Help! Need back cover advice!

My cover artist stopped responding to requests for new work, and I am in the process of redoing all of my novel covers in the series. I plan to go through Damonza for the cover design, but I am also planning on redoing the back cover content as well as the bookseller descriptions at Amazon, B&N, etc. Here is what I’m working right now. Feedback/guidance is appreciated.

Lucifer’s Odyssey

lo_oldcoverWhat if the war between angels and demons had a much more ancient history that spanned three universes and many billions of light years of space? What if humanity’s vision of apocalypse was really a glimpse into the mind of a god whose thirst for vengeance was only matched by his unique, omniscient intelligence?

The Lucifer’s Fall trilogy of the Primal Patterns series is the story of the most celebrated demon warrior and king in history, and the birth of a moral and intellectual renaissance in the Chaos Universe. The first book, “Lucifer’s Odyssey”, traces the demon prince Lucifer from his imprisonment on Earth to the betrayal of his parents in Chaos and a shaky alliance with the Elven people. Filled with irreverent humor and fast paced action, Lucifer’s Odyssey beckons you to take a journey through space and time into a story where elven technology meets the ruthlessness of the demon race and the potential of Jehovah’s great creations.

“Lucifer’s Odyssey” is the first book of the Lucifer’s Fall trilogy, and book one in the Primal Patterns series

The Goblin Rebellion

thegoblinrebellion_webLucifer has become King of Chaos, and the elves and demons have repaired their relationship. To those on the outside, Jehovah’s plans for the multiverse may appear to be in peril. But the Lord works in mysterious ways…

Jehovah imprisons Lucifer’s son and enlists the support of elven dissidents who have lost loved ones to Lucifer’s past deeds. Lucifer’s reforms in Chaos spark controversy at home and abroad, and the bond between the elven king Elandril and the demon king Lucifer grows stronger despite the protests of political elites in the elven capital of Arnessa. To get at the demons, Jehovah must isolate them. An enemy alliance is only as strong as its weakest link.

“The Goblin Rebellion” is the second book of the Lucifer’s Fall trilogy, and book two in the Primal Patterns series.

Shadows of Our Fathers

Angels and demons fall as the Great War between Order and Chaos comes to a close. For those who thought Jehovah’s days of smiting stopped in the Old Testament, it’s time to give the devil his due.

In the face of democratic and social reforms, the Chaos Universe struggles with its past while pursuing the future that King Lucifer promises. While the demons thrive, the creator of the Elven universe looks to his own past for the salvation of his favorite immortals. Jehovah’s wife Gaea and son Isaac seek asylum in Chaos as Lucifer and Jehovah have their final, apocalyptic battle.

“Shadows of Our Fathers” is the last book of the Lucifer’s Fall trilogy, and book three in the Primal Patterns series.

What do you guys think?

Two new short stories

I have written two new short stories that are intended for contests. I’m very, very excited about these right now. Each time I read them, I think they are the best short stories I have ever written. I love the messages, and I can definitely see me expanding one of them into a novel or series of novels (as if I needed more distractions).

One of them is a hard science fiction story called “Remembrance Day”. I wrote it as a response to the 21st Annual Parsec Short Story Contest, and I intend on submitting it after my wife looks over it. The other is not really firmly titled yet. It started out as “Shelly, the Mana Vampire” but it is currently trending toward “Shelly and the Contessa.” It’s more of a paranormal fantasy work, and I think it’s a lot of fun. The Shelly story was written for the Triangulation anthology for this year, which has a focus of “Appetites.”

Have your own ideas for these? I encourage you to send your stories in. Writing short stories is great practice. At least, I think so!

If my stories make it into these contests/anthologies, I’ll let you know. I think the first decision is Triangulation, which should be decided at the end of March. The Parsec Short Story contest will not be finalized until June or July of this year. I may forget all about these by then, but hopefully, it will be good news!

lo_oldcoverOn the novel front, I’ve decided to go with Damonza for a cover art redesign for the Primal Patterns series. I need to get some new back cover material in place (I’m planning to just say what Lucifer’s Odyssey is about, rather than the vague back cover that I went with when I was scared to death of stories about religious characters while living in the Deep South). I also need to think what I’m comfortable with in terms of covers now. The covers for Lucifer’s Odyssey and The Goblin Rebellion have been in place for half a decade now. That’s a long time to get used to something. Time to move on.

If you want to keep a copy of Lucifer’s Odyssey or The Goblin Rebellion as they are right now, you may want to pick one up now. Very soon, you will not be able to get that cover art again.

Shadows of Our Fathers Update 2

I have received a copy of the novel back from Derek at Homunculus Editing Services, and I am working on the 2nd level of story and line edits to the draft. The content should be ready by the first quarter, but I’m still needing to locate a cover artist to help me finish the series.

