I’ve lost faith in my ability to approximate how long it will take to finish a novel. It goes without saying that any dates I had hoped to hit have been thrown out the window at this point. That being said, readers are due some explanation as to what has been causing delays on my end.
The Biggest Offender By Far – New Ideas
During the revision process, better ideas come up. If the idea is powerful enough that you can’t ignore it then you do readers and yourself an injustice not acting on it. Now, sometimes this means entering a few lines of dialog into a section you’ve already written.
BUT…Other times it causes a ripple that requires you rewrite 40 pages.
It’s a love/hate relationship for me. Often, I’d be sitting on my porch thinking of how to fix some scene I didn’t feel was working, looking for an angle or something subtle, but then the realization comes:
“The scene doesn’t work because the story is missing [Insert Eureka Idea]!” T. Ellery said. He smiled for a cathartic moment, then his face grew pained as he understood the full scope of what he had just done to himself.
When you are trying to hit a date, and you imagine you’ll be done at a certain point, all the ‘life stuff’ you have scheduled after that point doesn’t go away. This can put a burden on a lot of the process. For instance, I had always imagined that I would have the book to the editor before I went on a week long trip to visit my parents. That didn’t happen, and I didn’t get much writing done during the visit. Then when I got back my family reminded me that we were headed to NorWesCon for the next 4 days. I had already committed to going with them.
Admittedly [shame] I hit a rough patch a few weeks ago after I got back from parental vacation and NorWesCon. Before I left I had no trouble staying in my office for 6-8 hours a day. For one reason or another, I couldn’t get that to happen when I returned, was lucky to keep my butt in the seat for 1-2 hours. Only recently have I hit my normal groove again, but those weeks of fighting to get my focus back took their toll on the publication date.
This caught me completely off guard… because I’m an idiot.
For months I’ve woken up in the morning with that feeling I had slept on my arm wrong and it had caused my hands to go numb. I’ve always had poor circulation, and cold hands, so I more or less thought it was just a matter of getting older. It became a real problem recently, I started waking up every three hours with my hands both numb and yet my nerves telling me they had caught fire. Super annoying, probably because I love sleeping more then I should. Anyhow the only way to get the pain to stop was waking up and moving around and after a few days of it my sleep cycles were completely off and I was running lower and lower on energy.
I raced to the internet to find that these were symptoms of carpal tunnel. Now, I guess I should have figured this would happen if I was going to write full time. For now, I got some braces and I’m dealing with it until the sequel is finished, because I just got my groove back and don’t want to make any changes to my habits. After the sequel is handed over to the editor, I’ll look into some dictation software or other solutions for getting the finale done. Surgery if it gets bad enough.
Anyhow, I’m making progress again, hoping that no new ideas will push the finish line out now that I am finally closing the distance again. I’m confident though, I am running out of scenes that feel like they are missing something.
I was recently interviewed over Skype by Brandon Courcy for a post on: Build Your Author Career. The main topic of discussion was what it took to go from part-time to full-time writer as an Indie Author. The interview gets into the nitty -gritty, and I tried to be as transparent as possible in order to show exactly what the process had looked like from the day I started to write to the end of 2015. We talked about self-doubt, royalty income, the challenges of being self-employed, lessons learned, and motivation.
It is not the announcement that readers deserve, but the one they need.
Today I’m announcing big news for Jonathan Tibbs readers! Unfortunately, that news is not a set publication date for the sequel, but a development that will directly affect said date.
Thank You READERS!
Everyone who bought a copy of The Never Hero, who got excited about it, told their friends to read it, wrote a review, sent an email, tweeted or blogged about it. It is because of you, and the support of my family, that I’ve resigned from my day job. I gave notice January 8th, and on January 23rd I will be a full time writer. I wish there were better words to express my gratitude for your readership and support. The best I can do is tell you why it matters so much to me.
In 2013, I was thirty-two and circling a break down. I hadn’t been fired. I hadn’t lost a loved one. My family was happy and healthy. I had no obvious reason to be miserable.
Under the surface a part of me wanted to lose everything, wished I would show up to work the next day and find out I had been let go. I was at that point in life where you toy with hitting that ‘big red button.’ You start asking yourself, “What could I do to set it all in motion?” What is the action that will irreparably put me on a course for my own personal rock bottom?
A piece of me was desperately searching for the freedom that comes from failing at all of my responsibilities, from having nothing to lose.
