Posts Tagged ‘14 Days of Asphalt

22
May
12

So about that Other People’s Heroes sequel…

So, you may be asking, what’s the deal with the actual SEQUEL to Other People’s Heroes?

After all, the original version of the book came out a long time ago. In fact, those of you who’ve been with me for a long time may remember how I originally serialized the sequel, 14 Days of Asphalt, as a work-in-progress on the old Evertime Realms website. But some time after I finished that, I took it down to “rework” it. And that’s the last you saw of it.

Here’s the thing with 14 Days — I was never totally happy with it. There was some stuff in there I liked a lot, particularly a pair of characters, but the second half of the book simply never came together the way I wanted it to. And I tried several times — at least three separate passes at the book over the years failed to create a story I felt I could really dig into and turn into a worthwhile sequel to OPH.

I eventually turned to other Siegel City stories, such as the upcoming The Pyrite War and a few short stories you may have read. But the only thing you guys have seen of Josh Corwood and friends in these intervening years was the Halloween story, “The Restless Dead of Siegel City.” And you wanted to know what happened next.

So did I.

Eventually, I had to face facts. As a writer, you come to realize that if the end of a story isn’t coming together, chances are there’s a problem at the beginning of it that you aren’t even realizing. And some time ago I realized I would have to start over, throw out everything from 14 Days and come up with a whole new story that would begin the next stage of Josh Corwood adventures. But until a few days ago I didn’t have anything.

Now, I may.

I’ve got an idea — a sharper, more cohesive idea than 14 Days was. A little smaller in scope — it’s all in Siegel City again, rather than a road trip story — but bigger in its potential, as it’s really about the nature of superpowers in my world, how they work and why, plus what exactly makes Josh so unique.

And if I can make it work, who knows? Maybe later I’ll be able to come back and do that road trip story. Maybe I’ll be able to find a home for those now-orphaned 14 Days characters. I hope so, but I promise nothing.

Except this:

I’ve always known where I want Josh to end up. What I didn’t know was how to kick him in that direction. I think I’ve got a handle on that now. So once I get Opening Night of the Dead finished (Heather is working on the cover, I’ve seen preliminary sketches), and after I do a second pass on The Pyrite War, turning to the next story of Josh Corwood will be my top writing priority.

Here’s hoping I can stay on the road this time.

14
Jul
11

Every Way You Can Get OTHER PEOPLE’S HEROES

Well, friends, for the last few months I’ve been deluging the hell out of you with each new announcement about the myriad ways you could get your hands on my novel, Other People’s Heroes. I’m very happy to announce that, as of today, it’s available in every conceivable format a person can experience the original novel. I’ll have nothing new to announce for OPH until somebody backs a truck full of money up to my house to make a movie about it. So let’s review…

  • If you’re old-school… if you prefer to get your books on paper, you can order the print version from Amazon’s Createspace. The print version will cost you $15.99, but it comes with my undying affection.
  • If you’ve got an e-reader, you have several options. Those of you with an iPad or iPod, you can just turn on your device, cruise to the bookstore, and do a search for the title or my name.
  • Owners of the Amazon Kindle can get the book in the Kindle bookstore.
  • If you’re the proud owner of a Barnes and Noble Nook device, the book is available in your store.
  • And if you have any other e-reader, you can click on over to Smashwords.com, download the book in your preferred format, and upload it to your device. Oh — and ALL of the e-reader versions, no matter your format, cost a measly $2.99. You’re paying more for that for coffee at Starbucks, people.
  • And finally, let’s say that you like your books in audio format. Let’s say you’ve got a long commute and you like to listen to books on the road. Cool. As of July 13, OPH is available to you as well. Cruise to Podiobooks.com and subscribe to the audiobook version of OPH, read and produced by yours truly. Oh yeah — and the audiobook version? ABSOLUTELY FREE.

So that’s it, right? We’re done? You’re never gonna have to hear me pimp my books again?

Oh, friends. Don’t you know me better than that?

At the present, I’ve got not one, not two, but four fiction projects in various stages. So here’s what you can expect in the future, probably in the order that you’ll see them become available.

