The World Loves a “Troll,” Sarcasm Fully Intended

So last night, I received my first negative review of ENDWORLD – A Novel. Not a bad ratio, really: 10 total, positive reviews to one negative (six on Amazon, one on Barnes and Noble and three on Goodreads = 10). Don’t worry: I’m not going to spend the next x-amount of paragraphs defending myself. I’ve always said that I did not expect everyone to like it. I don’t enjoy every book that I read. Why would I expect the entire world to enjoy mine?

It’s not the fact that it received a bad review that is… for lack of a better phrase, “sticking in my crow.” It’s the fact that while there’s no way to be sure, I have a feeling the person that called ENDWORLD – A Novel “awful” is a “troll.” For those of you unaware of what a troll or “trolling” is in modern day, net-speak, look no further than my good friends at Wikipedia:

Troll (Internet): In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally, or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion (Source: Wikipedia). 

Mind you, this is just my opinion. The reviewer may not be a troll. He may be nothing more than a person with no command of basic sentence structure. But me? I’m going with a troll.

Normally, I wouldn’t react like this. I’ve encountered trolls before and have given them about as much thought as I give a non-existent boil on my a**, i.e. none. Maybe the reviewer really did give ENDWORLD – A Novel a chance and determined:

Awful! this junk is just not my bag! Could not get through the first 50 pages, kept falling asleep. I need to stick with action thrillers 

Poor grammar and sentence structure preserved 100% from what he wrote on Amazon. Incidentally, the same party has only ever reviewed one other book, and he did so on the same day–yesterday–that he reviewed mine. The review is of The Last Man: A Novel by Vince Flynn and it states:

RIP vince Flynn. Written when Vince was in cancer therapy, I believe, this might not have been his best but was still Mitch Rapp as I,ve grown to love him. Looking for some one to continue the Rapp series in Vince’s memory. 

Again, poor grammar and sentence structure preserved 100% from what he wrote on Amazon. He gave that book five stars. I include it herein as a point of comparison (he gave my book one star) only. I’ve never read anything by Vince Flynn so I’m no judge of his work. This isn’t about him, God rest his soul. It’s not about a bad review. Again, that’s not what’s “sticking in my crow.” It’s about a conclusion I came to last evening as I read his review of ENDWORLD – A Novel. That conclusion?

This guy is a complete, f’n troll. 

It’s written all over his profile–really nothing more than a name and a list of reviews; no point of contact, no picture: Nothing–and his piss-poor command of punctuation, capitalization et al.

Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe the reviewer really is legit and it’s just a poorly written review. If he is and he really hated the first 50 pages that badly then I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse. Dear reviewer: I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy ENDWORLD – A Novel. I’m sorry you weren’t willing to give it a chance beyond 50 pages. If you’d like, I will personally refund you the price of your purchase. Please email me at madchronicler@verizon.net with a copy of your receipt and I will either cut you a check, deposit the money into PenPal… whatever you’d like.

But I don’t think you will. You see, a legit reviewer, not interested in sowing discord but in warning other people not to “waste their money” on something like my novel would have given… well, a basis for their argument. All you did was wave your proverbial finger at it and call it a name. If you’re more partial to “action thrillers” that’s cool. I like them, too. But don’t torpedo someone’s rating and potentially their ranking on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or any site without a little back-up. I’m not saying debate me in a court of law. Maybe just… why? What about it was “junk?” Is it edited poorly? Let me know and I’ll talk to my editor about it. Is the writing not your style? Okay. That’s your opinion. I’m not going to change how I write for you but I will take it into consideration, especially if more people complain. Were you looking for more action and less exposition? Then I’ve got good news for you: Once you get passed the first 50 pages (bear in mind, I am setting up a trilogy of novels at the least here, and not one book) things pick up. Why? Give me a bit more and I’ll take you seriously. If you can’t? Well then. I guess you really are just a troll. Or someone with no command of basic sentence structure. Enjoy your chosen profession, whichever one it is. End rant.

They say that you never forget your first negative review and admittedly? I’ll never forget mine. I’m not upset. ENDWORLD – A Novel still has a 4.3 star average on Amazon/is up to seven reviews. Four more positive ones get me over my goal of 10 so ladies and gentlemen? If you are reading this right now and you read the book, regardless of what you thought of it, please post a review. Whether you do so on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Goodreads is your call. Like I’ve said numerous times before now (and mentioned above), I don’t anticipate that everyone is going to like The Endworld Series. That’s fine. That’s part of being “public” and not “private.” And if my rating drops because more people dislike it than like it okay. So long as they offer a reason or reasons. Regardless, I’m still confident in what I made “public.”

My offer of a free e-copy for an honest review remains, as well. It’s a standing offer. Anyone reading this that’s interested? Leave me a comment, email me (address above), DM me at “madchronicler97” on Twitter, message me on Facebook… whatever you want to do, and I promise: I’ll oblige.

The only way to combat trolls or people with little to no command of the English language in this day and age–’cause there really is no way to prevent them–is to counter them with real, legitimate critiques and that’s what I’m asking for. In the immortal words of Jerry Maguire, “help me help you.”

