To Episode One…and Beyond!


From my experience, and that of other published writer’s I know, one of the most common questions readers, friends, and family ask is: “When’s your next book coming out?” While this question is inherently harmless, sometimes it can feel like your work has been cheapened. But it can also do something else, it can also be motivating. While I’d prefer people ask me about my current work, thinking about what I’ll be writing in the future is an exciting prospect. “What’s next?” is a question I ask myself every day, which can be disheartening when you simply don’t know the answer.

That point is one of the numerous reasons why I wanted to do an episodic series. I’ve had a few people ask me: “Why do short stories instead of another novel?” Well, the answer to that is simple. I’m not. I’m doing short stories, or a series of short stories while I’m working on my next novel. For some writers, they need to focus on one project and see it through until the end. That’s an admirable way to ensure your work is of the highest quality before you move forward. At the same time, I’ve seen that take a very long time to complete a project. Me personally, I have a bit of writer’s ADD. I’ve been experiencing and telling stories my entire life; I can read books quickly (when I sit down to do something other than writing and actually focus), I binge watch seasons and movies in quick succession, and I’m a multi-screen-tasker.

What all that means is that, for me, working on my next novel (that could potentially take a very long time to finish) is all well and good, but I need something for when my attention shifts, when my mind gets bored of staring at the same page for hours while editing, or for when I get so frustrated at my writer’s block that I want to hurl my laptop through the living room window. But, I think we all know that wouldn’t solve my problem, would it? So, I divert that pent-up energy. I shift my focus to something completely different to stir the creative pot and get the metaphorical gears spinning again. I have to do this. I want to do this. But that might raise issues of quality vs. quantity. I can pump out a lot more content than a few other writers I know, but how do I know that I am not sacrificing quality by doing so?

“The first draft of anything is shit.”

~Ernest Hemingway

Simply put, I don’t. To be entirely honest, when I power through a project, I do so to get a first draft done as quickly as possible. I need those bare bones, that foundation to build upon, and when I go back and re-read it, it’s usually riddled with poor grammar, misspelled words, and ridiculously obvious plot holes and inconsistencies. But that’s just the first draft, you all (the readers) don’t get to read that pile of garbage. I spend, in my own opinion, way too long rewriting and editing even the shortest stories before I even consider it something worth publishing. As you can imagine, with “full-length” novels, that takes a God-awful amount of time to do. I have been working on a science fiction novel since before the release of The Drive Home and I’m somewhere in the eight draft and I’m still scraping off all the worthless bits. It’s a long process and if you’re not careful, you could put something out that casts a grim assumption over your future work.

Which finally brings my back to my actual point and the question…well, in question. Why work on an episodic series while I work on my next novel? I’ve put together a collection of answers covering some of the most prominent reasons:

  • First and foremost, as I mentioned, it keeps me focused and keeps me writing. With each piece I write I am thinking ahead, planning for potential release plans, thinking about where it fits around the novel I’m working on. And that gets me back to wanting to work on that big novel project. Which lets me provide something for readers to enjoy while I make headway on that forthcoming novel.
  • Secondly, it allows me to play with form and presentation. It keeps me guessing and experimenting, even when I think I know what the hell I’m doing. A novel can be a one-off project, or, it can be a series of epic novels. Short stories are similar, in that one can stand on its own or it can be part of something bigger. But episodic, that’s something different. You have to further the over-arching story with each episode and further the character arcs while leaving enough out to intrigue readers to pick up the next episode. All in a small number of pages. It’s a delicate process. You have to think ahead, not just to the next episode, but to every episode, including multiple seasons, if you’re so inclined.
  • I’m a new and, hopefully, rising author. Why should someone pick up my full priced novel if they’ve never heard of me before? Or never read anything I’ve written? With any episodic series I pursue, I’ve chosen to make the first episode absolutely FREE. Like with my current series, For a Ghost-Free Time, Call, the first episode introduces readers to my characters, my story, and my writing at no risk to them. This gives readers the opportunity to experience the story and decide for themselves if it is something they would enjoy. This also provides me with the opportunity to hook the reader and convince them to pick up the next episode. If I’m not convincing you to pick up episode two when it gets released, I’m not doing something right and that gives me the chance to improve my writing for the next one. It’s a learning process.
  • Working on an episodic series also helps improve my abilities as a publisher. I’m improving my knowledge of the process through Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing. For each new episode, I’ve decided that I would like to make a fresh, yet simplistic cover to assist with convincing readers to continue with the series. By deciding this, I’ve been able to improve my abilities as a digital artist with Photoshop. I would love to be able to assist fellow writer’s with the publishing process, cover creation, or any aspect of creating written works. Hell, that’s what Emerald Inkwell is all about. That’s why we’ve chosen to brand ourselves as a “PNW Publishing Community.” We want to help independent writers get their work out there just like we’re doing for ourselves. So, if I can improve my skills with Photoshop and help a friend throw together a unique cover for their work, that motivates me. What can I say, I’m a “helper.” With For a Ghost-Free Time, Call’s first episode cover (pictured below) I wanted a simple cover that got the point across and related to the content in the writing. Much like you might see for some of Stephen King’s books (also pictured below). But since that first cover design I’ve been working on my abilities and I look at my W.I.P., sample covers for episode two and three, I find them much more visually intriguing than the first episode cover. Which gives me ideas for a future “updated” cover for that first episode. I’m learning. And that excites  and motivates me further.
  • The final thing I’ll touch on that I find great about the episodic format is that it is inexpensive for the reader and allows me to work on something that is “full-length” over time. So far, the episodes of “Ghost-Free Time are around 45 pages each, give or take. Once each season is finished, I look forward to offering a full season collection or a series collection, depending on the longevity of the IP. And if each episode is approximately 45 pages a single season collection could range from 275 to 400 pages. That’s a lengthy novel right there. So, while currently writing in a short story format, each episode is the catalyst for something larger.

