Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Discount from SmashWords

To celebrate the new year, my book is available on Smashwords for a 30% discount from the cover price. Use coupon code "WD54U" when purchasing to receive the discount. The coupon code is only good until January 31, 2010. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Article Publishing

I have published another article on Ezinearticles.com about writing SFF titled "How Can Writers Finish What They Started?" This article is about how to finish a novel and complete a writing project.

This will probably be my last post in 2009. Here's what happened in 2009.
  • I saw 1801 hits on my novel website, Time of the Heathen which is good if you consider I did almost no site promotion until November 2009. What I must figure out in 2010 is how to turn many of those visits into Ebook sales.
  • My book went on sale at Amazon Kindle 10/12/2009 and at Smashwords 11/19/2009.
  • I made 35 submissions to literary agents outside New York and 13 to agents in New York. I am still awaiting a first response for 27 agents, but expect no response means no interest. So, I plan a new submission plan in 2010, probably to small presses.
  • I have to decide whether to have a P.O.D. printer create 100 copies of my book for sales through my website or to send as review copies to book reviewers.
  • I have begun writing articles about writing on ezinearticles.com and have joined several book clubs.

It's been a good year. I completed the novel (Vol 1 of 2) in July 507 8-1/2x10 pages about 112,000 words and have been planning Vol 2. I will also try and turn Vol 1 into a screenplay. We shall see what the future brings.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Article Publishing

I have published an article called "Science Fiction and Science" on Ezinearticles.com. The article discusses how authors develop the scientific ideas found in SF/F stories. Please take a look and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pagan Worship - Mother Goddess

Of special interest is how goddess worship was handled in pagan societies. In my story, during the worship of the White Goddess, the pagan priestess explains to worshippers why girls require special training for life in the goddess culture:

"Of course, both boys and girls must be weaned away from parents and assimilated naturally into the life of the group. Yet for a girl this requires a greater sacrifice and more careful teaching and, especially, example. For a girl has loved her parents, especially her father. She needs to be rescued from this unreal love that requires an exclusively virtuous affection. As a child she has been provided for and protected. Her trial of strength, the trial of Adreyenne [the new initiate], is to awaken to erotic love and accept animal man as he is (he is a beast)... She must redeem herself, with our help, from her girlish image of the masculine, that would repress the new life she has awakened to. She must learn to trust her love, her heart, as the center of her soul combining both spirit and nature in her creative power of mastery."

While this teaching sounds romantic, goddess worship is anything but. Later in the story, at the wedding of the Oak King to the Black Dove priestess, the story reveals the extent of the violence required by nature religion.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Writing/Technical Writing/World at Peace

Just came back from a job interview for a large software producer in Tucson. They may hire me to write about a software accounting tool. I would relocate for 6 months and maintain 2 residences for that time, but it could be worth it. However, I'm worried that my fiction writing will suffer as I focus on the 8-10 hour days of technical writing.

Now that the first volume of my book, Time of the Heathen is published as an Ebook, I want to finish the second volume to complete the story. But my follow-up is difficult because it contains a section where I need to describe a world and a set of characters living without violence, war, and strife, and where most human failings are (for a time) minimal. Of course, all the 'niceness' doesn't last for long; nevertheless, it is very difficult to describe human interactions without the presence of any conflict. Perhaps that is why no one ever writes about life in 'heaven'.

Still trying to locate early readers for volume 1. If you have an interest, contact me at time_of_the_heathen@comcast.net.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dialogue and cursing

Just finished reading Spider Robinson/RJ Heinlein's YA novel "Variable Star" (pub 9/2006). The story had some good ideas, like Relativist who make starship engines run near light speed by thinking, telepathic twins for instant communication between star systems, intelligent design by less-than-omniscent beings.

But do YA readers need the f**k word used in the book to express adolescent frustration? Twain didn't use it, neither did CS Lewis and most other YA authors of previous generations.

Robinson's language selections for his Joel Johnston 18-year old hero seem aimed generally at a slightly younger group of male readers. Expressing the angry and frustrated side of human emotions without resorting to strings of epithets may be difficult, but precisely because of the nature of the YA audience, it should be a writer's goal. If the dialogue is only a reflection of the way the writer believes his audience actually speaks, that still isn't an adequate reason for limiting vocabulary.

Even Christian writers might sometime need to include a cussword in story dialogue, but a constant stream of vile invective is never necessary.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quotes from book

The story opens with one of the major characters, the Flagman, ruminating about revenge. He says,

"It was a moment to seize power, your god was victorious, theirs was defeated and humiliated, every act was worship, the assaults were sanctified, the plunder was sacred, every pain was consecrated, every act was worship."

