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

A Hiatus, Only Smaller

It happened again. As much as I tried to stay consistent, I found my attention focused on things other than The New Writer’s Journey. Granted, the thing I’ve been focused on was the reason for founding the blog, but that’s beside the point. While I have been working away, pen to pad and hands to keyboard, I feel as though I broke a promise to myself. I told myself that I would begin this blog and not stop, preferably ever, or at least until it could no longer be the New writer’s journey.

Now, that isn’t to say that over the last few months that I haven’t been busy, because… well, I have been. The most prominent of which, is working on The Drive Home, and trying to finish the first draft of my sci-fi novel One Last Hunt. And per my new year’s resolutions, that’s what I’ve been doing. I finished my most recent draft of The Drive Home, and as I began to read through it again, I couldn’t help but begin my fourth draft (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, editing will forever be my nemesis). But I’m making more progress on it than I have in ages.

In regards to my sci-fi novel from NaNoWriMo, I’m working on the very last chapter. The page count has already blown my first novel’s out of the water, which was my plan all along (onwards and upwards, as they say), and I know exactly how I want it to end. It’s nearly there.

So, in this last year, in which I began this blog, how much have I accomplished? In my opinion, and that of a few others, a hell of a lot. In one year, I’ve written two novels, started two others (just a few chapters a piece), and a couple of short stories. Additionally, to expand my repertoire towards more aspirations, I’ve begun writing four television scripts, and two feature length film scripts. I’ve authored a blog, began a number of the hurdles that need cleared before publishing, and I’ve made just enough money to keep food in my belly and a roof over my head. To me, that’s a hell of a lot, and there’s so much more to come.

It was after realizing what I’d accomplished, that my drive to do what I love for a living, telling stories, increased exponentially, and boosted my confidence. I can see what is both a finish line and a starting line, and it’s just on the horizon. Once I finish the grueling process of editing my novel, I can begin a new chapter that will eventually lead to me being able to tell stories for the rest of my life. So, now that I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus, I can resume posts here on The New Writer’s Journey, while still focusing on my projects and moving forever forward. I’ve planned my next post to be the one I promised to post which will be the first excerpt from The Drive Home, and I swear, it’s coming soon. 

*Raises a frosty glass of cold, delicious beer*

“Here’s to what’s still to come, and a future worth writing about!”

~Cheers

WriMo Aftermath

After a few well needed days of rest, NaNoWriMo is finally over. So, did I make my fifty thousand word goal? Well, not exactly, but I’m still extremely excited about what I’ve accomplished. In previous years attempts to finish NaNoWriMo, I’ve steadily increase the amount of words I’ve written. The first year, I wrote fifteen thousand words, a good start, but still left a lot to be desired.  The second years attempt was a much better success at approximately thirty three thousand words.  This year however, I made a massive amount of improvement.

In November, 2013, I managed to write 46,383 words. I managed to get ‘oh, so close’ to the fifty thousand word goal, that I still feel immensely accomplished. A few things in particular caused me to not meet that goal though, and I’m at least glad that I recognize them. The first is due to a powerful urge to live in a comfy house and eat more than top ramen for three meals a day. In order to pay for rent, bills and food, I needed to pick up a few job hours here and there, making it more difficult to find time to write. But I did still make time to write.

The second thing that hindered my completion of the goal, is due to the way I allocated my time. Rather than meeting the approximately 1,700 words per day goal, I often prefer longer sessions of focusing on my work and writing for much longer periods of time, completing five or six thousand words in one sitting. In theory, and quite a bit during the execution, my plan worked extremely well. The plan to write all fifty thousand words in ten long days, rather than spread out over fifty days, nearly worked. I was just one long writing session from finishing my goal too.

The final thing that stumped the writing process, was realizing that, unlike my first novel “The Drive Home,” there was no way my story would be finished in only fifty thousand words. And honestly, that’s great! The goal of NaNoWriMo isn’t to write a full novel in the time frame, it was to write 50K words, but the fact I was so close and yet so far was daunting and exciting all at the same time. However, in the days prior to the competition, I’ve hit that fifty thousand word mark and I’ve got somewhere in the range of twenty five thousand words left or about eight chapters to go. Thinking about how little I have left to write, in comparison to what I’ve already written, NaNoWriMo was time well spent.

