Facebook Live Event with R. C. Bray!

Good friend and narrator/performer of my books R. C. Bray will be hosting a Facebook Live event on December 27th at 8pm EST.  I intend to be there if at all possible (I’ll be driving home from visiting family on that day) as a spectator.  If you’d like to ask questions of a major audio book industry icon, this would be your chance.

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Commune Book Three is Probably Going to End Up Being Books Three and Four…

So I had myself completely locked into this idea that these books would be a trilogy, and I intended to hold to that come hell or high water.  So much so, in fact, that I had myself twisted around into knots while I was writing this bastard, worrying that it was ballooning out of control.

In the meantime, my wife has been telling me to quit limiting things to artificial numbers, as I would be likely to end up shooting myself in the foot by rushing the story.

As usual, it seems she’s going to be right.  Damn it.

The more I write, the more it looks like it makes sense to break this puppy up into two volumes.  I’ll have to shift some things around, I reckon, but the good news is that I’m coming to terms with this on the early side of things, such that I don’t have to go back and do a bunch of rewriting.  The main thing is that I promised myself at the outset of this whole mess that I was going to give myself the time I needed to spread out in this world and explore it as much as I wanted to before moving on.  I suppose that means four books in the end.  And really, this is what happened when I started writing the series in the first place.

The story of the third book is really what I set out tell when I started writing, before I realized I had some world building to do in order to get everything set up.  Books 1 and 2 are the result of that world building effort.  Now comes the big payoff, and I want to make sure the proper time is taken to do it right.

So I figure book 3 is probably going to be done this year and I’ll start 2018 off diving into four.  Hell with it; I need a drink.

In the meantime, the numbers on the first audio book are shooting through the damned roof.  The thing is climbing the Post Apocalyptic best sellers list on Audible, advancing a few more slots every day.  If this keeps up, we’ll be seeing it in Audible’s top 100 Sci-Fi soon, which would just about blow my undies off.

I can’t thank all you readers enough for the incredible support and phenomenal response you’ve shown for the books so far.  I never imagined it was going to take off like this.

Only 3 days and the Commune audio book has nearly outsold the other formats!

I suffered a mild shock when I woke up this morning and saw what the sales on the Commune Book One audio book were looking like.  To put it in perspective, the audio format has almost completely outsold both the ebook and print versions of the story, which has been available since March of this year.  It hasn’t overtaken the other versions just yet but, at this rate, give it a day…

A giant thank you to all my readers as well as R. C. Bray and all of his listeners.  I’m well aware that a significant portion of you are coming along on this ride because of him and not me, and that’s totally fine.  After having gone through the production process with him, I feel as though this is as much his story as it is mine.  This was a team effort all the way.

Josh

Commune Book One #audiobook News!

Commune - Audio CoverThe audio for the final chapter of book one was delivered for review today.  So, at this point, all corrections have been sent back to the producer for touch-up, and then it looks like the mastering/clean-up process begins.  Expect a release date on Audible to be announced soon!

On a side note, I’ll say that R. C. Bray has turned in an incredible performance for this story.  I felt a little strange enjoying the first listen through as much as I did, having written the book and all (you’re not supposed to enjoy your own work that much, are you?), but god DAMN, guys.  He nailed the hell out of this.

I can’t wait for you to hear it.

– Josh

#communeseries BK3 and BK1 audio book #progress #amwriting #audiobook #postapocalyptic #dystopia

Book Three News!

This is a very fun time for me right now.  I’m what I would estimate to be a quarter of the way through on the first draft for Commune: Book Three; at about 50K words.  For the reference of those keeping score, Book One came in at 95.5K and Book Two was complete at 150K words.

I’m guessing that Book Three will wrap at around 200K or greater but it’s still early enough in the story right now that it’s hard to be accurate.  It would make sense, though.  The first book was a pretty simple affair.  There were only three main characters with a couple of side characters thrown in along the way, so it makes sense that the story was fairly short.

