Today’s the Day! Get Midnight House by Ian Dawson NOW!

I’m excited to announce that Midnight House by Ian Dawson is now available on all platforms today! Buy now on BookBaby, Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and Target.com!

Amazon eBook links below!

Click below to buy the Midnight House eBook on Amazon!

Or…

GET YOUR PAPERBACK COPY OF MIDNIGHT HOUSE ON BOOKBABY AND USE THE PROMO CODE HOUSE20 TO SAVE 20% OFF THE PAPERBACK AT CHECKOUT.  CLICK HERE TO ORDER

And get the eBook of The Field by Ian Dawson on Amazon below!

Or, you can…

ORDER THE PAPERBACK OF THE FIELD FROM BOOKBABY AND USE THE PROMO CODE BIKE15 TO SAVE 15% AT CHECKOUT. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

Pre-Order Midnight House by Ian Dawson Now (Out March 30, 2021)!

GET YOUR COPY OF MIDNIGHT HOUSE ON BOOKBABY AND USE THE PROMO CODE HOUSE20 TO SAVE 20% OFF THE PAPERBACK AT CHECKOUT.  CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Pre-order your copy of Midnight House by Ian Dawson on amazon.  Click here to order.  

Need to read The Field by Ian Dawson?  Order the paperback from BookBaby and use the Promo Code BIKE15 to save 15% at checkout. click here to order.

You can also Pre-Order the eBook of Midnight House on Amazon and BookBaby, and buy the eBook of The Field on Amazon, BookBaby, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble.

Pre-Order Midnight House by Ian Dawson – Book 2 in The Field Series – NOW!

Pre-Order Now!  Paperback and eBook available March 30, 2021!

I’m excited to announce the upcoming release of the second novel in The Field series, Midnight House!  

Haunted by the traumatic events of his abduction two years ago, sixteen-year-old Daniel Robinson has tried everything to make his escalating nightmares vanish. Failing to cope with it on his own, Daniel knows it’s only a matter of time before his family, best friend, and his girlfriend notice the lingering effects of his insomnia. Will Daniel reach out for help, or allow the nightmares to consume his sanity?

Meanwhile, Daniel’s best friend, Kyle Hanson, has been invited by Enterprise’s Varsity basketball captain to take part in the Varsity team’s rituals at the mysterious Midnight House.  Skeptical of their motives, Daniel takes matters into his own hands to find out what’s going on at the secretive hideaway.  Is this Kyle’s chance to prove himself to the Varsity team, or is something more sinister at play?

As the boys navigate through the complications of new friendships, jealousy, romance, and high school, their unbreakable bond and the strength of their friendship will be tested.

Can they survive what’s waiting at Midnight House?

Get your copy of Midnight House on BookBaby and use the Promo Code HOUSE20 to save 20% off the paperback at checkout. CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Pre-order your copy of Midnight House on Amazon now.  CLICK HERE TO ORDER.  

Need to read The Field?  Order the paperback from BookBaby and use the Promo Code BIKE15 to save 15% at checkout. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

You can also Pre-Order the eBook of Midnight House on Amazon and BookBaby, and buy the eBook of The Field on Amazon, BookBaby, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble.

More updates to come!

Writing Tip of the Week: Getting into Character

A story needs compelling and engaging characters that change throughout the narrative to keep readers/viewers engaged with the events unfolding before them.  No matter who the character is, it’s essential as a writer to have a strong sense of who they are and where they were before the events of the story you are creating.  Let’s look at a few ways you can do this in the pre-writing phase of your project.

Basic Stats

One of the easiest methods of getting to know your characters is to bullet-point the basics about them.  Name. Age.  Profession.  A few significant events that affected their lives before the story.  Personality traits.  Relationships with others.  Writing these down and having them as a reference can help ensure that characters have continuity throughout your story.

Obviously, you want your protagonist to have a strong arc that allows them to evolve over the course of the story.  But their past and present circumstances aid in dealing with the conflicts set before them and how they reconcile and move on as a character at the conclusion of the story.

