A National Tell a Story Day Special

For those of you who followed me here on The New Writer’s Journey, you’ve read a lot about my debut novel The Drive Home. It was my whole reason for starting the blog and I wanted to show my book off to the world. I want to share it with you all now, in honor of National Tell a Story Day. Thanks to my publisher, Emerald Inkwell, and the KDP Select program through amazon, we’re running a special from now, April 27th, to the end of the month. You can pick up the Kindle edition of the novel, The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror, right now, for FREE. The support has been immense for the novel and we’d like to return the favor by doing something special. And what better day than a holiday focused on telling stories?

Sean K. NovelsHere’s the link to a post with all the details on the Sean K. Novels site:

Sean K. Novels: National Tell a Story Day!

 

 

 

And, of course, to the amazon page where you can pick up the Kindle edition for FREE!
The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror
, Kindle Edition 

 

I hope you all enjoy the drive and tell someone a good story today!

A New Journey

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on The New Writer’s Journey and there’s a number of reasons why. Not that I’m a fan of simply making excuses, but I’m in a different place in life than I was a year ago.

I recently achieved the goal that I hoped to accomplish when I first started The New Writer’s Journey. My debut novel The Drive Home was finally finished and published by Emerald InkwellTDH-FB-COVER (1): A Pacific Northwest Publishing Community. Since that day (February 2nd is when it went live!) I’ve been knee deep in launching the novel on all platforms, doing some marketing, and visiting local bookstores with regards to carrying the novel. On top of that, I’ve been working on a new blog, a spiritual successor to The New Writer’s Journey, if you will. On social media, I had used the handle @seanknovels or facebook.com/seanknovels and this new blog will take up that same handle to keep a bit of consistency. The new blog will tackle some of the same ideas this one wanted to (writing concepts and growth) but will also look to do new things that this blog could never do, like book reviews, local author and artist spotlights, resources for writers, and a place for me to showcase my work and improve my skills as a writer.

I’ve also been working with my publisher Emerald Inkwell, of which I’m the Co-Founder, to bring The Drive Home to fruition and find new talented people to join our growing community. The thing about Emerald Inkwell is that it’s so much more than a simple publishing company; one day it will be a community of creative individuals just doing what they love and helping others around them succeed, but more on that later.

A New JourneyBecause I’ve taken so long to revisit this, The New Writer’s Journey, I do have to apologize that it took me so long to do so. However, I would like to invite each and every one of you who’ve like my posts, followed my work, or just stopped in and said “Hello,” to come on over to seanknovels.com and read the few articles I’ve posted so far. I hope you’ll find something new, something you enjoy reading and find something that may help or inspire you in your writing.

If there’s anything that you enjoyed from The New Writer’s Journey that you would like to see more of, I’d love to hear it so that I may continue those types of posts. Or if there is anything you’d like to see me delve into that I haven’t before, I’d be excited to do so! Thank you all so much for your time and support, and I’ll see you over at Sean K. Novels.

Sean K. Novels: Welcome Post:

Welcome to Sean K. Novels, A New Journey

Resolutions: A Little Late & A Little Early

Much to my surprise, NaNoWriMo took a lot out of me. I still find myself recovering from thirty days of staring at a computer screen for at least eight hours a day. My most recent issue has been that any time I look at a computer screen for more than thirty minutes, my head begins to ache severely. I’m not sure if that’s a large issue, but I’m already beginning to get over that, hence this new post. Another persistent issue though, is my aching ass from all the sitting. That hasn’t changed, and most likely won’t until I can afford a more comfortable chair to write in.

But I think the majority of my pain has passed. I’ve taken more than enough time to give my brain a well deserved rest, and now it is time to come back with a vengeance. I have been keeping up with the editing of my first novel, The Drive Home, and I have dedicated myself to the goal of having a “presentable copy” of the book by early January. Very early January. So far, in my editing, I am about the 3/5 the way through manuscript and a lot has changed since my early drafts. Near the start of the New Year, I will have a version of my novel that I can comfortably start showing to friends and family without that fear of inadequacy.

Late, 2013, Resolution #1: Have a finished, polished draft of The Drive Home, in the New Year (this New Year!was my resolution at the start of 2013, but it took a bit longer than expected).