I’d be happy to.

An Update on CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD and My First Author Interview

Hello, everyone. I know that it’s been a while since I last posted an update here on the ENDWORLD site (though “Random Musings” has been pretty hopping these last couple of weeks; cruise on over and check it out if you don’t believe me). This one isn’t going to be a long one. I just wanted to drop by real quick, and let you know what I’ve been up to in case you’re curious.

First, a CHILDREN update. CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD just broke the 150 page mark, typed today, and is by my best reckoning a shade under half done. Understand that when I say “half done” I don’t mean that it’s only going to be 300 pages long. It’s not. I expect that it’ll be at least as long as ENDWORLD was, perhaps longer (the final draft of ENDWORLD clocked in at 412 pages typed). But Parts One and Two are both done, and I’ve only planned four parts. Henceforth my “half done” comment. Section-wise, it is. Story-wise, it’s about 40% complete.

I’ll not lie to you: A lot has happened already in the narrative and a lot more is poised to happen. CHILDREN is, believe it or not, a  meatier story than its predecessor. I’ve a lot to tell to set up the third and final book in THE ENDWORLD SERIES and in order to keep it moving, I’ve really shored it up. I have to. If I don’t, it’s going to balloon into a 1000 page epic a la Robert Jordan’s WINTER’S HEART, filled with pages upon pages of description and very little action. I love description (in case you can’t tell), but I also love reading, and I know as an avid reader that nothing takes you out of a story quicker than over-describing something. I’ll concede that there’s a good deal of that in ENDWORLD. But in CHILDREN? I’ve gone to great pains to eliminate it.

I should tell you that I feel a great deal more confident about this book, likely because I’m no longer a self-publishing virgin. I’ve gotten my feet wet: I’ve listened to a handful of critiques and praises. I’ve re-read ENDWORLD with all in mind and I see where it fails, and where it succeeds. In short? ENDWORLD is most certainly a Freshman Novel. CHILDREN is more refined. Is it better? I think that remains to be seen. The sheer emotion that went into ENDWORLD, coupled with the fact that it’s the first book that I ever published will always keep it at the height of my esteem. But structurally, I do think CHILDREN is better. IMO, of course. I honestly don’t know. It remains a mystery, and will until such time as I finish it, get copies into the hands of my Beta Readers and get their feedback. Stay tuned.

But enough about CHILDREN. I don’t want to ruminate on it, I just want to write it. Onto other things. Actually, really just one other thing. I have a few other things potentially in the pipeline, but I don’t want to write about them, now. I need to wait and see how they pan out, first. I promise you that when they do, though, you reading this will be among the first to know.

This week, I am being featured in an author interview spot on Ryan Schneider’s website (www.ryanschneiderauthor.com). “10 Questions with Science Fiction Writer Frank Marsh.” If you’re interested in checking it out, you can link it HERE. This is actually my first official author interview, and I’m grateful to Ryan for choosing to feature me and my feelings on the Oxford Comma (among other things; I promise it’s not an interview on Phonics; the questions are actually pretty nifty). Check it out if you have a few moments. And check out his latest novel EYE CANDY, available exclusively via Amazon.com! Now available in e-format and in paperback! It’s good. And I’m not just saying that because he’s doing me a solid. It is a damn fine book. Trust me. You won’t be disappointed.

And that’s all she err… he, as in me… I wrote. I guess. Back to William’s story. If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of ENDWORLD – A Novel I urge you to do so. Don’t wait for me to finish CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD. I promise I’ll be done it soon enough. Scout’s honor: I’m not going to George R R Martin you. Publication next Spring is looking mighty feasible right about now, God willing. Check out the “Where to Buy” tab on this website for links to where it’s available. Read it, enjoy it, review it (I can’t stress that enough; reviews = legitimacy) and experience the book that people are calling “a good meaty book for summer reading,” “five stars in my log,” “well written and captivating,” “it really draws you in” and ” from the end of chapter one was hooked, and had a hard time putting it down every night to go to sleep.” What are you waiting for?

Happy reading, everyone.

F.

Book Review: EYE CANDY By Ryan Schneider

EyeCandyDigital

“It’s because in my book, I say that robots as a species, albeit a new one, are as valuable as humans. I also say that robots, as a species, again, albeit a new species, are invested with great, inner power. Like all such groups, they must be watched, kept in check, and if necessary, actively restrained in their quest for advancement.” 

Excerpt from Eye Candy by Ryan Schneider

So technically this site is not a book review site. But like most writers/authors, traditionally published, self published or not published at all, I read a lot. I used to read a lot more than I do nowadays, but the whole writing my own book (or books) thing has robbed me of much of my once-precious “free time.” But I still do read. To a lesser extent. And I’ve been advertising this book on both this site and over on “Random Musings of a Pseudo-Madman Version 2.0” for over a month. I just finished it last night and I feel obligated to post a review of it on here. Why? Because there’s more out there than just ENDWORLD – A Novel. There are other authors, “indie” or otherwise, that are writing and publishing quality material every day. Eye Candy is no exception. Plus, Ryan’s been a big help to me over the last month plus. The least I can do is tell you, my followers how much I enjoyed his most recent novel.

