What I’ve learned in 2011, and the release of Danse Macabre!

Today is the official release of Danse Macabre, and it stumbled out of the gate around midnight. As I start writing this, it is 5:00 pm here, and the book has only made it through Smashwords and Kindle so far. I will post the link for them, and those for the paperback when it is available, on the preview page at the bottom. This is a zombie novella, and it was just a side project that I was working on. Here is the book cover blurb:

Spencer Mason has discovered a secret spell that will raise the dead, and as a funeral home director, there is no short supply of bodies. As Spencer builds a legion of undead soldiers, he plans to get revenge for the torment he endured during his childhood years - until Raven Anderson moves into town.

Blind since birth, Raven struggles to adapt with her new surroundings after the death of her mother. She finds a sympathetic shoulder to lean on when she meets Spencer, and the two find out that they have a lot in common.

Raven senses that Spencer is troubled by something that he isn’t sharing, but the thing that tortures Spencer the most is something Raven cannot see.

Since today is the first day of the year - and I don’t really post much about myself - I figured that I would do a short year in review. I never make a resolution because I don’t like to break promises, and I would hate to disappoint myself by not holding true to my own word. Instead I started thinking back to one year ago. What I was doing, dreaming, and hoping, and then about everything that I’ve learned since then.

One year ago I was anxiously waiting for my final edited version of Endlessly to come back from the editor. I had a slightly elevated hope that it would do decently well online. Don’t get me wrong, at no point did I ever imagine, or hope, that I would become rich with this book, or series. I’ve read a lot of books, I know what sells big, and Endlessly was not them.

Endlessly was about trying. Even though there are people that hate it, at least I tried, and that is a lot more than most people can say. It may not be grand, or the next greatest novel, but I put my heart out there on display, and smiled when people stabbed it and called it crap. Why? Because that’s what authors do. We slave, stress, worry, lose sleep, get frustrated, and spend months of our free time building something for people to enjoy. Then someone comes along and tells us its garbage, and we smile, nod, and say thank you for your feedback. Or at least that is what an author should do. Some take it personal and attack the negative reviewer, which is a bunch of bull, not everyone has the same opinion, and I would hate to live in a world where everyone did.

Through this process I learned a lot. Things like grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure… all the things that I should have paid attention to in high school. But there was more than what I thought, like: formatting, cover design, pitches, marketing, cover letters, and constant rejection from agents and publishers. It's enough to squash your self-esteem, and it makes you question whether it’s really all worth the effort.

I moved forward, even with all the negativity, and published Legacy. This time it moved a little easier because I knew what to expect. I took everything that I had learned, used it, plus I learned more about grammar. Reviewers were gentler, but I know that is to be expected. Let’s face it; if you don’t like a book, you sure as hell aren’t going to read the sequel to it. I learned some more about repeat customers and their expectations, and still disappointed a few readers.

Then I joined The LL Book Review. Having written two books at this time, I knew what it was like to try and get your name out there. I have this weird thing about doing things for other people that I would like done for me. (They call it The Golden Rule I hear.) I call it karma. When I was starting out, I just wanted someone to read my book and leave a review, and this is was the LL does. So after Legacy, I started writing reviews while I continued with my own writing venture.

Phantom was up next, and at this point, people are constantly asking when it’s going to be available. (Late February 2012) Phantom was the first book that I wrote that I actually felt confident with the way that it turned out. I know that any editor that would look at it would say that it was crap, and it really needed to be cleaned up, but knowing how the first draft of Endlessly looked compared to Phantom, I was happy with all the progress that I had made as a writer.

While Phantom was off in the hands of the editor, I started fiddling around with Danse Macabre. (And now we come full circle.) I never meant for it to be anything really serious, and wasn’t even sure if I was going to publish it. I’ve spoken with other authors since becoming a reviewer at the LL, and I have started growing a small network of contacts. I asked one author if he would be interested in critiquing Danse Macabre, and he accepted. We had a huge meeting of the minds, and I can’t begin to tell you how much we learned from each other. I had to take notes to remember it all, and since then, I have begun keeping a small notebook with the things that I learn about grammar on my desk, along with my grammar book, dictionary, and The Elements Of Style.  

One year. It just amazes me how much I’ve learned in one year. I can’t claim that I know everything about writing, and I still have a bumpy road ahead if I continue to write, but I’m learning. And as long as you are open to suggestions, and willing to learn from your mistakes, you won’t go insane.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” - Albert Einstein

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