Friday, May 20, 2011

An Introduction to David Corbin

With the debut of Endangered Memories, the first novel in my upcoming young adult series, less than a month away, I wanted to take an opportunity to introduce some of the characters of my series. Weeks ago I introduced Carrie Green, and this week I'd like to introduce everyone to the main protagonist of the series, David Corbin.

David Corbin, once shy and a bit of an introvert, became a reluctant hero of sorts in the later years of junior high. When his sister, Cybil, was abducted by the criminal mastermind, Mr. Big, David flew into action, saving his sister and stopping Big's attempt to murder a crowd of people.

That single event put David and Mr. Big at odds against each other for the rest of their lives.

With the taste of heroism still fresh on his tongue, David devoted his adolescent life to putting a stop to Mr. Big's criminal actions. With the help of some of his classmates -  Carrie Green, Veronica Amorou and Veronica's brother, Sean - David managed to continually foil Mr. Big's nefarious plans, eventually putting the crime boss away for good in the Galtaia Penitentiary years later.

During his escapades, David quickly and easily fell in love with Carrie Green. Despite the fact that Carrie fell for him in return, the two neglected to tell each other how they felt for fear of the consequences that would result. When David finally did decide to reveal his feelings for her during the shut down of the government initiated program known as The LZR Project, she fled without explanation to South Ryshard, not to be seen again.

At the beginning of Endangered Memories, David is in a somewhat tumultuous relationship with Amber Setterson. Ties with his sister are strained, his finances are in dire straits, and he wonders if life will ever be the same as it once was before Mr. Big was locked up and Carrie ran. A strange wedding invitation from Carrie changes all that though, awakening David's feelings for her and pulling him back into the adventures he thought he left behind.

Look for more of David in Endangered Memories this coming June. You can also check out my introduction to Carrie Green at

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Cover Design For Picture Perfect

As my friend Jelani continues work on the cover for Endangered Memories - the first book in my upcoming young adult series - I have been busy messing with the cover to Picture Perfect, a novella in the same series. Picture Perfect's cover is made entirely from scratch by yours truly using Gimp. When I showed the original design to Jelani, he gave me a few pointers on what needed to be fixed with it. After a trip to the drawing board, I am very happy to reveal the new cover.

First off, here's the old one for those who haven't seen it or don't remember what it looks like -

And here is the new cover design -

Notice the purple font for the title in the first version? First off, I really started second guessing that font as soon as I published the cover. It just doesn't fit the series very well - it has more of a magic, fantasy feel to it when the series itself is a bit more science fiction/fantasy. The original font was Gartentika in case anyone was curious. I get the majority of my fonts at because you can find free ones for commercial use there. The new font is called Chocolate Box. Great font. Also, the purple color for the title in the first cover is real bad - makes it blend in with the rest of the cover. White is much easier to read.

See how the spiral symbol is positioned in the original version? My friend suggested I have all ends of the symbol run completely off the page. It was mentioned that when I have the ends of the symbol showing up in different areas on the page, then people's eyes are going to run to those spots instead of elsewhere on the cover.

And notice how my name is in two different colors and at an odd angle in the original? I thought I was being clever with that. But the new version is soooooo much easier to make out after it was suggested my name just be one color. The reader should be able to make out my name without having to stop and figure out what the different colored words are at the bottom of the cover.

For a final touch, I switched up the color scheme. The purple was great, but I want to use purple for another character's side story. I think the teal/blue looks a lot better for this cover and is much more pleasing to the eye.

I'd love to hear what you all think of the change. I'll more than likely keep doing the novella covers myself while I have my friend illustrate the young adult novel covers. I can't wait to show you all what he has come up with. Soon. Very soon!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What Is Going On?!

As hard as I've tried over the last week to get back on track with my projects, I have failed miserably. Most of last week - and even the week before - was taken up with personal matters, and my half-hearted attempt this last weekend to catch up with my writing and self-publishing agenda didn't pan out so well. Distractions just keep coming and I keep giving in to them, disappearing off the map to take care of things that aren't going to move me forward in my writing career.

No more. I have cordoned off this week to get myself back in the game and back in line with my projects and all of their deadlines.Here are a few updates -

As I write this, my good friend, Jelani Parham, is sketching out the cover design for Endangered Memories - the first book in my upcoming young adult series - which I still plan on releasing in June. I have seen his initial sketches and I dropped my jaw on the table I was so impressed. He has truly captured the heart of my story in his illustrations and I cannot wait to reveal more to all of you in the next week or so.

Lost Birth - the second volume in my young adult series - is in the middle of being professionally edited. I plan to release the final product in July sometime.