I’m new to Ryan’s writing. Pre-Eye Candy, I’d only ever read one of his books (A Shadow Passed Over the Son, the first book in the Go-Kids Series; book two is next on my “to read” list).  Despite a basic familiarity with his work, I knew before I started reading it that I was in for something different. The Go-Kids Series is YA (“Young Adult”), and Eye Candy was billed as Ryan’s first post-YA novel. So it was, for lack of a better term, a literary anomaly. Well? It’s an anomaly no more. I finished it late last night/early this morning and my rating? Five Stars. I loved it. Here’s why (portions of this review culled from my Amazon and Goodreads reviews):

Generally the phrase “refreshingly traditional” is an oxymoron. Most things that are traditional are not refreshing, i.e. they’ve been overdone. Such is not the case with Eye Candy, which works as a highly effective extension of the future first envisioned by Issac Asimov in his Robot Series. Yes, Asimov. I went there. As many of you who know me know I heart Asimov. His Foundation Series was one of the main influences of my own writing. I’ve always considered my robots, i.e. the robots of ENDWORLD – A Novel a hybrid of the Terminator and R Daneel Olivaw (one of the main protagonists in not just the Foundation Series, but in his Robot Series, as well. See HERE). The world portrayed by Ryan in Eye Candy is a logical “next step” in the evolution of not just R Daneel, but the literary robot. In his world, the Three Laws of Robotics exist and are still adhered to, but robots are becoming more and more human-like with each, passing day. In case you don’t know what Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are, they are:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

They’re incredibly important to the plot of Eye Candy, so if you’ve never read Asimov and you’re going to pick this novel up on my recommendation, the least I can do is give you a primer. Anywhos, I don’t want to give away any spoilers. I’ll just say that the proverbial line between “real” and “not real” is very thin, and you, the reader, will be left pondering that very question, even after a handful of twists and turns and a firm resolution that I, admittedly, didn’t see coming. I heart twists and turns almost as much as I heart Asimov. Kudos for keeping me guessing until the end, Ryan.

Eye Candy is more than just a story about robots, though. It has a message. And while it’s not overly laden with philosophical and spiritual themes, i.e. it’s not preachy (as much as I heart Asimov he did get preachy from time to time; not “Planet of the Apes” preachy, but semi-so), there’s just enough in the dialogue between the primary characters–characters like Danny Olivaw (nice shout out), Candace “Candy” Calvin and the myriad of other characters that populate Schneider’s futuristic LA–to keep the closet academic in me thinking. As for what that message is? In the words of Professor River Song, “spoilers.” I’m not going to give you any. But I promise that the message does not detract in the slightest from the story. The plot is well-developed and moves at a brisk pace, even for a 450 plus page, freestanding novel. And the culmination of that plot? Wow. If you like action, you’re really going to like the last 15-20% of the novel. Prepare to be dazzled. I was. I believe in the credo that “no amount of blowing sh*t up is too much.” Apparently, Ryan does, too.

Like I said before, I’d only ever read one of Ryan’s books pre-reading Eye Candy, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve fairly “gotten” his writing style. It is succinct and too the point without sacrificing description, and his reliance on dialogue to drive his story is very Asmiov-ian without being an overt rip-off of Asimov. In short? Eye Candy maintains a stamp that is distinctly his. I highly recommend it to the 18+ crowd. Ryan has made his bones as a YA author, but Eye Candy is not for that demographic. It stands as an incredibly strong foray into post-YA Sci-Fi. Interested? Grab your copy TODAY. Link to buy it HERE. And while you’re at it, be sure to check out his website HERE (www.authorryanschneider.com).

That’s all I’ve got, guys. Have a great day. Happy reading.

F.

On Being Stuck

So I’m stuck. Not physically stuck in anything, but mentally and proverbially stuck. CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD is 58 pages to the good as of this AM. That’s the good news. The bad? It was 58 pages to the good last Thursday, as well. Why? Because I’m stuck.

It’s not Writer’s Block. I know all about that. I went through a prolonged period of it in the early to mid-2000s. It was my choice to begin blogging in 2008 that actually broke it. The ideas are there but for some reason, I’m having difficulty writing them down. Under normal circumstances, I’d simply write. And rewrite. And rewrite again until I got it right. But now? Now, I can’t do it. Thankfully, I think I know why.

Those of you reading this that know me know how involved I get in the things I undertake. Example: Writing a novel. If you’ve never done it or never tried to do it let me clue you in on a little secret: It’s tough. Damn tough. As my soon-to-be four year old daughter Cara said upon paging through ENDWORLD – A Novel, “that’s a lot of words, Daddy.” And it is. It’s the creative equivalent of training for a 5K. It’s not just the sheer volume of words that you have to string together, though. It’s holding your readers captive, i.e. keeping them interested. It’s stringing your words together in a way that makes sense not just grammatically, but contextually, as well. But potentially more than anything else, writing a novel takes something that doesn’t exist in William MacNuff’s world and something that oft times is at a premium in mine. That “something?”