I recommend doing this for the protagonist and antagonist and other key characters that are a main part of the story.

Character Biographies

A significant step-up from what I mentioned above is creating detailed and in-depth character bios for your protagonist, antagonist, and other key players in your story.  Create a 500-word essay about your characters, detailing their lives in an A&E Biography manner.  This gives you more creative latitude than the bullet-point method but is more time-consuming.  

This is ideal for historical fiction since you can do the research to find out more about the time period, social structure, environment, clothing, and other key factors that will make your historical novel more accurate.

Backstory Not Included

Should your Stats and Bios be used liberally in your novel or merely as reference material?  The lawyerly answer: It depends.  If what is happening in the story is directly affected by past events in the character’s life, I would definitely mention the relevant elements.  But don’t just do an info dump.  Weave relevant aspects of their past into the narrative or dialogue. 

The reader/viewer must feel that this character existed before the story they are now experiencing.  Your characters shouldn’t begin and end when the current story does.  They should feel like real, active people being observed during a particularly eventful and life-altering time in their lives.

How Did They Get Here?

Our past life experiences influence how we deal with the present.  The same is true for fictional characters.  Who was Tony Stark before he became Iron Man?  Who was Jack Torrance before the events at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining?  What was Starr Carter’s world like before the events in The Hate U Give?  

Dr. Phil has a useful tool that can aid you with these questions in both your own life and in the lives of your characters.  He breaks it down into what he calls The 10/7/5 Philosophy.  Even if you aren’t a fan of Dr. Phil, this method is an excellent tool for getting creating greater depth in your characters:

Ten Defining Moments: In every person’s life, there have been moments, both positive and negative, that have defined and redefined who you are. Those events entered your consciousness with such power that they changed the very core of who and what you thought you were. A part of you was changed by those events, and caused you to define yourself, to some degree by your experience of that event.

Seven Critical Choices: There are a surprisingly small number of choices that rise to the level of life-changing ones. Critical choices are those that have changed your life, positively or negatively, and are major factors in determining who and what you will become. They are the choices that have affected your life up to today and have set you on a path.

Five Pivotal People: These are the people who have left indelible impressions on your concept of self, and therefore, the life you live. They may be family members, friends or co-workers, and their influences can be either positive or negative. They are people who can determine whether you live consistently with your authentic self, or instead live a counterfeit life controlled by a fictional self that has crowded out who you really are. 

Source:  https://www.drphil.com/advice/defining-your-external-factors/

Your characters are the true lifeblood of your story.  They are the ones we care about, empathize with, and follow on their journey as they traverse the hills and valleys of the narrative unfolding before them.  It’s important to take the time to get to know your characters’ history, so you can better understand how they react to their present circumstances.  Then, you can use that information to evolve them into their future selves.

Happy writing, and I’ll see you next week!

Writing Tip: Ideas in Action

Ideas.  We all have them.  Billions of people all around the planet have ideas every day.  Some good.  Some bad.  Some brilliant.  Some ridiculous.  From kids to the elderly, ideas are racing through the minds of people 24/7.  But what are they doing with them?

A coworker of mine used to pitch me several game show ideas a week.  And every time, I would tell him to write them down.  He never did.  Just kept coming up with them week after week.  But what if he had written them down?  What if one of them had actually been an idea worth exploring further?

If you think of an idea, write it down.  You can use a notebook, the Notes app on your phone, or a computer file.  Sounds simple enough.  But most people don’t take the time to do this.

And they need to.

There are tens of millions of creative people out there. Still, most don’t take the time to write down their ideas and cultivate the good ones into possible stories.

Having an idea is easy.  Building on an idea is the hard part.

Good ideas deserve action.  If you have a story idea that intrigues you, something that makes you pause and wonder what happens next, this is the time to act and get to work.  The biggest mistake is to let the idea dissolve into memory, only to be forgotten and never expanded upon.

Sit down and take the time to brainstorm and hash out the idea’s finer points and details.  Possible characters, conflicts, locations.  How the story begins.  How it ends.  Is there something compelling for you to continue the journey to make it more than an simple idea?