In the second book, I found myself juggling no less than nineteen personalities.  That kind of diversity takes a bit more space to explore, so yeah, another 60K words on top of the original is probably in order.

In book three, the scope is expanding yet again.  Our characters have been living in this world for a while, now.  There has been time to organize, time for folks to congeal together like little blood clots.  We’re dealing with factions spread out over the different points of the compass.  There are, of course, our band of heroes up in Wyoming but we also have the last known remnant of the United States Military to think about in the wastelands of Arizona, as well.  Additionally, something ugly (potentially very ugly) looms out in the quiet state of Nevada…

This is the third and final book that I intend to write in this series, for the time being at least.  I can offer that I see possibilities for more stories down the line but there are also some other ideas (other worlds) that I’d like to explore, and so I think I’ll take a bit of a break from the apocalypse after this one’s done…for a little while.  I can tell you that this book, big #3, is the story that I originally set out to tell when I started writing these back in January of 2017, just before I realized I had a lot of world building to get out of the way.  I’m glad I took this idea and broke it into three books.  I feel like we both (me, the writer and you, the reader) had an opportunity to spread out in this story for a good while and really enjoy it.

Audio Book News

R. C. Bray is starting to pick up a lot of steam on production for BK#1 and I have to say, he’s knocking this sumbitch out of the park, as I knew he would.  He’s delivered enough work for proofing now that I’ve had a chance to hear the three major characters that I created (Jake, Amanda, and Billy) out loud for the first time in my life.  The experience is not only surreal – it is intensely rewarding to me as a writer.  He’s bringing nuance to their delivery that I hadn’t even considered when I wrote them; providing a deeper, richer dimension just through his performance and how he’s interpreting what I’ve done.

The experience for me has been of such impact that I’m beginning to regard the simple text of these stories as pretty damned good (to toot my own horn) while the audio format is (at least by me) considered the ultimate expression of the material.

Bob, if you’re reading this: Nice work, dude.

Josh

Review: No Time To Bleed by Dusty Sharp #bookreview #thriller

Every so often, a new writer breaks out onto the scene that causes you to wonder: where the hell has this guy been, anyway?  Dusty Sharp appears to be one of these.

He’s recently published a new novella, No Time To Bleed, as a prelude to a series of books featuring protagonist Austin Conrad, a salty old vet turned biker, who must navigate his way through a barrage of gunfire and unfortunate events, some of which were arguably self-inflicted.

Overview

This is a quick little read, both due to the length of the story as well as the fact that this is really a page-turning action shoot-em-up.  Not a lot of information is given outside of the fact that Conrad is done with his biker gang, The Rattlers, and simply wants to walk away from it all.  One gets the impression that this particular gang is a lot less of the weekend-rider, full time lawyer and dentist types and more of the blood-oath, we’ll shoot your ass if you cross us variety.  As the reader, your first clue is that they’re into some very serious shit, Conrad is on the run, and they’re coming after his ass.

And that’s about all the setup this story needs, really.  Conrad is a man who has strayed far enough away from his moral center that he’s decided enough is a enough.  He simply won’t be a party to it any more, consequences be damned.  He has one goal in this story: don’t get dead.

Review: 4/5 Stars

I can’t say where future installments will go, but for this particular novella, I would classify it as popcorn action.  The premise is simple, the characters and their motivations are clear; all the reader really needs to do is buckle up, pull his hat down tight, and hold on.  If you are an action buff; if you enjoy fast-paced action, you’ll read this in a single sitting.

I had a lot of fun with this one.  As someone who tends to look for the deeper meaning in much of his reading, it is good (decadently so) to put such mental gymnastics on hold and just enjoy a good old-fashioned shooter.  Dusty has the genre nailed in this entry.  A portion of this story is clearly a love-letter to the very best of 80’s action  films, right down to the campy one-liners.  The writer also demonstrates a deep knowledge of and abiding affection for the the Mohave desert and the historic back-road highways that stitch across it.  The setting in this story is as much a character as the bikers tearing up the landscape.