So, if you were to ask me again: “Why work on an episodic series instead of a full-length novel?” I would kindly direct you to read the above, but I would simply respond by saying two things. 1: Because I can and I enjoy it (that counts as one, calm down). And 2: I’m not only working on an episodic series. I’m actually working on that “full-length” novel you’re asking for while providing you with a steady stream of content to keep readers entertained and to keep myself writing. And, in the end, when all is said and done, that’s all I really want out of all this. To keep readers entertained and to keep myself writing. And that sounds damn good to me.


Episode Two is on the way soon! Pick up Episode One to catch up before it drops!

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Salt piles, iron fire pokers, and Ghosts tend to go hand in hand!

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The First of Many: A FREE, Ghost-Free Time

“Eugene is teeming with ghosts and for some stupid, God damn reason, I’m the only who can see them.”

Since releasing my first novel, friends and family always seem to ask one common question: “When’s your next book coming out?” And while, yeah, that question can become taxing, it can also be inspiring. For the longest time not having an exact answer to that question only exacerbated my anxiety, but it also forced me go home, sit down in front of my computer and start typing away until I finally had something to talk about. Which brings me to why we’re all here, reading this article. Today I finally have an answer to that question. “What’s Next?”

Well, let me tell you!

To satiate my writing lust while I work on penning my next great novel, I wanted to do something that was shorter, easier for readers to pick up and enjoy, while still giving everyone the most bang for their buck. The best way I could find to do this is to start writing short stories, which is honestly difficult for me, but I’ll talk about that in another post. It’s always been easier for me to find the thick novel in every idea, but writing short stories is a completely different beast and I think found a way to entice readers by using an episodic format. By writing an episodic series I can still plot out the long over-arching story, while still focusing on writing a complete tale in a fraction of the pages. In conjunction with Emerald Inkwell, we decided that the easiest way to get these stories into the hands of readers is to make them digital. Traditional print books are still our favorite (and there’ll be more to come) but eBooks are easier to publish, especially when short, and it gave us the opportunity to offer the first episode, the “Pilot,” absolutely FREE! (great for readers and great for spreading the word!) That way readers can introduce themselves to any of the episodic worlds I create without any hesitation and find out which stories interest them before continuing on with the series. So, without further ado, the first Emerald Original Series I bring to you is a supernatural adventure taking place in Eugene, Oregon and is inspired by many types of popular paranormal fiction. Enjoy!