I am getting back into writing Dark Horizons - the third book in my upcoming series - and hope to have the initial draft finished in the next few weeks. I am setting a personal goal of 7,000 words per day, which I plan to meet at any cost.

For those of you signed up with my email newsletter, I apologize that it's been months since I sent one out, but my goal is to have another issue out the door by the end of this month. If you want to sign up for my free email newsletter, head to

On another note, I know that some of you started following this blog because I used to post about the incredible journey of faith that my wife and I have been on since I was fired from my job as a data entry specialist almost two years ago. I haven't posted much about that in this blog because I know a good portion of my crowd now comes to read about writing or self-publishing. So I've decided to create an entirely separate blog where I will be detailing much of what has been going on over the last couple years. The blog will be very personal and candid and something I hope to turn into a non-fiction book sometime in the future. For those who want to follow, you can check it out at  - I haven't posted anything there yet, but I do plan to by next week.

Now, sorry to shut the door in your face, but I have to get back to work.;)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Outlining With Reluctance

As I write my novels, I'm really not one to outline. I don't really care for the structure, nor do I like trying to guess what my characters are going to end up doing. We all know they do whatever they want regardless of our own intentions as their writer, and trying to outline their actions ahead of time just feels like a wasted effort.

Usually I just plow through a story, writing as my muse - and my characters - direct me. The only thing I ever nail down before a book is barely started is the ending. That's right, I usually have the ending to the book already figured out before I even get part way into the manuscript.

Not this time though. While working on Dark Horizons - the third volume in my upcoming young adult series - the other day,  I realized I have absolutely no clue where this story is going. I know where I want to be a few books down the road in this series, but I have no idea how this book is going to end or how I'm even going to get to that endpoint.

Because of this quandary, I've taken it upon myself to sit down and start sketching out the chapters, trying to figure out what characters I need to cover - there are a lot - and what plot points I need and want to write through. As this series is set to run at the very least twelve volumes, I need to have a bit more structure in regards to the direction I'm heading in.

When it came to the first book in this series, it was easy to run rampant and let the story go wherever I wanted it to. When the second book came through the pipeline, I found it a bit more challenging to just write whatever I felt like writing at the time, but I still managed to fit all the pieces together. Now that I'm in the third volume in this series, I don't have a choice but to map out the direction I'm heading in, especially since most of the story is pulling from the direction I started in during the first two volumes.

And, since I have only given myself about four more weeks to finish this manuscript, I decided I'm going to apply the NanoWrimo (National Novel Writing Month) technique to my writing regime. I'm setting a personal goal of 7,000 fresh words that need to be written per day, seeing how most of this draft which started out as a 50,000 word NanoWrimo manuscript needs to be rewritten anyway.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Writing Prompt #11 - Top Secret

Monday, Monday, Monday. That means it's time for this week's writing prompt!

Remember, you can write as little or as much as you'd like, and if you want, you can post your response to the prompt right here. **All work is under copyright of its authors**

Here we go...

Your character(s) sits at a desk with a folder that says Top Secret. Flipping it open they find...

Brittany flipped the folder open to a page that read: Confirmed Location of Atlantis. She felt tears welling up in her eyes as she scanned the words and the rest of the page which detailed the exact coordinates of the lost city.

"My whole life," she whispered to herself. "My whole life I've waited to find you." And she had waited her whole life. When she was a child, her father would fill her head with stories of Atlantis. The scientists of Earth had come close to discovering the coordinates of Atlantis years ago, but those coordinates simply put them in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. Discovery fleets were lost in there, never to be seen of again. 

Atlantis seemed never to be found.

Until recently. Brittany's expedition to a remote island in the Atlantic brought her to an ancient temple where she found stone containing unknown text. Her husband, Thadius, worked tirelessly to decode the text and this folder in front of Brittany was the fruit of his labors.

Tears spilled from her eyes, staining the documents. She moved the first page to the side and flipped through the other pages, finding preliminary scouting photos of the area in the ocean where Atlantis was now believed to be.

Brittany took a drink from her glass of scotch and leaned back in the tall leather office chair. 

She would finally see the place of her birth.

Friday, May 6, 2011

An Introduction to Carrie Green

With the first three novels in my upcoming young adult series, Expired Reality, debuting this summer, I figured I'd start introducing everyone to some of the characters from the series. Some of these characters have been near and dear to my heart since I was twelve, when I just started writing fiction. Some of them are inspired by people who were great friends of mine and some of them came from the deepest nooks of my imagination.

I'll start out the introductions with Carrie Green, one of the main characters of my series, and one of my favorite.