That is only the beginning. This is where I will start powering out newer versions of my novel, editing like a mad man, and making it perfect. I mentioned this once before, but Hemingway re-wrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms, thirty-nine times. As much as I would like to avoid that being the case for The Drive Home, I’ll do whatever it takes to make it perfect. I would love to hire a professional editor, which is highly recommended for self published, or any sort of published, authors, but I am more broke than I care to admit (you didn’t just read that). I hope to find a decent editor to review my work as both a copy editor and a content editor, but until I find one that’s inexpensive, my friends, family, and myself will have to do.

That brings me to my first resolution for the New Year.

2014 New Year’s Resolution #1: Finish, and I mean finish, The Drive Home.

I have a plan, a production schedule and even a business plan, to begin uploading and printing, and selling my novel, in six months. Half way through the year is my goal. If I can accomplish this sooner, outstanding, otherwise, six months is a reasonable goal with a finished novel. But don’t any of you worry; you’ll be the first to read sections from my novel, before it goes into publishing. I said I’d do that, and I won’t let any of you down.

2014 New Year’s Resolution #2: Finish writing, then editing, my NaNoWriMo novel, One Last Hunt.

So, I have one finished novel, but during the month of November, I wrote another, completely different novel. I didn’t quite finish it during November, but I did get very, very far with it. Since November, I’ve added another seven thousand words and I still have about five chapters left to write. For the first draft, at least. But my priorities are in order, and the first thing on my docket, is to finish The Drive Home.

I have many more plans for the coming year, but most are dependent on those resolutions above, and the success of each project. Once I near these goals, I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress, my plans, and how I went about achieving these goals. But until then, I’ll keep writing, slaving away at something I love (if only everyone could be so lucky). I hope everyone had a merry Christmas, and have a great New Year, I know I will.

Lastly, if anyone else has any any writing / creative / storytelling, resolutions for the New Year, I’d love to hear them.

Top Ten Stories On Television: Part 2

Here it is! The second half of the Top Ten Stories on Television, all the way down to the number one spot. These five shows have left their impact on storytelling, in so many ways, and on my storytelling for sure. I won’t bother you with a bunch of build up, or hot air, but before the weekend kicks off, here’s the top five choices for shows to marathon watch before Monday:

5. Sons of Anarchy: I immediately felt drawn to Sons of Anarchy from the first scene of the very first episode. A young, handsome, biker is in a convenient store buying some smokes, smiling flirtatiously at the pretty cashier, and considering buying a children’s book for his  soon to be born son.  As he pays, we see a large explosion in the distance, reflected in the glass door, and as soon as Jax, the main character,  sees it, you know that he’s somehow involved as he rushes out of the store with an “Oh, Shit!” Drugs, violence, sex, Harley’s, California, Ireland, and the appeal of a motorcycle club’s brotherhood that few other venues can provide. That is what this show has to offer and this show has become a weekly ritual between my friends and I. All Jax wants to do is give his son a better life than he fell into, just like his father wanted for him, and as he tries to better the club or escape his violent life of crime, everything begins to fall apart around him and truths are quickly revealed that could destroy lives, and the club his father helped to build. Tuesdays on FX, right now, and early seasons are available on Netflix. You’re welcome.

4. Breaking Bad: Now, I’ve loved Bryan Cranston, the main character “Walter White,” since I was in grade school, and seeing this show with its few throwbacks to Cranston’s old characters, like always finding a way to stand around in his whitey-tighties, immediately hooked me. But the story is what kept me enthralled.

"All hail the king"

“All hail the king”

A high school chemistry teacher, who upon learning that he is dying of cancer, decides to learn how to cook meth so that he may leave his family financially stable when he’s gone. The primary draw of this show is the battle between cancer and remission and the way it reflects his battle between the good family man and the criminal kingpin, inside of him. As he takes on the role of meth cook and his cancer goes in and out of remission, he has already broken the law, the show takes on the deeper depths of morality. Whether or not what he’s done, and continues to do, is worth the risk to himself and more importantly, his family. The series has finally ended, and has successfully left viewers with a conclusion that provided us with a sense of peace and fulfillment. It ended right where it needed to. As you watch the show, which I will most likely be watching from beginning to end again soon, each and every episode will leave you saying, “I can’t believe that just happened,” and a “What the hell!? Show us more!”