Cover-tweaked


For a Ghost-Free Time, CallCover - For A Ghost-Free Time Ep1jpg

Description:

At the young age of nine, Jared developed the unnatural ability to see the lingering spirits of the dead, and beyond its initial novelty, all it’s ever done is piss him off. After having to grow up rather quickly on his own, Jared took something that would have easily driven most people insane and found a way to use his unwelcomed gift to his advantage. He studied and took notes from the most prevalent movies and television shows, and armed with every mainstream supernatural trope and cliché he could find, started his very own—more or less legitimate—ghost removal service. With years of hit-or-miss cons and a number of temporary solutions to combat the most crippling aspects of his “gift,” Jared finally found a way to live a “normal” life and a way to fit in with society. However, one day, while working a routine job for a rich mark, Jared will be confronted with his own lies and a glimpse of the truth behind the world around him and his abilities.

For a Ghost-Free Time, Call is available on iBooks / Nook / Kindle apps and devices!

For news and updates regarding For a Ghost-Free Time, Call keep an eye on the product page HERE or follow Emerald Inkwell on Facebook!

And as an added bonus, The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror (4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon!) is available until August 31st for only .99c (a $2 discount!) on Kindle apps and devices ! So, if you didn’t get a chance to experience The Drive Home earlier this year, now’s the time to grab it for only .99c! Enjoy!

National Tell a Story Day!

America is filled with obscure holidays and random reasons to celebrate, but a number of them are near and dear to me and my passion for storytelling. On top of that, certain holidays even have the potential to do something good, if not great. National Tell a Story Day is one of those days that truly has the potential to do some great in this world.

Things like illiteracy and shortened attention spans have ravaged recent generations (mine included) and finding those who enjoy reading is becoming more and more difficult. Years ago, I nearly fell into that bottomless pit. Not because I didn’t know how or because I hated reading, but because the world of entertainment has been evolving so drastically that other things would snag my attention and my bookshelf started to collect dust. Instead of picking up a book, I’d watch a movie or play a video game–all valid ways to indulge our human need to tell and be told stories–but it took something away from my imaginative process. It wasn’t nearly as gratifying as creating a new world in my own mind, simply based on a few words on a page.

While National Tell a Story Day is based on the Scottish and European equivalent in October, America’s version takes place six months earlier in the year. It encourages all forms of storytelling written, verbal, visual, fiction, non-fiction, whatever! And it should be celebrated more widely.


National Tell a Story Day is the American counterpart of the Scottish and UK holiday of the same name, but is not to be confused with World Storytelling Day. World Storytelling Day is a celebration of the art of oral storytelling, helping keep the traditions of passing stories down through the generations. World Storytelling Day takes place on March 20th, a little over a month prior to National Tell a Story Day.


In honor of today, April 27th – National Tell a Story Day, I took steps working with my publisher to put together a limited time offer based around my debut novel The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror. So, for all the world, right now, you can pick up the kindle edition of The Drive Home absolutely FREE. Boot up your Kindle device or app and hunt down The Drive Home on Amazon! If you’ve read it, now you have it on-the-go and can read it again with ease wherever you are. Or, if you’ve yet to read it, you’re in for a treat and can then tell someone else about it, in honor of today. The special will run through the end of April and will hopefully help someone discover reading or at least read something fun that they’ve never read before.

So, get out there and tell someone a story today. Read stories, watch, write and enjoy as many of them as possibly today. This is what the human mind craves, telling and being told stories. Few things can make you feel and “live” like a good story can. I hope you all enjoy the drive and a few great stories today.


National Tell a Story Day SpecialTDH-FB-COVER

April 27th – April 30th

The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror, Kindle Edition

Price: FREE. 100% FREE!

 


What other holidays are out there for writers and storytellers? Are there any specials or events taking place today that the world should know about? Let us know below in the comments–or tell us a story!

Author Interview: The Drive Home, Pre-Launch

Prior to the launch of The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror, I sat down with Emerald Inkwell so that they could ask me a few questions about my writing and the novel itself. I thought I’d put them together in a nice, beautifully formatted post.


Congratulations on the upcoming release! To start things off, why don’t you tell us who you are and a little about The Drive Home.

Ok and thanks, I’m excited too. My name is Sean Kelly, my upcoming novel is titled The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror and it’s a thriller set in the Pacific Northwest. It’s the story of Ben and Taylor who take a road trip to visit Ben’s ill father, but hope to have a little fun and maybe get a little inspiration along the way. Ben is a young man who is fed up with the direction his life is taking so he quits his job and decides to try and write his first novel. Taylor, like it says on the back of the book, is Ben’s best—and quite often irritating—friend, who essentially invites himself on the trip, hoping that things will get a little crazy as all road trip stories usually do. In a sense, their road trip does get a little crazy, but not in the way they’d hoped… People start winding up dead in their wake as they drive through Oregon and Washington until eventually they’re confronted with the reality of their situation.

