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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

RELEASE DAY!!!!

Woohoo!!! It's here. It's official my book is released. My publisher has sent out all the feeds and it's time for me to kick back, party and live the good life until the meteoric rise to the NY Times Best Seller list, fame, movie rights and wine, women and song, just don't tell my wife. Heh. It's a good dream though. It would be great if something like that happened. My publisher keeps telling me this is one of those stories that has potential to make it big, big characters, crazy plots, romance, it's pretty much the whole package... and I believe him, except for the fact that I'm a realist. I'm not a glass half/full or empty kind of guy I'll say the water sits at the midpoint of the glass. Trust me, I've daydreamed about the win/win scenario and big, but, I think, managing my expectations has been the most challenging part of the process. If you live in the moment and deal with what's happening it's easier to keep a clear head. I express gratitude for everything that's happened. It's important.

Everything's been a surprise for me. I'm grateful that people are buying my book, I'm getting great feedback and positive reviews. My friend Mike Bailey at the Innsmouth Look did an author interview with me. Mike and I go back a number of years when we worked together as actors at a Renaissance Festival. He's also an author and his Secret Origins series is absolutely incredible. He's about to release book 4 in the series. I've read the first and am holding on to the rest. Mike is great writer and I didn't need him influencing my work. Check him out: http://innsmouthlook.com and my interview is at: http://innsmouthlook.com/tag/dex-territory/


My friends over at Shallow Graves gave me a start and published my first work in their magazine. The story was called, In Nomine Patris. http://shallowgraves.org/ It was the story of woman, Julia Hart, born of an Angel and a Demon while possessing human forms and she carried both demonic and angelic powers within her. It was a fun little story. It got me started while I was figuring out how to do a lot of things, mainly learning how to write. They gave me a test bed and I owe them a lot. I think you may see a book review coming out of them, so stay tuned for that.

Having gone through this process, I can never look at another author and say their work is crap. It's easy to do when something isn't to your particular taste, especially when you're dealing with genre fiction. It's very specific and you have a specific audience and as an author you want as many people to read your story as possible, it's time to broaden the horizons. Throw a little romance into your sci-fi while their tracking down a murderer, now you have appealed to sci-fi, romance and mystery lovers. It was hard to pin my book down to a specific genre, it had superheroes for sure, but there was a love triangle, my protagonist is chasing a killer and it contains elements of a spy thriller with a pinch of horror thrown in for good measure. Make sure the characters don't forget to laugh, because humans deal with pain by using humor. It's a survival mechanism. If you can laugh at thing, it doesn't hold dominion over you. If something extraordinary is happening, it's a great idea to let the reader know this isn't normal. It's your job to inform the reader, let them in on the joke.

Speaking of which, you can find me at:

Please find me at:
www.twbpress.com
www.twbpress.com/authormarkaberdeen
www.amazon.com/author/markaberdeen
www.twitter.com/Mark_Aberdeen
www.facebook.com/mark.aberdeen

My work is also at:
Barnesandnoble.com
smashwords.com

Buy my book! $3.99 on kindle, or nook. For the price of a coffee, you have 392 pages of entertainment, that's less than a penny a page! If you're persuaded by that, I have a Sham-Wow to sell you. I'd really appreciate it if you did.

Look for Dex Territory. Support your writers and give them reasons to give you more. Please write me a review. You have no idea how much that helps.

Finally (About time! You might say)

I'm posting this on Christmas eve and while I hold no religious affiliation, I do believe in celebrating with friends and family and exchanging a few gifts in the season of winter blahs. That's just good for the soul. In that spirit, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, happy holidays and truly great New Year!

Peace.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Slaying Dragons and Other Wee Beasties

To say this was an interesting week would be the king of understatements. Books are selling and I've gone through 2/3rds of the case I initially ordered. I'm pulling sales from friends and those that are supporting me, for which I'm eternally grateful. I'm also hoping to connect with a larger readership. The goal is to be heard over all the noise that's out there. I'm getting slammed with twitter followers and for the most part I don't know if these are real people. A lot of disappointment with the likes and retweets and I'm mostly getting people that say they have 100 thousand followers to retweet my shit to, but when I ask the very basic questions like who are you, who's your audience and can I talk to some other that use your service, they disappear pretty fast. I don't think the get twits quick things is all that it's cracked up to be. I run operations for North America for a telecommunications company and as someone in the business world you figure out pretty quick, who's for real. Anyone truly bend on selling you a service has done the work. It's their business and not a scam and their low on promises and rich on information and the choice is always yours.

Sales is about building a relationship and I've seen some of the best. I have close friends that have taken an interest in me and by doing that I want to know more about them. Pretty soon we're playing a round of golf, or trivia over wings and beer, or just a simple quiet lunch where business isn't even mentioned and we talk about relationships, or what's going on in our lives, accomplishments of our kids, the marathon we're about to run, or the twenty pound we've packed on or removed. The human connection is the key to sales and not the whiz bang, strobe lights and human beat box where it's all a show until you sign the dotted line. Word of mouth is the slowest form of advertising, but you build connections by talking to people, letting them know you're for real.