3. Game of Thrones: The HBO series based on the novels by George R. R. Martin, is an excellent piece of cinema and an very good film adaptation of the books. Each episode is true HBO quality, and the world of the novels is vividly imagined.  The primary protagonists are the Stark family and the show follows them during the decline of their rule. You quickly come to love the Stark family and when things begin to go wrong, you hope that everything will work out for them, but in true dramatic fashion, things never do.  Now, I’ve not read all the books, but I own them and can’t wait to read through all of them. But, the thing that I like the most, is that I have heard that George R. R. Martin has a great deal of influence with the show and he likes to evoke as much emotion from the viewers as possible. Without spoiling anything, a MAJOR event takes place in the latest season that had the internet stark raving mad. From my understanding, this event has a somewhat different outcome in the novels, and this new outcome that Martin has done, just about blew up the internet with fan rage. This is something that every storyteller strives for: creating characters that the audience connects with so well, that they love and hate you for what happens to them.

2. The Walking Dead: For some reason, I have always been drawn to the apocalypse, especially the zombie apocalypse. I have outline dozens of ideas for stories in a world overrun by the walking dead, where survival of the fittest, truly reigns. The Walking Dead began as a graphic novel detailing the beginning of a zombie outbreak in the heart of Georgia. What I love about the show, besides the production value, the drama, the heartbreak and violence, and a dozen other things, is the fact that certain things in the show are completely different than they are in the comic books. Characters live and die differently than they do in the comics, and certain characters on the show were never even in the comics to begin with. Case in point: the character Daryl Dixon, played by the boondock saint, Norman Reedus, was brought in as a recurring character on the show, but do to his popularity they brought him on as a main cast member and he has been a fan favorite ever since. When it comes to television adaptations of shows, those are the things that really hook me, knowing that things are new and different than they should be, without watering down the origin of the show. When the television is taken seriously as a living breathing organism that can change at any given moment due to either the writer, or show runner, wanting to get a reaction from the audience, or that things change due to the audience severely loving or hating something or someone. But, the best thing about the show is simply that the stories it tells, and the characters created within those stories are superb, gripping, and emotional. You grow a strange attachment to characters that may later be devoured by a passing horde of zombies. Try and tell me that isn’t good television.

1. Firefly: This is a show that many of you may not remember. Firefly aired on FOX back in 2002 and unfortunately, only lasted one season, due to some odd broadcasting choices by FOX and an unsure reception by viewers. The show follows the crew of the Serenity, a “firefly” class space vessel, as they travel the galaxy looking for for work, legal and otherwise. Whatever will keep gas in the tank and food on the table.  Firefly was a space western that juxtaposed the high tech society of the central planets, and the poor minimalist societies of the distant worlds. The characters often find themselves leaving the Serenity, their home, and winding up riding horseback from town to town on outlying worlds. Due to its unique premise, and only airing for one season, the show wasn’t able to hit any sort of “stride.” It opened up a number of interesting story arcs, which were unable to be delved into deeper. So, if this show is “unfinished,” why does it end up at number one?

Firefly has one of the deepest universes that I have seen when it comes to science fiction, holding it’s own next to Star Trek and Star Wars. Government conspiracies, horses, western throwbacks, beautiful CGI, guns, ships, bounty hunters, and a very important piece of the universe: “Reavers,” which are cannibals of legend, normal men who reached the edge of space and were driven completely mad, desecrating themselves, their ships, pillaging, raping, and murdering their way across the galaxy. This only scratches

 "Nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things"

“Nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things”

the surface of the depth of this show. I would need a lot more time and space to explain any further about the universe itself. Although the show was cancelled so early, it gained such a massive fan base, that Whedon was eventually able to make a feature film entitled “Serenity,” allowing him to give the show a proper ending and the ability to wrap up some major story arcs. The fan base is still so large, that Netflix was rumored to be in talks with FOX for the rights to the show to make it a Netflix original, I can only hope this is true.

But the real reason this show claims the number one spot, is the characters. Characters are what binds and connects us to television shows and make us care about their stories. The crew of the Serenity is comprised of nine individuals who, as Whedon once described it, “nine faces all looking out into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things.” They’re all running from something, running towards something, and they all want something different out of life. Again, it would be too much to explain all their stories, but I’ll give you a glimpse into my favorite character on the show. Malcolm Reynolds, the captain of the Serenity, is a brown coat. The brown coats were on the losing side in  a war against the Alliance, opposing their oppressive regime and their attempt to forcibly unite all the planets under one government entity. He is the epitome of loyalty and stoicism. No one messes with his crew or his ship, or they incur the wrath of Mal. On that same note, he fights the inner battle of keeping his responsibilities as the captain of the Serenity and being a war veteran, against the constant attempts from his crew to get close to him, to be a family. The Serenity is the crew’s home, and the crew are one big happy, well not always happy, family. I could go on, but I won’t, I’ll just recommend that anyone and everyone go and get the series and the movie and watch to your hearts content. I know that you won’t be disappointed.