I was never going to be happy at a 40-50 hour a week job. It wasn’t my employer, nor the employer who followed, both were great companies and treated me well. It was incompatibility with the lifestyle. This was not a new revelation, but one I struggled with, unconsciously at first and very consciously later, since entering the work force.
I day dreamed about going out in blaze of ridiculous glory… Jerry Mcquire style…
Unfortunately, tempting as that big red button is, we all know that I wasn’t willing to take my family down with me. I often wonder if I knew that this might be the case…
A long time ago in a lonely bachelor’s pad far far away…
That perhaps I went looking for family, a place where I was needed, so I wouldn’t feel I had the option of hitting that button when the urge got strong enough.
Show up to work… try to care… repeat. Years going by in a blur. Every day just wanting the one simple @$#@%@# luxury of being able to go to sleep when I was tired, and wake up when I @$#@%@ wasn’t.
What is worse, of course, is that it felt so damn immature.
It is a strange box that one, knowing you aren’t acting your age, but not being able to find the words you need to say to yourself in order to become the ‘responsible adult’ you are suppose to be by now.
“Accept reality,” he said to himself in a chant. “This is how the world works.”
Now, I know this is hardly unique. I get it! I may as well be expressing the grief of everyone who has ever had to work their whole life. Or at least everyone who watched Office Space. Perhaps there was one difference, for me, that made it feel like a prison. I can’t fake enthusiasm.
If you asked my wife: How well does T. Ellery Hodges lie?
She would say:
“He never bothers. Not because of some moral code, mind you, but because he finds it exhausting and he is terrible at it. Seriously, if he tried to lie to me, I’d know immediately. Whatever he said would sound fishy and he would take a nap right afterward.”
My career, whatever it was at the time, kept needing me to care. Not pretend to care, mind you, but I was suppose to actually want to be there. I couldn’t fake it though, just say the words with enthusiasm: “I want to be here and I care!”
In short, my livelihood could not depend on my ability to pretend I cared about corporate success. I was going to eventually lose that battle and I had no illusions about it. The stress of which was always present, and I feared I was getting ready to engage in some self destructive behavior if only to force something to change.
As this took its toll on me, it started to do the same to my family. I hated that my son saw me come home every day and knew that I didn’t want to wake up in the morning. Was afraid that he would pick up on my declining ability to find joy in anything, that this state of being was some intrinsic part of how the world worked and all he had to look forward to as an adult. You might think this all sounds like depression.
It isn’t…. it’s fear.
So, I had to do something, anything…
WHATEVER IT TOOK
…to escape. I had dreamed of writing my whole life, had the story of Jonathan Tibbs in my head for years. What I didn’t have was courage, follow through, or time. So I told courage to go play find and go #$%$#@ itself, and I found the follow through. Then I gave up the thing I had the least of… all my free time.
I worked all day, came home and wrote until I was exhausted. I gave up my weekends and sacrificed my health (seriously, had to stop exercising… gained thirty lbs). It took me a year and a half, but I finished The Never Hero. Now, almost another year and a half of working a day job and writing in my off hours has gone by while I tried to complete the sequel. My family has been lucky to see me for more than an hour a day for a long time now.
This may all sound like I’m publicly congratulating myself, but that isn’t it. I’m saying that if you folks hadn’t read the book, well, it would have been for nothing. I would still be trapped in that prison, only it would be worse, because I wouldn’t have an escape plan. Now, thanks to you, and the sacrifices of my family, I am pushing the big red button…
Hmmm, that red button metaphor has gotten pretty blurry at this point… basically I mean I can quit my job without screwing my family over and our house going into foreclosure.
As with most things, escaping a prison isn’t so simple as crossing your fingers and jumping the fence. My family and I had to save enough that we wouldn’t become homeless… at least long enough for me to get this series done.
Cough Cough… after that I am dependent on you good people again… but if you’ll keep reading, I’ll keep writing… No pressure!
Thanks to everyone who took a chance on an indie book and an author they had never heard of. I hope this post makes you understand how much I appreciate you. Because I can finally say it:
“I want to be here and I care!”
Of course, you may have only endured reading all of that because you wanted an update about the sequel. So the news is this: I now have 50 hours of my week freed up to work on nothing else. Still I think you guys deserve something at least slightly cooler than a, “Its about to get real ya’ll!”
