Lee Herbst’s Blog – Volume 1, Issue 5

Volume 1, Issue 5

Note: I have dropped the Marketing and Publishing sections of my blog due to a lack of interest in that type of information. I am working on making the blog a bit more personal, but yet pertinent to my writing, so I ask for all my readers to be patient with me as I work through this transition. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Welcome to my blog. My blog discusses my journey through the sometimes dark and mysterious world of writing and publishing Christian fiction. Along the way I will discuss the status of my writing, include tips on writing, and share inspirational stories from my personal life.

This blog is published on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month. This month, due to some unforeseen circumstances and a family vacation, I am publishing my blog on the 2nd and 4th Saturday.

Please help promote my blog by telling your friends about me. Let them know they can sign up to receive my blog in their email at http://author.leeherbst.com.

In This Issue

  1. Status: The Void War:Invasion
  2. Writing Tip: The Structure of Fiction – Part 4
  3. Inspiration: Are My Sins Private?

 1. Status: The Void War:Invasion

I completed the chapter 5 edit and sent it to my beta readers on May 27th, a little more than a week late. So, I am a bit behind schedule with my editing, but the results of chapter 5 were worth it. It is a much better and stronger chapter than the original.

I have started editing chapter 6 and, like chapter 5, it also needed of a complete rewrite. I have put a deadline of June 16th on sending it to my beta readers, but I am far from completion, so I am going to miss the deadline. After realizing I needed to rewrite the chapter, I felt it was necessary to write a complete outline of the chapter (it is a complex chapter). The outline is complete and I am maybe a fifth of the way through the rewrite. Hopefully, I won’t be much more than a week behind, but I also have a vacation this coming week in South Carolina. I’ll be packing the laptop to go with us.

At my current pace, it looks like the first revision will be complete in mid-January or early February. After that, I will start the final revision which I am praying does not take as long as the first revision as I would like to see the book publish by the fall of 2015. I have read many times that a lot of authors take between two and three years to create a novel. That seemed like an excessive amount of time until I started working on this edit; I can see why now.

The book is currently at 93,000 words, but I expect that to go down somewhat after editing chapter 6 which is currently sitting at a little over 9,000 words. I am still trying to keep my word count under 100,000.

2. Writing Tip: The Structure of Fiction – Part 4

In the last issue we talked about disaster and left Miam dangling from a mountain top with a single pincer latched onto a rung embedded in the rock wall; death seemed almost certain. In this issue we talk about reaction.

Reaction tends to be one of the shortest components of a scene as it is not exactly what happens after the disaster, but the knee-jerk reaction of the point-of-view character to the disaster.  In other words it carries the story forward to the point where the character has a moment to think about what just happened.

It is usually raw, full of emotion and tense. It could be as short as a single piece of dialog such as: “I hate you,” he snapped or several paragraphs that describes a more drawn out reaction. In any case, the character must have a strong reaction to the disaster. Remember, the character is trying to obtain something and this disaster just stopped them or, in the very least, caused a major delay.

Continuing on with our example from chapter 1, here is the reaction of Miam to the disaster at hand:

Yithen dropped down to the floor and tried to kick at Miam with a foot, but missed. Another kick came quickly after and, this time, he was able to make contact. However, the blow only glanced off the side of Miam’s head. His wildly flailing body made for a difficult target.

Miam swung his left pincer around, trying to make contact, but was only met with cold air. Yithen continued to kick at his head, occasionally succeeding with glancing blows. Miam took another frantic swing at Yithen’s leg and was able to grasp his ankle. Miam yanked, hard.

Yithen lost his balance and slid down the ledge, but, like Miam, was able to grasp one of the rungs and, for a moment, Miam and Yithen were face to face. Yithen swung a pincer at Miam’s head, but the wind just swung and twisted their bodies around, making the impact ineffective. Their bodies clacked as their exoskeletons came into contact with each other, like some obnoxious wind chime.

Ignoring Yithen’s assault, Miam swung around and was able to latch onto another rung and pulled himself back up toward the entrance of the Citadel. He was far stronger than the aging Yithen and was determined to not allow him to win this battle. He reached and grasped the next higher rung.

Yithen continued to pummel Miam with ineffective blows, doing little damage. But, before Miam was completely back into the Citadel, Yithen was able to grasp one of his ankles. Yithen tugged and squeezed as hard as he could.

