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.

Wings Wednesday: Interview with Television Writer Dave Hackel – Part Two

In Part One, television writer Dave Hackel talked about his career and his time working on Wings. In this post, I’m excited to bring you the second part of the interview, where he talks about writing one of my favorite Wings episodes, “Murder She Roast,” which is Episode 21 of Season Two.

The Story:

When Joe’s (Tim Daly) house has to be fumigated, Brian (Steven Weber) gets an offer to stay with Fay (Rebecca Schull).  While at her home, Brian watches his favorite show, Fugitives from Justice, and the subject of the episode – a woman who has left a trail of dead men in her wake – has many similarities to Fay.

Freaked out, Brian shares his newfound info about Fay with Joe and Helen (Crystal Bernard), which they quickly dismiss. But as Brian’s paranoia about Fay’s possible true identity mounts, are his suspicions about her crazy, or is he really staying with a serial killer?

Meanwhile, Lowell (Thomas Haden Church) begins selling a gadget called the Car-B-Que. Will Roy (David Schramm) take the bait and buy one, or is this just another idiotic thing Lowell has ventured into?

My Take:

I love this episode. It’s interesting to watch it now in the context of our cultural obsession with true-crime series and podcasts, and the idea that you could see or hear about someone you might know on one of those shows seems more possible than ever. 

The cast takes the solid material and runs with it, and the entire set-up and pay-off of the main storyline is exceptionally well-crafted and delivers solid laughs throughout. 

And I’d really like to know a little more about the culinary science behind the Car-B-Que, especially how it cooks chicken so fast. 

“Murder She Roast” never fails to make me laugh. Wings is reliably funny and always can get a smile or a laugh no matter the episode. Whether it’s a line of dialogue or the line’s delivery, “Murder She Roast” is great stuff.

The Interview:

I was honored to be able to ask Dave Hackel about the inception and writing of the episode in question. His answers are below:

Ian Dawson: How was the initial story pitched?

Dave Hackel: As conceived, “Wings” was a show about two brothers.  Obviously, other great characters made up the initial ensemble and others were added along the way.  The production staff had to service all the actors/characters and some were easier to come up with stories for than others.  Rebecca Schull was and is a marvelous actor, but Fay was often difficult to create shows around…especially in the early years of the show.  The network wanted stories about Joe and Brian so when trying for a Fay episode, we had to find ones in which the boys were prominent, as well.

So, our job was to come up with a story in which Rebecca could shine and still give Tim and Steven good parts to play.  “Murder She Roast” was clearly inspired…if not liberally borrowed…from the classic Alfred Hitchcock story about the woman who killed a man with a frozen leg of lamb, then cooked it and served it to the investigating detectives.  I suggested that we might be able to come up with a story that cast doubt on Fay’s character in a similar way.  Of course, we ended up with — certainly in that last block comedy scene in Fay’s kitchen — an homage to Hitchcock’s story.

ID: Were you assigned to write the episode, or did you pitch the episode and then were sent off to write it?

DH: All of the above.  I came up with the basic idea then, as will most of the episodes, the entire staff worked out the story and I was sent off to write it.

ID: How long did you have to write an episode?  Did you craft an outline or beat sheet first that was then hashed out in the room, or did you jump into a first draft with an outline?

DH: As with all of the episodes, first you work out the story in the room, then the writer — in this case me — was sent off to write the outline — usually around ten pages of prose that broke out the story beats into scenes and included many of the jokes that were pitched in the room.  Then, after a week, I turned it in, met with the staff, went over the story, made changes and then I went off to write the first draft of the script.  That usually took about two weeks.

ID: How did the storyline/episode evolve from pitch to shooting script?  Did the B-story with Lowell and Roy change at all, or were the A and B stories pretty much set from the start?

DH: All the beats, A & B stories, were worked out before I started to write the script.  As was the case with all of the episodes, stories were adjusted, edited and hopefully improved throughout the week with the help of the writing staff and, of course, the actors and the director of that episode, Noam Pitlik.

ID: Do you recall what the initial reaction to the episode was at the table read?

DH: I believe the script went over quite well at the table read.  Those initial readings were usually a great deal of fun for all of the “Wings” episodes.