I’ve had my cover artist cook up some awesome 1920 x 1030 Hi-Res Wallpapers based on the book covers. You’ll notice of course, that one of those is a cover reveal.
Now, I know this is kinda like turning your computer screen into a piece of promotional art for the The Chronicles of Jonathan Tibbs…
Um, wait… I’m suppose to contradict that statement now? …remember what my wife said about my lying skills?
Personally though, I’m using them to keep from getting distracted when I sit down to write full time on the 23rd… basically it goes something like this:
T’s Brain: Hey T. Ellery, want to watch some Netflix?
T. Ellery: Hey brain, that is an awesome idea! Let me just pull it up on the computer and… oh right. Nice try brain!
I know, I know, you never would have guessed such a thing from a Superhero SciFi author who merges Doctor Who, Predator, Rocky, and Jesus into one book. I apologize… this likely came as a shock.
Anyhow, its not something I bring up a lot, at least not in my day to day life. Not for lack of trying mind you, but my co-workers tend to give blank stares when I start pondering the thematic parallels between Christ and the Last Son of Krypton outloud.
Yeah, so…I’ve been called a bit of a fanboy… okay perhaps ‘curator of a well managed Nerd library’… A #Nerdbrary? Son of a… dammit Twitter! I actually thought that hashtag was going to be original. You plagiarize all the best stuff I haven’t thought of yet!
What the hell was I talking about? Oh right… so I started playing Dungeon and Dragons before I can honestly recall. That isn’t an exaggeration, I remember getting made fun of for it as early as second grade, we are talking 1990 ish. I collected comic books from 3rd grade until highschool and started playing Magic Cards around 6th grade. I went to a Roman Catholic school, and I remember everyone walking off the dance floor at a party I went to once… I had played my Nine Inch Nails album. I wasn’t bitter 5-6 years later when everyone suddenly thought it was cool and forgot the incident… I fixed computers for six years before going back to college.
Crap, I fell down a memory hole and lost the point again.
Ahh the point —found it — I watch a lot of ScreenJunkies(@screenjunkies), HISHE (@TheHISHEdotcom), and Geek and Sundry (@GeekandSundry). Wil Wheaton(@wilw), Felicia Day (@feliciaday), and Chris Hardwick @hardwick (see footnote*) are pretty much the holy trinity in my nerd-bible…nerdible?… #Nerdible?… %$@ #$@#*&^ Dammit Twitter, seriously!
Anyhow, I listen to the Nerdist almost everyday on my way to work on my hour and a half commute. When it came to my attention that I could sponsor an episode of the Podcast and bring The Never Hero infront of the audience it was essentially written for, well, I didn’t think twice. Okay that is a lie, I flip flopped, I flip flopped a ton… Hey! sponsorships aren’t cheap people!
Anyhow, nothing is more surreal than actually hearing someone you listen to everyday say, “The Nerdist Podcast is brought to you by THE NEVER HERO!”
I mean… I could actually write stuff like, “The Never Hero… as featured on The Nerdist.” Or at least I could, you know, if I was a duche-bag. See what I did there.
Chris and Matt did some great improv with the script, and since you probably already read the book — I mean how the hell else would you find me — and just want a quick laugh, you can listen to the standalone clips below:
(*) Honorable mention to Kevin Smith(@ThatKevinSmith). He’d be in there but Trinities are… well you know… triangles… my whole nerdible thing wouldn’t have worked.. oh right… it didn’t really work anyway. Lets say it was my holy Cubible… ahh that sucks! You know how you know it sucks? Twitter hasn’t thought of it already. Maybe I can make Felicia Day like the Mother Mary of my nerdible. Ahhh crap, that sounded sexist just saying it. Stupid white male privilege. No, I’m calling it, Smith is awarded honorable mention (See Footnote Footnote**).
(**) Okay so it was really neck in neck until Felicia Day mentioned on her last Nerdist interview that her Witcher 3 Gwent game sucked and that she had an entire house in Skyrim that she had filled with potatoes. That was just a profound bonding experience for me… but any other day man… I don’t know who it would have gone to.
(***) I really wanted to title this blog entry The ‘Nerdist’ Hero, but you know… it just didn’t really make any sense.
Watched Frequencies last night, I didn’t intend to write a review of the film but it had been recommended to me by some friends. I gave them my opinion, and since I had already done the heavy lifting of writing it down, I figured I could toss it up on the blog.
