this has meant a folder full of barely started manuscripts that are still miles away from their resolution.

This has been my go-to destructive habit for a bit too long, and so in September of last year, I decided to put my foot down, draw a line in the sand, find a hill to die on and… um… I dunno… choke a…yak with a… uh… banana-nut muffin? Anyway, I decided to make it a priority to find one last project and stick with it until completion.

Okay, yeah. Sure. I slipped a little Flash Fiction somewhere in there, so what? It wasn’t a complete distraction. If anything, it helped.

shortstoryresult3

So, five months later, I have finished my short story. Well, technically my first draft, but I still finished it. My goal was for 10,000 words. It ended up being  just south of 12,000. I added a little wiggle room on purpose to see what could be saved and what couldn’t.

What I have just completed is a first step into uncharted territory. I have read several blogs on what I should be doing as far as prepping for publication, and I will be taking them all into consideration. But, as with most advice I seek out, I’ll have to keep in mind that it’s all subjective and what works for one person may not work for me. My experience won’t exactly reflect their experience because YMMV.

My original intent for this post was to make a Top 5 list for Things You Need to do After Completing Your First Draft…ugh… Seriously, would you follow the advice of some unpublished noob? Of course not. I wouldn’t.

I’m just feeling my way around at the moment. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ll admit it. I am going to make mistakes, and more importantly, I am going to own my mistakes. I’m not at that point where I can properly dispense wisdom, and something tells me that when I do, I probably won’t be as forthcoming then either. So, no advice from me. I promise. However, the SEO gods have to be appeased, and so I must document something on this here bloggeroonski in regards to my current endeavor.

I could do research on what would be the next steps to publish, and give you some worn out list that has been offered over and over again by a dozen different authors. But from me it would just sound ridiculous. I mean, more than it does now. It wouldn’t make much sense. What would make sense, I think, would be to blog about the current state of the project as I’m going through it. That way, it will keep me honest and motivated into seeing this through. Plus, it’s always satisfying to read an origin story. Maybe I’ll offer sneak previews and such here and there. You know, like what a real blogger does.

Consider this an introduction. The next few steps should be coming relatively quickly because I’m practically there.

I am going to publish my first work. This is new for me, and it’s very exciting. I could fall flat on my face, I could turn out okay. Who knows?

Stay tuned…

 

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New Year Updates and New Flash Fiction

New Year Updates and New Flash Fiction

Happy New Year, everyone.

I’m still here in sunny, tropical Florida, but at the moment it’s about as cold and wet as a typical British springtime.

I have spent the past few months hammering out a short story that I promised myself that I would finish and self-publish. Making the transition from Pantser to Plotter isn’t easy, and I’ve experienced a fair amount of setbacks and obstacles. That it might effect the final product still remains to be seen. I mean, I’m no expert or anything, but I’m pretty sure Science Fiction isn’t supposed to be boring as hell. I know I’m not going to be setting the literary world on fire any time soon, but this is where I am with it. I’m hoping the second draft improves.

Let’s see, what else?

Cash that I have received as a Christmas present is going directly to rent.

I have no paying gigs in my near future.

It’s my birthday, and the “Orange Faced Shit-Gibbon” that is currently sitting in the Oval Office has just spent this morning in a dick measuring contest with the leader of North Korea.

We’re all gonna die.
Happy birthday to me.

This morning, I checked my page views, and noticed that none of them have anything higher than 28 views. I’m not sure if that’s just par for the course and should just feel lucky that I got that. Or maybe I need to bite the bullet and buy a domain and an actual website. Or, maybe I should take the advice of every single blogger out there and just generate more content. Or, maybe I just suck.

With that in mind, here is another installment of Flash Fiction inspired by a Geek Scape of the Day.

It’s not insightful or informative, but it’s slightly entertaining. Maybe.

A short story is in the works. I mean an honest-to-goodness, 10K or so word story. It’s been tinkered with for the past few months and as soon as it’s finished, I will be posting (looking for future beta readers, btw). Here it will stay until I can get it published. It will stay available for download indefinitely. The plan this year is to write and publish enough short stories to publish an anthology, so I hope to write and publish a few more times this year.

I hope.

Look, I know I’m supposed to be posting the usual New Year pablum like bigger news, or a plan. I’m not much for beginning of the year pep talks like, This year is going to be MY year, I can FEEL IT! Or, It’s a New Year and that means a new ME!