If so, continue.  If not, move on but don’t throw any of those notes away.  You never know when something from one idea could be merged into another.  It happens.

An idea is actionable when you decide for it to be.  No one can stop you from developing what you’ve thought of into a more dimensional creative work.

The ideas start and stop with you.  It is your choice what to do with them.  

Choose action.  

Happy writing, and I’ll see you next week!

The Road to Midnight House: An Author’s Journey – Part Five

Last week, I talked about getting feedback, finalizing your manuscript, and getting it ready to publish. In this final post about the process of publishing Midnight House, I wanted to touch on the indie publishing process, marketing, and other aspects of getting your manuscript out in a professional form.

Let’s get started!

To Self-Publish, or Not to Self-Publish…

Your hard work has paid off. You have written, edited, and copyrighted your manuscript and are ready to move to the next step: publication. Here, you can go one of two ways: traditional publishers or independent publishing.

If you go the traditional route, you’ll want to craft an eye-catching query letter that hooks the reader, and hopefully, you get a request for your manuscript to be sent for review.  

If you go the independent publishing route, you are in control of the publishing process.  

I went independent for several reasons with The Field and Midnight House:

  • The novels are professionally published in both eBook and paperback form for sale and distribution;
  • The books are sold in the same online marketplaces as traditionally published works (Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, etc.);
  • I have the same access to social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, personal website) as other authors.

Now, the downside, of course, is that it does cost money to self-publish. I recommend you do your research and find a publishing company that fits your needs and your budget. Many have packages for just eBooks or for an eBook/paperback bundle.  

I cannot stress this enough: Make sure if you invest the money to self-publish that you have a plan in place to pay yourself back via your 9 to 5 or other income. Being an independent author is great, but don’t expect to make Stephen King money with your first novel.

Author Dan Brown had written three novels before the DaVinci Code. After that hit big, the other three became bestsellers.

Be patient, keep writing, and don’t get discouraged.

Sometimes You Should Judge a Book By Its Cover…Especially If It’s Yours

If you do decide to self-publish, many publishing companies offer in-house cover art services. If you wish to seek out your own cover artist that fits your stylistic needs, I recommend checking out my post on the topic, Finding a Cover Artist.

It’s a Team Effort, But You’re Coach

Once you’ve taken the leap to publish independently, keep in mind that you are the boss. You are in control and give final approval to every aspect of the publishing process. It’s essential to be engaged, respond quickly to any questions the publisher may have, and don’t be afraid to ask any and all questions before and during the process. This is a financial investment on your part, so making sure things are exactly as you want them to be is critical.

I highly recommend keeping all correspondence upbeat and positive with everyone you are working with throughout the process. As Team Coach, you set the tone, and you have to make sure all parties involved stay focused and motivated to create a great final product. If you have issues with something, inquire nicely—no need to be an egomaniac or a jerk. Everyone has the same goal: to get your novel professionally published and out to the world.

When each step is complete, take the time to email those who helped you and thank them for their hard work and assistance. A little professional courtesy can go a long way, especially if you plan to use the same cover artist or publisher again in the future.

Have I Got a Novel for You!

Marketing starts with you. You control the message. You control what people initially know about your book. You are the point-person when it comes to getting the word out. 

Utilize your social media and let people know you have a novel coming out soon (I recommend you start putting the word out six weeks before the book comes out). Post the cover. Post the blurb from the back of the book. Work on generating interest among people you know who can help get the word out to others.

But you don’t have to stop there.

If you desire, you can work with a marketing firm that specializes in independent publishers. They can help you craft a press release for your book and get copies in the hands of book reviewers who can help get the word out about your novel. A marketing firm can target a specific market and demographic for your book to reach the right people who can help sell your book.

This, too, costs money, so budget accordingly.

The key here is to get your book in front of as many eyes and ears as possible. When the book is released, there will be buzz about your book online, with reviewers, and hopefully, you can snag an interview or two to talk about your book.