The short answer is that I enjoyed and recommend it. It’s a good measure of a story if you find yourself thinking about it long after the film is over. Frequencies is a pretty original science fiction thought experiment.
I enjoyed the director’s use of color tones, moving between red and blue camera lenses for scenes where the person’s perspective moved from cold logic to human emotion.
The writer did a lot with symbolism. You can’t always be certain when something isn’t expressly stated, but I am going to go out on a limb here and assume ‘The Book’ was intended to be analogous to ‘The Bible,’ and that the male leads friend is representative of god as he becomes semi-omniscient.
I was a little disappointed with the ending, as it heads straight for the old question: “If we have free will or not, would it change anything? Would you care?” The characters just shrug the question off as everyone does in our non-science-fiction reality. They don’t having anything interesting to say on the matter despite all they’ve experienced, despite the fact that they have had moments where their will has been temporarily usurped. Though writing it down now, it dawns on me that this may have very well been the point. Pondering…
Warning: Navel Gazing to follow.
Other than that there was one thing that bugged me. This happens a lot, especially to atheists admittedly, and its a pet peeve, not something someone should weigh before watching the film.
The characters make frequent references to their ‘souls’ throughout the film. Writers often take this concept for granted, assuming that their audience accepts the idea as reality instead of a manifestation of human imagination. I’ve never heard an argument that validates the myth of the human soul, its always used as an attempt to insert magic when logic fails to deliver the answer mankind wants to hear. The sad thing about it is that most don’t take the time to think about it: the assumed magic of the soul doesn’t actually fix the problem, even if you do believe in it.
Basically what I am saying here is that human beings rebel against the possibility that they are a product of their genetics (Nature) and their life experiences (Nurture), because they have no control over those things. They assume we have souls in order to insert that control, but failing to realize, that even if a soul was a proven reality, we still have no control over the soul we get, just as we have no control over who are parents are, what genes we inherit, what economic demographic we are born into.
It bothers me because it tends to be a source of great religious hypocrisy. A means to give ourselves intrinsic value we have no claim to in the face of freewill being an illusion. I don’t mean to point fingers, or make sweeping assumptions, but this is something I really wish conservatives, or at least religious fundamentalist, would give more thought too. It is scary of course, as one’s sense of identify can be very dependent on our perceived value of our life’s efforts. However, I find that when we get done looking to prove our own value, and see how little control we ever had on what the current outcome of our life has been, we cannot help but find compassion for those who weren’t as lucky.
It occured to me, as I flipped through the Amazon’s Kindle categories the other day, that a bestselling ebook cover is a mix of three key elements: (1) a picture of Matt Damon’s face with (2) a shot of some dudes abs and (3) a wolf standing in the foreground.
Someone clearly needs to write a Paranormal Erotica/Macguyver/Survival SciFi Adventure…
In the last few years I keep hearing that audiobooks are hot, hot, hot. I laugh because I’m clearly at the age when old is new again. My family used to get boxes of tapes in the mail from Recorded Books. We’d all listen and return them within the three week turnaround …
My step son turned fifteen yesterday. Every year around this time we take him to a haunted house and scare the crap out of him for his birthday. Anyhow, been updating the blogs aesthetics lately, and I came across this entry about dealing with teenage angst. Thought it was due for a reblog.
Back in July, I asked readers who they had cast in their imagination for the characters in the The Never Hero. It’s a bit overdue, but here is compilation of the responses. Some were spot on with what I had pictured when I was writing, some were a surprise, others were a complete mystery. I’ve listed all names that were brought up below, added a few of my choices and a few that have come up in email correspondence.
I made a few observations after compiling this:
Subconsciously (or perhaps consciously I guess), a number of folks are seeing Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy when they imagine Jonathan and Leah. Given I grew up reading Spider-Man comics I have to wonder if I didn’t somehow cause this by accident.
Never set out to to do it, but there is a clear casting diversity issue. I included my choices for Olivia at the bottom after noticing, though I realize now that I never actually pointed out the characters ethnicity in the text itself. Luckily, this is not an issue in the sequel as the character population grows. Still, I never planned on having a bunch of white folks interacting with one another. In self-reflection, it is disillusioning, I wasn’t aware I had such a glaring myopia in my writing. At least my male to female ratio wasn’t too skewed.
Got a better person in mind for one of these characters? Let us know in the comments.