It’s all bullshit, and I’d rather not puke out a listicle to prove it. It’s bad enough that this post will probably get like two views at best, so I’m not going to waste my time wasting your time. Cool? Cool.

So, on to the current doodle.

This current Geekscape was posted by Charlie Hoover earlier last month. It’s a painting named The Red Knight, and you can see the artist’s work here. (As before, I’m making an effort to link and not show when it comes to flash fiction based on someone else’s artwork. It’s better this way. For a full effect, open the picture in a separate tab.)

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment. Happy New Year and all that stuff.

(Author’s Note: Naming things, especially Flash Fiction, is not one of my strengths. Since this one didn’t have one to begin with, I had to make one for this post. It’s the equivalent of needing to put pants on to go to the store, so apologies if it sounds awkward. Enjoy.)

 

Edgar and the Twilight of the Dragons

“No.”
“Please?”
“No.”
“Why?”

The dragon adjusted his resting posture a bit. A burning chunk of coal was causing some mild discomfort in his abdomen. “Edgar, I’m not sure if anyone’s told you, but I am retired. I’m sure there are plenty of other dragons out there that can help you for whatever half-baked scheme you have going on. Have you asked Grendieg, The Destroyer of Life, or Kemmim The Dark? I hear Zyvire, the Bunny Killer is available.”

Edgar drew a sigh and fidgeted uncomfortably in his armor. The heat in the dragon’s lair was making him braise in his own fluids. “Grendieg is out of town, Kemmim has a previous gig booked and Zyvire? I hear he’s doing the dinner theater circuit.”

“Dinner theater? You’re kidding me?” A deep and full throated guffaw bellowed from the dragon’s belly pushed clouds of soot through his snout.

“Look,” said Edgar. “I’ve been from one end of the Kingdom to the other. I’ve sent my fastest riders to the ends of the Earth to seek a challenger for this thing, and I’m coming up really short.”

“Well, the times are changing, Edgar. Nobody is interested in Knights and Dragons and Damsels anymore. These days, they’re all about Giants and Gollums and majestic sea creatures that live in a kingdom no one has ever seen.”

“Atlantis? I’ve heard the tales.”

“Yeah, spoiler alert, it wasn’t as great as people say. Kind of glad it sunk.”

Edgar adjusted himself and tried again. “Percy, I realize that this might not be worth it for you. I get that you’ve been the best monster you could. You’ve vanquished knights, hoarded loot, and terrorized farmers with the best of them. Your name is still on the lips of many and there are still those who live in fear of your return.”

“As it should be,” Percy said. “It’s not easy being the stuff of nightmares. It’s nothing but work work work, ‘Rawwr, I’m kidnapping your princess! Rawwr, I’m eatin’ all your livestock’ it’s tiring. I’m done Edgar. The show’s over. My days of terrorizing the land is behind me, and now I can finally enjoy the fruits of my labor.”

“But it’s just for one day,” Edgar pleaded. “One day of destroying property, swooping in on unsuspecting peasants, brooding atop battlements, the whole deal. Just one day, and you can go back to rolling around in your gold.”

Percy just smiled his fiendishly crafted grin. “I. Am. Re. Tired. I am not in the mood to be the foil in some fantasy concocted by some bored king who needs to justify their sovereignty. I’m sorry Edgar, I really am. Please send my regards to your Lord…Lord… what’s his name?”

“William.”
“Right. Please send my regards to y… wait, did you say ‘William’?”
“Yes.”
Percy rose from his chin slightly. The name igniting his memory. “THE William? William The Just? William, the conqueror of Eden? THAT William?”
“The same. And Adelline will be there. So will Gregory.”
“The Damsel and the Sorceror.” said Percy, his memory giddily stretching back to his youth. “They’re getting the band back together. What’s the occasion?”

“It’s William’s birthday. This will be his seventy-fifth winter. He’s been in failing health recently. He won’t be long for this world, and he knows it.”

Percy’s eyes widened. An old comrade is dying.

“He’s been conducting private meetings lately about one last, glorious battle. Like the old times. But, if you’re not interested, I’ll guess I’ll try Thermador. He’s not as menacing, but dragons are hard to come by these days. Thanks for your time, Percy.” He mounted his steed and turned slowly to leave. He was about to reach the mouth of the cave when a curtain of fire rained down from above and blocked his path.

