Also, pleased to find another bellhop named William who doesn’t go by William. Trans-story rift?
Keep reading: Author Interview: Jackie Phillips
Happy Tuesday, everyone!
I’m excited to announce that you can now read The Dream World Collective on Wattpad. There’s a good chunk to get started with, and I’ll be posting more regularly.
I love this story. It’s about five friends who quit their jobs and move in together to do what they love, and it’s sweet and silly and geeky and heartwarming. If you’re an idealist or a geek or an artist, I wrote this for you.
I can’t wait to share it with you, and I’d love your help getting the word out. Please take a few minutes to check it out and share it with the dreamers in your life.
I have a couple really exciting things to share soon, but I’m exerting all of my patience to wait until they’re actually ready. In the meantime, I’ve added a new preview page for The Dream World Collective at byfaroe.com/dwc. You can get a story synopsis and read a free sample. I’ll be developing it a little more in the near future, with access to even more free chapters, so stay tuned. If you have any ideas about how to make the page prettier, more interesting, or more useful, please let me know in comments. Thanks!
Also, the first episode of Hubris Towers is rapidly approaching! So excited! It’s one of the funniest things I’ve written in a long time. Oh, man. I can’t wait. You’re going to get to meet Billiam! You’re—Ok. Patience. All will be revealed soon enough.
You can sign up for Hubris Towers updates here. Everyone on the list will get a note about a super-secret launch deal that’s going to disappear before we announce the launch publicly. So go do that thing.
The weekend is almost here! Time to grab a good book and a cup of tea (or coffee, or, as the case may be, whiskey) and settle in. To assist, here are some free books I want to share with you.
Five friends quit their jobs to change the world. Sort of like Friends, but with more art, geekery, and tea.
More FREE episodes posted regularly at: http://bit.ly/latestdwc
What if your decisions affected an entire universe?
FREE on Amazon today and tomorrow!
Living on the last surviving island on Earth, Ren has put herself on the path to become an archaeologist. She’s defied her father’s wishes and gone out on her own, barely keeping in contact with him as he commands an army somewhere across the universe. And it was all going well until her brother Elian discovered a planet.
Lost for centuries, Novae was thought to be a legend. It vanished years ago and since being rediscovered the Monarchy has stepped in to take over. What Ren didn’t realize was that she and Elian and their father are the chosen leaders of Novae, thanks to a scorched piece of paper that claimed her ancestor named the star Novae orbits.
With suspicion and doubt, Ren is forced leave her life on Earth to go to Novae with her estranged father and rule over the planet she doesn’t think wants her there. Her suspicions are confirmed when she learns there are insurgents hiding in the darkened forests, and her father assigns her a guardian, Sheridan; a woman with a threatening gaze and silent steps.
Now Ren is just trying to stay alive long enough to figure out what the Monarchy is planning for the planet, because she doesn’t believe that they’re on Novae for the good of the people. But going against the Monarchy means going against a government that spans across galaxies, and Ren doesn’t know if she’ll be enough.
Novae is already at civil war that gets worse with each passing day. Ren doesn’t have long before the Monarchy decides to “neutralize” the threat. Will she be able to stop the hostile takeover? Or will her actions ignite a rebellion across the universe?
All right, guys. Not much new to report and I’m severely feeling the itch to get my actual word count up, so just a few quick news items and a mysterious noise today.
Writers! Joe pointed me to a pretty cool-looking new writing tool at Novlr.org. I haven’t done much with it yet but I’ll be trying it out and will report back if I find new value in it. Or you can just try it yourself. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Night Vale Listeners! What was that noise? There. There it was again. That silent, brooding noise in the back of your mind, like a heart beating a little too slowly, like the sound of still, cold air. There! Did you hear it that time? No? Well. It’s probably nothing.
Brilliant Friends! New section of The Dream World Collective should be up to read for free later this week. A problematic offer of free beer. Simmering romantic complications. And Otto tries to gather some intel. Hilarity ensues. In the meantime, catch up here or start with Chapter 1.
Also? The Stone and the Song is still regularly selling copies! It’s been three weeks, people! I didn’t expect this sort of thing until I had a critical mass of at least 3 books out, maybe 5. Many thanks to everyone who’s buying, reading, sharing, and reviewing. You are making my days figuratively magical. Maybe even literally. It sort of depends on what ‘magical’ means.
Secret PS – Yay! Hi, Ivy!