ID: As the credited writer on this or any episode, do you get final say on any changes that are suggested by the actors, director, or other writers?  Do remember if there were any network notes that you had to deal with on this episode?

DH: The initial writer doesn’t get the final say on an episode.  Once it’s turned in, the script becomes fair game for everyone to work on and improve.  That includes the actors, director, writing staff, as well as anyone in the crew who comes up with a good idea.  It’s an incredible amount of work to produce a new episode every week, so any input that makes it better is appreciated.

ID: What was the biggest challenge you faced in writing or during the taping of the episode?

DH: Time is always the enemy on a television show.  How to get it done in five days while, at the same time, working on editing last week’s episode and coming up with new ones to round out the season.  “Murder She Roast” was no exception except for the fact that we also had to find time to shoot the footage on the “news” program that Brian initially watched.  We went onto Paramount’s back lot and did those sequences as well as filming Maury Povich playing the part of the newscaster.

ID: Looking back at the episode now, is there anything you would change.

DH: Oh, I’m sure if I viewed the episode carefully, I could find jokes that could be better — sharper, funnier — and perhaps a shot here or there to improve.  That’s the case with every show.  But I remember being quite happy with the finished product have always appreciated that, when people are asked about their favorite episodes of “Wings”, “Murder She Roast” is often mentioned.  

I appreciate Dave Hackel taking the time to talk about the writing of “Murder She Roast.”  You can find this episode and other episodes of Wings on Hulu, buy the complete series on Amazon (or watch on Amazon Prime), and watch via the PlutoTV app on the 24/7 Wings channel (channel 456).

My Publicity Experience – Part Two

After my initial call with Smith Publicity and deciding on what program to use (I opted for their three-week media blitz), I was emailed an in-depth questionnaire about myself and my novel.  The information I provided would aide them in crafting an official press release for the novel to send out to potential reviewers and interviewers.

It was a lot of questions, and after a week I submitted the completed questionnaire and the work began.  And that work began with a quick call on the first day of week one with my publicity team to go over any question I may have before we got into it. 

And the adventure began.

By the end of the afternoon my book was posted on NetGalley.  NetGalley is a site where book reviewers, educators, librarians, and booksellers can request eBook versions of you novel and review it.  They then post their reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, NetGalley, etc.  By the end of the week, over 30 people had requested and been sent an eBook to review. This was a good start!

As the first week progressed, my team and I went back and forth revising and fine-tuning the press release that would be sent out to people over the next two weeks.  By Thursday it was done and ready to go, and my team sent out an initial flurry of email queries for the book.

On my end, I printed out 30+ copies of the press release to include with the review copies I had on hand in preparation for sending them out ASAP.  The wheels were now set in motion and it would be only a matter of days before I would be making multiple trips to FedEx and the Post Office.

More on Week Two tomorrow!

The Field – From Word Doc to Paperback, Part Seven

Here are a few takeaways and final thoughts I have about self-publishing The Field:

It’s important for your own creative sanity that once you make the leap from your novel being your baby to publishing it either as an eBook, a paperback, or both, it is now a viable, marketable product.  This means that you have to put distance between you the author and you’re the person trying to market and sell what is a now a viable commodity.

This distancing will also help you in the event your get a negative review or criticism you don’t like.  The person may not have liked your product, but they still bought the product and you reap the benefits either way.  By taking this more objective and business-like approach to each work, you can then free up your mind to write the next book, and the next, and the next.

Distancing yourself emotionally from your completed project will also help you think more clearly when it comes to the marketing and sales aspects of your work.  It’s not at all helpful if you get wrapped up in a minute detail that occurs during the publishing process and your obsess over something that in the end has an easy fix. Case in point: I talked in a previous post about the paperback being priced at $14.63 due to production costs. I agonized over this for half a week, sure that my book was now doomed for failure because it was too expensive. Then, a Book Baby rep suggested I create a promo code to decrease the price.  Boom.  Problem solved.

I had I been thinking like a salesperson and been more pragmatic than emotional, I could have solved the problem without the needless drama. Leave the drama for the page not the publishing.