A voice that mocks the clap of thunder shook the walls of the cave. “TINY HUMAN WHO DARES ENTER MY DOMAIN AND BEFOUL IT WITH ITS STENCH, YOUR KINGDOM SHALL SUFFER DEARLY AS I DELIGHT IN PEELING THE FLESH FROM YOUR KING’S BONES IN FRONT OF HIS PEOPLE! EXPECT FIRE TO CONSUME YOUR FIELDS ON…um… when will it be again?”

“Thursday,” said Edgar.

“Right. EXPECT FIRE TO CONSUME YOUR FIELDS ON THURSDAY! WOMEN AND CHILDREN WILL NOT BE SPARED! YOUR SOULS WILL BE MINE TO CONSUME… oh, before I forget, should I bring something?”

“William is a big fan of chicken wings.”

“Oh, neat,” said Percy. “YOUR SOULS WILL BE MINE TO CONSUME LIKE HUGE PLATES OF CHICKEN WINGS…WITH…BLEU CHEESE DRESSING…I’M PRESUMING!”

Edgar smiled through a face full of ash. “Thank you, Percy.”

“Oh,” said Percy. “The pleasure is all mine.”
“See you next Thursday.”
“I can’t wait,” Percy chuckled. “Until that time, FEAR ME!”

The dragon spent the rest of the day on his mountain of gold, clutching an old tapestry and dreaming of times long gone.

 

©2018 AA Payson

In Regards To My Absence…

In Regards To My Absence…

drinkandwritefordisplayThe first thing that I want to do when it comes to filling in my readers on where I’ve been for the past couple of months, is to rattle off this laundry list of things that people normally do, only to catch myself and think, “Who cares? Everyone is in the same boat.” Personal issues and familial obligations override everything at the end of the year. It’s nothing unusual. It’s necessary.

At least, that’s what I want to think as dozens of authors and editors crank out post after post of evergreen content to boost their SEOs and stuff. They know what to do. They know how to make themselves known. How to be present, how to sustain themselves online.

Me? I cleaned out my coffee maker the other day, and I felt like a god for 10 minutes.

I could fake my way through this. I could boldly go where everyone has gone before, and break no new ground. I could do the old Listicle thing and get all the clicks. Chicks dig clicks. Big clicks.

But that’s not me. I’ve gone over this before, and I’m not in the mood to kick that horse again.

I started this post with a head full of snark. I had every intention on laying on the dad jokes, and assume an air of jocularity whilst bullshitting my way through the aforementioned excuses…

But this year has found a way to make my heart heavy.

Not just with heroes from my childhood dropping one by one, not just because of a newly elected dictator of the United States becoming a reality.

It’s everything.

The end of the year can be overwhelming. It usually is. Whatever time I’ve allotted for myself, thin though it may be throughout the rest of the year, has become extinct on the First day of November. It’s hard to think straight. It’s hard not to slip from just the normal winter blues to full blown depression. The result being, nothing gets done. Nothing other than taking care of the kids, and the house, and many other things. Come November first, I check out. I don’t resume any writing activity until long after the ball has dropped in New York City, and cause celebre has silenced.

Spending a lot of time on Twitter doesn’t help kill the blues either. The madness of the world. The shortsightedness of people. Every word is a punch, or a random shoulder check from stranger on a subway; cold, apathetic and willing to accept its own destruction. It is a cold place filled with angry people, and it’s so easy to become part of the chorus. Finding another stranger to verbally throw my shoulder into became more important than writing something meaningful.

It has warped my soul. Although on the bright side, framing an idea in 140 characters or less is good practice for succinctness. Still, there is writing to be done. And brawling on social media doesn’t change that fact.

Plus, as anyone, especially the authors and writing gurus who dispense advice on their blogs will tell you, writing is friggin’ hard.

Dispensing advice is always good to get people to return to your blog. So are motivational quotes. One of which was in my feed the other day. It was from Ray Bradbury.

“Write a short story every week. It’s impossible to write 52 bad stories in a row.”

I was on G+, which is the equivalent of finding a spot in an open field and kicking your shoes off and staring at clouds. I just left a marathon Twitter slapfight, so my mood might have been a little dark at the time. My reply was…

bradbury

 

Mr. Bradbury is, and always will be, one of my greatest literary heroes. Most of my teen years was spent with a copy of The Illustrated Man in my backpack. Still though… going by recent experience, there might be a possibility that his stated theory could be proven false.

Just get me in front of a keyboard. I’ll show you what’s possible.