My only real wish in this is someone picking up my book, reading it and having a good time. It's simple. I had a pretty good story, rough around the edges, but those have been honed and it sharp, quick witted, thrilling, romantic, heartbreaking with characters you just want to hang out with. I'm certainly biased on this front, but every time I reread the book it's visiting old friends. They mean a lot to me. I even really like my antagonists, trust me I have infinitely more fun writing for them. They have to justify what they do, because they're the heroes of their own story. There's a reason why they do what they do and they've had to compromise along the way and if you compromise enough, sometimes there's no coming back from it. Storytellers talk about the hero's journey, but the villain's journey is ultimately more fascinating to me. I have a lot of throw away characters that come in a perform a cameo, but I have two that I would kill just to invisibly follow around and chronicle and my life would be fulfilled. I'll let you figure out who they are.

A couple of friends asked me if any of this story had correlations to events in my life. My life has led me down a many and varied path and the answer is some of it is partially autobiographical. You write what you know, but in this case I drew upon loss, clever moments, certainly humor I've picked up and bit of dialog and mannerisms that belong to people I know. Some of my characters are based on real people, or specifically and amalgamation of real people. Some just come directly out of the part of me that never aged past 14. I refuse to apologize for any of it. Because, tough shit. I don't mean that as something insulting, but this is life, it's messy, things don't work the way you want and there's always spinning you off into new directions. I know I've become a master of the plan B. But one day you plan fails, you go to you back-up and discover cronuts and your life changes. Hell, my entire career was a plan B, C, or L. I wouldn't change a thing.

Treading new waters with all of this and too much crap running around my brain. I've taking this week as vacation, otherwise I'd be pretty useless at work. These last two months getting Dex Territory ready was hard, I was also working up on the follow up, which I have tentatively titles Deus Dex Machina and it's turning out to be a rather fitting title to the book, so it's probably going to stay. This one make Dex Territory look like kitten play. New characters are added and they layers continue to pile up. They more I work on this the large it's becoming and I wonder if I'm dealing with a monster in this Dex world. Sometime you just need to be a knight named George and go off an slay a dragon.

If you're on the blog and get to the main page, you can order a copy directly from me. I hold your book loving and find the right words to personalize it you and sign it with the most illegible signature know to man, but it's dramatic and you don't want to miss it. You can, of course, just get a signed one. I'll get it out to you as quickly as possible. It is by far the slowest way to get one in your hands. I have about ten left before I have to re-order.

Come find me. friend me, tell me what you think. Reviews are highly encouraged and I might hold a contest for reviewers and you can earn some swag. My friend Paul who does my artwork is working on some new renderings and we might be able to get some of them in your hands. I don't know of anyone who wouldn't want Pink Panther in their hands.

Please find me at:
www.twbpress.com
www.twbpress.com/authormarkaberdeen
www.amazon.com/author/markaberdeen
www.twitter.com/Mark_Aberdeen
www.facebook.com/mark.aberdeen

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Life, the Universe and Dex Territory

So what happens when something you've cast aside suddenly gets thrust in your hands and you're asked to sign it? You take a moment and reflect. Three months ago my manuscript for Dex Territory was sitting in the virtual equivalent of a drawer and a unique set of circumstances turned it from that into a novel I held in my hands and was signing. How does that happen?

I have experience the range of human emotion in these last few months, excitement, joy, terror, anger and it's all finally evened out into a gentle enthusiasm. I've pushed all expectations aside and it's time to get to work on selling it. To sell, you need to be rational, charming, real and you need to believe in what you're selling and it's not really the book. You're selling yourself.

Even works of fiction, like Dex Territory, draw on my experiences and my perceptions. Parts of it are almost autobiographical, the relationships some of the dialog and the chasing of a super-powered serial killer are based on real events. Ok, you got me the dialog never happened. Truly writers write what they know and spend a lot of time google-searching for the rest. Sometimes you're lucky enough to actually talk with someone. Wikis will tell you a lot of facts, but they don't tell you all the very human stuff that happens behind it. I spent a lot of time observing people and with only a few minor restraining orders and some community service I was able to get some insights that really helped flesh out some of the characters.

Unfortunately, some of the character moments ended up on the cutting room floor in favor of the story. That's where an editor comes in really handy. We looked at a bunch of it and we ttrimmed it out, while it was great character building, it didn't service the story. Some if it I'll use later, some of it gets filed away as background and I'll use it when characters do something, or react in certain way. I'm deeply intimate with the characters, but I have a deep fondness for my bad guys. That is where I got to have fun. If an antagonist wasn't a jerk it wouldn't be satisfying when he gets his, or sometime more interestingly wins.