Pain lanced through Miam’s hind-limb as Yithen tightened his grip. Miam kicked at Yithen’s head with his free foot, making solid contact; Yithen released his ankle and fell, dropping down to the next, lower rung. Miam scrambled into the relative safety of the Citadel’s entrance and stood, peering over the edge. Down below, at the edge of darkness, he could see his assailant flapping in the wind.

I’ll be the first to admit that this reaction needs a bit of work during the final revision, but you can get a good idea of what reaction is all about. Miam is frantically flailing at Yithen in hopes of somehow surviving this encounter. He is not thinking, just reacting to the assault. He is unable to make an assessment of the situation until he scrambles to safety. Once there, he can think about what to do next. Does he leave Yithen to his own devices? Does he finish Yithen off? Or, does he help Yithen back up into the Citadel? These questions are presented in the next section of the scene, dilemma. In the next issue we will take a look at dilemma and see how it leads to the final section of the scene, decision.

3. Inspiration: Make My Life a Prayer

God should be number one in our lives, but is he really? Let’s take a look. How much time do we spend in front of the TV watching shows, sports, or movies? How much time do we spend with our close circle of family and friends? How much time do we spend concentrating on work? How much time do we spend in front of a computer, smart phone, or gaming console – playing games, texting, or catching up on facebook? Now add up all that time you spend doing those things and compare it to how much time you spend in prayer each day? Where does God rank? I bet you, for most of us, He is nowhere near the top.

You say that you have to work and that takes eight hours out of your day. Plus, you have to watch that Florida Gator’s game; you’re their lucky charm. Whenever you wear your Gator cap and watch the game, they win.  And Facebook, well it is the only way you can keep up with your family and friends that are spread across the country. How can you fit God in all that? Do you see the problem?

It shouldn’t be about fitting God in at all. It should be about putting God first and fitting in everything else afterwards. So, how do we do that? Well, for me, it is about making my life a prayer. If we can accomplish that, then everything we do, everything we say, and everything we experience is a prayer and God is always first in our lives.

For instance, work. How do we turn that into a prayer? We do it by dedicating our work to God each and every day. When we get up in the morning or during our commute to work, we tell God that we are going to work for Him today. That our work today is our gift to Him, so we are going to work as hard and do our job as well as we can, because we want our gift to be as perfect as we can make it. While we work, we should talk to Him; share our day as it goes along. God, what do you think of that, didn’t I do a good job on that one? God, this isn’t going so well, can you help me out a bit to make it better? Of course, you may not want to speak those words out loud; people might start talking about you. However, give it a try, you will be amazed at the quality of the work you do and, even better, how much closer you will feel to God. Hey, even your boss might notice.

Sporting events? Include God in the event; He is already right there with you. Share your joy, excitement, and disappointments with him during the game. Praise Him for the talents the players are displaying. Ask Him for healing and comfort for those that get hurt. Thank Him for allowing you the chance to watch this with Him. Even ask Him to give the officials better vision if you feel so inclined. 😉 Yes, include your friends, get loud, have fun, but remember to include God in all of it as well. He takes much pleasure in your joy, share it with him.

I am sure you can see how this can be implemented in all facets of your life. Remember God wants you to include Him in everything. He wants you to share your joy, excitement, sorrow, and even your anger, so, give it to Him, it is the least we can do, especially if we truly want to put God first. Like most things, it is easier said than done, but this is not as difficult as it might seem and, with practice, we can spend a lot of the day living a life of prayer, finally putting God first where He belongs.

Posted in Uncategorized

Lee Herbst’s Blog – Volume 1, Issue 4

Volume 1, Issue 4

Welcome to my blog. My blog discusses my journey through the sometimes dark and mysterious world of writing and publishing Christian fiction. Along the way I will discuss the status of my writing, include tips on writing, marketing and publishing fiction, as well as share inspirational stories from my personal life.
This blog is published on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month.
Please help promote my blog by telling your friends about me. Let them know they can sign up to receive my blog in their email at http://author.leeherbst.com.

In This Issue

  1. Status: The Void War:Invasion
  2. Writing Tip: The Structure of Fiction – Part 3
  3. Marketing: eBooks
  4. Publishing: eBooks
  5. Inspiration: Are My Sins Private?