  1. The Beginner, my second novel, is completely finished and edited and ready to go to eBook and print. The only thing I’m waiting on is new cover art. I’d really like to get that done before I go back to school, but that’s up to my graphic artist (a.k.a. my sister, Heather.)
  2. Lost in Silver, my fantasy novel for young readers, has been sent off to beta readers for their thoughts and commentary. Once The Beginner is done, my publish-fu will be dedicated to getting that in shape to release.
  3. 14 Days of Asphalt, the sequel to Other People’s Heroes, has been in the works for a long time. As of last night, I have finished work on the second draft. Once LIS has gone through the beta process, I’ll be asking for betas again to take a look at that one.
  4. And finally, my new year’s resolution back in January was to write or revise one of my fiction projects every day. With 14 Days finished, I need something else to start working on today, because I’ve hit it every day so far. So today, friends, I begin work on a new project. It’s actually the sequel to Lost in Silver, the continuing adventures of Linda Watson and her friends, and the continuing exploration of the strange worlds of Evertime. I’ll give you the title to chew on: The Light Man.

Damn, I’m busy aren’t I?

02
Jul
11

Calling all (beta) readers…

Yesterday, friends, I told you how happy I was with the performance of Other People’s Heroes in the eBook market. This continues to be true. But that’s really just stage one of my long-term plan (as much as it is a plan, anyway) to burn up the eBook sales charts. As I’ve mentioned, my book The Beginner is very close to joining OPH and A Long November in the eBook stores. But I can’t very well stop there, now can I?

I’m currently working hard on 14 Days of Asphalt, the sequel to Other People’s Heroes, and with any luck the newest draft will be finished by the end of the month. But I’ve also got another book, Lost in Silver, that’s pretty well finished now… at least in draft form. As someone going this alone, though, without the editing and production of a big publisher, that means I need to recruit some help. Some of you have, in the past, been kind enough to serve as Beta readers for me, going over manuscripts and giving thoughts, suggestions, and notes, which have invariably made my work better. And I thank you for that. I’m asking for that help again. Like I said, 14 Days isn’t ready yet, but Lost in Silver is. If you’ve been coming to the Realms for a while now, you may remember when I serialized that particular manuscript here, a chapter at a time. I’ve recently come around to a new direction for the characters, something that will really build well on that first story and help grow into new stories. And that means it’s time to make the first one available as well. Book two in that series, in fact, will most likely be my next writing project.

If you’re available as a beta for either — or both — of these books, I would greatly appreciate it. You don’t need to be a spelling and grammatical genius… just someone who likes to read and can clearly express your thoughts about a story. Send me your e-mail address and I’ll let you know what I’ve got in mind.

And thanks!

11
Jun
11

Incidentally…

I’m going out with some friends tonight, so I wanted to knock out today’s work on 14 Days of Asphalt early. As I did so, I did what’s become a tradition for me: the 14 Days of Asphalt Tweet. I also put it up on Facebook. Every day, I’ve been throwing up a line from the section I worked on that day.

If you’re not following me on Facebook and you want to see those tweets (plus links to a buttload of reviews and my occasional snarky comments on the universe), follow me @BlakeMP.

30
Apr
11

Keeping up with the promotion…

So in the past month, I’ve gotten Other People’s Heroes in every online eBookstore of which I am aware. I’ve sent out queries to dozens of different book bloggers offering free copies in the hopes that they’ll do a review. I’ve heard back from over a dozen of them that have offered a review, and a couple of them have even posted so far.

But I’m still trying to get the word out, because I’m doing all this myself, friends. I’ve got no publisher hustling up reviews for me, or taking out ads, or giving big, squishy hugs to reviewers who may be available to get the word out.

One thing I haven’t quite gotten as much of a boost with as I’d like, though, are reviews at the online book vendors. Reviews at places like Amazon.com help to raise the book’s profile, and the more people who see it, the more sales I can theoretically get, right?

So the question remains, how do I entice people to write more reviews? It’s not like I can start running contests or anything. I mean, I could, but I can’t exactly afford to start handing out iPads or the like as prizes. What have I got to offer?