So, the last few things I have to say about the competition and what it’s helped create: Some time very soon I will have a second novel written, and no excuse to not get the hell to work on editing, polishing and finishing my completed works for the world to see. And now that the writing month is over, I can get back to creating new and hopefully intriguing content for The New Writer’s Journey, that will showcase the hell out of my novels. Hell, if I’m lucky, the site may not be “The New Writer’s Journey” for very long. Lastly, novel writing month is over and I can’t wait to do it again next year. If my progression through the years continues, writing 50K words will be a piece of cake next year, and all I have to say to that… bring it on.

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.

Ready, Set, Write….Again!

It’s that time of year again, folks! Time for that NaNoWriMo competition: fifty thousand (50K) words in thirty days. Now, just because I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, that doesn’t mean that I have forgotten about my novel The Drive Home. Since I finished my first novel, I have been re-reading and editing my ass off, one cheek at a time. Every time I go back over the novel, I find a thousand things I want to change, reword, edit, manipulate, etc. So, it is definitely a challenge to make it perfect, but as any published writer will tell you, it’s nearly impossible to get your creative works “perfect.”

Hemingway once revealed that he re-wrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms, thirty-nine times before he was finally satisfied with it. Now, the first time I heard this, before I actually wrote a novel, I thought that was ludicrous. Thirty-nine times!? But now that I have finished a novel, and have re-written about fifty percent of it at least ten times, I can’t help but think, only thirty-nine times? So, essentially, this reinforces my appreciation for editing, and I am still working diligently on “The Drive Home” and I am determined to get it just right. I’ve allocated a bit of time each day to read over the book and make more edits.

But, for one month only, I will focus my attention elsewhere. Where, you ask? My attention will be focused on a Novel I have tentatively called: “One Last Hunt.” This second novel of mine is  vastly different from The Drive Home and I think that’s just fantastic! I can’t simply focus my attention on one genre, one style of writing, it’s just not me. I get an inkling to do something, or a sliver of a story idea and I have to see it through to the end. Now, this new novel is pure science fiction, a genre that I fell in love with many years ago. I have had a few ideas that drew from bits and pieces of sci-fi, but I call this story “pure” sci-fi, because I want to include as many ideas from the best of science fiction. It draws inspiration from Firefly, Star Trek & Star Wars, Isaac Asimov, Mass Effect, Hitchhikers Guide, Fifth Element, Doctor Who, etc. Anything that has fueled the flames of my inspiration will be playing a part in this tale.

Without further ado, here is my first attempt at the synopsis for the novel, and it will change as I find that perfect elevator pitch. Until then, this will have to do:

“Marcus is a bounty hunter, a mercenary, and most unexpectedly, a father. Marcus has been in the business for many years, but has battled with the conflicting ideas of pursuing the largest, and most dangerous bounties; and keeping his adopted daughter, Shawna, out of harm’s way. During an unexpected visit from an old friend, Marcus and Shawna will find themselves drawn into the most dangerous and prestigious competition in the known universe. Only one competitor will be crowned the greatest hunter in the galaxy and will never need to work to earn another credit again. The victor will have everything they could possibly imagine: fame, fortune, and tech, but the climb to the top is cutthroat and paved with blood.”

Day one of NaNoWriMo started off with a bang, I knocked out a decent number of pages, and wrote this post for all of you! Is anyone else participating in National Novel Writing Month? I’d love to hear from any fellow novelists, and I’ll keep everyone updated as the month goes along. My next post will be this week and it will be the part 2 of my Top Ten Stories on Television. Alright, time to hit that 50K goal and I’ll see you at the finish line!

Help Me Out Here, Or Don’t

As I perused the web for inspiring ideas and writer’s tips, other than the standard quotes your writer friends happen to have read online, I found myself reading a small excerpt from Stephen King’s “On Writing.” This book is definitely on my “must read” list. Not just because anyone who’s ever written a book or thought of writing a book has read it. I want to read this because every time I’m looking for inspiration, or every time I find myself stuck, something revolving around Stephen King jumps in front of my moving car and splatters inspiration all over the windshield. I hate and love King for this. Everything I’ve read, watched, or heard from him I’ve enjoyed, but damnit, let me enjoy someone else’s work for a change you entertaining, selfish bastard!

This excerpt I found from “On Writing,” makes the most sense of all the writing tips I’ve come across.

On-Writing“I want to put a group of characters…in some sort of predicament and then watch them try to work themselves free. My job isn’t to HELP them work their way free, or manipulate them to safety—those are jobs which require the noisy jackhammer of plot—but to watch what happens and then write it down.”