That’s It! The full top ten. If you love these shows, or they have somehow influenced your creative works, please shout it loud in the comments! But if you haven’t seen these shows, well, you need to finish reading this post and go watch every single episode of the shows mentioned above, but be sure to come back afterwards! I’ll be looking into more “Top” lists that have had an effect on storytelling, but until my next post, find a good story to follow and enjoy.

It’s Not The Size That Counts…

Before I began writing my novel, I did a lot of research into “how long should my novel be?” What constitutes a short story? Can a novel be too short or too long?” What’s the difference between a novella and a novelette? For anyone starting to write a novel these questions can be a bit daunting, especially since there really is no exact answer for how long your book should be. That is putting it rather frankly, but it’s actually true, to a degree. So let’s break it down into a number of different categories: flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, novellas, novels, and sagas / sequels. In my research I have found many definitions for each of these categories and have put together, what I feel, is a good scale to gauge story lengths by.

Now, there’s something important to mention here, and I can’t stress this enough. There is no set rule or specific length to classify your works by. Everything mentioned below is simply a guideline. Publishers may classify their book types differently than what you find here, or they may be exact, you just wont know until you work with a publisher. Sometimes they state their novel length preferences upfront, on their submission page, other times it’s a simple luck of the draw.

Additionally, there are always exceptions to the rule. Just because a certain type of book is harder to sell than others, doesn’t mean that a unique novelette wouldn’t grab a publisher’s attention with ease. So, here we go, a few guidelines to help classify your work and give you a goal to shoot for when writing.

Flash Fiction – Under 1,000 Words: Flash fiction is a type of story that is often found in magazines or publications to fill a single page. I’ve found that writer’s often tend to take on flash fiction (and short stories) as a sort of challenge. It can be difficult to write an exceptional story in under 1,000 words and still have a beginning, middle, and end. Being able to include those, and still develop a sense of character is a worthy challenge for any author. (I even plan on undertaking this challenge eventually)

Short Story – 1,000 to 7,500 Words: A short story is, obviously, short. If looking to get published, short stories can be a bit more complicated. Unless you happen to have a number of completed stories. Publishers usually aren’t looking for a single short story, only coming in under thirty pages, it’s often hard to justify the cost of publishing. A number of publications, such as magazines, newspapers, websites, and e-magazines, accept single short stories and are great ways to publish them. If, however, you have a number of short stories, that can add up to the approximate length of a novel, a number of publisher do publish compilations.

Novelettes – 7,500 to 20,000 Wrods: Novelettes are a tad easier to write than short stories or flash fiction, because you have more pages to work with. The trouble with novelettes is that they may be harder to sell to a publisher. The reason being is that they are too long to fit into a magazine, and they are too short to be published as a novel. From the research I’ve done, it seems that authors often times combine a few novelettes into a compilation. But, as stated above, there have been novelettes published by themselves. In my opinion, they’re actually perfect for a majority of modern day, on-the-go readers. A short, easy, good read that you can finish quickly and pick up a new one.

Novellas – 20,000 to 50,000 Words: Novellas are excellent for modern day readers, just like novelettes. They’re good for an easy read, but can be just as in depth as a novel. Characters can be deep, plots can be complex, but can still be finished in a couple days depending on how fast you like to read. While many publishers won’t bat an eye at a novel this short, novellas are excellent for e-books. Just like novelettes, they’re easy to pick up and put down, and reading it in your spare time on a screen just seems to work. Additionally, there have been many novellas published as standalone books, so if your story fits this category don’t try to stretch it out any longer than you need.

Novels – 50,000 to 120,000 Words: Now we get to what many writers, including myself, aim for. Novels are the easiest to publish (easy being a relative term, most accepted book length to publish, if you can get a publisher to read your book). The most recognized range of published novels would be between 70,000 and 100,000 words. As I said previously, I can’t overstate the fact that just because you’re not in that “sweet spot” doesn’t mean you won’t get your novel published. My Novel, “The Drive Home,” comes in just over that 50,000 mark. If your work is nearing the higher end of this range, you may want to consider some strict editing and cut your word count back a bit. For a first time author, or an author with little credentials, a publisher might be wary to publish anything over 100,000 to 110,000 words.