Time. 

I’m stuck because I know that as soon as I begin the next chapter I am “pot committed,” i.e. CHILDREN will become the same center of my universe that ENDWORLD was for over a year. Slow afternoons at work when I’m not fulfilling my obligations as both an Inside Salesman and an Office Manager. Nights and weekends when I’m not fulfilling my obligations as both a husband and a father. It will become more than a passing distraction that I can pick up and drop on a dime. The process of creating, or in this case recreating William and Maria’s world has always been an overriding factor in both my professional and personal life. And once I go “all in” like I’m about to? Well, I can’t be 100% sure but per the giddiness that I’m feeling in my stomach, right now, this time > Last time. That’s how psyched I am about what’s already transpired, and what’s about to.

It happened during the rewriting of ENDWORLD, as well, I just wasn’t incredibly vocal about it, i.e. I never blogged about it. It occurred, ironically enough, near the end of Part One in a scene that those of you that have read the book likely know very well and those of you that don’t? Well, if you ever do get around to reading it I promise you that you will. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s a game changer. It involves the early and unexpected exit of one character and the introduction of another.

The scene that I’m stuck on? It doesn’t involve anything that crucial. I don’t George R R Martin one of my primaries, though I can’t say that one or two supplemental characters won’t feel the proverbial headman’s ax on the nape of their neck by it’s end. Honestly? I only plan big deaths when I write, i.e. deaths that involve main characters. I never plan the demises of the lesser ones. I let the process of writing tell me when someone’s time is up and then I find the most meaningful, and occasionally gruesome way of doing it. Yep. That’s me. I never said that I was perfectly balanced as an author, though I pride myself on being so as a husband, father, friend and family member.

No. The scene that I am poised to write is an action sequence. I’ve written multiple ones pre-this moment in my brief career as a published, albeit self-published author (I’ve got to say, I never get tired of writing “published”) but said sequence? It’s the line in the sand. Once I cross it, it’s “game on.” There will be occasional breaks in the action. There always are, but as anyone that does this knows there comes a point where you simply can’t turn back. Apparently, said point is proportionately the same for me regardless of what I’m writing. Or so it seems after two novels, one completed and one not. Fifty eight-60 pages appears to be my creative Point of No Return.

It was easier “back in the day.” Back in the day, I was an oft times single college student working full-time in my spare time for CVSStress Pharmacy. Outside of that my obligations were few and far between. Plus, I was a lot more… capable of “burning the candle at both ends” than I am now. I’ll let you in on another little secret: There’s a big difference between 20 and 37 going on 38 (in case you didn’t know it) much less 37 going on 38 with a younger child–Natalie–that is just now getting her Toddler Molars in. I’m not going to ruminate on sleepless nights, herein. If you want to read about them, you can check out In Which I Blog Backwards, an entry written over at “Random Musings” by that Madchronicler guy, AKA me yesterday.

What I am going to ruminate on is how different things are now. That’s not a bad thing. I prefer that which inspires me now to that which inspired me then. But I’m not going to lie: Sometimes, I miss being able to just go. Get home, retire to my domicile, turn on my old 286 HP with the monochrome screen, light a cigarette, crack a beer, maybe take a couple of hits off a joint and start writing. That’s part of being a writer. It’s what we all want: To be alone with our characters as we “find” their story. I’d write most nights until I passed out at my computer. The original version of CHILDREN–version 1.0–was written in six months. Let me repeat that: Six months. That’s nothing if you’re talking about a 150 page novella or even a short, 200-225 page novel. But a 400+ page one? That’s impressive. Borderline insane, actually. But that was me, back then.

Now? Now, I’m as much a product of my situation as I was then. The only thing that’s changed about me other than the amount of gray in my hair and my beard and the extra sag to my midsection is… well? My situation and my tolerance for “burning the candle at both ends,” i.e. unless I get between six and seven hours of sleep on a given night I can’t remotely function the following day without a lot of caffeine.

Most nights presently I leave work, pick up my girls, go home, make dinner, get them ready for bed, get them in bed, clean up, and maybe get the chance to sit down in front of my Samsung I5 Laptop with the LED screen for an hour or two before I pass out. I still have no idea how I managed to write ENDWORLD in a little over a year, considering I took a six week long break in the middle because of health issues (bloody migraines; thank God they’re gone, now). But I did it. Hopefully CHILDREN will follow a similar path of evolution. I’m still shooting for May, 2014. I’ve even got a cover in mind. But that = Putting the proverbial cart before the horse. First the story. Thereafter I’ll make it look pretty.

You’re probably reading this and thinking to yourselves Christ, Frank. Get on with it already. You’ve spend the last X-amount of time “ruminating” on something you should just do. You’re probably right. And something tells me that tonight, or maybe tomorrow night I’ll pick up where I left off and write the aforementioned scene. And then it’ll be “game on.” I probably could have written it and not this but do you know what? I need to be true to myself. True to the process. And some days? Some days you just can’t. Call it creative erectile dysfunction or something less graphic. Some days the words elude you, despite how vivid your ideas are.