When I write, or create something, I do so as if I’m watching the movie play out before my eyes. I often don’t know what is going to happen to the characters, even if I know what will happen to the main character at the end of the story, I never know what will happen during their journey to the end. Some characters may die, others may become crippled, or maybe they’ll fall in love. As a writer, my job isn’t to provide divine intervention on behalf of my characters.  It’s not to dictate what they will and won’t do. The characters must learn to help themselves, so that they may live or die dependent on their own actions. In the truest sense of storytelling, my job is to watch and record, then tell you the story of what happened to these people. Thanks again for the inspiring words, King.

Write Your Own Story, Or Publish It

Over the last few months, I’ve been studying up on the art of publishing, and thinking to myself: “I hate waiting for and relying on other people to do things for me.” This thought really began to cross my mind after I started submitting my novel to publishers. I find myself checking my email every ten minutes hoping someone will send me an email reply . And don’t even get me started on weekends, when lots of companies are closed until the following Monday. Then, I can’t sit still as I wait anxiously for a response that is most likely not going to show up in my inbox. So, what does all this frustration mean?

Essentially, it means that I prefer when things are solely base on my performance. That I thrive when no one else is to blame but myself. To sum it all up, it means that I have been considering going the self publication route for my writing. Now you might be asking yourself a few questions:

First question: will I make as much money self publishing? That entirely depends on my effort and the quality of my work. If I hit the ground running and continue to market my work with my growing enthusiasm, then, I believe that I can make as much money. In addition, the royalties are usually higher. The royalties for eBooks when self publishing can, on average, net the author up to 85% of their list price.

When it comes to print books, the royalties may not be exponentially higher, but they are still much better, especially the books sold directly through amazon.com. Using their print on demand method of printing, authors don’t need to print ten-thousand copies of their book, and then find out how to sell them all. The author doesn’t even need to worry about printing at all, essentially, every time someone clicks “buy,” Amazon prints a copy and ships it to the consumer.

Second question: how can my marketing compete with that of big publishing companies? From all the author testimonials I’ve come across in my research, big publishing houses only do extensive promotion if your a previously well selling author, or someone really, really, believes in your novel. Otherwise they tend to leave the author to publicize at their own discretion. So, essentially, it’s a fairly level playing field. I’ve made a number of connections in my past and I plan on using as many as possible to help further my own goals, and maybe do a few favors to further some other friends marketing goals as well.

And the third major question is: how would I even get started? Major publishing houses have been around for nearly a century and have the market fairly well cornered. But, as I mentioned, I’ve been researching this quite a bit and there are a lot more resources available to authors on the subject, now more than ever. With the options mentioned above, I can sell my book through a number of venues and not pay a dime to get started. Through Amazon.com, I can sell a print version of my book by merely allowing Amazon to take a percentage of the sale each time a copy is sold. So, not costing me anything out of my own pocket. Additionally, if I choose to pay an additional $25, I can allow my book to be purchased wholesale by large retailers, such as Barnes & Nobles, which allows for greater distribution. When it comes to the eBook side of publishing, the two best sites I’ve found for publishing are Smashwords & Lulu. Each of these put your eBook up on on a number of sites and on all major eBook reader stores. And again, they only take a percentage of each sale, not requiring you to pay any upfront fees.

There are a few more steps in regards to self publishing that I have been working on and preparing for. I’ve written an ever growing, 15 page business plan, with market projections and production schedules. If i choose to self publish, I’ll want to make it a self publishing company, so, I’ll need to create a business name, register with the local government for tax purposes, and open a bank account to do business as that company. Websites will need to be created, contractors may need hired for work that I’m not as skilled with, such as cover design, and there are some more steps which I have been slowly working out as well. But so far, I’ve come quite a long way from anxiously waiting for someone to sift through an enormous pile of manuscripts, hoping they’ll get to mine next, to being ready to “write my own story,” so to speak.

I’ve moved on and I think I’m ready to take my future into my own hands and be responsible for my own success or failure. But anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t take kindly to failure, and that I will sweat and bleed for this opportunity, because I know it’s what I enjoy, it’s what I want to do, and if I can access a bit of my “good old fashioned Irish luck,” I may just hit the big time. That’s the end game though, and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has experience as a self published author, about the ups and downs, success or horror stories. Don’t hold back, I can take it, and I’m more than intrigued to hear what anyone has to say!