21

01/22

Read Harder 2022 Challenge (part 1)

2:06 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Reading,Review
  1. read a biography of an author you adore:

Read a history about a period you know little about:

Read an entire poetry collection

12

01/22

Top Ten 2021

4:30 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Inspiration,Reading,Review

10. “Reduction in Force” – Steve Soult (fiction, short story) You think you got it bad…

9. The Sorcerer’s Secrets – Jason Miller. (non-fiction, magic) Although he’s a little full of himself (what real practicing magician isn’t?), this is a really good introduction to magic without fear.

8. Three-Story Method – J. Thorn. (non-fiction, writing) I read a lot of books on writing. I liked this book so much that I bought the corresponding workbook which was worthless. And I liked this book so much that if you ask me now what was so great about it…I don’t know.

7. Being Indie – Eeva Lancaster (non-fiction, writing) Marketing as an indie. Useful tricks and tips.

6 “Best Served Cold” – Bob Schnoover. (fiction, short story) It’s so unfortunate that we lost this author last year. I would have loved to read what he planned to do in our Truck Stop series, and wish I could read the other stories that Analog rejected.

5. The Viking Spirit – Daniel McCoy (non-fiction, Norse magic) The warriors of the north. My kid got me interested in Loki – Marvel’s Loki. Who I think is cool, but not someone I want dating my kid. Reading this reinforced that idea.

4. The Conflict Thesaurus – Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi. (non-fiction, writing). I have to pick this up in paperback. It’s wasted on Kindle.

3. High Magick – Damien Echols. (non-fiction, ceremonial magic) The first book that got me on the Qaballic Kick. I didn’t need to read the other books on ceremonial magic – this one was fine.

2. Mastering Your Mystery – Cheryl Bradshaw. (non-fiction, writing) Excellent, excellent book on writing mysteries, even if they are formulaic. She goes from planning to writing to publishing to marketing.

  1. Seeker – Morgan Chalut (fiction, fantasy). Well-written, easy to read, plotted well, twists, realistic, and excellent world-building.

27

10/19

Almost there!

8:38 am by L. Jacob. Filed under: Dark Mystic Quill,NaNoWriMo,Reading,Review,War Mage

The good thing about dialysis is I have time to read books. I broke down and got Kindle Unlimited, so I could get some fiction books for “free” ($9.99/month). I also purchased a few Kindle editions of books that are best sellers or recent sellers. I downloaded a few novel-writing workbooks, too, that I’m working with in my journal.

So far, I have a few scenes for NaNoWriMo’s story. I need subplots. I’m making up this entire thing. It’s not going to be an accurate representation of Latino life, and I’m not appropriating that culture for this. This story is mine and mine alone, and is never going to get published because I’m not backing it up with facts. You know me, I research things to death before writing anything, which is why War Mage took me so long to write. I finally threw my hands up and just said, “Forget it,” and wrote War Mage just to finish the story.

I found the original story in one of my notebooks, and I’m kicking myself for not sticking with that original story. It would have been better, I think.

I read most of a book called Shadow Company by Michael Hesse. So far I’m the only reviewer on Goodreads for him. I gave him four stars for military accuracy and interesting story world, but the character had been through too much by the time I got almost half-way done with it, that I didn’t want to bother anymore. I didn’t realize that it was a 500 page novel, either.

Shadow Company has a bit of “The Chosen One” trope, which I have outgrown since reading the Dragonlance series and attempting (every few years) to read the entire Lord of the Rings series. But I would suggest you read it if you like military fantasy like I do.

I plan on doing a podcast today in anticipation of NaNo, and hope to do podcasts every week updating people on my progress. I’m tempted to write the story upstairs on my Mac, without any distractions other than some music and tarot cards for jumping off points.

21

04/19

12:48 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Blood From a Stone,Inspiration,Promotion,Reading,Review

Next Saturday, I will be appearing at the Providence Book Festival in the Renaissance Hotel. It’s a fancy joint, so I might have to dress up. and I have to pay an insane amount to park. Oh well; at least I’ll be with other Pulitzer Prize winning local authors (though I never heard of them). It should be interesting.

I might have one appearance in May, but on June 1 I’ll be in Woonsocket for their second annual Meet and Greet. I hope to participate in Pridefest on June 15 – it depends on when I get my tax ID. It’s the little things.