Just… more story.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m currently working on the sequel to OPH, 14 Days of Asphalt. As you may surmise from the title, it’s a story that takes place across two weeks. It’s also a roadtrip story, and I’m in the midst of what’s called the “vomit draft” right now — where you just pound out the story to get it onto the page, giving you the chance later to massage it and turn it into a finished work.

So here’s what I’ll offer. For the month of May (2011), anybody who posts a review of OPH at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, or the iPad bookstore gets a special incentive. Before the review goes online, e-mail me at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com with a copy of the text and which store (or stores) you posted it to. As soon as it appears in one of them, I’ll send you access to a special Dropbox folder where I’ll post each “Day” of 14 Days as it is finished. (At present, only Day Zero is complete.)

It may not be an iPad, but it’s something, right?

14
Apr
11

Getting down to business… OPH2!

As I’ve mentioned on Twitter and Facebook, this week I started working on the sequel to Other People’s Heroes. It may be a little presumptuous, as the book just hit the eReader market and I’m still trying desperately to hustle up reviews and coverage wherever possible, but I made a decision this year that I’m going to work on some fiction project or another every day. And this is where the muse is calling me right now.

I won’t bombard you guys with OPH2 stuff constantly, I promise. Truth is, there’s not always a lot to talk about when you’re going through the actual mechanical process of writing, especially during a first draft, when the mandate is to just get the story out of your brain and on to paper where it can be sculpted as it should. But I did start, and I am excited, so I thought I’d give you guys just a little, teeny taste of what I’m doing. And therefore here, for your reading pleasure, is the opening paragraph of the sequel to Other People’s Heroes, also known as 14 Days of Asphalt:

I was busy with a fake museum robbery when my girlfriend called to tell me she was staying in California. This wasn’t unusual for me – fake robberies, fake plane crashes, fake alien invasions, that kind of stuff was what I did on a daily basis. I never carried my phone with me when I was in costume either, because (let’s face it) being a superhero is a rough job. Even in Siegel City, where fights are planned ahead of time and every punch is meticulously choreographed, accidents happen. People can get hurt. Things like “explosions” or “spontaneous bursts of microwave emissions” tend to “void” “warranties” and make me “lose” my entire “Weird Al playlist.” So at the same time I was crashing through the skylight of the Eisner Museum of Art, back at Simon Tower my phone was buzzing away in my hollow, tinny locker.

There ya go, folks. Literary gold. Tell your friends, and go read OPH while I get hard to work on this one.

18
Jul
09

Write What You Know

Right now, I’m reading Stephen King‘s novel The Dark Half. I know, I’m kind of behind on this one. But I didn’t read my first King book until just before the miniseries version of The Stand came on TV in 1994, and as he had already been writing books for two decades, I missed many of the earlier ones. I’ve read almost everything he’s written since then (I still haven’t gotten through Lisey’s Story, and I’m waiting for the paperback of Just After Sunset),and I’ve gone back and read many — but not all — of the prior novels. Occasionally, I pick up one of those earlier books in the intention of one day completing the set.

The Dark Half, if you don’t know, is about a novelist who “kills off” the pen name under which he wrote a series of highly popular crime novels. But the nasty side of him seems to come to life as the pen name takes on a real form and decides to fight back against his own destruction. I’m a little more than halfway through the book and I’m enjoying it immensely. However, it does demonstrate something I’ve seen from King’s work over and over (and over and over) again. This book, like maybe half of his popular output, is a story about a writer.

Just like he returns to his stomping ground of Maine frequently, he also turns to writer protagonists. And very often, these protagonists struggle with alcohol problems or drugs, things that King has also publicly dealt with. It’s not really a far leap to imagine that King imagines himself in the books. From the earliest time I remember wanting to become a writer (and I can even tell you just when it happened — in Mrs. Meliff’s fifth grade Gifted and Talented class, when we were given a creative writing assignment and I discovered I could actually put my overactive imagination to a practical use, thank you Mrs. M.), the primary advice I’ve seen given to young and aspiring writers, over and over again, is “Write what you know.”