Love it! We’re from the PNW and we’re excited to read a story based there! Although, I do have to ask, what is this whole “Bromance and Horror” deal?

Yeah, I’m from the PNW too and that’s exactly why I wanted to write something based here; it’s my home! But the subtitle, right. So, “bromance” is a word that really only started to emerge sometime in the last decade thanks to movies like “I Love You, Man,” but the concept has been around for a while in things like buddy comedies. A bromance is essentially when two or more male friends are way, way too close and from the outside it can often be misconstrued as romantic, although there are no romantic intentions between them. In a broader sense, a bromance is like a more intense version of a best friendship, which eventually led to the forming of the word “bromance.” So, in the case of Ben and Taylor they’ve been best friends since childhood and have always been close and really don’t have any boundaries, as much as Ben sometimes wishes there were. In regards to the “horror” in the subtitle, well, that pretty much explains itself because, yeah, Ben and Taylor have been best friends since they were young, but then some scary shit happens and it puts that to the test.

So, you told us a bit about the story, but with this being your first novel, how would you describe your writing style before someone picks up the book?

Well, that’s kind of an interesting question. I’ve never liked the idea of pigeonholing myself into one category or style and I like to experiment with writing styles a bit. But in the case of The Drive Home and it being my first novel, I wanted it to be a fun, easy reading experience that would feel more cinematic. Furthermore, one of the things a lot of literary fiction writers do is really delve into the little details of their surroundings. They create that vivid painting of the setting with paragraphs or sometimes pages of details. While I love that style of writing I wanted this to be faster paced and the things that happen to Ben and Taylor are pretty distracting, to say the least, and I wanted to allow the real life settings to evoke a lot of the imagery. So, needless to say, they’re not going to notice the cherry colored rose resting and wilting peacefully in the walnut brown pot, bathing in the sunlight creeping through the stained glass window. As people are dying around them, that pretty much takes up all their attention and I wanted the pacing of the story to reflect that.

You say the novel is a faster paced, “cinematic” experience, could you elaborate a little more on that? How do you fill all those pages but keep things moving along at that rate?

It’s really a lot of ups and down, intense moments juxtaposed against serene or calmer scenes. To prepare the reader for that flow, the beginning is a gradual rise, developing the main characters before anything too crazy happens. Also, one of the things I haven’t spoken too much about is all the main characters that the narrative follows. What I mean is, we have Ben and Taylor, and their trip towards Spokane, but on the flip side of that, there’s another narrative arc we’ll be following. A surly, middle-aged detective who is tasked with connecting some of the dots and finding out who is responsible for the trail of bodies dropping throughout the Pacific Northwest. That alternate perspective allowed me to really play with that pacing I was talking about and really pick and choose where those highs and lows took place. It also gave me an opportunity to introduce a character type I’ve always wanted to write about: that skeptical detective who smokes too much and is easily pissed off by just about everyone. I love those guys.

Alright, let’s ask you a more difficult question. Without giving away any spoilers, what would you say is your favorite part of The Drive Home?

You’re right, that is a more difficult question. Other than the ending, because I really love the ending, I think that one of my favorite parts would have to be a short ways in when something happens and really shakes up everything the first few chapters set up and it really messes with the main characters. One of the reasons I really like this part is because it takes place in one of my favorite small towns in Oregon: Mt. Angel.

Interesting, Mt. Angel? It’s not during Oktoberfest is it?

No, but that is why I fell in love with love Mt. Angel. It is referenced a little bit though and you get a glimpse of Oktoberfest’s influence on the town. But what I like about it is that you meet a couple really interesting characters, some important and some not, but some of those characters and the conversations with them are almost entirely real. They actually happened to me and I sort of wanted to pay homage to those people who’ve given me those memories I cherish so much.

Is that how you come up with your ideas? Real life situations?

Sort of, yes. I wanted the novel to be grounded in the real world, so a lot of the characters and conversations are based on real people I know or have met. That’s what made them so interesting to me, they’re real. Real characters and real conversations I’ve had with them, which might explain why some of them aren’t very appropriate. Myself and a lot of the people I know have fairly foul mouths and some of that did transfer into the story as well. What’s the old adage? “Write what you know.”TDH-FB-COVER


Thanks for reading the pre-launch interview questions! We’re working on some post-launch questions that delve a bit deeper into the story itself and shed a little light on the future. Pick up your copy of The Drive Home in Print on iBooks, Kindle, and Nook today!