In short? Some days you’re just stuck. That’s the curse of the part time author. You’re not suffering from Writer’s Block or a deteriorating grasp of the English Language. You’re suffering from something much less malignant than even time, or an absence thereof. That “something?”

Life. 

Happy reading, all.

F.

Of Offers, Reviews and the Problem with Sequels

“I’ve been here before.

“You may remember me from the past if such a concept can and does exist here in Endworld. Past, present and future? All are meaningless in a place where we humans live from sunrise to sunset. Time, as I have mentioned incessantly, has no significance here. It never has…

“And it never will.”

Excerpt from the Prologue to CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD, “Full Circle”

So begins (with a couple of sentences omitted so as to not give anything away to those of you that haven’t finished ENDWORLD – A Novel yet) the sequel to what one person called my “Freshman novel debut.” The book is entitled CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD and it is 34 pages to the good, presently. Admittedly? I’m very happy with what I’ve written so far, but 34 pages is nothing. I’ve still got a long way to go. As I’ve said before, perhaps as incessantly as William MacNuff refers to time or the absence thereof in Endworld, what I think of it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you, my readers think of it. And the finished product is still a ways off. Not too long, though. Something tells me that when I 100% commit to writing it it’ll consume my mind, body and soul like it’s predecessor did. It’s tough to say when it’ll be done and be available, but optimally? I’d love to have it done and out by this time, next year. I like May. May’s a good month for book releases. So tentatively? May, 2014. That’s my goal. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, the best I can definitively offer you is a blog entry here/over on Random Musings, or an update like this one. I’ve been toying with putting a completion graph up on the “About THE ENDWORLD SERIES” tab but have decided not to. You don’t need to see that (though I ate up Brandon Sanderson’s while he was working on The Wheel of Time Series). I’m sure I’ll write about it plenty between now and then. Besides, trying to put a percentage on “doneness” when it comes to writing a novel is, I have discovered, no easy task. Even if I use the first book’s page count and my treatment as a baseline. I guesstimate that by the time I’m done, CHILDREN will be as long as, if not longer than ENDWORLD was. Is. Sometimes, Tense really messes with me.

I’m quickly discovering that the problem with a sequel–even one that I originally wrote X-amount of years ago and am now rewriting–isn’t getting back into the minds of my characters. If you love your characters like I love mine, continuing their story is not a problem. If anything, it’s intoxicating. It’s not the writing process, either: I can already see a “Sophomore” maturity in CHILDREN that ENDWORLD doesn’t have.  The problem with writing a direct sequel (not a three-quel, a four-quel, et el) so soon after you published the first book is this: THE ENDWORLD SERIES is not an established commodity, yet. I still have no bleepin’ idea what people think of it.

That’s not an implication of anyone. It’s a long book, and it’s only been out for a few weeks. I know how difficult it is nowadays to sit down and commit to just reading. Unless I’m on a vacation somewhere the majority of my reading is done post-10 PM at night and pre-passing out between 11 and 11:30 PM, a fact that my wife is graciously accepting of. Or so she tells me. I know reviews are forthcoming (for better or for worse, though most people that I’ve talked to really appear to be enjoying it) and I know that the book has sold modestly and to my initial expectations. But a big part of my motivation for writing not only it, but anything has always been interest. Not just my interest, but the interest of my potential readers. That said…

Are those readers–you–happy with ENDWORLD – A Novel? Is it fulfilling your expectations? Exceeding them? Falling short? I’m dying to know. Even if you’re still reading it, are you on-board with William, Maria and their adventure or are you jumping ship? Be bluntly honest with me, guys. My ego = A non-entity here. If you don’t want to do it publicly, please do it privately. See the “About Me” section of this site. You can contact me any of those ways. I promise I’ll get it.

The public version of ENDWORLD – A Novel will be three weeks old this Saturday. The private version has existed for much, much longer as those of you that know me and have been following me know. So far, this is a sampling of what I know people think about it:

“This book is a wonderfully written coming of age story about William and Maria’s journey from a machine controlled life. Their journey has many twists and turns. It is an exciting story! A must read!!!”

“Started reading this book the other day at the recommendation of a friend. So far, I’m really enjoying the book! I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

“In his freshman novel debut (at least to my knowledge) Frank has a superbly written & compelling novel. At the end of two chapters I was completely sucked in & have a hard time putting it down every night to go to bed. I can’t wait to see how it ends!” 

I’d like to thank the people that published those reviews (one on Barnes and Noble and two on Goodreads), as well as those of you that have given me generally positive feedback in other ways (on the phone, via DM, via Facebook, Twitter et al). I haven’t heard “it sucks” once and that, for me, is an epic win. That’s not to say that someone, somewhere isn’t reading it right now and thinking that. Believe it or not? If that person is reading this right now, I want to hear from you. I need to. Again, my ego = A non-entity. Publicly or privately, get in touch with me and let me know. I promise that I’ll do everything in my power to explain either A.) What I was thinking or B.) How I’m going to “fix” it moving forward.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Reviews = Visibility. And viability. No one wants to read something that their next door neighbor says is good. They want to see a sampling of people that feel the same way before they spend their hard earned money on it. Over the past couple of days, I’ve been soliciting reviews from book review sites ranging from the big–circulating, national newspapers–to the small–bloggers that will give you their honest impressions in exchange for a free copy. I’ve not yet tapped the “Big Boys” like Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews et al, though I did send an inquiry to the American Book Review. So far, the responses to my inquiries have been… timid, and by “timid” I mean “borderline non-existent.” So while I’m not putting those requests in the can and will continue to pursue them, I’m shifting my strategy slightly. To?

