Therapy

I have decided that writing is a kind of therapy. I put myself in another person’s shoes and it is easier to feel with them often times than to deal with my own feelings. This, in turn, helps me to make contact with my own feelings. I seldom cry, but I have on several occasions, written a passage that brought tears to my eyes. This is a sort of catharsis for the emotionally shut down.

Counselors often recommend journaling for their patients, but I think this is as good of a method of getting at what is in us as anything else, because I have found that when I am missing my wife, I write love into the story. When I am angry, I write a scene where someone gets angry. When I am sad, I write a sad scene, and this gets the juices flowing the way they should. It makes me more alive. So next time you don’t know what you feel, try writing a short story and see what comes up.

Torturing my characters

Today I had to emotionally torture my main character and as I did so I realized the importance of this. I have often been too easy on my characters, giving them too safe a path to trod, but it is the hurt that the character goes through that adds drama and tension to the story. This gives readers a reason to go on to the end because they want to find out what will happen with this character. Will he make it? Will he go mad? Will he turn to evil? Certainly such an event must change a person. How will it affect the way he thinks and feels for the rest of his life? The way he responds to similar circumstances?

So, though I will not do it gratuitously, I will torture my characters at times. For until a man has been through the storm, how can he appreciate the calm? Until he has entered the dark, how can he appreciate the light? How much better the healing is welcome after the torture of the soul.

The Things We Do To Write

Yesterday I downloaded two items essential for my writing. One was SimCity, a simulation game where I build up a city. The second was a book called Sweet Valley High (Book 1). Why would you do that, you ask?

In The Last Place to Stand (Book 2), whose title is still to be decided, I need to come up with realistic ways a spaceship would run. I have a small society living on the ship and I wanted to consider aspects I might have forgotten. Like how do they distribute or barter items they might need? What is their system of money? What utilities should I discuss in the book? SimCity helps me itemize what would be needed in a small self-sustaining community. These are the things I would have never thought of if I had not tried such a game.

Sweet Valley High is for another book. Even after releasing Danger Under Ocean’s Tides, I realized there are aspects about Tracy I did not give enough attention. I needed to think like a young girl. Something, I’m afraid does not come very naturally. My wife suggested this series to brush up on being a girl. Besides having an identity crisis, I hope it will help me do one last revision of the book and make it even better than it is.

So there you have it! The things I won’t do to lend my books more realism.

The New Cover is Here!

??????My new cover just came out! Yeah! Can you tell I’m excited. It will be changed on Amazon.com in a few hours.

So far I have always done my own covers. Now, I’m no professional, and no matter how much time I spent on it, I always knew a professional could do it better. Since my kids are on the cover of The Gifted Series, I am keeping those. But for The Last Place to Stand, here’s the new cover.

Is this cool, or what! These folks at thecovercollection.com do a great job. Incidentally, I am halfway through writing the second book after The Last Place to Stand.

-Aaron

A Few of My Favorite Things

I have this list I’ve made of my favorite books and I keep adding to it. I did this at first because to me, to finish a book was a big thing.

I did not grow up as a reader. I struggled with the act of reading and truly, I would have rather had my teeth pulled than read a book growing up. Then I went to college and had to read boring books, and you know what? Once I got started I found I grew interested in them. A thought occurred to me then that it might be fun to read a book that I chose. From that moment on I began the life of a reader. Not because I had to but because I wanted to.

Anyway, here is the list. It is a bit long now and includes a few books that I really did like when I was young. Some books are definitely not rated “G.” Some of these authors I stopped reading because they had too many sex scenes in them, or were too dark, and I eventually noticed that all their books were that way. I even have a few non-fiction titles in here.