The only reason this story didn’t get five stars from me is that I wanted to know more about the protagonist than was offered.  I felt as though I was just getting to know who the guy was, with some very well written character background that aptly accomplished the two-fold task of getting you to care about the character as well as informing that character’s mental and emotional makeup in the present time.  But just as I felt I was really getting into the psychology of the guy, all of that stopped, the guns came out, and shit got real.  I felt as though I hit a stutter step and found myself preferring that this had been a novel rather than a novella.

This, I believe, is more of a personal preference than it is a failing on the writer’s part.  He’s clearly putting this story out as a teaser and, I assume, will be delving into a lot of these character aspects in future entries.  I get that you typically get less in a novella but for me, it just seems backwards.  I personally would have preferred a full length novel, maybe two, with a novella dropped after.  The challenge Sharp has set for himself now is that this short entry is going to get a lot of readers hungry for more; I’ll hope he’s able to put out more at a pace that keeps the interest up.

 

Why Writers Need to Celebrate Cormac McCarthy #writing

I’m going to post a quote, here, from No Country for Old Men.  Maybe you’ve read the book and maybe you haven’t, but I don’t care.  Study this:

“He ran cold water over his wrists until they stopped bleeding and he tore strips from a handtowel with his teeth and wrapped his wrists and went back into the office. He sat on the desk and fastened the toweling with tape from a dispenser, studying the dead man gaping up from the floor. When he was done he got the deputy’s wallet out of his pocket and took the money and put it in the pocket of his shirt and dropped the wallet to the floor. Then he picked up his airtank and the stungun and walked out the door and got into the deputy’s car and started the engine and backed around and pulled out and headed up the road.”

Okay?  Now; read it again, but pay attention to the bold words.

“He ran cold water over his wrists until they stopped bleeding and he tore strips from a handtowel with his teeth and wrapped his wrists and went back into the office. He sat on the desk and fastened the toweling with tape from a dispenser, studying the dead man gaping up from the floor. When he was done he got the deputy’s wallet out of his pocket and took the money and put it in the pocket of his shirt and dropped the wallet to the floor. Then he picked up his airtank and the stungun and walked out the door and got into the deputy’s car and started the engine and backed around and pulled out and headed up the road.”

That’s a whole lot of and’ing, ain’t it?

When I first read this book, I was a little taken aback by McCarthy’s writing style.  At first, I figured it was a thing he was doing to evoke the sense of an old cowboy relating a story on a front porch somewhere, but as I dug deeper into some of his other works, I soon realized that this is just how the man writes.  He seems to run away from commas and semi-colons while screaming frantically, instead choosing to stuff another “and” in there whenever he can.

It takes getting used to but, at the same time, one must admit that it suits him.  At the same time, he’s not exactly hurting for lack of sales, is he?

And this is my point in bringing this up.  My wife, who is my best and most trusted critic, flays me alive if I rely on the words “and” as well as “or” in my writing too much, and her first pass through a draft always includes highlights of their usage when she sees them jumping out more than she’d like.  These kinds of things tend to bug the hell out of her, as they do with other readers, so she advises me to keep an eye out.  Most of the time, I’ll listen to her.

You’re going to run into all sorts of people in your life who will tell you how you’re supposed to write.  Editors, friends, family, and the like; they’ll all tell you what you’re doing wrong.  In an alternate universe, there are an army of people who, having never heard of Cormac or his work, would be the first in line to point at the above paragraph and explain why he was an outright hack.

But in this universe, our friend Cormac is a Pulitzer Prize winner and those same people praise him as a literary genius.  The secret is that Cormac McCarthy doesn’t give a shit what they call him.  He’s just focused on telling the story the way it needs to be told.

Of course, we’re not all geniuses like McCarthy.  Some of us actually are shit writers, despite our fondest wishes to believe otherwise.  But, because shit writing is subjective, you owe it to yourself to keep plugging away regardless of that danger.  Have the humility to hear criticism and incorporate those things that make sense to you, but also have the wisdom and self belief to know what must stay.

There’s a story in there that you’ve got to get out; just get the son of a bitch told.