In the meantime, healthwise, I don’t feel like I’m getting better, and some days are better than others. Today is already rough; I can imagine what next week will bring. I have some tests the following week to decide whether or not I’ll need oxygen. If that happens, I might as well give up doing the outdoor events. Nevermind how the heck I’m going to get around.

Progress on Blood From a Stone is excellent. I’ve plowed through my manuscript, fluffed up some scenes, taken out some worthless characters, and told a story. It’s the how that is going to be the problem. I know what I want to say now, what I meant to say in the first draft; now I need to figure out how.

It’s going to take some significant rewriting on my part to get it to be the story I wanted. But it has some hope, unlike Yellowtree which has the only hope of a good title.

Speaking of good titles:

Review: Clean
I didn’t finish it. Maybe I’ll go back to it. Why?
The main character (A Level 8 telepath, whatever the hell that means) is a recovering junkie. I thought, okay, that’s interesting. But he brings it up in every chapter. In every other chapter, he keeps asking his superiors for help from “The Guild” and the superiors keep saying no. By the fifth time of all this happening, I’d had it. (Remember the rule of three, people. Reject it three times and then do something about it, or your reader will think you’re dragging it along like a dead horse.)

Review: Hot Lead, Cold Iron
I’m still reading it, though I’m getting really close to not finishing it.
The main character, Mick Oberon (probably that Oberon, I wouldn’t be surprised) is a 1930’s noir PI fae. I thought that was a great idea, too, except the narrator’s voice keeps switching from period voice to a more modern voice. It’s like hearing a high Victorian lady spout the f-word like a soldier. We’ll see if I finish it.

13

01/19

The Erotic Formula

12:40 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Inspiration,Reading,Review,Writing

I’ve read a few gay erotica books, two by the same author, and found out that she follows this formula.

  1. Introduce the two men as forbidden fruit to each other.
  2. They find out they’re gay.
  3. One has an issue being gay (he was bullied because of it or he’s normally straight).
  4. One is in control and eventually loses control.
  5. First sex scene is kissing, hugging, touching.
  6. Second is nude, but they separate afterward
  7. Third may include penetration, but mostly oral
  8. Fourth includes penetration
  9. Subsequent sex consist of breaking down of barriers of the “top”.

The story itself is secondary to the erotica (obviously). There are a few twists and turns to keep the story going, but in general, the end is the bad guy offers his “listen to my evil plan” speech, and dies at the end.

Now, in short stories, I might have trouble following this formula, as I don’t have time to go through four or five incidents of sex. As a novel, yes, I think I can do this.

An update: Last quarter I sold 77 books! That’s combining my erotica with my Paper Angel Press books. I was amazed. Thank you all so much for continuing to support me!

Air is slated for release on February 14 (natch). Audio version probably a month or so after that.

Grimaulkin Collected is slated for May. I have to get writing a little faster on this one.

What I’m reading:

Shiver. After a break, I finished this book, and glad I did. Even though this book was very like her other book Deadly Lover, it had a nice twist at the end that I didn’t expect at all. I’ll pick up her other books to see if she pulls the same formula out.

Steele My Heart – Tatum West
Sweet romance. Not my thing. Got to chapter 4 and tossed it back to Kindle Unlimited.

Fractured Truth – Ashe Winters
Vampires. Okay…I’ll try it. Only on Chapter 2, but finding it interesting.

09

01/19

Reading

11:20 am by L. Jacob. Filed under: Reading,Review

Books I’ve read this week (or tried to)

Elemental Magick – Jacki James
I liked the prologue, from the book’s point of view. Then we got to the character, and at first I liked him, too. I already predicted the story: the book would provide the MC with his HEA (Happily Ever After). However, the first chapter happened so fast, and so wild, that I didn’t like it. So….I returned it to Kindle Unlimited.

Hell on Earth – Macy Blake
By page four, I hated the main character for calling the cardboard waitress, “woman”. Asshole. Returned it immediately.

Course Correction – Mia West
I liked this at first. I liked the idea of fish shifters being rescuers. But for some reason, I got bored pretty quickly. The writer knew what it was like to be on a Coast Guard cutter I suppose…but the character whose point of view the second chapter was in, he disappeared for a mysterious reason and he wouldn’t talk about it AT ALL. Did it have to do with the first chapter’s character? Not even an allusion. Returned it after the second chapter.

