Strides Forward

Hello Readers,
I reached a wonderful milestone: My book is available in store! The wonderful people at Just Games in Penfield took a shipment of my book and are selling them now. I have autographed each copy, and if I am in the store (which is often), I’ll gladly personalized it for you. I have frequented Just Games since it started many years ago and am always greeted with friendly staff, including the owner and his wife who are there most days, who know their stuff.

On the story front: I am nearly done with the short novella connecting The Edge of Snow and Dust with its sequel. The novella, tentatively titled, “The Wing” follows a girl during the Slaughter at Skord from the first book and its implications into the future. Once that is complete, I’ll be focusing more on the second book in the Star Soul Series, with a title I’ll reveal later.
Until then please check out Just Games wonderful supply of games and pick up a signed copy of The Edge of Snow and Dust.

Take care!

A Great Launch

Hello Readers,

Two weeks have passed since I published The Edge of Snow and Dust. First off, thank you! Thank you to everyone who bought either a digital or paperback copy. To update the book’s report page and see the sales number climb was exhilarating.  As I was telling a close friend, the story I had could only come alive when someone read it. When it was in my head, or silent on my computer, it still wasn’t alive. Not until you the reader breathed life into it as your eyes traveled across its pages. So for that, thank you so much. And thank you to all those who liked and shared my Facebook post, it helped spread the word and calm my nerves those first few moments after publishing. It was a wonderful moment of many firsts. My first published novel, my first digital sale, first paperback bought. It was all very exciting. Now not all of it was stress free and fun.

There were a few technical errors such as when the paperback went live. On Amazon’s back-end, I linked the two versions of the novel. The ebook was formatted and uploaded first with the paperback following a few days later. The ebook had the official release date, so when I finished and uploaded the paperback I thought it would do the same. Nope! Instead, it went live a few days early. I learned much and gained a real morale boost, both of which will carry me into the second book. But first a bit of business news –

 

The novel at the moment is only available on Amazon ($2.99 for the ebook, $15.99). I know some people don’t have Kindles or shop at Amazon. I am looking into getting it onto Barnes and Nobles website and maybe even getting it carried at their Webster location. I’ll keep you updated on that front.

The other is book signing. A lot of people were wondering if I would sign their book in the Rochester area. Of course I would! I am exploring bookstores for a book signing event, either solo or with other aspiring authors. Again, I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

Now onto the second book. While I worked on the publishing process for Book 1 of the Star Soul Series, I had already begun planning and plotting the second with a bonus. I’ll be writing a short story leading into the second book and it’ll be free! I’ll post it here on the website with a mailing list. Then you’ll be notified the moment Book 2 is released.

That’s all I have at the moment. Next week I’ll discuss my plotting process and hopefully have even more great news to share. Until then. . .

Take care!

Featured

The Edge of Snow and Dust is Live!

Hello Readers,

Today I debut my novel! It has been a difficult but rewarding journey. From drafting more than five years ago, to writing fan-fiction back in high school, to sketching ideas way back in Junior High. It has all led to this. So please take a look, read a little of the Look Inside and join Garekk, Anila and so many other characters in this fantasy world! And don’t forget to leave a review.

Take care!

 

The Day Has Come

Hello Readers,Scribe

This is it! The week of release! It has taken me a lot of long hard hours, plotting, writing, revising, and learning to get here. But here we finally are.

Both the ebook and the paperback of The Edge of Snow and Dust will be available this Friday July 19th! I’ll be posting a link to the page at 8am here and on Facebook, so stay tuned!

Let me go into a few quick details about the release and at the end I’ll reveal the book cover!

My career as a writer will be different. As a customer, I’ve noticed several trends bothering me. I play video games, a lot, and the quality-to-cost nowadays is grossly disproportionate. There are $60 games giving you only an hour or two of content. You hear game making is expensive then find out the CEO of the company is pulling in tens of millions of dollars. That’d be fine if the average Joe wasn’t drowning in bills and yearning for a raise. Therefore, I am going to breakdown the cost of each of my books so people know exactly what they are getting when they buy my stories.

I am releasing The Edge of Snow and Dust in both ebook and paperback form. The ebook of 168,000 words (the average for fantasy is closer to 100,000) will cost $2.99 with my royalty being $2.01. Checking Amazon’s metrics and my own research, $2.99 is the average. So you are getting 68,000 words over the average for the average price!

The paperback will cost $15.99. It is 6 inches by 9 inches and 499 pages. Most of the fantasy novels I researched are 5 to 5 1/2 by 8 and average around 500 pages. Again more bang for your buck. It cost $6.84 to make the book and Amazon gets their 40% cut. I earn then $2.76 with each paperback sold. That extra 75 cents above the ebook royalty is because. . . IF you buy the paperback, you get the ebook for free! I’ve gone through too many experiences where I had the “analog” copy of a product only to realized I needed to buy the “electronic” version for convenience. So it was wonderful when I saw the option to give you the electronic for free.