Books I have known and loved

========================

* means I would read this book again

  1. *The Curse of the Blue Figurine by John Bellairs
  2. Green Mansions by William Henry Hudson
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  4. On Writing by Stephen King (nonfiction)
  5. No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty
  6. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  7. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  8. *Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  9. Madame Bovary
  10. The Singer Trilogy by Calvin Miller
  11. *Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee
  12. *The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
  13. *1984-George Orwell -For the ideas presented and how today’s culture seems to be going down that path.
  14. Stories by O Henry by O Henry
  15. The True Confessions of Charlett Doyle by Avi
  16. *And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  17. The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter
  18. Taliesin by Stephen Lawhead
  19. Merlin by Stephen Lawhead
  20. Arthur by Stephen Lawhead
  21. *Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge
  22. *Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  23. *Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card
  24. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  25. *Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  26. *King Lear by William Shakespeare
  27. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  28. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
  29. *Kindred by Octavia Butler
  30. *The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfus
  31. *Harry Potter (the series) by Rowling
  32. *Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett-particularly Going Postal, Monstrous Regiment, Thud, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay
  33. *The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
  34. Timescape by Gregory Benford
  35. *The Illistrated Man by Ray Bradbury
  36. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  37. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  38. Richard II by William Shakespeare
  39. Tempest by William Shakespeare
  40. *Don Quixote by Cervantes
  41. *The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
  42. Oceans of Night by Gregory Benford
  43. Accross the Sea of Suns by Gregory Benford
  44. Saga of Seven Suns Series by Kevin J. Anderson
  45. Seeker by Jack McDevitt
  46. Singularity Sky by Charles Stross
  47. Frankenstein Series by Dean Koontz
  48. *Alex Cross Series by James Patterson
  49. Velocity by Dean Koontz
  50. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  51. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  52. Man and Superman by Bernard Shaw
  53. Forever War by Joe Haldeman
  54. *The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
  55. *The Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis
  56. The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
  57. The Shack by William P. Young
  58. This Present Darkness by Anthony Peretti
  59. Piercing the Darkness by Anthony Peretti
  60. Dubliners by James Joyce
  61. Short Stories by Robert Sheckley
  62. From a Buick 8 by Stephen King
  63. *To the Vanishing Point by Allen Dean Foster
  64. The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan
  65. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol
  66. *A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  67. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  68. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  69. Light in August by William Faulkner
  70. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
  71. *Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  72. Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson
  73. *Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
  74. *Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigators Series
  75. A Series of Unfortunate Events (Series) by Lemony Snicket
  76. Teach Your Child To Read in Just Ten Minutes a Day by Sidney Ledson (nonfiction)
  77. *The Circle Series (Black, Red, White, Green) by Ted Dekker
  78. The Atrocity Archive by Charles Stross
  79. *Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  80. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
  81. *Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  82. A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
  83. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
  84. Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  85. The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  86. *Pilgrim’s Progress
  87. Ice Limit by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  88. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  89. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
  90. *Three by Ted Dekker
  91. The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson
  92. Cat and Mouse by James Patterson
  93. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
  94. *Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
  95. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. Heinlein
  96. Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz
  97. *Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz
  98. *Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  99. Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfus
  100. *The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
  101. *The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt (Johnny Dixon) by John Bellairs
  102. *Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
  103. *Hard Magic & Spellbound (Books 1 & 2 of the Grimnoir Chronicles) by Larry Correia
  104. Cauldron by Jack McDevitt
  105. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  106. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  107. *Othello
  108. *Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
  109. *Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
  110. *The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker
  111. Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer
  112. Along Came a Spider by James Patterson
  113. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
  114. Soulless by Gail Carringer
  115. Wool 1-5 by Hugh Howy
  116. *Player One Ready by Ernest Cline
  117. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
  118. *The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
  119. *The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
  120. Countdown City: The Last Policeman Book II by Ben H. Winters
  121. *Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
  122. *The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
  123. Night of the Avenging Blowfish: A Novel of Covert Operations, Love, and Luncheon Meat by John Welter
  124. I Funny by James Patterson
  125. I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
  126. Geek Wisdom by N. K. Jemisin, Genevieve Valentine, Eric San Juan, Zaki Hasan,
  127. Boneman’s Daughters by Ted Dekker
  128. Swords of Haven by Simon R. Green
  129. Paths Not Taken (Nightside) Simon R. Green
  130. Drinking Midnight Wine by Simon R. Green
  131. The Man with the Golden Torc (Secret Histories, Book 1)
  132. Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds

Publishing and Jogging

Today I began going through comments and corrections found by my beta readers. Some of the suggestions have been really helpful, and I’m already excited about the result. Look for the next book, Danger Under Ocean’s Tides (The Gifted Series-Book 3), to be released on November 11th.

In other news, I have officially taken up jogging. This has been a long time coming. When I was in college, a student for one of his classes interviewed me on my exercise habits. His first question was, “Do you exercise regularly?” to which I responded, “yes.”

To his next question, “How often?” I responded, “Once per month.” A confused expression overtook his face, so I explained. “Precisely once per month I feel bad about the fact that I am so out of shape, and so I take off down the street to run one to two miles. I always feel better afterwards, and then I am good for another month. It happens like clockwork.”

Since then I have tried numerous to make a regular habit of exercise, but failed. But now I have gone for over a month, running at a minimum of three times per week. This is a personal record, I think. Yeah, me!

Out to Beta Readers & Planning

My third novel in The Gifted Series is out with the beta readers now. Since I am an English teacher, I give it to willing students for extra credit. They hone their skills in reading for errors and common issues and I get more sets of eyes to read my book for the things I might have missed. The official release date is November 11, but the Kindle version is out for pre-order now. The paperback will be out around the same time, but it is not up for pre-order.