King, obviously, knows writers. He’s been one professionally for 35 years. Not to downplay his life prior to that day, but it’s pretty much his identity, and that’s a good thing. Truth is, every writer puts himself into his characters. Look at my two published books. One is about a reporter for a newsmagazine (written, it should be noted, during a time when I was a reporter for a newspaper), and the second about a filmmaker. Both, in their way, are stories about writers — one who wrote facts, one who wrote screenplays. Looking at my longer work since then, we have Summer Love, in which the protagonist is a cartoonist, another form of storytelling. My play, The 3-D Radio Show, is about a group of characters performing a radio variety show, including the ostensible writer of that show. In Lost in Silver, we follow several children who haven’t exactly found their path in life, but it would be very easy to imagine at least one of them (Benny) growing into a storyteller of some sort later in life. Only A Long November doesn’t seem to feature a storyteller in any sort of role, and that story (it can be argued) is a story about Christmas stories themselves.

There’s a very dangerous element that exists in fiction. It’s called the “Mary Sue.” If you don’t quite know what that is, in a nutshell, a “Mary Sue” is when a writer creates an idealized version of him or herself in a story, then crafts a tale which results in that character having an unrealistically perfect sort of existence.

Mary Sues are bad. They’re the mark of a lazy writer, and they invariably result in bad, banal stories. I’m not going to name names, but there’s a certain ridiculously popular vampire series that I’ve often heard accused of being the result of Mary Sueism. Right, that one. But the problem is that Mary Sues are the direct result of following that first advice ever given to writers: write what you know. In truth, the earliest characters created by any storyteller are usually Mary Sues. The first time a kid plays make-believe, he or she is making the world he wants and placing his perfect self into it. The first time most writers pick up a pen (or sit in front of a keyboard), the result is a Mary Sue tale, the vast majority of which never make it past that notebook, creative writing class, or parents’ refrigerator.

And here’s the real danger, in my mind. I honestly don’t believe it is possible to craft an interesting character that is not, at least in the smallest way, a part of yourself. The vilest monsters and the noblest heroes must be multifaceted characters, and one of those facets will be the same as one of the writer — who is neither vile nor noble, but is in fact merely human.

Sometimes a writer may not even realize they’ve created a Mary Sue, but a good one will blanch in horror when they realize it. It’s a balancing act, trying to create a character that’s interesting — which is a process that requires you to give of yourself — without simply recreating yourself. I’ll be the first to admit that Josh Corwood, protagonist of Other People’s Heroes, shares a lot of traits with who I was when I wrote that book. My friends and family often commented on that. And I’m sure some people would read that book and cry “Mary Sue.” But I don’t think he is. I tried very hard not to idealize Josh, although he is undoubtedly much braver and more clever than I am. But he’s got his flaws. He’s stubborn, sarcastic, and frequently believes he’s the smartest person in the room despite the fact that he has no idea what’s going on.

Okay, you can say the same about me sometimes.

Here’s when I really knew Josh wasn’t a Mary Sue. Three years after I finished Other People’s Heroes, I sat down and began to work on a sequel, 14 Days of Asphalt (which many of you read in its preliminary form, but will now be the process of massive, MASSIVE revisions before I show it to anyone else again). For me, it had been three years, and my life had changed considerably. Real people do that. It’s usually slow, and our deepest core may stay the same, but people can change in lots of ways. For Josh, though, it had only been a few months, and he hadn’t changed very much at all.

I began to work on the book, and I saw what happened to Josh. In the book, he did change. Good characters do. Another piece of writing advice that I believe wholeheartedly — without change, there is no story. And I flatter myself by saying it was a good, logical change. But although the person he had been was similar to the person I had been, the person Josh Corwood became was quite different from the person I had become. Okay, he still speaks with my voice — my sarcasm, my turn of phrase — but that’s one of the few things about a person that almost can’t change. At his core, he was different. He had different goals. Wanted different things. And while I fully intend to alter huge pieces of the story should 14 Days ever see print, the changes incurred by Josh aren’t among them.

And I’m proud of that.




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