While Star Wars was great, The Empire Strikes Back was the best of the series. Our heroes suffered and pain gives your characters something to overcome. I beat the hell out of O'Shea, both physically and emotonally and it's his determination that pushes him forward, especially and almost always while he's outclassed. He's the scrappy welter-weight going against the heavyweight champion and who doesn't like that story?

Right now I feel like I can relate to that. I'm on with a small press, I'm marketing this myself, I want people to be as enthusiastic as I am about this story. It's a good one. I think it's solid. I hope you think it's solid and if we all feel good about it, I 'll write the next one and if you think Dex Territory iwas rough for Rick, in book 2 the gloves come off and we start getting busy.

Leave me some feedback.

You can find me at:
www.twbpress.com
www.twbpress.com/authormarkaberdeen
www.amazon.com/author/markaberdeen
www.twitter.com/Mark_Aberdeen
www.facebook.com/mark.aberdeen

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The hodgepodge

Yesterday was a pretty awesome day. Met my sister and hubby out for breakfast. It's always great to spend time with them. They had their grandson Isaac in tow. He's just a good little boy and damn adorable. Later on I drove to Marietta, GA and hung out on the square meeting my friend Paul Littlehale for a Johnnie MacCracken's afternoon of eating amazing food and drinking a spectacular beer brewed by our very own bartender, Bram. His nut brown ale is to die for. There's always a camaraderie I associate with pubs such as Johnny MacCracken's that always remind me a little of home in Connecticut. I step into the place and it really feel like I'm not so far away. Trust me on one point, if you find yourself in Georgia and on the Marietta Square wander over to MacCracken's and order anything. My personal favorite is the Irish Surf and Turf, you will not regret it.

I cooked a little dinner for Nadine when she got home from work and we settled in to watch The Librarians from last weekend. It's our new favorite program. It's light and fun and perfect for a date. It fills a little of the sad hole left by Warehouse 13 and Eureka. We followed that up with Constantine which I'm completely in love with. I can't tell you how much I nerd out over that program. I'm not secretive about my love of superheroes. I even write about them, sort of, you'll see with Dex Territory. I totally dig Arrow and The Flash, Gotham, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but Constantine is something a little dearer to my heart. I love the Gothic story when there are actual forces of good and evil, angels and demons and all the creepy things in between. I love heroes who are broken and fallen and don't think they're good enough, but strive to atone. I love that word, atone. I think we all have something in which we've fallen short. I know I have regrets that niggle away at me when my distractions aren't enough; actions I've taken, things I've said, people I've hurt and each of those things leaves a little ghost behind. Some can be exercised, but others just stick around and become demons. One day I really should look into therapy. Right now, I'll hang on to them, they fuel my creativity.

Before that tangent, I was commenting about having a great day. It's certainly been amazing to have a day away from typing away and living some life. I know I get pretty laser focused when I'm motivated to do something. It's a good trait on a lot of things, but it's not always a blessing and I have some making up to do with Nadine. She been a widow these last couple of months. I think she vaguely aware of someone gumpily stomping around the house in need of either coffee, which there's plenty, and sleep, which there's not enough. Once we get some coffee into her, we'll start our trek around North Georgia in search of a few more Christmas presents, some groceries and lunch out. Tonight it's a date of Guardians of the Galaxy. I'm completely stoked about that. Oddly enough, Guardian's wasn't my absolute favorite movie this year, that distinction goes to the move Chef with Jon Favreau. It's a story about a lot of things, about finding one's self, rediscovering relationships, fathers and sons and it came at a time that helped me deal with the loss of my Dad, some career choices, shifting relationships with friends as they move on with careers and life. The movie spoke to me on a very personal level. In the end it just made me happy.

A friend pointed out to me that my book Dex Territory was available on Amazon. I thought that was pretty spectacular. I did spend a few minute putting together my author page, which I hadn't been able to do since until that point I didn't have a book. It's rudimentary right now, but it'll evolve in time. My sister, JoAnn, who is also my PA, was thrilled to hear it and she's going to start her work of pimping me out. That's a sentence I never thought I'd ever have to write. I've ordered my first case of books. I think everything is going to be available on the 24th of December. Although, Amazon shows the book available now. A friend ordered a copy and we'll see when it arrives for him. I have a few of the case that are set aside for a special select few as thank you for their support and help, but anyone wanting a personalized copy can order one through me. I'll have something set up with Paypal as soon as I can figure out where to park it. The cover price of the book is $18.95 + shipping. The Kindle version will be $3.99. I'll have limited copies to start, but can order more as I need them. As much as I'd love to give everyone a copy, I have to pay for the books and resell them. While it's art, it's also a business.

I'm working on some swag. I'm getting bookmarks and some cover posters and looking into a few other little give away items. Settling on some designs and I've need approval through my publisher. Lots and lots to do.