To this. Here’s what I’d like to do. Scratch that: Here’s what I’m going to do. I’d like to offer a free copy of ENDWORLD – A NOVEL (yes, I said “free”) to five people in exchange for an honest review. Those five people will be the first five people that either A.) Comment on this blog post, B.) Comment on my Facebook Author Page once I share this or C.) “Tweet” me once I Tweet this. Notice that the words “comment” and “‘tweet'” are in bold. That’s because “likes” don’t count (sorry, “likers.” You can still “like” all of the above but leave a comment. Even “hi” works). The only condition? Like I said (no pun intended), an honest review when you’re done. That’s it. No further strings attached. You can have your copy in either EPUB, MOBI or PDF. No print, please, at least not this round. I don’t have any spare print copies, right now. Maybe the next.

Interested? This offer is open to anyone that wants to take advantage of it. I repeat: Anyone. All you’ve got to do is post a review to one of the sites that my book is purchasable from (see the “Where to Buy” tab) when you finish it. An honest review. Don’t just tell me the book rocks because I gave you a free copy. I trust that what I wrote is viable and can stand up to a critique (though I may end up regretting that later). FYI, though: I’m going to repeat this offer in a separate Tweet and a separate Facebook post a bit later tonight for the people that don’t feel like reading my ramblings. But I’m going to give my followers here first dibs. And on Random Musings. I’m going to re-blog this over there.

Ready? Set? Go. My offer is now on the table. I look forward to hearing from you soon! Take care.

F.

Of Solo Bath Nights and Self-Publishing

It was one week ago tomorrow morning that I went “live” with my book on Amazon and Createspace. In the intervening time since I’ve sold a few units, ended up in a few more e-stores, worked a bear of a week in my “real” job (according to my wife, Nicole, writing is still just a hobby until I make a profit doing it) and endured not one, not two but three solo Bath Nights with my daughters, each one progressively more hectic than the one before it. Survey says? It’s been a heck of a week.

Looking back, I don’t think I would have done anything differently than I did. Within the next few days, I’ll have a good gauge of just how well ENDWORLD – A NOVEL is selling. I’m not expecting to be blown away. From what I can tell, the results so far have been modest, at best. But that’s okay. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I didn’t do this to make money. If I end up making money? Terrific. But I’m a realist, and I don’t expect to see my name at the top of any top 10 or even top 20 lists yet. Maybe one day but for now? I’m having fun. I’m getting a “feel” for how the market works. The lessons that I’m learning, both good and bad, will benefit me in the long term. ‘Cause as I’ve said a couple of times, I’m don’t plan on this being a “one and done” thing. If everything goes according to plan, I may even have something else ready to go a bit later this year. But that is a story… stories for another time (hint, hint).

I’ve been asked a lot of questions this week from people I know and people I don’t know. The most common one? “What’s this book of yours about?” In no uncertain terms. Different people have phrased the question differently. I give them roughly the same summation that you can find on the back of the print copy, on the last page of the e-copies and on every product page ENDWORLD – A NOVEL is currently being featured on. Whether they want to read it afterwards is up to them.

But there’s another question that I’ve had to field on a couple of occasions. It usually comes after the requisite congratulatory handshake, or a reply to a status post on Facebook, or one to a Tweet. The “conversation” can be paraphrased like this:

Potential Consumer: “Congratulations on your book, Frank!”

Me: “Thank you very much!”

Potential Consumer: “W ho published it? Random House? Penguin? Tor?”

Me: “Frank Marsh.”

Potential Consumer (after a pause): “Um, you? You mean you self-published it?”

Me: “Yes. Yes I did.”

Potential Consumer (after another pause): “Oh. Well, congratulations anyway.”

End scene. Admittedly? I was aware of the stigma about self-publication when I opted to do so. Now, I’m still new to this whole “thing” so my opinion may not matter a lick or two to those of you that have been at this for a couple of years, but the impression that I get is that people? Potential Consumers like the one I mentioned above? They see self-publication as a cop out: An easy avenue to make your book available for the least amount of cost in the shortest amount of time. They may even see self-publication as a product of paranoia about your product, i.e. you don’t think a major publishing house would pick it up so you just do it yourself. Those people? They are entitled to their opinions, just like I’m entitled to mine. But in reality?