Ended up going back to Shiver after a hiatus. I’m watching as Lucus slowly starts to break down with Andrei, who’s accepting his place in Lucas’ life. I’m guessing it’ll be an HEA? But the story is well-written. The characters are starting to grow on me.

Started Steele My Heart, and I’m up to chapter two on that one. What is it with the differing POV’s on every chapter? This is obviously part of the romance formula. Maybe that’s why my romance stories are getting two stars.

30

12/18

Where’s the beef?

12:17 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Brothers of the Zodiac - Air,Grimaulkin,Inspiration,Review

I started to revise Yellowtree using class notes I had from a few years ago when I did the rewrite for Grimaulkin, around 2012. Using these notes, I realized a few things.

  1. There’s no conflict.
  2. There’s no antagonist.
  3. There’s no reason for the title.
  4. The sword has nothing to do with the story–it’s a cool prop, that’s all.

Oh, how that hurts.

Now, normally, I would just toss the whole thing in a circular file and call it a day. But I have a story that has to get done, and this is the only one that’s promising (right now, anyway). So I’m going to suffer through the 22 week (compressed, of course) course and do the rewrite as best I can. It will be a better story, because right now, it’s a wreck.

Air is in its final stages and on track. I am also writing Grimaulkin Collected, the anthology with some stories in the Grimaulkin universe. I’ve done Ritter and plotted out Chevalier’s back stories. Now I need to work on the Grey Man from the Atheneum and maybe Mike’s marriage proposal to Scott. I already wrote that in the game–I just have to remember it.

What I’m reading now:

Shiver – Jocelyn Drake and Rinda Elliot (obviously not their real names)

Yes, another Jocelyn Drake book. I liked Deadly Lover so much I wanted to read more by this author. There’s a lot of heavy-handed “cold” motifs in this book. It’s the first in the “Unbreakable Bonds” series, which includes short stories in the series.


However, in this book so far–I’m only on chapter 2.5–I don’t care about the characters. Snow (yeah, see the heavy-handedness?) is too rough, Lucas is too cardboardy, and Rowe is Justin from Deadly Lover. Whoever the writer is for the fight scenes, though, knows what they’re doing. The detail is fantastic, even though my eyes glazed over after page four of the description. I want to write like that when I grow up.

23

12/18

Air completed (V1)

Due to surprise complications at work (basically, IT decided my department wasn’t a priority), I had some free time to finish writing Air. The editor said that I seemed to have more fun writing these. I wouldn’t say it was fun – it was very experimental for me. I wove real history into my stories, using actual historical figures.

But the good thing is, the first editorial pass is complete, with the first corrections in the can. It’s on course to be released for February of next year.

Next is Grimaulkin Collected, an anthology of Grimaulkin stories. I’m going to start doing what I did with Air’s stories–plot them out with enough wiggle room to “discover” the story. Even though my plot cards may not survive contact with the page, at least I have a bit of a guide of where I want the story to end up. Before, I would keep it in my head. Now, setting it down on paper solidifies the ending for me. Also, I can decide whether or not the ending is actually any good.

Switching between Grim’s stories will be Yellowtree. Although I have a story on the page, I can’t seem to answer basic questions. What’s the theme? Who is the antagonist? Why did the protagonist do what he did? Why is the antagonist (if there is one) doing what they’re doing? And most of all, what’s the plot? Until I can answer questions like that, I don’t have a story–I have a protagonist acting and reacting.

So between that and double XP on Champions Online, that’s what my holidays will consist of: writing and gaming. Oh, and reading:

What I read this week:

A new feature of this blog, I think, should be what I read or am reading over the past week. That’s right, I got so much copious free time. Actually my reading time is an hour in bed before my sleep meds kick in.

Be Counted – D.R Perry.
This is a local RI author. She’s really very good, very funny, and, as we say in RI, wicket smaht. This is the second book I’ve read of hers, the first being A Change In Crime. I liked this one, with a couple of exceptions.
1) Errors in name and age. The main character’s sidekick is either named Scott or Patrick. His ex-partner’s partner is named Weintraub or Tierney. The main character himself is, I think, 25 or so, which is way too young to make detective; and his best friend, who is the same age, acts much, much older.
2) Snarky goes so far At first, the snarky comments were amusing. Then they just got irritating. I’m impressed that the author kept up that level of snark, because I couldn’t.
3) Personal preferences. No chapter titles/numbers. Formatting on the Kindle created no indentation of paragraphs. And most of all, the entire novel is in present tense. That is something I can’t do at all and, again, I am impressed by it.
I gave it four stars because I liked the premise, the writing was good, and something I might want to emulate. But, mind you, I didn’t finish the book. Why? The snark level had gotten to me.