A little harmless snark was just enough to elevate the mood a little, and it was good.

Still, there was writing to be done.

Ideas for projects have lined themselves up like taxis outside of an airport terminal in my Scrivener. All of them are idyl, none of them have a place to go.

The story I’m working on now, I might have given a little too much room to grow, and might need to reign it in. (Given that the definition of “short story” depends on who you ask, I set my word count to 20,000 words. I honestly don’t think it might see a third of that).Turning it into a shorter, short story might be good insurance that it gets done.

And then, I can move on to the next one, then the next. Then, the next. And then hopefully by mid-August, I would have sharpened my writing skills beyond 140 characters. I guess, the longer I thought about it, the more…I want to say plausible it became (I hesitate on plausible. I’m a little tired of making promises I can’t keep).

I have given this a lot of thought. And by that, I mean briefly mulled it over while sipping a beer. I might…MIGHT be able to do this. Maybe I can write a story a week for a year. I don’t want to make promises, but I already have a head start. I’d still want to publish on my own so I can finally PROVE that I’m a legitimate word monkey, so maybe post a highlight of the text. Whet people’s appetites. Generate interest. Evergreen. SEO. Yippee!

It is now well passed midnight on Monday, January 2nd. In a matter of hours, I will be another year older. Tomorrow, I will start on a year long journey to see how far and how often I can meet this challenge.

Happy New Year, everyone. The crapfest that was 2016 couldn’t end soon enough. The slate is now clean. No more picking fights with strangers. No more hiding away. Time to get shit done.

 

The First Rule in Talking About New Projects Is…

The First Rule in Talking About New Projects Is…

amwritingThe first rule of talking about the Holidays after the Holidays is: You do not talk about the Holidays after the Holidays.

Of course, it’s an unwritten and unspoken rule amongst most of us, right? Like, the guy in your office who gleefully walks around to each cubicle and reminds you on December 26th that there are only 364 shopping days ’til Christmas.

Then the office beat down happens in the breakroom.

Then they tell you to clean out your desk.

Then comes the restraining order…

January 1st rolls around, and the well-wishing is officially over. You do not talk about the Holidays after the Holidays.

Same with NaNoWriMo.

Writers, at least the ones that I follow, have no time to dwell on something that happened months ago, because some of them are in the midst of tidying up the manuscript they just cranked out in 30 days.

I am no different. Even though I didn’t win NaNo (next year, I’m DEFINITELY getting the t-shirt), I have no plans on abandoning this project because out of the previous attempts at trying to hammer out a story, this is the one has greased the wheels of my storytelling machine long enough to get the bugs out, and make it purr like it just came off the assembly line. I’m not walking away from this one.

Still, the first week in January found me staring at my first draft and all my notes like Jack Torrance closely inspecting his Adler typewriter to make sure it doesn’t change color on him… again. This was the time where I should have wiped the deck clean, rearranged things, beefed it up, trimmed it down, played with it. Instead, and I hate myself for thinking it, I kept looking at it as if it were 5 day old leftovers.

Oh no…Meatloaf again?

Meatloaf
“Is it Saturday Night yet?”

I wouldn’t call it a block. My intention is in full swing, and when that happens, all it takes is one word, one phrase, a picture, something that happened on the way to the grocery store, and I’m back on the horse. I wouldn’t call it a block, it was more like a pit stop. I needed some perspective.

I read somewhere recently that one of the best ways to overcome getting stuck in your manuscript was to start another project, see it through as far as you can take it, then revisit your original manuscript. A fresh perspective might be just the thing to clear the logjam and get moving.

As fate would have it, around the same time that I should have been adding more chapters, fixing dialog and tinkering with sub-plots, an invitation was extended by fellow blogger about writery stuff, Chris Graham, to participate in a short story contest. The tl;dr version is 1500 words, 30 days to write, based on a picture chosen by the contest provider.

Now, like wishing someone a Happy Holiday in late January, I’m not supposed to talk about it to a certain extent. I can’t write it, post it and link to it here where it can shine in all it’s hastily-put-together glory¹ (e.g. the occasional Flash Fiction Challenge from Chuck Wendig). Nope, this time it’s fo’ realizies. Grand Prize winner will get published across a number of publications, name and brand recognition will become more concrete, mana will rain from the sky and European lingerie models will throw themselves at my feet.