You can find me at:
www.twbpress.com
www.twbpress.com/authormarkaberdeen
www.amazon.com/author/markaberdeen
www.twitter.com/Mark_Aberdeen
www.facebook.com/mark.aberdeen

Friday, December 5, 2014

Done, complete, concluded, down, ended, finished, terminated, and through

It's done. The last corrections have been made and the book is delivered. Dex territory took a really long time to write. It had been a long time since I sat in an English comp, or creative writing class. Composing a novel was probably the hardest thing I'd ever done. I can't even count how many drafts were done on this. It was a learning experience the entire way. You have to love each character, even the despicable ones, they need motivations, they need to feel like the heroes of their own stories. they have to interact with one another, their motivations align, are at odds or somewhere in between. Characters need flaws, nothing is more boring that character who is not at odds with his or her or its' self. All of my characters had a job to do and it was my job to make them earn their pay, but also give them the tools to do their work. The fun comes when you see their struggles to get the tools they need to do their work. It's like having an ant farm when the ants have an amazing complex colony established and everything is good until someone gives it a little shake. The ants will rebuild, but it won't ever be quite the same.

World building. There are books, upon books about world building. World building, for me, came down to one thing, establish rules. But also, know which ones the characters had to follow, which ones could be bent and which ones could be broken. Without rules there's no conflict, there's nothing to stop a character from doing what it wants with out consequence. Everything else is window dressing. The setting, the time, the technology, the established systems i.e. governments, religions, culture, etc. all should serve the story. It's also important to have you view point characters look around and explore their world. It's about finding that right balance between of showing the world, but not let the world consume the story.

Remember the reader has an imagination. Use it. A pet peeve of mine is long-winded descriptions. Nothing bores me faster than knowing what kind of thread is sewn on a button. I know other like this, but I'll usually skip over the excess exposition. What I like is to see is a picture painted in broad strokes that allows my mind to fill in the details. My guideline, for me, is no more than a one paragraph of physical description and then a character interaction based on it. I also break it up so it's not all revealed at once and it's really interesting to throw description into dialog. If two characters are talking about a thing, that thing is now center stage and revealed rather than the reader being told.

For instance, this is exposition only:

A shiny blue beetle flopped on the ground. It's wing was broken. It up righted itself and fluttered a few times, but was unable to gain any lift. A pair of hikers, Claire and Mike, wandered by and noticed the beetle. Claire saw the beetle was unable to fly and they debated about what to do about it. Mike crushed the beetle with his foot putting it out of it's misery. Claire was furious at him.

I'll play the same scene with only dialog:

"Hey Claire, look at the beetle."
"Oh, poor little guy. Mike, it's wing is broken and he's just flopping around."
"What do you want to do?"
"Maybe we should just leave him alone, I think, and let nature handle it."
"He's beautiful. I've never seen that color of blue. He's trying to fly, that saddens me."
"Let's put the little guy out of his misery."
"You stepped on it!"
"You were sad."
"That doesn't mean I wanted it dead."

Now there's tension, a moral choice was made, feelings were involved, conflict ensued and probably divorce. the beetle's conflict with nature over it's broken wing is added to Mike and Claire's conflict over the choice.

I'm going to swing this back around and get out of this blog. Dex Territory is done. Then next and more difficult part is about to begin and that's getting it in the hands of those that don't know it exists, have no idea who I am and have no idea they want to read it. It's not time to turn to the business side of being an author. But that's a whole other blog.

You can find me at www.TWBPress.com look for me on twitter and Facebook, you can find me by name. Drop me a note. I'll provide details for the book release as soon as I know.





Monday, December 1, 2014

Things, other stuff and non sequiturs

Where to begin? Latest book progress Dex Territory is going through a second edit. At this point is cleaning up and loose grammar, typos, etc. prettying it up. The story is done and I've very satisfied with it. II hope you'll find the characters as fun to read as I had in writing their adventures. With hope we may be able to shove this out before Christmas. Head over to TWBpress.com for the latest.

Nanawrimo: Arg! I said I wasn't going to participate, I did a book edit in the middle of it, but I get to November and my brain kicks me in the head to write stuff down. I've been working on the sequel to Dex territory and basically saw that what I wrote was complete rubbish. It happens. It's going to take a lot off success before I'm able to tip the scales over the stuff I've completely buggered up. You learn by doing. It's cliché, but that doesn't mean it isn't the truth.

We as human sometimes forget that the best way to learn is to fail. Our culture has grown into something driven by success. We don't allow ourselves enough space fall flat on our faces. Personally, I've never truly learned something by getting it right.