The Flagman's morality at the beginning of the story stands at this point. How he reached that place of religious violence from his beginning as a university graduate student forms the content of the mythic adventure he and his companion Alysa experience.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Writing/revising

Did some more minor editing on the first 3 chapters. Did move a paragraph. There changes were capitalized a proper name, added a couple of commas, cut a couple of partial sentences or words. This will be my fifth read through the entire book on an edit pass. I'm trying this pass to focus on imagery, but when I see a technical or small error, I have to stop to fix it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Updates to text

Some writers, like James Joyce, never actually finished writing anything they published. They keep tinkering years after their book is first printed.

I'm having that problem. Little changes here and there keep occuring to me. When I make a change in my source text, I have to then make the change in the 1 chapter, 2 chapters, and 3 chapter versions I keep so I can generate PDFs in those lengths for reviewers. Of course, after making changes in the source, I then need to regenerate the PDFs.

But I'm not done yet. The Amazon Kindle and Smashwords editions each need to be updated. The Kindle source version is kept in HTML, while Smashwords is in a MS Word document. After I've made the updates to each of the published Ebook editions, I'm done.

I'll suppose keep doing this until the Ebooks are selling or a publisher accepts some version of the manuscript for a print version.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Marketing puzzle

I understand that marketing on Amazon is best accomplished by reader reviews. The more reviews of a book, the more the Amazon engines "suggest" the book to browsers/buyers. On Smashwords marketing suggestions are found in the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide. Looking only at "Tips" it seems that "social media" is the key to driving sales. We'll see.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Published on Smashwords.com

Time of the Heathen is now published on Smashwords.com. You can get versions for Kindle (.mobi), Palm Doc (PDB) (.pdb), epub (.epub), and Sony Reader (LRF) (.lrf) on Smashwords.

The Kindle version is (of course) also available on Amazon in the Kindle store. Amazon offers free Kindle software to read the novel on your PC (MAC is coming) and to read the book on iPhone and iPod Touch.

I'm very excited. Of course, how do we turn potential into actual readers?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kindle on PC, MAC, or iPhone

Kindle has free software to allow you to run a Kindle emulator on your PC, MAC, or iPhone. Just go to the Kindle page within Amazon, and scroll down to the section on the page titled Automatically Sync Kindle Books with Your Computer and Other Mobile Devices. You can download Kindle for PC, Kindle for iPhone now. Kindle for Mac and BlackBerry are "coming soon".

Once the Kindle software is installed, you can then go to Time of the Heathen, and click the Send sample now button to have the beginning of my novel delivered to your machine.

Of course, if you want to purchase the book, you can do so for $6.99 and it will be delivered to your PC or iPhone within 60 seconds.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Novel excerpts

What would make attract you to a church or to a worship service? Such a thing seems very unpalatable. The Time of the Heathen contains two worship services. The main characters attend the first at the Abiding Presence church in the opening of the novel. The pastor of that church is presented as "perfect: topical, relevant, and kind, and unlike others in his profession, rarely said anything offensive to anyone." The music is great. The message is positive and non-denominational.

Later, the main characters attend a pagan worship service directed by a black dove priestess to the White Goddess in a sacred grove. "Ewan looked up as a woman emerged from the trees bearing two black doves in a cage made of hazel twigs. She had very white skin that contrasted unexpectedly with her most intense oval blue eyes and an abundance of black hair flowing and framing her triangular face. On the crown of her head she wore garlands interlaced with rounded white or pinkish petaled apple tree flowers. She walked with a womanly undulation under a white caftan belted by a black, red, and white-striped silk sash. She came toward them apparently completely unafraid, even mildly curious." Pagan music and message are more powerful than the carefully arranged and thoughtfully parsed worship of the West because it is unashamedly partisan.

Whether a god is present or not to receive the worship is not the focus. The contrast is between the feeble worship of the only partially convinced and the potent worship of the believing is one of the themes of the novel.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Other Fantasy Novels

I just completed my reading Book One of the old Arthurian saga by Mary Stewart, The Crystal Cave. I was impressed by her cleverness in extending the tale, but disappointed in two aspects of her storytelling.

First, I don't think her male characters were 'male' enough. Especially in sexual scenes, Stewart didn't seem to express a male view.

Secondly, in some magical or extremely emotional scenes, her writing lost its clarity and she seemed to retreat into a confusing prose that tossed unconnected images back and forth, as if she wished to overwhelm the reader, because she really didn't know how to express what was happening in the scene.

