Back Story

As I wind my way through edits, versions, choices and words aplenty with the new novel.  It occurred to me one of the things I like best about fiction is the back story.  The details of character and scene, plot and tension, that should always, in my mind be shown, not told.

Fall Factor is my first real attempt at writing anything of length in first person.  As such, I found it tough to “show” not “tell” the characters’ back story.  A few characters are left blank, so to speak.  Their history is left to the reader to guess.

I do not see myself ever writing a serial character.  I love to read those series, but as a writer it seems a crutch.  It is also hard to do very well and few writers in my opinion accomplish it.

That is not to say that my characters will never reappear in later works.  I enjoy that intertwining of worlds, histories and “realities” I have constructed.

Some of my characters have been with me a very long time.  Chris Beckett, the main character in Fall Factor originaly appeared in a slightly different form in a short story I wrote in college.  It was published in Penn State’s literary magazine, the Palimpsest Review (1997)

Here it is in PDF form Uncertain Reconciliation.

I considered rewriting, but decided to give it to you as I wrote it 18 years ago.  Chris is not the same in this story as he is in the new novel.  Then neither am I.  However, this Chris was the basis for that Chris.

I look forward to sharing more backstory with you all as I lead up to the release of Fall Factor.


5 Things To Know About Self-Publishing A Book No One Tells You!

My first novel Free Falling has been out for about a year and a half.  Getting it to print was journey in and of itself.  One I found at once daunting and exciting.  Getting the package in the mail, opening it, holding the paper bound book, my book, in my hands for the first time, thrilling, the culmination of many goals.

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Now I am embarked upon yet another journey.  The journey to get the book out to actually have people read it!  Marketing in other words.  Here is a list of 5 things I have found out, discovered, or just simply had reemphasized in my mind in the last 18 months or so.

1.  Be prepared to invest even more time than it took to write your book into your marketing efforts!  As a general rule of thumb, if you are not willing to invest 6 to 7 hours a week into some activity that will expose your book’s existence to readers, then you will not meet with much success.

That time can be spent researching markets, making call lists or writing blog posts, but it must be spent. 60% or more should be active, as in, not just research.   Research is important, but action is necessary. Set measurable goals and embark with steady, constant effort.


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2.  Be creative and try many things when marketing.  I figured I could whittle my marketing efforts down to a few activities within a year, then focus on those.  Not so easy, I found.  You must be as creative as you are diligent and persistent.  Try lots of things and keep up as many as you can.

Contrary to my initial belief, I did not whittle down my marking effort due to results.  Those are extremely had to track.  I narrowed my options due to time and to activities I enjoy.  Blogging and video are my digital choices.  Speaking and training engagements are also on my list as my work lends itself to those activities.   I also have started a campaign I call seeding which leads nicely into number 3!


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3.  Be prepared to give a lot of books away for free!  Initially I was loath to do this.  I felt it undermined my value as a writer and my investment.  However, I have found that getting books into the right hands at no cost to those hands is money well invested.  The trick is choosing who!

Nothing in life is truly free.  Sure I give books away without monetary charge, but I ask for reviews in return.  I ask for exposure and for the book to be passed on/ recommended to others who may enjoy it.  Recently I stared leaving books if I am staying at a guest house or B&B.  I do not know if this works, nor will I ever have a measure, but it sure is fun!

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4.   Know your audience, then get to know them better!  I write stories about tree workers and arborists.  I have spent the bulk of my professional career being one.  It never actually occurred to me that the great majority of tree people are men.  Odd, I never thought of that!  Ironically, it occurred to me as I sent my latest novel out for proof reading that almost all the people who review it for me are women.  I do not know if that is an issue or not, but it points out that I did not spend enough time really thinking about my market!

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5.  Deal in the long term.  The downside of self publishing is if you do not market your book, no one will.  The upside is your book only goes away when you stop marketing.  No book store can take it off the shelf for the next hottest trend.  I have often equated book marketing to rolling a snowball down a hill.  You gather snow and get it rolling.  You don’t know how fast or far it may go, you just keep throwing snow under it!

I now put the analogy this way.  Yes, your book is a snow ball, but there is no hill!  You must push it constantly, sometimes up hill, level ground if you are lucky, but always pushing.  Sometimes somebody else throws some snow in the path.  Other times you must do it!  Sometimes you can steer the growing snow ball to a fresh patch.  It does not come easy or overnight!


My final advice for those of you thinking about publishing or already at that stage.  Keep going, set goals you can meet and keep pushing the snow ball.

In that vein, I want to thank the many how have written me a review or sent me an e-mail regarding the book.  I am so very grateful.  To those of you that have read the book, I ask your for help!  Please write a review, good bad or indifferent!  It goes a long way for me as a writer as well as exposure online for the book.

Thanks to all, too many name, who have helped me on this journey!  Let me know if I can do anything in return.