 1. Status: The Void War:Invasion

As I discussed in the prior issue, I got a late start on editing chapter 5 and yet, I felt confident that I would be able to finish the edit on time. However, as I started editing the chapter, I realized that it was going to take a complete rewrite.
Going back a bit, chapter 3 was a complete rewrite that ties into chapter 5. The original chapter just wasn’t going to work, so off on a detour I went. Once completed, I felt I had returned the plot line back to where it was leading into chapter 5, hopefully preventing a rewrite of chapter 5.
However, even though my detour successfully brought me back around to where chapter 5 started, I realized early on in my edit that the chapter was not going to work as written. So, I am now about two-thirds the way through the rewrite with my deadline of May 19th looming near. We will see how the weekend goes, but I have a feeling the chapter will be late and I have warned my beta readers of that possibility.

2. Writing Tip: The Structure of Fiction – Part 3

In the last issue we talked about conflict and this issue we move on to disaster; something goes wrong with the character’s attempt to reach their goal. The conflict should lead us into the disaster, maybe even enough for the reader to see it coming. However, the character is often oblivious to the impending doom.
Disaster is important to the story; it is what changes the character and it is what causes the growth readers want to read. As writers, we cannot allow our character to obtain their goals easily or quickly, if ever. The story is not about the goal, it is the journey, the struggle, the growth of the character that matters.
So, if we just handed our characters their goal, the story would be meaningless and readers would stop reading. Disaster keeps the story moving and allows the reader to relate to the character and feel the emotion of the struggle. Which is what we all want, right?
Disaster doesn’t have to be devastating and can be anything that prevents the character from obtaining their goal or at least a portion of it. Continuing with examples from my book, The Void War: Invasion, this is the disaster for scene two from chapter 1:

The dusty concrete floor was a welcome change for Miam as he started to pick himself up off the floor. But, as soon as he got his legs underneath him, a foot slammed into the side of his head. He collapsed back to the floor. A second blow sent him reeling and sliding off the lip of the ledge.
He stabbed out with his right pincer and came into contact with a rung that he latched onto as the rest of his body swung down over the abyss. The wind whipped him around; twisting and swinging with only the one limb to take the full force of his weight. A familiar face appeared above the ledge; that dull brown carapace, those dim frosty eyes, and one antenna shorter than the other.

In this excerpt, Miam finally made it to the top of the mountain and, for a very short moment in time, feels safe. Unfortunately, a hidden intruder sends Miam back over the ledge and we find him hanging on for dear life by one pincer. After all that work, he may fall to his death because someone doesn’t want him to succeed.
Can you feel the tension, the struggle, the emotion? Can you see how this drives the story forward? Does it make you want to know what happens next? Of course it does and that desire is taken care of in the rest of the scene. Miam’s reaction to the current disaster, a dilemma he faces, and the decision he must make; every piece doing its job to move the story forward. Each part needs to encourage the reader to turn the page.
In the next issue I will discuss reaction and you’ll see what Miam’s reaction was to the above disaster.

3. Marketing: eBooks

Chances are that you or somebody you know reads eBooks. They are electronic versions of the more traditional hard and paper backs. Some use dedicated readers such as Nook for Barnes & Noble or Kindle for Amazon and others use more generic readers that are available on smart phones, tables, laptop, and even your desktop.
If you ignore eBooks in your marketing plan, you are making a big mistake. Although eBooks are still not as popular as physical books, eBooks hold onto a 30% share of the market. Ignoring eBooks eliminates a third of your potential readers. Not a good thing when you’re starting out; an unknown in a massive sea of other authors.
A big advantage to eBooks that is helping it gain market share is lower cost. Although the traditional publishers artificially inflate eBook prices in an attempt to prevent undermining their printed book sales, there are many independent authors putting their eBook prices well below their own printed versions. For example, it is not difficult to find $3 and $4 eBooks for paperbacks that run $6 and up.
I plan on doing the same. Considering the current size of the manuscript, the paperback will run about $8. On the other hand, I should be able to keep the eBook under $4. No matter what the price ends up, I will make sure that I earn the same amount in royalties no matter which version you buy. A book is a book and a buyer is buying a story, I shouldn’t get paid more for an eBook than I would a paper back; unlike the killing traditional publisher currently make on eBooks.