There are two options, really.

  1. Hire a new cover artist who can match the style that Christopher Steininger did for the first two novel covers in Lucifer’s Odyssey and The Goblin Rebellion. This has been a rough job trying to find someone who can do this. I’ve had estimates between 500-1200 dollars, but the styles have clashed a bit with the first two books. How important is consistency in the series covers for readers?
  2. Go with someone like Damonza to redesign the entire series covers for 1500-1800 dollars. This is a huge investment on top of all the other costs of this final novel (story and line editing a 110k+ word novel is a big expenditure), but if it is the best option, I really don’t have much choice.

Anyway, regardless of which path I take, the novel is almost ready. Beta readers are appreciated, so let me know if you would like to take a look at the 2nd draft when I’m done. Your feedback would be welcome! Also, if you have any opinions on cover artists or redoing the whole series covers, let me know!

Shadows of Our Fathers Update

I’m going through the 2nd draft process for Shadows of Our Fathers, and I’m currently on Chapter 20 of 24 in my deep readthrough. If you’re not familiar with Shadows of Our Fathers, it is the 3rd book that completes the Primal Patterns’ initial trilogy (I’ve been calling the first trilogy “Lucifer’s Fall” for a while now, as it catalogues Jehovah’s and Lucifer’s battles across the heavens). The book is due to my editor on November 10th, and I have every intention of making that deadline. So, if you’ve been waiting for Shadows of Our Fathers, then that is good news.

However, there’s still a lot to do–even more so than was left to be done with the first two books. My cover artist is non-responsive to requests for a cover, so the look and feel of the series is going to have to change. And while I’m at it, I might as well redo the back covers and lay out the purpose of the series a little better there.

The latter might take a while. I am currently looking at potentially soliciting services from Damonza for book covers and formatting and potentially looking into a marketing service. You guys have suggestions? Feel free to leave comments.

Shadows of Our Fathers drafting completed

I recently went on a trip to Italy for some invited talks and posters, and while I was there, I did a lot of writing. I’m happy to say that Shadows of Our Fathers is through the first draft at just under 100,000 words. The number of words are more likely to go up than down, so this concluding chapter of the first Primal Patterns trilogy should be the longest book, and probably by ~10k words over The Goblin Rebellion when it’s finished.

Anyway, there is a pretty funny story about how this book was finished. There was a seven hour flight from Frankfurt to Newark, and I had decided to push through the final three chapters. Nearly 10,000 words were written on this flight (that’s a lot for me in a single stretch). The 10,000 words were effortless, in that I knew what I was going to say. I’ve known exactly what was supposed to happen in these final chapters since before I finished the first draft of Lucifer’s Odyssey, nearly 6 years ago. So, there was no writer’s block. However, that doesn’t mean the drafting was continuous. There were frequent breaks.

What for, you might ask?

Crying like a little girl.

So, imagine a middle-aged white man, sitting in the exit row, next to the bathrooms where basically every person on the flight ends up at some point during this long flight. You’re waiting in line to relieve yourself, and you’re probably irritable. You’re cursing under your breath at the people in front of you, just because they’re there and you’d like to pee. Beside you, in the exit row, there’s this guy with a laptop. He keeps wiping at his eyes, staring into space for a while, and blowing his nose.

I’m frequently laughing because I realize how ridiculous this looks and is. The guy next to me, we never said a word to each other. I didn’t even want to know what he thought about what was going on. I have no idea if he was ever looking at my bright laptop screen and reading along. I’m sure he would have appreciated his flight more though if the guy next to him wasn’t tearing up and crying for at least 2.5 hours of the 7 hour flight.

Anyway, I still have to find a cover artist for all three books (Lucifer’s Odyssey, The Goblin Rebellion, and Shadows of Our Fathers) since mine completely flaked out. I also have to reread this book along with all of the others to check for any continuity problems. Then the book will be shipped to an editor. So, I’m still sticking to my original estimate of October for this to be released.

What a long, strange trip it’s been!

My apologies for the lack of updates. Life has been busy for my wife and me as we have been purchasing our first home. My job is going great, and there’s a lot of responsibility there with leading a large group of researchers and students.

I plan to get back to work on writing. Actually, an email from a fan named James started me back up into the editing process for the 57k words currently in Shadows of Our Fathers (feel free to thank James :D). In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting the first three chapters of the draft, as they become “ready”, and you can feel free to comment on them. Believe it or not, I take comments very seriously. I’m still learning my craft, and suggestions I find on Goodreads, Amazon, and other places often find their way into me honing my skills. For this reason, Book 3 of the Primal Patterns is going to be different–as are the other two books I’ve started for the Winter Phenomenon series and the book tentatively titled Our Criminal Future.