Deadly Lover–Jocelyn Drake (in progress)
Okay, so i have a type for romance–enemies that become lovers. I just love to see how other authors can make that twist because I can’t seem to do it. This one is about two mercenaries, alpha males, who are gay, hide it, hide everything from each other even while they circle around trying to pierce each one’s armor. I’m learning a lot about how mercenaries work, how some special ops can quickly go sideways, and how to recover. I don’t think I could write a book on special ops using this book–need to read a lot more Tom Clancy, I’d guess. But this author keeps things tight and tense, and has kept my interest for 35% of the book.

Leaves of Grass–Walt Whitman (up to poem 45)
Whew, fan yourself after reading this! So much masculine love. I needed to read the poems for “Aquarius” (you’ll see why when it comes out). I didn’t read him in college. I remember a long time ago, finding this book in the wild in downtown Providence. I picked it up, leaved through it, didn’t get it, and left it there. Now that I’m older and coming at it from a gay perspective, I can see what he was trying to do. Hot stuff for the 1850’s!

20

08/17

Plugging along

4:24 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Brothers of the Zodiac - Water,Grimaulkin,Review,Writing

Grimaulkin Tempted is at 40,000 words! That was my goal for this weekend. Only about 20K more to go, and then I’ll let it rest. I will give it a week off, maybe start writing Earth.

Water is out and available under the name Maxwell Thomas and Zarra Knightley publishing.

Grimaulkin will be in the Rhode Island Authors’ Catalog coming out around Labor Day. It will also be at the New England Book Fair and another book conference in Boston sometime (I just signed up for it; I didn’t pay attention to the details because I don’t have to request a day off). Association of Rhode Island Authors will be doing the selling for me.

My next door neighbor, who bought my book last weekend, stopped me while I was heading out to work and told me he “absolutely loved” Grimaulkin! He told me I made one little mistake, and I did a facepalm when he told me. It went right past me and the editor. Oh, well; that’s what second editions are for.

Review:

I read On Writing by Stephen King, supposedly THE BEST WRITING BOOK OF ALL TIME. I was like, “Meh.” I felt like I had read it before because so many people pull out quotes from it.  He’s absolutely right about writing with the door closed and editing with the door open. I’ve found I can’t write with my son in the room. And he comes in a lot because he’s bored.

Anyway, I left it on my Keeper shelf because I suppose in order to be a writer, you have to have it there. Along with Bird by Bird (another book everyone quotes from). Kind of like if you’re going to be a tortured writer, you need to have Hemingway along with your bottle of Jack.

26

03/17

Revision

11:12 am by L. Jacob. Filed under: Grimaulkin,Review,War Mage,Writing

A few years back, I plunked down a goodly amount of money for an online course on how to revise your novel. It’s by Holly Lisle (someone I never heard of, and someone whose books I’ve never read). It was a fun course, though I never finished it, I found out a few things about how to improve my manuscript and between her and Rayne Hall, I’ve found ways to try an keep my writing clean.

Anyway, I pulled out War Mage and read through it and found out what a wreck it is. Between cutting and pasting, leaving some first-draft stuff, adding seventh (Yes, seventh) draft stuff on top of it, this story, as written, is not what I planned. Even though I knew in my head what I wanted, it didn’t translate on the page because I kept saying to myself, “I’ll go into that in more detail in the next book.” Well, no…I should go into more detail in this book.

One of the things Holly points out is that when you revise, you should start at the 30,000 foot level and then line edit at the very end. Start with the story, the structure, the scenes, then the words. She gives you worksheets to fill out, which might sound stupid, but actually distills your story to a workable form. Right now I’m working through characters, and finding out that my main character carries less weight than most of the secondary and even some tertiary characters.  I describe people in detail that should just be “Sergeant So-and-so”.

I would suggest this course to anyone who’s looking at their manuscript and saying, “Where do I start?” Yes, it’s pricy, and 22 weeks might seem long, but you have access to it for a lifetime. I have given myself until June 1 to get this revision done. Also, in June should be the release of Grimaulkin.

 

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