4. Publishing: eBooks

Publishing eBooks is a bit different than printed books. Printed books have a fixed paper size and the manuscript must be formatted to fit on those pages correctly. Also, once a paper size is determined and the manuscript is formatted all copies of the paperback are identical. This is not true in the eBook world.
eBook manuscripts flow based on the software being used to read the book. There are no real pages and although, most modern readers display some kind of page numbering, it really has no meaning other than to help the reader know how far they have read through the book.
Additionally, there are many eBook formats and if an author wants the widest dissemination possible, then they need to convert their book to every format. There are open formats such as epub, proprietary formats such as azw (Kindle) and everything in between. Think of the massive chore the author faces when converting the manuscript and what happens after the conversion when the author finds an error before publishing. Well, it back to the original manuscript and reconverting it to each of the formats again; a tedious prospect at best.
Luckily, there are eBook distributers that take care of the conversion process for the author. One of the best is SmashWords. In their case, the author only needs to upload one version of the manuscript and SmashWords will produce the multitude of eBook formats and distribute them to the appropriate vendors such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobi, Sony, and Apple.
How much does this service cost? SmashWords takes 15% of net sales for their part, leaving the author with 85%. This high of a royalty is unheard of in the traditional publishing world. Of course, an author could do all the work and enjoy 100% of the net sales, but why spend the time dealing with conversion and distributing eBooks when you could be spending your time writing? It’s worth the 15%.

5. Inspiration: Are My Sins Private?

I used to believe that my sins were private if I didn’t hurt someone else in the process; it was just between me and God. I say, used to believe, because I now know that there is no such thing as a private sin. Our sins always hurt others and here is why:
When we sin, we hurt, weaken, or even break our relationship with God. This injury to our relationship with God reduces our ability to serve God. We can no longer give all to God, since we have given away a part of ourselves to sin.
We have to remember that we are a part of the one Body of Christ and when we are not serving fully, because of sin, we are hurting the rest of the Body. The other parts must work that much harder to make up for your inability give a hundred percent. If you pull a hamstring, your body can still walk, but it is a lot harder to do so, because of the injury. Sin works the same way. When we sin, we weaken the Body of Christ.
So, the next time you fall into sin and think you are not hurting someone, think again. There are no private sins.

Posted in Void War:Invasion, Volume 1

Lee Herbst’s Blog – Volume 1, Issue 3

Volume 1, Issue 3

Welcome to my blog. My blog discusses my journey through the sometimes dark and mysterious world of writing and publishing Christian fiction. Along the way I will discuss the status of my writing, include tips on writing, marketing and publishing fiction, as well as share inspirational stories from my personal life.

This blog is published on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month.

Please help promote my blog by telling your friends about me. Let them know they can sign up to receive my blog in their email at http://author.leeherbst.com.

In This Issue

  1. Status: The Void War:Invasion
  2. Writing Tip: The Structure of Fiction – Part 2
  3. Marketing: Social Networking
  4. Publishing: Vanity Presses
  5. Inspiration: In The Light of the World

 1. Status: The Void War:Invasion

I was late putting out the Chapter 4 edit to my beta readers by one day. Following that I was sent to Fort Lauderdale for a conference and, unfortunately, I was unable to get much done during that time, so I am now behind on editing Chapter 5. I will put in extra time this week on editing to catch up. I still plan on finishing the edit of Chapter 5 on time and expect to be sending it to my beta readers on May 19th, 2014.

I continue to get excellent feedback from my beta readers; they are enjoying the story very much. I am hopeful that the finished novel will be a success and that this will be the beginning of a long and fulfilling career in writing Christian fiction.

Also, I am late putting out this blog. It is the early Sunday afternoon as I write this, the day after I was supposed to publish it. I apologize to my readers for my tardiness and I will try to prevent this from occurring in the future.

2. Writing Tip: The Structure of Fiction – Part 2

Last issue we talked about goal; in this issue we will spend a little time talking about conflict. If you look up the word conflict, you will find that it means a serious disagreement, an argument, a clash, or an incompatibility. In story structure it refers to the struggle the character goes through while trying to obtain their goal.

Conflict drives the story. Where would the story be if the character faced no conflict? The character needs to stop a doomsday device, but nobody attempts to stop him and when he arrives at the location where the device sits, there is a big sign above a big red button that reads, push to save the world; not very exciting. Without conflict, there is no story.

As you can imagine, the conflict is usually the longest part of the scene. Continuing with examples from my book, The Void War: Invasion, this is a portion of the conflict following the goal for scene two from Chapter 1:

A gust of wind came screaming across the rock face as he reached for the next hold. His body twisted and his right limbs were ripped from their holds; the wind slammed his back into the rock wall dazing him. The rebound brought him almost back to face the wall, but before he realized what was happening, the fierce wind slammed him against the wall once again.