While going through one last revision, I got bored and decided to start planning my next book. That is why you will see the progress increased for planning of The Last Place to Stand-Book 2. My plan is to write the first draft during NaNoWriMo and go from there. The reason I am excited about this one is because The Last Place to Stand has always been my favorite book, and one of the benefits of being the writer is that I am also it’s first reader. And, quite frankly, I want to know what’s going to happen to my characters. I like these people, and I like the world.

What else is going on? Well, I’m tired and have done very little revising in the last couple of days, and I realized I am in desperate need of a break. For that reason, I am taking it easy. Tonight I will spend a restful time with my family, and tomorrow I will be running a 5k with my oldest son for a school fundraiser. Sunday I preach and soak up the goodness of God, and then Monday I am taking the day off to be with my wife. That’s right, we’re dropping the kids off at school and then we’re going to have some “us” time. I think we’ll take advantage of that beach we live not too far from. Or maybe we’ll find some trees and look at them, because, as I said, I’m tired. And as Robert Frost says:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
(excerpt from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
BY ROBERT FROST)

-Aaron

Very soon now

I am so excited that my new baby (that means book, am done with the biological kind), will soon be out in the world. The new book will be called Danger Under Ocean’s Tides, and it is the the third book in The Gifted Series. If you would like get an unfinished sneak peak at the beginning, sign up for my newsletter on the right.

The order of the series is:

  1. The Gifted (currently free on Amazon, iTunes, B&N, and Smashwords)
  2. Assault from Space
  3. Danger Under Ocean’s Tides

The Prequel, Tracy’s Escape, is a novelette that can also be downloaded for free. It gives you the backstory of Tracy, and how she got her start.

If all goes well, the new book will be published at the end of October.

Aaron

What’s love got to do with it?

I never planned it. Not really.

It was NaNoWriMo 2007, and I was serious about seeing if I could write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I had already written for about a week when my wife went out of town for a Women’s Retreat from our church. She left on a Friday and would be back Sunday afternoon. I had time to get serious about this writing thing.

One of those nights I was writing in a little red folding chair, laptop on my legs, and really on a roll, and I did something I never planned to do. My main character (protagonist for people who remember high school English), fell in love with someone. It just happened. It was never planned in my outline, and I had no thoughts about putting romance into the story before. One minute, the adventurer was waking up in a strange room, having all sorts of questions asked of him, trying to solve the mystery surrounding him, and the next, he finds himself staring into the beautiful eyes of this female character and there you have it, the beginning of a romance.

And did I mention, both characters were robots?

Here’s where I realized something about myself. I had been missing my wife and I didn’t even know it. That’s how these things happen. I could plan my book all I wanted, but when it came time to write, some of my frustrations, fears, aspirations, and yes, feelings of missing a loved one was bound to show up in the story.

That book was never published. Not yet anyway. But it did give me a chance to learn who I was as a writer. You see, I thought I liked science fiction, with cool futuristic worlds and technology that blew your mind. But what I found out was that there was something else required for a good story. Someone I can care about. Someone a lot like me. So my robot became as human as anyone I might meet on the street. In fact, more so because I got a chance to look into his motivations and feelings even more deeply than I could for my closest friend.

Then there is this thing about love. I used to make fun of sappy love stories. I did not think I was into all of that yucky love stuff. But I was wrong. That is why I married, after all. Sometimes it just takes a lonely night to make me realize how important it is.

Continued Progress

I’ve been really getting into the swing of things in my writing these days. My fourth revision of Danger Under Ocean’s Tides is coming along quite well. I have just come to the point where I will read a portion of what I wrote and say to myself, “I actually like that.”

Let me explain. Readers often want to believe that a book was written out of the natural brilliance of the author. That it was written under some inspiration whereby the author could do no wrong. Or, that the writer is just that good.

But that is not the case. Not by a long shot.

Writing takes work. And it has to be bad before it can be good. A first draft, for instance, is ugly, inelegant, and riddled with mistakes, both small and large. Then I try to fix huge plot holes. I mean the ones I knew were there even when I was writing it. You know, where Tracy chases the bad guy up a hill, even though two chapters before, she broke her leg. That kind of thing.

Then I read through the work and make other such changes, all the while fixing other smaller issues along the way. Then I get to what I call sentence level revision. Here my job is to craft well written sentences. I get rid of words I repeat too much, boring or poorly written sentences, and cliché phrases.

In other words, I have two main goals: 1) Write a story interesting enough to read, and 2) write it well enough people want to read it.

That being said, my next book is perhaps two months away from being published and I’m beginning to like it. When it comes out, I hope you do too.

As always, if you want any sneak peeks or to know more particulars about what I’m up to, sign up for the newsletter.

Aaron