Ok, so I’m probably weird to be excited about it, but The Stone and the Song just got its first 2-star review on Amazon, and I’m actually feeling kind of bubbly. Am I crazy? Here’s what I’m thinking:
1. It’s a review. Right now my big goal is to get 25+ Amazon reviews. While I obviously prefer good ones, every review adds weight and validity to the book’s presence on Amazon. Every review is a visible indicator to every future reader ever that someone read it and cared enough to talk about it. And, while it’s probably a bit of a fallacy, I think every review adds to the invisible implied crowd of many other readers who didn’t review it.
2. It’s a rite of passage. Since I’m breaking into the publishing world after self-publishing became really viable, I have pretty minimal experience of getting rejection letters. My plan back in the day was to collect them and set goals to reach a certain number. I never got that chance, so a negative review is one small way to join the universal brotherhood of authors in facing rejection graciously. (My writer character Zen, in the meantime, does collect his rejection letters, and writes thank-you notes for them along with his next submission.)
3. It adds legitimacy. Because seriously, as good as it is to have all 4- and 5-star reviews, until you hit some pretty serious numbers that just looks like you got a bunch of friends to say nice things about you, even if that’s not at all the case. Or, as it may be, only sort of the case.
4. My rating can take it. If most of my reviews were negative, it would be getting pretty hard to take around now. But Stone & Song had a 4.8 rating before this and has a 4.5 now. For a minor, early work, I’ll really be satisfied with anything above a 3.5. Well, ok, anything above a 4.0. But still. I admit I’m a little sad this took the visual down from 5 stars to 4 1/2, but xkcd is a comfort in times like this.
5. For a negative review, it’s pretty positive. The main thrust of the review is something like, “Seems like he’s trying to do something interesting here, but I didn’t really get it.” For a bad review, that’s not half bad. If that’s the worst thing a reader sees when she checks the negative reviews, I’m in good shape. Especially in the context of the other reviews which, if I may paraphrase, say something like, “He’s doing something really interesting here!”
In short, many thanks to Voracious Reader for taking the time to read my story and leave a thoughtful review, and thank you to the (so far) 10 other reviewers for your thrillingly kind words. I deeply appreciate it.
I remember one time, sometime during college, I was at the airport ready to fly from Turkey to Germany. I was an experienced traveler even then and I prided myself on it. I arrived at the gate well ahead of time, everything neatly packed in one small bag, boarding pass ready. I picked a seat, settled in, and started reading.
Some time later, I looked up to see everyone lining up to board, except they were one gate over, boarding a flight to Bahrain or somewhere. But all my people were gone. I went to the customer service desk and learned that my flight was gone, and in fact they’d called my name several times, all while I was sitting at the gate, immersed in my book.
The book was Harry Potter. Wish I could remember which one—maybe Goblet of Fire, but I’m not sure. What about you? When has a book totally immersed you? What was the book? What drew you in about it?
Do your characters ever perform improv with each other?
My wonderful patrons just received their January Bonus Bundle. I had so much fun putting it together that I wanted to share a taste of it with you guys. These are spin-offs, little side projects my characters do for fun when they’re not busy on The Dream World Collective. The cool part is that they become almost like improv sessions, with the characters egging each other on and filling in each other’s gaps and putting each other in tricky situations. The results often take me totally by surprise and make me laugh out loud.
Writers talk about characters taking on a life of their own, but this takes that to a whole different level. It’s a great experience when you can depend on your characters—and they can depend on each other—as collaborators in the creative process. Enjoy!
A Modest Contribution, Episode Two: History of the Moustache
All patrons received Episode Two of A Modest Contribution, in which Sushi joins Otto for an enlightening exploration of the history of the moustache. It’s over 1,000 words of little-known history and insight: all highly edifying, all highly inaccurate. Here’s a snippet:
OTTO: The word ‘moustache’ derives, of course, from the German ‘Maus-Tasche,’ or ‘mouse-bag.’
SUSHI <incredulous>: What?
OTTO: But what is a ‘mouse-bag,’ exactly? Sushi, talk us through it.
SUSHI: Well, for starters the word’s origins are actually Prussian, not German. There was no unified Germany in those days. The Prussians, as you know, are a proud folk, renowned for their extremely bushy facial shrubbery and their stylish spiked helmets. In those days a man was only considered half a man if his moustaches couldn’t hold a gulag of raw milk when dipped in the churn and squeezed out.
OTTO: A gulag being roughly half a pint in modern measure.
SUSHI: Precisely. Now, in those days…
Character Sketch: Maria “Sushi” Vasquez (Excerpt)
Tickled Pig patrons also got to see three full sections of my character outline for Sushi from The Dream World Collective. Here’s a taste:
…tends to bounce on her toes.