This time, however, when he came back around he had regained enough sense to jab out with his right pincer in an attempt to grasp the wall and was lucky enough to get a grip on the rock and pull himself close to the wall. He locked his other limbs into crevices and held on as hard as he could until the wind settled to its normal, steady howl.

In this excerpt, we return to climbing a mountain with the character Miam from the last issue. I am sure you can think of a lot of possible conflicts a character might encounter while climbing a mountain. In this case, Miam’s enemy or source of conflict is the wind, which just about rips him off the mountain.

This is a good example of conflict as it points out that conflict doesn’t have to be between two characters. Conflict can between the character and the environment, another character, an animal, or even within himself. Anything that gets in the way of the character from achieving his goal is conflict.

A couple of things you may have noticed in this excerpt may seem a bit strange. Pincer? Other limbs? Hmmm, what is this Miam character anyway? Well, I don’t want to give away too much, but he is the alien antagonist in the story and is far from human.

In the next issue I will discuss disaster.

3. Marketing: Social Networking

Indie authors generally do not have the budget to advertise their books, so they rely on other methods to get the word out. One of the most common methods is social networking; facebook, twitter, instagram, blogs, and many other options. I am currently using facebook and my blog for my marketing needs.

I currently only have 36 followers, but continue to work on adding more every week. You may ask why I work on marketing if I have not finished my first book? Well, if I put out my book without marketing it before its release, there would be no market for my book. I need to find as many potential readers as I can before it is released, so when it comes out, many of those potential readers will buy my book and hopefully talk favorably about it to others, encouraging them to also read my books.

Using social networking to market an indie book may seem obvious, but what a lot of readers do not know is that traditionally published authors are in the same boat. Traditional publishers will not market/advertise your book unless you are a big name author such as Stephen King. So, even most traditionally published authors must find their own way to market their books or face failure. They also resort to social networking.

4. Publishing: Vanity Presses

Vanity presses are publishers that publish an author’s book in exchange for a significant fee. Most vanity press publishers do not care about the author’s writing and do not care about the author’s success. These vanity press publishers take absolutely no risk and no interest in the author’s book, they only take payment.

A writer writes a book, sends their manuscript to a vanity press with payment for x number of books, the press prints the books and ships them to the author. The vanity press may offer additional services such as editing and book cover art for additional fees, but once the books are shipped, the publisher has made their money and the business relationship comes to an end except for reorders or printing a new book.

Generally, vanity presses are a poor and expensive choice for an author. I cannot recommend there use. Independent publishers are completely different; there is usually no cost to the author and the publisher only makes money if the author makes money. It is a symbiotic relationship and last as long as the author desires. It is by far the best way to publish as an indie author.

5. Inspiration: The Light of the World

I have to share a God moment I had last week. I am a spiritual facilitator for our church’s Christ Renews His Parish men’s retreat team; we put on retreats twice a year. The spiritual facilitators rotate leadership responsibilities and, as it happens, the current team is my turn.

One of the responsibilities of the spiritual facilitator is to come up with the theme for the weekend and I chose to use “The Light of the World” and it comes from Matthew 5:14-16. At our last meeting, I told the team that I would reveal the theme at our next meeting on May 8th, 2014, but it didn’t wait that long.

I think the best way to reveal this God moment is to share the email I sent to my team, so here it is:

My Brothers,

I had a God moment this morning I wanted to share with all of you. I know I said I would reveal the theme of the weekend at our next meeting on May 8th, but to share this God moment, I must reveal it now. The theme of the weekend is “The Light of the World.” Now for the God moment.

I receive daily emails from Good New Ministries (http://www.gnm.org) and one of those emails is called Daily Blessings and it is a quote from a saint, pope, or a doctor of the Church. Read what I found in my inbox this morning:

You are the salt of the earth! You are the light of the world! See to it that the people are edified by your example, by the purity of your lives, by the moderation of your conduct, and the brilliance of your holiness! God does not ask of you mere ordinary virtue. He demands downright perfection!

– Pope Saint Pius V (1502-1572), Feast Day April 30

A shiver went up my spine when I read this powerful confirmation of the theme. I will strive to live these words over the formation period, and I ask all of you, my brothers, to do the same. They say it takes three months to develop a habit, we have four and a half months until the weekend. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all of us develop the habit of being the Light of the World over the formation period? What kind of man would you end up being? How much stronger would your relationship with Christ be? How much growth would occur within you? How bright would your light be burning? Only you can answer those questions for yourself, but I know the world will be a much less dark place if we all develop the habit of being the Light of the World.