I've been reading a lot of biographies and listening to great conversations on Aisha Tyler's Girl on Guy and Chris Hardwick's Nerdist podcasts. There are others, but those two rank amongst my favorites. Each have guests that range from A-list actors, TV personalities, musicians, working actors, writers, comedians and some I know from their work, but many I don't and I find that the one thing they have in common and in common with me, it they know how to screw shit up, they've experienced painful embarrassments and failed, sometimes epically. I find that rather comforting. It sort of puts all on an even keel and gives us no end of self inflicted wounds as Aisha calls them.

I have things I've done that I still cringe when I go over them in my head. The interesting part is when I mention some of these moments to those involved they could hardly give a shit, or they've forgiven me along the way. Yet I feel the need to torture myself with these memories. I got to thinking about this and I know each of these moments were absolutely necessary for who I am today. They act as marker stones to navigate my way through life. Certainly the good outweighs the bad, but I know I focus on the bad so much it's easy to lose the gratitude I need to express for each moment.

Even some of the worst things that have happened in my life have all turned into treasures. Death teaches you to value the living and cherish the time with those around you. Losing a job is sometimes the best thing that ever happens to you. It's easy to stagnate and not push yourself to new heights. While it may sting at the time, it's sometimes a gift that can free you to pursue something you're suited for and something that satisfied you. Relationships are tough. I've had tremendous, passionate relationships that were doomed from the start. Each of which were the end of the world at the time. Time heals. Hearts mend. Sometimes friendships are built and then you meet that one that makes you reassess your fantasies. You accept someone very human into your life and that person becomes your fantasy. (My personal best in fortune cookie philosophy)

I'm completely jazzed about a few things. Really looking forward to getting my nerd on with The last Hobbit movie, saw the new teaser trailer for Star Wars. I think it's brilliant, but many disagree, the debate should continue for sometime and, maybe one day, enlightenment shall show them how wrong they were and cross hilts on lightsabers are cool. I'm completely devastated by the Walking Dead mid-season finale. Still the best writing on TV (IMHO). I'm reading a fun series of books by Pierre Pevel it starts with The Cardinal's Guards. I'm a sucker for historical fiction, especially if you set it in 1620(ish) Paris and add dragons.

Still trying to figure a way to get my Absolute Sandman series, myself. Neil Gaiman and a pen in the same place at the same time. If anyone has any ideas please let me know. Follow my on Facebook and Twitter you can find me on each by my name. I do have an Instagram account, but I have like eight pictures in it. A few I took and I'm rather proud of them. Check them out.

Out.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cthulhu's call is my ringtone

Maybe not Cthulhu, but there are evil forces at work. One's that are determined to rip away my last remaining hope of sanity. that is sort of Cthulhu like. I've been a fan of H.P Lovecraft for a long time. I think I read At the Mountains of madness when I was fourteen and blasted my way through the terror-filled volumes from there. I recently read Cherie Priest's Maplecroft book with a beautiful blend of the Lovecraftian tales with Lizzy Borden and her sister, Emma as the main POV characters in a delightfully creepy tale. I got a chance to actually meet Cherie a few weeks ago and had my new beloved tome sighed. It was quite a moment for me as is each time I've had a chance to meet and author.

I've met a few over the years, Michael Stackpole, Kevin Hearne, Peter David and for Shallow Graves I interviewed Jim Butcher, who may be the coolest guy I ever met, especially when we went off on a tangent about classic Warner Brothers cartoons. Loved it. If I can tick Neil Gaiman and Stephen King off my list, I can die happy. Neil I have all five volumes of The Absolute Sandman poised ready for your signature. I'm sure you can't wait.

To me writers are rock stars. To put worlds down on paper and breath life into characters that only existing in the written word has always fascinated me. Don't get me wrong, I like certain TV shows and I'm a serious movie buff, but the joy of holding a book in my hand is unlike any other medium. The author had to pen those pages, had to have those thoughts, dug deep in their own psyche to tell a tale. I personally like genre fiction, horror, sci-fi, some high fantasy, historical fiction, and urban fantasy. Some steampunk, but that's so hard to get right, Cherie is hands down my favorite as she tells a good story in the a world that happens to have these cool, incredible machines instead of the story being about the whiz bang.

I hope I succeeded in doing that in Dex Territory. I just finished the edited copy. I'm passing it over to a confidential source, my wife, for a final rad through and then it's back to publisher for the next step. While the story contains all these fantastic elements, I think I'm most proud of the human aspect of it. I kept it fun, there's a lot of humor, but it's high stakes and wide open for more and greater challenges. It's been a hell of a ride.

I've agonized over the story and editors notes and questioned every word, every motivation all the while my characters are screaming at me about being treated unfairly. Tough shit guys, that's what you're being paid to do. The hardest part was taking some of the things that I was really in love with and dropping them on the cutting room floor. While they are darling to me and my characters find these things important, the reader probably won't find them as interesting. Out they went. We reordered so things and now the book is a sleek 66k words of intensity and gripping action from a bloated 100k words that took the reader down a more meandering path. Some of the character stuff will be explored down the road.