Writing a novel, a non-fiction book, a screenplay, a play, and any other creative work takes time. It truly is a marathon that requires hard work, dedication, professionalism, focus, and energy to get to the final stage of the product’s release. I’m very proud of my independent publishing team’s work on The Field and Midnight House. And when you get that box of paperbacks in the mail and open it and see a book’s cover with your name on it, it really is a thrill.

I hope this five-part series was helpful to you and will help you on your publishing journey. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment, and I will get back to you.

Happy writing, and happy publishing!

GET YOUR COPY OF MIDNIGHT HOUSE ON BOOKBABY AND USE THE PROMO CODE HOUSE20 TO SAVE 20% OFF THE PAPERBACK AT CHECKOUT.  CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Writer’s Workshop Wednesday: Beverly Cleary

One of my all-time favorite authors, when I was a kid, was Beverly Cleary.  I think I read seven of the eight books in the Ramona Quimby series growing up, my favorite being Ramona and Her Mother

In her first job as a children’s librarian, Cleary saw a need for children’s books featuring characters young readers could relate to.  She once said: “I believe in that ‘missionary spirit’ among children’s librarians. Kids deserve books of literary quality, and librarians are so important in encouraging them to read and selecting books that are appropriate.”  It was this “spirit” that led her to write her first novel, Henry Huggins, which was published in 1950 and catapulted her into a career as a children’s author.

Cleary’s career spanned 49 years, with her final published work, Ramona’s World, in 1999. Cleary authored forty-two books, which have collectively sold over 91 million copies worldwide.  Her works have been the recipient of The National Book Award (Ramona and Her Mother) and the Newberry Medal (Dear Mr. Henshaw).  Cleary was honored with the National Medal of Arts and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for her contributions to children’s literature. 

Her Ramona Quimby character has adapted to TV and film, with a TV series called Ramona produced in 1988, and a live-action movie – Ramona and Beezus – in 2010.  The Mouse and the Motorcycle had a smaller adaptation in 1986 as an ABC Weekend Special.

Sadly, Cleary passed away on March 26 of this year at the age of 104.  Below are some clips of interviews that Cleary did over the years about her writing, her writing themes, and more.

Check out the official Beverly Cleary website here!

Enjoy!

Check back next week for another great writer!

Midnight House by Ian Dawson Releases One Week from Today!

Midnight House by Ian Dawson will be out in one week on March 30, 2021!  Get your paperback copy through BookBaby using the info and Promo Code below.

GET YOUR COPY OF MIDNIGHT HOUSE ON BOOKBABY AND USE THE PROMO CODE HOUSE20 TO SAVE 20% OFF THE PAPERBACK AT CHECKOUT.  CLICK HERE TO ORDER

And don’t forget to get The Field by Ian Dawson, too!

ORDER THE PAPERBACK OF THE FIELD FROM BOOKBABY AND USE THE PROMO CODE BIKE15 TO SAVE 15% AT CHECKOUT. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

The Road to Midnight House: An Author’s Journey – Part Four

Last week, I talked about the drafting and editing process I went through while writing Midnight House.  Needless to say, this part of the process takes time and should be taken seriously by anyone with an eye for publishing their novel.  The more professional you take the process, the better the result. 

This week, I wanted to talk about getting feedback, finalizing your manuscript, and getting it ready to publish.

An Objective Outsider

Your manuscript is complete.  You’ve done multiple drafts.  You have painstakingly gone through each sentence, paragraph, and chapter to make sure they help tell the story you want to tell.  Now it’s time to let someone else read your work.

But who?

Finding a feedback partner is crucial to getting effective and objective feedback on your work.  Ideally, this should be someone familiar with your work, someone you trust to give you honest and constructive feedback, and hopefully a non-family member.  

I was fortunate enough to have a former co-worker become my feedback partner for Midnight House.  He was one of the first people to buy The Field, and he really enjoyed the book and the characters.  When I asked him to be my feedback partner for book two, he was more than happy to help.

If you have a few people in mind who haven’t read anything of yours, put some feelers out and see if they would be willing to read the first few chapters and give you feedback.  If one gets back to you with the constructive criticism you need to make the book better, you should consider offering them payment to read the whole manuscript.