Your Brother In Christ,

Lee

 

 

 

Posted in Void War:Invasion, Volume 1

Lee Herbst’s Blog – Volume 1, Issue 2

Volume 1, Issue 2

 

Welcome to my blog. My blog discusses my journey through the sometimes dark and mysterious world of writing and publishing Christian fiction. Along the way I will discuss the status of my writing, include tips on writing, marketing and publishing fiction, as well as share inspirational stories from my personal life.

This blog is published on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month.

Please help promote my blog by telling your friends about me. Let them know they can sign up to receive my blog in their email at http://author.leeherbst.com.

In This Issue

  1. Status: The Void War:Invasion
  2. Writing Tip: The Structure of Fiction – Part 1
  3. Marketing: Back Cover Copy
  4. Publishing: Print-On-Demand
  5. Inspiration: In The Name of The Son

1. Status: The Void War:Invasion

 I am currently in the middle of revising Chapter 4. The editing process is going well and I expect to have the revision of this chapter complete before it is scheduled to be released to my beta readers on April 28, 2014. The book is holding steady at 92,000 words.

One of my beta readers pointed out that in my last issue of this blog that I failed to explain what my novel was about. I guess I just assumed that everyone reading this would already know. Of course, we all know what we do when we assume something.

You can always read about my novels on my website by going to this page: http://author.leeherbst.com/?page_id=23. However, to make it easier I am including the current version of the back cover copy for the book below.  I encourage all of you to visit my website and leave a comment about the current back cover copy. It is a critical component of marketing a book and all constructive criticism is welcome.

 The ancient, warlike K’Luth Empire has ravaged the resources of their small dwarf galaxy and is forced to seek a way across the void to the neighboring spiral galaxy or face extinction. With newly developed technology, Admiral Miam is tasked to prepare an invasion force that will cross over to save the Empire.

Hunter, a washed-up thirty-something fighter pilot, is seeking his fortune mining the asteroid belt of a remote human colony when his life is suddenly interrupted by the K’Luth invasion. He and Marna, a commodities broker, are unwillingly swept up into the new war with surprising consequences. The ever self-reliant Hunter learns there is more to faith than his own skills and money.

The Void War:Invasion is the first volume of an epic science fiction trilogy that brings back the bug-eyed monsters of the genre’s past and mixes in an emotional roller coaster of conversion and faith.

 2. Writing Tip: The Structure of Fiction – Part 1

 Did you know that fiction has a specific structure? Beyond the obvious structure of chapters, a novel is made up of scenes; each chapter consists of one or more scenes. Each scene is composed of a specific sequence of elements: goal, conflict, disaster, reaction, dilemma, and decision.

The goal sets the scene by providing the current goal of the point of view character. It can be as simple as the character needing to meet their spouse at a restaurant in thirty minutes or as complex as diffusing a doomsday device that is set to destroy an entire world.

Here is an example from my book, The Void War: Invasion. It is the goal for scene two from chapter 1:

The last vestiges of light were quickly fading as the sun slipped below the horizon and the thin clouds above seem to fade into nothingness. Belaria had no moon and the sparse number of stars in the night sky would be of no help. The slope was near vertical above the ledge, consisting mostly of hard rock; cracked and weathered.

Glancing over the ledge, with what little light remained, Miam estimated he had climbed past the half-way point. He would have to make the rest of the climb in darkness, relying only on his antennae and his failing strength. He walked along the ledge testing the rock above at various points. It was strong and not brittle; he just hoped he had enough strength left.

So, what do we know from the goal? We know it is getting dark, Miam is half-way up a mountain, and he is going to have to finish the climb in that darkness. We also know that Maim’s strength is failing which foreshadows the conflict he will face in the next part of the scene.

“But wait,” you may say, “where’s the motivation? Why is he climbing this mountain?” Well, I chose this scene to point out that all goals need motivation, or why else would the character be doing it. However, the motivation does not need to be included in the goal element itself. In this case, the motivation was provided in the first scene. <WARNING: Blatant self-promotion coming.>I guess you will have to read the book when it comes out to find out why he is climbing the mountain.

In the next issue I will discuss conflict.