Hopefully, we'll have this gone by next weekend and I can then resume my normally scheduled madness as I work on the next volume and once again hear a familiar call.



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Current Future Status as of a Few Minutes Ago

I thought I'd take a few minutes and talk about the last week and change. November 1st starts NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I usually participate in it. The goal is the write 50,000 words in a month. It's hard. It takes dedication and it focuses the writer to, well, write. You're not going for quality and you're not going to write a masterpiece, but it can help you get ideas down on paper. Last year, I did participate and wrote down 35,327 very nonsensical words in what I hope is going to turn into a sequel to my novel Dex Territory, currently being ripped to shreds by my editor Terry. He insists it will be a great and humbling experience that should delight readers. More on that in a moment.

Book 2 has given me something to do while waiting for the edited copy. Book 1 gave me a framework in which to play and established the rules. The second book takes it the next step and continues the story while figuring out which rules to break. Like the first book, it's gleefully fun to heap pain and torment on my main character and watch him figure it out and occasionally triumph, but the sadistic side of my nature doesn't stop there, sometimes it's important not let the good guy off the hook and when victories cost something they are most well earned. There's no mistake The Empire Strikes Back is the best film in Star Wars. It was fun watching Indiana Jones get outsmarted by Belloc. You wouldn't be so invested in Frodo if he didn't have a burden to carry and obstacles to overcome, sometimes even getting betrayed by friends. Pain is interesting and watching, or reading about how others deal with it, makes for the best stories.

Enough of that nonsense. What's going on with Dex Territory?

Glad you asked. I mentioned that my editor was tearing it apart. I haven't picked up the story in some time. It sat dusty on a shelf (actually sat in hard drive collecting pixels) and it was a chance meeting that Terry and I crossed paths through a mutual friend. I figured I'd eventually get back to the story one day, but between you and me, I was tired of the rejection and went off to pursue other things. I recently reread it and it was eye-opening. I thought I really had a tight, well-crafted story, and I did! If you look past all the places where I went off the rails, mistakes, gaping plot holes, the excessive use of the passive voice, and out and out contradictions. Actually, I'm rather surprised Terry bothered with it. It's a credit to him as an editor and as person. We're working on this jewel in the rough and I full confidence in this puppy now. It's going to be a rocking good story.

I realize what I absolutely had to have was someone who questioned everything. This story deals with big ideas and I think I'm going to continue forward exploring the big ideas. It's great to put them in a place where you can talk about them. Star Trek the original series did an amazing job of talking about societal issues and I think I've stumbled upon the same opportunity here by using a allegory to talk about issues I care about. We should be more vocal about the things we're passionate about, but somewhere along the way, it became important to be politically correct, to suppress opinion, to be in step with the rest of society. While I believe in following rules, it think it's important to question them in the first place. Kind of like having my story torn apart to find the truth of it.

So, my dear reader, we are coming to the end of the quiet before the storm. The edit is nearly done and should be back in my hands after another quick pass. Then my attention will shift from the next story back to the past. I expect I will earn my 50,000 words without having participated in NanoWriMo this year, but I'm sure all will be forgiven upon the book's release. I will do my best to make sure I take some time to jot down some thoughts as it happens. This is the first and only time I'll get to talk about my first experience. So far, it's exciting and nerve-wracking and I'm questioning everything, I feeling the greatest highs while my ego gets crushed. It's a lot like being in love with someone you don't quite know if they love you back.

Check out TWB Press at www.TWBPress.com You will find a lot a great books. I'm currently reading Terry Wrights Justin Graves book The Gates of Hell and I'm having a great time with it. You'll find my author page there. Be sure to check it out and keep tabs on the Coming Soon section. Comments and feedback are always welcome. Follow me on twitter and friend me on Facebook. My Facebook page is my preferred outlet. I like to talk with folks and not be restricted to 140 characters.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Feedback

I've gotten my first feedback from my editor. First and foremost, the story is good and I'm incredibly encouraged by the feedback. There's nothing that can't be fixed and, in fact, the solutions are rather elegant and are going to take the story up a notch. Now that we have that out of the way:

Holy plot holes, Batman!

There's work to be done, things I'd never considered, or places where my logic was flawed. I've written a fairly complex story with a lot of twists and turns, the problem with that is tripping over yourself.

Mark's lessons learned:

1. Write the thing. Anything can be fixed, but only if it's finished. Butt in chair. Save the editing. The first draft always sucks. There's always time to flesh out ideas, add, remove and edit later.

2. Make sure your characters have clear motivations and objectives. All the major players need something to do and it isn't always good that they're on the same page as the protagonist. Conflict is drama, conflict leads to growth. Characters shouldn't be the same people they were at the beginning of the story.