I decided on 50,000 words for my goal, because over the last couple years, I have participated in the NaNoWriMo competition. Thirty days, at least 50,000 words, that was the goal. So, that was my goal for my first novel. 50,000 words for someone who hasn’t written a full length novel before can be pretty a daunting task. When I began writing “The Drive Home,” I thought that goal was impossible. Now that I have finished, that seems like a piece of cake. During the time between finishing my novel and beginning the editing process, (“they” say you should put your novel away for two months or so, I took two weeks) I took the free time to start writing something more science fiction oriented. In that two week time period, I wrote one hundred pages, which came in just under 25,000 words. And I have only progressed through about 30% of the story line. By completing my first project, my confidence, my writing, and my speed have increased exponentially.

Epics / Sequels / Sagas – Over 120,000 Words: Novels of this length are often turned away when written by first time authors. If you fall into this category, you may want to consider separating your novel into a sequel or trilogy. Writers who create this type of novel are often well established, to the point that the publisher doesn’t really care how long your novel is, because they know it’ll do well. The most obvious and overly used example: Stephen King. If he wants to publish a novel that’s under 50,000 or over 150,000 words, his publisher will take it on faith, because he’s good at what he does. Personally, I love the idea of writing something that matches the weight of a newborn baby. A book that when you set it down on a table it shakes and lets everyone know, “Hey, I’m reading an enormous book!” But, until I make a name for myself and sell millions of copies, I can be satisfied with writing a trilogy of shorter novels, rather than a something this size.

Wow! That was a lot of information. Hopefully, this sheds some light on where certain word counts are classified. But the bottom line really is, that the story dictates the length of your novel. You don’t want to stretch something over 300 pages when it really should have only been 150 pages. The reader may get bored if you drag your story on. The opposite is true as well. Don’t upset the reader by denying them deep characters or climactic plot points, when you have enough content for a 250 page novel. Either of those scenarios could very well affect the sales of your current or future works.

That’s it. That’s your cue to start, or continue with your writing. No matter what the length, genre, or content, get it done and enjoy what you’re writing. It’ll be finished when it’s supposed to be finished and not a moment sooner.

A Format To Live By

Formatting is something that is highly important when it comes to your novel. Some folks begin with the format already set in their word processor, while others simply write until they feel finished and format all at the end. After first attempting to write in whichever format was “exciting,” at the time, I quickly realized that life becomes easier when you start writing in the appropriate format for manuscript submission, that way you don’t need to worry about it later on. First let’s go over some general, but important points for formatting your document.

  • 12 point font – This is the standard size font that is requested by nearly every publisher, editor, or agent for a manuscript.

  • Double Spaced – Double spacing your manuscript makes it 1) easy to read and to catch errors in spelling and grammar while reviewing your work. 2) This makes it easier for editors and publisher to add notes to your manuscript in between the lines themselves, rather than along the margins where things become cluttered.

  •  Courier Font – Courier is the font that, after quite a bit of research, is requested by a number of companies in the field of publishing. Unlike “Times New Roman,” this font evenly spaces out each and every letter, rather than push letters like i’s and f’s together. Courier gives a period or that i letter, the same amount of designated space as a w or an m. This gives you approximately ten characters per inch within your document.

  • 1 inch margins – One inch margins on all sides of the document is, again, recommended by publishers. This makes printing it easier once accepted.

  • Header: Name / Title / Pg. # – Every page, minus your title page, should have a header in the upper right hand corner of your document. This header accomplishes two things, first reminds the publisher of your name and title of the novel, secondly has the page number on it, so that when it’s strung across the publishers desk (because they’re so enthralled by it) they can reorganize it accordingly. DO NOT put a header on your title page, you will have your contact info and title on there already, no need to repeat yourself and irritate a publisher.

These things are all your basic formatting instructions for formatting your novel. While some of these things seems arbitrary, they all serve their purposes. One last thing in particular that is quite important, is that this puts approximately 250 words per page, which is what publisher will assume and this is how they will gauge your word count. So while your word document may say 80,000 words, they will more than likely take 250 x your 300 pages and pay you for 75,000 words rather than your 80,000. So, now your novel is ready for editing, printing, review and on par with what publishers are looking for! Keep an eye, because coming soon I’ll go over the proper format for your cover page as well so that you may submit your manuscript with the appropriate presentation.