3. Marketing: Back Cover Copy

The back cover copy, or the stuff written on the back cover of the book, is the second most important part of the novel as far as marketing is concerned.  Most buyers are first attracted to the book by its cover. Once they pick it up, they usually flip it over and read the back cover. Most buying decisions are made at that point. If the back cover copy sounds interesting to the customer, then they buy it; if not, back on the shelf it goes.

Writing the back cover copy is also one of the most difficult parts of writing a novel. The author must explain the story in a few short paragraphs without giving anything away and at the same time entice the customer to buy the book. That is why a lot of authors actually hire copy writers to produce the back cover copy instead of writing it themselves.

I can’t afford to hire anyone to do this for me, so I am writing it myself. So, as I stated at the top, any constructive criticism of my back cover copy will be greatly appreciated.

4. Publishing: Print-On-Demand

In the past, many indie authors took their novels straight to e-book venues without ever considering printed copies, even though they knew they were excluding a large group of readers that don’t read electronic books. The expense of printing books is high and it was the author’s responsibility to sell them. The risk was too high for most authors.

Today, many publishers that cater to indie authors provide a service called print-on-demand.  Print-on-demand starts when a customer places an order for the paperback on the retailer website, the publisher then prints a copy and ships the book to the customer; no investment by the author and no risk to the publisher.  The retailer and publisher get their share of the sale price and what is left over is the author’s royalty.

How much does the author get? Depending on the publisher’s fee structure, the author usually receives between 15-30% per copy sold. For comparison, e-book royalty rates are closer to 70%. However, indie e-books are generally much cheaper than the paperback, so the actual dollar amount received is generally similar between the two formats.

5. Inspiration: In The Name of The Son

Who is Jesus Christ? God? A Man? The Son of the Father? The Mesiah? Our Lord and Savior? Jesus has many names, but who is he really? If I had one word to describe Jesus, it would be love. Jesus’ entire ministry was centered on that one word. He lived love, he taught love, he asked us to love, and he committed the greatest sacrifice of love possible when he died for all of us.

Jesus asks us to love ourselves, our family, our neighbors, and even our enemies. He asks us to simply live a life of love; love everyone. Can you imagine what this world would be like if everyone lived a life of love. No starvation, no crime, no war, only peace and joy everywhere. It would literally be heaven on earth.

Unfortunately, we are human and sometimes we love things more than people. This is the source of all sorrow in the world. War begins because of a love of a thing; land, power, or even an intangible concept born out of hate. Can you imagine a world without love? If so, then you would know what hell is like.

Jesus loves us perfectly. I don’t think any of us can truly understand His perfect love for us, but as a father, I think I am blessed to see a small glimpse of what that love is like. When I think of how much Jesus loves me, I just think of the far from perfect love I have for my wife and children and I get a small taste and a bit of understanding of Jesus’ love for me. You can do the same; just think of your own loved ones.

So, who is Jesus? It’s simple. Jesus is love. It truly is an awesome feeling to know that you are loved. I just wished that everyone was willing to experience the love of Jesus and live that love; heaven on earth. Someday, Jesus’ promise will be fulfilled and we’ll have heaven on earth; nothing but love.

Posted in Void War:Invasion, Volume 1

Lee Herbst’s Blog – Volume 1, Issue 1

Volume 1, Issue 1

Welcome to my blog. This is the first of what I hope will be a very long running and helpful series of articles discussing my journey through the sometimes dark and mysterious world of writing and publishing Christian fiction. Along the way I will discuss the status of my writing, include tips on writing, marketing and publishing fiction, and share inspirational stories from my personal life. I plan on publishing this blog around the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month.

Please help promote my blog by telling your friends about me. Let them know they can sign up to receive my blog in their email by signing up at http://author.leeherbst.com.

In This Issue

1. Status: The Void War:Invasion
2. Writing Tip: Use of Effect and Affect
3. Marketing: Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover?
4. Publishing: What Is Independent Publishing?
5. Inspiration: A Blessing In Everything

 

1. Status: The Void War:Invasion

I am currently working on finishing up the first revision of Chapter 3. I have to say that editing the rough draft is taking a lot more time than I expected. I originally believed that I could edit one chapter per week, but that jumped to two weeks with Chapter 1 and now has been extended to three weeks.

Three weeks seems to feel about right; not too rushed, but I still have to write every day. Unfortunately, that means that the book will not be available for sale until sometime in 2015; probably around Summer time. Someday, I would like to get to the point where I can write one book per year, but this one is going to take close to two. I guess that is not bad considering that I work full time and have a family with four children. I’ll take it.