3. My stories always start when my protagonist's life is about to change. Backstory is good, but backstory can bog everything down. Make it part of the dialog, uncover nuggets as the characters move through the world. It's a whole lot more fun for the reader to discover rather than be told.

4. Show don't tell.

5. There are flaws. I was lucky to find someone who can objectively look at the story and ask questions, explore motives, dig in the dark places. Actually, I was lucky twice. One friend and editor gave me really good in process shakedown that helped propel me forward and my current editor went down the rabbit hole with me and tore it apart. Now, I'm ready to get going and finish the final draft. Writing groups can be extremely helpful, but find the right one that focuses on give and take. There should be equal time spent on everyone's writing.

6. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn.

7. Don't be afraid of the dark. Everyone has a dark side and those place can be pretty interesting. Sometimes exploring the dark part of one's soul can help exercise the demons that everyone picks up along the way in life. Life is messy and head space often is too.

8. Flaws are delicious.

9. Using the word delicious is creepy.

10. Read, read and read. Definitely read in the genre, but also read outside the genre. Biographies are treasure, history and science are incredibly helpful. Romance, because who doesn't like a little romance in a story? Read classics, they're classics for a reason.

11. Waiting really sucks, so don't. Start the next thing.

Like my blog? Don't like it? Leave comments and feedback.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Listening and Observing

Yesterday I attended a book signing at a local independent bookstore called the Foxtale Book Shoppe, in Woodstock Georgia. It not a Barnes and Noble, there is no café inside and does not contain shelves and shelves of books reminiscent of a library that makes one think that library rules apply. Foxtale is a store and lively. The folks there are happy to talk with you, they gave me a tour and they told me about the really cool stuff they do to engage the community. Their big events are books signings like the one I attended yesterday. They had four very big names in the Urban Fantasy, YA and Steampunk genres, or subgenres, if you prefer. Two of the authors, Kevin Hearne and Cherie Priest I follow. I buy their work and I would have stopped out for either one of them. Having the both there was others I didn't know was a gift. The other two authors, Dililah Dawson and Molly Harper, I was not familiar with their work, but there were many there that were. Enough so, it made me think I should be paying attention.

The event started with a Q&A and I listened to them tell their stories. No one asked questions about specific books or characters, but everyone was very interested in their struggles to find themselves as writers and to get a little insight into who they were. I found that every cool. Cherie Priest told an incredibly amusing story about her manuscript being found while the office of a former editor taking a sabbatical from life was being cleaned out. Her editor found it, read it and couldn't get in touch with her because Cherie's contact information had changed and it was by the luck of still active e-mail address that changed her life.

Each author had very different stories about discovery and how much time, practice and patients it took to get discovered and how terrible their first submissions were. As Kevin told us, he taught English and this writing thing should be a pretty easy. He discovered what a foolish thought that was. His first three novel were complete junk, but an epic fantasy of his showed promise, but was still considered unpublishable. It wasn't until Hounded was written he had something worthy of publication. The rest is a story about beloved characters, COSplayers, beer, sausages and an Irish wolfhound by the name of Oberon with a completely hilarious twitter page.

Molly and Dililah were equally as delightful, but they're mostly in the YA market and I'm not really their demographic, but their perspective and struggle as authors hit closer to home and seemed to mirror what I went through trying to sell Dex Territory.

Here were four famous authors in the genre and each telling us, me. that each journey is unique. There are no hard-fast rules, persistence is required, a thick skin is essential and mostly, keep writing.

Their talk of the editing process made me feel less like a dumb-ass. Don't get me wrong, I am, but it's pretty normal. None of them hold literary degrees, which I took as great news as I only have a bullshit Liberal Arts degree cobbled together with various colleges as I went along. I feel like I have the lack of credentials necessary to succeed. Woo-hoo!

The observing part came into play with how they set up. They had swag with them, whether it was bookmarks, gift bags that were handed out from answering questions, lollipops with websites and book covers printed on the labels, etc. It was an excellent reminder of the business aspect of being a writer. I'm thinking about my campaign and sales strategies. While the work as a writer is winding down the business of being a writer needs to start. I'm a limited on what I can actually do, without cover art and materials, but it's a great time, while I'm waiting, to start lining up marketing materials. Enough of this and onto work. Be checking back in soon!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Buy stock in Blue Ink

I've gotten two notes back from my editor, Terry, who is a great guy. Now, I know I'm not a literary prodigy, I'm pretty much a regular(ish) guy with a day job who likes to jot shit down from time to time. It's fun for me. I get to explore the deepest, darkest places in my psyche and perhaps share them with a few folks and throw some coin of the realm in my pocket for winning this literary lottery. (use of alliteration - bonus points, having to use spellcheck to correct alliteration - points removed) Hopefully enough to, at least, buy a latte at Starbucks. (Full disclosure, Starbucks does not sponsor this blog) While I know I'm hardly a genius, I thought I had worked out most of the bugs, but those two notes have sparked off a storm of insecurity about my story and my worthiness as a storyteller. I've been rolling them around the brain pan, hard. And, I know what you're thinking and you're right, it's complete bullshit and I should file a restraining order against my mind for abuse.