9. Drinks: Green tea lightly brewed, especially when sketching ideas for a new project. Soda when watching movies (preference for…
…when feeling silly and feminine.
10. Indulges in: terrible romance novels. Indie comic books, especially with…
Kitchen Adventures, Episode One: The Canny Gruelsmith
Sun Room patrons also received Episode One of Kitchen Adventures, over 1,500 words of history and hilarity, culminating in a delicious real-life recipe. Here’s a quick peek:
OTTO: I believe a shot of root beer could give it the old-world root-and-herb flavor palate that a good sweet gruel so desperately craves.
SUMMER: Ew. We’re not doing that. How about cinnamon?
OTTO <snickers>: What is this, a porridge? I thought we were making gruel.
SUMMER: Fine. How do you sweeten a classic sweet gruel, Mr. Expert?
OTTO: Well, I’m hardly a gruelsmith. Honey, perhaps? And sweetmeats?
SUMMER: Nobody knows what sweetmeats are. That hasn’t been a thing for like five hundred years.
OTTO: Very well. Then I submit…
Join the Fun!
If this matches your sense of humor, I’d love to get you in on what I’m working on. I’ve got over 100 pages of The Dream World Collective and counting up for free download starting here and continuing at bit.ly/latestdwc. Visit my Projects page to see some upcoming projects and more ways to get involved.
I really don’t want to write today. I’m doing everything I can to avoid it. If I were a hobbyist or an amateur that would be fine, but I am not, so I am going to take a few moments to restore my vision and put the fire back in myself, and then I am going to write. I hope this helps you too.
1. I write kick-ass stories. I make worlds of wonder and delight, with crooked, clever, funny little people and unexpected alleys and mechanisms that inspire the real world to become better. Every word I write is worth it because every word gets me closer to the revelation of a beautiful, fascinating world full of life and growth and beauty and brilliance. Each of those worlds can make many lives better.
2. I write because I care about the craft. If I want my story to be perfect, the solution is to write faster and truer, not to hold back and slow down. Word count is my raw material. A high-intensity distillation takes a high quantity of raw materials. As a writer, I have the luxury of freely creating as much material as I need. All it takes is time and will.
3. I write because stories last. Once my story is done it can spread to countless people around the world over many generations. Once the quality is there, my story can do what it does for as many people as find it. Every hour I put in now has the potential to multiply its impact by the thousands.
4. Writing is fun. I get to write what I want, the way I want, because it’s what I enjoy. Nobody is telling me what tone I have to use or what content to cover or making me fit in links or keywords. I can run free and go wild. I can try new things, hide in-jokes, build worlds, tweak societies, create new customs and creatures, and send my people into hilarious and gripping and heart-warming moments, exactly however I want to. Yes, the story builds its own constraints, but even that is just the manifestation of the world I’ve chosen to work and play in.
5. I write because ideas are important. I don’t rehash dead plots and I don’t ask questions just to preach an answer I already know. Stories are the best and richest way to deeply explore the questions that cut deep into me, to test out the theories I’m not brave enough to speak in real life, to build whole worlds that work on beautiful or interesting principles and play them out to the end. My stories are laboratories where I can experiment with all kinds of what-ifs, where person doesn’t have to mean human and moving doesn’t have to mean living and magic can be part of science and definitions can visibly matter to practical life and decisions. There is nowhere else in my life that I have total freedom to ask the deep questions and trace the answers out wherever they may go.
6. I write because I care about people. I don’t know why I get to have such a good life when so many people are so sad and alone and afraid, but I have this one chance to write stories that will lead people into worlds that show that a different life is possible. It’s not just about escapism and it’s not just about distracting people from their troubles for a little while. It’s about realigning our views of how the world should work and how the world can work. It’s about helping people care about people again and spreading great ideas about things worth trying and cracking open the possibility that even the real world is different than you thought it was. A good story sends ripples into the real world. It’s not just a dream; it’s a warcry.
7. I write hard because I only have this lifetime to get my stories out into this world. This time next year I’ll wish I’d written twice as much today as I did. Five years out I’ll either still be dithering with a novel draft or I’ll have lots of stories in the world and lots of people finding them and real momentum on the next ones. Decades from now I’ll regret all the times I spent surfing the web and frittering time instead of writing more words. Better a poor showing and a few dozen words than a failure to even show up.
8. I write fast because it’s a rush. I can keep the flow going by refusing to slow down and refusing to worry about how it’s coming out, and once the flow gets going there’s nothing like it. There’s always time to edit later, but in this moment, my one job is to write.