Know that if you are self-publishing that you are going to have to do almost everything yourself.  Yes, there are sites like Book Baby that will guide you, but when it comes to getting the word out to a wide swath of people, just know that you are the best marketing tool there is.  So use social media, your own website, co-workers, family, and friends to get the initial word out.  If you want to, you can enlist the aid of a marketing company – like I did with Smith Publicity – to spread the word farther.  But again, while they will be assisting with press releases and other aspects, the project is still driven by me and my knowledge and passion for the project.

There are also dozens of videos on YouTube as well as blogs that can give you insights into how to market your book either inexpensively or for free.

Also, make sure that you have the means to afford all the aspects of doing this yourself.  There are inexpensive and even free alternatives if you want to publish your eBook on Amazon or even on your own blog chapter by chapter.  Don’t go into debt or sacrifice eating or bills to do this. And if you do, make sure you budget and keep track of all your expenses.


So, what would I do differently.  Well, for the next book I will definitely publish the eBook and paperback as part of the same project.  The reason: it’s cheaper.  I could have paid 50% less if I had gone with one of the packages offered through Book Baby that allows you to do both.  But I thought just an eBook was easy money.  As of this post I have sold more paperbacks than eBooks, so that shows what I know!

I also learned that the best strategy is to budget your time in an efficient manner, especially if self-publishing is a side business and not your full-time occupation.  I work six days a week at my main job, so everything involving the book is like having a second job. It’s important to give yourself some downtime and not burn yourself out with everything that now needs to be done on top of all your other responsibilities.  Your novel won’t get published any faster if your agonizing over pricing at 4am.  Trust me. It’s not worth losing sleep over.

And that’s my self-publishing journey.  It was definitely worth all the time, effort, and expense, and I will definitely be doing it again soon.  If you have any questions, comments, or further advice you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for reading!

The Field – From Word Doc to Paperback, Part Four

Yes, yes.  I’ll admit it.  Yesterday’s post was pretty technical.  Metadata. Pricing.  Websites.  While they aren’t exactly sexy topics, they are important parts of the self-publishing puzzle, which is why it’s a good idea to know about them.  So, today, let’s talk about a few more exciting topics.

So, you’ve submitted your manuscript, your cover, and input all the important info needed to launch your eBook on various sites. Well, while you’re toiling away at your website, a busy group of people in another part of the country are converting your Word doc or other files into a polished and professional-looking eBook.

The nice thing about Book Baby (and I’m sure other self-publishing sites do it, too) is that they constantly email you to let you know the progress of your book.  You can also check the status of your project on their website as well.  I was very excited to get the email announcing that my proofs were ready for me to view.  I will confess that when I opened the file for the first time and started to go through the pages I jumped up and down (I really did this, I’m not lying). It was an exciting feeling to finally see what I had written converted into a format for others to read and enjoy on their tablets or phones.

That part done and approved, I had to wait for the book’s official release onto Amazon and other sites in order to move on to the next step: reviews.

Readers’ Favorite (https://readersfavorite.com) is a site that works with Book Baby and allows you to do a number of helpful things with your book.  You can sign up for their Press Release program, you can participate in their Book Exchange Program, and you can have your book reviewed.  Now, you have to pay for the reviews, but I found this was a helpful way to get new eyes on my book and to get some legitimate reviews to use on my Amazon page and website.  I paid for three reviews, having no clue what I would get.

About a week later I got all three reviews back and they were all very positive, five-star reviews!  But, me being a skeptic about things, I did do some digging to find other reviews written by these particular reviewers and they weren’t just handing out five-star reviews across the board.  That added to the legitimacy of their reviews, which was a good thing!

I set up a profile on Readers’ Favorite, and then took the time to add myself to a few others as well.  I worked on my Amazon Author’s Profile and my Goodreads Author Program Profile (https://www.goodreads.com/author/program?rel=nofollow) to get my name and book out there.  The more ground you cover the better.

The Field by Ian Dawson was officially launched as an eBook on July 4, 2018, and I was pretty excited.  But other than my family, friends, and co-workers, how could I get others to buy the book?  In a word: Publicity.  In more words, stop by for tomorrow’s post!