Advice for New Fiction Writers – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about removing the gatekeepers from your path to book publication. The best way to do this is to self-publish. So, let’s get into some of the finer details of what it takes to self-publish, and why you should do it.

How do I know my book is ready to self-publish?

One way to determine this is to have a bunch of friends and family read it and tell you how great it is. Don’t do that. It’s unfair to them, because they can’t tell you it sucks (even if it does), and chances are you won’t listen to their feedback anyway (even if it’s right).

I don’t use any sort of peer group or writer’s club to vet my fiction. If you enjoy the process and find it helps you, great, but for me it’s just another way to procrastinate.

But here’s the main reason to avoid feedback before you ship your book:

It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. Continue reading


Building a Book Cover Part 2: Preliminary Full Cover for CreateSpace Paperback

Here is the latest artwork from the great  Dean Stolpmann for the cover of Akon’s Mission. Dean was very considerate to send the full image as well as how it looks so far on a CreateSpace template, and I am very pleased with how it’s turning out.



Here is the preliminary description for Akon’s Mission, and I think you’ll agree this cover art captures the concept and spirit of the book very well.

Akon’s Mission

Imagine if Jason Bourne had been a Spartan.

An elite, highly intelligent covert operator specializing in infiltration, sabotage, and assassination who also carries with him the battle discipline and contempt for death of a Spartan peer.

This man exists.

His name is Akoniti of Sparta, and he is an agent of the Krypteia, a secret society devoted to the state and serving as the shadowy blade for the ruling ephors. Agents are dispatched to eliminate targets political, military, and personal, and during open war they serve as special forces to augment the much-heralded hoplite phalanx.

But Akon’s loyalty is tested early and often when he discovers he was born a helot, a child of Sparta’s servant class, and sold to the ephors to be forged into their perfect weapon. They use the shame of his tainted blood and lure of true Spartiate citizenship to bend him to their will, and he will constantly struggle to align his desire to be a part of his community with the resentment and rage he harbors for those who send him to spread murder and misery.

Akoniti’s adventures will be a blend of the immersive historic detail in Steven Pressfield’s classics such and Gates of Fire and Tides of War and the rousing escapism found in Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series. They begin with Akon’s Mission, set in 432 BC with Akon 22 years old and on his first mission as an agent of the Krypteia. Tensions between the Athenian Empire and Sparta are high. Sparta and her allies, the Peloponnesian League, have convened in Sparta to discuss going to war with Athens. The five elected ephors of Sparta advise against war—publicly. Privately they want nothing more than to extend Sparta’s power far beyond the Lacedaemonian valley, but they need an act of aggression from Athens before they can muster the vaunted Spartan hoplites.

Akon’s mission is to assassinate the senior Corinthian diplomat—a Spartan ally—and make it look like an Athenian blade did the deed, forcing Sparta and the Peloponnesian League into war with Athens. Just as Akon is about to strike, he witnesses the Corinthian diplomat meeting with an agent from the Athenian delegation. Rather than kill them both, Akon decides to find out what they are planning. This leads him into a twisted, deadly tapestry where information cuts faster than a xyphos and his skills as a Spartan assassin and devoted citizen will be tested beyond measure as he learns his true history and why he was chosen by the ephors to become the tip of Sparta’s spear.


Building a Book Cover Part 1: Color Rough for Akon’s Mission Cover Art

During my day job I came across the fantastic artwork of Dean Stolpmann, and I knew he was the right guy to handle the cover art for Akon’s Mission, the first book in my new historical adventure series.

His Spartan Hoplites have a very dangerous, brooding look, and that’s exactly what I have in mind for the Akon books. Continue reading

Advice for New Fiction Writers – Part 1

With the revolutionary upheaval going on in the publishing industry, it’s more confusing and terrifying than ever for an aspiring author. It’s scary enough to commit to your art and prepare it for release into the world–now we have to deal with the system breaking down too?

There’s all the noise going on about Amazon vs. Hachette. The trodden and carcass-strewn path to “success” has suddenly branched in multiple new directions. Unknown authors are making a living while bookstores go out of business.

What the hell is going on?

I’ve recently had a few aspiring writers ask my advice on how to get published, and here’s the short answer:

Do it yourself.

If you want the long answer, keep reading. Continue reading

Update on Anaconda Choke – Round 3 in the Woodshed Wallace Series

Hey everybody, I hope your holidays are fun, festive, and full of love. And if you saw the fight between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva, I hope you can get that image out of your head.

This is a quick update on Anaconda Choke, the third book in the Woodshed Wallace series. Assuming the novel will be around 70K words, I just passed the halfway point on the first draft. It’s going very well, and Woody, Gil, Marcela, and Jairo–as well as a bunch of new characters–have taken this story into some places I didn’t expect. Continue reading