In reality, self-publication is anything but an easy avenue. Sure, you can publish your laundry list to Kindle Direct or NOOK Press if you really want to but any self-respecting author that writes because he or she enjoys writing and not because they want to make a quick buck doing it? They put an immense amount of time, work and money into not only polishing and publishing their product, but marketing it after it has appeared on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes et al. They spend hours networking with other indie authors. They shamelessly self-promote their product on Facebook, on Twitter, on Linkedin and even on Google + (at least the one or two people that actively use Google + do) to the extent that they begin questioning how many of the people they’re “reaching” they’re actually reaching and not pissing off.

They start ad campaigns on social media sites to boost their product. Maybe not high dollar ones, but 15 bucks here or 30 bucks there. Those campaigns may result in a handful of additional sales. They join establishments like Goodkindles or IAN (both of which rock, by the way) because they want to increase their exposure without paying 500 plus dollars to a “reputable” company to publish a paragraph long review of their book. They order business cards from sites like Vistaprint and a dozen print copies of their book which they use to “cold call” bookstores. Maybe one Mom and Pop bookstore agrees to sell their book. They create book trailers or have book trailers created for them. Heck, I created one. Do you want to see it? Okay, then. Brace yourself. Here it is:

You can stop laughing now. C’mon: It was free. What do you expect? Admittedly, I would have preferred Stabbing Westward’s “I Won’t Become The Thing I Hate” or Alice in Chain’s “Nutshell” as opposed to the techno-esque music that I chose for the soundtrack, but I went through Hell enough trying to get Bartelby.com to let me use “The Wasteland” in the book. Who knows how many hoops I would have had to jump through to get an actual band’s music, even a band that’s been broken up for almost a decade or one that hasn’t been the same since the early 1990’s.

In a nutshell (no pun intended)? Self-publishing isn’t easy. It’s hard. Damn hard. And I guarantee you it’s not for everyone. But anyone who thinks that just because a self-published author doesn’t have an agent or the backing of a reputable publishing establishment they won’t put out a spit-shined and quality product is off their proverbial rocker. Some will. I’ve encountered self-published books over the last couple of years, ever since I decided to do this, that were rife with typos and formatting issues. Those issues? They stood in the way of me, sublimely enjoying what in most cases was a good story.

That’s not to say that ENDWORLD – A NOVEL doesn’t have a typo or two. It might. But I and my editor were diligent about catching as many as we could. In reality? Most books have one or two, major house published or self-published. That’s not to say that one or two people won’t object to how the print copy is formatted. They might. But I decided to put out a 448 page, 6X9 trade paperback with a readable text and not a 5X8, 667 page industry standard paperback that you would need a magnifying glass to read. Yes, the outside margin is a bit tighter than the inside but guess what? It looks good. And clean. At least I think it does. I’ll let those of you that have it in paperback be the judge of that.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again with a bit more surety than I said it last time: Self-publishing is a for the most part thankless process. There are no contracts to sign. No signing bonuses. No marketing blitzkriegs to coincide with the book’s release. You won’t get featured in the New York Times Book Review unless your name is Stefan King from Denmark and they mistake you for Stephen. You won’t be invited to do a book signing at Barnes and Noble and you won’t have a black tie, book release party. In short? You get nothing. Nothing handed to you. Everything that you get you need to earn on your own. That is the definition of “thankless.”

Then why do it? If you believe that your book is good enough to be picked up by a major publishing house, why not go out, sign yourself an agent and let him or her do all of the work for you while you write the next book in your trilogy? ‘Cause really, you’re a writer, right? Not a business person. Not a marketing person. Writers write, they don’t sell. Why, why, why?

Because some people… people like myself, we want full control over the finished product. We want the tagline on the copyright page to say “Copyright 1997, 2013 by Frank Marsh.” We want to pick the cover that we want, not have it picked for us. We want to format it the way we want to format it in the font that we want to format it in (I’m actually quite partial to Bank Gothic, though the one that I and my designer eventually decided on is not, you will notice, Bank Gothic). We want the satisfaction of knowing that the book will succeed or fail per the merit of our efforts, not the efforts of a monkey-suited businessman or woman that we may or may not ever meet. Every positive review that it gets? We can smile and say that we earned it. Every negative one that it gets? We can own it, and use it as a tool to do better next time. And if the book eventually does turn a profit? We can rest assured in the knowledge that we deserve every red cent…

Even if said profit only amounts to one red cent.

In summation? Self-publishing is about as daunting an undertaking as solo Bath Night. But its also as rewarding as sitting with one, clean child on each of your laps watching “Wibbly Pig” at the end of a bear of a work week in your “real” job.

F.

 

Recapping a Whirlwind Couple of Days

The title pretty much says it all. These last few days–from the moment I announced that ENDWORLD – A NOVEL was available to purchase via Amazon and CreateSpace on Saturday, through the moment I got the email telling me it was available in the iBookstore today–have passed by in a seemingly endless haze of phone calls, texts, Facebook Messages, Direct Messages, emails et al. Not that I mind. Quite the contrary: I’m cherishing every minute of this. I honestly love how engaged everyone that I’ve “spoken” with is. It warms my heart, guys. Really, it does. Thank you, all. If this is my 15 minutes? Well heck, I don’t think I could have asked for better.