And I’ll do this for each of my books. I want you, the reader, to know what you are paying for. I hope, somehow, this starts a trend where producers of art or any kind of product shows you the cost to make the item and the profit to be gained. Maybe it’ll slow down the need to maximize profits and shift people’s focus to just producing good works.

Now on to the cover! I went to Fiverr.com, a website for freelancers, and found someone to create my book cover. I messaged her a few times with my idea for a cover, setup a payment with the website, and she produced the cover within a week. The first version I got had a few elements I wanted and a few that needed correcting. Then back and forth we went until I felt it captured the story. I then spent another week myself making a few changes here and there and this is the result. The cover to – The Edge of Snow and Dust.

The Edge of Snow and Dust Book Cover Front (Fin)jpg

Keep an eye out for this cover and the link to the book page this Friday. Then please enjoy a story I’ve worked hard on and cared passionately about for the past few years. And this is only the start, I’ve already started writing the second book in the Star Soul Saga with a tie-in short story. So please continue to join me on this journey of fantasy stories about magic and might.

 

Take care!

The Core Is Done. Time To build The Frame.

Hello Readers!

A few days ago I posted the completion of The Edge of Snow and Dust. It was hard and long journey, but I learned so much. The writing process took about five months. The editing took another two. It would have been longer if I hadn’t found a great program: ProWritingAid. The program’s UI is simple and effective but its real features came in its stages and explanations. Grammar, syntax, word usage, verb tenses, it breaks them all down into steps. And within those steps are explanations and examples to teach you as you edit, which only speeds up editing as you notice on your own the various ways

to make your writing tighter and more effective.

With the editing done I had to decide how people would read my novel. Digital is the most convenient but there is still a strong desire to hold something tangible in your hand. For digital I used Amazon’s tools to format the font, chapters, even parts of the design. For paperback I studied the types and sizes the fantasy genre used and came up with the dimensions and style for my book. The Edge of Snow and Dust will be printed  6 X 9 with an inch and a third spine with 520 pages. 6 X 9 is the largest I could get without it being a strange custom made book which would only add to the cost.  There are smaller sizes such as 4 X 7 or 5 X 8, but I would have to compromise on the font, making it difficult to read, or add more pages making them almost a thick as they were long. So make room on your shelves for a great 6 X 9 written with passion and care.

And as a bonus to all those who’ve followed my journey, I’ve added below the official back cover to The Edge of Snow and Dust with the finalized story blurb to jump start your imagination. In a few days I’ll reveal the final cover and the cost br

eakdown for the novel.

Take care!

 

It’s Been A Journey, But We’re Now On Our Way.

Hello Readers!

The title of today’s post couldn’t be more true. I posted on Facebook a few times over the past couple months reporting my progress with finishing and editing The Edge of Snow and Dust. When I finished the complete rewrite it came in at about 200,000 words, or about 2/3 the length of the first Game of Thrones book. But through the power of editing I cut it down to 170,000 words. I then gave it one more pass and cut it down to 168,000 words. And with that…

 

I finished! My “Edit” book marker slid past the last page. And it felt great! Now that didn’t mean I had reached the finish line, but I had finished telling my story. No more edits, no more rewrites, it was as I wanted it, and boy was it a journey. A wonderful person who accompanied me was a YouTuber named Martin Molin. Martin is a musician in a band called Wintergatan. It follows his journey as he builds a huge marble machine to play music. (https://youtu.be/C8qyVURtSZc)

I watched as he took big leaps forward, hit concrete walls, then found a way through them. He was experiencing on a big mechanical scale what I was on a small creative scale. As he tried to solve the marble lift portion of his machine, I would try to figure a way to connect two plot points together seamlessly. As he pushed forward, so did I. I would set a goal at 2,000 words a day but get so caught up in the moment of a scene, that I’d end the day with 6,000. I felt the thrill of writing again. And now as Martin said “It’s been a journey, but we’re now on our way.”

My next post will focus on the next steps towards publishing The Edge of Snow and Dust: front matter and book size, book cover, pricing, and distribution.

Take Care!

An Observing Creator

Hello Readers,

Last week I told you I started a second iteration of The Edge of Snow and Dust. It was a pretty long post, over two thousands words actually. This time I’d thought I keep this one relatively short. Today I want to show you the mind of a creator not while he or she is hard at work making a movie, a song, or a book. But what runs through their mind while they are consuming others’ creative works.