Childhood friend of Veronica Amorou, and the on again, off again object of David Corbin's affection,Carrie is a strong-willed advocate of environmental soundness, and non-violent means of stopping crime. In junior high, she voluntarily recruited herself to join David in his epic quest to stop the criminals of Anaisha, helping form the heroic group known as the Lazerblades, which Veronica and Veronica's brother, Sean, ultimately joined as well.

During the adventures Carrie shared with her friends, she quickly developed feelings for David Corbin. However, any time she attempted to reveal those feelings toward him, unfortunate circumstances would play out. Over the years, Carrie learned to confide about her love for David in Veronica, and to hold out patiently for the day that her and David would be able to be together as a couple.

Taking on the task of saving the world, Carrie always had issues juggling her adventurous feats, schoolwork, and the turbulent relationship with her mother. Carrie’s mother became increasingly persistent in voicing her desires for Carrie to make something of her life - something more than running around the world with David and her friends to do what the police were fully capable of doing. Her mother's hatred for David came out in constant tongue lashings and violent argumentative explosions.

As soon as high school was over with, and most of the major criminals of the world were stopped, Carrie found herself  in a final fiery dispute with her mother about the direction her life was going. This, along with David's poor timing in finally telling her that he loved her, prompted Carrie to vanish without a word of where she was going. All that was left behind was a note telling her friends she needed some time to herself.

At the beginning of Endangered Memories, the first book in the Expired Reality series, Carrie is living in South Ryshard, about to marry Jerad Montlier, one of the richest men in Anaisha. The only problem is Carrie has no memory of her past, and when a mysterious diary crosses her path, she's forced to dig up the memories she thought lost forever and battle against those who wish she'd never remember.

Look for more of Carrie in Endangered Memories this coming June. I also have a post I wrote detailing how I came about creating Carrie's wedding dress for the book. You can check it out here -

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Staying Focused As A Self-Published Writer

"The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places." - Author Unknown

If anyone has noticed lately, my blog posts have fallen sort of flat over the last few weeks. It's not because I haven't had interesting things to talk about. Part of it is just that I've been busy with writing and trying to get the first three books of my upcoming young adult series finished and out the door. The other's a combination of complacency, procrastination and a tad bit of laziness.

Being my own boss, I fall victim to many different things. It's easy to procrastinate - to put things off that don't need to be done right away. Sometimes, this causes me to put things off indefinitely. It's never my intention to do that, it just...well...happens. I also tend to hyper focus on one thing and neglect the others. For example, I'll get so focused on writing, that I'll completely ignore my marketing efforts for that day, or vice versa.

I'm not a lazy person by nature. If anything, I am known as a workaholic and I tend to push my own limits sometimes when I try to get projects done in a timely manner. But lately I've just been under a spell, not really caring if anything gets done and just feeling fatigued and worn out for who knows what reasons. I think it may just be lack of structure that's bringing all these things to my daily routine.

See, being a self-published, full-time writer is hard. I know some people think I'm living the dream by making my own hours and getting to do what I love - which is to write - full time. But there's so much more to this profession than just writing. There's marketing, there's cover design, there's marketing, there's blogging, there's marketing, there's social networking, there' get the point. Add in the fact that this can be a very lonely job, and you have the makings of a challenging career.

I'm sure many other writers, both who are doing this full time and who are doing it aside from a typical 9-5, experience some of these same issues I have been plagued with. And since this is my career, and not just my hobby, I've been forced to create a set of remedies to try and counteract some of these vices. I figured I'd share them with my fellow writers who are struggling to stay focused on their daily tasks, and hopefully help them accomplish their short term and long term goals.

First, I make a daily list of what needs to be done. I make this list the night before and have it sitting on my desk/computer desktop first thing when I wake up in the morning. The list details everything I need to get done during the day and the order which those things need to be done.

I for one find myself more disciplined in my writing efforts in the morning, so I make writing one of my first tasks each day. This includes blog post writing, working on my novel projects, even interviews or guest posts.

I tend to market and social network better later in the day, after I am completely awake and alert to the world. So I set most of my marketing tasks such as trolling the forums, emailing people, and commenting on fellow authors' blog posts for the afternoons.

Second, I am learning the value of getting out of my environment for a while and cutting out distractions. Sitting at my desk, in my apartment, for 10-12 hours a day can drive one insane. Granted, I love having a sanctuary of sorts to get away from the world so I can focus, but working in an area where the television, the internet, and the phone are so easily accessible makes getting things done a bit of a challenge sometimes.

Lately I've been trying to make it a point to head for library for a few hours in the morning to concentrate on writing. Cutting off all internet, I take a seat at one of the large tables overlooking the man-made lake behind our local library, pop in my headphones, crank up the beats, and write for a few hours. During the evenings of certain nights of the week, I meet up at the coffee shop with a friend of mine and we focus solely on writing.  