Those Nagging Feelings: The Debut

Recently, I published my first novel: The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror. Immediately friends and family were showing their support, near and far, those closest to me and those I’ve not seen in years. It is truly an amazing feeling. However, there’s an underlying fear clawing at the surface, striving for my attention.

“What if my book sucks?”

“What if my friends find every little thing wrong with the novel?”

“What if some internet troll decides to tank my novel with a 1-star review when the book’s actually good?”

These are just a few of the million nagging thoughts passing through any writer’s mind as they write a novel. And they’re all valid points. I’d like to use my debut novel as an example to inform and maybe even inspire someone in the same situation as me. A while back I began writing a blog titled The New Writers Journey, check it out if you’re interested. What I was hoping to do with that blog was follow my process from wanting to write a book to one day accomplishing that goal. It was an “amateur” blog in my eyes, which is what I wanted it to be. But there’s a difference between The New Writer’s Journey and the Sean K. Novels site. Experience. In the time I began writing that blog and my novel, up until now, my writing has grown, I’ve published my first novel and I’ve done a lot in regards to the creation of a novel. With the time and effort, and the experience gained from it all, my outlook on the points raised above has matured too.

The prospect of putting your work out to the world is intimidating, to say the least. How do you get over that feeling? In my honest opinion, you don’t. There were, however, a few factors that lent themselves to dealing with the pressure. The first being that you spend so much time working and re-working a project—be it a book or painting or video game code—that you arrive at the realization that because it’s yours, it’ll never be good enough. It didn’t take long to write the initial draft of my novel, but it took years to re-write, edit, add and subtract content. I soon realized that I will always find something I could do differently, whether for better or worse. You have to come to a point where you’re happy with your work and put it out there to be judged, nagging thoughts be damned.

“But what if what you wrote actually sucks?” you ask?

Well, to be perfectly honest, it might, but how are you supposed to know that it sucks if you don’t put it out there; if you don’t get feedback. I hope everyone who reads The Drive Home has something to say, good, bad, or ugly (hopefully not ugly). There’s no problem with constructive criticism. I love constructive criticism, hell, I thrive on it. How is my next book supposed to be any better than the last if no one tells me their brutally honest (FYI, brutal honesty is something I’m going to cover in another post) opinions? There is a difference, though, between constructive criticism and someone who just posts “this sucks” and nothing else. Screw those guys, but we’ll go ahead and address them too. The way we handle those people is what separates us from the rest of the pack. If someone gives you good feedback about a character or grammar issues, let ‘em know “Hey, thanks. I appreciate it and the next one won’t have that problem.” That will entice them to check out your next novel too and give you a reason to keep improving.

Those trolls, though. How do we deal with someone who just says “this sucks”? Confront them too. Say “Really? Any constructive criticism you can give me?” If they’re anyone who matters, they’ll give you something, and you win. If they don’t ever respond to your inquiry, people will see that you cared enough to find out how to improve your work and that the guy who said “this sucks” has no evidence to back up his claim, and you win anyway.

The moral of the story is growth. Gain the difficult ability to learn from your mistakes and you won’t care if you misspelled a word or your grammar is childish—well, you will care, but you’ll know how to use that to fuel your next endeavor. If your audience sees that you want to grow and you can tell a good story, they’ll want to enjoy the ride as they watch you grow from an amateur writer to a professional wordsmith. No matter how well you think you did on something, you never know how the public will respond to it. It’s how you take that input that really shows what kind of a writer or artists you really are. Which is why I encourage feedback. Even though I stand by and love every single word, comma, and semi-colon I wrote, that doesn’t mean I can’t do any better. Even if the world thinks it’s the greatest thing since the toaster; I can do better. I love the story of The Drive Home. It was fun to write, fun for me to read a million times, and I got to really know my characters. And as cheesy and irritating as it sounds, that really was all that mattered to me. Yeah, everyone wants to make a living doing what they love, but you can’t let the bullshit weigh you down. If you enjoy what you’re doing, then just…do that. I know that’s what I’m going to do. If you’ve got something constructive to say, say it. Give me the opportunity to outdo myself. I dare you.