First off a quick little background note. After taking a year off from high school, I attended Monroe Community College here in Rochester, graduating in 2007 with an Associates in Mechanical Technology. Everyone said I had an analytical mind and was great at building things, so the degree made sense. My family and friends constantly noticed me staring hard into an object, speculated on how it was designed, and then guess ways it could be improved. That was all well and good, and encouraged by my parents. But the same enthusiasm cannot be said when I deconstructed art. Instead I constantly hear, “stop analyzing it.”

See when I watch a movie, hear a song, or read a book, I usually have a list of observations I want to talk about afterwards. In each piece of art there is so much to breakdown and understand. “The director introduced the unicorn twice but completely forgot to give us the payoff, or the editor cut it. I wonder why?” or to everyone’s chagrin, “You could definitely tell that was a studio note. The character’s flaw should have been this, but that would turn off this audience, and they wanted that money.” Those around me hear all this an assume I can’t see the art, or don’t like art in general, or enjoy ripping apart art. None of its true.

I break them down because I am a creator at heart. Be it fan-fiction (of which I have written plenty), to writing my novel, to quickly coming up with an absurd take on a commercial, I am always creating. And as a creator, I know what messages I want to convey with my own creations. Character traits that resonate with me or messages that have affected my life that I hope can have the same effect on others. So when I hear people say “just enjoy the thing” or “it’s a movie you can just turn your brain off and enjoy” I fundamentally disagree. These aren’t manufactured creations. Someone living and breathing whose life is a thick novel of joy and sadness and fear created this thing. You can learn so much by analyzing why they used this paint brush, this color, this camera lens or angle, or this instrument. And if some big corporation did manufacture that song or movie with a boardroom of executives with polling data and test audiences, then what does that say about the society that created those people or warranted those studio notes. I’ll give my creator eye on two examples.

I saw Bumblebee yesterday, a Transformers prequel with a different director and take on the fighting robot mythos. I really enjoyed it. It felt like a movie, felt like a story. With each sequel under Director Michael Bay becoming more and more incoherent, I was really hoping for a change in vision. Now it is not perfect and as a creator I could see the studio notes and deals within the movie. Firstly, (minor spoilers) we see a number of transformers that look like the toys from the 80’s which served two purposes. One, to let us know they are abandoning the more insect look the previous five movies had. And two, more importantly, to hit us with nostalgia. Nostalgia is a powerful tool when you want someone entertained. For very little effort you can remind people of a portion of their live that never existed. Boy was Bumblebee banking on that. After the opening scene, the audience is hit with 80’s posters and gadgets, 80’s TV shows, and FOUR famous 80’s songs played back to back over scenes that just don’t need them. Why do all this? Because Stranger Things on Netflix made 80’s nostalgia popular and profitable.

Seeing all this nostalgia didn’t affect me. I had seen countless new shows find reasons to pull themselves back to the 80’s to try and jump on this bandwagon. It didn’t ruin the story for me, but I noticed it. I noticed that was the studio hoping to revitalize their dying big blockbuster franchise. But I also noticed a touching story of a character trying to get over some difficult hurdles in life with a giant transforming VW Beetle trying to do the same. By noticing and separating the studio mandates and the writer and directors vision, I was able to connect with real people who made something they wished to share.

Another example I will give you is my own personal take on today’s popular music. Most of what I hear today sounds so similar in tone, pace, style, that I can’t tell them apart. Even the message feels confined to a specific topic: love. My girlfriend, Lord bless her, has to deal with me asking a sarcastic question every time we get in the car. “Hey, is this song by that girl, you know, the one that sounds like all the others, about that guy she loves but shouldn’t, or has and is leaving, or loves him and is leaving because she shouldn’t have him but does?” And she always shouts, “I like this song!” I then ask who is it by and she starts laughing, “I don’t know.”

From a creator point of view I only make fun of the songs because I know the corporate thought behind it. Because of how integrated the internet is in our life, especially with our cellphones instantaneous connection we, as the older generation loves to point out, don’t communicate with one another. Which is factually false. We now communicate with more people than ever and with people we would never see in real life. And personally that’s okay. You can connect with like-minded groups about things you love. I play D&D, Call of Cthulhu, and other rpg’s. But my close  group of friends don’t. But online I can find a community that does, and we can talk and debate and laugh about it together. We may not be able to touch one another but we are still communicating.

However due to these long-ranged spread out communities, it is harder to find a connection with people closer to us that we are attracted to. Think about it, if you saw someone at the store whom you found attractive, say they laughed at something and the laugh was so genuine and warm, what would be your “in”? Would you just start laughing with no context, walk over and just ask what’s funny? Most of the options you would come up with would be weird or unnatural. Now before social media, you would know someone who would know someone who knew that person. Now you don’t and instead you wonder what-if. Then get in the car and what do you know, there’s a song on the radio or Pandora or Spotify describing how you feel. Because so many people constantly struggle to find a natural way to connect in a physical space setting when it is so easy to talk online, there’s more and more songs about it. I see all this by breaking down why corporations would want to constantly create eerily similar music and radio stations play the same four songs over and over again. Those songs make money. Despite seeing the generic song on the radio as a studio crafted, purpose built, money making opportunity, I can understand why they are prevalent and what that says about our society and the individual.