Third, I set up a system of discipline. Having a wife has it's benefits in terms of a writer's career. She helps keep me on track. I have it set up where if I don't complete certain goals on time or if I don't keep myself disciplined and do what I need to do, my wife can ground me from certain things that I like to do in my spare time. I have a gamer's heart and denying me a bit of R and R on the Xbox 360 is enough motivation for me to work hard to get done what I've set out to get done. I know it may seem a bit childish, but it works. If I was in a typical work environment and I didn't get requested projects finished, there would be consequences, so why shouldn't the same apply in my writing career?

On the flip side, if I accomplish my projects on time, I usually give myself a half day/full day off to veg. This usually comes after I've worked a 50+ hour workweek to get my projects done, so the rest and relaxation is refreshing, and the satisfaction that comes with finishing a project is great too.

Fourth and final, I make sure to keep up the boundaries between my personal time and work time. Being a full time writer, it's easy to say you have time for lunch with a friend or to help a friend or relative with a task they need a hand with. But this writing career should be treated like any other. You wouldn't be able to just leave when you want from a typical job.

I'm not saying we have to go to extremes here. I believe there is a time for everything. But I've had major issues in the past where people I know don't really think of what I'm doing as a full time job and constantly contact me for favors or to hang out even though I have projects that desperately need to get done. In the past I've given in out of guilt, but more recently I've put my foot down and treated my writing as the business it is. As an alternative, I'll sometimes offer a time that works with my schedule to help/hang out with my friends and family.

As a self-published writer, my livelihood is resting on my ability to stay focused, to put aside distractions, and to resist the lure of laziness. Bringing balance to your self-imposed work day can be a real challenge, but one must understand that writing full time is more than just writing. It's running a business. You're the manager, you're the marketing department, you're the one who fails or succeeds. It's okay to draw up some boundaries to make it easier for yourself, even if others may or may not understand.

When a year passes by, are you going to be happy with what you've accomplished, or are you going to regret all the time you spent on X or Y, things that didn't really bring you closer to your goals?

Photo Credit -boboroshi

Monday, May 2, 2011

Writing Prompt #10 - The Fridge

Not entirely sure where the weekend went, but here we are at Monday again and another writing prompt!

Remember, you can write as little or as much as you'd like, and if you want, you can post your response to the prompt right here. **All work is under copyright of its authors**

Here we go...

Your character(s) opens the refrigerator and finds something there that isn't really supposed to be in there...

Jessica stared at the carrots for a moment, trying to remember if she had purchased them on her last shopping trip. Two shelves in the refrigerator were covered in the orange vegetable. The rest of the fridge was stocked with her normal items - yogurt, bread, eggs, mayonnaise, butter, milk...

Reaching into the fridge, she grabbed one of the carrots and observed it, feeling a bit foolish for forgetting what it was she purchased at the store just two days earlier. She took a nibble from the end and crunched down on the tasty treat. She couldn't remember a carrot tasting this sweet before. It was delicious. She took another nibble, and another, not really caring where it had come from now.

"Hey, that's mine!"

Jessica spun around to a black rabbit who sat on her counter, staring at her with deep blue eyes. "Um..."

"You're eating my carrot."

Jessica dropped the vegetable on the floor and stood, staring at the animal. A talking rabbit? Really? She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, wondering if maybe she had caught too much of a whiff of her neighbors pot cloud outside when she came home minutes ago.

"I'm real, by the way. As strange as it may seem."

When she opened her eyes, Jessica noticed the rabbit had moved to the floor and was staring up at her.

"I am a talking rabbit. Take it in."

"I...I don't think I can."

"Sure you can. You see me talking, right? And I am a rabbit, according to your planet's descriptions of rabbits, right?"

She nodded.

"Okay then. Now, I'm not really a rabbit. I'm a guardian. And I usually take human form, but I need to be a bit inconspicuous."

"Inconspicuous? You're a talking rabbit. And I'm actually talking to you and entertaining this idea. This is ridiculous."

"It's not ridiculous. And I'm not going to be talking to everyone. Just you. I was sent to protect you."

"Protect me? From what? And who would send a talking rabbit to protect me?"

"Who isn't important right now. The what is. There are some who...think you may have special abilities that they would like to use at their disposal. We can't let that happen."


The rabbit nodded. "I will be living here, as your pet. You just keep that fridge stocked of carrots and I'm good."

Jessica opened the refrigerator and stared at the carrots again. When she turned back to the rabbit, he was on the counter.

"I eat twelve a day."


The rabbit nodded. "My metabolism isn't one of a rabbit. But carrots is all I can tolerate while I'm in this form."

Jessica wondered about her own sanity. "Well then, I guess we'll need more carrots."