Here's what I feel is reality, I put something out in the world and it's intimidating. Friends and family and hopefully a few others who take pity, or are dazzled by whatever cover art is on the book, are going to read this and pass judgment over me as an author, some may as a person, but I'm ok with it. The truth of the matter is it takes courage for anyone to put themselves out there, it's easy to hang back and be part of the crowd and lob likes, dislikes, reviews and comments out there. I hope there are going to be more bad than good, but ultimately, I'm curious. I'd like to know if I spun a good yarn, or have a tangle mess. (Use a metaphor, points added. Use of cliché points removed) I'd like to think I've matured and can separate the work from the man. I do it in my day job and it's taken a long time to get there. We'll see about that.

This feels like the next step in that journey. Taking the risk with something personal, something I spent years with and it's something I've come to the realization is flawed. It contains grammar, spelling and typographical errors along with plot holes, unneeded exposition, clunky dialog and general awkwardness. I'm grateful that Terry is asking me those questions and I really expect him to bleed blue all over those pages. Every blue mark is going to bring a smile to my face, because each is a lesson learned, each is a bit of polish on the stone and each is going to help me bring a better story. One, I hope, will be generally liked.

What I'm going to do is stop kibitzing over what is out of my hands and look to what is in front of me. That would be book two in my saga. This one's going a lot faster as I don't have to world-build on this one and don't have to start by laying out the rules and introducing the players. There'll be some reminders, but the point is to tell the tale.

Before I sign off here's a description of book one Dex Territory that Terry sent out. I couldn't have written this as it bounces around so many genre's that the story was hard to boil it down to the essential essence. (Bonus points!!)

Mark's urban fantasy thriller "Dex Territory" is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. It's a mix of detective and super heroes in a high-stakes world of James Bond bad guys against law and order and true love.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Inaugral Blog of Mark Aberdeen

First words to my first blog about being a first time author, well, almost. Yesterday, I sold my first novel to TWB Press. A lot of things happened at once, both physical and emotional. It's been a long journey and a lot of work. There have been a lot of rejection letters, I mean, a lot. I could give you a cliché about wallpapering a wall with them, but currently they're propping up a table.


The emotional wave that hit me was unlike anything that I've ever experienced. I felt vindicated, triumphant, relieved, scared, worried, happy, overwhelmed and it culminated in laughter, tears and maybe a something akin to a barking sound. I know, it's only a book. There are thousands of them in Barnes and Noble and on Amazon and it's a first time novel, it's probably not very good and who are you?


I hear ya. Ok, I've written a lot, and by a lot, I mean a staggering amount. I have files and files of half-baked, half-written stories, characters both promising and doomed, I've created entire worlds, political, religious, technological and magical systems only to be forgotten on a digital shelf collecting a heavy coat of bits and bytes. All of this was in hope of one day having a story that's good enough to be considered publishable. Writing is a craft and it takes time, it takes practice and it takes a hell of lot of trial and error, put the emphasis on error.


You could be thirty thousand words in and realize it doesn't take you anywhere and there's no saving it. You losing a day's worth of writing because you hit no when the prompted to save it. Sometimes the thing you're most proud of is the thing your story doesn't need. Writing can be a soul crushing process and this is before you send a manuscript out to get rejected, and rejected and you're really lucky you get someone telling your story is promising, but they're not looking for that type of story right now. For me, it got to the point it was pretty darn funny. You'll learn all kinds of lessons and if you're persistent you have a collection of a hundred thousand words that may have taken years to write.


I didn't mean to depress you, come back.


Here's the thing: It drives you. You have characters in your head screaming to be heard, you have a story that you need to tell, because as long as you've looked and as many things as you've read, no one else has written it. Sure, some will say, we'll your story is like this one over here, sure there can be elements, but everyone's perspective is unique as are the experiences of each life. We all have a story in us, hell each of is a story. Sometimes, in spite of everything, a story must be told. Who better than you?


Getting it down is the key, persevering is essential, the rest is just spelling and grammar.


Yes, there are a lot of ways to tell stories, you can blog them, self-publish, or just send it to friends. With my first novel, Dex Territory, I considered all those things. Ultimately, I wanted that emotional response I received yesterday. I wanted a publisher to say, 'this is pretty good, we've got some work to do, but let's take a chance on it.' I'd been craving it my entire lifetime. Validation. It was everything I wanted it to be.


Today, the business of being a writer begins. It is a business and you're a sales rep, you're in advertising, in web design, and a social media participant. You have to put a bio together, find a picture of you not dressed as a Wookie. There a lot to do. I'll be blogging about the process while everything else comes together. It should be a fun ride. I hope you'll join me.