Why different? Well, it’s been pretty obvious that the way I had been going about writing was flawed. Even after paying for deep story edits of my book, Lucifer’s Odyssey was fatally flawed by lack of description, internal thought processes, and direction that held back and ultimately thwarted readers from being engaged in the series. The reviews and comments on sites like Goodreads, Amazon, and other places bear this out. The upvoted Amazon reviews that every reader sees (and ultimately result in fewer people purchasing the book or entering the series) have killed almost any chance of the series gaining traction, and the premise of the series (an alternate history of Lucifer and Jehovah) was perhaps too controversial to even be attempted in a first book, before any reader could trust me to deliver a good story. And the truth is that I probably wasn’t ready, as a writer, to bring that story the light it deserved and needed in order for it to have a chance to become more popular. I have zero friends who have finished the book (even friends who loved Zelazny and sci-fi). Even my wife can’t complete the first book. And this means that there has been no one I could really trust to help me become a better writer, so that I can write this kind of epic story properly.

So, I put down Shadows of Our Fathers and focused on other stories. Some of the shorter stories like Elves and Goblins: Perspectives of a Father’s Rebellion were not only attempts to highlight social issues like segregation and universal healthcare, but they were also my attempts at applying what I had learned from comments on Lucifer’s Odyssey, The Goblin Rebellion, and Angels and Demons. Other stories like the one in the Pride Collection were more emotion, expression, description and an attempt at a more understandable story that might reach audiences better. This continued into Hallow’s Ween to try to connect with readers better–though at this point, all of them have stalled as far as sales. But despite these setbacks, I appreciate the comments and harsh words because they help me realize that what I’m doing right now is not good enough. For those who have enjoyed the work I’ve done so far, don’t worry. I’ll keep working at it. I enjoy writing too much to ultimately quit it. My other career requires a lot of technical writing and that has been it’s own reward, but fiction is something I’m very passionate about. I love story telling. I just know that I’m not where I need to be in my fiction-writing ability.

The downside of that rationale is that I realize I have done readers somewhat of a disservice by putting out Lucifer’s Odyssey and The Goblin Rebellion before they were ultimately finished–before my skills as an author had been honed properly. The thousands of dollars I had put into editing and artwork were not enough to save those inadequacies and that’s a truly sobering thought–that no one, even someone who specializes in fixing authors, can save the work but myself at this point. Which means that, ultimately, I will probably have to redo most of Lucifer’s Odyssey or simply move on to other projects. The compromise at this point is to complete at least the first trilogy of the Primal Patterns to give readers some closure.

Of all the stages of the writing process, editing is by far the most arduous. You’ve put your ideas out on a medium, and like taking an idea out of Plato’s Forms, the implementation is flawed because you, the instrument, are flawed. And because you are the instrument of that realization of the idea, you are hopelessly inept at seeing and fixing the flaws. You almost have to have another expert come by and fix your instrument–the mechanism for which you bring idea to reality–or, and more likely in my case, you have to learn how to fix your own process of realization.

Anyway, I’m back to editing right now. The next step will be continuing the story of the Primal Patterns, closing up the trilogy, and moving on to a different story–hopefully one that has some chance of reaching a broader audience.

Upcoming Anniversary Edition of Lucifer’s Odyssey

Lucifer's OdysseyAt the end of August, Lucifer’s Odyssey will have been published for a year. I’m sure we can all agree that birthdays are a time of giving, and I think that the anniversary celebration of Lucifer’s Odyssey shouldn’t be any different. Coincidentally, Lucifer’s Odyssey is also coming out of its exclusivity arrangement with Amazon via the KDP Select program, which means that the electronic versions of Lucifer Odyssey will soon become available on all major online outlets–just in time for its birthday. Rock on!

But that’s not all. I have bigger plans for Lucifer’s Odyssey’s anniversary bash this year–after all, this is a special day for my first novel.

I have drafted a prologue for Lucifer’s Odyssey that describes the Crown Prince touching down on Earth, falling into Jehovah’s trap, and seducing Eve with knowledge. Before I release Lucifer’s Odyssey to all outlets, I will be adding this prologue to the book–meaning that Lucifer’s Odyssey will contain even more cool stuff!

Now, here’s the real kicker. Since I am no longer exclusive to Amazon, and I want to celebrate the first anniversary of my first novel, I plan on making Lucifer’s Odyssey free on all outlets! This may take time to percolate throughout the vendors (especially Amazon), and it may not be a permanent situation. However, I do hope this allows more people to enjoy Lucifer’s Odyssey and join me in celebrating its first birthday!

Cheers all!

Update: The anniversary edition is now available on Smashwords and Amazon.

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