One additional insight I would like to share with you is that as I am editing this book I am finding that it is growing in size. When I finished the first draft, the book was about 80,000 words. After editing three chapters it has grown to 92,000 words. I am going to try to keep the word count under 100,000*, but the book will be whatever length is right for the story. I am not going to short change my readers just to keep it under some arbitrary number.

*The general convention is that a novel is between 80,000 and 100,000 words. Less than 80,000 and you have a short story or novella. When you exceed 100,000, you still have a novel, however, they claim that the story becomes unwieldy and many readers are turned off by such large books.

2. Writing Tip: Use of Effect and Affect

Effect and affect are two words that can be found near the top of most editors’ list of the most misused words. The thing to remember is that effect is generally a noun and affect is generally a verb. For example, “The special effects in that movie were awesome.” (effect=noun) And, “The ragweed pollen affected his performance.” (affect=verb)

There are exceptions to this rule, but they are rare. Effect can be used as a verb when referring to bringing about change. Such as, “The executive wanted to effect change within his organization.” Affect can be used as a noun only when referring to mood that has an influence on others. Such as, “The small girl had a sad affect.”

Of course, if you stick to the general rule and avoid the rare uses, you will affect your readers with the desired effect without confusing them by using the wrong word.

3. Marketing: Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover?

The phrase was first penned more than 150 years ago by George Elliot in his book, “The Mill on the Floss.” While there is deeper meaning in the phrase than just book covers, this is about marketing and not psychology, although they are closely related.

The phrase is good advice, but do we listen to it? Marketing research has shown that the answer is a resounding no. The number one reason why people purchase a specific book is that the cover looked interesting. So, in other words, most people do judge a book by its cover. So, the most important part of the book, in marketing terms, is the cover.

In second place is the back cover copy; the short summary on the back of the book. And trailing in third place is the first few pages of the novel.

4. Publishing: What Is Independent Publishing?

Independent or Indie publishing is also known as self publishing and is available through several large companies. Indie publishing is different from publishing through a vanity press as it usually costs the author little or no money. Indie publishing has become the proving grounds for new authors and, for some writers, the only way to publish.

Traditional publishers have shied away from accepting unsolicited manuscripts; it has become too risky, so acceptance has become extremely rare. Why? Traditional publishers spend very little, if anything, on marketing for new authors. They rely on the author to do all of the marketing, most of which fails miserably. Instead of taking risks on new authors that may or may not know how to market their book, they watch the independent publishing industry for authors that are selling books. These authors have proven themselves; they can write a good story and market their books, which is exactly what the traditional publishers want. Once found, the traditional publishers will offer them a contract for their next book.

These days this is the normal path author’s take through their careers. However, there are some successful authors that stay with indie publishing and refuse to contract with any of the traditional publishers. Basically, they make more money as an indie author than they can under a traditional publisher. Royalties for indie authors average around 70%, where traditional publishing is usually lower than 30%.

5. Inspiration: A Blessing In Everything

Do you believe there is a blessing in everything? It can be hard to see a blessing in tragedy. How many times has something gone wrong in your life and you wondered why God allowed it to happen to you? I am sure everyone has experience this at least once in their lives; probably more often than we would like to admit.

The truth is that God has given us free will; to walk with Him or turn our backs on Him, to do good or evil. Bad things happen because of a choice someone made, not because God willed it. However, God helps us by turning tragedy into blessing. We might recognize the blessing right away, or maybe not for many years later, or maybe we are never able to recognize it, but it is still there.

Many years ago, my wife was pregnant with our first child. More than anything else I wanted to be a father and I was on cloud nine. However, that joy was short lived as we miscarried at ten weeks. It was a devastating blow and I couldn’t understand why God had taken away that which he had blessed us.

Many people tried to console us; telling us that God needed a new angel in heaven among other things. None of which was helpful. My wife and I spent many days and nights in each other’s arms, trying to comfort each other, tears flowing down our cheeks. I couldn’t see any blessing in it.

Years later, I can look back and see the blessings we received. You see, we suffered together, a shared experience that made both of us stronger. It also brought us closer together, strengthening our relationship. Also, during that time we turned toward God for answers and because of that our relationship with God also grew.

So, even though it was a loss that will forever weigh heavy on my heart, I am thankful for the blessings God bestowed on us because of it. Plus, he blessed us with four more children since that time; all four of which bless us each and every day. God is awesome!

Posted in Void War:Invasion, Volume 1

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