Yes.  You should pay someone for their time when it comes to reading your manuscript.  This helps to ensure they won’t put it off, and it gives them an incentive to get back to you with their feedback.  

You also want to make sure that you give them specific things to focus on so they have a goal in mind as they begin to read.  Do you want them to focus on the main character’s story arc?  Do you want them to check for story continuity?  Is the book too graphic?  Is there anything that could be cut that slows down the pace of the story?  Giving your feedback partner something to actively be on the lookout for will help them stay engaged.

Once they have finished, schedule a phone call, Zoom meeting, or face-to-face (if available in your area), and let them speak first.  If they have questions about things that were unclear, make a note of them.  What did they like?  What didn’t they like?  What stood out to them?  What wasn’t effective?  Make sure you take notes and also ask them for any notes they may have written down as they were reading.

All of this is valuable information.

Remember, they are not attacking you or your work.  They have the same goal as you: to make the manuscript stronger.  Take their notes and feedback and – if you agree with what they had to say – apply them to a new draft of the manuscript.  If you want (and I recommend), make the changes, then ask them to reread it.

All of this will aid in making your final draft stronger and more engaging to future readers.

Editing on a Budget

The good news: Editing services exist.  The bad news: They can be rather pricey for an indie author on a budget.  Some charge between $7 and $10 a page, which can be pretty expensive if you have a 500-page manuscript.  

If you can do this, great.  If you can’t, consider alternatives.  I use Grammarly, which can help you with spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and other writing aspects to help improve your manuscript.  It’s about $150 a year, and I have found it to be an invaluable tool in my writing process.

I copy and paste one chapter into the program and work through it slowly to make sure that what I want to say and how I want to say it is still in my voice, but that mechanical issues are resolved to make the writing clearer and more professional.

You can do this at any phase in the drafting process, but I did it between feedback drafts on Midnight House.  It’s amazing how much we overlook when we are invested in the story.  I highly recommend Grammarly as a writing tool.

Ready?  Set?  Publish?

Once you are satisfied with what you’ve written, your feedback partner has assisted with giving you notes to make the manuscript better, and you’ve done some fine-tuning to the entire work as a whole, it’s time to consider next steps.

I know I’m in a place where it’s time to move on when the story begins to fade from my mind.  If I exhausted all story possibilities, my brain began to move on to other ideas and projects.  This is a good thing.  It means that you have done all you can for your story.  You have given it all the attention it needed to be the best it can be.

It’s time to finalize things.  If you are 100% satisfied with your manuscript, save it with “_FinalDraft” after the title.  

Then, I would strongly urge you to get it copyrighted through the U.S. Copyright Office.  It’s about $65, but you will have an official Copyright registration number, and your manuscript will be protected.

Your manuscript is done, finalized, and copyrighted.  So, let’s get it on the road to publication.  And next week, in the final post of this series, we’ll talk about the indie publishing process, marketing, and other aspects of getting your manuscript out in a professional form.

See you next week!

GET YOUR COPY OF MIDNIGHT HOUSE ON BOOKBABY AND USE THE PROMO CODE HOUSE20 TO SAVE 20% OFF THE PAPERBACK AT CHECKOUT.  CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Writer’s Workshop Wednesday: Nelson DeMille

I have been a massive fan of Nelson DeMille’s novels for over twenty years. The first DeMille novel I read was The General’s Daughter, which I got after watching the film adaptation starring John Travolta. Ever since I have enjoyed every one of his novels. His smart-ass characters Paul Brenner and John Corey, DeMille’s attention to detail, and solid political-thriller storylines make his books must-reads.

Most recently, DeMille co-authored a book with his son, Alex, titled The Deserter, which definitely had me hooked. I look forward to future novels with the main characters, Scott Brodie & Maggie Taylor.

DeMille’s next book, The Maze (a new entry in the John Corey series), will be released on December 7, 2021.

Below are several clips of interviews with DeMille about his works, the craft of writing, and some general interview clips.

Enjoy!

Check back next week for another great writer!