In all, the feel of the story was like historical more than fantasy fiction.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Search Engines Finding

My novel, Time of the Heathen, is now available on Kindle Books. You can also download the first 3 chapters for free from my website in PDF format. The book should also be available from Barnes and Noble as an eBook download for the Nook reader.

I'm looking for sci fi/fantasy readers willing to send me their feedback and editorial comments. Request a free copy of the book in PDF as an editorial reader by e-mailing your request to: time_of_the_heathen@comcast.net.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Other Sci Fi/Fantasy

I've been reviewing some older, successful, fantasy books including His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud, and now The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart.

His Dark Materials is three good stories but serves as a channel to propagate the author's aetheistic view of human spiritually. My book Time of the Heathen is a mirror opposite of it. Without being overtly Christian, my story refutes the moral/ethical assumptions Pullman gives to his characters. There is an inspiration that is dark and also one that is light. In my story Ewan and Alysa grow spiritually in opposite directions.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy is also three well-written stories, but has a complete absence of any moral or ethical sensibilities until the middle of book 3. Just about everyone in the trilogy is selfish, wicked, or immoral - until the end where a demon and a wizard develop a kind of moral sensibility toward each other.

Mary Stewart's story is just a re-telling of the Arthurian legend, filling in much detail and characterization in a way modern readers find attractive.

I'm reviewing these books as I prepare to write Vol 2 of the Time of the Heathen which is planned to cover 1,000 years of human history lived under alien domination.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Excerpts

Here is an excerpt from the first chapter. The couple (Alysa and Ewan) meet the Shadowman and his minions for the first time.

Without warning shadow figures stepped from the darkness and, with a sound like the fluttering of raven's wings, took places on the piceous benches on both sides of the table. They were flat two-dimensional featureless sihouettes, turning their heads on their bodies like birds, nodding, chirping as a group. She looked at one intently. As she did it grew strangely three-dimensional with shadow cheeks, nose, lips, and blinking eyes. When she looked away in perplexed embarrassment it again became a sihouette. The shadow man noticed her response. Brushing aside the hair lying over her ear, he whispered.

"Pay attention to them and they grow lifelike. Ignore them, well, they don't like to be ignored."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Links to Published Novel

Amazon was 5 days late, but the Time of the Heathen is now available on Kindle as an electronic download. The price is set at $6.99 USD.
I'm now searching for a book printing company that I can retain to print short runs of my book either in trade size (6" x 9") or standard paperback (4.25" x 6"). So far a run of 100 is quoted at $7.00 a book while a run of 250 is quoted at $4.50 a book. If I can get the price for 100 copies down to under $5.00 per each, it makes sense to print them and sell them on Amazone and through an Ebay store. The biggest problem is providing a means for any who want to purchase the book an easy way to pay for it. Of course, PayPal is an option. But having a website that can process credit cards is better. I'm still trying to find a literary agent or publisher, but that is moving slowly.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Novel available on Kindle

As of October 18, 2009, the Time of the Heathen is scheduled to be published on Kindle as a electronic download. The price is set at $6.99 USD.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What is a Heathen?

There is a difference between a Pagan and a Heathen. A Heathen is anyone of a different religion than yours. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and the rest all can consider each other as heathen. A Pagan is someone who practices an ancient European nature religion, one that predates Christianity. When the Romans arrived in Northern Europe, they did not (for the most part) evangelize Europe to their own ancient religion. Instead they brought Christianity.

The core belief of the ancient religions of India, Greece, Asia, Africa, and Europe was a belief in masculine and feminine deities. These gods were often capacious even cruel in nature. From the Hebrew and Christian perspective, this represents a degeneration from a once world-wide belief in a single beneficent Creator who mankind had abandoned. From an anthropological perspective, just the opposite is proposed. Religious development is seen as arising out of simple animism to multiple local gods and goddesses, to systems of deities controlling various aspects of the natural world, and finally to the belief in a single transcendent Deity, a Spirit Being who does not need a consort, and who does not have a gender.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Time of the Heathen

I have completed a novel, TIME OF THE HEATHEN, that could be classified in any of the genres Literary/Fantasy/Sci Fi. I will try to post a sentence a day from the book. See the website for a description of the novel, a chapter-by-chapter synopsis, and a free download of the first 50 pages.

The purpose of this blog is to discuss the book and the Literary/Fantasy/Sci Fi genres. Currently I am seeking a literary agent for the book but also developing an independent marketing scheme to distribute the book electronically over the Internet. This blog is also the correct place to discuss experiences with direct marketing of literary material.


Something about me:
I have written almost 50 technical books for Fortune 1000 companies as a Sr. Technical Writer. My last three books have been published by Microsoft.

James E. Matteson