…well, not really. But I will chalk it up as actual experience; something to add to a resumé. Being published in any capacity at this point would be most welcome. My horoscope has been stuck on repeat for months. It just keeps repeating, “Good things are going to happen, good things are going to happen…”

I sincerely hope so…

Upcoming Projects

  • As I started to say before I got sidetracked, I’m not allowed to discuss or share a copy of my  entry until later on this year. However, that doesn’t preclude me from two things. 1.) It doesn’t mean that I can’t share a little snippet of it in a future post, and 2.) who’s to say that I should stop there? Who’s to say that I should be solely reliant on random opportunities to come my way so that I could find an excuse to make more content? My noggin is full to capacity with story ideas. I collect writing prompts for fun. I kinda, sorta know how to make a decent book cover. Inspiration is all around me and all I have to do is interpret its language. This is the mission statement of this blog to begin with. Yes, my NaNo Novel will be worked on this year, and perhaps might be entered again as soon as November comes around again. In the meantime, expect smaller projects to bubble to the surface. I’ll still be throwing up Flash Fiction, but if something slightly heavier needs to be fleshed out, like say a novella, you can be rest assured that you will know about it. So, lot’s of writing this year… but first…
  • My ultimate goal is to make this website self-substantial. Along with a sturdy final draft of my manuscript that is set for publication, a well deserved t-shirt from NaNoWrimo as my prize for finishing, I would like to see “aapayson.com” become a reality. In order to do that, I need money. And, in order to get that, I would like to direct you to my Pay Pal donation button on the right hand side of the page. Now, as much as all donations great and small will be most welcome, begging was never my strong suit. So therefore, a new page on this blog will be in development over the coming weeks. Prepare for the swag.

That’s it, very excited and enthused this year. I got a lot of great ideas and I can’t wait to make them happen. Thanks  for reading.

How about you? What’s your big project this year? Are you finishing a book too? Starting one? Let me know in the comments.

¹I forgot to mention that I should have proofread my submission a little better. Looking over it the day after I sent it, small mistakes were glaring at me. Meh.

Upon Staring at Something a Little Too Long…

Have you ever wrote a word down, perhaps in the middle of a sentence, and you are confident that that’s the word you want to use. It’s correct in it’s spelling and usage, but for some reason…

…it…just…doesn’t…look…right.

Maybe it’s because you’ve been staring at it for so long that the meaning of the word itself has been lost, so much to the point that you forgot why you put it there in the first place, has that ever happened to you?

…anyone?…

Okay, just me. Moving on.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been, among other things, creating new designs and polishing up some old ones, and putting everything on t-shirts. After a few marathon sessions of uploading everything to CafePress, I have a feeling I’m turning into something resembling this…

I have researched my competition, and have decided to cast a wider net; take a chance and apply designs on items other than t-shirts. Take every design that is black and white and apply a little color to it and see where that takes me.

I started with this…

Just a little totem of positivity that I introduced a few posts back. It seems to work for the most part, although for some of the dark shirts, it might not. But I can’t be hindered. I need to take chances and make mistakes, something has to catch on. It’s not that I’m worried, because I’m not. I’m enjoying the process. Honestly, I’m having a good time.

Then, I went out on a limb and tried something new…

“Hope is a good thing… and no good thing ever dies.”

Something happened. Whether it was on purpose or not, I felt the need to steer my ship in the direction of something hopeful. As if I needed some psychic healing and the only way to get it was to send out messages of hope. As if every message I interpret, gets me closer to feeling…I dunno…better? The feeling closer to having air in my lungs rather than feeling like I’m drowning? The feeling like a future isn’t as murky as it once was? Hope? The above is a quote from Stephen King, and it’s translated into Quenya to the best of my ability (somebody, please feel free to correct my grammar). This one feels good. This one feels like I’m onto something.

After I exhausted every possible product to put that design on, I decided to venture further into this. The next project, I feel a little iffy on. This one, I may need a second opinion.

This is a derivation of a quote from Antonio Porchia; an turn of the century Argentinian Poet whose concise; almost haiku-like poetry has influenced many of his contemporaries. Blah blah blah, read the article.

I don’t think I have a real question at this late hour as I finish off this post. I am, however, looking for opinions. I’ve been staring at this for too long, and it’s losing its meaning the longer I look at it. Is this too vague? Should I even bother? I kind of like it, and it means something to me, but that doesn’t always mean it’s a good idea to act on it. Please let me know what you think, and thank you very much.