I can see the art.

So the next piece of art you consume, in its infinite forms, consider breaking it down. Seperate it into is many components and see not how it affects you, but what glimpses it gives into the state of our society today. Why is this subject the focus of so many artist? You might fall down a rabbit hole like I do, but you might just learn something that’ll give that art a new perspective. A new perspective that might turn you into a creator.

Take care!

A Glimpse of The Edge

Hello readers!Scribe

Last week I told you I was going to hold off on the publication of The Edge of Snow and Dust until I felt it was the best I could offer. I also explained I was going to release either the Prologue for The Edge of Snow and Dust or the book cover. Thinking about it over the weekend, I concluded the Prologue was the better choice. Anyone can create a great cover. We have all seen the movie posters and album covers out there. The dazzling images and colors draw us in, but it could be all flash and no substance. The opening scene to the movie, or the first track on the album, that can truly show you the passion behind the project. Click on the link below and enjoy the first glimpse into The Edge of Snow and Dust world!

https://rickeyjacksonjr.com/2017/12/08/prologue/

Take care and don’t forget to leave a comment and tell me what you think.

A Life is a Story

Hello! Hope you are all well. I have nearly finished another draft of The Edge of Snow and Dust. In this version I was taking great care to ensure the characters were telling the story. Of course how I feel and what I think will most likely be felt in the novel, but I wanted to eliminate the feeling of a structure to the story. I recently watched a video on YouTube on the secret to a successful movie. Movies are moving stories so I decided to take a look. Now first off I do not think there is any secret to anything. There is no secret to a perfect relationship, there is no secret to a perfect life, and there sure is no secret to a perfect story.

The video was detailing the key elements to the three Acts in a story that will artificially hooked the audience. I watched the speaker a little stunned at the arrogance of his supposed mastery of audience puppetry. I grinned as the speaker confirmed a trend I had been noticing for quite a while; that expressions of art, music, writing, and theater, can be manufactured. If a song followed a formula it will become a hit. A movie needs these specific moments to become a blockbuster.

I truly believe some of the most memorable songs, movies, and stories; are borne out of passion not built-in a factory. And those songs and stories are often born messy. Think about a story you told, did it follow a special structure? Did you make sure the critical moment in your story was at the midway point? When a friend ask you to hear the first hint of a song, was the chorus the correct length with the right number of syllables. None that I have ever heard.

So when I reread The Edge of Snow and Dust I made sure to have a keen eye for any artifacts of myself as the writer. The people in this world, struggling to rise above the mess but still take the moment to cherish living, they are telling the story not me. Their moments do not have a special structure that would check off boxes in storytelling.

Life is a story containing endless stories. And life is messy. It is coarse and rough at times, and yet a smooth soft moment can appear out of nowhere. That I think is what makes life interesting. If life was perfect in its predictably, manufactured to mimic other lives, it could not be called life. It would be a product, and I do not what my story to be a product for you.

I want The Edge of Snow and Dust to be these characters’ stories. I want it to be their lives.

 

 

Characters Laboring to Stand

Hello again! Hope you had a nice Labor Day and a good week so far. Schools and colleges are starting back up, new chapters in a lot of lives. There are new challenges, new people, new responsibilities. And as much as we try to prepare for them, you never know if you are truly ready until you are in the thick of it, until you have that moment of “oh boy” and you are in over your head. Or you say “I got this” and know you will be all right. But really you stand between the two, murmuring to yourself “oh boy” and then finding that moment when you grunt “I got this”.

I have a lot of those moments in my life, of not being fully prepared for something. I thought I had things well in hand, that I knew myself and knew the stakes. Then once I was thrust into the situation, I realized I was not just drowning but the surface to the mess was ten feet above me. I would turn to television, video games, and movies for inspiration, to see those characters ten feet under and swim their way to the surface, climb out no worse for wear and succeed.

I felt I had a story like that, But I felt not everyone has their matters in order, they are not ready to swim to the surface. No, the challenges wait until you are already down on one knee before it drowns you. And while you’re drowning, you can hear the frantic pleas around you asking for help. You try to choke back that “oh boy” but you know you are in it.

The people in The Edge of Snow and Dust, are already wounded and down on that one knee when a challenge comes and drowns them. Journey with them as they struggle to get off that one knee, answer the pleas around them and push for the surface. Take care!