Let me tell you a secret: I hadn’t intended to tell anyone about the book’s availability until tomorrow, 5/1/13. It was a symbolic thing for me, announcing it at the beginning of May. I wanted to release it in time for Memorial Day and the summer reading season. Well? I did, just a bit earlier than I had anticipated, and before it was available in every format.

Still, it’s worked out pretty well. The book is now available almost everywhere. I say “almost” because the Sony Reader store hasn’t picked it up yet. Hopefully it’ll be available there soon. I know I’ve posted this info a couple of times, and you’re probably all getting tired of me doing so. Those of you that are can skip over this next part if you’d like. Those of you that are new to this site and me? Welcome aboard! And for your information…

ENDWORLD – A NOVEL is now available in print via:

  • Amazon (6X9, trade edition paperback, 448 pages): $15.99 EACH
  • CreateSpace (6X9, trade edition paperback, 448 pages): $15.99 EACH

And as an e-book via:

There you go. Painless, right? I wish I could say that I’m not going to be posting, Facebooking or Tweeting this info in the near future but sadly? I cannot. A big part of the whole indie publishing thing is shamelessly self-promoting your product. I knew that when I decided to go this route. Maybe I should have warned you all ahead of time. While I can’t promise a change in my strategy (if anything, it might get worse as Memorial Day gets closer), I can promise that I’ll do my best not to junk up your feeds too much. I consider what I’m doing controlled marketing, right now. I’m not forcing it down your throat (at least I don’t think I am), but I’m also not pretending that ENDWORLD – A NOVEL doesn’t exist. ‘Cause it does. And I’m pretty happy with how it’s doing, so far. I’ll leave it at that.

I’m not going to do what I do over on Random Musings of a Pseudo-Madman Version 2.0 here. I’m not going to ramble on and on for paragraphs about nothing. If that style of writing/reading is your “thing,” take a stroll on over there and see what my ole’ buddy the Madchronicler is up to (here’s a hint: Not much; he’s a bit preoccupied with the whole book release thing too). I’m going to be as short, sweet and to the point as I can be here. That said, I have a couple of “Quick Hits” that I’d like to share with you. Feel up to it? ‘Kay, then. Here goes:

  • You’ll notice, if you look at my sidebar, an advertisement for a new book called EYE CANDY. The author’s name is Ryan Schneider (@RyanLSchneider for all you Twitter-philes out there), and he’s the award winning, Science Fiction author of The Go-Kids series of books. I’m currently reading the first book, A SHADOW PASSED OVER THE SON, which is available for free download on Amazon, presently (http://smarturl.org/srtrq), and I just downloaded EYE CANDY, today (http://smarturl.org/srtrx) to read after I finish A SHADOW. Guys? He’s good. REAL good. The man knows how to write an entertaining story with lots of action, depth and character development. And his descriptiveness is bar none. If you’re looking for something else to read other than ENDWORLD – A NOVEL, give him a look. You won’t be disappointed. You can also head over to his website for more info: http://AuthorRyanSchneider.com/. Keep that URL handy. Ryan’s been gracious enough to offer me a spot in his Author Spotlight a bit later this month. Look for “10 Questions with Sci-Fi Writer Frank Marsh.” Coming soon. Thanks again, Ryan!
  • This past weekend, amidst all the hub-bub with my “book launch,” I joined the Independent Author Network, IAN (@AuthorNetwork, again, for my Tweeps). You can link their Home Page HERE, and you can link my IAN Author Page HERE. Why am I telling you this? Simple, really: Independent publishing, as you may have heard and as I’m coming to quickly learn, is an oft times thankless process. There’s a lot of work involved, and often said work doesn’t result in a writing career. But there’s a lot of good stuff out there, written by “Indies” like me (yes, I’m one of you now) that you should really give a chance. Check out IAN. The listings on their website can be broken down by author name, book title, genre et al. So if you want to read a book, don’t automatically run out and buy Fifty Shades of OVER-RATED. Check out Lorna Dounaeva’s “Sizzling, Psychological Thriller” FRY. Or Elizabeth Wilder’s historical, romantic fiction, THE SPRUCE GUM BOX. #Supportindiepublishing, check out #IAN1.
  • To “Anonymous,” who simultaneously published two identical, five star reviews of ENDWORLD – A NOVEL to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, thank you. Since I’m now in the business of shamelessly self-promoting my product, I’d like to include the review herein, mainly because it’s my first. Heck, I’d include it herein if it was terrible since it’s my first. I’m a reviewed author! Woohoo! Any way, it reads:

“This book is a wonderfully written coming of age story about William and Maria’s journey from a machine controlled life. Their journey has many twists and turns. It is an exciting story! A must read!!!”

  • To the person who called me from Colorado today on my cell, I’m sorry I missed your call. But you didn’t leave a message and your number’s not in my address book. Whoever you are, if you want to chat, send me a text. I’ll get back to you post-haste.

And with that? I’ve reached the end of this little recap. Maybe a bit longer than I’d anticipated initially, but I wanted to bring y’all up to speed on what’s going on. Everyone take care and until next we “meet,” happy reading!

F.